G-Sync

DisArt Festival may have closed its inaugural 2015 event, which consisted of multiple venues showcasing world renowned artists all over downtown, but since then the popular new festival has been hosting a series of one-off events aimed at advancing its mission “to change perceptions about disability, one work of art at a time.” On Wednesday night is a chance to attend a special DisArt Grand Rapids exclusive film premier event as DisArt welcomes “Life, Animated” — a real life story about a boy with autism and the fascinating journey he takes his family and others ...
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Spelling Bee(r): Adult fun with consonants and vowels

Thursday, July 21, 6 p.m. registration, 8 p.m. the bee begins
What happens when you take our local craft brew culture and marry it to the energy often exhibited in television ratings’ darling storytelling-while-intoxicated programming like "Drunk History?" Well, you create a space for the second annual Spelling Bee(r) to appear. Taking its cue from a rash of other popular events that were once reserved solely for the classroom, drunk spelling bees are popping up around the country. The BOB, in partnership with Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) and DrinkGR, invite folks to come downtown on Thursday to experience this hilarious and fun ...
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While we have already reported on the impressive lineup of acts this summer season taking to the stage at the 8th annual GRAM on the Green summer concert series, this one is truly unique from all the others for a host of reasons. For starters, it is a chance to witness the impressive sonic stylings of former-Grand Rapidian DJ Superdre, who has changed so much of our nightlife culture – and this special event at the GRAM enables her to try something new as she welcomes artist and LazerBoyz member AJPASCHKA to the patio stage. In addition to this night being devoted to the rhythmically ...
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Modeled on the principals of The Public Theater’s summer NYC series, Shakespeare in the Park, our local Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company is returning again to Grand Rapids’ Riverside Park on the northeast part of the city to perform William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors.” This public event, which is free to the public, is the dramatic telling of one of the Bard’s earliest comedic works about mistaken identities. The play centers on the two sets of identical twins who are separated as infants. The first set of twins, both named Antipholus, are masters ...
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As one who has traveled and seen much of the world, I have always been a fan of those venues who find space in their business model to invite fresh activities to “pop-up” when their space is typically closed/inactive. We see this in places like New York, where promoters take over a bar and, in doing so, transform it from one type of venue into another as they temporarily re-tool the space for their special night’s presentation. We’ve even witnessed a touch of this years ago when BurritoTown set up space within Bartertown, offering a healthy and kind menu in contrast to ...
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If you have often felt that the dating habits of those on stage were oddly out of sync, then your thoroughly modern musical about hooking up, complete with Google background checks and the use of fake emergency cellphone numbers, has landed locally on stage here by way of Broadway and Seattle where it first premiered. “First Date” is fast-paced 90-minute musical performed without an intermission that tells the story of an investment banker and an artist out on a blind date. The cleverness of this production is the story reveals itself in real time as the audience realizes that ...
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It is hard to imagine that New Belgium Brewing, a certified B-Corp company, as well as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work, will be celebrating their 25th anniversary this year with a lot of celebrations including a special 12-pack of beers brewed in collaboration with other small breweries around the U.S.  They are also returning to the banks of the Grand River’s Ah-Nab-Awen Park for their annual Clips Beer & Film Tour on Friday, July 15. This free event is switching things up this time as they feature not just their classic format of short films but this year they ...
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Not busy on Saturday and looking for some new reading material that is faster to read than, say, “Ulysses?” Well, lucky you because the annual Grand Rapids Zine Fest is rolling back into the city this weekend at KCAD’s The Fed Galleries. This is a perfect event for those who love beautiful small, intimate works of literature with a nice touch of DIY art. The local organizers have produced a handy link to a useful guide on what is a zine (pronounced “zeen,” as in “magazine”) and describe it “as a self-published, small circulation, ...
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Mixed Roots Collective's THE TALK: Art helps us understand race, family

Limited Run Workshop Performance, Wednesday - Saturday, July 20 - 23, 8 p.m.
Summer is often a time when people flock to the theatre for a chance for a little escapism. But not everyone is keen on “Cats” so it is nice to have choices locally. Mixed Roots Collective, with assistance from Actors’ Theatre of Grand Rapids, are co-producing a brand new locally written play about being black in our city and how to have these conversations with our kids. In short, this play’s arrival comes at a time when many of our headlines reflect much of what is happening within this production, making its timing downright eerie. And this is where the timing is ...
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What began as an idea developed after a conversation Northview Public Schools’ Mark Lago had with one of his sixth grade students, who at the time was in the early stages of leukemia (and is now in remission), became the seed that would debut at GR8bit Live! in 2013. Born out of the student’s sharing about the lack of available video game consoles for kids in treatment led to GR8bit Live!’s mission to provide new gaming equipment for The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. And while the event has changed a lot over the years, each new edition of GR8bit Live! brings new ...
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This holiday weekend, why not consider a short drive to the lakeshore community of Muskegon to attend the annual Lakeshore Art Festival, which has been named by Sunshine Artist Magazine as one of the top 200 events in the country to visit. This festival is home to a juried fine art show, craft fair, artisan food market, children’s activities, interactive art, and performing arts/entertainment. And while more than 250 exhibitors will be waiting for the expected 50,000 visitors expected to descend upon this community over their two-day event, it is also an opportunity to secure a new book ...
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If you are seeking two great ideas to celebrate your nation’s birthday in the city this Fourth of July, then I’d stress that you cannot miss the Amway Family Fireworks held on the riverbank of downtown, nor the whimsical Hollyhock Lane Parade (Calvin Ave. at Franklin Street SE). When the Amway Family Fireworks return on Saturday, July 2, to light the deep blue skies of twilight, they promise to be even bigger and better than any year prior. Those hoping to garner a picture perfect view had better head down early to grab a seat on the grassy knolls of Ah-Nab-Awen Park situated ...
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There are plenty of moments as a child to wear a mask and a cape in your own home as you play superhero dress-up party, but as adults those opportunities dwindle with each passing year, unless you are lucky to named Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot or Robert Downey, Jr. That is, until Thursday night, when New Belgium Brewing Company, which is turning 25 this year, will be hosting a Super Friends Bike Ride starting at Creston’s Reservoir Lounge. This community-building cycling event is in part an opportunity to not just dress up as your favorite superhero, but a chance to sample their latest ...
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Much has been written about Equity Drinks in Rapid Growth, but one area often not talked about is the power of art to take complex topics and present them in a meaningful fashion for attendees of this social justice club that has rocked the city with its willingness to address difficult conversations. To equate Equity Drinks as simply a happy hour celebration would be wrong because, in addition to these social gatherings, they have hosted speaker series to community conversations with leaders in our community, including the Grand Rapids Police Chief David Rahinsky. It has evolved to include ...
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Four years ago, Erick Picardo — a local musician and fine art painter of Caribbean descent — had a vision to create within our city a new platform where we could publicly recognize the contributions of our local Latin American artists and musicians as we collectively celebrate their impact on our city’s culture. In 2012, Picardo, a founding member of the Caribbean Coalition for the Arts & Culture (CCAC) — a local collaboration group for our area's Caribbean business and friends — paved the way for this awards show and other cultural events devoted to ...
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What is to be learned from holding a neighborhood garden tour for 22 years?  Well, for starters, if you stick it out long enough, suddenly your event can grow like the plants in my backyard garden are doing this year, as this level of new growth is simply breath-taking.  For what could have been just another year of garden touring, this year’s 23rd edition of the free Ottawa Hills Garden Tour has nearly doubled in size, rising up from a more traditional 16 total gardens in 2015 to a jaw-dropping 31 gardens to visit on Saturday. But the upgrades did not stop there, as this event ...
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If you have ever been a traveler and wanted to connect with your destination’s music scene, often you had to stop at a local coffee shop to pick up an arts newspaper and quickly scan the pages for an act that caught your eye. From there you would bypass analog in that classic modern form as you reach for your handheld device to take a quick spin on the world wide web to discover a track listing of the act you were seeking to catch or connect with while in the city. Headphones on, you press play and often press the “advance” button while you wait to make the connection. This ...
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What was to be just another Grand Rapids Pride celebration took a somber turn this year as local officials, event organizers and attendees are having to process the deadliest mass shooting in American history. Forty-nine members of the LGBT community and their friends were massacred at the Orlando Pulse nightclub during the early hours of June 12 as people mainly of color were gathered to dance at a special Latino music night. Nothing could be more chilling than to witness such a bloody event during a month set aside to commemorate the advances of LGBT rights in the U.S. and around the world. ...
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A play first staged in 1777 is making its way to Grand Rapids, and let’s just say that whoever thought history changes us has a lesson to be learned from this Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company (PCSC) production. “The School for Scandal” is a restoration period piece complete with costuming echoing the era but hitting on the topics that are still just as contemporary as when author Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s penned this comedy of errors. Because of PCSC’s choice of this venue and its spartan cast, audience members are immersed in a theatrical experience you cannot ...
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It is hard to imagine when the faithful by the thousands return each year to celebrate the annual Founders Fest — a street festival devoted to music and beer held in front of the brewery’s ever-expanding downtown Grand Rapids location — that it has only been 21 years since home brewers Mike Stevens and Dave Engbers formalized their love of beer and took the first steps to form their company under the (then) name Canal Street Brewing Co. For the ninth annual Founders Fest, you can expect the same classic mix of solid beers, including many specialty taps pouring one-offs and ...
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If you had told me when I was at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 that the man peddling a hotel screening of a musical film about an American cannibal would not only go on to create the “The Book of Mormon,” which would win an armful of Tony Awards and become the first great musical of this new century, I would have laughed. Funny how time flies, but even more important is what we do with that time, as evident now as this still hard-to-score (on Broadway) smash “Book of Mormon” rolls into Grand Rapids for six days of performances. Trey Parker (“Cannibal! The ...
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Summer in the city brings lots of opportunities, and one of my favorite trifecta moments is the combination of music, food with cold beverages, and a nice bike ride. All three come together this weekend when The Spoke Folks, the area’s go-to bike non-profit co-op, spills out into the street in front of their warehouse to host the return of Crank. The Spoke Folks, whose mission is to increase and sustain bicycle ridership in the West Michigan area and beyond, hosts Crank as a way to increase the camaraderie and access to the joys of urban cycling. This year Crank, which is always free ...
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What better way to meet new friends, break down those old paths in our contact book, and help our city parks than visiting Friends of Grand Rapids Parks' (FGRP) newest summer community engagement program, BBQ & Beautify. The event kicks off at 5 p.m. at Garfield Park with volunteers conducting a park project together for the first 90 minutes, followed by a community dinner commencing immediately after. No worries if you are not sure how to perform garden work, as volunteers from the FGRP will be on hand to instruct neighbors how to conduct these simple tasks that create lasting ...
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LINC has really upped the ante this year on the popular annual Rock The Block (RTB) street party by welcoming not just the major headliner to the outdoor stage but later inviting those members of the community 21 and older to attend a post-RTB after party with Dead Prez, whose second show will be staged inside their Linc Up space at 341 Hall St. SE. This community-focused event in the past attracted more 8,000 attendees in 2015 with a special impromptu visit by Grand Rapids’ own 12-time champion boxer Floyd Mayweather. The day is a great way to engage with diverse members of our city ...
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Trying to wrestle all the events happening at Rumsey St. Bazaar into this tiny space would be like trying to cram, as Dolly Parton once said after a wardrobe malfunction, “50 pounds of mud in a five-pound bag.” Now my use of word “mud” is not to imply dirty, but rather that this new event is really an incredible offering for our community no matter when you choose to intersect with the vast array of activities that are geared towards families during the day and adults at night. So in the interest of keeping this neatly packed for your consumption here is the skinny on ...
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While your friends are heading to the lakeshore to soak up the sun this Friday, the weatherman has some other plans in store for them as thunderstorms are predicted to dampen their best laid plans. Lucky for those who chose to stay in the 616, there are plenty of things still to do when the city empties, like attend a special evening of roller skating at the Natural Night Out Summer Skating Party at the Kentwood Fun Spot. And while fashion mines from all eras nearly all the time these days, I am happy to see another trend in resurgence as natural hair culture within the African American ...
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Grand Rapids theatre lovers will need to be prepared to check everything they think they know about musicals when our local Civic Theatre presents “Caroline or Change.” On the surface it all seems approachable as the story opens up on a home in Lake Charles, Louisiana and is jam-packed with a veritable “greatest hits”of musical styles that winds seamlessly throughout touching on the blues, spirituals, early Motown, classical, folk, and Jewish klezmer music. It all seems quite normal until you realize that in addition to the fine cast of locals tackling this work ...
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What is there to say about a 47-year old three-day event that lands in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids the first weekend of June and features an ever-diverse offering of performance-based art reflecting our rich culture and served up alongside hefty portions of food prepared by area nonprofits and church groups? Well, honestly, there is a lot that needs to be highlighted this year that, while it may not directly impact you or even tickle your fancy, include additions which are remarkable and welcome. For starters, in Festival’s bid to evolve in our accelerating handheld culture comes ...
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One of the biggest comments I hear about Festival is that folks wish they served beer. We do call ourselves Beer City, USA, right. I know, I know, I scratch my head as well over this glaring omission and missed opportunity to secure another fundraising stream for their all-volunteer event. This is not the case at the family-friendly Local First Street Party presented by Founders Brewing Co., which continues to blend the arts with our home town eats and brews to create a jubilant 13th year with plenty to offer everyone. Local First’s Street Party has a much smaller footprint (but is ...
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It is rare that the opening act gets interviewed, but it is also rare for an opening act to have such a leadership role in the cultivation of our local music scene. While some bands could let ego get in the way, Valentiger — a local favorite rock and roll trio — does nothing of the sort. As the band’s Scott Rider reveals his insights on the show, all I am able to detect is pure excitement for his chance to be on the same ticket as The Howlers and The Go Rounds. “It is rare that three similar rock acts, like we see on The Pyramid Scheme’s Local Music Showcase 7, ...
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Most museums are often places where commonly you can discover people shuffling around from artwork to artwork with arms clasped behind their backs as they quietly take in the view.  Some pause, some openly with gasp at the shock of the new, but, occasionally, like this Saturday at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM), a few may even coo. The reason? On Saturday morning from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. the museum presents a special art viewing event devoted to exclusively to those young children in strollers, babybjorns, and/or held by hand as they take their first of a lifetime of steps. The GRAM, ...
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I can still remember the excitement of seeing one of the first shows of our local Grand Rapids Women’s Chorus when they debuted on stage downtown. And here’s the thing, 20 years later they are still inspiring audiences both here and around the world. Sure, they are our own, but over their 20 years they have been able to showcase voices from others who have joined them on stage from far off lands, as well as invited to perform outside our region. For their 20th anniversary showcase performance at the East Grand Rapids Performing Arts Center they are embracing a music program ...
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Based on the wildly popular CicLAvia, which is in turn inspired by Bogota’s “Open Streets” festivals that are more than 40 years old, Open Street Sunday arrives in Grand Rapids on Sunday, May 22 on Ionia Avenue. And while CicLAvia recently celebrated its 17th year this May with a 19 -strip of nonlinear roads held in the southeastern Los Angeles neighborhoods, when we kick off our version with a much smaller footprint on Sunday, cars, cabbies, and motorcycles will be banned on the popular Ionia Avenue (between Fulton and Cherry) to make room for bicyclists, long boarders, ...
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The mind of any artist is a strange universe with a landscape we are only just beginning to understand, but if there were one playwright with whom we know already there are no limits, I would dare say Christopher Durang would be at the top of my list. Not only has he been afforded nearly four decades of creating more than 20 distinct work with two periods of proficiency with a very brief period of not being in fashion. But he never appears to repeat himself as he traverses themes ranging from works inspired by classic literature that always deliver with a twist on the subject, whether it is ...
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Let’s not make the mistake of confusing “Stealing the Show” with the popular reality TV show of the same name. “Stealing the Show” is the literary work of scholar Miriam Petty, an assistant professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film and African American Studies at Northwestern University, who will be a guest of Mosaic Film Experience and the West Michigan Film and Video Alliance. The book is the basis for this insightful lecture on the history and way race was presented in Hollywood and the genre of American film during the 1930s. Petty takes the ...
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Call it a practice run for what is to come in the following weeks as June arrives, ushering in my favorite time of the year as folks pack up their bikes, cars, and even surf boards and head out of town. And while Saturday’s YOLO (You Only Live Once) ride is a half-day affair, its mission is to get you ready to roll this summer on any one of the number of trails or roadways that take us out of the city to enjoy the joys of Michigan’s warm season. Billed by She Rides Her Own Way as the first big, kick-off community ride of 2016, organizer Johanna Jelks hopes that this event will ...
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I have always felt sorry for Amy Winehouse fans, who never really got a proper tribute response like other musicians have received of late with Prince and David Bowie’s passing. But when you hear Jade & the Jones Fellas — a Michigan-based Amy Winehouse tribute band — you will be hard pressed not to feel a tiny bit nostalgic for the book of music she left behind that is on stage at Billy’s on Saturday night. Billed as the Soaked in Soul concert, Jade & the Jones Fellas will be diving into the songbook of music written by or made popular through the vocal ...
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I’ll believe it when I see it, but it appears that this Thursday night and over the next three weeks the internet of kittens might actually break when Grand Rapids’ Circle Theatre debuts its 2016 season opener, Cats. According to Circle, Cats will debut on stage for the first time at Circle and was the clear winner with audience members who selected Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of  T.S. Eliot’s literary gem, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, as their favorite. This is the fifth year the theatre asked the membership what they want to see on stage, and by all ...
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It is wonderful to be finally writing about an event that we can enjoy downtown because it is actually warming up and, most of all, due to its focus on the fine art of relaxing. Following in the footsteps of other music series that have appeared in downtown over the years, Relax at Rosa — a nearly five-month’s worth of live entertainment programming occurring every Thursday during the summer of 2016 — is about to launch in the heart of downtown at Rosa Parks Circle. Kicking off the series is Cabildo, who will be followed weekly by diverse musical acts like Kent County ...
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A sure sign that the city is growing is its ability to support a diverse array of activities, and having a thriving soccer (futbol) club in your city is a sure sign that the growth is happening. On Friday night the feverish and feisty soccer fans of our region will descend upon the Midtown neighborhood’s Houseman Field to kick off their 2016 season with their first home game. This year, our two-year-old Grand Rapids FC kicks off a home field match against another local team, the 2006-formed OLE SC. What should make this match a lot of fun for the fans will be OLE SC style of soccer. OLE ...
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A few years ago Rapid Growth sat down with the John Ball Zoo to hear how our local zoo was responding to all changes happening around the conversations with folks asking if the zoo still mattered in society. (The answer in our opinion is still a resounding “Yes!”) Returning to John Ball Zoo is the annual Party for the Planet — a daylong festival that tips its hat to Earth Day as it focuses on the way that our local organizations are enabling positive methodologies in the conservation of our natural wildlife within our planet’s environment. Party for the Planet is a ...
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Today Grand Rapids can eat out and do some good while adding to their dining tab as the Grand Rapids Red Project participates once again in the international fundraising event raising event Dining Out For Life. What make this international event stand out is not just the love our local restaurants offer to the event by hosting it, but the dollars raised will help our local HIV/AIDS service organization, Grand Rapids Red Project, continue to perform the vital role it plays in our city. Dining Out For Life was created in 1991 by an ActionAIDS volunteer in Philadelphia and has since grown to be ...
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The last year has definitely been an up and down year for the nation’s LGBT community. These highs are illustrated through the many happy faces of couples now heading to the courthouse boasting a blip to the oft touted “marriage is a dead institution” to the lows of North Carolina’s recent gay-panic as legislators removed all LGBT protections for the entire state’s cities simply because they freaked out that a transgender person might use their public restrooms based on their gender identity. It has been a wild ride, and this year’s spring concert with the ...
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After your Sunday lunch has settled, get up off that couch and travel to Schuler Books, where locals will be gathering to celebrate the release of “The Least Likely to Succeed: Jack Clifford and the Food Network.” Clifford — a former student of Ottawa Hills High School and a graduate of Western Michigan University — went on to create the wildly popular Food Network cable channel. “The Least Likely to Succeed” looks at the obstacles Clifford soared past on his way to success. But, he did not stop there with the accumulation of wealth, and he has instilled, ...
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Note: This event is taking place on Thursday, May 5 at 7pm. You have to admit you are just a little bit curious to meet the man that Writer’s Digest recently named as the number two writer — dead or alive — that they’d love to have drinks with, who landed just behind Ernest Hemingway and ahead of Hunter S. Thompson. And while these other esteemed authors have long passed, this number two choice, Wade Rouse, a Michigan humorist, will be in Grand Rapids for special reading of his latest release. But unlike his previous memoir works, like Confessions of a Prep School Mommy ...
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It is no secret to those who work closely with the environment that the path going forward has to be one where we are committed to achieving a critical balance.  On Friday, the Wege Lunch and Learn Speaker Series at the Grand Rapids Brewing Company will feature one person who is craving the critical balance needed between fossil fuel enthusiasts and the needs of the land: Crystal Lameman — Canada’s Intergovernmental Affairs and Industry Relations Treaty Coordinator and Communications Manager. Lameman, a member of Canada’s Beaver Lake Cree, has evoked the indigenous rights ...
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It is hard to imagine Grand Rapids’ live music scene before The Pyramid Scheme. Sure, we all have our favorite concert stories created from any number of the many venues big and small in our region. However, given the enormity of the music, comedy, and theatrical acts I have seen at the Pyramid Scheme, I literally cannot image downtown without this addition. So, what better way to celebrate year five than with a Friday night Local Pop Up Showcase — billed as part one of the two nights of celebrations they have on tap for you this weekend. Friday night’s festive line up ...
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Last year in June, our local biking enthusiast nonprofit committed to providing workable bikes to all who want them, The Spoke Folks, found itself in an odd position. In a shop on the westside of Grand Rapids, this tiny bike shop that prides itself on helping people connect with a workable bike and at the right price suddenly was without bikes. All the bikes that they prepped for the summer of 2015 were suddenly sold out by the end of June. As they scrambled to find folks to donate old bikes, they only were able to sell 132 by the end of last year, with lots of folks waiting and wanting. This ...
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Last week Rapid Growth attended the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce annual awards gala and was so excited over one winner that the howling from Tommy was clear that he approved of the choice for Hispanic Businessperson off the Year. Receiving the award this year was Gricelda Mata for her work with Lindo Mexico Restaurant. Not only had Mata navigated a huge move to a brand new space with plenty of upgrades just down the street and west of their old venue, but she has continued to deliver on her promise to deliver fresh, familia-recipes from her kitchen to your table. Each bite is a ...
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The boys club of cycling is becoming a thing of the past, and one reason is because groups like She Rides Her Own Way (SRHOW) are taking the handlebars to help steer dialogue on a host of topics via the many networking events they host in our community. SRHOW, which provides year-round riding opportunities aimed at women, have hosted group rides meant to connect and raise the visibility of women as cyclists. Returning for the second year in a row is SRHOW’s Ride Like a Girl - a Women & Bike speaker series. “Our speaker series event was originally inspired to develop a ...
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