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2019 Articles | Page: | Show All

Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire 2018: Parents, get your kids out of the house this weekend!

It is hard to believe that we are already celebrating the fifth year of our own annual Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire, but time flies when you are tinkering with this much fun in our community.

Each year, the Grand Rapids Public Museum invites the public to come out and experience this very hands-on, education-focused event devoted to the joys (and pains) of making things. 

Billed as “part science fair, part county fair and part something entirely new,” our Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire has on display over the course of two days the established as well as the emerging local makers including tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, hobbyists, engineers, artists, students, commercial exhibitors, and everyone in between. There truly is something for everyone at this event. 

This year for the adults, the Grand Rapids Maker Faire will debut an official Maker Faire beer brought to life by local brewery Two Guys Brewing. In this special section devoted to beer, you will have a chance to learn what a typical brew day is like at our Maker Faire with Rivertown Homebrewers. And it wouldn’t be a beer city event without the opportunity for adults to sample the various craft brews and hard seltzers available at the cash bar. 

Also debuting is a new Young Makers Area with area makers presenting projects that are certain to inspire kids of all ages! Children in this area of the festival can learn new skills as well as ask questions of the makers who will do their best to answer their questions. This area proudly features the work of the festival’s youngest makers so expect some eyebrows to be raised at what the young ones have created and displayed.

Grand Rapids Maker Faire will be open on Saturday, August 18 and Sunday, August 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Tickets are on sale at GrandRapids.MakerFaire.com

Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire is independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc.

Beyond Her Grave Bicycle Tour: The past is female, too, in Grand Rapids

There are no shortages of local partnerships that our Grand Rapids Public Library hosts throughout the year. 

And while many often take place inside their facilities around the city, on Saturday you will have a chance to step outside on a journey as you are invited to join others as they pedal from the downtown Library around the town on this one-of-a-kind local history event.

Beyond Her Grave Bicycle Tour” digs into the local legacies of the many women who are buried in the city’s Fulton Street and Oakhill Cemeteries. 

The library’s special two-day bicycle touring event (the first one took place on Tuesday, August 14) is produced in partnership with the popular She Rides Her Own Way and the Greater Grand Rapids Women's History Council who will guide the riders to the first of their two stops at the Fulton Street Cemetery — the city's oldest cemetery. After a period of walking and hearing about the women buried here, the tour will then proceed to the Southeast’s Oakhill Cemetery, which is filled with stunning architectural works perfect for absorbing their beauty as well as posting to your Instagram.

What makes this trip really special is that often history has been focused on the contributions of men with women invisible.  

As our local culture has evolved with time, we are beginning to see a new urgency as well as keen interest in the sharing of the contributions many of these historic women have had on the shaping of our Grand Rapids community.

This special program is a part of the library’s GR Reads program. For more details, please visit the library’s website.

1978 Tribute Show: Local talent taking you back for one night only

In 1978, the first cellular phone was introduced in Illinois, the average cost for a gallon of gas was 63 cents, and the phrase ”Drinking the Kool-Aid” was birthed after 900 members of a cult led by Jim Jones were ordered to commit mass suicide. It was a wild, explosive year to say the least. 

But on Friday night, the return of the Tribute Show at The Pyramid Scheme will see the popular music series turn its gaze to 1978 with a killer list classic albums performed by local musicians.

Selected to be performed this Friday are the following albums:

This Year's Model (Elvis Costello)
Man-Machine (Kraftwerk)
Outlandos d'Amour (Police)
s/t (Van Halen)
Darkness on the Edge of Town (Bruce Springsteen)

Each of these albums selected hold critical acclaim but also incredible memories for what they brought to the music landscape of listeners. The chance to hear them live and in this album format is truly a rare experience. 

What should not be overlooked is that part of the charm of seeing our local artists on stage is how they choose to interpret the music. For the 1978 Tribute Show, the following artists will be taking part in bringing this one-night-only performance of these classic albums to life:

Charity Lytle
Patty Pierzchala
Chris Bursley
Kendra Kamp
Rick Johnson
Ben Ryznar
Aaron Mace
Ben Hunter
Raf Ohli
Nick Rhodes
Matt Younker
Dan Fisher
Joel Brusk
Ryan Hay
Jeremy Pyne
Josh Stacey
Kevin Clancy
Steff Rosalez
Jesse Kaczmarczyk

For the low cost of entry of  $10 in advance or $15 on the day of the show, you can enjoy a memorable revisit or first-time encounter with five albums that helped define a year. And no, I have not drank the Kool-Aid, this is truly a don’t-miss event that showcases the amazing musical talent in our city. You will not regret nor soon forget these outstanding performances!

Drag Brunch: Delicious, new, and always outrageously fun

Sunday, Aug. 12, 10 a.m. (first seating), 2 p.m. (second seating)
The launch of Drag Brunch in Grand Rapids is a part of the natural evolution of how urban centers, when under the weight of the same old offerings, see new ways to engage an audience with a concept that becomes the don’t-miss event of the season.

And this season is all about the queens — specifically the drag queens — of Grand Rapids who have been performing all over the city this summer in what has often been the hardest ticket to score once the event has sold out. 

Covered in Rapid Growth’s RapidChat, “Trevor Straub on mimosas, delicious food, and drag queens,” Drag Brunch is having its moment here. 

It has emerged so brightly that no one would have guessed how hot of a ticket the event would become; these shows have been performed in a variety of breakfast venues from the brand new to the established heavy-hitters in our neighborhoods. 

On Sunday, August 12th, Drag Brunch will appear at Zoko 822 in Grand Rapids’ emerging North Monroe district.

You have two showtimes to choose from this Sunday, but you will want to purchase your ticket in advance to ensure you can score a seat. The cost s $35 per person and includes brunch, two drink tickets, and a fabulous performance. 

This Sunday’s show will include Dia Elektra, Batty Davis, Gabriella Stratton Galore, Virus, Gemma Stone, and Veronica Scott, and will feature DJ Keller Shaw and Ricky. And with any drag performance, it is proper and polite to bring plenty of dollar bills to tip these hard working performers. 

Zoko 822’s Drag Brunch offers these choices on Sunday:

Steel Cut Oats:
With seasonal fruit, fruit preserves, barrel aged maple syrup

Tortilla Español:
Spanish Potato and Onion Omelette, Jamon Serrano, Crema

Griddle Cakes: 
Chickpea Pancakes, Bacon, Barrel Aged Maple Syrup

Huevos Revuettos: 
Soft Scrambled Eggs, Pequillo Peppers, Toast

Patatas Bravas: 
Hand Cut Potatoes, Salsa Brava, Alioli 

Empanada Duo: Pick any 2:
-Jamon & Cheese: Smoked Ham, Manchego Cheese, Scallion 
-Chorizo & Egg: Spanish Chorizo, Potato, Scrambled Eggs 
-Spicy Bean: Spanish Chilis, White Beans 
-Vegetable: Brussels, Artichoke, Goat Cheese 
-Rioja Beef: Red Wine Braised Beef, Sofrito, Rosemary 
-Mushroom & Thyme: Roasted Mushroom, Thyme, Blue Cheese
-Spinach & Cheese: Spinach and Mozzarella

Market Salad: 
Marinated Olives, Shaved Fennel, Orange Segments, Artichokes, Preserved Citrus Vinagreta

House Salad:
Roasted Golden Beet, Toasted Almonds, Blue Cheese, Brown Butter Bread Crumbs, Tart Cherry Vinaigrette 

All shows are 18 and older with a limited number of minors admitted at the event. See the website for ticket details.

Creston Vibes: New-ish Session featuring JustQueen

Last week as folks were sorting through their social feeds, you no doubt came upon one or two or ten postings congratulating those who placed on Revue Magazine’s annual Best of the West reader’s poll. (Full disclosure: our publisher Tommy Allen tied for third place with Carol’s Ferals as Best Advocate/Activist.) 

And while the list (and who is or is not on it) is always the topic of intense debate, I think we can all agree who have visited Creston Brewery that their third place win as the Best Open-Mic Night trailing behind the big guns of Founders Brewing and Rockford Brewing is a strong indicator of the type of experiences people are having at this community-building venue in our city. (They don’t have TVs so that guests can converse openly without annoying distractions.) 

One such program that they have hosted is the Creston Vibes series — a performative night of diverse offerings in which area folks can bring their best verses and performances forward to the brewery’s open platform. 

The theme for this round of Creston Vibes is New-ISH Session and artists are being encouraged to share something brand new that you've been wanting to share/perform. (Or even if it is kind of new to you, then jump in on the vibes.)

This Sunday, August 12’s New-ISH session is also pleased to welcome to the stage the talented writer, hip-hop/spoken word artist, and ghostwriter JustQueen, who will be performing tracks from her brand new album "Queenz Roar.” 

The brewery also offers specials on this night to performers, including $2 off nachos and $1 half pints for participating artists! 

And remember #peaceandlove reign supreme here. Come join the creative community at this neighborhood brewery in the heart of Creston. 

Open Projector Night: Showcasing the state of the art of filmmaking in our region

One of the pleasures of visiting the offerings from our creative arts community is the opportunity to rub elbows with all types of artists at these gatherings. And almost always from these encounters, the attendee gets to better understand how layered our arts community truly is.

Last month, we ran a story about a few of our local creatives who are stretching their creative wings (as they do our imaginations) with brand new opportunities of access in sharing their story. (See “Michigan Creative Chambers connects the dots for filmmakers, other creatives in Grand Rapids” by Matthew Russell.)

Local fans of film will really dig UICA’s Open Projector Night, which invites filmmakers new and old to submit works for a chance to have them screened for the public at this special one-night-only celebration of the art of film. 

Starting at 8:00 p.m., you will have a chance to view all the films selected to screen at Open Projector Night, which span a host of genres from animation to experimental to commercial work. 

After the screenings, there will be an audience question and answer period with the filmmakers, thereby offering greater opportunities for creative types to better understand the process of going from concept to screen. Also, the winning filmmaker will have the chance to have their winning entry previewed at special screenings before UICA’s feature films.

The cost of entry is $4 for UICA members and $8 for the public.

The Flamingo Dance Party: In town Saturday? There is a Miami option.

Ok, the busiest local DJ is once again on the move. But instead of landing at a brunch spot or a steamy yoga studio, AB (Adrian Butler) is back where he belongs this Saturday night as he and others will take to the stage at Eastown’s Billy’s Lounge for The Flamingo Dance Party — one of only a few local bars known and respected for its devotion to booking DJs (and other live music programming) on a weekly basis. 

For this special night, AB invites folks to join the summer vibes being given off at The Flamingo Dance Party where, for just $5, those looking to get sweaty on the dance floor can let loose at this late-night dance party. 

In keeping with that Florida vibe of The Flamingo Dance Party, AB, along with DJ Gobs, DJ Jay B, and DJ Snax, will be conducting a sonic landscape of tunes traveling over time, pulling music from the early 1980s Miami sound through the present with an eclectic mix of hip-hop and funk with a dash of James Brown thrown in to get your hips moving. 

We may not be in Miami, but with a little help from AB and friends, they’ll bring the heat to the dance floor this Saturday night.

The Concussions with Vivacious Miss Audacious and Sliquor

It is Sunday in the summer, and as you look at the calendar you realize that your weekend options to skate off to the lakeshore are getting fewer. No worries, since on Sunday you have a great reason to head off to the Red Dock bar in Douglas for an early evening event with Grand Rapids’ favorite surf rock instrumental band: The Concussions.

Diving deep into their collection of surf rock-inspired music best experienced under the warm sun, The Concussions are known for their energetic, percussion- and guitar-driven shows from a band wearing their infamous skull masks.

Joining the band at this classic “other west coast” destination party dock will be the hoopalicious Vivacious Miss Audacious, along with musician Sliquor.

This is a free show, so apart from the money spent on gas and drinks, invite some friends to pile in the car and head to the liveliest dock in all of West Michigan this Sunday. (Note: The last time I was at the Red Dock it was a cash only business.)

Visit this link for all the emerging details on this perfect shoreline destination event in Douglas.

Live From Dhaka: One-night-only screening of this award-winning film from Bangladesh

For one-night-only, the UICA will be screening the Bangladesh film “Live From Dhaka,” and then afterward present an insightful panel of locals to discuss the film’s significance touching on themes of contemporary life in Dhaka, the role immigration plays, and the status of women's rights.

According to the filmmakers, “Dhaka is the city that Sazzad came to as a young ambitious man seeking his fortune. But the stock market crashed and he ended up in debt. His disability prevents him from finding other work, while the loan sharks circle him. His relationship with his girlfriend Rehana suffers, and there’s absolutely no talking to his drug-addict brother Michael. Sazzad wants to get away, go abroad. The pressure of the city is like a raw nerve that is — literally — making him ill. 

“Live from Dhaka is made up of short scenes shot in grainy black-and-white, covering the city in a constant grey shroud. This reinforces an underlying sense of threat and increasing desperation that can turn to rage at any moment. This is the world that leads people to decide to emigrate — the unsalutary push-factor behind those who go in search of ‘happiness.’”

Appearing at the panel will be pediatrics specialist Dr. Masuma Macfield, Grand Valley State University’s Assistant Professor of Film and Video Production Anal Shah, and Assistant Professor and Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates’ Sarah Yore-Van Oosterhout, Esq.

To purchase tickets in advance tickets to guarantee access, visit UICA’s Eventbrite page.

As always with the UICA, if you or an individual with disabilities require special accommodations please contact the UICA’s Associate Director, Megan Bylsma at 616.454.7000 x11 or megan@uica.org at least 72 hours in advance. (Welcoming others like this is how it is done. Thank you, UICA, for your leadership in this area.)

Big Latch On 2018: World Breastfeeding Week asks that we get real in the park

It is no secret that when a baby is hungry, it does not care where it is nor what time it is, and they do so often in a manner that is inconvenient for all parties involved. In short, when a baby wants to feed, we all know it. 

But some people still are still getting their undies in a bunch when the original “milk wagon” starts to dole out the juice of life. 

Pushing back against those folks who think women should not nurse in public is the international Big Latch On event organized by our local Grand Rapids chapter. 

First for the haters: please stop. Really, please, stop. Women have been nursing children since the dawn of time and it is a necessary function in our society for child rearing. Deal. 

Those who wish to join others in this ancient act of breastfeeding are invited to come out to Briggs Park in the Creston neighborhood for the annual Big Latch On that begins promptly at 10:45 a.m. 

If you plan to attend, organizers ask that you bring your picnic blankets if you wish to sit on the ground or choose one of the many picnic tables in this park.

Briggs Park also has plenty of playground equipment nestled in a grove of old growth tall trees that is perfect for older kids looking to burn off some of that summer energy.   

The Big Latch On also provides an opportunity for mothers to connect with area vendors supportive of this issue as they share services they offer in this region. 

Our local Big Latch On event is connected to the global celebration of World Breastfeeding Week and aims to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding families through these agenda items: 
  • Provide support for communities to identify and grow opportunities to provide on-going breastfeeding support and promotion in local communities.
  • Raise awareness of breastfeeding support and knowledge available locally and globally.
  • Help communities positively support breastfeeding in public places.
  • Make breastfeeding a normal part of day-to-day life at a local community level.
  • Increase support for people who breastfeed — they are supported by their partners, family and their communities.
  • Ensure communities have the resources to advocate for coordinated, appropriate, and accessible breastfeeding support services.
In the end, we, as a community, should begin to leverage our privilege as we seek to lessen the stigma that too many women who breastfeed in public have been made to feel by others when trying to nurse their babies. 

The Big Latch On seeks to normalize breastfeeding and help all of us reframe this act as a part of our daily lives (and not something that we should make those who care for the newest humans feel bad about doing.)

Thank you, Grand Rapidian women who participate in this annual global event, for once again you are reminding us of the power to organize for a better society locally. I tip my “hat” to you and your offspring for your act of courage in this arena. Someday it will be normal behavior again because of your activism.

#freetheboob #thekidishungry #dealwithit

New Date - Movies on Monroe: West Side Story & The Shape of Water head to the riverfront cinema

Starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, August 31, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.'s Movies on Monroe will be back at their pop up Grand River-side venue for a night of free entertainment.  

The night starts off with a full program of pre-movie fun, including host Gabriella de la Vega of El Mundo Musical, DJ Ace Marasigan, dance artist Bird Clarkson, and many more, who will take to the stage to welcome and kick off the night with a festive feel. 

At 7:30 p.m. the winner of 10 Academy Awards winner West Side Story will begin and I just dare you not to toe tap, sing along, or try to not cry at this dramatic musical.

West Side Story,” the film is based on the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, is inspired by the star crossed lovers of Shakespeare's tragic play “Romeo and Juliet.”

As two rival gangs fight for control of their neighborhood streets, a seed of love is planted in the hearts of the film’s leads Tony and Maria who will try their best to navigate their attraction during a time of racial tensions.

The second feature of the night is the 2018 Academy Award winning feature film “The Shape of Water.” 

The story is centered on the timid but curious Elisa, a mute woman who works as a cleaning lady in a secret, high-security government laboratory during the cold war in 1962’s Baltimore. 

But her quiet and predictable life changes course when she uncovers the lab's sinister, hidden secret: a mysterious, scaled creature from South America that lives in the lab’s water tank. 

“The Shape of Water” is also one of the best examples of a film that uses ambiguity (a popular device employed in many modern films who seek to avoid storybook wrapped-up-with-a-bow endings).  

Both of these poignant films reveal the power of love and compassion … and why it is still needed in this world.

Friday’s movies will be played in English with Spanish subtitles for the Spanish-speaking community.

(This double feature was to screen in July but was rescheduled for August 31 due to rain on the original date.) 

Caribbean Summer Jam III: Caribana style invades downtown and the dance floor

If you are walking around downtown on Saturday and wondering where all the folks adorned in bright colors and the sweetest kicks are heading, you best believe it is the parade of ready-to-dance attendees advancing to the third annual Caribbean Summer Jam

Held at 20 Monroe Live, this celebratory event has grown to become the largest annual summer party in Grand Rapids celebrating Caribbean culture through music and dance. 

And with every year there will be a little bit of something for everyone at the Caribbean Summer Jam III. 

For starters, those who enjoy dance music should prepare for a solid night of afrobeats, bachata, dancehall, reggaetón, dembow, hip hop, trap Latino provided by West Michigan Disc Jockeys DJ Sanjay, DJ Tony Banks, and PJ DA DJ.

Also appearing on stage will be these music acts: Bersachi (reggaeton), Deeclef (dancehall), Whisko (dancehall), Jamar The Prince (r&b), and Illvibethinny (r&b). 

Celebrity appearances at the event include Erica Mena of VH1’s Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta; Christian Keyes of BET’s In Contempt & Supernatural; and Geraud Sing, a Grand Rapids Native making culture pop whether as an actor, model, or industry influencer. (Author’s note: Sing’s mother is a friend and has served the disability community with me over the years at LaughFest and Disability Advocates.)

Since it is the 50th year anniversary of the Caribbean Carnival and the Jam is centered on this festive occasion, many of the guests will be decked out in the most beautiful Caribana style. 

If you are unfamiliar with Caribana style, then expect to see the most enthusiastic attendees adorned with bejeweled faces, the sickest footwear on men, and lots of feathers. The heat of downtown under summer’s warm glow will only spark the imaginative to bring their brightest A-game out on this special night.

All of this is brought to Grand Rapids through 616 Grand Productions’ SHE-E-O Angela Nelson, who invites folks to come out and experience an uplifting and celebratory occasion in our city where love and happiness can blossom through dance and music.

Purchase tickets in advance here or at the door on Saturday night.

Madcap 10th Anniversary Bash: Local coffee shop startup hits a milestone in making good for all.

Over the years, we have celebrated those large corporations that make a lot of good happen here through economic development. And the list of good is truly notable, but there are those who quietly go about their business of doing good that extends beyond our city limits. 

One firm that is making an impact on our community through the delivery of their amazing, international award-winning coffee is Madcap—a (once) tiny startup in the heart of downtown that over 10 years has grown to three local locations and loads more of vendors clamoring for their fresh-to-ship coffee beans. (Their Fulton location also sports one of the regions best murals by Pat Perry.

To celebrate their growth and advancement of coffee culture here in our region, Madcap, a coffee business that began with a friendship and a commitment to excellence, will celebrate ten years this Saturday with a special one-day bash complete with live music, activities for all ages, and of course, lots of great coffee to sample. 

Performing on this day will be acts Timbre, Lady Ace Boogie, Shamar Alef, and Tom Hymn, but your paid admission also includes a tea tasting with Peter from Song Tea, and access to Food Trucks and limited edition Madcap merchandise. 

Since Madcap is committed to the welfare of others in their supply chain, they have made equitable partnerships over the years that improve the wages of the people who supply their beans to them. As an added bonus Madcap’s partners from Guatemala (Finca de Dios), El Salvador (El Porvenir) and Peru (Rivera) will also be attending this festive coffee bash. 

Tickets are available online here for pre-sale for $15 and at the event for $20. Kids under the ages of 12 and below are free. Each paid admission includes a delicious scoop of Love's Ice Cream. 

Fun Home: Graphic Artist gets personal in this tender look at family

Growing up has a lot of benefits, but none is greater than our ability as adults to begin to see life through our parents’ eyes as we age. Over the next couple weeks, Grand Rapids’ musical theatre fans will have a chance to experience “Fun Home”, a fresh, new musical making its local debut at Circle Theatre of Grand Rapids.

“Fun Home” is the winner of five 2015 Tony Awards including Best Musical, and is a one-of-a-kind production that introduces us to its protagonist Alison at three different ages. 

Alison’s story moves seamlessly between the past and present, along the way revealing just as much about her as it does her uniquely dysfunctional family.

Adapted to the stage by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori from Alison Bechdel's 2006 graphic memoir of the same name, “Fun Home” is a delight because it warmly reminds the audience of the opportunities we have as adults to see the child we were and our parents’ secrets. And again, this moving story is conveyed through song and dance. 

“Fun Home” is directed and choreographed by Jolene Frankey with musical direction provided by Scott Patrick Bell, and stars local actors Eirann Betka (Alison), Kobe Brown (Roy), Caitlin Cusack (Helen), Madeline Jones (Medium Alison), Ethan Mathias (John), Jason Morrison (Bruce), Drake Selleck (Christian), Katie Tamayo (Joan), and Evangeline Vander Ark (Small Alison).

After the July 27 Circle Theatre performance, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A that will focus on author Alison Bechdel's contributions to art and society, as well as dialogue on “Fun Home's” central themes of family and LGBTQ.

Kid-Preneur Expo/Expo de Ninos Emprendedores: Tap into your inner creativity (and inner child)

Ever look at a child and wonder where all that energy went that used to so easily flow from your fingertips as you addressed the tasks before you? Well, lucky for us, a new event, Kid-Preneur Expo/Expo de Ninos Emprendedores, is debuting at the Downtown Market and it is aimed not just at children;  it will also provide a fitting reminder of the power of entrepreneurs’ need to creatively express their visions.

Each of the kids, who have pre-registered (registration has already closed for this first time event), will compete for an opportunity to win $200. 

Kid-Preneur Expo/Expo de Ninos Emprendedores seeks to help young entrepreneurs understand the foundational elements of customer service, marketing, selling, and other practical life skills. 

As the event page states, this event imparts concepts like the power of generating ideas, problem-solving, managing inspiration, creating space for interaction and collaboration, the power of creativity, and how to take the initiative. 

Kids participating will have a chance to display for the public their ideas via the drawings, posters, and actual products that they have produced. 

The kids will even have the opportunity to sell their products to the public who will vote for their favorite business idea. And while the organizers will select first, second, and third place, the public will have a chance to submit their favorite choices, too. 

Participating at this first time event is Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), who in advance of this special event, will be conducting mini sessions with those competing.  But unlike adult programming, this one will be in a kid friendly environment and with a vocabulary that is easy to grasp.

Please note: The organizers of this event (Latinas Emprendedoras GR, Start Garden, GROW, and The Downtown Market) insist that if you are a parent or legal guardian attending with your child, you must be present with your kid(s) at all time.
2019 Articles | Page: | Show All
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