Social media has not been having its finest hour in the national headlines. But if we've learned anything definitive from a year of eyebrow-raising tweets from public figures and Facebook-facilitated election interference, it's that people are heavily relying on social media for their information and public engagement, for better or for worse.
Let's highlight the better, shall we? Here are 10 (of the many) must-follow social media accounts in Ann Arbor. From live-Tweeting public board meetings to collegiate sports photos, these local voices are telling the story of Ann Arbor, one post at a time.
1. Mary Morgan on Facebook
Nothing gets by Mary Morgan. The former publisher of the now-shuttered Ann Arbor Chronicle and current executive director of the voter-engagement organization The CivCity Initiative, Morgan posts everything from photos of relevant fliers she encounters around town to tough questions for public officials making dubious ethical moves. No one in Ann Arbor is working harder to engage the public — or to inspire others to become the next generation of civic superheroes.
2. Trey Boynton on TwitterDiversity in tech is a critical conversation going on nationwide, and it has special relevance here in Ann Arbor as we grow into more of a tech hub every year. Enter Trey Boynton, the diversity and inclusion officer for one of Ann Arbor's most-loved tech companies, Duo Security. Follow Boynton for updates on local efforts to make tech more inclusive, as well as to stay plugged into the industry's progress nationally.
3. Humans of Ann Arbor on Facebook
Though the format is famously imported from elsewhere, Humans of Ann Arbor is a joyful celebration of life in Tree Town. The feed is populated with photos taken by Susan Campbell, Kristen Parker, Sophia Camp, and Evan White (whose work is pictured here), who have a knack for capturing the heart of Ann Arbor in every portrait. Townies, football fans, toddlers (OMG, the toddlers!) — you name it. The full Ann Arborite spectrum is on beautiful display.
4. Daphne Watkins, Ph.D. on Twitter Townie life and university life can feel very separate in Ann Arbor, but the research coming out of the University of Michigan is very much part of the city's story. We started following Daphne Watkins when reporting on her work studying institutional racism on campus, and we haven't looked away since. Her Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health (YBMen) social media project continues to evolve, giving Ann Arborites a reminder of the far-reaching and meaningful research coming out of our hometown school.
5. Susan Fecteau on Facebook
Ann Arbor's history of activism is alive and well — and evident on Susan Fecteau's Facebook page. Fecteau is a townie and activist who shares information on local events, reminders to call legislators, and hilariously colorful commentary on political news. Fecteau isn't just a fascinating and inspiring Ann Arborite to follow, she's also a fun one.
6. Yousef Rabhi on Facebook
Ann Arbor politicians tend to have spotty social media presences, but not Michigan Rep. Yousef Rabhi. Keeping constituents informed is clearly a priority for him, as his Facebook page is awash with local news, unabashed reactions to current events, and his positions on legislation. You don't have to wonder how Rabhi feels about anything, though his posts are both candid and thoughtful — a balance politicians at all levels of government struggle to strike.
7. AnnArbivore / Monet Tiedemann on Twitter Locals who miss the Ann Arbor Chronicle's tireless efforts to report every motion from every meeting of every public body in town will love Monet Tiedemann's project, AnnArbivore. The Ann Arbor photographer and mom's blog used to be about food, but is now a chronicle — paired with her live tweets — of every Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting. Every local parent and taxpayer should feel indebted to her efforts.
8. Eric Bronson on Instagram
For some good clean fun in your Instagram feed, follow Eric Bronson, a senior photographer for the University of Michigan. Mostly sports-related, Bronson's collection of photography is a beautiful and entertaining reminder of the world-class athletes, facilities, and events here in our little city. Plus, there's the occasional butterfly, goat, or baby photo as well, so this account is a good time even for locals who aren't into college sports. A relatively new Ann Arborite, real estate pro Ryan Tobias is really into downtown development. He shares news and opinions on everything from the location of the forthcoming train station to new private development proposals before city council. On his related blog, Tobias notes that his professional work takes place out of town, so his coverage and musings on local development are purely for his own entertainment — and for ours as well.
9. TreeDownTown on Twitter
10. David Zinn on Instagram
If you know Ann Arbor at all, you know David Zinn's work. But even if you think this is one account you can skip because, duh, you can just see his chalk drawings all over town anyway, think again. Zinn's photos and videos on Instagram not only showcase the mind-boggling breadth of his work (seriously, there's a new adorable chalk character every few days!), but they also add delightful context you'll never get just by passing his work on the street. Take for example this short video of a chalked man whose hat is an illusion created by a cigarette ashcan, which Zinn has captioned, "The return of Sir Beaufort 'Ashcan' Smythe-Pettijohn, this time with his second-tallest hat and third-friendliest turtle." And you didn't think you could love Zinn's work any more.
Natalie Burg is Concentrate's senior writer.
David Zinn photo by Doug Coombe.