CMU’s Clarke Historical Library says that on Nov 30, 1885, the Northern Michigan Asylum for the Insane opened in Traverse City. It’s now known as the The Village at Grand Traverse Commons and 10 years ago I worked there and was able to lead and was able to lead a group of photographers including Carolyn on a tour of the then un-renovated parts of what was known as Building 50. FYI, the section we toured is now the luxurious Cordia senior residential club.
The facility was a Kirkbride Institution, designed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride. Kirkbride was a Pennsylvania Quaker and founding member of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane who developed a concept of treatment known as the Kirkbride Plan. This plan proposed a particular way of housing patients that included segregating by severity of mental illness and fresh air and natural light where possible:
It was believed crucial to place patients in a more natural environment away from the pollutants and hectic energy of urban centers. Abundant fresh air and natural light not only contributed to a healthy environment, but also served to promote a more cheerful atmosphere. Extensive grounds with cultivated parks and farmland were also beneficial to the success of an asylum. Landscaped parks served to both stimulate and calm patients’ minds with natural beauty (enhanced by rational order) while improving the overall aspect of the asylum. Farmland served to make the asylum more self-sufficient by providing readily available food and other farm products at a minimal cost to the state.
Patients were encouraged to help work the farms and keep the grounds, as well as participate in other chores. Such structured occupation was meant to provide a sense of purpose and responsibility which, it was believed, would help regulate the mind as well as improve physical fitness. Patients were also encouraged to take part in recreations, games, and entertainments which would also engage their minds, make their stay more pleasant, and perhaps help foster and maintain social skills.
There’s lots more from Kirkbride Buildings where the author has done some spectacular scholarship and created an excellent resource for these amazing structures. The Kirkbride System produced a photographic environment of uncommon richness that is evident in the photos from the group A little trip up north… It’s also reflected in the grounds and the shops, restaurants & businesses that are part of the Commons today.
Like most people these days, professional photographers are struggling as their livelihood vanishes down a Covid-19 rabbithole. One of my photographer friends in Traverse City came up with a cool way to continue working responsibly AND add to the community. Northern Michigan Porch-raits is a social distancing photography project from the safety of your home. 100% of the proceeds from each session fee will be donated to the amazing hometown heroes working tirelessly for the community at Munson Medical Center. Sarah writes:
I want people to feel good about supporting this project, and I really want to do my part to safely join the fight. As an artist and small business owner, I’ve felt pretty helpless and limited in how I can make a difference. I’m not good at sewing like all the wonderful people who are making masks, so this is my socially distanced creative way of giving back to the fight while also bringing joy to my community. It’s such a scary and uncertain time for everyone. My friends and family members are healthcare workers and have weakened immune systems. This is my way of feeling like I can make a difference.
Session fees will be waived for healthcare workers!
There’s no better time than now to have some photos of you and your quarantine crew using a telephoto lens from my car (seriously! I never even get out of my vehicle). Since everyone is home, many with their families, why not use this time to support a local art, give back to Munson AND receive a beautiful portrait to commemorate this extremely weird time This is not just for families! Have you ever had a nice photo taken of you and your dog? This is your chance to do it for a fraction of the normal price! When you sign up for this service from Exposures by Rah, you’ll pay a $20 fee to reserve your date/time. I will arrive with my telephoto lens to snap a handful of photos at a safe distance from my car.
You can check out the photos in her editorial gallery called Northern Michigan Porch-raits: The COVID-19 Sessions.
Here’s a shot I took while standing on the amazingly clear ice on Lake Michigan’s Suttons Bay on last Saturday with my sweetheart! mLive liked it enough to share in their article about Grand Traverse Bay freezing over (Suttons Bay is a “sub-bay” of GT Bay – here’s a map):
“Back in the early to mid-1900s the bay froze 80-90% of the time,” said Heather Smith, Grand Traverse baykeeper for the center. “Around 1990, ice cover dropped to 20-30%.”
This winter is the eighth time Grand Traverse Bay has frozen over since 1990.
The frozen conditions likely extend far beyond Power Island, at least close to shore. Last weekend, ice boaters, ice fishermen and people walking their dogs flocked to the frozen surface of Suttons Bay for some winter fun.
Grand Traverse Bay is divided neatly by Old Mission Peninsula into its East Arm and its West Arm. Its East Arm runs north of Elk Rapids, while its West Arm includes the popular Power Island and extends to Suttons Bay. From there, the bay curves around the Leelanau Peninsula where it merges with Lake Michigan.
Happy Valentines Day everyone!!
Communities across Michigan have been celebrating Pride Month during the month of June, and I thought I would share one of my favorite photos ever. It was taken by my friend Michael at the annual Traverse City Pride Parade sponsored by Up North Pride. I’ll be joining thousands of others to march this Sunday (June 25) at noon – you can click that link for all the details.
I have no doubt that some may find this post controversial and ask me to “stick to pictures and not politics.” To any with that viewpoint, I would like to point out that this picture is NOT politics, this is personal. In addition to honoring the many photographers I feature on Michigan in Pictures who are lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, questioning or otherwise, I have many dear friends who are happily married to the love of their lives, and I believe at the very core of my being that they deserve every benefit of marriage & society that anyone else has.
Please feel free to enjoy my personal blog as I see fit to share it. If it offends you, suffer whatever slight this is for you in silence or simply stop following me. Whatever you do, don’t post anything hateful because I will ban you so fast and probably say mean things to you on the way out just to make it perfectly clear that I support the civil rights of every American.
OK, that’s more than enough justifying myself for posting whatever I feel like on my blog. Let’s hear what the Library of Congress has to say about Pride Month:
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events.
You can view the photo bigger on the Up North Pride Facebook page, follow Michael on Instagram, and if you’re looking for one of the finest portrait photographers I know, definitely consider Michael Poehlman Photography!
PS: His Personal Work gallery is really cool!
Here’s a ridiculous sunset that my friend John captured on Wednesday night over West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City. The Rays & Shadows page from our friends at Atmospheric Optics identifies these as “cloud shadows” and says that they are basically the reverse of crepuscular rays, the beams of light that stream through gaps in clouds.
There’s a first time for everything – apologies to Aaron Springer for partially incorrectly attributing today’s photo!!
“Light softens even the hardest of hearts.”
A nice sentiment for Valentine’s Day, and I hope you get a chance to spend some time this week enjoying the beautiful light of Michigan.
There’s 10+ years of Valentine’s Day photos on Michigan in Pictures.
Happy Friday the 13th and here’s hoping that the only luck that finds you today is good luck!
Cherie took this photo back in 2010 at Building 50 at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. I know this because I happened to be the tour guide for her and a group of Exposure.Detroit photographers! Building 50 was the main building at the old Northern Michigan State Hospital. You can read about the visit & the history of the asylum on Michigan in Pictures.
A Healthier Michigan is a pretty cool blog with some state-specific tips for better health. Their post on the annual Michigan’s Apple Crunch Day (Thursday, October 13) says that every October, schools, organizations, and businesses bite into Michigan apples on the same day, setting records for apples eaten.
It’s a partnership between the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Farm to School, Cherry Capital Foods and Cultivate Michigan as a reminder of the importance of agriculture and knowing where your food comes from. Last year 400,000 people in Michigan ate a Michigan-grown apple on Apple Crunch Day!
The Michigan Apple Committee notes that with 11.3 million apple trees covering 35,500 acres on 825 family-run farms, Michigan is the nation’s third largest producer of apples!
Here’s a video with photos from last year’s Apple Crunch by Cherry Capital Foods!
Since I shared something from the first day of fall, it seems only fitting that I share something from the last day of summer! Here’s a stunning sunrise over West Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City by my friend John!
Click the pic to view it background bigilicious and get more from John, including professional portraits at jrwpix.com!