East Meets West

Spring is in the air and people are thinking about gardening. But have you ever heard of "economic gardening?" The term was coined by Chris Gibbons, director of business affairs for the City of Littleton, CO back in 1989. The theory is based on an MIT study at the time that showed that the great majority of job growth in the U.S. occurs through expansion of existing small businesses, not through "robbing" employers from other cities and states (or "economic hunting").

The whole premise of Rapid Growth Media is to highlight these economic gardeners, particularly those of the urban pioneering stripe -- fitting since urban farming is a very popular subject with our readers. Since 2006, we've profiled over 2000 of these economic gardening success stories. And the purpose of our Not Your Average Speaker Series events is to give these people a voice, a chance to inspire others who may be thinking of doing the same who are just lacking that spark to turn ideas into action.

That's what the plan is for our next speaker series event, East Meets West, happening May 26 at Wealthy Theatre. Back in April, Rapid Growth invited a group of people from Grand Rapids to venture to Detroit with us; to tour the city and check out some of the economic success going on.  It went so well, we partnered with Johannah Jelks and Generation X and Y For Michigan (a group devoted to keeping young people in Michigan), expanded on the idea and have invited a group from Detroit to come to Grand Rapids. We plan to give them a tour of some exciting things happening in our community and join some of their counterparts here in GR on stage to share their success stories (and failures, perhaps) with you all. It will be an event people will be talking about for some time to come.

We've put together a phenomenal lineup. It was so hard to decide, we ended up with our biggest panel ever:

Sarah Lapinski, Boss Lady of Motor City Sewing and Design, Detroit

From her profile recently in ModelD, Sarah received a sewing machine for a graduation gift from college and hasn't looked back since. Her latest venture is her men's clothing line Wound Menswear. Her Facebook profile states: I make clothes for boys. I can dance for hours. If I don't travel, I'll just die! I always wanted to live a charmed life, so far so good. I don't want to grow up. I want to always dress good, eat well and have stimulating conversation.

Darel Ross, Co-Executive Director of LINC Community Revitalization

Through his work at LINC, Darel spends his days working on redevelopment projects, particularly in Grand Rapids' Southeast and Southwest sides, and helping to fill incubator space aimed primarily at minority entrepreneurs. Darel is a homegrown product of Grand Rapids and a graduate of Ottawa Hills High School. After graduation he attended Alabama A&M University where he received his degree in Finance in 1995. Darel now lives in the Grand Rapids area and is married to a local attorney, Angela Ross. They have two children, ages 12 and 7.

Matthew Clayson, Director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center

In addition to "herding cats" of the creative community in Detroit, Matt helped put together the partnerships behind Rust Belt To Artist Belt III in Detroit, the first time the event has been held in Michigan. He was also one of the founding drafters of Detroit Declaration, a citizen movement to improve the City of Detroit.

Latesha Lipscomb, Owner and Creator of I Got Face Cosmetic Concierge, Grand Rapids

Latesha is the fabulous creator and CEO of I GOT FACE Cosmetic Consulting, which is a concierge service for celebrities and high-end executives. She is also a full-figured model, stylist and diva-fashionista "looking to take over the world without changing my residential scenery."

Christianne Sims, Director of Fusion, the young professionals organization of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce

This 28-year-old powerhouse has put the Detroit area on notice, helping to start Fusion at the Detroit Chamber back in 2007, growing the group to over 400 young professionals. When researching panelists for this event, several people from around the State said we "had to get Christianne Sims to be part of our event." So we did.

Tami Vandenberg, Co-Owner of The Meanwhile Bar and Pyramid Scheme

We've been writing about the adventures of Tami Vandenberg and her brother Jeff Vandenberg for a long time. From opening one of the first bars on Wealthy Street to host a bevy of pinball machines and a film series, to filling a niche in the live music scene with the recent opening of Pyramid Scheme, we hope to hear what drives her and her brother to keep opening places that draw big, BIG crowds.

Mike Han, Founder and Creative Director at Street Culture Mash, Detroit

What is Street Culture Mash? It's a clothing line. It's a lifestyle brand. It's a fixie scene. "Art x Fashion x Design x Fixed Gear Bikes x Sushi."

Carl Erickson, President of Atomic Object and SoftwareGR

If you've been reading Rapid Growth lately, then you've no doubt caught at least one of Carl Erickson's blogs. He's very, very interested in the State's economy, particularly the tech industry, and is anxious to share his successes and failures with young and old entrepreneurs.

Event Details

For more details about the event, you can check out and RSVP at our Facebook event page (and invite people). Or if you don't Facebook, you can RSVP here.

The event kicks off at 6:00 p.m., doors and concessions will be open at 5:30 p.m., and as always, the event is free and open to the public.  We also plan to have a reception afterward at The Meanwhile.

East Meets West is a Not Your Average Speaker Series production in conjunction with Generation X and Y for Michigan and sponsored by Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

Posters and graphics by artist Erwin Erkfitz.

Photos, in order:

Sarah Lapinski

Darel Ross

Matthew Clayson

Latesha Lipscomb

Christianne Sims

Tami Vandenberg

Mike Han

Carl Erickson

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