Here Comes the Sun

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People are like dandelions. They find a way to spring up between even the slightest cracks in the sidewalk.

In the middle of the devastation in Haiti, TV cameras captured an earthquake entrepreneur who had risen from the rubble and established a barbershop by hanging floral bedsheets for walls and jury-rigging a car battery to power the clippers.

Nature abhors a vacuum. We mourn losses and the gaping holes they create, and then applaud the brave soul who steps in to fill the void.

Here in metro Detroit, favorite restaurants close their doors and we lament their passing. Then, when an optimist armed with a sauté pan and a culinary knack sets up shop, we happily supply the appetite and fill tables warmed by candlelight.

Water may be the key element necessary for living, but light is a sure sign of life. Neon signs, porch lights, living-room fixtures — even this month’s lengthening daylight — signal welcome stirring.

All winter long, driving home from the office in the dark, I would turn the corner into my neighborhood wondering if that would be the night when light would appear in a home being built on the site of a former (and of course smaller) house. The electrical surge would breathe life, like CPR, into the hulk, brightening the dark street, and circulating warmth into newly animated rooms. The neighborhood would feel more alive.

Robert Bobb, the Detroit Public Schools emergency financial manager, is trying to perform a resuscitation of another sort by shedding light on the lack of reading skills among under-performing students.

At an inaugural luncheon for Detroit First Lady Yvette Bing at downtown’s Westin Book Cadillac, Bobb talked about the need for the volunteer Reading Corps.

“It’s a financial emergency, an academic emergency linked to a reading emergency, and a parental involvement emergency,” he told the midday crowd. The day after he spoke, Bobb said he planned to personally knock on the door of a 9-year-old second-grade student who had stopped attending school.

In March, a month of so much promise, his words are particularly poignant.

“We have to stand up for our children,” he said. And he applauded the teachers who do that daily, who even tuck a special dinner into the backpacks of children who go home to cold kitchen stoves.

Bobb’s advice to parents: “Get your child to school every day on time, and get them a good night’s sleep.”

When those children are tucked in, the glow from a bedside reading lamp would be a welcome beacon. Young people should know that, even when bright lights dim, the sun also rises.

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