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Irish On Ionia 2018

What more can be written about Irish on Ionia (IOI) that has not already been said about the wildly popular and quite possibly the biggest St. Patty’s Day party in Michigan that invades downtown Grand Rapids each March by way of Barfly Events (Part of the family of downtown eateries of HopCat, Grand Rapid Brewing Company, and Stella’s). 

This popular event that is not for the weak of liver should you wish to imbibe in all the festivities that kick off at 7 a.m. and keep on cranking out hour after hour of programming until 10 p.m.

Thought the day there are beer tents and two stages filled with bands and DJs that range from the traditional Irish sound to a heavy dance beat that helps you burn off those beer calories, including  names like locals DJ Slim Tim and DJ Sean Boney and guest DJ’s like DJ Kalendr.

They even have the popular ShamROCK, Paper, Scissors Tournament on deck with hosts Mike and Drew. 

And while the Waldron House is also open and hosting programming for attendees of IOI throughout the day, the heat really gets cranked up when DJ Richard Oxygenn starts spinning for the late night crowd at 10 p.m.

So while you have a lot of places to consider attending and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, if you seek that big booming festival atmosphere, then IOI is your ticket to secure this year. And don’t delay purchasing tickets—this one has been known to sell out. 

West Michigan Design Week - 2018’s Look Behind Design kick off

This week as Rapid Growth dedicates our entire issue to the power and importance of our design community, G-Sync Events wants to invite the design-curious to seek out West Michigan Design Week as they have produced more than 20 events ranging from world-class speakers like Jen Scully and Stefan Sagmeister to hands-on workshops to happy hour gatherings. 

To help stir the excitement further for the 2018 West Michigan Design Week, an opening reception for “Look Behind Design”— a specially curated exhibit where you can dive in and see the spirit of design—will commence at UICA on March 16 in downtown Grand Rapids.

For all the details, including the events featured this year, be sure to visit their website or read our article by Rapid Growth’s Editor Lauren Carlson who welcomes this important festival back to our city.

The Art of Pitching: A refreshing beer series celebrating its second year

It is not uncommon for folks in this city to attend an event devoted to pitching an idea, whether it is a 5x5 Night or #100Ideas. But this week until March 19, the Mitten Brewing Company welcomes back their second annual “Art of Pitching” series.

Unlike the startup variety, this local westside brewery with plenty of nods to baseball within its tasting room, will release six experimental brews culminating at a special event on March 19.

The Mitten Brewing Company, long a provider of unique brews to Grand Rapids’ Beer City brewscape, has built itself around showcasing the many and diverse worlds of craft beer with a nod to the popular national pastime of baseball.  

When talking about baseball, the act of pitching refers to throwing the ball towards home plate to begin a play. However in brewing beer, when you “pitch,” it refers to the time in which one throws yeast into wort to start the fermentation process. The annual “Art of Pitching” series offers Mitten brewers an opportunity to test out new ingredients and techniques.

The 2018 “Pitching” series really kicks in on Monday, Mar. 19, when all six beers will be tapped at the popular pub. Monday is also The Mitten Brewing Company’s “Flight Night,” which offers flights at 25 percent off from 4 p.m. to close. Visitors are invited to purchase a flight of all six beers.

To vote on your favorite at the Art of Pitching, check out the brewery’s Facebook poll that will be open on that Monday only.
 
The event also provides an opportunity for a charitable component to the Mar. 19 event: from 5-8 p.m., a portion of the sales will be donated to the brewery’s spring and summer charity project, the “Ted Rasberry Gift.” 

The money from this event will go to the Whitecaps Community Foundation to fund the Inner City Youth Baseball and Softball Program—a free program for inner-city youth ages 6 to14 that holds games at seven neighborhood parks, including Rasberry Field.

And who knows, maybe after all the dust settles on this series, a new popular brew will be born and a new reason to celebrate the craft of brewing and the creative spirit devoted to this process will be born (again). 

The styles on tap this year include an India Pale Lager, Blackberry Black Gose, Rye Stout with oak spirals, Imperial Roggenbier, Bohemian Pilsner, and the brewery’s first New England IPA — and all will have baseball-reflecting names. 

Vinyl Fetish Thursdays One Year Anniversary: Dark Disco

Fans of Division Avenue’s (defunct) Reptile House and their locally famous dance parties have discovered a rebirth of their sound and a reason to shake it in public from a local DJ who is too young to recall those Jager-infused nights. 

Vinyl Fetish's Joe Moon had just an idea when he started his Vinyl Fetish Thursdays at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill of a special night devoted to a niche form of music. He did so because, while Grand Rapids has plenty of places showcasing top of the charts dance tunes as well as plenty of niche retro-music nights, he felt there was a real shortage of places highlighting dance music’s darker side. 

As the night has grown to attract an audience over the past year, Moon has welcomed guest DJs as well as adding Dana West-Bystry as a partner last July at the popular Thursday event.

Recently, Moon reflected with Publisher Tommy Allen about the year long experience and the upcoming celebration. “I’ve met a lot of people from that time who have come out and enjoyed what I was doing, along with the younger generation of kids who relate to the style of music,” says Moon, “It’s been a beautiful clash of ages and personalities. The vibe of the night is always welcoming and accepting.”

The welcoming aspects of Vinyl Fetish’s crew is what has impressed Rapid Growth, which has  been tracking this subculture of our city as we establish a DJ culture here that is part curation part celebration. 

So get to the wild westside outpost on Thursday to celebrate with Moon and West-Bystry as they welcome some of their favorite DJ’s including Brandon Hill, Elyse Renee, Geoffrey Hudson, Kevin Czarnik, and Michael Mist.

As always, no cover. Those who come out can enjoy $3 long islands all night from 9 - 2 a.m. and the best dark disco-industrial music this side of the Reptile House.  

LaughFest 2018: What’s that sound in the air? Not spring, but laughter

On the dawn of its eighth year, Gilda’s LaughFest—the nation’s first-ever community-wide festival of laughter—has made the blues of late-winter a bit lighter as the citizenry (and visitors) arrive to check out the massive programming of this 10-day event. 

Uniquely created by the Grand Rapids Gilda’s Club in March 2011 as a way for the community to “celebrate laughter for the health of it,” the festival features some of the biggest names in stand-up as well as a host of up-and-comers to West Michigan. 

The festival looks at the many sides of laughter with performances touching on areas like improv, musical showcases, kids programming, LaughteRx panels, and of course, the art of stand-up.

Highlights of the bigger names appearing on this year’s playbill include Trevor Noah, Maria Bamford, Tiffany Haddish, Cameron Esposito, Bert Kreischer, and Anjelah Johnson. But no worries about cost at LaughFest, since many of the amazing programming at this event is free. So for those who want to venture, there is truly something for everyone. 

Most of all, the proceeds raised from LaughFest supports families and friends with their cancer or grief journey through Gilda’s House Grand Rapids. 

If everything holds true, we can expect folks in the area to be in a little better mood again this March…and I can clearly say, LaughFest is a big reason why.

Know Your Muslim Neighbor Open House

Last October, the Grand Rapids Islamic Masjid and Religious Institute on the city’s south side welcomed the public to their second open house. Having missed the first one, Rapid Growth’s Tommy Allen made sure to catch the fall event and boy, was he impressed by the level of openness as well as education built into this community-building event. 

On Saturday the institute re-opens their doors for another event they are call “Know Your Muslim Neighbor.”

As we the case last fall, the Islamic membership enthusiastically welcomes the community to bring family and friends members to their East Paris Ave. masjid (Arabic for mosque) for a chance to learn more about the world’s largest religion.

No, this is not a veiled attempt to convert anyone, but is a wonderful way for a religious group and community to reach out to help educate our city’s curious to better understand them.

As was the case last fall, on this tour you’ll visit the Prayer Hall, learn about the Quran, try on a Hijab, and even learn how to write your name in Arabic. 

While at the masjid, you can also get a henna tattoo or try one of the many foods and drinks from the Muslim nations represented at this event. (In fact, if you like something you tried, then we insist that you visit the East Paris Ave. Super Green Market just North of the masjid for some delicious gastronomic treats.)

Just a quick note from the hosts who ask that people wear modest clothing when you attending. All attendees are asked to wear long sleeves, modest long pants, and women attending the tour will be asked to cover their hair when on the main level of the prayer hall. Shoes are also removed on the main level but they have plenty of space to check your shoes.

According to the Islamic Mosque and Religious Institute website, they seek to draw its guidance from the Noble Qur'an and the Sunah. They are dedicated to the advancement of Muslims and society at large. They serve the ethnically diverse Muslim community within the West Michigan region.

So if you seeking a wonderfully structured learning experience from a member of our faith community, please consider RSVP’ing on their Facebook event page

2018 César E. Chávez Social Justice March and Community Gathering

More times than not, our childhood experiences will often inform who we become as adults. When looking back at the life of César E. Chávez, it is easy to see how his life on his family’s farm tending to the land as well as the animals would inform his steps as he grew into the man we celebrate today. 

Chávez’s path from childhood would take him to service in the Navy, but also to a role as a community organizer where he would go on to found the National Farm Worker Association. His work aimed to improve the working conditions of America’s farm workers which included African Americans, Filipinos, white Americans, Mexican Americans, and Mexicans. 

When the growers and farmers refused to provide access to fresh water to drink, bathrooms in the fields, and fair pay for a day’s work, Chávez led the farm workers through years of nonviolent actions, much like Martin Luther King, Jr. did before him, resulting in a victorious moment in history.

On Thursday our community will host an annual march to honor the life and legacy of civil rights hero César E. Chávez.

In an era of massive divisions in our nation, it is nice to know that there are still areas of our society like this community-centered celebration/march where others are advocating for greater understanding of another’s path in this world. 

The event begins at 11:00 a.m. at the Cook Library on Grandville Ave. SW and will progress to Chicago Ave’s The Potter's House Chapel for a community gathering. (There is also a 1 p.m. unity luncheon but you need to pre-register in advance for this paid function. You can see this offer at the GVSU website. ) gvsu.edu/inclusion/2018unityluncheon

If you are going to march, the organizers have a few points to help guide one in the task. If you want to make signs, please keep the messages related to social justice and the life and legacy of César E Chávez. They also ask that you consider using the organizational colors of the host: red and black. In addition, feel free to bring your home country flags, as well as school or organization banners. Absolutely no political candidate signs will be permitted according to organizers. 

Even if you do not march, these types of events really help educate our community in helping to tear down divisions as they open us up to the lives of others in our city. 

Terrible Lovelies: Electronic newbies in the neighborhood pub

Fans of bands like Phantogram, The Knife, and CHVRCHES are in luck this Friday night at Creston Brewery -  the city’s only black-owned brewery - welcomes the newly created act, the Terrible Lovelies.

Forming in late 2017 with members Shaneé Laurent, Marley Ferguson, and Joe Botwinski, the Terrible Lovelies offer a synth storm of electronic pop—a sound not really that big here since the Alexis (band) years.  

So here’s hoping that fans of this style of music will rise  again so that we can enjoy the beautiful theatricality that often follows such acts. 

In addition to the chance to catch a newish act in our community, this night welcomes Julio Gomez, a powerhouse of a performer who is a singer/songwriter and guitarist from Grand Rapids. 

Gomez is best known in our region as the frontman of  "I Believe in Julio" whose recent release "An Episodic Memory" ushered in the band’s signature folk/punk sound. For this special performance opening for the Terrible Lovelies, Julio Gomez will be joined on stage by long time collaborator Dan Fisher, as well as many special guests who will dive deep into his catalog of songs.

This will be a really good night for fans who are seeking an experience that is on the front edge of our city’s emerging music culture. 

Community Reception for Dr. Rasheda Weaver, GRNS Keynote Speaker

There are plenty of networking events in the city, but there is only one local happy hour that seeks to welcome a very special guest to our city, while at the same time will help instill excitement for the 4th annual Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit

And while the Neighborhood Summit starts on Saturday at the downtown GVSU Pew Campus, Friday night is a kick off event at LINC Up to welcome the annual neighborhood event's keynote speaker Dr. Rasheda Weaver, Assistant Professor of Community Entrepreneurship, University of Vermont.

From Dr. Weaver’s bio: She received a PhD in Public Affairs-Community Development and a Master of Science in Public Affairs at Rutgers University. She graduated valedictorian from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development with a Master of Arts in Applied Psychology and graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Herbert H. Lehman College.

Also at LINC Up on Friday, organizers will be welcoming other activities including live music BG's (the Back Grounders) and PJ DA DJ Sound & Entertainment, powerful spoken word, a cash bar, community vendors and other amenities that you have come to enjoy in conjunction with LINC Up’s First Friday Urban Networking Parties over the years in the Madison Square neighborhood.

A special thanks goes out to the hosts as well as the Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Latina Network of West Michigan for presenting this welcoming event for Dr. Weaver.
 
For those hoping to attend Saturday’s summit, you will want to register in advance (pending availability) at this web address. The theme of this year’s event is “Going Beyond A Seat At The Table” and will address the need for economic equity and opportunity in our city’s neighborhoods as well as how to leverage resident wisdom in decisions that impact them.

Grand Rapids residents, neighborhood associations, business owners and associations, and stakeholders are encouraged to attend this annual event that is always packed with some pretty amazing voices from our city.

Soul Clap & Dance Off with DJ Jonathan Toubin: Getting your sweat on downtown this Saturday

Fresh from performing in Bushwick, NY on Friday, comes DJ act Soul Club to Grand Rapids this Saturday night for what promises to be the biggest dance party to invade the city this year at The Pyramid Scheme. 

Billed as Soul Clap & Dance Off because of DJ Jonathan Toubin’s contribution of his massive collection of 45s that are made up of 50s/60s rock’n’roll, soul, r+b, and Motown, this night’s event promises to be a beautiful and fun deep dive into early dance music culture. 

The night will also feature special appearances from Hollywood Makeout and Grand Rapids Soul Club, as well as chance to compete in a dance off where the winner will be awarded $100. 

And while the Wall Street Journal may not motivate folks concerned about nightlife activities, this quote really sums up what to expect from this night: “The long-running Soul Clap remains one of the sweatiest dance parties to be experienced in New York City. Fueled by his rare and raucous 45s collection, DJ Jonathan Toubin draws on raw soul and the most feral strains of rock ‘n’ roll from the early 1960s to power the nights.” (Wall Street Journal, 2014)

Grand Rapids Police Policy and Procedure Review Task Force—Public Meeting

Over the last few years, many cities around the nation who value their citizenry and seek to modernize their community’s policing have been organizing around the guidelines that were released in 2015 by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) 21st Century Policing Report.

Grand Rapids has long recognized the role of community-policing and now more than ever the populace here recognizes the importance of healthy neighborhood relations.

On Wednesday night, the public is invited to join other community members at the downtown Grand Rapids Public Library to learn what the City of Grand Rapids is putting in place via our Grand Rapids Police Policy and Procedure Review Task Force.

The goals of this citizen- and police-led committee, who are embarking on this journey, is to provide a platform for effective law enforcement policies that respect the rights and dignity of all residents and to discuss how best to fold in those nationwide best practices set forth in the 21st Century Policing Report. 

Attendees will have an opportunity to give input to the committee via the roundtable discussions that is made up of area residents, law enforcement officers, and nationally recognized consultants. These quarterly meetings will continue as a way for the task force to check in with our city’s residents on this important work as they review the GRPD’s policies and procedures to identify and eliminate those that may result in racial bias.

As a primer, these are the main target areas that the 21st Century Policing Implementation Guidebook outlines as effective strategies to help communities, law enforcement, and local government implement recommendations. 

From their summaries from the DOJ’s October 2015 release of this report, these are the areas of focus.

Communities
1. Engage with local law enforcement; participate in meetings, surveys, and other activities.
2. Participate in problem-solving efforts to reduce crime and improve quality of life.
3. Work with local law enforcement to ensure crime-reducing resources and tactics are being deployed that mitigate unintended consequences.
4. Call on state legislators to ensure that the legal framework does not impede accountability for law enforcement.
5. Review school policies and practices, and advocate for early intervention strategies that minimize involvement of youth in the criminal justice system.

Law enforcement
1. Review and update policies, training, and data collection on use of force, and engage community members and police labor unions in the process.
2. Increase transparency of data, policies, and procedures.
3. Call on the POST Commission to implement all levels of training.
4. Examine hiring practices and ways to involve the community in recruiting.
5. Ensure officers have access to the tools they need to keep them safe.

Local government
1. Create listening opportunities with the community.
2. Allocate government resources to implementation.
3. Conduct community surveys on attitudes toward policing, and publish the results.
4. Define the terms of civilian oversight to meet the community’s needs.
5. Recognize and address holistically the root causes of crime.

Winter Beer Festival: Now with a Friday option!

For many years, when the tickets would go on sale for the annual Winter Beer Festival held each February at the Fifth Third Ballpark (parking lot), they would be sold within minutes of their release.

You can imagine the heartbreak of beer fans from here and far away who wanted to make the trek to our beer-built city’s premier event devoted to the love and tastes of Michigan’s beer industry. 

Lucky for us that while the Saturday event still does sell out in record time, the event organizers have opened up Friday nights over the last few years for those who could not score a ticket to still come and enjoy the festivities at the ballpark under the cover of the night’s sky. 

The annual Winter Beer Festival features over 100 Michigan breweries who will roll in barrels of nearly 1,000 different craft beers to this frozen brewer’s paradise. Both days’ events include live local music, a plethora of ice sculptures, and plenty of food options, including the festival signature giant turkey legs for your inner caveman that you can enjoy around a fire pit to chase the chill away.

Seriously, if you love beer and have never experienced a Winter Beer Festival, then this is one of those signature events within our state that is a “must visit” event. And for those who can’t make Saturday work, then lucky you that it now includes a fun and just as festive Friday option. 

For complete news on this event including all the breweries showcased this year, please visit the festival’s website
 

Hidden Gems: Artists helping create a new generation of artists

This city loves a good fundraiser but few rarely rise to the level of excitement like one planned for this Saturday night at a tiny bar within the North Monroe’s budding warehouse district. 

Billed as “Hidden Gems,” this event seeks to raise awareness as well as your spirits (since it is the weekend after all) with a night of live bands, DJs, and art for the benefit of our local The Crescendo Foundation—a Grand Rapids nonprofit that provides affordable music lessons for kids ages eight to 16.

For the low cost of $10 (remember, it is a fundraiser) you will be able to enter this multi-level bar for an out of this world art experience with a diverse line up of music with local and guest artists.

For those looking to time their arrival with their favorite act’s appearance, here is the schedule available at this time:

8:30 p.m. - Sandra Effert with Patty PerShayla

9:30 p.m. - Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish 

11:30 p.m. - DJ NEGLIGENCE (of Exposure Therapy)

12:30 p.m. -  DJ dynja (Detroit)

In addition, guests will have a chance to purchase works from artists like Angelea Torralva, Esan Sommersell, or Clock in the Sky art by Kit Clock.

And while we know folks have a lot of options to consider when choosing a fundraiser, Hidden Gems is shaping up to be one of those “don’t miss it” art events of the season. Scencesters beware, this one is eclectic by design and fresh/chill, so leave attitudes at the door for the best experience.

Learn more about The Crescendo Foundation here.

Who tells the story: Unpacking conversations around art and race

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 5:30 p.m. reception, 6:30 p.m. lecture
During ArtPrize 9, one of its best on record in my opinion, the topic of culture appropriation as it relates to race took center stage at a variety of venues or within the various works presented therein. 

And while the topic does not always have clear lines to those artists creating the works, there are moments within the public where those lines are clearly crossed. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 27, cultured.GR, the Grand Rapids African American Museum and Archives (GRAAMA), and Fountain Street Church invite artists and art fans to join them for a free, special double feature event with a panel discussion on “Who Tells the Story: Unpacking the conversations around art and race” and a closing reception for the Keeler Gallery’s exhibition, "African American Artists Tell the Story.”

The night’s panel will include 2017 ArtPrize artists Monroe O'Bryant, Ericka Thompson (Kyd Kane), and Sofía Ramirez-Hernandez, with Steffanie Rosalez moderating. 

As outlined by the event’s organizers, “this panel discussion is designed to address these questions and move towards action that is more intentional, respectful, and honoring of people of color.”  

I know it will be a fascinating night and one that I hope will spill over into the community and not be ensconced in the choir loft…er, the metaphorical choir loft. 

Butterflies are Blooming: Signs of Spring’s return float into Grand Rapids

Opening Thursday, Mar. 1, 9 a..m. (through April 30)
With the ending of winter soon on our horizon, the itch for warmer weather often sends folks flying to warmer climates.

But not every budget can handle a trip to warm, tropical-like places like Key West, so lucky for us there is the 13th annual Fred & Dorothy Fichter Butterflies Are Blooming exhibition at Meijer Gardens.

What started more than a decade ago as a chance to showcase the various exotic butterflies at The Gardens’ tropical conservatory has blossomed to become the nation’s largest temporary tropical butterfly exhibition.

Boosting more than 7000 beautifully colored butterflies that hail from 50 different species, this annual affair attracts guests from local school field trips to tourists who venture each springtime to experience this once-a-year affair.

The annual event is not just a chance to experience warm 85 degrees often on days that still dip below freezing in a conservatory at 70 percent humidity. It is just what the doctor ordered if you are getting tired of winter (which official does not end until March 21).

Butterflies Are Blooming also offers an array of programming options including special members-only events like those night walks for adults only. These special night events could be a great place to meet someone new, too. I mean, how cool would it be that you met maybe the love of your life at a tropical conservatory observing the wonder and beauty of nature instead of over yet again another pint of a local IPA? 

For all their programming options, visit the Butterflies Are Blooming page at the Meijer Gardens website.
1916 Articles | Page: | Show All
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