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2019 Articles | Page: | Show All

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. 

Grand Rapids Girls Robotics Competition: Accelerating STEAM with girl power

We hear a lot these days about the lack of opportunities for women in the sciences. Locally, I am happy to report that we are not only shoring up these gaps through new programs in education, we are also advancing hands-on experiences like the Grand Rapids Girls Robotics Competition, which will be held this Saturday in Wyoming.

Grand Rapids Girls Robotics, according to FIRST, the event organizers, provides a fun, low-cost event, which allows teams to enjoy using their robots, thus giving more students an opportunity to showcase their robot in a student competition.

And if you wondered about the rules, they are fairly simply:
1. Robot driver/operator, human player, and pit crew must be high school-aged girls.
2. Any male team members can only be in the pit but act in the role of support/advisory. 
3. The competition will use all the IRI rules. 
4. An additional rule is that each team of the four-team alliance must play at least once in the playoff.

If you are also wondering about the interest in this event thus far, at press time more than 25 student teams from area schools will be competing on Saturday. Here are just a few of the many area teams competing this year: 

Team 858 - The Demons of Wyoming High School
Team 2054 - Tech Vikes of Hopkins High School
Team 2771 - Code Red of Grand River Preparatory High School
Team 3875 - Red Storm Robotics of East Kentwood High School
Team 5980 - East Grand Rapids High School

For those looking to attend, please refer to this schedule of events for Saturday’s big competition day: 

7:00 a.m. - Pits are open
8:00 a.m. - "Ladies in Tech" career panel discussion
8:45 a.m. - Opening ceremonies
9:00 a.m. - Matches begin
12:30 p.m. - Lunch
1:15 p.m. - Matches continue
2:30 p.m. - Drafting for final elimination tournament
3:00 p.m. - Tournament begins
5:00 p.m. - Awards ceremony
5:30 p.m. - Event concludes

Fill the Stands, WestSiders: Union H.S. Football gets a shot of neighborhood boosterism

With all the rapid expansion happening in our city, it is easy to lose sight of the little activities that make up urban life for so many as we dash off to eat at the hottest new restaurant or sip the coolest elixir from your favorite barkeep.

Lucky for us, a few locals, like Paul Soltysiak and Liz Kamyszek — a couple of community-minded Westsiders, decided to do something about the fact that one neighborhood high school team in our city plays their heart out each week, but the stands are often near empty.

So to Facebook they went and organized Fill The Stands, Westsiders!, what I believe is a wonderful example of engaging community to support our local Union High School football team this Friday night by inviting fellow Westsiders and others to join them in the risers to cheer on these local athletes. 

As you can see from this photo they provided here from a recent game, the kids have very few fans.

So while we might be a nation often decided on a wide range of topics, it is important also to show up for children and support them whenever a need presents itself.

So don a lot of red and be prepared to cheer your best, “Go, Redhawks” from the stands as you join a pop-up community event that is sure to lift not just the kids’ spirits, but yours as well.

The game will be held at Houseman Field at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults.

Fall Bonsai Show: Meijer Gardens welcomes a beautiful, small art practice

While this season’s leaf peepers have yet to arrive as we await the arrival of the beautiful fall colors to fill our vision, this weekend, you can see another forest through the trees at the annual Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s Fall Bonsai Show.

If you have never attended, you are really missing a wonderfully inspiring event that is good for children of all ages (and I am including myself) as this living art form is sure to spark the imagination of any who attend.

The art of bonsai comes from trees who have been crafted to remain tiny (in comparison to their wild counterparts).

At this free event, you will have a chance to see trees in their early stages of training, as well as some award-winning lovely older trees brought to us by the members of the West Michigan Bonsai Club

This event also allows one a chance to not only observe the artists at work, but should you have questions about starting your own tree at home, purchase the items you will need to get started.

And by attending, you will also have a chance to vote for which entry at this event is the best in the region. If we are lucky, some of these trees might even have the first markings of fall. Trust me, if you have not witnessed a bonsai tree in fall colors, then you must place that on your bucket list of to-see items. 

Either way, get out to the Fall Bonsai Show as it is one of the most exciting events they host all year at the Gardens.

WYCE & HopCat Blue Bridge Music Fest: The musical side of ArtPrize

Friday, Sept. 28, 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. and Saturday, Sept. 29, 1 p.m. - 10 p.m.
ArtPrize visual artists might be jamming your inbox with “vote for me” messages, but on Friday and Saturday a different kind of artist will be jamming to get your attention … and boy, does it sound great this year.

Returning to Grand Rapids’ Blue Bridge this weekend, local independent, community radio station WYCE (FM 88.5) and HopCat invite you to visit the Blue Bridge Music Fest for ArtPrize 2018. 

On Friday and Saturday, the Blue Bridge will transform into a festival with live musical entertainment that includes a wide variety of singing, dancing, and moving instrumental work. 

Scheduled to perform in this ArtPrize competition this year are:

5 p.m. - Lazy Genius
7 p.m. - Lindsay Lou
9 p.m. - Pink Sky 

2 p.m. - Molly
4 p.m. - The SEVENth
5:30 p.m. - Jake Kershaw
7 p.m. - Cameron Blake
9 p.m. - Lipstick Jodi

This annual event is organized by Quinn Matthews, Studio C Music Operations Manager, and will also feature beer and HopCat’s crack fries at this free, two-day music event.

All participating musicians at the two-day festival are eligible for the ArtPrize 10 public vote competition in the time-based category. The ArtPrize public will also award an additional prize. By casting their votes through the ArtPrize mobile app, visitors will award a single artist the distinction of ‘ArtPrize Song of the Year’ and a $1,000 cash prize, presented by HopCat.

Cabildo: Good vibrations from Latin America

It has been a while since Cabildo has played at Creston Brewing on the city’s north end, but if the last show is any indication, you can expect a hot set that is certain to pack the dance floor at this most unique of tasting rooms in the city. 

Cabildo is a much lauded and loved West Michigan alternative Latin rock collective, who evolving over time, has kept the band fresh as they welcome bandmates from many regions of the Americas. Their sound is an unique blend of cumbia, ska, folk, and other genres of music from Latin and South America. Their shows performed in Spanish are vibrant and filled with passion and energy.

Also performing on this night is the Chicago act The Luna Blues Machine. With roots in Subterranean’s popular Open Mic Night, this act formed in 2001 and fuses hip-hop, soul, latin, and folk into their music. Their music has been described as feel-good rhythms wedded to engaging stories with incredibly tight harmonies and charismatic hooks. All this adds up to make some of the most experimental acoustic music you’re likely to hear this year.

DJ Soul Sister: Soul Power’s founder storms a downtown dance floor

When the sun sets on Grand Rapids Saturday and the ArtPrize venues have closed for the night, it is time to think about where you are going to sweat away the last hours of the day dancing to the best groove the city has to offer.

For those looking to experience fine dance music curation, then Grand Rapids Soul Club (GRSC) has to be your go-to spot given their track record. Over the last year alone, they have welcomed some of the biggest names in the dance music industry of all things soul. 

Keeping that tradition of solid programming, GRSC welcomes DJ Soul Sister to The Pyramid Scheme. She is one of the longest-running live DJ artists (mixing and blending 100 percent vinyl) in her hometown of New Orleans. 

But on Saturday, she is ours for the night, delivering her signature live, improvisational, funk, and rare groove music sets for the Grand Rapids audience who venture downtown.

Soul Sister’s parties and live DJ sets are now regarded and respected alongside those of her jazz, blues, rock, R&B ,and funk musician colleagues, many of them fans.

When she is not playing, teaching, writing, or sharing the music she loves or has discovered from the bins she scours for hidden gems in vinyl, she is a devoted full-time administrator in higher education, and is a part-time graduate student working towards an M.A. in musicology.

To dive in deep before her appearance here, please visit her site

Purchase tickets in advance here to guarantee entry at what is certain to be a wildly popular destination this Saturday.

PBS' Rick Steves: He’s not a token player for cannabis legalization

When most folks hear the name Rick Steves, they often think of adventure. But I doubt most folks — before he began his multi-city tour this year — thought he’d be advocating for the legalization of cannabis. 

And yet, that is what he will be addressing here when Steves, the popular PBS travel writer and host of “Rick Steves’ Europe,” arrives in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Oct. 4.

Shocking to some is that the author has actually been a member of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, since 2003.

Rick Steves at this public forum will lead a community discussion in Grand Rapids shining a light about the benefits of legalizing and regulating marijuana. And in the tradition of Steves’ career, he’ll be sharing stories from the road on this topic.  

With all the ballot measures before us this fall, this community gathering is just one way of many in our region for our citizens to become better educated on these matters before heading to the polls. 

For details on attending this one night only community event, please visit the organizer's Facebook event page

The WestSide StreetFair and ArtWalk: Debut of a new festival in a neighborhood setting

The Summer of 2018 might have come and gone, but it does not have to end. And with the latest run of unseasonably warm weather, we can continue to enjoy our city this fall. 

Entering the street festival circuit this September 22 is the Westside neighborhood’s fresh new WestSide StreetFair and ArtWalk.

Billed as two joined activities on Facebook, this new festival seeks to elevate the fun factor of this neighborhood while seeking to place a value on the diversity of their community.

To meet these goals, the entertainment for the day reflects that mission with acts like Lady Ace Boogie, Jesse Ray, Cønrad Shøck + the Nøise, The JetBeats, Gabriel Estrada III, Walt Gutowski & The Bridge Street Band, and others.

And after soaking up the sounds and suds, hit the expansive ArtWalk, which starts near Stockbridge and will feature 20 works of art exhibited throughout the Westside. (No worries if you cannot do both since the ArtWalk pieces are also tied to ArtPrize so you have a few weeks to view them.) 

Whether you like music, food, or art, there is some really great stuff happening at the debut of the WestSide StreetFair and ArtWalk. 

Love, Gilda: Three local chances to witness this comic genius on the big screen

Thurs., Sept. 20 (ArtPrize Hub), Sun., Sept. 30 (Celebration! - Woodland), and Mon., Oct. 1 (Knickerbocker - Holland)
It is weird to live long enough to bury your heroes, and a hero to many comics who left us too early was the legendary Saturday Night Live original cast member Gilda Radner, who died from ovarian cancer in 1989.

For more than a decade, Gilda amused us with the sensitive and hilarious characters she created on the big and little screens from television to motion pictures. And lucky for us who fondly recall Gilda’s unique brand of humor, we will have three unique chances over the next two weeks to see her on the big screen again.

“Love, Gilda” has all that one would expect from a film about the comic, from clips from her performances to home movies, and even her time fighting cancer. But the real heart of this story is the inclusion of her actual voice from a series of recently discovered cassette tapes and a handwritten journal that modern comic stars like Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph read from within the film. And very quickly, it becomes clear that this picture is about a woman breaking out in a man’s world. 

You will have three opportunities to enjoy the new documentary “Love, Gilda” as it arrives locally, starting with a one-night-only (two screenings) Thursday, September 20 viewing at the ArtPrize Hub theatre as a part of their ArtPrize on the Screen series. (See the complete list here of all the films being screened this year including Joel Potrykus’ “Relaxer” with breakout actor Joshua Burge.)

And while the ArtPrize screenings are free, the other two showings of the documentary will be screened as fundraisers for Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids on Sunday, September 30 at Celebration! Cinema’s Woodland theatre and then on Monday, Oct. 1 at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Holland. Tickets for these screenings can be purchased here.   

Gilda Radner always made me laugh as a kid and I am lucky to have lived long enough to see her life re-introduced in such a moving and timely piece of cinema. If you want a good tear-jerker of a trailer to tease you to attend, then watch the “Love, Gilda” trailer here.
2019 Articles | Page: | Show All
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