n 2020, the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. It has grown to become one of the most dynamic and influential organizations of its kind in the United States. Created in the wake of the first Earth Day, the Ecology Center was founded by members of ENACT (Environmental Action for Survival), the University of Michigan’s student environmental group. ENACT and the Ecology Center’s primary original focus was to start a recycling program. The city’s first recycling program, at the newly created Recycling Center, was not the recycling program Ann Arbor residents know today: no curbside pickup, only a few types of recyclables were eligible, and residents had to sort recyclables into separate containers and deliver them directly to the Recycling Center.
Several years ago I was walking through the U-M Diag one warm summer evening and stumbled upon swathes of barefoot dancers undulating to the rhythms and harmonies of a large drumming crew. I was in awe of these powerful dancers and drummers, and the ways they all seemed to harmonize with joy, pleasure, and sincere effort that flowed from their hearts and was expressed through their limbs.
In addition to the interview with Garfield (see the main article here), freelance journalist Sandor Slomovits contacted a few other people who have been associated with the Ecology Center in the past fifty years and asked them to discuss the history and accomplishments of the organization. To provide a multifaceted picture of the EC, he got in touch with people who worked at the EC during various points in its history, and who held different positions and served in a variety of capacities, from staff and leadership, to volunteers.
An Interview with Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton on Holistic Approaches to Public Safety and Bias-free Policing
After working more than thirty years in the field of law enforcement, Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton has become an international expert on such intransigent issues as bias-free policing, cultural diversity, and “subject control” arrest techniques. In 2016 Clayton represented the U.S. at a conference on community policing held in Barcelona, Spain, hosted by the Open Society Foundations. In 2017 Clayton again represented the U.S., this time at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, sponsored by the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights. In February of 2018, Clayton participated in a U.S.-U.K. exchange in London, focusing on building leadership for fair and effective policing.
I met Jess Tsomo and Kat Tsomo ten years ago while visiting Tsogyelgar Dharma Center, located on West Liberty Street in Ann Arbor. A few years after that I moved here to Ann Arbor from New York, so as to make Tsogyelgar the center point of gravity in my life. Kat, Jess, and I share a precious and magical bond as disciples of Buddhist Siddha Traktung Yeshe Dorje—the founder of Tsogyelgar Dharma Center. (Editor’s Note: For more information about Tsogyelgar, see the Cover Story in Issue #64 of the Crazy Wisdom Journal, September through December 2016, available in our archive online at crazywisdomjournal.com)
By Cashmere Morley
In the heart of Ypsilanti is an artist’s studio that feels, at times, both rooted in the future and the past. Glass eyes of various colors stare at you from every direction. Dentures riveted into metal figures bare wild grins. There is a nostalgia here; a feeling of things lost and found again. But there is also a sense of creation, of assemblage. It is a peek into a modern-day Dr. Frankenstein’s mind. A human-meets-robot dreamscape brought to life in rivets and metal. This is Cre Fuller’s studio.
Christopher “Cre” Fuller, 46, didn’t plan on building tin creations for a living. In fact, when he graduated from Mt. Pleasant High School, he went into building chimneys with his father, and later, working at Whole Foods when he moved to Ann Arbor in 1997.
“Like most corporate jobs, it could be frustrating, but I valued my time there,” Fuller said. “From there, I went to Plum Market, in a similar capacity, and tried my hand at the wholesale racket. I’m good at helping people and being honest and genuine. Wholesale was a bit of a smarmy… you kind of have to be greasy. And I wasn’t good at that.”
But he was good with his hands. After saving money and leaving that job to invest in himself and his art, Fuller decided to spend time chasing after a job that would be more fulfilling.
“I think I’d had every creative hobby under the sun. Around 2000, when I bought the house I still currently own, I spent all my money on the house, so I just needed an art. I had seen things around, you know, people making humans and robots out of junk and trash and whatnot, so I just decided to try my hand at it.” The first robot Fuller created was around 2000, 2001. To date, Fuller guesses he’s built around 600 robots. He’s best known as the guy that makes the “Tin Angry Men,” a name he’s trying to distance himself from. His web presence only bares his name, and no mention of the moniker, since Fuller doesn’t feel it fits his creations anymore.
“At the time, I set up a little spare bedroom for all my glasswork and jewelry making. As I went along, I would make these little robot creations. I never took it too seriously. They were just little gag gifts and things like that.” Fuller said. “But I’ve always liked taking things apart, as a little kid, seeing how the guts work. What does what. So taking things apart wasn’t a stretch for me. And then just kind of reimagining what those parts could be once you have them unassembled, or disassociated from their previous purpose, whatever that purpose was,” Fuller said.
“I tend to gravitate toward vintage aluminum, I can get the look of it that I want, I can either keep it brushed and have it kind of dull and matted, or I can polish it, into a chrome-like shine. It has that mid-century vintage feel already, and a lot of the things I prefer to use, is early century stuff.”
Fuller frequents places like Recycle Ann arbor, and local antique shops to find his goods, though he admits it’s been a bit harder to find pieces as of late since he’s “depleted the local supply.”
The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area welcomed him and his creations with open arms. “In Ann Arbor, people value art,” Fuller said. “And in its soul, it’s got people that respect and applaud the art. Ypsi has this humongous heartbeat of art and people who appreciate and applaud it.”
His work can be assembled quickly, if Fuller has the right parts.
“If I have all the stuff just sitting there, I can get a simple piece done in a day,” Fuller said. “Taking the time to let paint dry, and to let glass eyes cool, I can get a small piece done in a day. But sometimes, I’ve searched for those parts for a year. A huge component of this, of any assemblage artist, is their pile of goodies.”
While he does consider a lot of his work as “assemblage,” Fuller also admits that not all of his work falls under that category in art shows, so “found art sculpture” is also an acceptable way to describe what he creates.
If you look at his work, there’s a sense of past-meets-future. “I think I was just trying to make that ‘50s version of a future robot. You know? Certainly, a departure from the modern take of robots. That’s what I really wanted to do: [embody] the romance of the vision of the future. When I first started doing this, I wanted them to look like vintage robots from the future. Cross between a little bit Star Wars, a little bit Mystery Science Theatre. I was always a fan of MST. The guy just made robots from crap laying around the shop, and that’s exactly what the deal is over here.”
For a vision that personifies parts of the past, Fuller’s work seems to capture the minds of young and old in the present. “I was surprised by how much of the population were into robots: whether they knew they were, or they found out they were from looking at my work,” Fuller said. “Certainly, young kids, boys and girls, all love it. The lamps I make, I try to make them touch sensitive, to turn them on. The kids love that. So do comic book nerds, movie geeks, sci-fi people. I consider myself part of the tribe there.”
But his work doesn’t stop at robots. Fuller considers himself an artist and event-organizer, who describes himself as a “jack of all trades, who can handle just about anything,” with other projects including Dypsi, an indie art far in Ypsilanti, and simple, vintage-looking light up signs for personal use as well as business. Fuller has made signs for Side Tracks and Wurst Bar in Ypsilanti.
Fuller said, “When I’m working on a piece, I like seeing the personality develop and unfold. Right when I’m done with one piece, I put it on a shelf, and I turn around and start on the next one. I like seeing them come to life. And I like moving on to the next one. And I like learning from the last one. I think it helps the evolutionary chart, if you line them all up, you can see how they all progress.”
One of Fuller’s muses is H.R. Giger, the Swiss artist most recognized for his work on the film Alien.
“He was just a weirdo and had a dark style, all that biotechnical stuff. It struck a chord with me as a kid.” Fuller said. “When I’m looking to build something, I’m looking for shapes, maybe some texture… just something I can remove from its original purpose and misplace it. Maybe I don’t see it right away, maybe later.”
As of late, his work has taken on a different feel, thanks to the glass eyes and dentures he’s inherited from friends, family, and locals who fell in love with his work.
“I started getting dental molds, plaster casts, usually used, all busted up,” Fuller said. “I think I was discussing this at one of my Dypsi shows, and one of the onlookers said, “Hey, I have some of my father’s old dentures. Would you like those?” and I’m guessing he doesn’t need them anymore… so I was like sure.”
Fuller said he hung onto those dentures for a few years as he gathered the right parts and pieces for the robot he wanted to make. “I waited until I had a couple of cool pieces to go with it because I thought those were special,” Fuller explained. “It helped normalize that person’s life.”
“People were like ‘what the hell is this guy doing?’” When I completed the piece with the dentures, it turned out really, really good. It was one of my favorite pieces. It was creepy, it was cool, I felt like I had made a complete piece. I was happy with it. I ended up finding her email, sending her a picture of the piece, telling her, ‘I finally got around to using your father’s dentures, I hope you approve, had a lot of fun…’ and she just loved it, her uncle ended up buying it for her. When I talked to her, she ended up sending me a picture of her father, and I swear to god it was so creepy, how much it looked exactly like him. It was an old man, bald, kind of gaunt, and that’s exactly how the piece ended up looking. I was like… get this thing out of here.”
But the dentures weren’t the beginning of wild part-human, part-machine creations. “The one with my aunt’s glass eyes, that was the precursor to starting to get really weird with it,” Fuller said. “My aunt has a glass eye, apparently you have to get them replaced because your physiology changes, so she has some glass eyes and I was like, “Aunt Sally, you have to give those to me,” because she was talking about throwing them away, I thought that was absolutely crazy, you don’t throw away glass eyes.” Fuller said. So he decided to incorporate them into his work.
“She’s tickled pink about me using it. It was the gateway of getting super weird. Then the teeth… the way the whole thing came together. Kismet-ly looking like him. That was probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever made.”
For Fuller, there’s a humanness to what he creates. “You can go online and buy [glass eyes or dentures] and there’s a million of them out there. But that’s not the point of what I do. I’ll search eBay for some stuff, but things like that I don’t want to buy. It’s not the point,” he said.
“The way I make something personal is like if you have a certain piece of kitchenware that grandma used to use. Something that has her soul in it. His or her soul. A lot of the times, I’ll find an old biscuit cutter where the wood’s all worn away. I just picture someone in the 50’s, 60’s, little old grannie or whoever, cutting biscuits out with love, wanting them for her family or grandchild, so that love, that energy is in that handle. When I look for pieces, I look for stuff like that. Pieces with scuff marks, the handle that has seen so many biscuits cut. It’s hard to make something look like someone, but there are ways to instill their soul in something.”
To see more of Cre Fuller’s work follow his Instagram @crefuller or visit him online at www.crefuller.com. Contact Fuller at email@example.com
Sat Nam Rasayan is the name of a sacred healing technique that has recently become available in Ann Arbor, through Billie Wahlen (also known as Mohinder Singh). Wahlen is a gifted healer and massage therapist, and is well-established and known in Ann Arbor’s healing and bodywork subcultures.
When I emailed Anne Ormond to ask if I could interview her for this profile in the Crazy Wisdom Journal she replied, “Sure, why not? For Crazy Wisdom? That is a pretty good description of me—crazy wisdom.” The answer is typical Anne; brief, perceptive, a little self-deprecating, and witty. In a later conversation I said to her, “A lot of people your age are doing a fraction of what you’re doing,” she shot back with, “A lot of people my age are dead.” Anne is 83, and still busily engaged in a dizzying array of organizations and activities. “Well, I got to be 83, and I am still healthy—through pure luck and heredity, and maybe also thanks to my healthy life-style. I am constantly doing things; physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Many things that I do fit into more than one category. I choose to do things that I love. I have passions.” And she seems compelled to seize every opportunity to wring as much as possible out of every single moment.
It has been more than a year since the #MeToo hashtag rippled through the collective consciousness. Inspired and moved by the hashtag, a team of southeast Michigan-based activists, educators, parents, survivors, and community members came together to host a community-based healing initiative called the #MeToo Storytelling Salon. The first #MeToo Storytelling Salon took place in late 2017 in Ann Arbor, and over 60 people attended from all over the region.
The Crazy Wisdom Interview with Dr. Molly McMullen-Laird and Dr. Quentin McMullen, Founders of the Rudolf Steiner Health Center, on Anthroposophic Medicine
Quentin McMullen and Molly McMullen-Laird are a husband-and-wife doctor team and the founders of Rudolf Steiner Health Center, which is one of Ann Arbor’s leading alternative medical practices. Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Steiner Health is unique as a “community-supported medical practice,” and it focuses on anthroposophic medicine, which combines conventional and integrative approaches to medicine and is based on the teachings of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.
Interview with Navtej Johar (E-RYT 500) a senior and longtime student of TKV Desikachar. A dancer by profession, he has been teaching yoga since 1985. He is the founder of the Poorna Center for Embodied Practices and also teaches at Inward Bound Yoga in Ann Arbor.
Webster Farmers Market: Preserving a Historic Neighborhood through Farming, Food, Craft, and Community
When my friends told me about a Sunday Winter Farmers Market, my husband and I jumped in the van and headed to Webster Township. It was a particularly cold day. Thankfully, aromatic hot coffee greeted us at the door. Violet Raterman, one of the market managers, helped us navigate the market for our first visit. The entire experience was moving for some reason, but I could not put my finger on it. I had to find out more about the people behind this market and the space in which it thrived.
The word “hospice” is one of those terms to which each individual has a unique and palpable reaction. For some it brings a sense of fear or uneasiness. In others it arouses tender memories of a past experience as it relates to a family member. For a lucky handful, their faces light up when engaged in a conversation regarding end of life care in the capable and compassionate hands of hospice staff. These blessed few seem filled with peace and joy in the face of this word. As with all of life, we perceive it through our own lenses, which shape how we feel about any given situation. My personal experience and perception of hospice is filtered through many different experiences with friends, family, and from volunteering for a children’s grief program I helped create with Hospice of Asheville, North Carolina, in the early eighties. I’ve had several close friends cared for by their loving hands during end stages of life, and three of my grandparents and my mother-in-law were in hospice care before they passed out of this earthly plane with loved ones by their side. I know what it takes to be a volunteer and how impactful it was to receive comfort and care, both in facilities and in-home
ShuNahSii Rose is the creator of In Sacred Balance. Now in its 27th year, In Sacred Balance offers a model of a “sustained inter-generational feminist spiritual community” with deep Ann Arbor roots. The magic ShuNahSii creates is palpable and necessary, a healing balm for the soul of the world. I met her for coffee and to chat about her passion for restoring relations between humanity and other inhabitants of our world.
Oran Hesterman is 67, but moves with the vigor and energy of a much younger man. He is trim, with a full head of salt and pepper hair, and his complexion is that of a man who has spent a lot of time outdoors. He speaks thoughtfully, choosing his words carefully. Listening to him answer questions about Fair Food Network (FFN), the organization he founded in 2009, and about which he must have conversed many times, with many people, you still have the sense that he is freshly thinking through his answers.
On the night before winter solstice in 2017, I was part of a small group that set out at dusk from the parking lot at Matthaei Botanical Gardens, carrying paper globes as we entered the adjacent woods on a footpath. Our guide, Ann Arbor artist and art teacher Cayla Samano, had distributed the lanterns beforehand. As darkness came down around us, the light-sensitive globes turned on, bright white orbs in the shadowy woods. Ice and snow crunched underfoot. We took our time, Cayla reminding us not to rush, asking us to slow our pace.
Most of us have been raised in a culture of reward and punishment. We do something “good”, and we are praised; we do something “bad” and we are blamed and punished. We’re trained early on to respond to the external judgements of others to feel safe and included.
César Valdez, 43, is a local psychotherapist doing cutting edge work with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, EMDR, trauma and grief work, and with transpersonal approaches to personal development. Trained at U-M’s School of Social Work, he’s been practicing in Ann Arbor for 15 years.
I first met Coco Newton over a decade ago. Back then she was raising a family, adapting to being a local celebrity (her husband, Roger, was part of the Lipitor team at Pfizer), and creating a nutritional practice focused on individual needs. Over that decade, diet, food, and food systems have been evolving in culture and healthcare.
Pioneer High School social studies teacher Jim Robert is known to many, including his students, simply as “JR.” At age 58, he has been teaching for 25 years, 24 of them at Pioneer. In 1996, while teaching a philosophy class to seniors, he began to develop an innovative curriculum idea: how could he create an experience for students to explore self-awareness and self-examination in an academic setting, especially as our culture moves toward test results driven measures of success?