Year in Review 2021: As the year ends, I’m still thinking about summer joy… and summer flooding

Year in Review 2021: As the year ends, I’m still thinking about summer joy… and summer flooding
December 27, 2021 Anna Sysling

Like many people, I made some really big changes to my life in 2021. One of the more significant changes was leaving my former role at WDET, Detroit’s NPR station, and joining the team at Great Lakes Now as associate producer.  

Having joined the GLN team in October, it still feels like a brand new experience for me as the calendar year comes to a close, but so far, I’m learning a lot from Supervising Producer Rob Green and our fearless Program Director Sandra Svoboda. I’m also loving the opportunity to connect with the Great Lakes in a deeper way and, of course, it’s been very exciting to find new ways to engage with the GLN audience and community through the Facebook and Youtube Live Watch Parties! 

In a time where so much feels out of our control, over the last year I spent more time leaning into practices of self-care and embracing the fragility of life. For me, this meant finding new ways to engage with nature in the margins of Detroit and of course at Belle Isle.  

Flowers at St John’s wort. (Photo courtesy of Anna Sysling)

In the summertime, I’d regularly head to the Dequindre Cut in the late mornings to be around people and the blossoming St John’s wort, the tiny inky fruit of the mulberry trees and the apple trees hanging heavy with pink-cheeked globes. All this, of course, would lead up to the grand finale of my daily summer strolls: the Detroit River glistening at the edge of Milliken State Park. 

Amidst the uncertainty of these times, it brought me a sense of joy to witness the devoted community of anglers and other folks busily setting up for big family barbecues and graduation parties.  

I should say that in addition to the pleasant atmosphere, I also spent more time at the Dequindre Cut than Belle Isle because I wasn’t swimming as much due to the historic and devastating flooding and subsequent water safety issues that happened over the summer and impacted the Detroit River. Seeing the ways that climate change is now so dramatically impacting the lives of people in the Great Lakes region is inviting me to think long and hard about the role infrastructure will play in our lives as these erratic weather patterns continue to intensify.  

I am hopeful that I will continue to find moments of ease and joy, and I am also looking ahead to more thoughtful coverage of infrastructure as a climate issue. I can’t wait to find ways to bring audience voices and perspectives into those important conversations.  

Read 2020’s staff lookbacks:

2020 in Review: Climate change, COVID-19 and Michigan’s governor

2020 Really Sucked. What’s Up Next? I don’t know.

Lake Ontario: Big catch escapes again

New Team: What’s good about 2020?

On the Pulse: I’ve Got One Word For You, 2020

2020 Vision: Great Lakes Now year in review predicts 2021

Or read some real news on Great Lakes Now:

Superior Stewardship: In Duluth, the Great Lakes are more than a resource, they’re part of an identity

Community Sucker Science: Meet a Shedd Aquarium fish researcher and her stewardship volunteers

Featured image: Taking a walk in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of Anna Sysling)


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