Music and Environmental Politics

Music and Environmental Politics

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Rebecca Hardin, Jennifer Johnson, David Clive and Bailey Schneider were joined in the studio by the lovely Donia Jarrar, a Palestinian composer and DMA student here at the University of Michigan. On this week’s segment of It’s Hot In Here, we discussed the pros and cons of the proposed reconstruction of Geddes Avenue and its social, economic and psychological effects on the Ann Arbor community, transporting trees on the University of Michigan campus, Donia’s recent trips to Palestine and her work here at U of M and over in the Middle East.

Geddes Avenue Reconstruction

The $6.4 million complete reconstruction of Geddes Avenue from Huntington Drive to Hickory Lane is one of the biggest road projects happening in Ann Arbor in the next two years. They are expected to break ground in early July 2015 and construction is expected to wrap up in October 2016.  Nancy Faught, an engineer with Hubbell, Roth and Clark, a Bloomfield Hills firm hired to assist the city with the reconstruction project. While a safer road is a necessity, the community is concerned about the adverse effects of removing trees, the cost of construction and traffic.

It will be a hefty and dusty project, but the project leaders says that Geddes residents will have access to the road and it will keep people safer in the long run. However, there will be a hard closure of Geddes Avenue and traffic will be detoured to Washtenaw Avenue. Homeowners along Geddes Avenue in Ann Arbor could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars each for improvements coming to their street, and some of them are making it clear they aren’t happy about that.

We raised concerns about the environmental impact that the reconstruction will have on the surrounding area and the need for an Environmental Impact Assessment. At present, there is no Environmental Impact Assessment of the project. Tree removal and deforestation is considered to be one of the leading contributing factors to climate change. Other effects of tree removal include increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, loss of local species and habitats, damage to the water cycle, soil erosion, life quality and psychological impacts on the community. Although very costly, it would be a more environmentally friendly method to relocate the trees surrounding Geddes Avenue. Last year, the University of Michigan spent $400k to move a 65-foot-tall, 200-year old bur oak tree at the Ross School of Business. This tree was saved due to its legacy, history and its symbolism of strength and resilience at the University of Michigan. These historical trees along Geddes Avenue deserve the same respect.

The period for public comment closes tomorrow, June 13th 2015. The city will be posting updates here.

Donia Jarrar


Donia Jarrar is a composer, pianist, and songwriter whose work spans the genres of classical, electronic, experimental and pop music with undertones of Arabic influence. Her work has been performed and premiered across North America, Europe and the Middle East to positive reviews, including in Paris, Kuwait City, Palestine, Egypt, and South Africa. In 2012, she was awarded first prize in the Marcel Khalife Competition for the Young Palestinian composer. She is currently teaching music theory classes and piano lessons at Al-Kamandjati, in Ramallah, Palestine and in her beautiful hometown village of Jenin.  She is also working as a music appreciation teacher for UNRWA elementary school children in Jalazon and Qalandia refugee camps as a part of the Terre Des Hommes project “Music bridges West Bank, Italy and France.” She is working on a current project entitled Letters to Palestine, and expressed her belief that piano is something to write with.  She is currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance and is pursuing a Masters in Music Composition.

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