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This Week's Events

AIDS Walk + Run: Until There Is a Cure, We Walk/Run

Saturday, Sept. 13, 9:45 a.m. registration, 10:30 a.m. welcome, and then run/walk
How does one break through the clutter of messages that has appeared around the topic of AIDS for so many decades now to say, "AIDS Is Not Over"?
Would it help to gain your attention if I lessened your fears by saying that AIDS is not the mysterious threat it once was with new drugs flooding the market to trick the virus into greater submission?
But in reality, while it is managed, it is far from over and it is still a matter that needs to be discussed because of what it removes from our city: life.
For those folks most vulnerable to this disease (and it touches all of us now, not just a select group), we have the Grand Rapids Red Project and AIDS Inc: Advocacy, Information, and Diverse Services, who will be filling your inbox over these next few days with requests from your friends and family members asking for a donation for their annual 5K AIDS Walk + Run this weekend.
This yearly event will once again seek to celebrate the life we have been given and ask with utmost humility on behalf of those who no longer are with us to request that you remember life is precious.
If there was one strong takeaway from the most recent HBO and Emmy-award-winning movie The Normal Heart (based on the 1986 play of the same name) by Larry Kramer, it is that while the disease has had a very cruel past, grassroots change in the form of medical relief finally arrived when an elected government would not listen to the pleas of those dying in the streets and hospital back rooms.  It is hard to recall these painful memories for so many who were seeking answers in a world before the web's proliferation or even AOL chat rooms.
We have met many challenges as a community and the advances we are making ensure that the work we do here is still vital in keeping people alive and healthy. Until you have watched someone you love die, I doubt you will ever understand the pain of this kind of senseless loss. 
Together we can make a difference in the lives of our locals who need us the most to walk and run this Saturday. Come out and deliver the message that AIDS is not over, but with a little push from our community we can put it on notice that its days are numbered. 
This year’s registration donation is $25 to support the work of The Grand Rapids Red Project.

41st Annual Streetfair: Power to the People's Neighborhood

Eastown is one of those neighborhoods that, for better or worse, has resisted being tamed as others have been. This is why it remains a much-desired place to venture when the lure of clean and pristine just won't touch that itch you want to scratch.
Each year for more than 40 years, the residents and small businesses of this community have taken to the streets to host one of the wildest party events the city has ever produced. And lest you think this is a place ready for a mid-life crisis at 41, think again.
This year, there are plenty of stages to enjoy any one of the 16 acts that will be sharing the spotlight all day, as favorite local acts like Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish, Asamu Johnson & the Associates of the Blues, Otis Blueswell Jr., the PotatoeBabies, Eastown Jazz Ensemble, King Crabapple, The Glendanles Brands, and Rick Chyme take to the outdoor stage.
For those who seek a more pub-centric experience (i.e. want to enjoy an adult beverage with their music), then Billy's stage is where you can get your fill of a craft brew like the wildly popular Perrin Brewing Grapefruit IPA – the 2014 beer of summer, in my opinion – while enjoying indie acts like the Bermudas, AB!, Sext Farm, Jes Kramer, Dean Martian, Flex.0, Imperial Sun Crushers, and Suport.
Even the food options are neighborhood-ific (not a word …I know), with offerings from Terra GR Restaurant, Eastown Cafe´, Chez Olga, plus other Grand Rapids small business food vendors like Love’s Ice Cream, Sandmann’s lip-smacking BBQ and the fusion-focused What the Truck from the Winchester making a stop by the event.
This volunteer-run event is a part of the Eastown Neighborhood Association's mission to produce a safe, diverse, and walkable neighborhood. That's something they have accomplished over the years by organizing their community members and local businesses and by creating opportunities for residents and those who visit as friends to engage and connect with this unique gem of a community.
Admission: Free

Odd Ball: Lux with Added Comfort

Each year that the Odd Ball has been around, I have often scratched my head as to what I would even consider wearing. On the occasion of the alien-themed event a few years ago, I was obviously clueless as I arrived in a slate jacket with then-Rapid Growth Managing Editor Juliet Bennett Rylah. Lucky for her, I saw the aliens, got inspired, and with the quick turn of my jacket 180 degrees and a hand through my tussled hair, shazam, I was in a freshly-probed-by-an-alien look, ready for the photo wall that greeted us upon entry.
I'm not sure what your event anxiety level is with such dress-up affairs, but if you are like me, it can sometimes mean you would rather stay at home than venture out.
But this year UICA's team has taken the fear out of the Odd Ball by visually explaining their theme of Lux – a modern take on the garden party – via a tool I have never seen employed in this fashion: a Pinterest idea board. It even has ideas for guys who, like me, often need plenty of help figuring out what we should wear.
The Odd Ball is a chance to let go, to do something different from the normal clad-in-all-black affairs that fill your calendars each year, all while supporting a great organization.
As with the last couple Odd Ball events, this night is the first opportunity for UICA to showcase their ArtPrize exhibition Collaboration with a chance to mix and mingle with the artists. This year's party will feature live bees (Ladislav Hanka’s Intelligence of the Beehive) and a you-submitted video art Karaoke piece (Aaron Nemac’s Hey YouTube: It’s Me).
UICA has had a bumpy ride over the years and while the community comes to terms with what this new era will mean, it is worth noting that the collaborative spirit and the creative energy artists can produce is still very much alive here. 
Entertainment at UICA's Odd Ball will include four massive floors filled with musical and performance art choices from Julianna Nahas-Viila, Actor’s Theatre, Michael Schaeffer, and DJ Super Dre.
Funds raised will help keep exciting exhibitions debuting in our community, like the upcoming exhibitions Kirk Newman: Looking Forward and Buying Friends: The Ryan Kortman Collection (both shows open November 2014), as well as their exciting new 2015 programming including the Exit Space Project.
Admission: $125.03 (non-member), $98.89 (member)

The Boatwright: National Playwright Award Winner Debuts Here

Opening Friday, Sept. 12 (through Sept. 28), see event link for curtain times
Theatre, like painting, is declared dead every few years only to be reborn in a new form shortly after the ink dries.
Lucky for us, artists choose to ignore these proclamations, seeking to connect with audiences who still yearn for new, exciting ways to experience the arts. And we are lucky to have both local and national organizations committed to delivering on this challenge. When we're especially lucky, local leaders, like the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre (GRCT), band together with national organizations to produce amazing opportunities here for our community as these volunteers step onto the national stage.
In this case, GRCT is part of a new nationwide call manifested in the NewPlayFest. Starting with a contest where more than 200 new plays were submitted to the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT), they selected six to be produced and debuted around the country under this new festival seeking to energize this art form.
It's our great good fortune as a community that Grand Rapids Civic Theatre was selected as one of the six producing theatres around the country to debut Richmond, Virginia's playwright Bo Wilson's latest work The Boatwright at the inaugural AACT's NewPlayFest.
The Boatwright is the story of fifty-seven-year-old Ben Calloway's journey to find his home again, even if it means he will have to sail over the Atlantic Ocean to make his yearning complete. Oh….and I should note he has never seen the ocean.
The story really picks up when his neighbor Jaime Watson, who is experiencing a host of problems (from a suspension from the college where he is majoring in film to a parent equally suspending parental support), suggests to Calloway that he be allowed to make a film about the experience while the boat is being constructed.
The play ventures quite fast down a few familiar roads, with themes that include the struggles of any age, of being lost, and the hope to connect beyond the loneliness that is not a trait of just one's place in time.
Admission: $16 – 28.
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