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Dr. David Stovall: MLK Day celebrations advance dialogue all over town

When it comes time to celebrate the anniversary and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a lot of area organizations host some tribute to the slain civil rights leaders who not only advocated for racial equity for African-Americans, but also spoke out against war, housing discrimination, and poverty.

Locally, three of our education institutions, Davenport University, Grand Rapids Community College, and Grand Valley State University have harnessed their power to welcome guest lecturer Dr. David Stovall to Grand Rapids.

Dr. Stovall is a professor of African-American Studies and Criminology, Law & Justice at the University of Illinois in Chicago and will be discussing the MLK-centric themes of urban education, community development, and housing.

Organizers say the professor’s lectures will center on the significance of race in the quality of schools located in our communities that are changing both racially and economically. Dr. Stovall’s work is rooted in Critical Race Theory, educational policy analysis, sociology, urban planning, political science, community organizing, and youth culture.

“I am incredibly proud of the work the three universities undertook as a collegiate body to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King,” said Rhae-Ann Booker, Ph.D., executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Davenport University. “With the incredible and powerful presentation planned by Dr. Stovall, we’ll be able to engage audiences around key issues impacting our community involving justice, bias, and community engagement, an effort that will honor the very principles established by Dr. King.”

Dr. Stovall will be speaking on each of the campuses Monday and Tuesday and will be a part of a larger community gathering on Monday night at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids on January 21. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event begins at 6 p.m. The event is free to all participants.

On campus lectures are as follows:

Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, 9:30 a.m. presentation at Grand Rapids Community College in Applied Technical Center Auditorium 

Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, 1:30 p.m. MLK Silent March and Celebration at Grand Valley State University in Zumberge Hall/Fieldhouse Arena

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, 12 p.m. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration and Silent March at Davenport University in Sneden Auditorium.

The Making of the Standing Rock: Understanding a movement for future generations

It has been nearly three years since a group of Native Americans set up a camp in North Dakota at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to begin what would become one of the greatest acts of resistance seen this century.

This very grassroots movement organized under the hashtag of #NODAPL sought to halt The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from being constructed by the Canada Energy Transfer Partners. 

And while the battle would be lost once President Trump took office, reversing President Obama and our U.S. Corps of Engineers’ denial of the easement needed for construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River, the national conversation over water and indigenous rights is far from over. Even today, many smaller and just as important protests have sprung up everywhere from Florida to Michigan ever since showcasing a nation’s growing concern over access and preservation of fresh water, which is essential for all life on our tiny planet.

On Monday, Jan. 21, one of our residents, Levi Rickert, publisher/editor of Native News Online, will provide a lecture titled "The Making of the Standing Rock Photo Exhibition" to go along with the opening of a brand new exhibition at the Grand Rapids Public Library, “Standing Rock: Photographs of an Indigenous Movement.”

Rickert, working alongside Grand Valley State University's Kutsche Office of Local History, curated from his more than 1,600 photographs to showcase a fresh new look at that protest. The result is a new traveling exhibition that will debut locally in Grand Rapids and provide for others — Native and non-Native peoples — an opportunity to better understand this uprising that was also a form of modern awakening for many around the world. 

There will be a brief reception in the Local History Department starting at 6:15 p.m. with Rickert starting his lecture at 7 p.m.

The 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows: Let's get animated in public (and in the dark)

January is a great time to visit the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and it is not just because of the art that adorns the walls.

This is the time of the year when they begin to welcome a series of programs like the 20th Anniversary of the Animation Show of Shows.

Locally, most of our experiences with this art form are via the popular long-form films that dot area movie screens, ranging from cute kids films to complete reboots of popular action hero series.

Instead, with The Animation Show of Shows, locals are treated to a thrilling and inventive showcase of 15 thought-provoking, poignant, and very funny animated shorts from around our planet.

Animation often jars us from the clinches of our reality and by doing so shakes a bit of our personal clutter, allowing us to focus on the themes that often only animation can communicate so beautifully. These shorts will rock your world and leave an impact on the viewer just as this ever-evolving film practice is doing on this art form.

The Animation Show of Shows runs from January 18 through February 7 and is a popular series, so consider purchasing pre-show tickets from UICA’s guest service desk starting at noon on each show day. Admission is $5 for members and $10 for non-members.

The Phoenix: A national recovery partner opens their first Michigan chapter

Let’s be honest. Substance use disorder sucks. It ruins people’s lives, destroys families and relationships, and most of all often erodes one’s confidence in life. But it does not have to be like this and locally a national player is entering Michigan via CrossFit Luminary for the first time, offering local folks who are seeking to stay sober a running chance at hitting their goals.

The Phoenix originated in 2006 and was started by Scott Strode. According to their website, they seek to “offer a free sober active community to individuals who have suffered from a substance use disorder and to those who choose a sober life. Using a peer support model, we help members heal and rebuild their lives while also striving to eliminate stigma around recovery.”

Strode discovered while in recovery from his own issues with addiction that adding a healthy workout routine to his life helped with many of the problems that can plague those seeking a sober lifestyle.  

When asked how this was important to his recovery, he responded by saying, "It was surrounding myself with people who would rather get up at 7 in the morning to climb a mountain than to stay up until 7 in the morning, drinking and using. With influences like that, I just moved further away from the darkness of my addiction.”

The Phoenix welcomes guests of all fitness levels and asks only that folks who wish to attend abide by a few standard rules. If you are planning to attend your first Phoenix event, you will need have 48 hours of continuous sobriety before arriving. First-time attendees are asked to sign a Team Member Agreement and Waiver and to fill out an Enrollment Form found on their site. Most of all, members who seek to attend regularly are asked to commit to a sober lifestyle.

So while the new year offers many challenges, The Phoenix offers the kind of health challenge that is certain to have a positive impact on the lives of any who enter CrossFit Luminary’s doors. 

The Nutcracker: A classic is revived and surrounded by incredible talent all around.

There are many indicators that the holiday season is upon us, and one such is the return of the Grand Rapids Ballet’s annual crowd-pleaser, “The Nutcracker.”

And if you have not been in some time, now is the time to get there because this annual tradition got a major overhaul a few years ago with a true West Michigan touch.

But please don’t worry, the Nutcracker character has not been replaced by a Dutch man handing out windmill cookies. Rather he and the entire production have been totally updated to become a fresh theatrical rendering from the mind of one of our own, Chris Van Allsburg. 

The world-famous illustrator Van Allsburg has successfully created in the past such children’s favorites as “The Polar Express” and “Jumanji,” and now can add “The Nutcracker” to the list of creative offerings he’s given the world as a part of this beloved holiday tradition in our city.

In addition, the new production features Broadway-quality sets by Tony Award winner Eugene Lee (“Wicked,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Saturday Night Live”), festive choreography by Val Caniparoli, and live music from our very own Grand Rapids Symphony.

But this is the final weekend so don’t hesitate in securing tickets to this visually rich and updated performance with so many creative and talented members of our city on stage.

A Night of R&B and Old School Hip Hop: DJ Composition invites you to boogie down

One of the hardest parts of the holidays is finding an activity that can please the hordes of friends who find themselves looking for something to do the weekend before New Year’s Eve’s festivities commence.

And while the selections this time of the year are slim pickin’s, Billy’s Lounge of Eastown has the best bet for Saturday night.

A Night of R&B and Old School Hip Hop is a production of DJ Composition and Troy Caesar with a dance floor reminiscent of the era in which much of this music was created. 

What I mean is that Billy’s is that perfect neighborhood bar where there is plenty of seating, a big ol’ dance floor, and lots of folks just having a great time. It is one of those truly great American bars where the vibe is about community and the dancing is sweaty and hot when packed.

So while you could stay at home and spin many of these tracks, the best part of music like this is the chance to celebrate it on the dance floor with a bunch of friends. Cover is just $10 at the door and Billy’s Lounge welcomes everyone 21 or older to the party. 

Long Road Distillers NYE Masquerade Drag Show: Best bet for NYE (but bring your Washington’s)

It is not a secret that after decades of New Year’s Eve parties, I feel like I have seen it all … until this year.

For starters, while some events inflate the heck out of their cover fees (because they know you will pay it to gain entry), the venue rarely goes above and beyond the free glass of “complimentary” sparkling wine … and it is typically a step above André that they are pouring.

Lucky for us, seeking a bit more with our cover charge enters Long Road Distillers and Beauty Beyond Drag, who will present a very special NYE Masquerade Drag Show

The doors to this festive affair will open at 8 p.m. for a drag show that is sure to keep you talking well into 2019. 

Guests attending the event are asked to enter through the Rickhouse entrance in the back of the building. Tickets are $25 online in advance and should there be any tickets left, then $30 at the door. 

In addition to a champagne toast and Thai-inspired appetizers, this all-star NYE production will be hosted by Star Buxom and Baha Blast and feature The Lady Dior, Danica Jane Richards, KennDoll Versace, BRIT, and Lolita Noire. And you should know by now that it is best to bring a lot of one dollar bills with you to tip the performers throughout the night. 

And don’t worry because after midnight, the fun isn’t over; this party is slated to keep bumping until 1 a.m. A portion of the proceeds from this NYE event will go to support the work of Division Avenue’s Heartside Ministries.

The Grand New Swing Dance Year: Add learning to swing to your NY's resolutions

Many folks love New Year’s Day for the laziness often built into it.

For starters, you always have plenty of football games to choose from and the day is often enjoyed under a cozy blanket while in your best loungewear as you dive into a healthy start of your new year’s diet or resolution.

But what about those who are not into sports or lounging around, but would like to start on a different foot this year?

Lucky for us, you can put your best foot forward with the Grand Rapids Original Swing Society (or GROSS) as they start their nearly weekly 2019 gatherings with its kick-off The Grand New Swing Dance Year event at DeVos Place on Tuesday, January 1 at 7 p.m.

This much-beloved event that makes its way around town via the various indoor venues during the cold months and later outside during the warmer season, is a welcoming event for all ages and abilities. 

In fact, at 7 p.m. the organizers spend time teaching folks some steps to teach who have never danced before to swing music a step or two. 

But even if swing is not your thing, it is always fun to just dance with a room full of other community members of all abilities. 

GROSS invites folks to even dress up a bit to get into the mood, but it is not necessary to enter the fun. Be prepared to also be wowed, as I have been over the years, by some of the dancers who are downright amazing. If this is like their other past events, expect a sizable crowd.   

Guests can purchase tickets for $12 online in advance or drop $15 at the door. If you would like to see the first part of the 2019 dance season’s locations, please visit GROSS’ website.

Roma: Auteur's latest is not to be missed on the big screen

“A great movie is never just about its story. It’s about how that story is told, and particularly how it’s seen by the audience.” This is how Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson started her very insightful and tender review of Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón's latest film, “Roma.” 

But more importantly to me is that the film’s producer, Netflix, will only be showing this film in the theatre in a very small amount of theaters for a very limited run before it is streamed on your phone, laptop, or tablet days after its theatrical release.

But a film like this needs to be seen on the big screen, and lucky for you, it is going to be running at Celebration Cinema Woodland.

Cuarón, known for his immersive experience films like “Children of Men” and “Gravity,” has become a bit of a filmmaker’s filmmaker for his ability to take subject matter that could just be a rote exercise in filming in anyone else’s hands and, through his tender abilities, elevate the material to an instant classic.

With “Roma,” the auteur’s most personal film to date, Cuarón reaches back in his own life to pull forward a piece from his childhood. (More on that in the review link at the bottom) 

From Woodland's site: "A vivid portrayal of domestic strife and social hierarchy amidst political turmoil, ROMA follows a young domestic worker Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) from Mixteco heritage descent and her co-worker Adela (Nancy García García), also Mixteco, who work for a small family in the middle-class neighborhood of Roma. Mother of four, Sofia (Marina de Tavira), copes with the extended absence of her husband, Cleo faces her own devastating news that threatens to distract her from caring for Sofia’s children, whom she loves as her own. While trying to construct a new sense of love and solidarity in a context of a social hierarchy where class and race are perversely intertwined, Cleo and Sofia quietly wrestle with changes infiltrating the family home in a country facing confrontation between a government-backed militia and student demonstrators."

If you would like to read more about the film, read Wilkinson’s review here, but most of all, do not delay seeing this limited release work of art that is certain to be in the winner’s circle this award season.

WYCE Bubble Bash: Tiny bubbles and community supported radio at H.O.M.E.

The holidays are here and soon you will most likely be in a position where having to produce a bottle of bubbly could make or break your party. I mean, we can all be forgiven for putting out the Andre, but you were probably 22 then, too … so age up, please.

Lucky for you, you can do some good while also learning a bit about champagne and sparkling wines. And yes, Virginia, there is a difference. 

Hosted by the Gilmore Collection's H.O.M.E. (House of Music & Entertainment), the 19th annual WYCE Bubble Bash is a fitting way to learn what sparkling beverages you should consider serving this holiday season as your admission helps support our Community Media Center’s WYCE — a listener-supported radio station that provides a valuable outlet for so many of our local musicals. 

With each admission fee paid, a portion of your $25 cost is donated to the popular local radio station. The best part is that admission to this event includes a chance to sample 12 varieties of sparkling wines, plus dive into the delicious spread that the Gilmores will be cooking up for you at H.O.M.E.

You have a lot of choices to consider this holiday season, but if you are asked to bring the bubbles and you freeze … then get to the Bubble Bash and support our local community radio station. Note: Cash or check at the door. No advance ticket options.

Urban Core Collective Holiday Mixer: Networking for good

The city is rapidly changing and a big part of our transformation is because Grand Rapids has many organizations who are empowering people often marginalized by society to, as we often say in the queer community, "show up" for the future.

Our local Urban Core Collective (UCC), an organization that harnesses the power of their member nonprofits, has for many years been hosting the Transformational Leaders Program (TLP). 

Over the years this program has produced local leaders, many of whom I am fairly certain you have worked, served, marched, or played alongside in our city. (I know I have.)

On Tuesday, they are inviting the public to join them and other Black and Brown leaders and alumni of the program to a special mixer held at one of the most amazing restaurants to hit the region in some time: MeXo.

The event is a chance to connect but also do some good. Benefitting from your $5 suggested donation are two amazing local movements that were birthed by TLP alumni: Endless Opportunities and Movimiento Cosecha GR. Endless Opportunities mentors young people and Movimiento Cosecha GR seeks to protect undocumented immigrants and their families through direct action and community-driven support.

UCC mission states that they "believe that successful people and neighborhoods overcome the effects of systemic racism through equal access to education, economic prosperity, health and power and influence."

Space is limited and organizers ask that you RSVP in advance. And if you have not had a meal here, please book time to do so soon. I know I cannot get the thought of their Carne Asada a la Tampiqueña out of my head. It is that good, Grand Rapids!

Pop Scholars Improv Comedy: Last stop before the holiday tears begin

There is a kernel of truth in all the images and memes related to one’s trip home for the holidays. In fact, a whole sub-genre has emerged under holiday films just devoted to this emotionally-driven topic. Jodie Foster even made a film about the awkwardness of it with “Home for the Holidays.”

Before you start you holiday descent (or ascent, depending on your station in life), the Pop Scholars show at Wealthy Theatre presents an opportunity to get your gut-busting laughs out before they awkwardly erupt when Aunt Wanda over dinner gets drunk and starts talking about the problems with … (fill in the blank). And we all have an "Aunt Wanda" in our lives. 

Pop Scholars is a local four-man improv comedy team that formed in 2009 and has been keeping us laughing for a long time now. They have been performing most of the time lately at Wealthy Theatre, which is a beautiful gem of a space in the East Hills/Baxter Neighborhood.

What really sets these chaps apart is how incredibly smart they are at their rapid-fire delivery. They are never boring because these guys are SMART and can drop lines that will leave you howling in your seats.

Don’t miss this chance to grab their act live, since this is Pop Scholars' final show of the year. Read more about the act here at their site.

1998 Tribute Show: GR's leading concert series invites time traveler fans

Friday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m. (doors), 8:30 p.m. (concert)
Grand Rapids has a booming music scene. And while a testament of this scene is evident in the dizzyingly long list of original music created by our local artists, every once in a while we all get a hankering for a tasty throwback tune.

So lucky for us that our local music series, Tribute Show, is roaring back to The Pyramid Scheme stage with four great albums from the year 1998.

The albums from 1998 that will be performed in their entirety by our brilliant local music community will include:

Nada Surf’s “The Proximity Effect” with musicians Dan Fisher, Luke Shoemaker, Eric Ellis, and Billy Bartholomew

Hole’s “Celebrity Skin” with Patty PerShayla, Lucas Powell, Bridget Breneman, and Marcus James 

Refused’s “The Shape Of Punk To Come” with Christian Kremo, Josh Stacey, James Barbour, TJ Miller, and Josh Barnaby

Fatboy Slim’s “You've Come A Long Way Baby” with Connor Lindsay, Kalvin Cronn, Chris Burhop, Shandon Williams, and Matt Zimmerman 

Each album for the 1998 Tribute Show that has been selected will be played in its entirety live. As the night moves along, there is always the time in-between acts where a DJ often showcases songs also released during the year being featured. 

The event is a benefit with this round of performances pledged to the Meanwhile Film Series. To date, our city’s Tribute Show series has raised more than $27,000.
 

Grand Rapids Women's Chorus Winter Concert: The human voice unified in song is a beautiful thing

Friday - Saturday, Dec. 7 & 8, 7:00 p.m. (doors), 7:30 p.m. (concert)
The human voice unified in a song is one of the most beautiful experiences of living and lucky us, we have many opportunities to hear from so many choruses that make up our region of the state.

One such group that has earned international recognition over the years is the Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus (GRWC) —  a diverse and all-volunteer group of 70 inspiring women who passionately lend their talents to create music that is sure to delight as well as uplift through song. 

They also are advocates for social change, often presenting works from composers all over the world. We have much we can learn from attending the concerts. 

For this season’s annual Winter Concert showcase, the chorus will be exploring the topic of depression and anxiety and how it affects our families, our friends, and our community. 

Music, curated and presented in such a communal setting, becomes a unique system of delivery of information and healing. It is also unique that the chorus in producing this concert is enlisting the help of various community agencies regarding how they will present this music with the sensitivity and authenticity it deserves because of the seriousness of the topic.  

Songs of inspiration will include “Room at the Table,” as well as a newly commissioned work, “Starting Now” by Jocelyn Hagen. One of the absolute joys of our GRWC is that they often commission the creation of new choral works, thus ensuring the community chorus art form is alive, contemporary, and moves through the ages with proper societal representations that connect people through song. 

Expect a festive and lively production as the production includes drumming as well as dancing. 

The GRWC Annual Winter Concert takes place on December 7 and 8 at the Trinity United Methodist Church (1100 Lake Dr. SE) at 7:30 p.m. Donations will be accepted at the door and at the reception to follow immediately after the concert.
 

Capitalizing On Medical Cannabis: Leveling the playing field

It is no secret that the passage of Prop 1 legalizing recreational cannabis in November 2018 started a movement to revolutionize our state in so many ways, from growth to distribution, as well as in so many other emerging services. 

Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) is not waiting around, nor willing to sit idly by as a new industry sets up shop in our state, and will be offering a special class to assist showcasing how area Black entrepreneurs and Black businesses can begin to participate in this emerging multi-billion dollar industry.

We know that since Prop 1's passage the medical side of the industry (voter approved in 2008) is rapidly deploying in cities. Many of these cities, including Grand Rapids, were waiting to see how the recreational ballot measure would fare before advancing any formal policy changes. 

Within this emerging field comes opportunities for innovation to flourish in our state in ways never before experienced. It is rare that an entirely new industry sets up shop this quickly, and in doing so, will usher in unique spaces for folks to intersect as well as benefit economically from it.

But often when we look at the playing field and rules therein, it is easy to get a bit down when you consider how the system approved has set a high bar in many parts of the emerging industry. 

These rules of entry, often daunting for many small business folks or community entrepreneurs to navigate, can feel unwelcoming of them or the creative mindset that the industry needs to have emerge from these sectors of business innovation and thought.

GRABB seeks to address these matters at this special one-night event and how those who are seeking to serve the medical side of the industry can begin to enact on their plans. 

Space is extremely limited so please do not delay to register in advance at this link. Note: If it does sell out (and it will), it is our wish that GRABB and other entrepreneurial groups will step up to add more opportunities for others seeking information on accessing the industry.  

GRABB is an Economic and Business Development enterprise that seeks to foster a thriving economy where prosperity and revitalization of our predominantly Black neighborhoods is truly a possibility. Their focus harnesses the four forms of capital (relational, social, intellectual, and financial) and seeks to create value for Black businesses. GRABB is empowering our region to visualize the future and create a path to a better tomorrow.
 
1983 Articles | Page: | Show All
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