Category Archives: From the President

CFF Announces This Year’s Good Neighbors (printed in April 2010 edition of Ferndale Friends)

CFF Announces This Year’s Good Neighbors

By: Kat Bruner James, Chair of Citizens for a Fair Ferndale

The nominations have come in, and this year’s Good Neighbors have been chosen.  From well known local business people who have contributed, to numerous local organizations to unassuming folks down the block who have made their neighbors feel welcome, this year’s winners should make us all proud to be a part of this community.

In 2004, Citizens for a Fair Ferndale (CFF) members decided to begin a new program to recognize people in Ferndale who support CFF’s goals and objectives in their everyday lives.  Awards winners are recognized by their actions—no matter how big or small—that promote fairness, equality and the mission of CFF (see below).  Thus began the CFF Good Neighbors = Strong Community Awards (or just “Good Neighbors Awards,” for short).

This year’s nomination process yielded the most nominations CFF has ever received.  And they were excellent nominations.  Before the process began, we had already decided that we would be honoring ten people, as promoted in our call for nominations.  A few nominees had already received a Good Neighbors Award, and the committee decided that we were not ready to recognize the same person twice.  Each submission was a pleasure to review, and we expect that some that were not chosen this year will be nominated again in the future.

So, without further ado, here are this year’s winners, in alphabetical order: Angela Barboza-Ryan, Laura Bellamy, Kevin Deegan-Krause, Doug and Penny Gephardt, Jon Glab (owner of Strawberry Moon), Ralph and Christine Jerulle, Sherry Kurzman-Martin, La Leche League of Ferndale/Oak Park, John Sterritt and Sherry Wells.  Jerome Raska and Robbin Yelverton of Blumz by J.R. Designs will also be recognized as the second CFF “Community Partner,” a relatively new award that goes to someone selected by CFF for their direct participation in promoting CFF’s efforts.

The Good Neighbors Awards event will be held in April, and, hopefully, we will have more to report following the event.  Be sure to “stay tuned.”

More CFF events coming up:

CFF has more important events on the horizon.  On Sunday, April 25, CFF will hold its School Board Candidates’ Forum.  At press time, the exact time and location were not confirmed, but readers can check for details.  Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to the candidates and the candidates will also submit responses to our questionnaire that will be available on our website through election.

CFF also plans to launch a new project in May called, “Hello Ferndale!”  In the same spirit of our Candidate Forums, Hello Ferndale! is intended to provide residents with more information about municipal services, community organizations, and the like.  The first installment of this program, which is headed up by Francine Hachem, will provide an interview style with representatives from the Downtown Development Association (DDA) to explain to residents exactly what the DDA does, how they are funded, and how residents can get involved.  Please watch our website and future editions of Ferndale Friends for more information about upcoming events, including a music fundraiser at Club Bart in June.

The mission of Citizen’s for a Fair Ferndale is to foster a community that is dedicated to the fair and equal treatment of all residents and visitors regardless of sexual orientation, race, color, religion, gender, age, height, weight, familial status, national origin, physical or mental disability.  Our next meeting is April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ferndale Library.

From the President: Won’t You Be My E-Neighbor?

by Kat Bruner James
Adapted from article originally published in Ferndale Friends, February 2010 Edition

It’s amazing how Ferndale groups such as Citizens for a Fair Ferndale (CFF), FernCare, Affirmations and others have furthered their missions, and even raised dollars, through social networking websites. On Facebook alone, you can be friends with local businesses like Go Comedy!, B. Nektar Meadery, the Magic Bag, and Blumz—just to name a few. The Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Ferndale (the DDA), and DIY Street Fair also have pages to keep you informed of local events and information. I did a quick tally of Ferndale groups to which I am connected on Facebook and was astounded to find more than thirty! CFF utilized this resource as we geared up for this year’s Good Neighbors = Strong Community Awards (or “Good Neighbor Awards,” for short).

For those who are not already familiar with social or professional networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn, here is a brief primer: There are a number of websites where you can join and create a profile, which may contain any level of personal or professional information about your education, employment, family, interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes, etc. Then, you become linked (or “friends” with) other people who also have profiles on these sites. Most people connect with their real life friends, neighbors, family and classmates. You may also connect with people who you don’t know at all, but with whom you have something in common (e.g., political views, literature, sports). On most of these sites, you can even create your own group. For example, I could set up a private group for a bowling team that would be by invitation only, just for my teammates. Or I could set up a public group for anybody who loves Howe’s Bayou, for example, which would be open for all to join.

CFF already has a website (generously maintained by Ed Burns), and our secretary, Kelly Farrah, sends out periodic emails to a modest list of email addresses with our meeting agendas and minutes. In addition, I’ve occasionally set up Facebook events and invited all the Ferndaliens on my list of “Friends.” I’ve even set up a CFF group on LinkedIn. But, for the most part, I tend to set up information about CFF events only in the few weeks or days leading up to one. We have also set up a permanent CFF group on Facebook ( to offer up-to-date information.

Of course, there are some detriments to all of these online connections and instant information sharing. In fact, a friend of mine recently wrote to me (on Facebook, actually) that, while the site is useful for getting the word out, it’s equally useful for spreading rumors. I would add that the perceived security of the internet allows people to make comments that they would never say to another person’s face, and it provides yet another platform for those who never followed the rules of decorum and civility in the first place.

Nonetheless, for CFF, I think the benefits outweigh the potential detriment. Our objectives of creating avenues for communication and creating dialog to dissolve barriers can be served by reaching out to more people through internet social networking. We will strive to utilize these tools for productive and positive outcomes. First and foremost, Facebook and other similar websites has helped us distribute Good Neighbor Award nomination information wider than it has ever reached before.

CFF’s Good Neighbor Awards recognize the ongoing efforts of those who live, work or attend school in Ferndale who value the fair and equal treatment of others and are engaged in making this happen on a daily basis. The Good Neighbor Awards program identifies and honors individuals, organizations and businesses in our community who are outstanding examples of “good neighbors,” who are committed to building, preserving, maintaining and improving the quality of life in their neighborhoods and our community. Join us for the announcement of the awards at 7pm on Tuesday, April 20, at Go Comedy!, 261 E. Nine Mile.

What a Difference a Year Makes

by Kathryn Bruner James

About a year ago, the members of Citizens for a Fair Ferndale (CFF) were considering packing it in. We wondered if our mission had perhaps been accomplished and there seemed to be little, if anything, left for us to do in an already progressive community that attracts and accepts people from all backgrounds and lifestyles. But our candidate forums and the Good Neighbors = Strong Community Awards were so enjoyed by many and seemed to serve a need that was different from what any other group was doing; so we decided to go on for at least another year or so and see how things went. On behalf of CFF, I must say that I am so glad that we decided to keep on trucking.

Since our last Ferndale Friends column, we’ve hosted another candidate forum, held a musical fundraiser at Club Bart, were nominated for the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce “Best of Ferndale” award, raised money for FernCare at a recent Bowl-a-thon, and we’re already gearing up for the next Good Neighbor Awards. The way I see it, there is plenty left for us to do that serves our mission and the community.

For example, CFF was able to meet the needs of Ferndale voters at a Candidate Forum on October 18 held at City Hall. The event was co-hosted by the League of Women Voters (LWV), who have a long-standing history of holding such forums. CFF’s role is to essentially pick up where the LWV leaves off due to their somewhat limiting policies. In this election, as in many previous elections, the LVW handled virtually all aspects of the City Council candidates’ portion of the forum, and CFF was to handle the Library Board portion. There was evidently some confusion ahead of time as to whether Mayor Covey—who was running unopposed—would be able to participate. CFF, and apparently Mayor Covey himself, understood that the LWV would be addressing the mayoral election in some fashion. Alas, this turned out not to be the case. In the end, following the Council forum, CFF allowed Mayor Covey to field written questions from the audience for a period of time before the Library Board candidates had their turn. Granted, it was an awkward situation for me because I had to make some quick decisions on behalf of CFF and moderate a discussion that I had not prepared for, but I’m glad we did it. It has always been CFF’s policy to allow participation by unopposed candidates (as we did for the last School Board Candidate Forum) because it simply allows voters to receive information that they might not have otherwise received. Though, perhaps next time we will coordinate more closely with LWV so that the plan is more clearly understood and articulated from the get go. In fact, we will be revamping our forum policies in the near future in an effort to make this program a bit more formal and consistent. We look forward to hosting these forums for many elections to come.

So, what’s next for CFF? I’m glad you asked. Our next big event will be the Good Neighbors = Strong Community Awards (or just Good Neighbor Awards for short). If I’m not mistaken, this will be our fifth time recognizing members of the community who embody our mission. The event will take place sometime in April 2010, and very soon we will begin our call for nominations. Please watch our website ( for the nomination forms to become available. In the meantime, CFF is pondering a possible change of venue. The Ferndale Elks Lodge has hosted us for the past three Good Neighbor Awards, and we have thoroughly enjoyed their hospitality (not to mention their affordable drink prices!). However, our event is growing in size, and we have also been struggling with the fact that the upper level of the Elks Lodge is inaccessible to the disabled—an obvious incongruity to our mission of inclusion. We will do our very best to find a Ferndale venue that suits our needs. Stay tuned for more info.

I also want to quickly note that I’m still figuring out how best to use this column to promote our mission. Obviously, this is a great opportunity to tell readers what CFF has done recently or what’s coming up, but we also want to use the column to educate readers, rather than simply promote events. To that end, I’ve been scouring the Ferndale Historical Society’s website ( for tidbits about our town that relate to the issues that concern CFF. Fun Fact: In 1935, Elizabeth Beasley became the first woman elected to Ferndale’s Board of Education. I hope to include in all future columns a “Fun Fact” about fairness and equality. Let me know if you have any facts to share!

Before this edition’s column ends, I’d like to extend my thanks on behalf of CFF to a few folks who have helped us out recently. The proprietors of Bubble and Bark sponsored our fundraiser at Club Bart in October, which featured live music by the Spangler/Tope Organ Trio. We owe huge thanks go to Bubble and Bark, Club Bart, R.J. Spangler, Ralph Tope, Dale Grisa, Joshua James and Francine Hachem for putting together this fun event and raising a little dough for CFF. The next time you take your dog to Bubble and Bark or grab a drink at Club Bart, please express your appreciation to the owners/managers for supporting CFF. We hope to put on similar events on a regular basis.

Our next meeting is December 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ferndale Library.

Originally published in Ferndale Friends, December 2009 Edition