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Get Involved Unwind: GRYP flexes volunteer muscle for good

While I may have aged out to become a member of the Grand Rapids Young Professionals (GRYP), I never grow old nor tired of the work they continue to do in our city to help community members of a certain age connect to this region in meaningful ways. This is the beauty of our GRYP! 

And while throughout the year GRYP hosts many different themed events, it is their Get Involved Unwind that is most impressive and gets to the core of why this young professional networking community is so wonderful. 

For this special night, you are invited to join other locals aged 21 to 40 at Paddock Place (formerly Mangiamo!)  as they showcase nearly 20 different non profit organizations that all need your assistance. Think of this as speed dating for folks looking to connect with organizations that share their values. 

So whether you’re interested in a board, committee, or just a short-term volunteer commitment, then this is the night just for you. Dress code is very come as you are but dressing to impress goes a long way…just keep the tux and gown in the closet.

GRYP believes in offering spaces free of intimidation, so if you are curious but maybe shy about venturing to this event on your own, please consider reaching out to the GRYP Membership Committee at membership@gryp.org. They will provide you a contact to help make introductions and ease your fears of the unknown.

Don’t Box Me In: Lady Ace Boogie’s album release party with friends

Lady Ace Boogie (LAB) has been a quite force for some time in our community as her musical style has always embraced a level of honesty that is part revelation, part pure joy. 

Her concerts while bumping with bass and powerful rap lyrics can feel more like intimate gatherings even though at times her audiences can number in the hundreds depending on the stage she inhabits so seamlessly.

On the occasion of her release party, her first since 2013’s “Feel Good Music,” LAB freely opens the stage to a host of friends who will round of her performance/release party for “Don’t Box Me In.”

According to Grand Rapids’ music magazine Local Spins, “Don’t Box Me In” is “a decided departure from earlier efforts, [as] Lady Ace Boogie introduces us to a more vulnerable and less blindingly optimistic side of herself, showcasing a surprising level of growth and maturation as an artist.” 

Joining LAB on stage to perform for the audience will be friends Molly Bouwsma Schultz (formerly of Vox Vidorra), Mama Sol, and Superdre. 

Bruce Barcott: Guggenheim Fellow, author, and Leafly editor celebrates 420 in Grand Rapids

To the best of our knowledge, while Grand Rapids has lots to celebrate regarding the decriminalization of marijuana in our city, we have very few celebratory events organized around the topic of 420. 

Well, that changes when on Friday, 4/20, 4:00 p.m. Canna Communications—a multifaceted, women-owned communication agency serving cannabis businesses in Michigan—welcomes to downtown’s Gallery Divani Bruce Barcott of Leafly—a cannabis news and research site. 

Bruce Barcott is a Guggenheim Fellow in nonfiction and the author of “Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.” Since late 2015, he has served as Deputy Editor of Leafly and oversees the site’s news and cultural coverage, as well as chronicles the global evolution of cannabis legalization.

Barcott will be addressing the audience on the topic of “Everyday Wisdom from an Extraordinary Industry: Ten Hard-Learned Business Lessons from the First Year of Legal Marijuana.”  

As Michigan prepares its voters to make a potential decision in November 2018 about the legalization of weed in our state, we cannot think of a better person than Barcott to help dispel the myths and fears about to be pedaled in our state around this emerging legal industry in America. 

Tickets can be purchased in advance here. Drinks and appetizers are included in the ticket price. 

Record Store Day: Saving local music stores since 2007

In 2007, the landscape for music stores around the nation was looking bleak as CD sales were flatlining just as digital shopping aggressively took over the space one traditionally assigned to local record stores by consumers. 

But lucky for us, in this moment of decline folks around the world banded together to save this local icon with an annual event called Record Store Day where unique offerings released by the industry on CDs, cassettes, and vinyl cause folks to flood back into these hallowed, analog spaces of music. 

On Saturday, be sure to make plans to visit any one of the many local stores from Grand Rapids’ Vertigo Music to Grandville’s Corner Record Shop who have a day’s worth of special programming that includes great deals on new and used releases, as well as a chance to hear any one of the many musical acts performing on this special day.

The best bet for  scoring some special release is to just show up early and get in line. Or if you are like me, just wait until a few hours after the doors open and enjoy the pure pleasure of leisurely shopping for a great music find among some of the coolest folks on the planet. Record Store Day is not to be missed because it is a community rarely in one place at one time these days. It is worth it no matter what time of the day you decide to celebrate Record Store Day.

For complete of the releases being sold this Saturday, please visit Record Store Day's website.

If all the crowds is not your bag and desire a rebel event organized around this holiday, then visit Dodd's Records on the Westside for a celebration with bands and a parade. 

Alynn Guerra: 10th Annual Birthday Print Sale and Giveaway

We have plenty of options to find a new work of art, but on Saturday there is an event celebrating ten years that should be at the top of your to do list: artist Alynn Guerra—a Mexican artist in the Westside’s Tanglefoot building—opens her studio for her 10th annual Birthday Print Sale and Giveaway

As she writes, “Every year for 10 years I celebrate the journey around the sun with a print party! It is a good practice for me to express gratitude for the things learned, granted, acquired, and lost, but most importantly I really would like to show my gratitude to all the people who have given me their support year after year.”

Because artists in our community often labor in the shadows of our other creative economies’ robust brightness, shows like this can often get lost in our local event offerings. 

If you have never ventured to visit Alynn’s beautiful Red Hydrant Press studio space at Tanglefoot, then this is the year to do so. Those who do will most certainly be able to secure a print from one of our most prolific and engaging artists. Celebrate local artists…all year long. 

Moving with Parkinson's: Our local GR Ballet has a brand new groove

When one thinks of ballet, folks often envision well-toned bodies or that moment when you realize as a child that men can wear tights, too, but with padded protection. But often today, this narrow definition is being cracked wide open as people with disabilities take to the stage more and more in this movement-rooted arts genre. 

On Tuesday, April 17, our Grand Rapids Ballet—Michigan’s only professional ballet company—welcomes community members with Parkinson’s as well as doctors, physical therapists, and other professionals  working in this field to join Grand Rapids Ballet School’s Director Attila Mosolygo for a thrilling 45-minute “Moving with Parkinson’s” dance class.

Over the years, we have learned that dance can be an effective therapeutic tool, helping those afflicted with Parkinson's disease to stay fit. This live piano accompanied class seeks to engage attendees with dance steps that will increase one’s confidence to keep moving but also provide a social space for othering to blossom at this innovative event. 

This free open house will provide an excellent opportunity to network with professionals in the industry as well as other patients and community supporters.

For more information, call 616-454-4771.

Drinks with the Director: Color of the Year exhibition debuts at UICA

I’ll be the first to admit that I was not a fan of 2016’s duo picks for color of the year. The very light blues and fleshy pink more readily conjured memories of baby showers than a fashionable color most could easily welcome into their lives.

But two years later, Pantone has a solid hit with its 2018 Ultra Violet selection and locally, our Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA) is ready to celebrate this new color in a big manner complete with a fresh new show devoted to the color, as well as a host of special events honoring it. 

According to PANTONE®, the “Color of the Year is a symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.”

There is already a fascinating and familiar history attached to the name for this refreshing version of purple. 

“This purple shade that has also been the name of a Warhol superstar who died in 2014; a 2006 dystopian action film starring Milla Jovovich as a rebel infected with a vampiric virus; an online activist community founded in 2012 to combat sexism and violence toward women; and a kind of light that can cause skin cancer (ahem).” (from the New York TImes' “The Future Is ... Purple” by Vanessa Friedman.)

On Thursday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m., members of our downtown contemporary arts center are invited to plop down $5 to attend a special guided tour of this new exhibition hosted by UICA’s Executive Director Miranda Krajniak. (With each paid admission you will receive one free drink.)

In addition to original works of art on display at UICA, the Color of the Year exhibition will feature examples of design work by local, national, and international artists and artisans, with a focus on Michigan-based design and manufacturing.    

Advance tickets can be purchased at UICA’s Facebook Event page.

Spring Revival: Get trail schooled at this women-centered mountain bike clinic

For the longest time in Grand Rapids, when a bike event was hosted, it seemed to be a male-dominated field. Lucky for us, with the advent of many groups in our community like She Rides Her Own Way and other female-focussed biking clubs and groups, we are seeing a major cultural shift as women take to pedal power. 

On Sunday, April 15 starting at 1 p.m., the Spring Revival event debuts at Cannonsburg with a mountain bike skills clinic that is sure to help those looking to get motivated in a female-centered education event. Spring Revival is a basic mountain bike skills clinic and no drop ride held just a short drive north of the city of Grand Rapids.

This experiential, hands-on education event is presented in collaboration with Liv Cycling, Moxie Wild, and Village Bike & Fitness, and is free to attend. (You must register in advance as space is limited for this event.) 

The mountain bike clinic will focus on the cycling needs of the beginner as well as those seeking to brush up on their trail skills after our very long Michigan winter season. 

The "no drop" portion of this clinic means that no rider is left behind on the trail and has an experienced rider who stays with the group. These kinds of rides remove the fear of being alone and being stranded by oneself. Besides riding is much more fun together with a group of friends. 

And while some guys might howl that it is exclusionary, this is women/trans/femme only clinic is a wonderful addition to the many mixed gender cycling events happening all the time here in our region. 

Organizers remind folks attending that they will want to bring a working mountain bike, helmet, appropriate footwear, hydration, and a smile (if you like). You can register in advance at this link.

Treasures of Your Library: A white glove event for history buffs and Grand Rapidians

History nerds of Grand Rapids, you have waited a long time, but finally an event tailored to your desires for all things in the past is arriving in your present with the Grand Rapids Library Foundation’s Treasures of Your Library: A White Glove Event. 

Staring on Wednesday, April 18 at 5 p.m., our downtown library will open up vast pockets of their diverse collection at this very unique fundraiser for the foundation. 

This year’s theme celebrates women’s contributions to Grand Rapids past, present, and future.  Coming off of Women’s History Month, I know many are still seeking spaces and events that celebrate and center on women. 

Some of the areas highlighted are: 

- The Grand Rapids women doctors who discovered the whooping cough vaccine.
- A sneak peek at the landmark project surrounding World War I Women's Defense cards, which provide fascinating insights into personal lives of women from the early 1900’s.
- Browse Grand Rapids Chicks baseball team memorabilia from the time during World War II when GR had a national women’s baseball team. 

And like every good charity event, there are plenty of craft beers, ciders, wine, and appetizers, as well as really cool auction items like a private dance party by DJ AB, a Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island getaway package, a curated dinner with artfully selected wine pairings from Noco Provisions, and a historical framed print of Grand Rapids titled "Turn of the Century" by Nancy Clouse. 

Libraries have evolved plenty over the years, but honestly I believe the best of times is now. Please consider being a part of the White Glove Event and celebrate our women’s role in history by investing in a ticket to attend this special event to benefit our area’s Grand Rapids Library Foundation. (Image from the Grand Rapids Public Library.) 
 

Celebrating All Walks of Life Traditional Pow Wow: Native Pride celebrates 20 years

There are many reasons to attend a Pow Wow celebration of our American Indian culture, but nothing is more compelling than the chance to witness the awesome pageantry of the Grand Entry that will kick off the 20th annual Celebrating All Walks of Life Traditional Pow Wow at the Fieldhouse on GVSU Allendale Campus.

The university is expecting hundreds of people from Native American communities in the Great Lakes region, traveling as far away as the Upper Peninsula.

The famed Grand Entry performances will commence at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on April 7 and at noon on April 8 with doors opening at 11 a.m. on both days to allow you plenty of time to scout a location to watch this festive event. 

This year the co-coordinator of the very first Grand Valley pow wow in 1998, Scott Herron, will return to attend the area’s prized cultural celebration. Herron is a Grand Valley alumnus and biology professor at Ferris State University.

In addition to the presentations of Native American culture, attendees will have a chance to purchase handmade crafts, as well as samples of what the food vendors will be serving.

The event also hosts a silent auction with proceeds going towards the Grand Valley's Native American Student Association. 

This pow wow is a free, family friendly event and is sponsored by the Native American Student Association, Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Division of Inclusion and Equity at Grand Valley. 

For more information, visit There are many reasons to attend a Pow Wow celebration of our American Indian culture, but nothing is more compelling than the chance to witness the awesome pageantry of the Grand Entry that will kick off the 20th annual Celebrating All Walks of Life Traditional Pow Wow at the Fieldhouse on GVSU Allendale Campus.

The university is expecting hundreds of people from Native American communities in the Great Lakes region, traveling as far away as the Upper Peninsula.

The famed Grand Entry performances will commence at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. on April 7 and at noon on April 8 with doors opening at 11 a.m. on both days to allow you plenty of time to scout a location to watch this festive event. 

This year the co-coordinator of the very first Grand Valley pow wow in 1998, Scott Herron, will return to attend the area’s prized cultural celebration. Herron is a Grand Valley alumnus and biology professor at Ferris State University.

In addition to the presentations of Native American culture, attendees will have a chance to purchase handmade crafts, as well as samples of what the food vendors will be serving.

The event also hosts a silent auction with proceeds going towards the Grand Valley's Native American Student Association. 

This pow wow is a free, family friendly event and is sponsored by the Native American Student Association, Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Division of Inclusion and Equity at Grand Valley. 

For more information, visit gvsu.edu/oma/powwow

Hamlet: Prince plots his revenge locally

We are a fortunate community for a host of reasons, but the growth of our theatrical offerings here in West Michigan just keeps getting better with each passing year. Evidence of this success can be found simply by visiting any one of the many theatrical venue's websites to see how booked their spaces are these days. 

Opening on Thursday night at the intimate Dog Story Theatre (7 Jefferson SE) is the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company’s (PCSC) production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” …or as modern audiences have shortened its name to simply “Hamlet.”

The Tragedy of Hamlet, the Bard’s longest play, is the tragic story of Prince Hamlet who, upon arriving home to learn of his father’s passing, also discovers that his mother has already remarried as well. In short, not all is well in Denmark and Hamlet will set out on a journey to determine the mysterious series of events surrounding the King’s death.

What makes PCSC productions stand out from the rest is how they honor of the use of this tiny space and how their cast size translates into folks playing multiple roles. 

And while it may be confusing on paper, it is worth noting that this is often how it was handled back when Shakespeare wrote and produced these now classic works. 

The show runs until April 15 and offers evening as well as matinee times to consider attending. Tickets are $14. for adults, $8. for students and seniors. This new production from PCSC is directed by Scott Lange.
 

Going Green: Easy changes impacting our health as well as our community

Last month was the kick off of a series of greening educational events brought to our region by the nonprofit Green Michigan in partnership with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) and Long Road Distillers. As we witnessed in March for their composting teach-in at the popular award-winning westside tasting room,  these events are very popular with area residents…and tickets often sell out. 

In honor of Earth Day (arriving April 22nd) and also celebrating April as Earth Month, Green Michigan with WMEAC returns to Long Road Distillers with an event focused on the general topic of “How to Go Green.” 

This new Sunday afternoon showcase is a hands-on event with various tips and tricks to assist one in learning to live a more intentional sustainable lifestyle. Topics will include recycling, composting, energy reduction, purchasing habits, and much more.

Green Michigan’s mission is to help people, businesses, and organizations with their sustainability goals. And while they have a comprehensive website with all sorts of environmental information relevant to West Michigan, these workshops led by Angela Fox, the education and community director at Green Michigan, are a relaxing way to learn something new while getting your local drink on. 

But don’t delay registering -- at only $5 per attendee, these greening events do sell out. To gain admission, please visit this evite

Coffee Crawl: Our region never tasted this good

It is hard to imagine a time when getting a good coffee drink was something for the elite as the level of coffee choices here used to be limited to gas stations, restaurants, or your home. That all changed in the late ‘80s locally when Sons and Daughters Bookstore and Coffeehouse opened in the heart of Cherry Hill. 

Since that time, getting a good cup of coffee has not been a problem as everyone from locals to national chains have invaded the cityscape to offer a coffee revolution with a dizzying array of options and styles for locals who will venture beyond Starbucks or that cup of Joe at Speedway. 

To celebrate this advent of so many choices comes the return of the 2018 Coffee Crawl hosted by GR Now where, for a little cash, one can be treated to a weekend of the best coffee our region has to offer. 

Each ticket to the 2nd annual Coffee Crawl includes (1) 4 oz. sample of coffee (or alternative beverage) at all coffee shops participating in this weekend’s three-day event. Attendees will also receive an electronic guide that will help them locate all of the participating coffee venues.  

The coffee shops for 2018’s event include these 16 local brands: Corridor Coffee, Ferris Coffee & Nut Co. (Westside and Downtown’s Trust Building location), Jam’n Bean Coffee Company, Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge, Mayan Buzz Cafe, Bitter End Coffeehouse, The Sparrows Coffee & Tea & Newsstand, Bagel Beanery, Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe, Go Java Coffee, PaLatte Coffee & Art, Squibb Coffee & Wine Bar, Global Infusion, Deja Brew, and of course all three locations of the award-winning Madcap Coffee Company. 

And while it is a crawl, you are free to try and visit all 16 in one day, or purchase a weekend pass and visit all of them at a more leisurely pace. Either way, why sit at home with your Mr. Coffee when you can let someone else do the brewing this weekend. 

Proceeds raised by GRNow’s ticketed event will benefit the Heartside Gleaning Initiative.

Building The Wall: Live theatre as a window to our times

Several years ago, playwright Robert Schenkkan came across “Into That Darkness” by Gitta Sereny. While seeking to showcase a period of time when Nazi horrors ran rampant in the world, “Into That Darkness” did something remarkable: it narrowed the focus to telling the story of one ordinary man who for a brief moment, found himself possessing unlimited power.

This experience would go on to inspire Schenkkan’s newest stage work, “Building the Wall,” which is produced by Actors' Theatre of Grand Rapids and is in its final week at Dog Story Theater. This contemporary work that appears to be ripped from the headlines echoes Edmund Burke’s famous quote on unchecked power: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Schenkkan, already an award-winning Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner for works like “The Kentucky Cycle,” “All the Way,” and “Hacksaw Ridge,” transports the audience to an imagined time about 20 minutes into the future in which the Trump administration has carried out their campaign promise to round up and detain millions of immigrants. 

In this intimate, two-person dramatic work, a writer interviews the supervisor of a private prison as he awaits sentencing for carrying out federal policy that has escalated into unimaginable acts. 

“Building the Wall,” like George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” reminds us that democracies are not always a constant in this world. This ripped-from-the-headlines play is alarming, riveting, as well as enlightening and joins a long list of other literary stories of authoritarianism. 

Schenkkan, in this fresh, new work asks us to consider the warning signs of oppression and just like Sereny’s book, to apply a human face to our very inhuman acts. Don’t miss “Building the Wall” which ends on March 31. 

The Bunny Train 2018: Staycation with a stunning passage to the past

While some folks this weekend will begin jamming your social feeds with images of faraway places this spring break, you can keep them guessing by adding an off-the-beaten tracks West Michigan stop to your staycation plans this Saturday at The Bunny Train

This annual Easter-themed event starts at the Coopersville & Marne Railway, but travels quickly back in time once you step on this train engine from the diesel/electric years of the 1950s. 

On cue, the experience kicks off 20 minutes before each departure as the conductor shouts out to the station a hearty, “All aboard!” 

This 90-minute ride through time via the fields of our fertile West Michigan farmscape is the perfect holiday trip setting for you and your guests, which also includes special guests like the Easter Bunny, Quack the Duck, and Bo-Bo the Lamb.

While on this excursion, your kids will have a chance to select a toy from any one of the baskets being presented by a colorful cast of costumed characters. Your special Bunny Train experience also includes time with a story-telling princess who will be reading children’s books to attendees. 

What makes this train trip unlike others they offer in Coopersville is that these vintage train cars are decorated for Easter holiday, adding to the air of getting away if even for an hour and half. This vintage form of travel includes a chance to wander the many coaches with some as old as a 100 years.

Ticket prices are $19.75 for adults, $18.75 for Seniors 60+, and $17.75 for kids aged two to 12.

Children under two years old ride for free. Online sales are found at www.MItrain.net. Phone orders are taken Mon through Fri from 10:30 am until 4:00 pm at 616-997-7000, Ext. 3. Some tickets will be available at the ticket station on the day of departure, but if you want to be guaranteed passage on this special holiday express then don’t delay purchasing a seat on the Bunny Train. 
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