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Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead): Family day in every possible way

The film “Coco” introduced in a huge way to a new generation the annual celebration of Día de los Metros — or for our English-speaking folk, Day of the Dead. 

When folks attend this year’s Día de los Muertos at the main branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL), they are in for a special treat because of how expansive this presentation is becoming with each passing year. 

For this special Day of the Dead celebration that opens to the public on October 31 and culminates with a community-themed Family Day gathering on Sunday, Nov. 4 from 1 to 4:30 p.m., this wildly popular annual Mexican holiday invites not only Latinx family and friends to share their tribute altars with the public, but the GRPL has also invited non-Latinx community members to contribute as well. 

It makes for a wonderful exploration of the many lives who have lived and yet, live on through these heartfelt tributes. Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that honors family and friends who have passed on. 

The GRPL writes, “Loved ones come together to build an altar, or ofrenda, that celebrates the life and memory of the dead. The day is a time of celebration and joy, filled with talk and memories of those who have died. 

“On the ofrenda many significant objects are placed as gifts to the deceased loved ones. The altar holds four important elements: water, wind, fire, and earth. These are represented by a pitcher or glass; candles; papel picado (punched paper); and food, usually pan de muerto. Other items seen on altars include sugar skulls, flowers, photos, and religious items.”

And like every year, the annual Día de los Muertos will host a series of educational activities for families including a bilingual story time, live music from Gabriel Estrada III, crafts, and face painting. Food will be provided by El Granjero and Tamales Mary. Pan de Muerto provided by Panaderia Margo. 

If you want to see Pixar’s “Coco” in a community setting then on Saturday, October 27 at 10:30 a.m., GRPL will be hosting a free screening of this popular musical look at this ancient tradition. It will be played in English with Spanish subtitles.

Also on display will be the work of Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada through November 11. 

Posada was a printmaker and engraver who lived and worked during a period of Mexican history characterized by social and political upheaval. He illustrated historic scenes, board games and commercial items, religious images, various books, and newspapers. He is most famous for his use of calaveras (depictions of skulls and skeletons) to satirize and mock corruption of the wealthy and political elite. The exhibit includes 20 of his prints on loan courtesy of the Grand Valley State University Print and Drawing Cabinet

Vote: For the nation, state, and, most of all, our community

On November 6, we, who are of voting age and registered, will have a chance to add our voice to the ballot box as the nation goes to vote in one of the most anticipated votes of my lifetime. With so much on the line in an ever-polarizing world, sane voices are needed at the polls more than ever.

And while Rapid Growth does not endorse candidates for partisan reasons, we do place a high value on participatory acts like voting and how they can make a difference in society. Voting is a way to lend one’s voice to the process of society’s evolution (or devolution depending on who you talk to).

If you would like to know where you can vote or what your ballot will look like this year, please visit the Michigan Voter Information Center.

Also, if you are (or know anyone) who is a student, we want to encourage you to accompany them or just point them in the direction of Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), who will be hosting on Thursday, Nov. 1, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. a Rock the Vote concert at the Linn Maxwell Keller Recital Hall (courtesy of GRCC’s Music Department).

This free to the public concert aimed at college students will welcome to the stage The Crane Wives with opening acts Ben Traverse and Kaitlyn Zittel.

This event is brought to us by the bipartisan groups the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and Lakeside House Shows — a new organization based out of Manistee, Michigan that focuses on music-related events to raise awareness and money for environmental and non-partisan issues. 

Studies have shown that students often want to participate in the process but often don’t. This event seeks to bridge the divide by providing knowledge for attendees about just how easy it is to vote this year. 

Fifth Annual Padnos/Sarosic Civil Discourse Symposium: Gathering promotes healthy dialogue

One of the most powerful tools of our human evolution is our voice. And yet, we live in a time when most feel voiceless because we have forgotten how to talk with one another.

Many might attribute this to a host of reasons, but ultimately it is on us to harness the power of our voices and engage in the civil dialogue, even in the discourse, if we as a society are to advance beyond the anger that fuels most conversations today. 
Returning for the fifth year is the Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Symposium — a part of an Endowed Professorship of Civil Discourse from the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University.

For its 2018 symposium, the focus will be turned to creating civil conversations on Climate Change.

Those attending this free event will have a chance to hear first from Dr. Elizabeth Arnold, who after addressing the topic of Climate Change will invite folks to gather in groups at tables where they will put into practice the art of civil discourse through conversations rooted in this very relevant topic. 

This series is a gift from Shelley E. Padnos and Carol Sarosik, who, along with GVSU, hope this series of talks will strengthen our individual commitment to informed, peace-based, and respectful dialogue across the campus community and all areas of West Michigan. 

According to the university’s website, “Civil discourse is engagement in discourse (conversation) intended to enhance understanding. Rather than focusing on the barriers and limitations of a situation, civil discourse involves a commitment to building on the possibilities and assets which folks around the table offer.”

Sure, there are plenty of lecture series within the city, but rarely do we have one like this that ushers in opportunities for us to learn and put into practice techniques that seek to engage with our society, which is always in motion.

Free parking is available at the Fulton and Seward lots. You can RSVP right up until the start of the event at this website.

Aimi Hamraie: Showcasing how cities are becoming welcoming spaces for all

This last Monday at the Disability Advocates of Kent County’s Invest in Ability annual dinner, the City of Grand Rapids was singled out for an award for their advances in creating a more welcoming city for all through their commitment to expanding access for all.

This is not just good PR but good governance, since who doesn’t want to make room for others to experience what so many freely do (and often without much thought)? 

But a huge part of our city’s journey is also owed to DisArt, an organization committed to increasing the participation of Disabled people in our communities through the curation of art exhibitions, cutting-edge public events, and organizational coaching.

DisArt is proud to welcome Professor Aimi Hamraie from Vanderbilt University, who will be on Aquinas’ campus for an in-depth conversation about how urban design and public art, when rooted in an understanding of Disability art and culture, can help cities celebrate and sustain, rather than eliminate, embodied difference. 

Hamraie’s insights will seek to illuminate the good work Grand Rapids is already doing to achieve an “age-friendly community” designation — an initiative of the World Health Organization in partnership with AARP. 

In this talk, Hamraie will cover urban design, public art, and building certification frameworks to analyze transformations within contemporary cities. To do this, Hamraie will draw on concepts from Disability studies, feminist science studies, permaculture ethics, and urban geography.

“DisArt is continually looking for opportunities to engage the community in conversations about equity, accessibility, and the positive role disability has to play in community,” says Co-Founder/Co-Executive Director Chris Smit. “This important lecture by Prof. Hamraie coincides with some major growth in Grand Rapids, and we are thrilled to be able to help introduce her thoughts on making sure that our city thrives as a place for all people.”

As an added bonus, this event is being produced in partnership with Local First, who is offering a discounted ticket price for lecture attendees for their annual Fork Fest, which takes place just three blocks away immediately after this lecture event.

To purchase tickets in advance, please visit DisArt’s special event website.

(Editor's note: DisArt is encouraging us to capitalize the word "Disability" moving forward.) 

TOYS!: A new multigenerational exhibition rooted in the joy of the childhood toy

Opening Saturday, Oct. 27, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. (members preview), 10:00 a.m. (public)
As I look around my home office, I realize I might have a toy problem. From where I sit, I can see so much history as I spy a Hot Wheels car, Carol from “Where the Wild Things Are,” and a talking Po doll from the popular kids show Teletubbies. 

And while these toys on the surface when created were just something to play with as a kid (or child at heart), they also each represent a plethora of happy memories and good stories as to why they still are with me as I navigate my adult years.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) is hoping their new exhibition, TOYS!, will inspire you, too, to venture out to this very interactive, multi-generational exhibition of toys and games that is certain to rekindle childhood memories and spark fresh dialogue with those who attend.

Curating this collection from the Museum’s Collections is a diverse set of folks in our region, and this new exhibition spans many generations, featuring vintage toys like paper dolls, Erector Sets, and Mr. Potato Head to Gen X favs like Holly Hobbie and Hot Wheels, to a newer generation with iconic names like Super Mario or My Little Pony. 

You will also get to see how Barbie and G.I. Joe have adapted over time to appeal to many different generations as well as the times. But one thing remains: their appeal to entertain children.

As you view this collection, you will also see how these toys and games have really changed over time, but our desire to harness these items for the imaginative play (thankfully) never seems to go out of style. 

“Visitors will remember their favorite toys from childhood, as well as make new memories with their family, friends, and classmates,” says Kate Kocienski, vice president of marketing & PR at the GRPM. "The exhibit is meant to spark intergenerational conversations about the importance of imagination and play, and how toys have changed over time.” 

Museum members have the first chance to experience TOYS! on Saturday, October 27 during the members-only preview from 8 to 10 a.m. Members can RSVP to the members only preview at grpm.org/Toys. TOYS! will be included with general admission into the Museum.

The Underground Series: Jazz artists return to a popular East Hills gallery

Some of my favorite experiences in an art gallery have not just been the viewing of visual art, but how some venues are able to transform their space to host other artistic practices.

LaFontsee Galleries of East Hills is one such place in our city that is expanding our perception of an art gallery as they bring back for the 2018-2019 season a jazz music series with four live concerts held the last Sundays of October, February, March, and April.

For this next season, fans of jazz will have a chance to hear Aretha Franklin’s Drummer, a French Jazz Accordionist, and many other exciting musicians based in New York and Chicago.

The Underground Series is a collaborative effort of the popular gallery and AdventureMusic.org and on Sunday, October 28 at 3 p.m., they will kick the season off with accordionist Julien Labro.

Billed as “Julien Labro and the Chanson Experiment,” this first concert will channel the sounds of the south of France with modernized classic songs from popular artists Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Michel Legrand, Charles Aznavour, and others. It is sure to be an amazing concert filled with something for every Francophile who will venture to East Hills this Sunday.

Also appearing later in The Underground Series is the renowned jazz musician and multi-genre drummer Gayle McKinney of Detroit (Feb. 24, 2019), Chicago saxophonist and bass clarinetist Geof Bradfield (Mar. 31, 2018), and The Alex Harding Organ Trio with special guest J.D. Allen (Apr. 28).

To guarantee a seat at this special kick-off event, please purchase tickets in advance at Adventure Music’s site.

Ana Navarro: Listening to one's lived experience is why this local series is tops!

When we set out to create a list of distinct events to consider attending this next week, GRCC Diversity Lecture Series’ guest speaker tweeted, “A US Permanent Resident was turned into mince-meat by the Saudis. Thousands of Floridians lost their homes, thousands more are without power. And the President of the United States is on Twitter calling one woman, 'Pocahontas', and another one, 'horse-face'. It must be Tuesday.”  

Now before your eyes roll your eyes back in your head, this is a tweet from Ana Navarro who is coming to Grand Rapids and is unabashedly a proud GOP member who is addressing a concern many in the GOP have raised for some time but have not been heard over the noise of our current political climate. 

That is why the GRCC Diversity Lecture Series reminds us of the power of dialogue, but also of giving pause to listen to each other in our communities.

According to the series organizers, “Ana Navarro is a Republican Strategist and a Political Analyst for CNN and CNN en Español. She also is a political contributor on ABC’s ‘The View.’ The Miami New Times named her a ‘Republican power-consultant,’ and the Tampa Bay Times called her ‘a sought-after voice in Republican politics and an adviser for any presidential hopeful.’”

Navarro has served as Ambassador to the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission and has also worked in the private sector, representing private and public clients on federal issues, particularly related to immigration, trade, and policy affecting Central America. 

As always, this popular local speaker series is free to students and the public and is sure to inspire dialogue that can spill over into the various watering holes within walking distance of the lecture series location. 

If you would like to follow Navarro on twitter, follow her at @ananavarro

Brewer's Grove Planting & Party in the Park: Get dirty for community and sip with beer gods

Two things are best enjoyed during October once you give up Halloween for blood sugar health reasons: tree planting and drinking beer in the crisp air.

And lucky for us, the two activities will meet on Friday afternoon in the city of Grand Rapids’ Riverside Park located on the mighty Grand River.

At this special annual Brewer’s Grove Tree Beer(s) event, you will get to assist in planting trees alongside the city’s favorite Grand Rapids Area Brewers.

Many years ago, the Emerald Ash Borer epidemic impacted thousands of trees in our region, including hundreds in Riverside Park. To help restore but also plan for a stronger forest for the future, the community is invited to join these brewers along with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks’ Urban Forest Project to help plant 30 trees.

Since this is an open container event, those who are 21 or older can feel free to bring some beer to share at 3 p.m. when the brewers and tree planters will shift gears to kick back over a cold one.

Over the few hours that follow, brewers and those gathered in this community beautification project will brainstorm and muse on what the tree-themed ingredients and beer could be for the 2019 Tree Beer. (The special citywide release of this annual limited edition beer will be released mid-February, 2019.)

7th annual Zombie Dash 5K: The best, scariest 75 minutes of your weekend

The city has seen plenty of zombie fun since the wildly popular Rob Bliss-produced Zombie Walk took over Rosa Parks Circle in 2008.

Now, 10 years later, we may have witnessed a lot of zombie-themed events and parties, but none can compare to the thrill of the annual Zombie Dash 5K that takes over the riverfront neighborhoods just north of Downtown. 

This seventh annual post-apocalyptic 5K takes place on the streets, paths, and bridges of Grand Rapids' north end.

Runners are encouraged to study the map in advance to know where the various zones are for this run and what to expect at each one. Hint: Some zombies will be lurking and waiting for you so that they can steal your “life strips,” which are modeled after flag football … except this time you are just trying to avoid losing one of your three strips and becoming some local zombie’s supper.

The goal is to stay alive and run fast, but remember, this is also a fun run so timing is not a factor. (Survival is.)

The key is to enjoy yourself while getting your heart rate up with some good old-fashioned apocalypse fun. To learn all the details as well as view the exciting upgrades and course for this year’s run, please visit their site here.

Make It Take It 2018: A popular creative-fueled fundraiser arrives on the WestSide

Many years ago at the former location of the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology (WMCAT), the nonprofit would host an annual Make It Take It special hands-on fundraising event. For those who recall, the last time WMCAT hosted such an event was in 2012.

At this special event, attendees were invited into WMCAT’s space to play with various materials employed in the creation of something that the guest could take home with them at the end of night.

In those early years, you had a variety of activities awaiting you inside this downtown facility, from learning to print a t-shirt to participating in a photo shoot.

This year’s return of Make It Take It 2018 is really special since WMCAT is in their brand new home on the WestSide of Grand Rapids, and so they have an array of activities from screen printing, producing photograms, Japanese shibori dyeing, button making, and even the chance to make your own original music beats and upload them to a SoundCloud page. 

And this year’s event will have music curated by Grand Rapids Soul Club filling the space as attendees participate in up to five creative activities on Thursday night.

If you get hungry from all your creative labor, take a nosh break with food from sponsors EL Granjero Mexican Grill, Harmony Hall, Two Scotts Barbecue, BarFly Events, and Bridge Street Market. Thirsty? WMCAT has you covered with Coke products, beer from Brewery Vivant, wine from BarFly Ventures, and cocktails from Long Road Distillers. 

So come out and explore your inner creativity with friends and others who are coming out to support this amazing organization in our community. 

Tickets for WMCAT’s Make It Take are $35 and include appetizers, one drink ticket, and all activities. Additional drink tickets can be purchased at the event.

GRBJ's 40 Under 40 Party 2018: Celebrate your local "family" members

Each year, our community nominates hundreds of individuals, but only 40 will be selected to represent the annual Grand Rapids Business Journal’s (GRBJ) 40 Under 40 event.

This year, the event will be held at 20 Monroe Live downtown and will be filled with many locals who have, in one way or another, made a difference in our community through their contributions.

And while it might seem odd that Rapid Growth — another magazine in our community — would highlight such event, until you realize that within the ranks of honorees is one of our own, Leandra Nisbet. 

While Nisbet operates a couple of businesses as an entrepreneur, with Rapid Growth she has served over the years as our “Making it in Grand Rapids” editor for the Start Garden sponsored series that looks at the ecosystem of our city’s emerging business scene. 

In addition to her work with Rapid Growth, Nisbet, an MBA graduate of Davenport University, owns Stingray Advisory Group and is also co-owner of Gold Leaf Designs, specializing in the development and creation of business strategies focused on growth and sustainability. 

According to GRBJ, “Each nominee is evaluated on business success, professional recognitions or awards, new endeavors, breaking stereotypes or new industry emergence. The business evaluations consider the success of the business and the leadership provided by the individual.”

To view all the nominees, including Leandra Nisbet’s complete bio and many other folks who have been featured in Rapid Growth over the years, please visit GRBJ’s special issue here.

Leandra, we are so proud to see you honored this year on this prestigious list. 

- The Rapid Growth family

Community Spirit Awards: Maggie Anderson of "Our Black Year" delivers the keynote address in GR

Over the past nine years, LINC UP, a community development organization, has celebrated our region’s individuals and organizations who have made their mark here via its Community Spirit Awards. 

The event, unlike other awards shows in our region, has a beautiful celebratory feel to it because it highlights those who have impacted our community for the better. 

And while over the past couple of years LINC has hosted the Empowered Communities Conference in conjunction with this annual event, this year they will focus on the awards, but also welcome a special guest speaker to round out the community celebration.

This year, the event will be held at Wealthy Theatre and welcome Margarita “Maggie” Anderson as the keynote speaker at the Community Spirit Awards event on Thursday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m.

Anderson is the CEO and Founder of The Empowerment Experiment (EE) Foundation and author of the critically acclaimed book “Our Black Year.” She will dive in to address with the Grand Rapids audience the topic of why showing up for minority businesses is good business and what it means for a city and region. 

“Our Black Year” was the Anderson family’s social experiment as they sought to purchase over the course of a year only from black-owned businesses. Her experiment led to a Northwestern University Kellogg School of Business study on the effects of supporting black-owned businesses on the American economy, as well as Anderson’s belief that doing so can revitalize struggling and impoverished communities.

This event supports LINC UP’s mission “To improve the quality of life of individuals and families by creating opportunities to link with resources offered by the organization and its community partners. LINC UP is a community development organization that provides services to Kent County, whose involvement in a host of projects and services reach and impact families, houses, businesses and neighborhoods at large in Greater Grand Rapids.”

For tickets to the event, please register here

Grand Rapids Governor Debate Viewing Party: Get out and listen on Friday together as a community

Some of my favorite moments at Wealthy are those where I am challenged by their community-focused programming. And while a lot of changes have been happening over the years with some events running their course or just growing too big to be housed here, I am happy to see that this theatre seated in the Wealthy Street business district and in the Baxter Neighborhood will be hosting another fabulous event that is sure to spark dialogue among attendees. 

The theatre will be hosting on Friday, October 12, the 2018 Michigan gubernatorial debate between candidates Gretchen Whitmer (Dem) and Bill Schutte (GOP).

And while it could just be another sit-in-your-seat event, the organizers of this first debate have created something really remarkable in this latest version of the viewing party by adding additional activities that are sure to spark good community dialogue as you engage in a fun activity.

In addition to having a chance to enjoy a meal together (please RSVP here), there will also be pumpkin decorating, which I can honestly say I have never experienced while at a debate. 

For those who chose to attend, the event organizers, Planned Parenthood, will ask folks to consider joining in a text-a-thon scheduled to happen during the event screening to engage voters but also to share personal insights on the debate topics.

So while some folks might believe we can’t sit in a room and have a civil experience, it is my hope that we have not lost that charming quality of a city of our size. And most of all, no matter your political position, it is important to remember to vote this year to have your voice recorded in the process of selecting a new governor.

Farewell Yellow Brick Road: Elton John says, "Farewell, Grand Rapids" one last time

It is hard to believe that I have been alive long enough to remember when Elton John debuted on our music scene. But I can honestly say from my childhood to adulthood, I have enjoyed every era of this musician’s life and his contribution to our music scene but also our world through his work in raising awareness during the AIDS world crisis (and during a time when few would lend their voices).

Elton John is a man who needs no introduction at this point and on Monday, October 15, fans will flock downtown when he arrives in Grand Rapids for the “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour — the musician’s final music lap as he heads into retirement. 

The tour started on September 8, 2018, and will consist of more than 300 shows across five continents from North America to Europe to Asia to South America and finally Australia at the end in 2021. 

This all-new stage production will usher fans into a musical tribute of his 50-year career of greatest hits. It is rumored to be unlike any other tour the artist has performed to date … and I am old enough to recall the performances in which Elton dressed in a duck suit in the late 1970s. 

“Performing live fuels me and I’m ecstatic and humbled to continue to play to audiences across the globe,” says Elton. “I plan to bring the passion and creativity that has entertained my fans for decades to my final tour. After the tour finishes, I’m very much looking forward to closing off that chapter of my life by saying farewell to life on the road. I need to dedicate more time to raising my children.”

Tickets range from $49.50 to $224.50. But honestly, the chance to see him one last time locally is priceless. 

For those wanting to get in the mood before the show, the Van Andel Arena has released a special playlist for fans. "I hope you don't mind..."


Grand Rapids Zine Artist Panel: Analog DIY Power

For many authors, the path to publishing can be a daunting process as the writer must not only create the work, but then somehow garner the attention of a system that can be off-putting, not to mention quite difficult.

However, for some local authors who eschew this long process, there is a path where their labor can be focused on the beautiful small of Do It Yourself (or DIY) self-publishing, embracing its power using the Zine format.

This form of artistic expression often reaches beyond just the written word, opening up exciting and tiny editions filled with literary and visual delights. 

On Thursday night, folks interested in this analog format of publishing are invited by the Grand Rapid Public Library and Vault of Midnight to attend a special panel discussion with some of Grand Rapids’ best zine artists. 

Joining the panel discussion will be Cody Flowers (Neighborhood Watch), Lydia VanHoven (The Bandit Zine), Frankie Johnson (Glass Crayon), Kim Nguyen (FLAP), and Scott Wygmans (Metal Heads). 

These Zine artists will share what they do and how others looking to also self-publish can get started making their own zine. If you can attend, please note that the participating artists will be selling their artwork and will be available to sign copies as well as answer your questions.

Should you not be able to attend but would love to add a few local zines to your fall reading list, then stop by Vault of Midnight, who offers shelf space to locals who are creating these unique literary works of art. 
1983 Articles | Page: | Show All
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