G-Sync

For about the cost of 3.5 glasses of wine at your favorite eatery, you can travel not just around the world in a glass, but have a chance to sample some of the most eclectic and valuable wines this side of your rich uncle's wine cellar. As a fundraiser, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate our local St. Cecilia Music Center (SCMC) and the way their commitment to music in our region is enriching our lives. The selection of wines and beers to be offered on Friday night have been carefully curated by Heritage Hill's Martha’s Vineyard and will feature their Top 100 highly ...
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We Own The Night & AB's Black Eagle: East Hills' Arts Double Play

Saturday, Mar. 29, see links for times
We Own The Night at The Meanwhile Bar, AB at Billy's Lounge
Starting something new is always a bit scary, but on Saturday night a familiar event will be back in an exciting way (but with something very fresh) at The Meanwhile Bar. When Con Artist Crew's 3rd annual We Own The Night exhibition opens, it will be the first big run of an event that promises a delicious mix of technology and art to advance the sale of artwork on a world-wide platform. This new platform for buying art will connect the prospective buyer to an artist’s bio along with other details about the exhibition. The launch of  CAC's ArtLustr with StartGarden might seem ...
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If there is one thing we know about Grand Rapids, it is that this city prides itself these days on not adhering to old viewpoints that seem hollow in the light of a new century. This would explain the 2:1 win at the ballot box in 2012 as voters affirmed to remove the harsh and cruel penalties around the marijuana possession laws impacting the city of Grand Rapids. The result was a changing of the consequence for simple possession from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction. Many may recall leading up to that historic city vote, the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts programmed the ...
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Within the arts there are many wonderful moments that are produced through the mixing of media. This Friday the South Bend, Indiana act White Trash Blues Revival (WTBR) comes to the Westside of the city for a night that will not only push boundaries but also excite the imagination of music lovers. On the surface, WTBR is a four-piece blues band made up of Joe Bent on skiddley-bow and vocals, Jeff ‘Ando’ Anderson on washtub, Brenn ‘Sausage Paw’ Beck and Pete Dio on percussion. But what they are able to do with these instruments is remarkable as they blend traditional ...
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As we enter the last few days of March (and Women's History Month), for the women (and men) of this region, who embrace the DIY/DIT (Do It Yourself / Do It Together) culture, it must be time for the return of the annual LadyfestGR event. Kicking off the day again this year is a series of free workshops taught by women and often revolving around topics of their concern. Again, men are welcome – this isn't the Women's Music Festival in Hart after all. The workshops held in three locations, including Heartside Ministry (54 S. Division Ave), Have Company (136 S. Division Ave), ...
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For their third home game of 2014, the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls are about to welcome one of the top teams in the world to our city when they face the Chicago Outfit's Shade Brigade in this weekend's double header. For this match, the Girls are eager to get a win under their belt because of the prestige such a win over Chicago would surely deliver for our local team, whose members broke into the world Top 40 ranking (out of more than 200+ international league teams) in the 2012-2013 season. "I feel great about how the Attack is skating. The skaters on Attack never give up, they ...
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Reyna Grande: A Tale of Two Countries

Mon., Mar. 24, 7:00 p.m. (Holland); Tues., Mar. 25, 6:00 p.m. doors, 7:00 p.m. lecture
Grand Valley State University welcomes another guest author to West Michigan as they celebrate the completion of their Ninth Annual Community Read project with The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande. The author, who was born in Mexico but immigrated to the USA when she was nine years old, is the winner of many notable awards in literature. Her 2006 novel Across a Hundred Mountains received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlan Literary Award, and a Latino Books Into Movies Award. Her second novel, published in 2009, Dancing with Butterflies, received the 2010 International ...
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Mystery Science Theater 3000 has long been a part of the culture, so as a part of LaughFest's fondness for big, bold ideas, the wildly popular version of this film talkback program will leap from Dog Story Theater to the big screen at Wealthy Theatre for a special LaughFest edition simply titled WST3K. The event is a collection of Michigan’s best comedic talent who will, in real time just like the popular TV show, improvise new dialog and sound effects as the film is projected live on the big screen. The film this time is the 1974 cult favorite, Black Fist. The flim is so bad it ...
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Some of my favorite memories as a child growing up in Flint were times when I was able to attend the Longway Planetarium. So years later, after arriving here, when I had the chance to attend the Grand Rapids Public Museum's Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium (named after the Grand Rapids-born astronaut, Roger Bruce Chaffee, who lost his life in the 1967 Apollo 1 spacecraft fire), I was always a bit disappointed at the lack of a real punch that I recalled from my childhood experience. That is about to change this weekend, as the public is invited to start re-visiting the planetarium, which ...
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It is no secret that the secret to telling a story is a good visual. The Beehive Design Collective, a group of artists who have spent many years traveling around the country listening to the stories of America, create an impressive, beautiful, rich, graphic, and visual story of place. Their newest work, Rock Bottom, is finally complete and they will be at the UICA for a one-night presentation that promises to enthrall all those who venture out to see the Bees. The Bees’ story moves beyond the headlines or simply telling the news via their visual style. Instead, they offer stories through ...
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Do Gooder Double Play: Work In 2014 & Cure Violence

(Work...) Thursday, Mar. 20, noon - 5 p.m. / (Cure...) Thursday, Mar. 20, 4 p.m. - 2 a.m.
The Mitten Brewing Co., 527 Leonard NW (Work In) & Meanwhile Bar, 1005 Wealthy St. SE (Cure Violence)
If there are two things I know very well when March rolls around it is this: A bunch of my friends who are into sports will suddenly be unavailable as March Madness' first rounds take over the workplace with a series of games that makes focusing impossible. And secondly, my accountant will come calling, asking why I did not have more deductions. (We all can use a nudge to give more.) Luckily, two events coming up can help us solve both problems. The first opportunity for the sports-minded is to attend the annual Work In, this year being held at The Mitten Brewing Company on March 20 for ...
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For those who have had enough of the cold, might I suggest something that might break the chill? A room full of warm bodies huddled around looking at hot new art? On Friday night LaFontsee Galleries in East Hills is premiering a fascinating new group show of artworks created this winter from their gallery artists and titled, aptly, Out of the Polar Vortex. This fascinating new work is from artists who, like many of us, have been holed up more than usual because of the historic extreme cold and the impassible conditions it produced for many in our region. And while time will tell if there is an ...
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Before the April 3rd Intersection Lounge's Infected Mushroom show, it might be the perfect time to begin your techno music education at a venue that is tiny in space (compared to the Section) but long on charm and powerful sonic pleasures. Surprising to me as I listen to the big dark beats of Memo as organizer Austin Churchill and I text back and forth, this act appearing live at Quinn and Tuites is not only playing in my neighborhood of Creston but it turns out that the artist who is Memnok, Jeremy Brown, is also a neighbor of mine. (Small world, right?) Brown, a native of West Michigan, ...
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There is no shortage of places to have your funny bone tickled around town in the next couple of weeks, but to laugh your pants off is something reserved for Sunday, when Gilda's Laughfest, the nation's only community-wide festival of laughter, will hold their first-ever FUNderwear Run 5K presented by Universal Forest Products. And while the racers are encouraged to sport their finest (and LOL!) underwear over their running clothes, it is no shock that a growing number of runners are threatening to run sans the pants in just a skin and undies combo that is sure to not only turn heads ...
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It's no secret to those who have traveled that as a city grows, so will the desire to find those spaces where play can commence freely. In cities both near and far, I've witnessed the way that people playing chess in a park setting creates community, and noticed that the simple application of chalk to a sidewalk can invite passerby to engage in a hop down memory lane (regardless of age) for a game of hopscotch. But it is winter, so where do we go? On Sunday night The Pyramid Scheme, a venue known for their monthly free pinball championships, is welcoming the traveling event Board ...
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The strange thing about producing a theatre production is that often it is all about timing -- and for Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, they have struck gold TWICE with their latest production of Les Misérables. First they struck gold when our community theater was the first one in the nation that the holder of the rights, Music Theatre International (MTI), called to offer up the rights to the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and School of Theatre Arts. Previous to this offer, Les Misérables has enjoyed a healthy world-wide run in touring stock since its 1985 debut and had a small window of ...
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"Bit by bit, putting it together/Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art/Every moment makes a contribution." This line is from the music number, "Putting It Together," and it opens act two of Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George -- a musical inspired by the painting "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat. And for those who have ever produced a large-scale work of art or had to curate a venue for an art exhibition, then you know all too well all the pieces that have to come together to make it work. This ...
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It is not a secret to those who live in West Michigan that a Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park membership is not just a solid investment in one of the country's most exciting contemporary arts center, but it is also the cheapest ticket out of our present condition of being too damn cold, so over the snow, and looking for a place to chase our winter blues away. Only a few steps from your car is the five-story Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory – just one of the many facilities in this ever-expanding venue devoted to arts and flowers. Okay, so maybe that is an over-simplified ...
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What can be said about Laughfest that has not already been written or that will possibly get your attention? Probably not a lot at this point since the ticket sales have been the best ever, with the 2014 gala headliner Jay Leno projected to sell out. So if you have been on the fence, don't wait much longer. Speaking of things not to miss out on, Rapid Growth sat down with Laughfest's director Joanne Roehm to get the skinny on what not to miss that is still available at the moment. For starters, those seeking to see Detroit native Lily Tomlin (Monday, Mar. 10) or the festival's ...
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Grand Rapids Young Professionals (GRYP), Business Leaders Linked to Encourage New Directions (BL2END), and the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Greater Grand Rapids (YNPN) will be inviting their membership along with members of the community to gather and learn about the Grand Rapids Public School (GRPS) system from the very energetic and proud Superintendent Neal. While this is not the first time YNPN, Bl2end and GRYP have gathered together, (A New Conversation (ANC) hosted events in the past with these three groups), it is the first time that the three groups, whose leadership has ...
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The path to jazz vocalist Gregory Porter's Grammy Award on January 26, 2014 actually began at the 53th Grammy Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles, when he was nominated for his first Grammy for his debut release Water.   And while some may wait a lifetime (or longer) for the chance to simply get a nomination, Porter once again was nominated at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards for the title track from his sophomore release, So Good, with a Best Traditional R&B Performance. In 2014, when the envelope was opened, finally Porter struck Grammy gold at the 55th Grammy Awards Ceremony when the award ...
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How do you improve upon a standard on our music scene? The short answer: When you are talking about the Jammies Awards show, held each year at The Intersection Lounge and honoring the best of our regions' music scene, you don't tinker with a sure thing. And why am I so sure? A quick call to Kevin Murphy, station manager of the Community Media Center's WYCE, confirms what many of us have known for years; West Michigan's music scene is one of the best kept secrets in the U.S.A. with more than 100 nominations this year and awards in 20 categories. The Jammies are a big deal! ...
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As a former organizer of Live Coverage for many of its early, single-digit anniversary years and as a former (as well as current) 2014 participant in the wildly popular Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts' annual fundraiser, there is little I can add to the fact that, for one night, you will have a chance to meet more than 50 artists who have donated their time and talent to make this night an affair to remember. Works of art will be created in front of you that you can bid to purchase, and later in the evening a live auction of curated art pieces will go up on the auction block as well. ...
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When sharing our story, many tend to focus squarely on a handful of big events happening within the city of Grand Rapids but miss one series of events that is harder to verbalize. This miss is excusable when you consider that this opportunity to experience it unspools in darkened rooms all over our city in places like Wealthy Theatre and the UICA but also in non-traditional venues like Downtown Grand Rapids Inc's and Creston's Riverside Park pop-up cinema programs as well as bars and basement clubs. Through the years, from film festivals to feature debuts made here, Grand Rapids has ...
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6th Great BREW Ha Ha: A Beer Festival Walks into a Room . . .

Friday & Saturday, Feb. 14 & 15, see website for bands/comics showtimes
What's not to love about a winter beer festival? A lot, if you were one of the hundreds of folks who attempted to purchase tickets for the upcoming annual Winter Beer Festival, as the beer faithful faced not only an event presale that crashed its servers yet again, then sold out within an hour once it started functioning. But have no fear because, for the 6th year in a row, the Great Brew Ha Ha is back -- and this time with a few really fun facts you need to know before you buy your advanced ticket at a greatly reduced price. First, this beer festival offers more than 100 craft beers from ...
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If you survived winter this far and felt that WinterWest was not enough, then migrate to the State Games of Michigan site, where you can choose from a host of activities to watch and participate in (with pre-registration) at their inaugural Winter Games. And while many of these events are played outside, it is a few of the inside events that truly stretch my definition of a winter sport (bowling, anyone?), I am loving that those who want to challenge this weather as well as give Mother Nature the finger for our harsh winter can still stand at the plate in defiance for the debut of a new sport ...
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There is something really great about celebrating our 9th annual Taste of Soul Sunday at Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL). Not only is this place known for holding a great selection of books truly committed to diversity, but this annual event is a chance to celebrate the African American residents of our community with a host of other community members as we enjoy an array of food samplings from local restaurants in addition to lectures by local authors, historians, and artists, music and children’s activities. This year's musical performances will include Karisa Wilson, VIP (Very ...
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Imagine if you will a story line where the main character wants to rid the nation of its non-native and its native members, too, except for non-natives like himself: a man with a strong desire for strong drink consumed in the company of others in pubs; a man who falls in love with a married woman; and a future leader that not only will argue for a return of government to the people from the grip of the elites but also was a founding member of the Democratic Party. Now if you thought this was some strange narrative from an alternative universe of a modern man, think again. This is the ...
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I probably could make a case for why one should book a hotel in downtown Grand Rapids starting Thursday – Sunday based solely on the impressive run of shows at The Pyramid Scheme this weekend. It starts with The Coup, Bangups, and A.B.! on Thursday, followed by Friday's debut of the Super Happy Funtime Burlesque's newest production Winter Sucks. On Saturda, it's Leslie and the Ly’s stop in GR followed by The Scheme's monthly Sunday Pinball Tournament. It is possible but space will not allow. – I don't understand this sentence. But if you have to pick just ...
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Over the past few years the rate of development in the city has accelerated at such a rapid rate that often, before a community member has an opportunity to even lend a voice, the moment where critical dialogue could have occurred will have passed, leaving in its wake a trail of missed opportunities. But there are those, from the business community to artists to our educational institutions, who have people beginning to understand that a city is more than the development of a space. A city, to these folks, is more than brick and mortar. One group is hosting a new series of workshops on the ...
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We are so used to the chef's choice in a restaurant, but we rarely consider other professions where a leader in their field has a recommendation for your consumption. In the area of art, tours are commonly offered around a particular exhibition via a docent or arts educator. On a rare occasion we get lucky and the curator of the collection will walk us through the gallery, showcasing a lifetime of study, thus bringing a deeper appreciation for the art. At the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Chief Curator Joseph Becherer will offer a personal and insightful educational tour of ...
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Lake Effect Fringe Festival: Owns February (and part of March too.)

Opening Thurs., Jan. 30 - Mar. 2, 3:00 pm for matinees and 8:00 pm for evenings
Just in time, the second annual Lake Effect Fringe Festival arrives back in town. Despite its chilly name, it is really a hot, exciting, more-than-a-month-long event that is sure to get your blood pumping. Expanded to five weeks after the successful sold-out run last year, this local theatrical festival event is an opportunity to explore the joys of the smallish type productions that are big in subject. No snow job here; this is the event to attend over the next five weeks at Grand Rapids' best-kept (theatrical) secret, the Dog Story Theater. Kicking off the event is TIP$, a brand new ...
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What's not to love about a band committed to making sure that the party spirit of rock and roll remains alive in all of us? And who better to deliver such a mission through sound and performance than Grand Rapids very own Head. Unlike the last time this act took a hiatus from recording and resulted in a nine-year break between their second Headmusic (2002) and third release Strike the Golden Eagle (2011), Head returns to the stage on January 31 with their fourth album, Three Cheers. Ever true to the roots of their mission, lead singer Ben Hunter promises a night featuring a rowdy ...
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Two unique community-focused events are about to return to the city and you better get ready for the fun challenges and changes they bring with them. A few weeks ago a temporary ice rink was installed by volunteers from Vector Distribution and, after a few arctic cold days, the ice skating returned to Richmond Park last weekend at the fourth annual WinterWest 2014. While some fans eye the approaching Super Bowl game, there is a dedicated and very excitable community faction nearly drooling to hit the ice for the ultimate sporting event in Grand Rapids: WinterWest's annual 3-on-3 Hockey ...
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In December of 2013, a new dining group, The Vegan Kitchen Takeover (TVKT), held their first event based on the rather simple concept that the expansion of vegan options within Grand Rapids' eateries can actually happen easily, as they demonstrate in these takeover events, and do so without compromising flavor or the thoughtful sourcing of ingredients. The first event, held in December at the 28th Street restaurant Chicago 7's, provided a taste of the chef's creations, from pretzel beet burgers to chili cheese fries to root beer floats. But after a slight scheduling bump with its ...
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A stunning retrospective exhibition of artwork by Mary Ann Aitken was so large in Detroit that it took two galleries to house it. As a child of Detroit but also a graduate of Wayne State University with advanced degrees including a Bachelors of Fine Arts and a Masters in Art Therapy, she always considered the D her home even after relocating to Brooklyn, NY. Sadly, in 2012, the artist who had captured the imaginations of so many was gone, having battled breast cancer during many of her last years of life. Her paintings bring a real clarity to the capturing of our time -- not in a Monet, ...
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Heywood Banks: Double Trouble

Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24 - 25, 8 p.m.(doors), 9 p.m. (concert)
Mixing comedy and music is a feat often not performed on a local level unless you are, of course, like our very own Reverend Charles Preston Smith of the PotatoeBabies. And on occasion Grand Rapids plays host to those who have been given this gift, from Tiny Tim to (more recently) LaughFest's power pop duo Garfunkel and Oates. On Friday and Saturday, Heywood Banks rolls into town and lands in a venue best suited for him given his lyrics and show antics -- but also proximity to the expressway in case he needs a speedy getaway. Best described as a poet, musician, singer, comedian, ...
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Statistically speaking, within 6 weeks of the New Year a few things begin to happen in our city. Suddenly the gym lines for that elliptical machine are gone, office co-workers' bagged lunches which look like mini gardens for all the green stop appearing in the break room, and a dessert of fresh strawberries, angel food cake and chocolate laced with orange liqueur is how you will end your February 14th (psst… Valentine's Day) dinner out on the town. If you have not guessed it by now, those created-over-champagne New Year's resolutions have completely vaporized into thin air ...
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The GRAM is trying a lot of new ideas these days from exciting programming to their new approach to big exhibition openings, which they have moved as of late to Sunday instead of the traditional Friday night many galleries still cling to with diminishing numbers. As a result of a city becoming more full with events and finally at a point where dining out is an activity to be enjoyed with the company of others any day of the week, it is generally a good thing. But on Wednesday night, more than 3 days before the Feb. 2 opening of Legacy: The Emily Fisher Landau Collection, the last of the 3 ...
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Music has the ability, due to the flattening of our world, to be everywhere all at once with a click of the mouse, but for those who are seeking a bit of a flashback to the days of vinyl, well, you are in luck Thursday night. From Mike Saunders, the same guy who, with others in our area, has produced events from the Michigan Hip Hop Revue to the wildly popular Grand Rapids Soul Club, comes Run This Shit (RTS) – a new kind of party featuring a vinyl take over and debuting in the back room of downtown's Pyramid Scheme. When they say vinyl rap all night long, they truly mean it, as ...
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The concept of a response video is something our generation is well versed in understanding and engaging. But the concept of a play being created in response to a well-known American play is a rare feat.   And in the case of Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's debut of Clybourne Park, the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play by Bruce Norris, the timing of its arrival, considering the timing of the play's setting, is, well, right on time. Clybourne Park, originating from Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, responds to Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin ...
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If you are following the headlines in places like New York, San Francisco and even Austin, then you know a serious movement is afoot in our cities and is playing out in a variety of ways. And while this movement, most often referred to as gentrification, usually arrives on the back of a host of "other" issues that are regularly and heatedly discussed in the public square, it is rare that communities create the space to engage in thoughtful dialogue to begin to better understand all sides of this complex matter. In a notable exception, the downtown main branch of the Grand Rapids ...
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A few years ago, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) began a new film series and one of its earliest offerings was the 2010 Academy Award-nominated documentary Gasland by filmmaker Josh Fox, whose unconventional style of filmmaking made him one of the most talked about filmmakers that year and whose footage of people lighting their tap water ignited the imagination and horror of those who caught this film. Fox's journey actually began in May 2008 when he received a letter from a natural gas company offering $100,000 to his family in Milanville, Pennsylvania if they would ...
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A few years ago Rapid Growth declared that the real art revolution in our region was not necessarily one led by art but by the influx of new musical acts that were unafraid to venture into new areas of sound to produce something truly remarkable. After more than five years sitting in the observation deck, I can clearly say, our music scene has never been better. At the start of 2014, a period during which we often set out on new pathways, you might consider adding to your journey an opportunity to see the act, Heavier Than Air Flying Machines (HTAFM) that has been creating the most beautiful ...
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Our state’s filmmaking scene may have taken a huge hit after the bait-and-switch politics in Lansing led to the cutting of our film incentive program, but local filmmakers still continue to do what they do even if the big budget films have exited our region.   And while Rapid Growth was off for the debut of the hip hop film The Fly last weekend at St. Cecilia’s Music Center, we promise not to let you miss the premiere of the next new film, Then Their Eyes Were Opened, from another local company, Exit Media Productions. Production for Then Their Eyes Were Opened began in the fall of ...
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It seems, from print to social media to even the late night talk shows, the conversation of surveillance is all the rage, but according to news sources and recent government whistle blowers like Edward Snowden, the level of wire tapping and personal spying on ordinary Americans has long been a bit of a national pastime conducted behind closed doors. On Monday, the ACLU of Michigan will be hosting a special panel discussion as a part of their Civil Liberties Speaker Series to be held at UICA over the next couple of months. The topic of privacy shows no sign of losing relevance in our culture as ...
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In the past, Grand Rapids Theatre has struggled to find an audience but in the wake of the many small venues that have popped up in our region, a new theater-going audience has been birthed, enabling many fine and off-the-beaten-path productions to make their way to our city. This month is no exception as The Lyons, a dark comedic play by Nicky Silver, will make its Michigan premier at Circle Theatre. Since we have all survived the family disasters that often accompany the holidays like a bad fruitcake or an over-done Ugly Sweater Party where members just turn ugly, Silver’s The Lyons is ...
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When an event is the very same day as Rapid Growth launches, I have just a few seconds to catch your attention. So here it goes: If you miss the Michigan Hip Hop Revue, your life could hang in the balance as a result of how you will choose to spend Thursday night. Okay, so that might be a bit extreme but on the day after the 6th in a series of events, there will be two camps: those who ventured out to witness such a solid program, and those who will have to listen to the aforementioned friend’s bragging about how wonderful it was. This series of hip hop music events that pops up ...
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A few week’s ago my G-Sync Editorial, Shining a Light on Fences, YouTube, and a Community with Grand Solutions, sought to address the topic of homelessness in our city in a humane, level and very honest manner. Last week, Rapid Growth also launched And they all lived together in a little crooked house* - part one of a multi-part series of stories devoted to the topic by Do Good Editor Victoria Mullen. And while it might seem odd that we have devoted so much word space in a publication charged to looking at the economics of our region, it is fitting that we remember or give pause from ...
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If you live long enough, then you will not doubt get lucky enough to see your era’s contribution resurrected (and often repurposed) for a new generation. However, if you continue to evolve in your craft, then you will not only be rewarded in many diverse ways for your contribution but, in addition, they will award you the much revered term: seminal. On Sunday, Dec. 29 Grand Rapids’ seminal band Mustard Plug, who helped jump-start our music scene and really never stopped performing since their 1990 debut, will be returning to The Intersection Lounge for their 11th annual Holiday ...
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