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Fiction440: It's F***ing Fall

Looking to brush up on your writing skills but not willing to take on the annual National Novel Writing Month challenge that happens each November, then maybe Fiction 440 is just what you need.

Started in Lansing in 2010 by Ivy Hughes, Jeff Grabill, Suban Noor Cooley, and Aaron Matthews, Fiction 440 has enjoyed a long and festive run in Lansing and has expanded earlier this year to include a new Grand Rapids chapter meeting at Creston’s Reservoir Lounge. 

The rules are quite simple: bring with you a completed work of fiction created around their supplied theme that is less than 440 words and be prepared to read it for the audience. 

And while the word count rules are simple to remember because it is embedded in the name of the event, organizers of Fiction 440 are quick to point out their most important rules about your submission: “No excerpts, No poetry, No exceptions.”

This month's writing prompt theme picks up on the emotion many of us are experiencing as Summer 2017 is passing: “Its F***ing Fall!”

Fiction 440 is open to everyone 18 and older. Organizers ask that we mention that this is not a contest—so there will be no judging.

Most of all, this is a great way to meet up with other writers in your community who are looking to spark some creative flow in a space where the community has been welcome for more than a decade in the heart of the Creston neighborhood.

city/hacks: #HackIsTheNewHustle

The city is growing. It is expanding. And hopefully, if we can continue to expand access to opportunities, then we can find a way to hack our way to a more equitable future. 

This weekend is a chance for those with an idea or just curious about starting something to attend the debut of city/hacks—a free tech-focussed and inspiring event starting on Thursday and running through Sunday with special panels, guest speakers, networking socials, and, of course, a winner's ceremony. 

Here is a sample of the many options this weekend offered at city/hacks from Midwest Tech Project and & Ken Miguel-Cipriano of Theta Ventures:  

Thursday, Sept.14, 6 - 8 p.m.
GRMI Still The Furniture City? Or America's Next Tech Hub Forum
Location: Start Garden 40 Pearl St., Suite #200

Panel participants: Mike Morin (President & CEO Of Start Garden), Aaron Schopp (Founder & CEO Of The Factory, Elevator Up, & CoLearning West Michigan), Meredith Bronk (President & CEO Of Open Systems Technologies), Luis Perez ( Founder Of Loop Coding Center), Mary O’Neill (COO & Managing Partner Atomic Object).

Friday, Sept. 15, 6 - 8 p.m.
GR's Tech Night Out Technology Fair & Keynotes Ellell & Co from Detroit
Location: Grand Rapids City High School, 1720 Plainfield Ave NE

Saturday, Sept. 16, 1 - 3 p.m. 
Fabian Elliot Keynote Address
Location: The Factory, 38 Fulton St W, Suite #400

Sunday, Sept. 17, 2 p.m. 
City Hacks GR Winners Awarded
Location: Grand Rapids City High School 1720 Plainfield Ave NE

Event organizers want to remind those curious about city/hacks that this is a family-friendly weekend designed for all ages to connect with the various communities and companies in West Michigan who are helping solve the diverse and complex tech gap in our city. #HackIsTheNewHustle

For all the events happening this weekend, please visit Midwest Tech Project of Grand Rapids, an organization whose goal is to goal is to expose students to the various content areas such as coding, cyber security, web design, etcetera to ensure skill development and access into the tech industry to create a livable, lifelong career.

GRAM After Dark: Silent Dance Party

As the temperatures drop in the evening and fall’s chilling air makes you think it is time to just head for your couch with a blanket, there are other ways to keep warm this Friday.

Billed as a way to start your ArtPrizing entertainment early this year comes the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s (GRAM) After Dark series with a silent dance party. 

Unlike other DJ events where the music is pushed to ear-splitting heights through the aid of tweeters to bassbins, a silent dance party is a headphone-driven experience perfect for those seeking to tailor the volume of their music while enjoying the joys of dancing with the community.

The night’s beats are curated by some of the area’s most exciting DJs, including Everything AB (AB), DJ Monica Parker and COMPLETE VII.

It is also a chance to score a special preview of the GRAM’s ArtPrize 9 exhibition. 

Admission to this 21 or older event is free if you are a GRAM member, or just $12 in advance and $15 at the door. The only way to guarantee a set of headphones is to pre-register, so do not delay. If you arrive at the door without pre-registering, headphones left are on a first come, first served basis. 

This event is powered by Quiet Events. Reserve your ticket online today at this site

Talking Dreads: This “is” the place

Saturday, Sep. 16, 7:30 p.m. (doors), 8 p.m. (showtime)
Holland  
As I was scanning AppleTV to find some new music videos (because MTV doesn’t show them anymore), I landed on YouTube where I would stumble upon the entire concert film from Director Jonathan Demme: The Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense.” 

Over the course of the next 90 minutes I was just as enthralled from the couch with this infectious live concert performance as when I first saw it debut at the Goodrich Quad Cinema on 29th Street in 1984. 

So you can imagine the excitement when I discovered that a former singer, Mystic Bowie of the Tom Tom Club, which is composed of The Talking Heads’s members Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth, would be in Western Michigan this weekend.

Mystic Bowie is the Jamaican-born ringleader of the band Talking Dreads who will be at the Park Theatre this Saturday for a special concert of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club hits reimagined in all their glory via the bands heavy reggae/Caribbean rhythmic style.

So if you want to sing along as you dance to the infectious popular songs like “Psycho Killer,” “Burning Down the House,” “This Must Be The Place,” and so many more re-imagined in a joyous and sunny performance on stage, then make the drive to Holland this weekend.

3rd Annual VegFest Grand Rapids: Building a better life one bite at a time

A lot of folks are beginning to take control of their diets, and lucky for folks in Grand Rapids, there is no shortage of options for those with special dietary needs to keep them on the path.

Grand Rapids boasts more than 40 identified vegan-friendly restaurants as well as home to numerous food blogs that address the joys and health benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

This weekend is the return of the annual VegFest—a vegetarian food festival held in various cities around the world to promote veganism and vegetarianism.

This one-day event explores these healthy lifestyles, but also asks us to consider the lives of those animals we often consume or how some modern food practices place an undue strain on our environment.

The event features hands-on demonstrations, a marketplace for unique products and a chance to attend any one of the many panels devoted to cooking, animal compassion and personal health with locals like WOTV4’s Wellness Expert Michele Fife and touring guest speakers.

Regardless of where you are on your health journey, you have a lifetime of choices ahead of you to make. VegFest helps you make wise choices moving forward.

Whitecaps $5 Night*: Take them all out to the ballpark

This holiday weekend, why not consider a trip just a few miles north of the city to attend a West Michigan Whitecaps Baseball game as they wrap up their regular season.

And there isn’t a better time than now (Thursday, Aug. 31) to purchase a ticket to attend one of America’s favorite summer activities because admission to the 1 p.m. Labor Day game is a perfectly priced ticket at just $5. 

But here’s the important fine print: in order to take advantage of this special Labor Day pricing, you will have to purchase these specially priced admission by end of the day on Thursday, August 31. Typically, reserved seats to see our local minor league will run you $12.50, so this is a really great offer from the Whitecaps to entice the fans to come out for this final game before the playoffs.

In addition to a battle with the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the stadium will also feature $1 brats, courtesy of Johnsonville.
 
You can purchase these specially priced tickets at the Fifth Third Ballpark ticket office, by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131, or at www.whitecapsbaseball.com. Note: There is a limit of eight tickets per person.
 
If you have Labor Day plans, then consider purchasing full-priced tickets to attend one of the final two fireworks shows of the season on Saturday, September 2 and Sunday, September 3.  If you select Sunday, then this is also the last Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Day with the first 1,000 kids 12 and under eating free, along with a host of other family fun activities.
 
Our local Whitecaps team has secured a Midwest League playoff berth by winning the first half East Division so this is not the end of your chances. It is just the last time you will see ticket admission prices this low in 2017.

Isaac Norris Project: Sax with friends

There are two groups of folks this weekend: those who will race out of the city to places like the mighty Lake Michigan, or those who will choose instead to explore the quiet of an emptied city. 

I, for one, will be part of that latter group and as I surveyed the weekend for places to land, I was happy to see a best bet for a chill brew enjoyed with an equally cool event at The Creston Brewery, who will welcome The Isaac Norris Project to this northeast neighborhood brew pub. 

Known for his jazz compositions released under the name of Isaac Norris, this Sunday’s popup performance in the Creston neighborhood is a chance for Norris, under The Isaac Norris Project, to welcome those musicians who worked with him on the recording of “Something to Say” to the stage for this special concert. 

Joining Norris are Grand Rapids-area musicians, who will be recreating the featured artist’s smooth soul and up-tempo compositions, as they bring to the stage their many influences and styles from the artists’ backgrounds in jazz, gospel, blues, and R&B. Norris’ playful and inventive turn on the saxophone, along with the help of area musicians, is why The Isaac Norris Project is a best bet this Sunday in the city. 

For more information on the artist including where to purchase his latest release, please visit isaacnorrismusic.com.

44th annual Eastown StreetFair: Getting better with age

It is no secret that one of the very first neighborhoods I explored when I moved to Grand Rapids was Eastown, and I instantly fell in love with the welcoming energy of this part of our city.

It is a neighborhood business district that, with all the changes, has found a way to still welcome and balance the new with the old creating a refreshing mix. So many neighborhoods could learn from their embrace of the indigenous culture of this community.

And once again we have an abundance of reasons worthy to celebrate on Wealthy Street and its tiny side pockets on Saturday, September 9 as we welcome the 44th Eastown StreetFair.

This annual street fair is a place where families of all sizes, colors, and definitions return each year to celebrate the arts and businesses of our community.

This year’s fair boast more than 150 vendors, plenty of ethnic and American food from area restaurants and inventive food trucks, and a series of performances from regional musicians.

Eastown StreetFair will take place on Saturday, September 9 from 9 a.m. 9 p.m. 

For a complete list of the musical acts performing on the main stage (with additional acts at Billy's Lounge and Mulligan's Pub) be sure to visit their event page for their start times and locations.

14th Annual Mayors’ Grand River Cleanup: Collaborative event for cities on the mighty Grand

There are no shortages of news stories about the topic of water these days, whether it be stormwater management to water rights as it relates to the First Nations’ people concerns. Even locally in a place named after the mighty Grand River that snakes 252 miles across Michigan, Grand Rapids is continuing its push to reactivate the water for a future restoration of our famed rapids (presently missing).

Part of our community’s evolution around water issues and its importance is the many events locally that we host here that present an opportunity for us to learn and grow as we interact with it.

One such event is the brainchild of former Mayor Heartwell and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) whose annual Mayors’ Grand River Cleanup celebrates its 14th year. 

Join fellow citizens, as well as area businesses, organizations, and church groups who descend upon the Sixth Street Bridge Park at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 9 as they prepare to embark on a 40-mile path (broken up into manageable segments) along the Grand River. 

The event runs until 1 p.m. where all volunteers of this event will be treated to a light lunch, Founders beer (21 and over), and the music of Dunegrass. 

This ever-growing crowd of volunteers will bring Grand Rapids, Grandville, Walker, Wyoming and Plainfield township together as these river cities set an example to others about the power of communities coming together to achieve great things.

In addition, because trash sometimes makes its way via stormwater drains to the Grand River, this year WMEAC will be working within a SE neighborhood of Grand Rapids to pick up trash that is at risk for entering the river. 

You might think the best of our hot weather is behind us but with events like this it is easy to keep warm when you see the throngs who show up to ensure our river is getting healthier with each act to preserve it is enacted here.

Green Gala: Be here for our city parks’ future

There is something really cool about a growing gala in our city that encourages you to ride your bike, take a bus, or even walk to attend. And that is one of the joys of the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks annual Green Gala which moves this year across the river from its previous location to the Sixth Street Bridge Park on Monroe.

Each year since it started, this event helps the organization made up of community volunteers to further its mission to protect, enhance, and expand our city’s parks, public spaces, and urban forest.

This year, they change the format and move to different location, adding new elements of entertainment to the mix in a fresh reboot.

With each ticket purchased, you will enjoy locally sourced food, along with a cash bar to enjoy the delicious elixirs produced in our city from Brewery Vivant, Farmhaus, and Long Road Distillery.

So be impulsive and head to the riverbank of the Sixth Street Bridge Park for a wonderful night at our favorite gala of the year.

DJ Shazam Bangles: Grand Rapids Soul Club's evolution of cool continues

There is no shortage of folks asking me these days where the best place to dance in the city. And while the list is getting longer each year, there is one group in town that has the best track record for packed and hot, sweaty dance floor fun: Grand Rapids Soul Club.

Keeping with their mission to invite DJ’s from out of town to take over the decks, Grand Rapids Soul Club welcomes this Friday special guest DJ Shazam Bangles (Boogie Munsters and Cutz on Cutz).

DJ Shazam Bangles’ roots come from an era of Chicago’s underground DJ culture where a future style of mixing would take root before capturing the imagination of the world. Having grown up in a such a sound system culture, he’s able to seamlessly capture Chicago’s own homegrown style of mixing and has improved upon it over his last 20 years in the business.

And while the city of full of young DJ’s doing great things, taking time to hear from someone with such incredible experience on the 1s and 2s means that this Friday you can expect not only a packed dance floor, but an experience that is most certainly going to build on our local Grand Rapids Soul Club brand.

For even more info on this visiting DJ, we hope you will take the time to read about DJ Shazam Bangles on Grand Rapids Soul CLub’s Facebook page.

Beer City Bike Fest: Building bridges, having fun

The Spoke Folks is a gift to this community because they are all about building up our local bike culture as they serve and travel across so many diverse lines of our city.

On Saturday this gem of our bike culture once again hosts a summer festival with their latest edition, Beer City Bike Fest, organizing around two things that often go hand in hand here: beer and bikes.

And lest you think this is like any other festival in the city, then have I got news for you: these events are electric and teeming with life as people ride or drive in from all over to participate in the many activities they will be showcasing on this special day.

First up, it is a free and family-friendly event that takes place on the street and lands just in front of their Logan Street facility. To help families expand bike education with their kids, The Spoke Folks’ Beer City Bike Fest will offer a station for kids to make their own flags or license plates for their bikes. There is even a kids bike parade featuring Bangarang Circus at 3:45 p.m. There are races as well that start at 1 p.m. and continue until 3 p.m.

At 5 p.m., the event kicks it up a notch with the live music portion of the day, featuring also a diverse array of acts including Hannah Laine, Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish, The Hoplites, Bike Tuff, Les Créatif, Lady Ace Boogie, and Cabildo.

Summer might be winding down but that doesn’t mean we can’t still rage for fun in the streets. Get to Beer City Bike Fest for another installment of great fun and education from The Spoke Folks.

Running of the Bulls: Run, chug (repeat)

Each year the Running of the Bulls happens in Spain and each time if you are adventurous like me, you say to yourself, “I would love to do this sometime.”

Lucky for you, there is a way to begin to train for such an international adventure and it happens on the streets of downtown Grand Rapids each year with the Grand Raggidy Roller Derby’s annual Running of the Bulls.

Unlike the famous El Encierro (The Running of the Bulls) in Pamplona, Spain, the only risks here are skinned knees and possibly a hangover the next day as our local roller derby girls take to the streets on roller skates to chase participants at this upgraded beer crawl.

Unlike El Encierro, our Grand Raggidy Roller Derby skaters will be acting as the bulls and those who attend will be the brave souls who venture from bar to bar at this day-drinking festival.

The registration for the event starts at Peppino's Downtown Sports Lounge (130 Ionia Ave. SW) at 11 a.m. and includes stops at Stella's Lounge, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, Gardella's, and the Pyramid Scheme.

After the last stop, you return to Peppino’s for a dance party. And lest you think “bulls” can’t dance, have I got news for you: our local team really knows how to have a good time on the dance floor.

Key Details: registration is at Peppino’s from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. with the Bulls being unleashed at 12 p.m. A small payment of $10 will get you a Running of the Bulls bandana and a wristband that gives exclusive access to discounts, games, and prizes throughout the day’s run.

You have a lot of choices this weekend for sure but come on, none of them can even compare to the chance to run with the bulls (and without the risk of a goring from our girls…unless you are mean. Then in that case, keep your med card handy.)

Yassou! - a Greek Festival to fill up your weekend’s dance card

Each August, the folks at Yassou! begin to tempt the salivary glands of our hungry citizens when their blue and white signs start to pop up all over the city promoting their annual northeast neighborhood-based Greek Festival.

Not only is this a chance to experience delicious and flavorful Greek cuisine, but each year offers an opportunity to join others in dance or just the chance to witness Greek dancing live under the summer sun.

But honestly, a lot come just for the food, which includes freshly made Moussaka, Galaktobourikou, Spanakopita, and a host of other traditional dishes. The festival boasts that 85 percent of the food prepared for your enjoyment is created via the parishioners of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. 

One year, I took my parents who were visiting from out of town to Yassou! and they talked about that experience for years after. My folks and I really loved all the families who participated, taking time to answer questions about the traditional attire and dance. 

Yassou!’s friendly atmosphere is why I am a huge fan of this annual festival. It is educational, as well as a tasty and visual treat whether or not you are Greek. 

So let’s eat, drink, and dance together at Yassou! as a community that celebrates the diversity of our city.

Sixth annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation: Free jazz in the city

For those seeking a most chill time in the center of downtown, we can’t think of a more fitting festival in the city than the sixth annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation.

This annual event seamlessly blends groups of all ages, races, and even musical ability in the audience to line the line Rosa Parks Circle’s bowl with blankets, chairs, and even long boards for a two-day festival devoted to live jazz music.

This year, they welcome 11 acts over the weekend, ranging from the local to international as a diverse lineup of musicians perform at this free event.

The headliner this year is Scottish-born saxophonist Richard Elliot who will perform the closing 8 p.m. slot on Saturday night. Since Elliot’s 1986 debut of “Initial Approach,” he has released more than 15 recordings and is beloved over the decades since for his infectious melodies and smooth grooves. 

This is the perfect summer weekend to get to know your local jazz scene as well as enjoy some deliciously cool live music in our downtown. 

We are quite certain live jazz is just what we need to take the edge off of a very long work week. 
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