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2022 Year in Review: Our favorite feel-good stories

I’m sure we’ve all faced our share of challenges this year. But plenty of good things did happen. Here are some of our favorite feel-good stories we brought you in 2022:

Pride and Renaissance Faire collide at Mid-Michigan festival

Extravagant floats, lip-syncing drag queens and lively pop tunes - these are just a few of the sights and sounds that fill the streets each June during Pride. But this July, a new type of Pride has come along - one filled with pirates, princesses, and even the occasional jousting match.

Tucked away in a forest in Vassar, Michigan, the Mid-Michigan Renaissance Festival runs every year for three weekends in July. This year, festival-goers had a chance to flaunt their pride renaissance-style at the first ever “Pride is in the Faire” event on Saturday, July 23.

“We don't have to pretend to be somebody we're not. We can be this weird,” said living history enthusiast Nicole Mai. “This is an everyday outfit for me, and out in the world I get all of these, like, weird looks and sneers and like, what are you wearing? And here it's just like, I'm just me and the kids can just be them. And I love it so much. It just - it feels very free.”

Ramadan Mubarak! The "taste of Tunisia" from Ann Arbor's El Harissa

This year, we took you through the holy month of Ramadan with a cookbook filled with recipes you could make to break your fast with for Iftar.

One of the places we visited was El Harissa, located on North Maple Road in Ann Arbor. Khaled Houamed and his son, Yusef, welcomed Michigan Radio to their café and market for an off-menu, classic Iftar dish that is best served fresh and hot: Tunisian Brik and Fatima's Fingers.

Yusef Houamed, explaining the mix, called it the "taste of Tunisia."

Mornings in Michigan: Dancing into the wee hours with techno icon Carl Craig

This story is part of Mornings in Michigan, our series about morning rituals from across our state. Former Michigan Radio

producer, Erin Allen, took us inside the Movement Electronic Music festival at Hart Plaza:

If you were in downtown Detroit over Memorial Day weekend, odds are you heard the pulsating sounds of Movement Electronic Music festival at Hart Plaza. Though the festival normally ends by midnight every day, there’s a late night — or shall I say early morning — dance music scene that makes Movement a 24-hour affair.

I stayed up into the wee hours of Sunday morning to attend the Detroit Love party, one of Movement's official afterparties. The line-up was star studded, and one person on the bill was Detroit native and techno icon, Carl Craig. Craig is a DJ, composer, and producer, and he's one of the founders of the original Movement, then known as Detroit Electronic Music Festival.

Mornings in Michigan: During Ramadan's early hours, thousands gather for food, faith, and community

Every weekend during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, thousands of people gather in Dearborn for the Ramadan Suhoor Festival. A former Sears parking lot is transformed into a community-wide get together that lasts into the wee hours of the morning.

Outside Dearborn’s Fairlane Town Center mall, the line to get into the festival winds through the parking lot. Event organizers are collecting the $1 entry fee that will be donated to local charities. There is an elaborate and sparkly tunnel, decked out in fairy lights and shaped by a light-up crescent moon.

Visitors are greeted by a cutout display containing a sermon on Ramadan by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

It reads, "(its) days, the best of days. Its nights, the best of nights. Its hours, the best of hours.”

425,000 people in Michigan may have a hard time seeing this bird; that could change

Some visitors to two of Michigan’s state parks will see something they’ve never fully seen before: the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows of fall.

Many people with color blindness would have difficult seeing this northern cardinal in the forest.
Lester Graham
Many people with color blindness would have difficult seeing this northern cardinal in the forest.

About one in every 12 men is colorblind, and one out of every 200 women is. That's about 425,000 people in Michigan who cannot see about 90% of the hues and shades visible to the rest of the population. Some colors are indistinguishable. For many with colorblindness, reds look brown. Green seems sort of brown or gray. A northern cardinal’s red might not stand out against the green tree leaves.

A few years ago, Tennessee Tourism approached a company that made eyeglasses that helped people with colorblindness see much more of the color spectrum. They wanted to make things more accessible.

“To see the changing of the leaves in the fall in the Smoky Mountains in particular,” said Kent Streeb, vice president of communications and partnerships for EnChroma.

Stateside Podcast: Grand Rapids poet reimagines rent

Artists have long been major players in social justice spaces and community aid, but one creative collective in Grand Rapids is looking to take a more explicit role in the housing market. Their latest project completely reimagines affordable living, and aims to set up community members for long-term success.

Marcel Price, known around the Grand Rapids community as “Fable," is a former poet laureate of the city, and the executive director of The Diatribe, a youth-focused non-profit. He joined Stateside to discuss a new affordable housing unit that The Diatribe is planning in the city’s Southeast side.

Not your mom's Muppets: A weekend of whimsy and performance at the Detroit Puppet Slam

When you hear “puppet show,” your mind might go to googly eyes glued onto a sock. Or maybe you think of something like

Sesame Street or Jim Henson’s iconic movie Dark Crystal. But chances are you haven’t seen the puppets starring in the 2022 Detroit Puppet Slam.

From papier-mâché talking plants to larger-than-life black cats, the Detroit Puppet Slam will feature original puppets in a line-up of live shows this weekend. We spoke with several artists set to perform plus Carrie Morris, the founder of the nonprofit behind the slam: Detroit Puppet Company.

After years as a puppet curator for the Detroit Institute of Arts, Carrie purchased a house in Detroit—near the border of Hamtramck, and founded Carrie Morris Arts Production—which would eventually be rebranded as the Detroit Puppet Company. What began as a grassroots art and performance space in 2015 has grown to include arts programs, professional development for local artists, and place-keeping initiatives for northwest Detroit and Hamtramck.

40 years of literature and love at Oak Park bookstore

If you’re looking for a calm, quiet place to get lost in a good story, there’s nothing quite like a local bookstore. But with the rise of

big box stores and online retail, indie shops have faced stiff competition. None of that seems to have deterred the owners of the Book Beat in Oak Park, though. The store, tucked into an unassuming corner of a strip mall, has been thriving for 40 years now.

Cary Loren and Colleen Kammer have been keeping it local at the Book Beat since 1982. They opened the store together in the same location, taking over a space that used to belong to a maternity clothing shop. The small–but mighty–shop on Greenfield Road has grown over the years despite tough odds, and it celebrated 40 years in the book business with a celebration back in August.

Suspension bridge through the tree tops could attract more visitors to an MSU hidden gem

Austin (l) and Robbie (r) Oates with Phoenix Experiential Designs, working on the 700 foot suspension bridge through the tree tops at Hidden Lake Gardens.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Austin (l) and Robbie (r) Oates with Phoenix Experiential Designs, working on the 700 foot suspension bridge through the tree tops at Hidden Lake Gardens.

There’s a hidden gem of nature in Michigan and people drive right past it without realizing what it is.

Hidden Lake Gardens is in Lenawee County about ten miles west of the small town of Tecumseh. The director of the gardens says this place has been around as far back as 1926, but not that many people are aware of it.

Chuck Gross drives by Hidden Lake Gardens on M-50 each day on his way to work. It really bugs him that more people don’t know about it.

Many of those who do visit, just drive around the six miles of roads through the forest and gardens. They don’t even get out of their cars to explore the 12 miles of hiking trails.

He had an idea. What if Hidden Lake Gardens built an attraction? Something where you had to hike a bit to get to it.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Public. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.