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The Life & Times of Vandenberg Furniture

Two Fellas Keeps It Simple

August 2017

Front Yard Farmers

Beautiful & bountiful gardens through permaculture

Researcher Records Wartime Stories

Meet Mark Couch

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

up front encore


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“Ben was 8 when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. At first we tried to manage it through diet, but by fifth grade his weight had dropped to only 40 pounds and he wasn’t growing. It was a pretty scary time. Since he started going to Bronson Children’s Hospital, he’s doing so much better. It took a while to get things under control, but Ben is putting on weight, he’s growing again and his energy levels are up. We are so lucky to have a doctor who specializes in Ben’s condition right here in Kalamazoo. It means he can get the treatment he needs and doesn’t have to miss school or extracurricular activities. He’s able to be a kid again.” Shelly, Ben’s mom, Mattawan, Michigan

To watch Ben’s story and learn more about the region’s only children’s hospital, visit bronsonpositivity.com/children.

Editor's note encore

From the Editor W

e often say that Encore Magazine celebrates the good things and people in our corner of Michigan, and this issue is no exception. From permaculture gardens to volunteers to tater tots — yes, tater tots — this month’s Encore gives you a lot to feel good about. An inspiring and informative article on permaculture gardening explores edible and beautiful landscapes created by local gardeners. If you didn’t think gardening could be fun (and delicious), spending some time with Mike Hoag and Kim Willis might change your mind. We also honor the Southwest Michigan chapter of the American Red Cross’ 100th birthday by talking with some of the local folks who volunteer with the organization. You may not know that 98 percent of the Red Cross’ efforts involve volunteers and that these helpful and hardy individuals come from across the age spectrum, from college students to parents to retirees. Speaking of college students, we explore a local eatery that is beloved by many of them and is catching on with other locals as well. At the heart of this eatery’s menu are tater tots. Two Fellas has brought those little potato nuggets back to the fore, featuring them in many of its creative wrap sandwiches. Finally, we look at two folks who are making a difference in different ways: Noriko Sugimori’s linguistic research has opened new ways of using technology in oral history and teaching Japanese, while Pastor Mark Couch’s Solid Ground Ministries is reaching out to people of all faiths and cultures. Take a moment to meet all these wonderful people and learn about what they are doing to make Southwest Michigan a place to love and celebrate.

Marie Lee

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FEATURE Front Yard Farmers

Permaculture advocates create edible landscapes and a bountiful life


DEPARTMENTS 4 From the Editor Contributors 7 8 First Things Happenings in SW Michigan 12 Up Front Wartime Memories — K-College prof’s linguistic research breaks new ground


Good Works





Disasters to Blood Drives — Local volunteers have fueled Red Cross’ efforts for 100 years

Late-night Comfort Food — Two Fellas’ tasty creations a hit with students and others

‘A Different Kind of Customer’ — Vandenberg Furniture survives and thrives in a big-box world

38 Back Story

Meet Mark Couch — He’s using his ministry to bring cultures and religions together

ARTS 30 Events of Note On the cover: Kim Willis and Mike Hoag of Lillie House Permaculture in their lush and edible yard. Photo by Brian Powers.

35 Poetry

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Two Fellas Keeps It Simple

Researcher Records Wartime Stories

August 2017

Meet Mark Couch

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

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Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2017, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to:

www.encorekalamazoo.com 117 W. Cedar St. Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax: (269) 383-9767 Email: Publisher@encorekalamazoo.com The staff at Encore welcomes written comment from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, visit encorekalamazoo.com. Encore subscription rates: one year $36, two years $70. Current single issue and newsstand $4, $10 by mail. Back issues $6, $12 by mail. Advertising rates on request. Closing date for space is 28 days prior to publication date. Final date for print-ready copy is 21 days prior to publication date. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by those interviewed and published here do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Encore Magazine or the official policies, owners or employees of Encore Publications.

encore Contributors

Olga Bonfiglio

Kara Norman

Adam Rayes

Robert M. Weir

A frequent contributor to Encore, Olga brings us a story this month on Noriko Sugimori, whose linguistic research turned into a valuable oral history project that has had far-reaching effects. Olga, a freelance writer and frequent traveler, recently took a position in LePuy, France, overseeing operations for the programs at the Centre International St. Joseph. The center, according to its website, aims to promote collaboration and communion among all the congregations of the Sisters of St. Joseph, their associates and lay partners in creating a community based on “the values of right relationship with God, with others, and with the planet.”

Adam, who is working as an intern at Encore Publications, contributed three stories to this issue: a feature on one of the area’s oldest businesses, Vandenberg Furniture; a delicious story on one of Kalamazoo’s more unusual restaurants, Two Fellas Grill; and a profile on Pastor Mark Couch, whose multicultural and refugee outreach aims to unify and enlighten the community. Adam is a native of Monroe and is majoring in journalism at Western Michigan University.

For this month’s issue, Kara interviewed some extraordinary people who volunteer for the Southwest Michigan chapter of the American Red Cross. Hearing their stories was truly transformative, she says. Speaking of transformation, she also had the pleasure of visiting Kzoo Makers, the new makerspace in town, after writing about efforts to bring one to town in the February 2016 issue of Encore. Kara lives in Kalamazoo, where she listens to podcasts, reads outdated decorating books and follows the whims of her delightful 3-year-old, who, she says, currently runs her life. For more of Kara’s work, visit her website: karanorman.com.

Robert usually finds that researching and writing an article satisfies his curiosity about a subject, but, occasionally, crafting an article also leads him to new intriguing information. For Robert, writing about permaculture for this issue did both. He had become curious about the term “permaculture,” he says, and then, while interviewing the subject experts Mike Hoag and Kim Willis was impressed by their vast knowledge and genuine down-to-earth enthusiasm for their chosen way of living in harmony with the world. You can read more of Robert’s writing at robertmweir.com.

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First Things encore

First Things Something Musical

Get your concert fix at Bronson Park From

bluegrass to funk and a few genres in between, the August lineup of Concerts in the Park promises something for just about every music lover. These free concerts, presented by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, bring musical performers to Bronson Park, in downtown Kalamazoo, on Sundays throughout the summer. The concerts begin at 4 p.m. The lineup for this month is: • Keith Hall & Nashon Holloway, funk, soul and R&B, Aug. 6. • Sidewalk Chalk, Chicago-based hip-hop, funk and jazz band, Aug. 13. • Schlitz Creek, bluegrass band, Aug. 20. • Kalamazoo Children's Chorus and Community Arts Awards, Aug. 27. For more information, visit kalamazooarts.org.

Sidewalk Chalk

Something Good

Concert benefits Crayons4Kids Kalamazoo-born,

Chicago-based group The Nashon Holloway Band brings its funk, soul and blues sounds to Homer Stryker Field as the featured act in the annual Crayons4Kids benefit concert. The concert begins at 3 p.m. Aug. 20 and will also include The Tom Toms, a rock band from Flint. In addition to music, this family-friendly event also features food, beer, a silent auction and a variety of kids’ activities, including a bounce house, zip line and face painting. All proceeds benefit Crayons4Kids’ efforts to provide hospitalized children with games, art materials, instruments and electronics to improve their hospital stay. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. The gates open at 2 p.m., and attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets to watch the concert, since seating will be on the field, not in the stands. For more information or to buy tickets, visit crayons4kids.org or call 806-0037.

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The Nashon Halloway Band

encore First Things

Something Creative Be inspired by PalletPalooza

Turns out wood pallets are useful for more than just shipping products, and Goodwill Industries will show us just how useful at its PalletPalooza Day, from 2–6 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Western Michigan University Student Recreation Center. PalletPalooza Day is the culminating event of a competition in which creative folks submit their creations of art, furniture and more made from recycled pallets. The event will feature a chance to view all the entries in the competition as well as enjoy live music by Vinyl Tap, door prizes, craft and vendor booths and children’s activities. The winners in each category and a grand-prize winner will be announced at 5:30 p.m. For more information or to see winners from last year’s competition, visit palletswmi.com.

Something Theatrical

See Rent on Barn Theatre stage The Barn Theatre wraps up its summer season with a performance of the thought-provoking musical Rent, Aug. 22– Sept. 3. The show’s music and story of a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side under the shadow of AIDS still resonates two decades after the musical’s Broadway debut. A fun side note: The Pulitizer Prize- and Tony Award-winning show was created by Jonathan Larson, who was an apprentice at the Barn Theatre during the summers of 1980 and ’81. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday and 5 p.m. Sundays, Aug. 22–Sept. 3. Tickets are $37 and can be purchased online or at the Barn Theatre, located at 13351 West M-96, in Augusta. For tickets or more information, visit barntheatreschool.org or call 731-4121.

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First Things encore

Something Festive

Kalamazoo County Fair returns Elephant ear, anyone?

With carnival rides, games, animals, 4-H exhibits and, of course, food, the Kalamazoo County Fair creates a festive atmosphere from Aug. 8–12 at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center and Fairground, 2900 Lake St. The fair is especially fun for kids. More than 400 farm animals will be on display, and each day will have a special theme and giveaways. Admission to the fair is $6 for adults and teens 13 and older, $2 for children ages 6—12 and free for children 5 and younger. Wristbands for the carnival rides are $10 until Aug. 7 at area Harding's stores and the Kalamazoo County Parks Office or $15 if bought at the fairgrounds. For information, visit kalcounty.com/parks/fair or call 383-8778.

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encore First Things

Something Dirty Get messy at Mudfest

Want to have some wild fun with your family, get a little bit messy and learn at the same time? Of course, you do! So check out Mudfest from noon–5 p.m. Aug. 27 at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave. The event, for those in fourth grade and older, will let participants dig into a giant mud pit, zoom down a giant Slip ’N Slide, play in the Natural Play Area, enjoy learning stations and, if they’re brave, give the zip line a try. Make sure to wear close-toed shoes and clothes you’re OK with getting really dirty. The cost for the event is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children ages 4–17 and free for children 3 and younger and KNC members. For more information, visit naturecenter.org or call 381-1574.

Something Upbeat

Bell’s hosts The New Pornographers The Canadian indie group The New Pornographers will bring its nearly two decades of power synth-pop to Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Aug. 17. The band, whose music has been described as “peppy” and whose harmonies have been called “closely blended” by Pitchfork, is touring to promote its seventh album, Whiteout Conditions, and will perform on the Bell’s Beer Garden stage. Ought, a post-punk band from Montreal, will open for The New Pornographers. Tickets are $35 in advance or $38 at the door. For tickets or more information, visit bellsbeer.com or call 382-2332. The New Pornographers

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up front encore

Wartime Memories

K-College prof’s language research breaks new ground by

Olga Bonfiglio


Noriko Sugimori speaks about her research at the 2016 inauguration of Kalamazoo College President Jorge Gonzalez. Photo: Kalamazoo College/John Lacko.

12 | Encore AUGUST 2017

ack in 2000, when Kalamazoo College linguist Noriko Sugimori was a graduate student at Boston University studying Japanese honorifics for her doctoral research, she had no idea she’d embark on an oral history project that would open unexpected doors to innovation in research, teaching and the use of technology. Honorifics, which are used to address or refer to people, show the degree of intimacy between people. The suffix “san,” for example, is commonly used after a person’s name and is a title of respect akin to using "Mr.," "Miss," "Ms." or "Mrs." in English. Sugimori, who is a native of Japan, was examining honorifics used by the media and individuals for the Japanese emperor and his family during World War II. She collected and examined newspaper articles about the emperor’s birthday and the media’s editorial policies. She also conducted and recorded interviews with occupation censors and 62 Japanese civilians born before 1932. Her research showed a dramatic increase in the frequency of imperial honorifics from 1928 to the end of World War II in 1945. She also discovered that the news media and military promoted this use of honorifics in order to gain civilian support during the war. “The emperor was seen as a divine entity, above human beings,” says Sugimori. “The government even kept him from speaking to the public in order to emphasize his divine nature. Only at the time of Japan’s surrender did the Japanese people hear his voice for the first time.” One aspect of honoring the emperor came in the form of laws forbidding lèse-majesté, which is the crime of violating the dignity of a reigning sovereign or a state. “There were strict laws against lèse-majesté,” Sugimori says, “and the people acted in extreme ways.” For example, people avoided stepping on newspapers because they could be arrested for violating lèse-majesté if there were articles in the papers about the emperor. Some people avoided reading newspapers altogether because of these fears. “There is an explanation for this extreme behavior,” says Sugimori. “Soldiers were taught to fight to the death for Japan, and this patriotism spilled over to civilians.” One woman Sugimori interviewed talked about the experience of her high school class’s visit to a shrine in

encore Up Front

See the interviews To view Sugimori’s work on the Oral History in the Liberal Arts site, visit ohla.info/?s=sugimori+.

Noriko Sugimori, back, works with Kalamazoo College students, from left, Min Soo Kim and Richard Kim, on the translations of her oral history interviews. Photo: Kalamazoo College/Andrew Brown.

Kobe, Japan, to offer prayer for Japan’s victory in the war. She had to climb a long, wide stairway with her principal. He walked up the side of the stairs while she walked up the middle. She had violated lèsemajesté because only the emperor was allowed to use the middle of the stairs. “She didn’t know this was important,” says Sugimori, “and even though she was not punished, she had a lingering fear over it for many years. Only when the emperor denounced his divinity in January 1946 did she feel any relief.” So strong was the fear of lèse-majesté that people actually committed suicide if they thought they had violated laws against it. Sugimori became an assistant professor of Japanese and East Asian studies at Kalamazoo College in 2009. After she finished her doctorate in 2010, she realized that in doing her research she had collected more than just information on honorifics. “In my doctoral research I looked for people who were willing to share their war (World War II) memories on honorifics but discovered that they really wanted to talk about their experiences of that time,” says Sugimori. “This was really the beginning of my post-doctoral research that eventually led to an oral history project about that period of time — and to a new way of gathering data.”

Initially, Sugimori interviewed people using audiotapes (it was 2000, after all). Then she adopted digital recordings. After arriving at Kalamazoo College, she had access to videotape equipment and began to use that for her interviews. But at a Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) conference in 2010, she learned about the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer, a new technology that would take her project to a new level. A web-based application, the OHMS is capable of transcribing recorded videos into Japanese text, which is simultaneously shown translated into English text. As a result, Sugimori is producing the world’s first bilingual oral history synchronizations in Japanese and English. “The GLCA changed everything for me,” she says. “I am now videotaping people who were teenagers during the war who are giving untold accounts of their experiences. These tapes can convey a whole different message to future generations about the war. This is considered a unique contribution to the linguistics field.” Sugimori says that the oral histories are also great tools to help students learn Japanese language, culture and history. “The videos and simultaneous translations have pedagogical implications for the students,” she says. “They get to see the respondent’s facial expressions, which provide much more information about what is being said in a cultural context. This goes way beyond them trying to learn the language from only grammar exercises. “The videotapes also enhance their understanding of history. Students don’t just learn political history. They learn social history, which reveals how people were affected by the political actors.” In 2015 Sugimori received a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to contribute her research to the Oral History in the Liberal Arts (OHLA) project for GLCA member colleges. Sugimori has even enlisted the help of her students to translate transcripts on the site. “I hope that my project will help people to visualize people's faces when they think about East Asian countries,” says Sugimori, who plans to complete the project in 2019. “I would like to convey my interviewees' hope for peace and the younger generations' efforts to convey their ideas to posterity.”

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Good Works encore

From disasters to blood drives

Volunteers have fueled Red Cross chapter’s efforts for 100 years by

Kara Norman


ost people know the American Red Cross for its blood drives and disaster relief around the world, but not everyone is aware that nearly all of the people working on those efforts are volunteers. The Southwest Michigan chapter of the Red Cross, which serves Kalamazoo County and eight surrounding counties, currently has just 12 paid staff members, meaning that 98 percent of the organization’s work is accomplished by its 470 volunteers. In October, the chapter will mark its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion, we interviewed a few of those volunteers, people drawn to the Red Cross’ various missions for pretty much the same reason: to help people whenever and however they can.

Nancy and Jim Kowalski


It’s mid-May, and retired Kalamazoo residents, American Red Cross volunteers and high school sweethearts Nancy and Jim Kowalski have spent the past two days not out walking their two golden retrievers or catching up on sleep, but responding to a plane crash — a simulated one, that is. The Kowalskis, who have volunteered for the American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan since 2004, were participating in a plane crash response drill with county fire departments at the Kalamazoo/ Battle Creek International Airport. The Kowalskis, who are prepared to respond to emergencies in the nine counties served by the area chapter, also work on the national level, serving on disaster-relief trips that last two weeks at a time.

14 | Encore AUGUST 2017

Last year the Kowalskis responded to six national disasters: in South Carolina, Missouri, Iowa and North Carolina and twice in Louisiana. But before any of those deployment hours were counted, Nancy had already served 1,000 hours and Jim 800 hours last year working for the local chapter. Nancy, 68, retired from Bank of America in 2013, and Jim, 69, retired after working as a repair splicer for Michigan Bell and AT&T. In the recent airport exercise Nancy served as assistant director of operations and Jim did “canteening,” feeding and hydrating first responders on the scene. “Canteen captain is one of my roles here,” Jim says with some mirth. For the simulation, his team worked from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., serving 100 cups of coffee, “iceddown” water and Gatorade, and doughnuts and other snacks to those on site. Nancy and Jim share the role of Disaster Action Team (DAT) captain for Kalamazoo County. DAT captains lead responses to local residential emergencies like fires, working with a body of volunteers to coordinate everything from temporary emergency shelter, food and clothing to replacement medication and emotional support for victims. When deployed on a national disaster, the Kowalskis drive an emergency response vehicle, or ERV, a truck shaped like an ambulance that has the capacity to dispense 300 hot meals to people stranded Above: Jim Kowalski mans the canteen during a recent Red Cross disaster drill. Photo: Sam Zomer. Below: Volunteers John Gagen and Tom Erdmann before they head to Missouri to give assistance during floods in April.

encore Good Works

without food. There are 364 ERVs in the United States. (During 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, every one of them was deployed.) “That’s our chosen profession, if you will, when there’s a national disaster, and it keeps us very busy,” says Jim. “We start at 6 o’clock in the morning and sometimes get back at 11 o’clock at night, after doing the feeding route. “It’s a long day. Then you may go to a shelter and sleep with 300 of your newest friends.” “And spiders!” adds Nancy, laughing. She’s recalling a flood she and her husband responded to in Lumberton, North Carolina, in October 2016. According to Jim, the spiders in a church community room were so big that “when you stepped on one, you heard it crack.” “It was awful,” says Nancy. “When you get in a flood situation, there’s snakes and sometimes alligators.” (The couple didn’t encounter any gators in that flood.) “And the smell is just atrocious,” she adds. So why do they do it? “We enjoy doing the feeding because we get to talk to people and hear their stories,” Jim says. “I’ve met some of the neatest people that I wouldn’t have met, and I’ve been to the neatest places that I wouldn’t have been, if it wasn’t for the Red Cross.” Jim started volunteering for the Red Cross with his father, William "Bill" Kowalski, who was on the local chapter’s board before he died three years ago, at 93. Nancy first volunteered for the Red Cross as a 16-yearold candy striper, or hospital volunteer. Before retiring, she took personal time and vacation days to volunteer alongside Jim. They have three grown children who help care for their “two furry kids” when the Kowalskis are deployed on trips nationally. On one feeding route, the Kowalskis encountered a woman with two children, one under each arm, who hadn’t eaten since the day before.

“The woman said, ‘I’m so glad you came. We have no food, no transportation,’” Nancy recalls. “I told Jim if we never helped another person that day, feeding those kids was worth the whole trip for me.”

Mark Kleczynski In the summer of 1988, when Mark Kleczynski’s oldest daughter, Grace, was 6 years old, she was hit by a car in downtown Three Rivers and airlifted to Bronson

blue eyes, communicating with us,” he says. Moved to a regular room and finally released to go home in a full-body cast, Grace made a slow but complete recovery. Later, a nurse called Mark at home and said she needed to tell him something. He says he thought, “There cannot be any more bad news.” She said that during Grace’s surgery, Bronson Hospital ran out of its emergency blood supply, which must be O-negative. When the Bronson staff called Borgess Medical Center for backup, Borgess had only one unit left. You can view The Amazing Story of Amazing Grace, a 700 Club segment on Kleczynski’s experience at youtube.com/watch?v=Dt14mTgvT78.

Methodist Hospital, in Kalamazoo. Badly injured, with two skull fractures; a broken arm, leg and collarbone; a collapsed lung; and a damaged liver, Grace was in emergency surgery for five hours, during which time her doctors replaced the average blood supply of a 6-year-old child five times over. Kleczynski and his wife, Joy, who both lived at the hospital for 12 days while Grace was in a drug-induced coma, had no idea then that the Red Cross was responsible for saving their daughter’s life. On the 12th day of the coma, Grace’s doctors took her off the drugs. She opened her eyes and started lip-syncing to one of the nursery rhyme songs playing in her room. Mark, now 65, is still emotional about the memory. “There she sat, with her big

Mark Kleczynski, top, became a Red Cross volunteer after the life of his young daughter, Grace, pictured above, was saved through blood provided by the organization.

The local Red Cross found out about this situation and called its main Michigan office in Lansing. The Lansing office loaded up a state trooper’s vehicle with O-negative blood, and that officer sped the blood to Kalamazoo, saving Grace’s life. Mark was “flabbergasted” by the Red Cross’ efforts for his daughter. “It changed my life,” he says. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 15

Courtesy Courtesy

Celebrate with the Red Cross! What: American Red Cross Century of Service Open House When: 4:30 p.m. Aug. 10 Where: 540 Venture Court, Kalamazoo

Western Michigan University student Cody Benfant volunteers through the WMU Red Cross Club, helping to organize blood drives at the university, like the one pictured above.

He then began donating blood at Consumers Energy, where he had worked since he was 19. Before, he chose not to participate in the regular blood drives because he didn’t like the idea of a huge needle in his arm. “It just looked like a painful experience I didn’t want to go through,” he says. “But my life changed for the better because of blood donations.” Kleczynski has since donated 11 gallons of blood over the past 27 years. He also happens to have the blood type needed by emergency rooms: O-negative. He organizes the annual Good Friday Blood Drive at 28 churches in the Three Rivers and recently became an American Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, responding to single-family fires. “People who know there’s a need to donate blood are like the fireman who pulls a person

out of a burning house. They are heroes as far as I’m concerned,” says Kleczynski. “What amazing people they are. Selfless.”

Cody Benfant When Brookline, Michigan, native Cody Benfant saw a table for the Red Cross Club at Western Michigan University’s first-year orientation, he signed up immediately. He had been exposed to the Red Cross at a high school blood drive in 11th grade, so the Red Cross Club at WMU was the first thing he joined. He remembers thinking, “This is going to be great. This is something I’d really love to do.” WMU’s Red Cross Club, which currently has 96 student members, is directly affiliated with the American Red Cross and organizes

activities like sending holiday cards to military personnel overseas, installing smoke alarms in residential housing, holding food drives and collaborating with other Red Cross service projects and community missions. The club also organizes campus blood drives. At one of these, the Bronco Blood Bash, the WMU club competes with a Red Cross club at Central Michigan University to collect the most blood donations. WMU came in first this past school year for the fourth year in a row, with 234 units donated. Because one donation of blood saves up to three lives, during that eight-hour event this team of college students worked to save approximately 702 lives without even leaving the student center. Benfant, who will start his second year at WMU next month, was one of those students and participated in three blood drives during his first year of college. “When you donate blood, you’re saving lives,” he says. “It’s not much to ask of a person, really.”

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encore Savor

Late-night Comfort Food

Two Fellas’ tasty creations a hit with students and others Adam Rayes

Brian Powers



oland Saleh credits delicious, self-made concoctions as part of the inspiration for the comfort food served at Two Fellas Grill. “Like everyone, when we were younger, I’d go to Burger King and get a hamburger,” he says. “And what would I do with my hamburger? I’d ask for ranch and barbecue on the side, and then I’d put my fries in the burger and dip it in the sauce.” Saleh, 38, and his best friend, Tim Torres, 39, are the co-owners and founders of Two Fellas Grill, at 907 Howard St., just off of Western Michigan University’s main campus. The restaurant specializes in grilled tortilla wraps.

Saleh and Torres, both area natives, graduated from Gull Lake High School and Michigan State, where Saleh got a degree in marketing and Torres in communications. Though they didn’t study for it, they say they don’t think starting the business was particularly difficult. “What we do, and what we have tried to do from day one, is make things as simple as possible,” Torres says. This simplicity can be found in the restaurant’s food creation, service, business model and even advertising, which is based almost entirely on word-of-mouth and social

Owners Roland Saleh, left, and Tim Torres, right, opened Two Fellas Grill in 2013.

media. The same goes for the genesis of the restaurant as well: Both owners had grown tired of working for someone else (Torres worked for Best Buy as a regional manager, and Saleh did marketing for Jimmy John’s), and when Torres called Saleh and asked if he wanted to open a restaurant, the two decided to dive right in. “It was really that simple,” Torres says, laughing. “It sounds kind of crazy to make such a life-changing decision like that, but it was really that simple.”

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Brian Powers Clockwise from top left: Rich Roberts, Two Fellas Grill’s general manager, prepares a wrap sandwich; a variety of unique wrap sandwiches being prepared on the grill; tater tots are a prominent feature on Two Fellas’ menu.

While the decision to open the restaurant was easy, the initial start-up was slightly more complicated. “We didn’t exactly know what we were doing,” Saleh says. “We knew what we wanted to do, but as young entrepreneurs we didn’t exactly know what was best for it.” The pair originally had a difficult time trying to decide whether to start their business at the restaurant's current location or at a site on Stadium Drive, a choice that, in retrospect, Saleh says should have been obvious. After choosing and leasing the current location, the two had to figure out how to turn an “empty box” of a building into a restaurant while making sure it was up to city code for restaurants. Finally, in the summer of 2013, the pair opened the restaurant, featuring a menu full of grilled tortilla wrap sandwiches stuffed with chicken and tater tots. Among them were the signature “Bronco” wrap, which also features bacon, mozzarella and barbecue sauce and “The First Item on the Menu,” which includes cheddar, mozzarella, sour cream and ranch dressing along with the chicken and tater tots. The menu also includes various steak, breakfast, pizza and vegetarian wraps and even some tater-less wraps as well. And just how did the owners come up with this menu?

18 | Encore AUGUST 2017

“Honestly, a lot of long, fun nights, involving Miller Lites, Bud Lights, random shots and who knows what else,” Saleh says. The tater tots that make the restaurant such a cult hit were simply a product of putting various foods the two love into their menu — and it seems their customers enjoy those foods as much as they do. The restaurant, designed for takeout and delivery, is a local favorite for those who are out late, keeping the restaurant full of customers well into the night. Its hours are 11 a.m.–3 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m.–4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. To keep up, orders for walk-ins and deliveries are prepared in separate parts of the building. Despite the owners’ anecdotes about the theft of a car-top carrier (the person who stole it was caught after putting up a picture of themselves with it on social media) and other mishaps by some of their more rambunctious partying patrons, this is the crowd Saleh and Torres say they want to serve.

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“It’s a lot of fun,” Torres says. “They’re very eager to try our food and are very easy to please. If you serve good food that’s fast and you’re friendly about it, it’s a no-brainer.” It’s not just college students and partiers who are attracted to Two Fellas’ feel-good menu. Saleh says the restaurant gets quite a bit of non-student business at lunchtime and during the periods of quiet at nearby WMU. “We have also found that we have a lot of local residents and families that enjoy coming in,” Saleh says, “but they tend to come in primarily over summer break, winter break and other non-peak school times. Our goal is definitely to reach everybody in the Kalamazoo area.” To achieve that goal, the two are planning to open a second location within the next six months in the Drake Plaza, on Drake Road just north of Michigan Avenue, across from Checkers. In addition, Saleh and Torres are testing the broader market viability of their restaurant concept through a new location they opened in January in West Lafayette, Indiana, near Purdue University. “From day one, we never wanted just one. We wanted 500 of these things,” Torres says. “So we wanted to create something with processes going into it that are very simple and could easily be replicated. “The easier we can make it now, the easier it will be for us to open more and for franchisees to open more.”

4266 Ravine Rd. Kalamazoo, MI 49006 www.vlietstrabros.com


Summer Hours: Monday - Friday: 9:00am - 5:30pm, Saturday 9:00am - 2:00pm

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Beautiful & Bountiful Lillie House Permaculture creates pathways to plenty story by

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Very often visitors

stand outside Lillie House, on Douglas Avenue in Kalamazoo, admiring the lush and fragrant appeal of its gardens with their beautiful plants and trees, butterflies, bees and birds. Invariably, somebody will ask if anything growing there is edible. The couple who own the home, Mike Hoag and Kim Willis, reply with a lengthy list of culinary and/or medicinal perennials and self-sowing annuals: chives, oregano, garlic greens, salad greens, salad burnet, sea kale, valerian, sorrel, Egyptian walking onions, Welsh onions, Turkish rocket, Chinese Mormon apricot, wild cress, mushrooms, asparagus, potatoes, marshmallow and Good King Henry — more than 200 species, many of them indigenous to the Kalamazoo region. “My favorite fruits and vegetables are native,” says Hoag. “Paw paws, black walnuts, persimmons, milkweed, Jerusalem artichokes, ramps. In a store, these are ridiculously expensive, but they’re wild and easily grown here.” Inside their home, which was built circa 1850, Willis displays “the apothecary,” a glass-door cabinet filled with dried herbs, ground and preserved in jars for teas and concoctions. “The more I work with plants and recipes, the more I can teach our students to try new things,” she says, making reference to the couple’s business, Lillie House Permaculture, which offers classes, products and services related to creating edible landscapes. “Our classes start in May,” says Hoag, “and we hold one class per month throughout the growing season so we can demo, right here on our urban one-half acre, what people should be thinking about at certain times of the year.” The couple, who are both in their late 30s, also offer nursery stock of perennial vegetables for sale or barter and run a communitysupported edible forest garden program through which they teach people how to plant a natural, organic ecosystem of trees and understory plants to provide food, fruit and other materials to meet human needs. Hoag, whose sole occupation is this joint venture, provides landscaping consultation on how to convert land into natural, edible plots. Willis is also employed as development director at local public radio station WMUK.

Brian Powers

What is permaculture? Permaculture began in the 1970s as a system of “permanent agriculture,” as defined by its founders, Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. It has since evolved into a way of “permanent culture” applicable to neighborhoods, cities, businesses and organizations. Left: Kim Willis and Mike Hoag stand in front of Lillie House, their home and permaculture garden on Douglas Avenue. Above: A paw paw tree blossom from their garden. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 21

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Brian Powers

Willis and Hoag first heard about the concept while listening to a radio broadcast in 2002, when they were students at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Not having land, they made a porch garden at their apartment and foraged for berries and wild edibles along their favorite bike path. They studied with the enterprises Midwest Permaculture, in Illinois, and Angelic Organics, in Wisconsin, and also worked as interns with a permaculture farmer in Illinois. “Both of us had been longtime activists,” Willis says, “but political change can be slow and frustrating. When we discovered permaculture, we found that we could take direct action on the issues we care about by improving the quality of life of people around us. We determined that if we can make sustainable living attractive, we can create ‘viral change’ in the world.” For several years, while driving from northern Illinois, where they were living, to Flint to visit Hoag’s parents, they often stopped in Kalamazoo and were drawn to the community’s devotion to culture, activism and food, all of which, they say, “makes this area fertile ground for the permaculture movement.” They moved here in 2012 and came into direct contact with the area’s permaculture community, including organizations like Van-Kal Permaculture and Community Organized Regenerative Earthcare (CORE); Opposite page: Some of the edible plants found in the Lillie House garden include, clockwise from top left, Turkish rocket, goumi, sage, chives. and camas (center). Below: The garden also includes flowers such as these daffodils.

dozens of permaculture-related homesteads, including tiny houses such as the one designed and built by Habitat for Humanity for Kalamazoo environmentalist Ben Brown; and “regenerative enterprises” like Oikos Tree Crops and Fido Motors. The couple connected with permaculture education programs at Come and See Farm, in Berrien Springs, and Gibbs House, an innovative permaculture homestead for students on Western Michigan University’s Parkview campus. “Kalamazoo has more than a dozen forest gardens and permaculture projects in development,” says Hoag. “Anyone can start learning with Van-Kal Permaculture or get their own garden plot through CORE.” With a business slogan of “We create pathways to plenty,” Willis and Hoag offer products and services aimed at what they see as a more regenerative lifestyle in which people grow stronger, healthier, wealthier and wiser every day. They believe that, rather than spending time and energy fighting nature, humankind can utilize natural systems to purify water, replenish soil and grow food, fuel, craft materials and medicine. “Permaculture favors small, local solutions,” explains Hoag. “That’s why we established our business for livelihood rather than with the intention of growing into a big company. We want to operate in a way that’s conducive to a small group of people working together.” Willis concurs. “I want to be on a first-name basis and have quality time with everyone who interacts with us. I don’t want to get so big that I can’t remember who our customers are and what projects they’re working on.” These words relate to a 2001 essay, “Just So Much and No More,” by environmentalist Donella Meadows, who is one of the couple’s favorite writers. “The first commandment of economics is: Grow,” she writes. "Grow forever. … Want more, make more, earn more, spend more, ever more. … The first commandment of Earth is: Enough. Just so much and no more. … Everything born of the Earth grows to its appropriate size and then stops.”

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Brian Powers

Creating ‘ecological guilds’ Permaculture plantings involve the creation of ecological guilds, which include diverse plant species that work together to establish a cooperative community through selfmulching, water and energy conservation, and repelling pests. The classic example is the “Three Sisters” — beans, corn and squash

24 | Encore AUGUST 2017

planted together in mounds. Beans are a natural fertilizer, corn provides a stalk on which bean vines can grow, and the squash’s broad leaves shade the soil and keep it moist. All three are pest-resilient because insects drawn to one are repelled by the others. Hoag and Willis avoid the time-consuming task of weeding. Instead, they replace unwanted invaders (dandelion, thistle, garlic mustard, grass) with plants that will contribute to the guild community. Rather than maintaining a compost pit, which requires attention and wheelbarrowing, they chop aging or inessential plants and drop them at the same location, making compost right in the garden, just the way a forest does. This practice of saving work encompasses the establishment of permaculture zones, which reflect an ergonomic design system of energy conservation. Zone 1 is the place where time is invested daily. To avoid unnecessary steps, permaculturists plant their primary garden closest to the house, not in a far corner of the yard, and they keep their tools nearby. At Lillie House, Zone 1 is the home’s front yard, where, Willis says, “we easily reap the rewards of harvesting fresh food every day throughout the season.” Their front yard garden also reminds them that there’s no place like home. “On more than one occasion after we’ve been out of town, we’ve gotten out of our car and instantly gone to the front yard to see what’s

Bottom left and above: Workers cultivate the permaculture landscape at the Gibbs House at WMU. Top left: A sea kale leaf from the Lillie House garden.

going on,” says Willis. “We gravitate to some fruit or berries or green beans and sit on the front steps munching. ‘We’re home,’ we say. We don’t even go into the house first.” Zones 2, 3 and 4 are each farther from the house and populated by plants that require less attention, maybe once a week, maybe once a month. Zone 5, farthest away, is wilderness, where the ecosystem remains unmanaged. “Zone 5 is the teacher, the place we go to see how nature works all on its own,” says Hoag.

Zones for life This awareness of zones leads to the realization that permaculture is relevant to all aspects of life, not just plants and trees. In some homes, for example, laundry machines are being installed near the kitchen or in a bathroom — Zone 1 — making them more accessible than having them located in a basement. Taking this concept of zones out of the home, permaculturists note that every neighborhood could be designed to have an amply-stocked grocery store and a cultural center that residents can easily access, preferably on foot or motorized scooter. Urban renewal programs could be designed to take advantage of a city’s existing


Fresh. Local. Handcrafted.

housing infrastructure, including homes in disrepair, to provide skilled-trades training, work opportunities, empowerment, economic autonomy and the possibility of home ownership for people who are unemployed and/or homeless. “Permaculture is a set of design tools rather than a political ideology,” says Hoag. “It’s about applying the philosophy of permanent culture to housing, transportation, buildings and societal systems that foster fellowship within community.” This, permaculturists claim, gives people more beautiful, meaningful lives. Which leads to the most primal zone: Zone 0, the self. Speaking reverently, Hoag says, “You don’t need to have a particular religious belief to be involved with permaculture, but you do need to work within your internal self and know what makes you happy, what makes your life regenerative.” Permaculturists relate to “multi-capital abundance” and identify eight “capitals” or “valuable resources” by which a person’s wealth might be measured: financial, spiritual, social, cultural, intellectual, experiential, living and material. “Our society tends to think only about financial capital, but in permaculture, money isn’t the only capital,” Hoag and Willis say. “To be really wealthy, identify what things in life represent true wealth to you and then intentionally invest in those.”

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Enterprise encore

‘A Different Kind of Customer’

Vandenberg Furniture survives and thrives in a big-box world by

Adam Rayes

Cal Vandenberg has been a part of the furniture business for

Right: Cal Vandenberg sits in the showroom of his family’s furniture store which celebrates 90 years in business this year. Below and opposite page: Vandenberg Furniture’s store has nearly tripled in size since moving to its location on U.S.131.

26 | Encore AUGUST 2017

Brian Powers

most of his life. The 68-year-old owner of Vandenberg and Sons Furniture Inc., a store at 12000 North U.S. 131 in Schoolcraft that is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, went from working for his father, Anthony Vandenberg, pulling weeds and building furniture with his six siblings, to taking over the family’s furniture store 45 years ago. It seems as if the family business runs in the younger Vandenberg’s veins. But it wasn’t always that way. Right out of high school Vandenberg joined the U.S. Navy, which took him to California, where he was originally planning to stay. But he ended up coming back home and applied to work in a warehouse for Redwood & Ross, a local chain of men’s clothing stores that closed its doors in the late 1990s. It was an experience he says he will never forget. “I show up (for an interview) like I’m dressed now,” says Vandenberg, gesturing to his suit and tie, “and the lady behind the desk goes, ‘Cal, this job isn’t for you. Get out of here.'” He says it wasn’t just his clothes. “I think she realized I had more potential than working stocking shelves,” he says, even though he admits he “still ended up as a warehouse guy.” Vandenberg went back to working for his father, which he said wasn’t always easy, but he loved it anyway. Of the six Vandenberg children, Cal was the only one to follow in his father’s footsteps.

encore Enterprise

Vandenberg and Sons has gone through a lot of changes over its nine decades. Its storied history begins with Vandenberg’s father, Anthony, working out of a storefront at 1344 Portage St., in Kalamazoo’s Washington Square neighborhood, in 1937, hauling used furniture from Chicago and selling it. Then, in 1938, Anthony and his brother Dewey opened a store at 123 E. Water St., in downtown Kalamazoo. The store’s size increased by 10,000 square feet in 1947, and in 1952 the store moved to Portage, on South Westnedge Avenue.

Dewey retired in 1956, and Anthony followed suit in 1972, selling the business to Cal and his brother-in-law Mart Kloosterman. Kloosterman left the business in 1986, and in 1996, Cal decided to move the store to a new location. “I could have stayed,” Vandenberg says of the former location in Portage, which is now the site of a Meijer store. “But the building was in sad shape. It was a typical Michigan flat-roof building and was in total disarray.” After he liquidated the Portage store, it took nearly two years for Vandenberg to w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 27

Enterprise encore

Brian Powers

prepare and finally move to the building where the furniture store is today. Meanwhile, he temporarily set up shop on Shaver Road. “I was working in a block building (on Shaver Road) and a couple of warehouses just to keep my name out there,” Vandenberg says. “It was an old machine shop. I cleaned it up, tore out walls, painted it, put carpeting in just so I was there basically to service my customers if they had issues. That was a long 11 months over there.” Then, in 1998, Vandenberg opened the store’s current location, with 10,000 square feet of space, but he says its location on U.S. 131 has helped the business grow its customer base beyond the Kalamazoo area. Over the years, the store has almost tripled in size. “My first addition back here was about 5,000 feet,” he says, noting it still wasn’t enough. “I had a garage full of furniture at home, and

The furniture store’s key to success is keeping the inventory “updated and fresh.”

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“We wanted a nicer place for our anniversary.”


he best part of being a member at “our Club” is that the wonderful staff knows us by name and even remember our favorite drinks (and we can hear each other talk)! The live music on Fridays is an especially nice touch.

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I have some old photographs where the furniture is still wrapped up and standing up outside the front of the store here because we had nowhere else to put it. It was a lot like The Beverly Hillbillies.” But the changes Vandenberg makes to his store aren’t just to add square footage. He also works to ensure the store stays relevant in a world of big-box furniture stores like Ikea. “It’s a matter of continuing to stay updated and stay fresh,” Vandenberg says. “I just replaced all my carpeting in here. I’m always changing colors. If you’re not doing it, you’re dead in the water.” But he says his store’s biggest edge over big-box stores is that it fills a different niche. “Is there some lost business? I’m sure there is,” he says. “(But) Ikea and those stores where people have to put things together, that’s just a whole different kind of customer. I’m not trying to compete with those guys. “The quality that we’re carrying, people still want to sit on. They want to feel it. We can be much more personable with somebody, take a lot more time with them.” It’s that high-quality furniture, the direct interactions with his customers and keeping his stock fresh and updated that give Vandenberg confidence in the future of his business. “The brick and mortar store like I have here,” he says, “I think we’re here to stay.”

Beacon Club 5830 Portage Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49002 (269) 343-9000 • theBeaconClub.com


August Schedule


AUG 6 AUG 13 AUG 20 AUG 27


& Special Presentation of the Community Arts Awards!

For a complete Summer Schedule, visit KalamazooArts.org

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The Lion in Winter — A modern-day classic of sibling rivalry, adultery and dungeons surrounding the royal family of Henry II of England, 8 p.m. Aug. 1–5, 5 p.m. Aug. 6, Barn Theatre, 13351 West M-96, Augusta, 731-4121. Peter and the Starcatcher — Farmers Alley Theatre presents a swashbuckling prequel to Peter Pan, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3, 8 p.m. Aug. 4 & 5, 2 p.m. Aug. 6, Little Theatre, 798 Oakland Drive, 343-2727. Big Night Out — An elegant evening of music with the ladies of The New Vic, 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., Aug. 11–Sept. 16, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328. Musicals

Newsies — A ragged band of teenage "newsies" dream of a better life, 8 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 5 p.m. Sun., Aug. 8–20, Barn Theatre, 13351 West M-96, Augusta, 731-4121. Rent — A group of impoverished young artists struggle to survive and create under the shadow of AIDS, 8 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 5 p.m. Sun., Aug. 22–Sept. 3, Barn Theatre, 731-4121.


Art Hop: Edge of Midnight — Pop/rock/ blues cover duo, 7–9 p.m. Aug. 4, Arcadia Ales The Drums — Indie pop band, 8 p.m. Aug. 1, Kalamazoo, 276-0458. Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Gunnar & The Grizzly Boys — Americana/ 382-2332. country-rock band, 9 p.m. Aug. 4, Bell's Gun Lake Live Summer Series — Brena, Aug. Eccentric Café, 382-2332. 2; Avon Bomb, Aug. 9; Typo, Aug. 16; Cheap Dates, Aug. 23; Brena, Aug. 30; all shows 6–10 Concerts in the Park — Keith Hall & Nashon p.m., Lakefront Pavilion, Bay Pointe Inn, 11456 Holloway, Aug. 6; Sidewalk Chalk, Aug. 13; Marsh Road, Shelbyville, 888-486-5253. Schlitz Creek, Aug. 20; Kalamazoo Children's Chorus and Community Arts Awards, Aug. Live Music at Arcadia Ales — Nick Andrew 27; all concerts begin at 4 p.m., Bronson Park, Staver, blues singer/songwriter, Aug. 2; Kate 342-5059. Hinote & The Disasters, Americana/indie/folknoir acoustic trio, Aug. 3; Neil Jansen, pop/ Soul-Filled Sundays — Reggaeloution, reggae rock/folk/blues singer, guitarist and pianist, band, Aug. 6; Dede Alder & Josh Holcomb, folk/ Aug. 9; Lexi Adams, vocalist, Aug. 16; Calvin world-music singers and instrumentalists, Aug. Hinds, guitar, Aug. 23; Emily Leshman, classic 13; The Mickeys, indie folk duo, Aug. 20; Jimmy soul and pop on guitar and ukulele, Aug. 30; all Phillips & the Mortal 2 Band, blues and vintage shows 7–9 p.m., Arcadia Ales Kalamazoo, 701 E. rock, Aug. 27; all shows 5–7 p.m., Arcadia Ales Michigan Ave., 276-0458. Kalamazoo, 276-0458. Nappy Roots — Southern rap/hip-hop quartet, Groove Council — R&B, blues and funk 9 p.m. Aug. 3, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. band performs in Kindleberger Summer Concert Series, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6, The Stage in Cold Mountain Child — Friday Night HighKindleberger Park, Parchment, kindleberger.org. lights Series presents this folk band, 6 p.m. Aug. 4, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., Swear and Shake — Indie folk band, 9 p.m. 373-7990. Aug. 9, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Andy Frasco and the U.N. — Blues-rock band, 9 p.m. Aug. 10, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

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encore Events Here Come the Mummies — Funk-rock band, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 11, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Friday Night Music — DJ Todd Brown, 9–11:59 p.m. Aug. 11; s2r, electronic trio, 8–10 p.m. Aug. 25; Arcadia Ales Kalamazoo, 276-0458. Arcadia Ales Riversedge Summer Music Series — Satellite Records, Allie Garland, The War and Treaty, Last Gasp Collective and The Crane Wives, 4–11:59 p.m. Aug. 12, Arcadia Ales Kalamazoo, 276-0458. Lakeside Concert — Cereal City Concert Band, with Edye Evans Hyde and the Terry Lower Trio, 3–5 p.m. Aug. 13, W.K. Kellogg Manor House, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners, 671-2400. Out of Favor Boys — Contemporary blues band in Music in the Park series, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 13, Flesher Field, 3664 S. Ninth St., Oshtemo Township, 553-7980. The Green Valley Boys — Country, folk, bluegrass and gospel band performs in Kindleberger Summer Concert Series, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 13, The Stage in Kindleberger Park, Parchment, kindleberger.org. Summer Chamber Music Recital — Presented by Crescendo Academy of Music, 7:15 p.m. Aug. 13, Friendship Village, 1400 N. Drake Road, 345-6664.

Community Voices Summer Performance — Musical ensemble for teens and adults with mental and physical challenges, 3 p.m. Aug. 17, Crescendo Academy of Music, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 345-6664.


New Odyssey Concert — Band presenting various styles of music across the decades, 7 p.m. Aug. 17, Overlander Bandshell, 7999 S. Westnedge Ave., Portage, 329-4522.

Kay WalkingStick: An American Artist — Smithsonian exhibition by Native American artist displaying her abstract paintings, landscapes, drawings, sculptures and diptychs, through Sept. 10.

The New Pornographers — Indie rock band, 8 p.m. Aug. 17, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Steeldrivers — Grammy Award-winning bluegrass band, 9 p.m. Aug. 18, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Thunderwude — Bluegrass band performs in Kindleberger Summer Concert Series, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20, The Stage in Kindleberger Park, Parchment, kindleberger.org. David Bromberg — Bluegrass, blues, folk and jazz singer/instrumentalist, 8 p.m. Aug. 24, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Rock Show — Tribute band performs in Kindleberger Summer Concert Series, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27, The Stage in Kindleberger Park, Parchment, kindleberger.org. Rusted Root — Acoustic rock and world band, 8 p.m. Aug. 27, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775 Exhibits

Our People, Our Land, Our Images — An exhibition of 51 works by 26 indigenous photographers, through Oct. 22. Women Warriors: Portraits by Hung Liu — Mixed media, painted and photographic works showing female strength in the face of persecution, Aug. 5–Nov. 26. Events ARTbreak — Weekly program about art, artists and exhibitions: How We Find Ourselves through Oil Pastel, with Jill Waskowsky, Aug. 1; Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian, film, Aug. 8 & 15; all sessions begin at noon, KIA Auditorium. Black Ash Basketry with John and Johnny — Talk and demonstration by John Pigeon and son Johnny of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 24, KIA Auditorium.

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Events encore

Other Venues Rachel McGuffin's Figures Illuminated — A series of ethereal portraits in acrylic, colored pencil and gouache, 5 p.m. Aug. 4, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990. Art Hop — Art at various Kalamazoo locations, 5–8 p.m. Aug. 4, 342-5059. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library First Saturday @ KPL — Family event with stories, activities, special guests and door prizes, 2–3:30 p.m. Aug. 5, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., 342-9837. Movies in the Park — Watch Mr. Smith Goes to Washington under the stars, 8–10 p.m. Aug. 17, Oshtemo Township Park, 7275 W. Main St., 553-7980. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747 Parchment Book Club — Discussion of Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf, 7 p.m. Aug. 7. Front Page: Donuts & Discussion — Currentevents panel discussion with local media, educators, politicians and special guests, 10:30 a.m.–noon Aug. 19. Yum's the Word: Saving the Best for Last: Recipes for Summer's End — Featuring Chef Bridgett Blough, owner of the Organic Gypsy

food truck, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 23; registration required. Kick Up Your Heels for a Barn Dance — Celebrate the end of summer with an old-fashioned barn dance, 6 p.m. Aug. 25; registration required.

Pierce-Arrow Society Gathering — 14th annual Pierce-Arrow Society car club meet and display, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Aug. 17. Relix Riot Traditional Hot Rods & Customs Show — Traditional hot rods, custom cars and motorcycles, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Aug. 19.

Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544

Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990

Friends of the Library Book Sale — 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Aug. 5.

Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine — A look at the men and women who served as surgeons and nurses during the Civil War, through Sept. 2.

International Mystery Book Group — Discussion of Song of the Dead, by Douglas Lindsay, 7 p.m. Aug. 10. Top Shelf Reads: Cookbook Potluck — Bring your favorite dish and cookbook to share, 7–8:30 p.m. Aug. 14; registration required.

Eclipse 2017 — A simulation of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, 3 p.m. Tues. & Thurs., 2 p.m. Sat., through Sept. 9, Planetarium.


Did an Asteroid Really Kill the Dinosaurs? — Explore the impact that likely killed off the dinosaurs, 11 a.m. Mon.–Fri., 1 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., through Sept. 10, Planetarium.

Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671-5089

Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice & Dinosaur Discovery — Exhibits that explore the age of the dinosaurs, through Sept. 17.

Red Barns Spectacular Car Show & Swap Meet — Antique, classic and other cars, 9 a.m.– 4 p.m. Aug. 5.

Paleontologists’ Lectures — India Before the Himalayas: When Snakes Ate Dinosaurs and Mammals Inherit the Earth: How the K/Pg Mass Extinction Killed Off Dinosaurs and Opened the Way for Mammals, by Jeff and Greg Wilson, 1:30 p.m. Aug. 2, Stryker Theater.

Must Be 21+: Game, Doodle, Color — Hang out and play some games, 7 p.m. Aug. 28.

Lincoln Motor Car Museum Meet — 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 12, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Aug. 13.

Erika L. Salerno In Your Corner.


Varnum welcomes Erika Salerno to the firm. n


Contact Erika Salerno at elsalerno@varnumlaw.com

32 | Encore AUGUST 2017

Family law matters including complex divorces, child custody, child support and parenting time Experienced in mediation and collaborative law

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encore Events

Led Zeppelin Laser Show — The band's classics in surround sound set to computergenerated effects, 8 p.m. Aug. 4 & 4 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 9, Planetarium. Planet Dinosaur: Feathered Dragons — This film looks at more recently discovered feathered dinosaurs from Asia, 1:30 p.m. Aug. 9. The Great Eclipse of 2017 – Learn about the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, 1–3 p.m. Aug. 16. NATURE Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510. Birds and Coffee Walk — A morning bird walk and discussion over coffee, 9–10:30 a.m. Aug. 10. Hummingbird Banding Demonstration — Brenda & Rich Keith from the Kalamazoo River Valley Bird Observatory give a hummingbird banding demonstration, 6:30–8:30 p.m., Aug. 22. Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574 Visit the DeLano Apiary — Discuss the importance of beekeeping and the tools required, 2 p.m. Aug. 6, DeLano Farmyard, 555 West E Ave., 381-1574. DeLano Open House — Tour the historic DeLano home, 1–4 p.m. Aug. 13, DeLano Homestead, 555 West E Ave., 381-1574.

Grandparents Day — Intergenerational activities with grandparents, 2–4 p.m. Aug. 13. Golf Cart Tour: Beech Maple Forest — Tour the forest and visit Trout Run Stream, 4 p.m. Aug. 21. Boomers and Beyond: Hike the Emma Pitcher Prairie — Look for birds, wildflowers and bugs, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Aug. 29. Other Venues Reptile Weekend — Hands-on encounters with reptiles and amphibians, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Aug. 5, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Aug. 6, Binder Park Zoo, 7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek, 269-9791351. MISCELLANEOUS Kalamazoo Farmers' Market — 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Tues., Thurs. & Sat., through Oct. 31, 1204 Bank St., 359-6727. Portage Market — 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 29, Portage Senior Center, 320 Library Lane, 359-6727. Ribfest — Food, entertainment and music, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Aug. 3, 11 a.m. Aug. 4–12:30 a.m. Aug. 5, 11 a.m. Aug. 5–12:30 a.m. Aug. 6, Arcadia Creek Festival Place, 145 E. Water St., kalamazooribfest.com.

Fitness in the Parks — Free exercise program, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Aug. 3 & 10, Frays Park, 4400 Canterbury Ave., 337-8006. 2017 USTA Boys' 18 & 16 National Tennis Championships — Over 400 juniors compete for the national tennis championship title; gates open 8 a.m. daily, Aug. 4–13, Stowe Stadium, Kalamazoo College, 337-7343 or ustaboys.com. United Teens Talent Show — Performances by the winners of the 2017 United Teens Talent competition, 7 p.m. Aug. 5, Civic Auditorium, 329 S. Park St., 342-5059. Lunchtime Live — Food trucks, pop-up vendors and live music: Shelagh Brown Band, Aug. 4; The Moxie Strings, Aug. 11; Run for Cover, Aug. 18; Scott Davis, Aug. 25; 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m., Bronson Park, 337-8295. Fitness in the Parks — Free exercise program, 9–10 a.m. Aug. 5 & 12, Upjohn Park, 1018 Walter St., 337-8006. Kalamazoo County Fair — Farm animals, educational displays, 4-H exhibits, carnival rides, games and food, 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Aug. 8–12, Kalamazoo County Expo Center & Fairground, 2900 Lake St., 383-8778 or kalamazoocountyfair.com. National Blueberry Festival — Various activities for the family, Aug. 10–13, downtown South Haven, blueberryfestival.com.

One community bank green-lights innovation. When Lake Michigan Mailers had a significant sustainability proposal, First National Bank of Michigan fueled their aspirations. “They made it possible for us to cut our gasoline consumption by 50 percent,” the President of the 40-year-old data, document and distribution services company said. “They’re different because they actually hear me when I talk, which has been critical to our success.”

David Rhoa, President, Lake Michigan Mailers, and Chris Mars, Vice President, Commercial Banking, First National Bank of Michigan.

Together, We are First. 269.349.0100 | 616.242.6500 | fnbmichigan.com

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 33

Events encore

Windmill Walk and Talk Dinner — Presentation by author and historian Alisa Crawford, 6:30–9:30 p.m. Aug. 10, W.K. Kellogg Manor House, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners, 671-2400. Broncos Night Out: Movie Night — Heritage Hall tour and tailgate games, 8–9:15 p.m.; screening of La La Land at 9:15 p.m., Aug. 11, Heritage Hall, 601 Oakland Drive, 387-8816.

Ramona Park Health Fair — Demonstrations and information from organizations, 1–3 p.m. Aug. 12, Ramona Park, 8600 Sprinkle Road, Portage, portagemi.gov.

Haunted History of Kalamazoo Tour — Kalamazoo history mixed with the paranormal world, 8–10 p.m. Aug. 12 & 26, starting in Bronson Park, 220-9496.

PalletPalooza — A recycled pallet creation competition, 2–6 p.m. Aug. 12, WMU Student Recreation Center, at Western Avenue and Oliver Street, 382-0490 or palletswmi.com.

Movies in the Park — Watch The LEGO Batman Movie under the stars, with family activities at 7 p.m., movie beginning at sunset, Aug. 18, La Crone Park, 535 W. Paterson St., 337-8295.

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Oshtemo Rotary Fun Day — Kids' activities, music, air show, fire department bucket rides, petting zoo and pony rides, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 19, Flesher Field, 3664 S. Ninth St., 375-4260. Hospice Butterfly Release — Release a butterfly in honor or memory of a loved one, 9:15 a.m., with Flutter Fun Walk for kids, 8:30 a.m. Aug. 19, Leila Arboretum, 928 W. Michigan Ave., Battle Creek; see hospiceswmi.org for details. Kalamazoo's Vintage Market — Antiques, collectibles, shabby chic, retro & repurposed items, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 19, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 20, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., 903-5820. Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Buy, sell or trade reptiles, amphibians and exotic pets, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Aug. 19, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, Room A, 779-9851. Crayons4Kids Benefit Concert: Nashon Holloway — Concert by The Nashon Holloway Band, silent auction and kids' activities, 3 p.m. Aug. 20, Homer Stryker Field, 251 Mills St., 8060037. Tour de Zoo — A bike ride through the zoo with beer, games and music, 5–9 p.m. Aug. 24, Binder Park Zoo, 7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek, 269-979-1351. 2017 Healthy & Fit Expo — Featuring professionals in health and fitness and weightlifting competition, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 26, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Aug. 27, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 517-706-1011. The Lost Paddle — Paddle on the Kalamazoo River to benefit the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, sponsored by Lee's Adventure Sports and Arcadia Ales, 1 p.m. Aug. 26, starting at Merrill Park, at River Street and Comstock Avenue, Comstock Township, 381-7700.

34 | Encore AUGUST 2017

Poetry encore

What They Taught Me in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Just before the sun sets you bring your chair down to the water your family, your beer at the very least, yourself no matter what you’ve been up to today — and you stop and watch the sun sink in the sky, into the water ooo-ing and ah-ing with those assembled there with you and when it’s done, day is done, you sigh and walk back to your cottage or maybe your porch then maybe the dishes, some tidying up you wash your face, brush your teeth lights out, hang your clothes on the peg and climb into bed with the one you love

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— Danna Ephland Ephland teaches creative writing workshops called The Left Margin. They are offered quarterly at Kazoo Books. Her poems have been published in journals and anthologies and in two chapbooks. These days she is very happy to watch the sun set over Asylum Lake.

Encore welcomes submissions by local poets for consideration for publication. To submit your work, email editor@encorekalamazoo.com or send by mail to Poetry Editor, Encore Magazine, 113 W. Cedar St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007.

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 35


So fast, you might get brain freeze.

Air Zoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Arborist Services of Kalamazoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 The Beacon Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Betzler Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Bronson Health Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Catholic Schools of Greater Kalamazoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Centre Spa & Wellness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Concerts in the Park . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Dave’s Glass Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 DeMent and Marquardt, PLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Fence & Garden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 First National Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Great Lakes Shipping Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

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Halls Closets & More . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Hettinger & Hettinger, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 HRM Innovations, LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Kalamazoo Community Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Kalamazoo Institute of Arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35





LVM Capital Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 MacKenzies’ Café & Bakery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Maple Hill Auto Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Mercantile Bank of Michigan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Portage Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36


Serve for Kids . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10


Varnum Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32


Vlietstra Bros. Pools & Spas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Willis Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4


36 | Encore AUGUST 2017

WMUK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

BACK STORY (continued from page 38)

1985. He moved to St. Louis in 1987 “just to spend a year watching the Cardinals play baseball,” he says, and graduated from seminary there in 1995. He came to Kalamazoo in 2001 to serve as Solid Grounds’ pastor. Why did you join the ministry? Well, my dad was a pastor, my grandfather was a pastor, I had a couple uncles who were pastors, so it was kind of in the family. I had a sense that was the direction God was leading me. My dad spent most of his ministry as a campus minister, and I remember as a kid going into his office when he would perform services on campus and it was always a cool feeling. What is most satisfying about your job? Working with students and having opportunities for them to get involved, like our mentoring program for kids in the Edison neighborhood. And being able to interact and build relationships with the international students. Why does Solid Grounds have such a strong connection to international students? Four or five years ago we had a student each from Japan, China and Malaysia that got involved in Solid Grounds, and (they) were wonderful in terms of getting the word out about the church. That summer we did a cookout on July 4th, so I told them, “Your friends from Japan, Malaysia and China, why don’t you invite them?” There were about 25 students there (at the cookout), and what struck me was how comfortable everyone was. It was a great way to build connections with students from different backgrounds, religions and cultures. So I told the students, "Let's do this once a month as an outreach." And it was just amazing — we had 40 to 60 students that came to our monthly dinners, usually on the last Friday of the month, and everybody just felt so comfortable with each other. People were getting to know and learn about each other — Christian students, Muslim students, students that were Buddhist, even atheist. It just developed very organically.

Why do you think people of different religions feel welcome at Solid Grounds? I think it’s because we are intentional about it. I think the goal is to make them feel welcome. The Bible talks about practicing hospitality, and entertaining strangers is just a reflection of what God wants us to do. Why did you get so involved with refugees? In the summer of 2015, when the Syrian refugee crisis was front and center in the news, we were hearing stories every single day about refugees fleeing and how horrible that was. I just felt tugged to do something to help, but I wasn’t sure what to do and so I reached out to the campus community to start having meetings. How did you go from those meetings to hosting the Kalamazoo Refugee Council? In February 2016, Samaritas (called Lutheran Social Services of Michigan at the time) spoke at another local church, and one of the students in our group was at that meeting and he told them about what we were doing (at Solid Grounds). The consensus of that meeting was “Why don’t we all just work together?” So in March 2016 people from area congregations and the (Kalamazoo) Islamic Center, WMU faculty and staff, and just anybody in the community that was interested came together here. And so we meet every other Friday here at Solid Grounds, and we called it the Kalamazoo Refugee Council to discuss co-sponsoring families and other refugee services. What drives you to do all of this outreach? Serving people, like Jesus did, reaching out to the poor and the forgotten of society, the blind and the lame, and the ones that are ostracized. Just reaching out to the people that most of society has forgotten about — to me that’s what Jesus did. It gives students a chance to live out their faith. I think the other thing too is to live out your faith in the hope that others can see that this is the love of Jesus. Trying to share the love of Jesus with others in the community, including those that don’t believe, just so we can say this is an important part of our faith. — Interviewed by Adam Rayes

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Mark Couch

Pastor, Solid Grounds Student Ministries In a time when religious and cultural differences are causing fractures in communities and tearing nations apart, international students studying in America may feel isolated and alone. But not if Pastor Mark Couch can help it. Couch has worked to make his Solid Grounds Campus Ministries open and welcoming to students of varying religions and cultures. Located at 1720 W. Michigan Ave., in a former farmhouse adjacent to Western Michigan University’s campus, Solid Grounds also serves as a meeting place for the Kalamazoo Refugee Council, a collective of various faith centers, organizations and concerned citizens dedicated to making Kalamazoo as welcoming to refugees as possible. Couch, who is affiliated with Zion Lutheran Church in Kalamazoo, grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and graduated from the University of Tennessee in

Brian Powers

(continued on page 37)

38 | Encore AUGUST 2017

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Profile for Encore Magazine

Encore August 2017  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Front yard farmers are making beautiful and bountiful spaces, the life and times of Vandenberg Furniture, why...

Encore August 2017  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Front yard farmers are making beautiful and bountiful spaces, the life and times of Vandenberg Furniture, why...

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