The 2019 Rock The Block
is a beautiful, annual celebration carried out in the streets of Madison Square and invites Southtown neighbors and visitors to taste the area’s best street food, plenty of local talent, and a variety of community-focused vendors looking to connect you and your entire family to the goodness and opportunities of our region. (See their sponsor list to get an idea of that depth of experience waiting for you.)
This lively event, which is celebrating its ninth year, is produced by Linc Up
, a Grand Rapids-based community revitalization nonprofit whose mission is ...
It is hard to image that we are already at the 50th Anniversary of our local Festival of the Arts
. So many memories have been made by way of the arts but also via the many food booths and activities that appear to magically pop up all over the downtown starting the first Friday at noon of every June since 1969. The impetus for this annual community-centered event began the same year as the installation of Alexander Calder’s La Grande Vitesse in front of City Hall in downtown Grand Rapids. This 43-foot-tall, vibrant red stabile, which locals shortened to “The Calder,” ...
With Michigan’s growing season knocking on summer’s door, now is the time to consider ways to extend the beauty of our fresh, tasty peaches, strawberries, and plums long into the year via the art of jam making.
On Thursday, May 30, folks who want to extend the freshness of our summer long into the cooler winter months will want to attend this special Jam Making
class held at Creston's Lions & Rabbits and led by Cellar Door Preserves' owner and jam maker Zenobia. Keeping with all things local, this special one-night-only class will focus on using seasonal produce and ...
Summer is a great time to add a little extra something to your day. Why? Well, for starters, you are free from the burden of winter’s freezing grip as our days become filled with much-needed sunshine stretching long past 9 p.m. for the next few months. Why not add an activity to keep you under that glow?
For those seeking to amp up their summer activities, look no further than this Paddleboard Yoga
class on Reeds Lake. This weekly class seeks to blend all the balancing fun and prowess of paddleboarding with the mind-calming practice of yoga. This new sporting activity lasts 90 minutes ...
If you have been downtown this spring, then you have noticed a lot of those utility boxes scattered all over that suddenly got a facelift with many colorful portraits of women. This is in support of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s (DGRI) Rad Women project that was inspired by artist and author Kate Schatz’s "Rad American Women A-Z" book. To celebrate this event, DGRI, alongside with Grand Rapids Running Tours, present Rad Women Walking Tours — where those who show up for these free walking tours can learn about each of the Rad Women from A (Angela Davis) to Z (Zora ...
There is no shortage of Cinco De Mayo celebrations in our city, but this year there is one event that I am certain is going to be a hot ticket: the Cinco De Mayo Cumbia Dance Party held at MeXo, produced with MamboSi Entertainment. Sure, you could go to any one of the many pubs or bars offering a Cinco De Mayo celebration this weekend to eat tacos and wash it down with a tequila drink. However, MeXo has shown within its short time in our region to be a very serious business that is all about sharing the rich and delicious history of their tasty cuisine offerings in downtown Grand Rapids. And ...
Grand Rapids’ mayors have always called upon us to be better citizens, and in keeping with this tradition of civic engagement is Mayor Bliss’ annual Greening Initiative
, which is produced each year in partnership with our Mayor’s Office, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, and the City’s Forestry Department. Our mayor’s annual event seeks to engage our entire community as we seek to reach the ambitious goal of increasing our city’s tree canopy to 40%. Cities with a higher tree canopy percentage benefit tremendously from cooler temps in the summer and greater ...
In my lifetime I have been a part of a lot of history-making and ambitious events, from marches on Washington to even being a part of Hands Across America in the 1980s.
And on Saturday, April 27, more than 120 zoos from all over the nation are linking up to create the largest Earth Day celebration when Party for the Planet
debuts here at our John Ball Zoo. Activities are still being produced at press time for this Earth Day event, but as with past events at our local zoo, the folks at John Ball always have plenty for children as well as adults to enjoy on this special occasion when the world ...
The 2018 Westside Cleanup saw more than 600 volunteers come out for this annual community-building project spearheaded by the local Westside Collaborative
’s Jim Davis. And this year’s event is even bigger than ever as our neighborhood-focused westside nonprofit works with the John Ball Zoo, Blandford Nature Center, and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to greatly expand this annual Westside Outside neighborhood clean-up event.
Folks looking to contribute to this annual clean up effort are encouraged to sign up at westsidecollaborative.org/westsideoutside.
As a person who has looked at the evolving but also emergent culture of our city, I can say without any reservation that our local Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival
(GRLAFF) has been presenting films that expand beyond the themes of LatinX, exploring aspects of living as it relates to everything from modern love to societal shifts related to place. And this year it appears they are on their way to continue to evolve that mission to be more than just a series rooted in Latinx films. When GRLAFF arrives for their ninth series, they do so with a powerful, mission-driven series title of ...
In the realm of Broadway productions, before "the show can go on," it often needs to travel out of town to test the material.
And while our very own Vivacious Miss Audacious (a.k.a., Audria Larson) has appeared on nearly every stage in our city beta testing her various acts and individual artistic practice, on April 10 she debuts in Grand Rapids for the very first tine a new cabaret act that has already captured audiences all over the country except here.
But that changes when Luxotica Lounge Cabaret
makes a triumphant debut at The Pyramid Scheme. Luxotica Lounge Cabaret is a lush, ...
This city is full of lots of opportunities to join others in song. This is true whether one joins a band, a church choir, or any one of the many choral groups that are offered in this region.
In fact, the human voice in song is to many cultures one of the most beautiful aspects of being alive. There is just something very powerful about what happens when we all get on the same page in song.
Keeping that local tradition alive is a relatively new choral group, Justice Choir GR
. This choir has already been featured in Rapid Growth’s story, “Social Justice Choir puts GR's culture
While the headlines as of late have not been great for many on the gender spectrum, our local transgender community wants us to know that despite the news, our local community is thriving and finding support here in Grand Rapids.
This fact is worth celebrating, and so on the 10th anniversary of the international Transgender Day of Visibility
, commemorated around the world on March 31, they invite you to hear their stories at their annual Speak Your Truth open mic event. In the past, those attending have been treated to inspiring, first-hand storytelling from a diverse group of individuals ...
I know we sound like a broken record, but there is something unique in West Michigan where access and connections can easily produce collaborations in the pursuit of one’s creative dreams. Now as a preface, if fame and fortune is your career tracks focus, then, yeah, L.A. or New York will have advantages we cannot even touch. But if you want to find a place where people actually help each other out in the pursuit of a creative project, then this is where it can happen. Filmmaking is one creative area locally that continues to evolve through the ease of access to digital tools, as well as ...
There are many times when I will set out to try and distill via words why someone’s event is worth your time. This is never truer than when considering the event: Culinary Conversations Meetup featuring Chef Tunde Wey
. As I looked at the calendar with this event circled, I knew that I would have to cover the arrival of Tunde Wey, but I just wasn’t sure where to start as he defies so many definitions. Wey is truly a modern artist who works as a chef illuminating his love of food as a platform to shine a light on a multitude of racial injustices still prevalent in American culture. ...
It seems like only yesterday that we put ArtPrize 10 to bed for a two-year rest. (ArtPrize returns in 2020 to Grand Rapids.) But no worries since the off-year, new biennial program, Project X, will debut fall 2019.
This Thursday night special reveal party is just the first of many reveals to come for this brand new art event that is focused heavily on curation.
At the ArtPrize Hub, guests who attend this kick-off reveal of Project 1
(Fall 2019) will learn first who are the international, national, and local artists who will be creating works for their debut. And while you will learn the ...
As we move farther away from the river restoration and park creation launch event held at DeVos Place last year, many folks are beginning to turn their attention to all things related to the Grand River — the state’s longest running river and namesake to our city Grand Rapids. On Thursday, Grand Rapids Whitewater (GRWW), the group who has spearheaded the rapids restoration movement, will be presenting to the public registered to attend this special Libations & Learning event an update of the project’s current status. Libations & Learning is also a chance for those ...
There are plenty of ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Grand Rapids, from visiting any one of the Irish bars of our city for more traditional fare to joining folks in the street for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. But another event of a different jig is also heading back into the streets for the state’s largest St. Patty’s celebration: Irish on Ionia. One part Irish Fest mixed with a hefty dose of EDM (electronic dance music), this annual street fair is a day-long endurance test if your goal is to make it from its 7 a.m. debut to its 10 p.m. closure. (No ...
On the last day of the 2019 LaughFest and barring any unusual, rapid body hair growth from Ali Wong (the festival’s closing act at DeVos Hall), People & Pets
will be the furriest event once again this year. Folks with pets (or those who simply love to be around them) are invited to the GRCC Ford Fieldhouse (111 Lyon St. NE) on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for this annual free event centered on the humor of our furry friends. People & Pets is a chance for furry friends and their owners to showcase how funny their pets truly can be. Folks who arrive early and register from 10:00 ...
Lions, tigers, and bears! Oh my!
After a long winter’s sleep, the animals of John Ball Zoo are ready to receive visitors as they take their first steps into the advancing oh-so-slowly warmer season is nigh.
So if you have run out of options with your kids who are undoubtedly climbing the walls for new adventures beyond museums and movie screens, then the opening of the 2019 season of our local and much beloved John Ball Zoo
is just for you. But our zookeepers remind us that not all animals are acclimated to our weather, so some animals might decide to stay inside a bit longer than ...
LaughFest has been many things over the years, but one of the pure pleasures, in my opinion, has been how willing they have been to embrace a wide array of avenues from which comedy can spring. This can include everything from their inspiring galas (signature event) to their embracing of the emerging artists who take non-traditional paths to each of our area stages. Some comics take to the stage as their sole path to their comic careers, but many more are emerging in the era of the standup via platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. One such act using modern platforms as a stage is ...
Women’s History Month has plenty of ways that one can celebrate its significance, but, damn, Girls Rock Grand Rapids (GR!GR) has defiantly raised the bar with the best and most epic event so far this month to commemorate this moment in time.
In honor of Women’s History Month, GR!GR along with downtown GR’s community player extraordinaire Vault of Midnight is thrilled to be hosting a special “Captain Marvel
” film premiere/fundraiser for GR!GR. Captain Marvel is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first female-led superhero film and stars Brie Larson as Carol ...
Most weeks, G-Sync Events feature events to fill your after-work hours with an escape from the grind of your day-to-day living. But for this week, we wanted to feature an inspiring event happening during your lunch hour that is sure to amp up your advocacy game with the many nonprofits that so many of our readers have indicated they proudly serve in our region. As one who has been an advocate for so many organizations since I arrived here many decades ago, the powerful importance of advocacy on behalf of our community’s many organizations has never been more important than right now. Our ...
You could spend the weekend scouring the web for access to the many short films nominated for Oscars this year and maybe eventually discover them. Or you could just visit the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art (UICA) and see all of the 2019 Academy Award nominees in one place. What makes this annual film series so important for locals is the chance to screen the 2019 Oscar-nominated shorts in the genres of animation, documentary, and live action. Specifically for filmmakers (or those thinking of becoming one), this opportunity creates an informal classroom as the best of contemporary cinema ...
We have all been there and if you haven’t yet, then it is just a matter of time before a relative passes and the uncomfortable divvying up of the deceased “stuff” commences.
As is typical in my experience over the years, kinfolk, normally sane, will go off the rails over the tiniest of objects left behind by the deceased.
This scenario is pretty much the setting of the newest production from Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids as they present the wildly funny and very dark comedy “Bad Jews
,” written by Joshua Harmon and directed by Tom Kaechele. “Bad Jews” ...
Over the years, LaughFest has invited the city to join them for a community-wide celebration of this popular festival devoted to the art of laughter. In the past, we have been treated to everything from rubber chicken tosses in an attempt to set a new world record, to restaurants serving up fried chicken, to community showcases rich with stand up comedy. For LaughFest’s ninth year kick off, they are (once again) inviting the community to join them at Rosa Parks Circle with a celebration of their opening day complete with family activities, engaging contests, and a chance to win free ...
Over the years we, as a city, have watched yoga culture go from something obscure that you could only get from folks like Carolyn Heines at her then-tiny basement Eastown studio, to the complete saturation of these facilities in converted storefront shops in nearly every neighborhood now. But what often keeps some folks from participating are the body issues that often can stop folks from taking their first steps in practicing this form of exercise and wellness. Lucky for us, Creston’s Flip Dog Yoga is offering a slow flow class that is centered on the welcoming all bodies regardless of ...
It is hard to imagine that after Swedish pop export Robyn dropped her iconic "Body Talk Pts. 1 & 2" (2010) that it would be another eight years before this dance floor diva with a knack for attracting a large international queer culture audience would release her newest release "Honey" in 2018.
And to celebrate her amazingly infectious dance floor-focused release, as well as pay to homage to the uber-popular New York “This Party Is Killing You
” dance parties held at the Brooklyn Bowl, comes Grand Rapids’ first Dancing Together - a Robyn Party hosted ...
This week’s G-Sync events have centered our focus on those beautiful, small-ish events that often go unnoticed.
One such event that pops up each year and in one of the unlikeliest of places, the Woodland Mall, is the return of the seventh annual Live African American Museum held Saturday, Feb. 23, from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Live African American Museum
is an education-forward focused interactive performance piece produced by congregation members of New Hope Baptist Church and showcases the stories of African Americans. With their lens ever-evolving, this year’s live show will ...
It is clear that our city’s annual Beer Month GR
is something worth celebrating as folks clamber for access to everything from impressive tap takeovers to the release of Beer City Brewer's Guild Tree Beer to the hard-to-get ticket to the Winter Beer Festival, which celebrates its 14th year.
But this year’s Beer Month GR has something truly special that captures our heart and it’s held at one of our favorite restaurants who continues to amaze us every time we visit: The Sovengard
. This year, in an attempt to continue to celebrate as well as educate our beer fans, The ...
Electronic music continues to rule the stages of our city as more and more acts continue to populate areas clubs, concert venues, and, most recently, WYCE’s Jammies Awards. On Thursday, Feb. 28, Bronze Wolf joins a list of local music electronic artists who have performed at the Grand Rapid Public Museum’s new-ish and wildly popular Concerts Under the Stars music series held at the Chaffee Planetarium. Bronze Wolf (led by Eric Tempelaere) is an exploratory dark-electronic pop project from this much-beloved vocalist, producer, and multi-instrumentalist whose music is ...
It seems that every generation has an item or three that defines them. For those boomers in your life, it is most likely connected to the Summer of Love and loads of drug culture experimentation. For Gen X, most likely our legacy is a string of contact work and a fascination with the film “Reality Bites.” But for the Millennials, they clearly own avocado toast, which in my opinion is quite delicious, and for Gen Z it will mostly be their every growing fascination with YouTube videos. If we have learned anything from the past, it is that experiences made in one’s youth often ...
There are many ways to celebrate Black History Month locally, from lectures to special guided tours, but by far the one event that is at the top of everyone’s list who seeks to honor African American history and culture is the Grand Rapids Public Library’s annual Taste of Soul Sunday
. This event often attracts a lot of folks who want to sample any one of the many culinary treats being served at the event, but it is so much more than that. Attendees at this free event will have a chance to listen to great music, learn more of Black history via storytellers and poets, and create ...
Valentine’s Day is nice … if buying expensive roses and eating a quiet meal with your special someone. But when you consider the unbelievable odds of a relationship making it these days, well, why bother, right? Well, maybe that came off as harsh or anti-love, but I’m just over a lifetime of hype about this day that gets more and more commercialized with each passing year. Lucky for singles and all others who often feel left out on February 14, a newish trend of anti-Valentine’s events are popping up all over the city. But none is going to be more interesting than Emo ...
This weekend you have a lot of options to consider if you want to visit downtown’s World of Winter Festival with a long list of activities, but the real winner is the chance to witness a crowd of folks spazzing out in the middle of Rosa Parks Circle. So if you are downtown on Friday night and you witness erratic dancing and (often) large groups of folks “sanging” one of your favorite dance tracks, then it is the World of Winter Festival’s Silent Disco. Silent discos are a unique way to experience live music curated from three different DJs who will be spinning all at ...
This city has plenty to offer when it comes to live music, but for those seeking events that defy definition, well, they are quite rare.
Lucky for those seeking uniqueness in entertainment comes the Maiden Michigan album release party with Hundo
as your host of this night of heavy metal music.
And lest you think the fun stops with the metal, then get ready because this night is also the debut of the Anti-Pageant Extravaganza at Creston Brewery.
This anti-pageant will award points based on actions, answers, and, of course, killer attitude awarded over two rounds. In addition to the ...
Recently over the holiday break, I discovered a crate of old VHS tapes from the late ‘80s and ‘90s. Not only was I shocked to uncover this treasure trove of motion images captured on magnetic tape, but as they unspooled on a screen in our basement, I roared with laughter at what I would discover.
This is experience is similar to what it is like to attend the touring Found Footage Festival,
which returns to the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts this Saturday night. The festival is a beautifully odd and downright laugh-out-loud hilarious time as hosts Nick Prueher and Joe ...
We have said it on many occasions in the past here at Rapid Growth, but with each passing year, Grand Rapids’ music scene continues to evolve into some new kind of wonderful.
Not only is our region becoming a draw for musicians, but also an attractant for folks who enjoy not just access to live music but such incredibly diverse musical styles available almost nightly on our scene.
And this year is another milestone for local musicians as it is the 20th Annual WYCE Jammie Awards
celebration at The Intersection. This night is a chance for fans of our community-sponsored and volunteer-DJ ...
Grand Rapidians who recently moved to this place may not have heard of the name Dr. Randal Jelks, but to many of us, he represents so much of our history through the many ways he has intersected with our community over the years. And on Tuesday, February 12, Dr. Jelks will host a community conversation
about his newest project at Schuler Books. Randal Maurice Jelks is Professor of African, African American, and American Studies at the University of Kansas. He holds courtesy appointments in history and religious studies, and is the co-editor of the journal “American Studies.” Jelks ...
There is something really wonderful about how fandom evolves over time, revealing itself within the culture via the many forms it can take.
For fans of Harry Potter’s universe, we have witnessed everything from fan fiction (including erotica) to musical acts, to even the series creator’s eventual stage play of the cast much later in life. It is exciting, to say the least, to witness how Harry has stayed with us for so long and in so many variations over time.
Folks who are fans of the film series are in for a treat as our local Grand Rapids Symphony
under Conductor John ...
After this week’s polar vortex, who can blame you if you are seeking warmer shores?
But recognizing that not every budget will accommodate a fast pass to the warm shores of Florida, might we suggest a different passage that is a bit more realistic and just as hot (on the dance floor).
Once again, Billy’s Lounge will be cranking up the heat as they host their annual birthday party to honor reggae’s legendary Bob Marley.
Scheduled to perform at this year's Bob Marley Birthday Bash
are Universal Xpression with special guests King Jazzy and DJ Sanjay. This annual event is ...
In an era of few smiles as you scan the news, it is hard to imagine humor having a purpose or need. But looking over history, if that view was true, then it would be a terrible turn of events. However, according to The Hauenstein Center, “Humor, a widely misunderstood and underappreciated component of American civic life, often feels in short supply amid the hyperpolarization, loneliness, and resentment presently afflicting our polity.” H.W. Brands, the Jack S. Blanton senior chair in history at the University of Texas at Austin, will present at the Eberhart Center insights on ...
Winter cabin fever setting in? Tired of playing video games with your friends connected to the game only by way of a broadband line?
If you answered “Yes” to both, then Monday nights at Creston Brewery should be the ticket as they present this season their Old School Console Night
once again. The community tap room recently underwent at the first of the year a slight reorganization of their space, placing a higher value on creating more space for folks to just hang while enjoying a freshly made craft beer. Added to the venue on Old School Console Night are stacks of TVs spread ...
The Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University presents some of the most delightful nights of intellectual curiosity in our city, and as we prepare to celebrate Black History Month, their January panel is sure to ignite a lot of minds as they look at a beloved but equally curious American historical leader. Thomas Jefferson — one of our nation’s most revered philosophers of the early republic’s Enlightenment ideals — was deeply involved in the nation’s original sin of slavery. History shows us that he was not only a slave owner, but modern DNA testing ...
As social media luster starts to fade with each breach of privacy, meetups, on the other hand, are roaring back in style (much like podcasts did). And while some may say they never went away, their power, importance, and meaning for our culture can be a healing force in a social media landscape in rapid decline as civility dies within our favorite digital spaces. And since it is very cold outside and, if you are like me, then we all are in search of the warmth of good community interaction that isn’t digitally driven, but reaches back into our analog traditions. One such meetup ...
It is Friday night. The temps are falling but you are not sure where to go.
If this is your predicament, then the best advice to beat the winter doldrums that keep many warm and couch-locked on a Friday night is to venture down to the North Monroe Neighborhood for the city’s best long-running dance party, Control
, on the tiniest dance floor in the city. The tunes are always hot as DJ Colin Clive (of Mustard Plug) turns up the heat as you sweat away from the troubles of the week. So if you are tired of freezing, then this Friday night, call a Lyft and head to Control Dance Party at ...
The city has no shortage of spaces for artists to showcase their works. One of the most reliable of venues over the history of contemporary art for creators to have their works seen has always been the local coffee shop.
On Saturday night, art lovers with a passion for remix culture and video game design will have a chance to meet artist Sita Navas
at her reception at the popular Grandville Ave. coffee shop, Mayan Buzz Cafe. The coffee shop already has a solid reputation for its bold, flavorful brews and will seek to build upon that reputation with an equally strong showcase when this Tucson, ...
When it comes time to celebrate the anniversary and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a lot of area organizations host some tribute to the slain civil rights leaders who not only advocated for racial equity for African-Americans, but also spoke out against war, housing discrimination, and poverty. Locally, three of our education institutions, Davenport University, Grand Rapids Community College, and Grand Valley State University have harnessed their power to welcome guest lecturer Dr. David Stovall to Grand Rapids. Dr. Stovall is a professor of African-American Studies and Criminology, ...
It has been nearly three years since a group of Native Americans set up a camp in North Dakota at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation to begin what would become one of the greatest acts of resistance seen this century. This very grassroots movement organized under the hashtag of #NODAPL sought to halt The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) from being constructed by the Canada Energy Transfer Partners. And while the battle would be lost once President Trump took office, reversing President Obama and our U.S. Corps of Engineers’ denial of the easement needed for construction of the pipeline ...
January is a great time to visit the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and it is not just because of the art that adorns the walls.
This is the time of the year when they begin to welcome a series of programs like the 20th Anniversary of the Animation Show of Shows
. Locally, most of our experiences with this art form are via the popular long-form films that dot area movie screens, ranging from cute kids films to complete reboots of popular action hero series. Instead, with The Animation Show of Shows, locals are treated to a thrilling and inventive showcase of 15 thought-provoking, ...