On the Ground Ypsi to host Ypsi Storytelling Night

Caroline Sanders' story about her experience as a recently-divorced mother parenting a toddler while attending Eastern Michigan University (EMU) will be just one of the Ypsi-centric tales featured at On the Ground Ypsilanti's upcoming Ypsi Storytelling Night.


The free storytelling event sponsored by On the Ground and Concentrate Media takes place from 7-9 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Riverside Arts Center Off Center, 76 N. Huron St. in Ypsi. All stories will center around Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and what the communities mean to those who live there.


"I'm going to talk about my experience as a newly-divorced parent who had lived in Ypsilanti, moved to Southfield, and then moved back to do my master's degree with a 2-year-old," Sanders says. "I want to talk about overcoming obstacles, seen and unseen, and stepping out on faith."


She says the invitation to tell a story during the event initially made her hesitate, but ultimately, she wanted to accept the challenge.


"I thought it would be beneficial and possibly therapeutic, and if you can touch someone else in the audience with your story, that's a bonus," she says.


The featured storytellers include:

  • Cherisa Allen, a lifelong Ypsilanti resident and EMU graduate who works at Ypsilanti Community High School and Parkridge Community Center. She serves on the Washtenaw County Community Action Board, the Parkridge Summer Festival and Joe Dulin Day committee, and the Ypsilanti Parks and Recreation Commission, and works with Washtenaw County Public Health.

  • Keith Jason, who has lived in the Ypsilanti Township area for almost 20 years and has served as an Ypsilanti Township Park Commission member, a volunteer member of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, and a member of the Ypsilanti Community Utility Authority Board of Commissioners.

  • Alice Kepchar, a member of the Ypsi-based Neighborhood Theatre Group. She moved to Ypsilanti two years ago with her now-husband, Joel Kepchar.

  • Dyann Logwood, the first African-American administrative director of the Women’s Resource Center at EMU. She is a poet, writer, activist, and instructor in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at EMU. She has also taught courses in communications, Africology and African American studies, and political science.

  • Yodit Mesfin-Johnson, an activist, trainer, consultant, facilitator, and speaker. She also serves as chief operating officer and lead diversity coach for Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW), and recently founded Black Men Read, an inclusive literacy initiative for elementary-aged students in Michigan.


  • Heather Neff, a professor of literature at EMU and the author of eight books. Her writing focuses on issues of race, addiction, intimate partner violence, and human trafficking.

  • Robin Newell, a member of Ozone House's SpeakOut group, which aims to combat youth homelessness by empowering young people to speak publicly about their housing, personal, and financial challenges.

  • Caroline Sanders, a non-traditional student educator, entrepreneur and parent. She is dedicated to sharing resources with women and single mothers who are interested in expanding their lived experiences.

  • Muddasar Tawakkul, who was raised in Ypsilanti and currently lives in Ypsilanti Township. He currently works as a compliance and privacy manager at FordDirect and previously spent 15 years working in various roles in Wayne County government.

On the Ground Ypsi's past events have been panel discussions focusing on political issues and community building in Ypsi and Ypsi Township, says Concentrate managing editor Patrick Dunn.


"For our final event of 2018, we wanted to do something that was a little more fun, informal, and appealing to a broad cross-section of the Ypsi-area community," he says. "We're hoping to tap into the personality and power of programs like The Moth and Snap Judgment, but with a very local spin."


The event is free, but RSVPs are requested at the LocalHop website or on Facebook.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the interim project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

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