This Week on One Detroit:

Michigan’s book ban battle: Navigating the controversy of literary censorship in metro Detroit

Traditionally revered as centers of knowledge, libraries, schools and bookstores are now grappling with attacks on intellectual freedom and the right to access diverse literary works. The contentious issue of book bans has taken center stage across the nation, and in metro Detroit, it’s no different. A clash between what has been branded as conservative values and the freedom to read has raised concerns about the boundaries of literary expression, and the battle has continued in cities including Ferndale, Royal Oak, Lapeer and Grand Rapids.  

The rise of book bans has also brought attention to the “Miller Test,” which was established by the U.S. Supreme Court to define obscenity. The test sets a legal precedent that has often been invoked in debates surrounding censorship, and it’s one that libraries often consult before acquiring new materials. Delving into the state of book bans and literary freedom in Michigan, we’re left with a looming question: is Michigan on the precipice of a larger censorship storm?  

One Detroit’s Elizabeth Stewart set out to learn how libraries across metro Detroit have been impacted by book bans and where Michigan stands on the issue. Stewart talks with Ferndale Public Library Assistant Director Jordan Wright about ways the library has been targeted by those who wish to keep LGBTQ+ books out of public libraries. She also talks with PEN America’s Freedom to Read Program Director Kasey Meehan about what we’re seeing nationwide.  

Plus, Katie MacFarland, chair of the Oakland County Moms for Liberty, an organization that wants more parental control over their children’s education, shares her thoughts on literary censorship in schools.  Michigan Library Association Executive Director Debbie Mikula talks about the MLA’s MI Right to Read hotline, which started in 2021 to provide local news on incidents of censorship and tips for fighting book bans, along with other resources.  

Three operas are making their Detroit debut during Detroit Opera’s 2023-24 season

The Detroit Opera’s 2023-2024 season has been announced. Under the leadership of President and CEO Wayne S. Brown, in his last season before retirement, and the direction of Artistic Director Yuval Sharon, this season’s lineup features a thrilling juxtaposition of classic and contemporary operas, exploring the themes of collision and collage as characters defy societal norms and expectations. In an exciting first, the 2023-24 season will feature four operas, three of which will be making their Detroit debut.  

Kicking off the season on Oct. 7, Detroit Opera will transport Giacomo Puccini’s beloved “Madame Butterfly” into a fantastical contemporary setting, offering a fresh perspective on a timeless story of cultural clash. Among the season’s highlights is “Breaking the Waves,” a heart-wrenching opera inspired by the controversial Lars von Trier film, marking a significant milestone with a female composer, Missy Mazzoli, at the helm.  

The Opera will also introduce the first concert in a new series, “Beyond the Pit,” which will showcase Detroit Opera’s orchestra and emerging singers from its Resident Artist Program performing in venues and locations outside the opera house. Additionally, the season will include Leoš Janáček’s “The Cunning Little Vixen,” a family-friendly and enchanting fable that will delight audiences with its transformative production. 

One Detroit contributor Cecelia Sharpe of 90.9 WRCJ sits down with Detroit Opera Music Director Roberto Kalb to talk about the four upcoming operas slated for the 2023-24 season and the opera’s mission to be bold and innovative with the artform. Plus, Kalb talks about the importance of opera changing with the times and Detroit Opera’s efforts to champion diversity through its contemporary approaches. 

Detroit artist Mike Han debuts his first solo exhibit during 13th annual Detroit Month of Design

A blend of artistic inspiration and sustainable design is on display at Playground Detroit this month. Detroit-based designer and artist Mike Han presents his debut solo exhibition during Design Core Detroit’s 13th annual Detroit Month of Design. Han’s inaugural solo exhibit, titled “Mike Han: United by Design,” takes people on a captivating exploration of his creative practice, which is infused with Korean calligraphy techniques, graffiti inspiration, and modern design elements. The exhibit runs through Sept. 30 at Playground Detroit.

Through his exhibit, Han has collaborated with several renowned Detroit brands such as Gardner WhiteLeon SpeakersSEE Eyewear, Detroitissimi, and Mothfire Beer, who, together, are seeking to create sustainable objects that enhance people’s daily lives and promote a harmonious coexistence with the environment. A special highlight of the exhibition is Han’s “Modern Vandalism” series, where he employs a special ink to paint on blueprints by iconic architects Albert Kahn and Minoru Yamasaki 

Han’s artistry reflects a deep connection to his Korean roots, as he employs organic yet deliberate mark-making techniques on meticulously chosen materials. This distinctive blend of heritage, sustainability, and contemporary artistry offers visitors a unique opportunity to delve into Han’s meditative practice and explore the rich tapestry of his identity.  

On the heels of his exhibit opening on Sept. 2, Han sat down with One Detroit producer Sarah Smith to explore how design can help us live healthier lives, the intersection of design and sustainability, and what he hopes people will take away from his collaborative exhibit. Plus, Han talks about the significance of giving historic blueprints a new life through graffiti and how he employs sustainable materials throughout his artwork.  

One Detroit Weekend: September 29, 2023

It’s finally fall, and Detroit has a lot of fun activities to offer. Check out more than 70 films by African American filmmakers at the Detroit Black Film Festival; Grab some warm cider and donuts at the Great Fall Festival; or celebrate the end of another successful Detroit Month of Design. For music lovers, you can see Peter Gabriel in concert at Little Caesars Arena. Check out everything you can do around town this weekend and into next week on “One Detroit Weekend” with contributors Peter Whorf and Dave Wagner of 90.9 WRCJ. 

List of upcoming events: 

  • More than 70 films created by Black directors, filmmakers and more will be on display through Oct. 1 during the Detroit Black Film Festival. Films will be shown at The Carr Center, the Marlene Boll YMCA Theater and the DoubleTree Hotel on West Lafayette Boulevard. 
  • Throughout September, Detroit has celebrated its UNESCO City of Design designation during the 13th annual Detroit Month of Design. Celebrate the end of another successful festival during closing weekend celebrations at Shinola’s Flagship Store Sept. 29 and Spot Lite Detroit Sept. 30.  
  • Explore the intersection of art, design and sustainability at Detroit artist Mike Han’s exhibit “Mike Han: United by Design” at Playground Detroit through Sept. 30. The exhibit is part of Design Core Detroit’s Detroit Month of Design. 
  • Get your first taste of fall at the Great Fall Festival at Maybury Farm in Northville Sept. 30 – Oct. 1. The festival will feature live music, wagon rides, pumpkin-themed games, warm cider and donuts, and so much more. 
  • Catch a run of “A Jukebox for the Algonquin,” a “serious comedy” about senior citizens who are trying to prove that aging can be fun, presented by The Farmington Players at the Farmington Players Barn on select days from Sept. 29 through Oct. 14. 
  • Don’t miss renowned singer, songwriter Peter Gabriel, solo artist and former lead singer of the progressive rock band Genesis, take the stage for his i/o – The Tour at Little Caesars Arena at 8 p.m. Sept. 29.  
  • Check out new works by Detroit-based artist Megan Heeres through her exhibit “Tending Time” at the Simone DeSousa Gallery through Oct. 7. The exhibit also features a nature and sound walk with Heeres on Sept. 30 and a closing block party on Oct. 7.  
  • Are you ready for a highly interactive improvised game show? Join Go Comedy! Improv Theater for its All-Star showdown, a battle between two improv teams to get the most laughs while using suggestions from the audience. Shows happen every Friday and Saturday at the theater. 

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