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2019 Articles | Page: | Show All

Disability Advocates ADA Celebration: 28 years of creating access for others

The story of the battle to win the 1990 American Disabilities Act (ADA) is one that if you have never taken the time to read, is well worth the research into this topic. For the winning of the ADA is the story not of one, but of the many who engaged all across the nation in acts of boldness that revealed the very real disparities people with disabilities face every day.

The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Disability Advocates of Kent County once again will join area agency partners in a community celebration of this historic act that opened not just doors, but new pathways for our disability community. 

This year’s 28th ADA Celebration is once again free and will be held at the Kent District Library’s Kentwood branch. This commemoration will feature live entertainment, delicious food, and a visual art activity led by Artists Creating Together (ACT). 

This event is also a chance for members of the disability community to discover those community partners who will be on hand to answer any questions about their services and the benefits out there for individuals with disabilities.

Since they will be ordering food for this event, please take a moment to pre-register for this free event at this website.

Eat Shop Rock: Uptown invites you back for some summer fun

While some may be jetting off to the beach this weekend in the hopes that maybe Lake Michigan will be warm enough to dive in above the knee, others know that this Saturday, there is a reason to stay close to home as the Fourth Annual Eat Shop Rock rolls back into the city’s Uptown district.

Uptown, a popular region of Grand Rapids, is actually made up of four distinct business districts (East Fulton, East Hills, Eastown, Wealthy Street)  running through the eastern portion of the city. 

This vibrant center is bustling with activity on almost any given day. However on Saturday, Eat Shop Rock will be ramped up the reason to visit with area businesses offering one-day specials. The organizers also will fill the day’s opportunities with plenty of live music, access to delicious food trucks, and even offer beer tents throughout many of the districts.

For a complete list of all the opportunities that await, as well as which stores are participating and their hours, please visit Uptown’s website.

Black Girl Magic: Volume 2 looks to recapture the spark

In January 2016, Julee Wilson wrote of Black Girl Magic (a creation of CaShawn Thompson in 2013) as a way for people to ”celebrate the beauty, power and resilience of black women.” 

And starting Saturday afternoon, you will have a chance to participate in this act of celebration within the North end’s Creston Brewery as they welcome back Black Girl Magic Vol. 2.

Like the last one, organizers Bri Ross’ and Kyd Kane’s Black Girl Magic Vol. 2 will follow the same format as the first with a showcase of black women entrepreneurs and artists market segueing into an evening celebration event. 

The first one was so popular a few months ago that Ross and Kane decided to launch it again with Spoken Word Poetry by Creston Vibes: Open Sessions hosted by the organizers (both poets)  throughout the event. 

When I stopped by the brewery earlier this week, Ross was really excited about the special of the day, which will be Creston’s tasty fried chicken with plenty of delicious sides— a perfect treat on a summer’s day. 

Later that night, folks are invited to a celebration of Black Girl Magic as they welcome yolonda Yogi lavender to the stage with a real hot dance party mixed by the one and only DJ Sun*Rise. (Here is a video from yolonda Yogi lavender to get you excited about Saturday's celebration.)

Hollyhock Lane Parade: More than 80 years of patriotic joy

Wednesday, July 4, 8:00 a.m. (line up), 8:30 a.m. (parade commences)
For those who rise early on July 4th and head to the intersection of the Calvin Ave. and Franklin Street, there will be a real historical treat that is sure to melt the most cynical of hearts as the annual The Hollyhock Lane Parade arrives back at this southeast neighborhood.

This parade, popular with every politician in our state seeking a vote from the folks in this region, has been happening on these quaint neighborhood streets for more than 80 years. 

The parade winds from the streets of Calvin through the neighborhood before landing at Giddings’ alley where spectators seeking to add to this truly Americana experience can attend an old style political stump rally focussed on the power of democracy. They even have an Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty who join the festivities each year.  

So grab your lawn chair and head to the curb or find a candidate or cause that is marching and join them in the streets for some real patriotic fun this Fourth of July.

If you have just moved to Grand Rapids or are looking to make a great impression with those who are, invite them to the Hollyhock Parade. You'll thank us later. Happy Fourth of July!

100 Ideas Demo Day at 20 Monroe Live: Start Gardenís first 100 lands back in downtown for the top 10

Start Garden’s 100 Ideas began as a call out to the community to submit their best new ideas in the most unlikely of pitch rooms as folks flocked to bars, community centers, and entrepreneurial support organizations. Almost immediately, this movement to change the way we think of entrepreneurial activity was adopted by so many looking to pitch their idea. 

On July 10, 100 Ideas enters its exciting conclusion as this entrepreneur competition in Michigan will narrow the 100 ideas chosen to compete down to the final 10 who will receive another $20,000 to keep their idea moving forward.

All told Start Garden reports that 28 tech companies, 27 physical products, 18 new service providers, 15 food entrepreneurs, seven social impact initiatives, five retail concepts from every neighborhood in West Michigan, and representative of every corner of our state will be in a battle to win a coveted Top 10 slot.  

What made this project unique from others typically held in other communities is just how diverse our top 100 winners are, with 44 percent women, 56 percent men, 47 percent caucasian, 53 percent minorities represented in this group.

Starting at 4:00 p.m. (until 7:15 p.m.), attendees will have a chance to tour the 100 Ideas by watching folks demo their submissions. Immediately after, the awards will commence with ten of our lucky contestants walking away with another $20,000 to make their dreams a real opportunity. 

And don’t worry if you missed the contest earlier this year. It was so successful that it will be back. 

If you would like to attend this free event, please RSVP via this link

Summer SOULstice Gemini/Cancer Party: Starshine time as season kicks off

By the time Friday night rolls back around in the summer months, the city can seem like it is a ghost town as folks head to the big (or smaller) lake(s). 

Lucky for us, on Thursday night there is a Summer SOULstice party brought to us by Grand Rapids Hip Hop Coalition, Totem Soul, The Love Movement Inc. at The BOB.

This soul themed, dressed-to-impress event is emceed by Love Movement’s Governor Slugwell with special guest artist 97.3 FM’s DJ Rush the Guillotine spinning on the 1s and 2s all night.

Did we mention that this solstice-focussed event is also a celebration of the star signs of Gemini and Cancer

The solstice is the longest day of the year, so show up while the sun shines high in the air to celebrate this official kick off of summer at the Summer SOULstice Gemini/Cancer Party.

Tickets can be purchased in advance with ladies garnering the biggest offer with free admission if they enter the club before 9 p.m. on Thursday. 

Best of Creston Street Fair and Festival: Summer is the best time to venture North

For many neighborhoods of Grand Rapids like those of downtown and Eastown, street festivals are a huge part of the summer fun in the city. But some neighborhoods have not enjoyed the decades-long run of such activities. 

One such district that is stepping out more and more with an amazing array of events is Creston, which will once again host their Best of Creston Street Fair and Festival

This newish annual event gives attendees a chance to meet the many local business owners and artisans who hail from this part of the city at this special four-hour street party. 

Held on Plainfield Avenue between Spencer and Lafayette, the event will host street vendors, a kids game area, live music, a beer tent, and even a mini-antique car show. (After all, the North Quarter, which has hosted car shows for years until recently, really loves classic cars.) 

Scheduled to perform this year at the festival’s two stages are Sailing Weather, The Fabulous Vans, The Strain, and the Four Lincolns. 

If four hours of street partying is not enough, then head on Saturday to Eastown for the return of Bizarre Bazaar! This annual neighborhood association-led festival is held on Wealthy Street on Saturday, June 23 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Grand Rapids Water Festival: Music and the environment get a moment in the park

There are two things that go hand in hand with summer: music and water. And lucky for you, a fix for both is available in one spot this Saturday as Riverside Park welcomes the return of the annual Grand Rapids Water Festival.

Presented by the Grand River Watershed Arts and Music Council, the Grand River Water Festival is a one-day music event where local and regional music talent share the stage with inspiring environmental speakers.

This day long, free event features local vendors as well as nonprofit organizations who are committed to environmental services and will be providing engagement opportunities for attendees. They will have a story tent again this year where folks can record their reflections about water and its meaning in their lives.

The Grand River Water Festival kicks off with a Native American blessing and runs with an alternating schedule of speakers and musicians on stage until 9 p.m. 

The festival uses performers to lure in folks to attend and, between acts, guest speakers share inspiring information and insights on environmental issues as they relates to water quality, its importance, and preservation. 

Scheduled to perform this year at the 2018 Grand River Water Festival will be Evolucion, Hawks & Owls string band, Fauxgrass, Dede and the Dreamers, Seth Bernard, Molly, Yolanda Lavender, Peter “Madcat” Ruth, and Aspen Jacobsen.

Family Frolic at The Zoo: Seeking to end homelessness, one area agency gets creative

Thanks to the generous support of Eastbrook Homes, on Sunday night you will have a chance to take the kids (ages 16 and under) to the zoo for free at the Family Frolic at the Zoo.

This very special, first time event benefits our local Family Promise of Grand Rapids. It is also unique because at most fundraisers, parents often have to leave the kids at home. 

This is not the case at the Family Frolic at the Zoo; this event allows parents wanting to be a part of the homelessness solution in our city to enjoy a night out with the kids in tow at our local John Ball Zoo (and during a time when the zoo is typically closed).

The night will include raffles, game prizes, a scavenger hunt, as well as lots of animals. The night’s festivities are hosted by WOOD TV8’s Emily Linnert. 

To entice folks to come out to support this brand new event, Family Promise of Grand Rapids, in addition to offering free admission for the kiddies, has secured a generous match for the first $20,000 raised on this night. 

So bring the whole clan out to the Family Frolic at the Zoo this Sunday, June 24 from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. for a chance to have some fun while doing the most good. 

Loving Day Celebrations: A community picnic, dance, and stage play

The Ebony Road Players are once again producing a series of events to commemorate Loving Day with a Saturday community family picnic/dance and then on Sunday at Wealthy Theatre the play "Neither There, Nor Here." 

This annual observation is held to commemorate the victorious Loving vs. Virginia Supreme Court case of 1967 in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down state laws that sought to ban interracial marriages.  

At Rosa Parks Circle on Saturday, attendees of the Loving Day Community Family Picnic and Dance will enjoy food merchants, local vendors, and musical acts to encourage folks to mix and mingle at this celebratory event. The organizers even invite you to dance as a community to the music provided throughout the early evening. 

At this family-friendly affair, you will have a chance to participate in a dance lesson, hula-hooping, sidewalk chalk drawing, and even temporary hand-painted designs for your face.

On Sunday “Neither There, Nor Here”—an original, multimedia, interdisciplinary memory play-meets-cooking show—will take to the Wealthy Theatre stage. 

The play focuses on the experience of people with liminal identities of race, gender, culture, and sexuality who live between so-called traditional binaries in order to create their own cultures that move beyond more typical either/or identities—all through the lens of a live televised cooking show. 

As the performers tell their stories, family photos will be projected onto the set, allowing each story to spill into other more theatrical modes, from table-top theater, to strange dances, to a pop song sing-along. This is sure to be a lively, fun, and insightful night of theatre.

Grand Rapids Pride: 30 years of celebrating our city's LGBTQ

Every year and traditionally during the month of June, cities all over the world celebrate their community’s LGBTQ citizens. Grand Rapids is no different and on Saturday, our local Grand Rapids Pride will celebrate 30 years of providing space for our LGBTQ to celebrate their accomplishments but also reflect on the road ahead. 

Pride began as the Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 and was created to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969. 

At our local Grand Rapids Pride, you will have a chance to meet area organizations and businesses seeking to connect with attendees, as well as a lively stage program from our area drag queens, big entertainment acts like En Vogue, David Hernandez, Betty Who, and of course, lots of icy, cold beverages to quench your thirst on this traditionally hot June day.


Be the Astronaut: Cheaper than the real thing and just as challenging

Be the Astronaut is an exciting new exhibition at the Grand Rapids Public Museum that seeks to provide an exciting experience all the while exposing kids (and adult kids) to  STEM-infused content via the marriage of an physical exhibit with cutting edge video game technology. 

Guiding the visitors on this journey is a crew of virtual experts who help deepen the space exploration experience throughout every stage of the exhibit. 

Guests learn what it takes to fly a spaceship, pilot a lander, or drive a surface rover. After this brief training, you are ready to jump into a simulator that takes you on a virtual journey of the universe. 

“Through STEM based hands-on activities that are scientifically verified by NASA experts, this exhibit lets our community travel to space from right here at the Grand Rapids Public Museum,” said Dr. Stephanie Ogren, Director of Science at the GRPM.

In each space capsule, a monitor serves as the ‘windshield,’ giving visitors a first-person view of their adventures. Touch-screens and an industrial-quality joystick put visitors in command. 

According to the museum, the entire cockpit comes alive with animated lighting effects, game visuals, and sounds that make visitors believe they are astronauts. To add more excitement to the event, special companion robots move about the hall and interact with guests.

This traveling exhibition seeks to recreate those concepts common to all space flights, inviting patrons to imagine themselves in this futuristic storyline. 

And lest you think the experience is reflecting the imaginary space of a software designer with no real space experience, then you’ll be happy to learn that the cockpit is scientifically verified by experts at NASA for accuracy and feasibility.

And as we learned from the staff at the museum who have already tried their hand at landing the capsule, this is challenging stuff to navigate. 

Be the Astronaut opens on June 16 and runs through September 16, 2018.  Tickets to the exhibition can be purchased here.

Drink + Draw: GRBC's Studio Night partners with AIGAWM (again)

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of our design community of West Michigan simply because so many here are creating some truly remarkable designs. Don’t believe me? 

Then check out this article on a project that showcases our history and the women devoting their lives to make sure we know this legacy.

So if you are looking to stretch creatively or just want to doodle the night away this Monday night, then head downtown to the Grand Rapids Brewery Company (GRBC) for the return of AIGA West Michigan’s community-building Drink + Draw event.

Whether you work on a laptop, tablet or sketchbook, bring them to work on at this special partnership edition of GRBC’s free-to-attend Studio Night and get 25 percent off your tab.

And if you need something to prime your imagination, the folks at AIGAWM will have materials available to decorate lunch bags for local nonprofit Kids' Food Basket. 

If you do attend, event organizers ask that you tag your photos from the event with #AIGAWMcraft.

1968 Tribute Show: A modern take on music from 50 years ago

Friday, June 8, 8:00 p.m. (doors), 8:30 p.m. (showtime)
Typically when a nostalgia act arrives in town, I am the first to head for my headphones to drown out the noise. But one revival trend that keep reappearing here is the tribute show series hosted by downtown entertainment venue The Pyramid Scheme.

For the latest installment of the Tribute Show, music artists from a variety of local acts have come together to form pop-up acts recreating their versions of classic albums released in 1968.

Featured at this one night only performance will be four albums released in 1968: “Folsom Prison” by Johnny Cash, “Dance to the Music” by Sly & The Family Stone, “Cheap Thrills" by Big Brother & the Holding Company, and “Creedence Clearwater Revival” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

Some acts will attempt faithful recreations of these popular albums, but others will perform modern tricks of pure sonic pleasure, producing moments of unexpected joy. Scheduled to tackle these four albums of distinction from 1968 include The Bootstrap Boys, Hey Marco!, Oracle, Afro Zuma, Bello Spark, Hazy Past, The Outer Vibe, and many others.

Grand Rapids has been home to tribute shows from Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumors” to Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew,” to the memorable 2016 all-star musician tribute to David Bowie. With that much history to guide us and with such star power on one stage, why miss a chance to relieve these classic albums performed for our modern era?

Friday's 1968 Tribute Show benefits the Well House.

Movies on Monroe: Double your fun with The Greatest Showman & Big

It used to be when Movies in the Park was debuting in the area, the social media spaces would be filled with folks debating what flick they felt should be included in the summer lineup of films screened free for the public.

But this year, the questions has shifted from talk of movie titles to whether one would sit or not on pavement as the popular event moves kitty-corner across the river to the site of a new park in the process of being developed.

Personally, I am used to events shifting over time in the city, so while I will miss the old location, I understand that this is a leap to a new location that will, with time, become a more solid choice for a host of developing reasons. (See GR FWD Plan. LINK) 

Sure, we will miss the cushy grass under our butts, but with an extra blanket or a portable chair, you should be back in the spirit of the night as you and thousands flock to catch a film with friends and fellow citizens.  (Hint: This year you can rent an affordable chair for watching the featured film from Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.)

As with every year’s series, you can expect plenty of pre-movie entertainment with photo booths, food trucks, balloon animals, musical entertainment, and even special guest hosts. 

Kicking off the summer 2018 Movies on Monroe (formerly known as Movies in the Park) series is a true blockbuster of a double feature with “The Greatest Showman” (sponsored by The KnottyBits Sideshow) and “Big” (from Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc.) debuting at the new location on the banks of the Grand River. 

Movies on Monroe Star Partners include Linc Up, the Latino Community Coalition, Disability Advocates of Kent County and the Grand Rapids Pride Festival 2018.

The #MoviesOnMonroe series is produced by Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. in partnership with MSU Gran Fondo, Studio C - Grand Rapids, Driving Change - Grand Rapids, Mobile GR, The City of Grand Rapids, The Rapid, Local First West Michigan, Monroe North Business Association - Grand Rapids, MI, Grand Rapids Community Media Center, Charlesbrook Protection Services, Grand Rapids Food Truck Association, Kent County Health Connect-Tobacco Free Parks, WYCE and LiveSpace. 

And remember: if it rains, the show is cancelled. There are no rain dates. For a complete list of the films being screened this, summer please visit this link.
2019 Articles | Page: | Show All
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