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Blazing a Water Trail

August 2015

Tunnels of Raspberries

Meet The Academics Got Gumbo? of Dance Mary Balkema DuckGot Eggs?

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

TREASURE HUNTING at the Allegan Antique Market


Sally Grushon died in 2006. Today she’s helping Kalamazoo area kids get ready for kindergarten. Sally loved Kalamazoo and was a champion for its children. In 1978 she helped start Hilltop Preschool at Zion Lutheran Church, which has been helping Kalamazoo area kids get ready for kindergarten ever since. When she died, her family created The Sally E. Grushon Endowment for Hilltop Preschool. It honors her legacy and provides scholarships to help families cover the cost of a quality pre-kindergarten education for their children. We can help you show your love for Kalamazoo and create a legacy too. Call 269.381.4416 or visit www.kalfound.org to learn how.

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“I’ve always loved to golf. But as my heart condition got worse, I couldn’t do much of anything anymore. Even walking across the room left me feeling tired and out of breath. Fortunately for me, the doctors at Bronson helped change all that. They told me about a new heart surgery called TAVR that could actually give me my life back. And that’s exactly what happened. Within days of my surgery at Bronson Methodist Hospital, I could walk without feeling out of breath, and I wasn’t tired anymore. My nurses, they were great, too. They talked to me, listened to me, even gave me pudding and popsicles in the middle of the night. Better yet, I’m back doing all the things I did before my heart condition: mowing the lawn, going to the gym and playing golf with the guys — terrible as ever.” Roy Kidney, Battle Creek, Michigan, September 17, 2014

When one person shares their positivity, we all share in it. To share how Bronson Positivity has impacted your life, or to watch a video of Roy’s story, visit bronsonpositivity.com.

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4 | Encore JULY 2015


August

CONTENTS 2015

FEATURES Antiquing in Allegan

22

Blazing a Water Trail

30

The Allegan Antique Market is a rite of summer for treasure hunters from near and far

How WMU prof Dave Lemberg helped to create state’s ‘blueways’

DEPARTMENTS 7 Contributors Up Front 8 First Things — Cool happenings in SW Michigan 10 Damn Handsome — The business of beard grooming 12 Enterprise

Hunting Raspberries? — Tunnels of the fabulous fruit are at Hunt’s Hillside

16 Good Works

Woolly Goodwill — SHALOM’s activities aid adults with disabilities

19 Savor

Duck, Duck, Egg — Eichorn Family Farm dotes on ducks for better eggs

46 Back Story

Meet Mary Balkema — She does more than just carry the county’s purse

ARTS

36 The Art of Sign Language Interpreter’s skills put deaf and hearing ‘on equal footing.

38 Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra Ensemble is bringing big-band sound to local audiences

40 Events of Note On the cover: Steven Van Antwerpen and his 2-year-old son, Derk, check out vintage toys and tools at the Allegan Antique Market.

43 Poetry

Photo by Junfu Han

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Blazing a Water Trail

Julie Powell

Steven M. Nitsch, MD

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Cosmetic & Reconstructive Breast Surgeries

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August 2015

Tunnels of Raspberries

Meet The Academics Got Gumbo? of Dance Mary Balkema DuckGot Eggs?

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

Comprehensive Plastic Surgical Care

TREASURE HUNTING at the Allegan Antique Market

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Publisher

encore publications, inc.

Editor

marie lee

Designer

alexis stubelt

Copy Editor

margaret deritter

Contributing Writers

kit almy, tiffany fitzgerald, junfu han, lisa mackinder, katherine rapin, j. gabriel ware, robert m. weir

Photographers

junfu han, brian powers

Poetry Editor

margaret deritter

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Advertising Sales krieg lee celeste statler sophia jacobs

Distribution kama mitchell

Office Coordinator hope smith

Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2015, 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, you may visit www.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.


encore CONTRIBUTORS

Kit Almy

Junfu Han

Kit, whose report on American Sign Language interpreter Jamie Rix appears in this issue, is a longtime contributor to our magazine. In addition to being a freelance writer, Almy works at the Kalamazoo Public Library and volunteers at the Kalamazoo Nature Center’s DeLano Homestead, teaching pioneer programs.

A freelance photographer, Junfu, has that photojournalist’s eye for catching intriguing images of everyday life. He contributed the images and stories of treasure hunters at the Allegan Antique Market for this month’s issue. A native of China, Junfu worked in New Mexico before moving to Kalamazoo. He spends half his week in Ann Arbor, where he recently took an assignment covering sports and other news for Mlive.

Katherine Rapin

Robert M. Weir

Katherine, who brings us this month’s story on the duck eggs produced by Eichorn’s Family Farm, has worked on her own family's small farm in Northern Michigan for the past five summers. A recent graduate of Kalamazoo College, she says the best part of reporting this story was driving out to Eichorn Family Farms at 6 a.m. to participate in the morning duck egg collection.

The Great Lakes Water Trails and Western Michigan University Professor Dave Lemberg’s role in bringing the state's water trails to fruition naturally appealed to Robert, who is an outdoor enthusiast and frequent kayaker. Readers often see Robert’s writing in Encore — he has covered the globe for the magazine contributing stories from such far-flung places as India, Russia and the Philippines. Find Robert online at RobertMWeir.com.

Lisa Mackinder Lisa has that great ability to see stories everywhere she goes. This month she reports on the nonprofit organization SHALOM and on Hunt’s Hillside raspberry farm, which she discovered when she was picking berries last summer. A freelance writer from Portage, Lisa’s work has previously appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Animal Wellness, Dog World, Michigan Meetings and Events Magazine, MiBiz, and other publications.

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up front encore

First Things

Something Important

Youth to speak out on violence, drugs

Hear and discuss potential solutions to violence and substance

abuse at the Above the Influence Movement Summit Aug. 20 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites. The summit, which runs from 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m., is presented by the Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force to give teens an opportunity to express themselves to community leaders, including government officials, public safety

Something Delicious Relish the rib

What’s better than being able to eat ribs all day long? Not much, so get ready to do just that at Ribfest Aug. 6-8 at Arcadia Festival Place, in downtown Kalamazoo. Ribfest, an event in which national and local vendors serve up their best ribs, chicken, sauces and side dishes, has been a fixture in Kalamazoo for more than 20 years. “The Kalamazoo Ribfest is a family-friendly event,” says Dana Schmitt, event manager for Townsquare Media, which recently acquired the annual event. “There is fun for everyone. All entertainment is included with admission, and country singers Chase Bryant and Craig Morgan and rock group Blue Oyster Cult will headline musical performances.” Ribfest begins at 11 a.m. each day. Admission is free before 4 p.m. and is $10 after 4 p.m. Children 12 and under with an adult are admitted for free all day. For more information, visit kalamazooribfest.com.

8 | Encore AUGUST 2015

officers and teachers. People of all ages are invited to attend. “Attendees may also participate in youthhosted breakout sessions led by Prevention Work’s PEER Power team and the Youth United Way,” says Prevention Works health educator Katie MacDonald. Youth will also enjoy a complimentary breakfast, free giveaway items and a performance by Kinetic Affect, a spoken-word duo. The Kalamazoo County Substance Abuse Task Force is a part of Prevention Works, a nonprofit organization that works to build stronger communities by providing comprehensive health education strategies to youth and families. The summit is free, but reservations are required. To register or for additional information, contact MacDonald at Kmacdonald@ prevention-works.org or call (269) 364-2146.


Something Adventurous Embark on a family campout

Creating natural art, practicing archery and cooking over a campfire are part of the outdoor fun offered at the Kalamazoo Nature Center’s Family Campout. The event runs from 5 p.m. Aug. 29 until noon Aug. 30 on the grounds of the Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave. Admission is $35 per person for KNC members and $40 per person for others and covers a campfire dinner, breakfast and two tents per family (if needed). Children 3 years old and under are admitted for free. "Family Campout provides a rare opportunity to camp on the grounds of the Kalamazoo Nature Center,” says Lisa Panich, KNC communications director. “KNC camp staff will guide families through night hikes in search of owls and constellations. Every experience level is welcome to come and enjoy an evening under the stars at KNC." For more information, visit www.naturecenter.org.

Patio Dining at its Best Something Artistic

See the young and talented Kalamazoo’s youth will take center stage at the United Teens Talent Show on Aug. 8. The show starts at 7 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium, 329 S. Park St. Teenagers will display their artistic and creative talents as they compete for $1,500 in cash. The acts include singers, dancers, spoken-word poets, musicians and comedians. "United Teens Talent Show is so much more than a talent show,” says Beth McCann, deputy director of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, which is presenting the show. “It's about team and self-esteem building. It gives the artists a way to express themselves and the opportunity to build lifelong friendships with other teens in Kalamazoo County." Tickets are free but require reservations. To make reservations or to get more information, call (269) 342-5059.

5402 Portage Road, Kalamazoo Phone: 269.344.7700 w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 9


up front encore

A Damn Fine Beard

Local company brings beer to beard grooming by

Tiffany Fitzgerald

I

Rhino Media

t’s no news that beards are back. Since 2011, the rise of the “lumbersexual” look, a rugged, hypermasculine aesthetic, has been steadily on the rise, according to beauty product market research. The U.S. has led the way, with a 21 percent growth in male grooming product launches in the last three years, according to industry sources. “What’s happening is a resurgence of putting ‘man’ back in ‘gentleman,’” says Jarrett Blackmon, owner of Damn Handsome Grooming Co., a Kalamazoo-based male grooming product line. Blackmon creates the products in his studio at the Park Trades Center. “It’s about being wellgroomed but also being able to make a good cocktail or chop wood,” he says. We’re not talking shaggy, overgrown Jeremiah Johnson beards, here. Proper grooming defines the modern-day lumberjack look, says a Datamonitor 2014 global survey. That look has led to the rise in such beard and shaving products as beard serum, beard oil, nutritional beard complexes and beard conditioners. And don’t forget old-time shaving soaps and brushes. “You don’t have to be slick or sleazy about having a beard or mustache or grooming,” says Blackmon, who thinks the renaissance in male grooming is the natural sweet spot

10 | Encore AUGUST 2015

Damn Handsome grooming products include everything the lumbersexual needs, from shaving cream and beard oil to beard balm and whisker wax. Opposite page: Damn Handsome owner Jarrett Blackmon.


encore up front

between men’s grooming in the ’90s — which he describes as “the whole lull with one-size-fits-all clothing and square shirts” — to the “metrosexual.” Now, says Blackmon, men can be comfortable about being well groomed and buying the products that come with good grooming. Damn Handsome Grooming Co.’s shaving and grooming products, which include old-school shaving cream, hair serum, beard oil, beard balm and hair and whisker wax, have a twist: They are handmade from natural, vegan ingredients, including beer. Damn Handsome incorporates the “untapped bottom of the barrel” ingredients from brewing into their products. “People love that it’s made with beer and that we’re using ingredients that would normally go to waste, so it’s sustainable too,” Blackmon says. “And it really works. The yeast, hops, oats and barley have a ton of vitamins, antioxidants and proteins that clean, moisturize and nourish skin and hair.” Damn Handsome partners with breweries in Michigan and elsewhere for the ingredients needed to make its grooming products, Blackmon says. He and three parttime associates make the products together (and his wife, Bridget Blackmon, works part-time running the finances of the business). The products are sold wholesale to businesses across the U.S., online to

individual purchasers, in brick-and-mortar stores in the Kalamazoo area and at the Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market, where Blackmon began selling the products in a test run two and a half years ago. “It was a great place to start because we were able to get direct feedback and talk with customers about the questions they had,” he says. “Even if we couldn’t explain an answer completely, we could say, ‘Come back next week,’ and learn how to communicate everything. We know why our product is good for sensitive skin or in-grown hairs, but we got practice explaining it, which was great.” The feedback, both from the market customers and online, is “overwhelming,” says Blackmon, noting that customers seem to like the line’s original scents like American Ale and Happy Mint. “You don’t need a whole arsenal of stuff,” Blackmon says of grooming supplies. “You only need a few things that work really well.” For more information or to order online, visit DamnHandsomeGroomingCo.com or Facebook.com/DamnHandsomeGroomingCo.

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Enterprise ENCORE

Tunnels of Berries

Hunt’s Hillside isn’t the usual raspberry farm by

Lisa Mackinder

M

ichael Hunt gained his first taste of entrepreneurship in high school, after purchasing a greenhouse that sold small spring annuals. He has since sold the venture, but the experience proved an excellent introduction to business ownership. It also drew out his interest in farming. In 2009, two years after Hunt earned a degree in horticulture from Michigan State University, he and his uncle Jim Hunt started Hunt’s Hillside, a raspberry farm at 27867 66th Ave. in Lawton. “I knew the raspberry farm wasn’t enough income by itself,” says Hunt, who also works as a production coordinator for Kalamazoo Flower Group, in Galesburg. “But it was the start of something.” That “something” has blossomed into a promising enterprise. Besides selling raspberries at the farm’s location in Lawton, where customers can pick from July through October, Hunt’s Hillside distributes its product across the state to breweries and wineries as far north as Traverse City. Local clients include Bell’s Brewery, Paw Paw

12 | Encore AUGUST 2015


encore enterprise

them keep coming back to purchase more raspberries.” To deliver high-caliber raspberries, Hunt’s Hillside diverges from most raspberry producers’ methods by growing its berries within high tunnels with dimensions of 24 feet wide by 600 feet long and tall enough

Michael Hunt, above, inside one of his many raspberry tunnels, such as those pictured across the bottom of the page. Opposite page: Bees are key to pollinating Hunt’s raspberry plants.

to walk in. The structures can’t handle snow, so the laborious tasks of erecting and dismantling the tunnels occur each year. Working from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., six people

Brian Powers

Brewing Co. and St. Julian Winery, which purchases Hunt’s raspberries for brandy and dessert wines, such as All That Razz. Schramm’s Meadery, in Ferndale, buys Hunt’s product to make mead, a medieval-style alcoholic drink made from fermented honey and other ingredients. Before beginning the raspberry farm, the Hunts did their homework. They researched raspberry growing, attended fruit and vegetable expos and spoke to experienced raspberry growers — even making a visit to Driscoll’s, one of the largest berry growers in the nation, with headquarters in California. But Hunt says that the learning curve never ends. “The industry is continuously changing so I have to keep educating myself as much as possible in all aspects in agriculture,” he says. “The prior knowledge was only the beginning of building a successful business. It’s been very important for me to build a strong relationship with other businesses in the agriculture community. The most important thing is not only keeping customers happy, but having a superior product to have

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Enterprise ENCORE raise the eight tunnels in two nights. They work at night because of the number of brewers that purchase raspberries and to increase the decreased wind levels. Hunt considers the effort worth it since the yield of berries sold to current brewery customers. Hunt sees a good outlook for tunnels generate healthier fruit. If you go to Hunt’s Hillside… small, local farms. “Anything local Driscoll’s also utilizes high is on the rise,” he says. “We’re tunnels. Check beforehand on hours and status of raspberries for picking by calling (269) 370-3852 or visit facebook.com/HuntsHillsideLLC seeing people who want to know “We can kind of control the where their food is coming from.” weather a little more,” he says of So far, Hunt’s Hillside has drawn a steady stream of visitors the tunnels. “Moisture is the biggest threat to raspberries, and we can eliminate moisture on the crop.” The tunnels produce a nice size grabbing a bucket and heading into the tunnels during the summer, and uniformity to the berries, Hunt says. “We can yield more pounds including visitors from Chicago, Indiana and Ohio. But berry pickers should take note: Don’t write off a trip into the high tunnels simply of berries, and the plant doesn’t have to fight fungus and disease.” Drip irrigation also prevents moisture from getting on the plants because of fall’s chilly approach. “Retail dies off in the fall because people don’t know (about latewhen watered. Ron Goldy, with the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University, visits every week to check a water- season berries),” Hunt says. “It’s an item that goes along with apples and stuff to do in the fall.” measuring device mounted in the ground. The raspberry plants take up 2.5 acres and produce 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of raspberries each season. Hunt’s offers two types of berries — summer and fall, the latter also called ever-bearing. Pruning is a big maintenance effort, since every year the fall berries must be trimmed to the ground and the old canes raked out of the aisles. The summer fruit requires a different method of cutting. “Last year’s new growth is this year’s fruiting cane,” Hunt says. “In the spring you cut out last year’s canes that had fruit on them.” In addition to the tunnels, berry pickers might notice another interesting element at Hunt’s Hillside — bee boxes throughout the rows. Not to worry, though, the bees mind their own business while searching the vines for the colorful fruit. “Raspberries are pollinated 100 percent by bees,” Hunt says. “We use bumblebees early in the season from a local farmer.” The six to eight bumblebee hives arrive near the end of May. In the summer, Hunt’s uses 10 to 13 hives of honeybees and attracts native bees with a perimeter of wildflowers. The farm has space for more berries, and in the future Hunt hopes to expand its retail business and sales to grocery chains. He also wants to expand

14 | Encore AUGUST 2015


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good works ENCORE

Woolly Work

SHALOM’s activities, store and homes aid adults with disabilities by

Lisa Mackinder

Brian Powers

D

riving down Riverview Drive north of Parchment, one could easily miss the SHALOM Shepherd’s Barn. Tucked behind a 19thcentury farmhouse, the unassuming red building contains an activity center, the Connection Depot Thrift Store and a “woolery,” all of which exist to serve adults with developmental disabilities. SHALOM, an acronym for Self-Help Alternative Living Opportunities of Michigan, (and also a Hebrew greeting that means “peace”) describes itself as a people-focused, Christ-centered nonprofit organization that is supported by many people in the Kalamazoo area as well as by churches and businesses. Three days per week, a beehive of activity occurs inside the Shepherd’s Barn. During this time, the woolery meets, gathering 16 | Encore AUGUST 2015

Cindy Ross makes a wool ball at SHALOM.

SHALOM residents and volunteers to process raw wool and make wool products, such as bird nesting balls, cat balls, dryer balls and potholders. These are sold in the organization’s thrift store. But the work done here isn’t just about work. It’s also about personal fulfillment and a sense of belonging. “There’s always the social aspect, where people are interacting while working,” says Keith Lohman, SHALOM’s executive director. “They’re laughing and talking. They learn to do something well that they’ve never done before.” During processing, one group works the skirting table, where the raw wool gets separated from manure, sticks and straw. The separated


encore good works

wool goes to other workers who wash it and then to another set of workers who rinse and spin the wool. Finally, Lohman and a few others make the prepared fiber into felt or woving fabric for products. The woolery’s participants have even had the opportunity to teach others their craft. Western Michigan University’s Occupational Therapy Department, which works closely with SHALOM, invited the organization’s residents and volunteers to instruct students on how to make wool items. “They’ve really taken us under their wing,” Lohman says. “It’s one of the field experiences occupational therapy students can participate in.” The woolery is also moving toward making rugs with the wool. It owns four looms but lacks operational knowledge. That situation will soon change because Charles and Dee Jackson of Constantine have volunteered to set up the looms and provide instruction. The first loom is nearly ready, and training will begin shortly. “It will take any number of visits for them to get a few of us up and running to the point that we can train and work with our participants,” Lohman explains. “This process is a high priority as the woolery grows so as to give a new creative outlet.” The wool for SHALOM’s goods comes from three sources. “We have 11 sheep of our own that supply 25 percent of what we need,” Lohman says. “We buy wool, and some is donated.” Across the street from the Shepherd’s Barn is SHALOM Farm, a 180-acre tract with two acres currently used for farming. To the right of the barn, amid a grove of maple trees, stands a sugar shack, where volunteers and residents produce maple syrup for the store. The opposite end of the farm houses the animals. Besides sheep, the farm is home to Nigerian dwarf goats, lambs, chickens and ducks. Most

recently, SHALOM welcomed Grace and Suki, two donated alpaca that will provide the woolery with alpaca fiber for products. SHALOM began 25 years ago when Sara and Glen Collison purchased an old farmhouse, renovated it and lived there with their

Above: Karen Beach, at left, and Gideon Eckhart, separate raw wool from sticks and dirt. Left: Calvin Roux pours water into a washer for the wool as Todd Johnson and Rose Berglund look on.

own children and 12 residents with developmental disabilities. “They sensed a call to begin this organization,” Lohman says of the Collisons. Operating as an extended family, the SHALOM network now includes six homes, all located within a mile of the Shepherd’s Barn, that give residents a place to live with necessary support. Christian care providers manage each of the homes, and at full capacity the network can house 37 residents. “It can be lonely and hard work, but there is a lifestyle of mutual support with the homes,” Lohman says. SHALOM currently has more than 110 volunteers, and individuals and churches fund the nonprofit organization. “Donations to our store are all from individuals in the community, which nets nearly w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 17


Denise Crane places competed wool balls in a display in the SHALOM store while Debbie Pratley assists.

10 percent of our day-to-day needs,” Lohman says. “Capital improvements are mostly funded through grants, with significant additional designated funds from individuals.” Collaboration with other organizations is also welcomed. Students from WoodsEdge Learning Center, a special-education school in Portage, visit and help process donated clothing for the store. The Shepherd’s Barn hosts monthly meetings of the Aktion Club, a division of Kiwanis Clubs that serves adults with disabilities.

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Where: 6276 N. Riverview Drive, Parchment When: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday and Saturday Lohman expresses hopes for SHALOM farm, envisioning part-time job coaches who will help residents perform chores. Offering something different from city life, the farm is a place of refuge, Lohman says. Last year SHALOM built 25 raised vegetable gardens and topped the paths between the wooden units with hard-packed stone dust for wheelchair accessibility. Lohman hopes to extend the paths throughout the rest of the farm area, which includes an apple orchard, and around the barns. “Our intention is to keep doing what we’re doing and reach out to more and more people with disabilities,” he says.


encore Savor

‘A Better Egg’

Eichorn Family Farm brings duck eggs to markets Katherine Rapin

by

D

ducks, chickens, turkeys, geese, and sheep on their farm, it’s Eichorn’s duck eggs that are getting attention. The Eichorn family left their dairy farm in Paraguay 20 years ago after Eichorn’s father developed colon cancer. They moved to Dwight Eichorn and his mother, Lila, run Eichorn Family Farm, which includes a flock of about 100 ducks.

Brian Powers

wight Eichorn stands barefoot on a grassy bank before a shimmering pond at his farm in Leonidas while around him, hiding in the tall grass, drinking water from the bank and floating across the pond, are some of the 100 ducks from which Eichorn collects about 85 eggs a day. Eichorn, 35, is the head farmer of Eichorn Family Farm, located 35 miles south of Kalamazoo. While he and his mother, Lila, raise goats,

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SAVOR ENCORE

Southwest Michigan — where Eichorn’s mother was raised — for access to better health care. Ten years later the family bought a 43-acre farm, and last summer Eichorn joined the vendors at the Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market and the 100-Mile Market, at the People’s Food Co-op, selling pastureraised goose meat, lamb and mutton as well as chicken and duck eggs. A duck egg is like a robust chicken egg with a richer, more flavorful yolk. The egg’s white is sturdy and can turn rubbery if cooked too

Left: Lila Eichorn with Alonso, who helps tend to the farm’s animals. Above: The Eichorns collect about 85 eggs a day from their ducks.

long. One duck egg has almost twice the calories of a chicken egg: 130 compared to 70. Duck eggs are also higher in protein (9 grams per egg compared to 6 in a chicken egg), fat and iron. With prices comparable to chicken eggs at Eichorn’s stand, duck eggs offer a more nutritious bang for your buck. But duck eggs can be harder to come by. Eichorn is one of only a handful of local farmers who sell duck eggs. He speculates that not many farmers raise ducks because they’re messier than chickens. Ducks drink water voraciously, making it difficult to keep their coops dry. And each bird produces more waste than a chicken, so, in order to maintain healthy living conditions for the ducks, “you can (fit) less animals in a given space,” Eichorn says.

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encore Savor

Eichorn’s ducks are outside for most of the day March through November, resulting in a cleaner coop but making Eichorn’s daily egg hunts challenging and the eggs harder to clean. Ducks lay wherever they please, and if their gate is left open, Eichorn can find eggs anywhere along the 100 yards from the coop down to the pond. Eichorn raises both chickens and ducks, and, judging egg quality by the birds’ diets, he thinks his best eggs come from the ducks. “The duck is happy free-ranging for a lot longer time of the season,” he says. Both birds amble around in the pasture, but, by nature, the ducks spend more time outside. Eichorn says the ducks absorb more nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids from aquatic plants in the pond and protein from bugs than the chickens do from their dry feed. “The way I see it, there’s a scale. Let’s say one to 10,” Eichorn says. He explains that an egg on the low end of the scale is the average chicken egg available at a grocery store, produced by a bird that was bred and raised to yield as many eggs as possible with the cheapest inputs. “The 10 is the best egg I could imagine,” he says. A duck would produce this top egg in May, with access to plenty of bugs, lush grass, and plants from the pond. Eichorn is committed to growing and raising the healthiest food he can. “Somebody gets sick, and that’s when people start searching for the real answers, like how to get well, how to be well,” Eichorn says. “When Dad got sick with cancer, there was no option. Medicine gave no hope.” His father’s diet was revamped with nutrientdense greens and juices. He lived three times as long as the doctors predicted, Eichorn says, and was lucid until two days before he died. “That he could feel that well until the day he died,” Eichorn says, “we figure that (the diet) probably helped.”

Eichorn takes about 60 dozen duck eggs to the farmers’ markets each week, but the eggs have yet to make a profit. Eichorn says the eggs are “the candy to sell the lamb.” However, Eichorn says his first year at the market has been encouraging and has spurred his pursuit of more nutritious ways

of raising food. He says he will be working to grow more nutrient-dense forage, like comfrey, for the ducks. “That’s my goal — a better egg,” Eichorn says. “But not the best. I could never get there.”

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ANTIQUING WE WILL GO Treasure hunting at the Allegan Antique Market

story by

J. Gabriel Ware & Junfu Han photography by

junfu han

S

ome come to browse, passing by the rows of tables, gazebos and tents, gazing at the antique glasses, jewelry, furniture and knickknacks, and if anything catches their eye, they buy it. Then there are those who come to hunt, scavenging through booths in pursuit of something specific. It could be a vintage vinyl record player, an ancient china dish set or even a postage stamp from 1936. “When we open the gates at 8 a.m., there are usually 300 people already at the gates waiting to get in and a half-a-mile-long line of cars trying to get into the parking lot,” Allegan Antique Market owner Larry Wood says. “We have three entrance gates, and it’s still difficult. If you haven’t been here before, it would blow your mind.” The Allegan Antique Market, a monthly antique and vintage-item sale held at the Allegan County Fairgrounds, gives customers the experience of shopping at 400 vendor spaces filled with a mixed bag of antiques and collectibles. Listed as one of 11 can’t-miss Midwest flea markets by Midwest Living Magazine, the Allegan Antique Market attracts enthusiasts from all over Michigan and from neighboring Midwestern states, Wood says. The market was started in 1978 by Wood and his wife, Lori. who visited antique shows while serving in the military in the Washington, D.C., area. Wanting to bring an antique show to his home area of Grand Rapids, Wood drove thousands of miles across Michigan to find potential sellers, eventually rounding up 190 vendors, he says. He worked as a full-time firefighter for the Grand Rapids Fire Department at the time and ran the antique shows on the side. He began working A shopper looks through vintage and antique jewelry at a vendor’s booth at the Allegan Antique Market.

22 | Encore AUGUST 2015


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on the antique market full time when he retired 20 years ago and has since watched the business flourish. Today there are six Allegan Antique Market shows each season. They are held on the last Sunday of the month, from April to September. Wood says there is no particular motive behind the schedule except for convenience. “Plus, the schedule helps customers remember when the next show is — the last Sunday of the month,” Wood says. Wood’s enterprise has evolved into a family business — his children and grandchildren have become essential members of the market’s operation. The demographics of the customers have evolved over the years too, Wood says, forcing dealers to adapt to the demands of the new customers. “When we first started, customers were searching for traditional antiques,” Wood says. “Although some of our older customers are still coming for the traditional antiques, the younger customers are looking for repurpose products for their homes.” Sellers rent booths for their wares, and the cost ranges from $70 to $75 per show, depending on the size and location of the space. For $375 to $400, dealers can get a season package deal, securing a spot for all six shows. Many of the dealers provide shipping, and the market has courtesy wagons to help customers move heavy products to their vehicles. The market also has seven food services, two picnic stations and a camping area for visitors and dealers. Wood says customers can leave the market with an item as cheap as $4 or, as a customer did last year, an oil painting for $8,000. One perk that accompanies shopping at the Allegan Antique Market, he notes, is that there is always some wiggle room for bargaining. “There are always price negotiations. It’s part of the game.”

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Jack Rineer and his wife, Jill, left their home in Benzie County at 1 a.m. to arrive at June's Allegan Antique Market an hour and half before the gates opened. The owners of Blackhorse Antiques in Beulah, the Rineers look for any item that could sell in their store. According to Jack, he and Jill are very efficient buyers — they planned to spend about $5,000 in two hours to load up their trailer and then to head for home.


Lindsey Barkel, an interior designer from Zeeland, uses the chance to walk around the market to meet potential clients as well look for ideas. She and her husband, Jordan, a carpenter, also look for industrialstyle items to decorate their house. “We always come home with something,” Lindsey says. Jordan is seeking items to fill “a cabinet of curiosity,” filled with things such as preserved bugs and songbirds. Jordan says the songbirds are rare because it has been illegal for more than 50 years for people other than federal game wardens and other agents to have songbirds undergo taxidermy. Jordan and Lindsey are seen here shopping with their children, Emme, 2, Ruby, 6, Natalie, 8, and Charlie, 5.

Melba Beemer, of Flint, arrived with her husband at the Allegan Antique Market before the gates opened at 8 a.m. She walked around with her cart like other experienced antique shoppers, her eyes quickly scanning through items on display at each booth. By 8:10, she had already found a few things, including a wooden chicken she will put in a flowerbed at her home. “I just buy things I like — I am not into how old they are — whatever catches my eye that will decorate my house inside or outside,” Beemer says.

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Tim Brady, of Climax, has been coming to the market for more than 15 years in search of gasoline bottles and petroleum-related items and signs. Brady worked at a Gulf gas station in high school and says he still remembers when he pumped gas for customers and washed their windows. He says he has collected more than 50 gasoline bottles in the past three decades. “Coming here for so many years, I’ve gotten to know some of the vendors. It’s like a social thing,” he says.

26 | Encore AUGUST 2015


Mark Van Dyke, of Muskegon, and his wife, Debbie Vander Haag, seen here talking to Peggy Wiersma, of Gobles, have been coming to every Allegan Antique Market for the past 10 years. “We never know what we are looking for,” Vander Haag says. Van Dyke has collected old steering knobs since he was a kid and now has more than 50. Vander Haag collects cookie jars. “I used to collect vases, and then I gave that up,” she says. “Then I collected bean pods, and I got tired of that. And then I got into cookie jars, and, oh boy, I got lots of cookie jars. I can’t even tell you how many I have.” (Van Dyke says his wife has more than 100.) The couple is also looking for rocking chairs for their nine grandkids.

Cathy Klug, of Rockford, and her granddaughter Gillian, 7, of Dorr, visit the market together to look for dolls. Klug collects dolls and keeps an eye out for rare infant feeders from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Klug says both of her children are boys. “I thought, ‘I’ll never get to buy dolls,’ and then I decided I can just collect dolls for me,” she says. Cathy has been collecting dolls for the past 40 years and has more than 50 in her collection. She says she likes dolls of different ethnic groups, like the Native American doll in this picture. Granddaughter Gillian also found a doll she likes.

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Emily Tieman, of Holland, says she used to hate antiques because she grew up watching her mother collect them. But as Tieman grew older, she fell in love with old stuff. She now owns an antique booth in a store in Holland and comes to the Allegan Antique Market to look for home-and-garden items such as flowerpots as well as rusty gas and oil product signs.

Christian Kindel, who owns the retail store Kindel & Co., in Howard City, carries purchases with Amy DeYoung, of Grand Rapids. DeYoung, a pediatric dentist, says she changes her office’s decor five times a year and is always looking for toys for decoration.

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Steve Van Antwerpen, of Conklin, and his 2-year-old son, Derk, come to the Allegan Antique Market to find items to help fix up the family’s older home. Steve particularly gravitates toward old tools, while Derk likes anything with wheels that he can play with.

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Pathways for paddlers WMU prof helps launch river and big-lake ‘blueways’

Dave Lemberg kayaks along the Lake Michigan shoreline near South Haven.

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story by

Robert M. Weir

photography by

BRIAN POWERS

L

ong before Michigan was dotted with municipalities and ribboned with roads, the state’s waterways were paddled by indigenous tribes in birchbark canoes. French voyageurs followed with their large freight canoes and York boats. Today, Michigan honors those early traditions with two programs for modern aquatic recreationists: the Michigan Heritage Water Trails (for rivers) and Michigan’s Great Lakes Water Trails (for shorelines). And Dave Lemberg, associate professor of geography at Western Michigan University, is deeply involved with both.

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Lemberg, a geographer and professional planner with skills in computer programming and geographic information systems (GIS), teaches classes on geography and recreation planning to university students aiming to work in municipal and township planning departments. Lemberg, who was born in Massachusetts in 1959, grew up in Sunnyvale, Calif., and attained a bachelor’s degree in political economics from the University of California, Berkeley; a master’s in regional planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and a doctorate in geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. When he accepted his position at WMU in 1997, Lemberg was an avid exploratory caver. Once in Michigan, however, he noted the state’s wealth of navigable waterways and tried his hand at kayaking. Curious about “water trails,” he attended a Michigan trails conference in Battle Creek in early 1998. “There was only one person at the Department of Natural Resources working on water trails at that time,” Lemberg says. “He said he had been pushing for a water trail program in Michigan for 20 years but the legislature wouldn’t fund it.” Lemberg noted an economic incongruity. “Land-based rails-to-trails programs were popular even though they cost $100,000 per mile to acquire, pave and maintain property. But water trails are cheap: The state already owns the right-of-way, and trail developers need only create access points and mark them, then clear a path through any large downed trees.” In 2001, Lemberg partnered with Dean Sandell of the DNR to assist the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council in its request to the state legislature to pass a bill to create river-based water trails. With Michigan in an economic depression, lawmakers feared voters would view the new recreational program as frivolous. Utilizing principles from his studies in political economics, Lemberg helped the 4-H restructure its proposal, transforming the intention from a recreational program to an educational, environmental and economic opportunity. “The idea was to create an interactive educational experience by paddling down a river,” he says. “Interpretive signs posted on bridge crossings and urban revetments would inform about the history, culture and nature of the river corridor.” The House and Senate unanimously passed the bill, and Gov. John Engler signed it in 2002. “The legislation was an unfunded mandate, a proclamation that authorized such a thing as a water trail to exist,” Lemberg explains. This means that the state was not obliged to lay out money for the program, nor was the DNR required to assign personnel to oversee it. 32 | Encore AUGUST 2015

Nevertheless, Michigan residents breathed life into the concept. “Any local group — land conservationists, river preservationists — can designate a river as a heritage waterway. People all over Michigan are doing it,” Lemberg says. To facilitate these citizen efforts, Lemberg created the Michigan Heritage Water Trails website, established an ad hoc program at WMU to advise groups on how to designate a water trail, and enlisted a student to design signage to put on bridges and revetments. The River Country Heritage Water Trail (St. Joseph River, Portage River and Nottawa Creek) was the first trail to be designated. This project was initiated by Tim Peterson, one of Lemberg’s WMU graduate students, who undertook the endeavor through his job at the St. Joseph County Conservation District. But while river trails are wonderful, Michigan’s distinctive peninsular shape is defined by the Great Lakes. What about kayaking and canoeing on those bodies of water that once served as the main thoroughfares of the indigenous Americans and exploratory Europeans? Yes, Lemberg plies these bounding waters also. In fact, he and his wife, Bridget, enjoyed their first date kayaking from Buchanan to Warren Dunes and back. Then in 2008, the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance office in Chicago began work on a national recreation trail around Lake Michigan. “I got a call asking if I would represent Michigan,” he says. The invitation came at the outset of his second sabbatical year at WMU, and Lemberg was looking for a project. This one thrilled him. Working with people from Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, Lemberg would denote paddle access points along the Lake Michigan shore. Over the next two summers, he studied online data and county and township maps, explored Michigan’s shoreline from Indiana to Wisconsin, and conversed with local planners and townsfolk. “I’m a firm believer in directing people to access points within towns and villages, places where visitors will park and spend money locally, and to minimize disturbance in wild areas,” he says. Lemberg also says viable access points for canoes and kayaks should have adequate parking somewhat close to the water and be free of problematic cliffs or steep stairways. Transportation over dunes can be facilitated by a kayak cart with extra-large balloon tires. Some good access points are on the inland side of navigational channels. Lemberg cites as an example Holland State Park, where “it’s a lot easier to put in near the campground on Lake Macatawa. Paddling out the To help the public utilize water trails, Lemberg, at right, created an atlas that is printed and available online.


Before you paddle, think safety Lake Michigan is a wonderful place to paddle if you have the right boat and proper gear, Dave Lemberg says. But if you’re out in bad weather, the wind and waves can be very, very dangerous. A squall can churn up. Shore currents can arise with wave action. And there are gyres—circular currents—on the lake. If the Edmund Fitzgerald can sink in a storm, anything can. Look at the weather. Look at NOAA websites for wind and currents. Learn when to stay ashore (www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/glcfs). Beware of cold-water temperatures. In spring and early summer, you can experience hypothermia in a minute if you fall in. Most kayaks rented along the Lake Michigan shore are for playing around near the beach or on a stream or small lake and are not intended for off-shore paddling. If you want to paddle some distance, go to a reputable dealer or one of the area kayak clubs and try out their kayaks ahead of time. Get someone knowledgeable to teach you how to use it. Learn how to roll and bring yourself upright. Water trail information • Michigan Heritage Water Trails — www.wmich.edu/glcms/watertrails (site that Dave Lemberg created) • Lake Michigan Water Trail Association — www.wlmt.org (where Lemberg’s atlas can be found) • Michigan Great Lakes Water Trails — www.michiganwatertrails.org West Michigan kayak clubs and paddling information •West Michigan Kayaking Club — www. meetup.com/West-Michigan-Kayaking-andCanoeing-Meetup-Group or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/West-MichiganKayaking-Club/128038637230451 • Great Lakes Adventure Club — www.greatlakesadventureclub.com

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$ 7

Southwest Michigan

Tunnel Park

South Haven to Holland

3

3

3.02 mi

2

G

Lake Michigan National Recreation Water Trail

3.14 mi

Oval Beach 2

5.4 mi

2

2

$

T

$

Saugatuck Dunes State Park

T

2 HOLLAND

G

Laketown Twp Beach

1 Spear Street Ramp

1

4 mi

7

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See inset map

Kalamazoo Lake

1.29 mi

Wade's Bayou Park (Douglas)

Holland State Beach Campground 9 mi

SAUGATUCK

Lake Macatawa

29

GT

Kalamazoo River

9 mi

Kollen Park (Holland)

T

LAKE MICHIGAN

2 2

2

FROM SOUTH HAVEN, from Northshore Dr., turn left (N) to Blue Star Hwy. │ Continue on Blue Star Hwy ~6 miles. │ Blue Star Hwy becomes Adams Rd/70th St in Ganges Twp, then becomes Lakeshore Dr. │ Turn right (E) to 124th Ave.│ Turn left (N) to 68th St. │Turn right (E) to E Center St. │ Turn left (N) to N Main St.│Turn right (NE) to Blue Star Hwy. │ Turn left (W) to Northshore Dr. │ Turn right (N) to Blue Star Hwy.│ Turn left (W) to Lake St.│Turn left to Culver St.│ Turn right (N) to Butler St. Turn right (E) to Lucy St. Turn left (NE) to Holland St. │ Holland St becomes Blue Star Hwy. │Turn left (N) to 64th St. │64th St becomes 160th Ave.│Turn right (E) to South Shore Dr.│In Holland, South Shore Dr becomes W 17th St. │Turn left (N) to Central Ave.│Turn right (W) to W 3rd St.│Turn right (N) to River Ave. OR turn right (N) after one block to Pine Ave (turn left at River Ave).│River Ave becomes Butternut Dr after exiting the city of Holland.

Pier Cove Park

Westside Park

Traveling North On the east side of South Haven, where BL I-196 ends at I-196/US-31 Exit 20, the route continues north into Allegan Co on I-196/US-31.│ The circle tour continues northerly on US-31/BL I-196 toward Holland at Exit 44 when I-196 splits off to the east.│ Route continues northerly past Holland via the US-31 bypass. │ On the east side of Holland, the route continues northerly following US-31.

DOUGLAS

7

3

$

$

7 2

G

7

T 11.34 mi

Casco Twp Nature Preserve

LM Circle Tour Directions

$

1.28 mi

121st Avenue Access

114th Avenue Access (Glenn)

Kalamazoo River

2

5.4 mi

Traveling North

SAUGATUCK

2

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U.S. Bike Route 35 Directions

1

Dyckman Beach

2.62 mi

2

2

$ 7

¤

Black

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0

1

2

4 Miles

channel can be a bit tricky, but it’s better than carrying the boat across the wide expanse of sand or trying to beach a kayak amongst a large group of swimmers on a busy summer day.” To attain such safety by separation, planners put the access point in South Haven on a narrow beach at the end of Dyckman Road rather than at either of the municipality’s two primary swimming beaches. A local livery already utilized the Dyckman Road beach for its rent-by-the-hour customers. But how do nonlocal eco-tourists know where to launch their craft, especially when so many potential access points are simply at the end of a country road? Here, again, Lemberg has provided an answer. The result of his sabbatical research is the State of Michigan Lake Michigan Leisure Corridor Map Set, an atlas of 32 professionally designed maps that show Michigan’s Lower Peninsula’s western shore and the Upper Peninsula’s southern shore in 30-mile segments. Funded A page from the Great Lakes Water Trails atlas shows the ‘blueway’ and access points on Lake Michigan from South Haven to Holland, a route popular with kayakers like those pictured on the opposite page.

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by a grant from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality and with cartography by research assistant Matthew Borr (now an instructor at WMU and Kalamazoo Valley Community College), the atlas is available free online at michiganwatertrails.org. Each access point appears as a coded icon that specifies parking characteristics and distance to the shore. Highway rest areas indicate public toilets and potable water. The distance from point to point along the “blueway” is marked in miles. Places to avoid, such as municipal water intake stations and federally protected nuclear power plants, are also indicated. An index lists GPS coordinates for each access point. This feature relates to a free Android mobile phone app, created by Lemberg and student programmer Jeffery Halleck, that enables paddlers to easily hone in on their next desired destination. “It’s like Jack Sparrow’s compass (in Pirates of the Caribbean) that always points to where you want to go,” Lemberg jokes. The atlas also provides color-coded lines and textual directions to delineate the Lake Michigan Circle Tour road route and the Michigan portion of U.S. Bicycle Route 35, which stretches from New Buffalo to Sault Ste. Marie. Lemberg is especially excited about this multi-modal feature, which facilitates convenience for motorists and cyclists as well as economic benefits for local municipalities.

“A lot of marketing is destination-oriented: South Haven, Saugatuck, Traverse City and others,” Lemberg says. “With the information in this atlas, we can market Lake Michigan and surrounding states as a destination for region-focused tourism.” The idea of putting information into the hands of the public fits very well with

Lemberg’s view of his profession as well as his love for his adopted home state. “As a professor at WMU, I’m a Michigan employee. I do research. I teach. But the majority of my work is applied,” he says. In short, helping people enjoy Michigan’s wonderful waterways is part of his job.

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ARTS encore

The Art of Sign Language

Interpreter’s skills put deaf and hearing ‘on equal footing’ Kit Almy

Brian Powers

by

Jamie

Rix knows she’s doing a good job when the people she’s works for hardly notice she’s there. Rix is an American Sign Language interpreter. She says that although she’s obviously present when interpreting between two parties, “really it should be about their access to each other. You (should be able to) look at your deaf patient or your deaf client and feel like you’re having a one-onone conversation, even though it is going through an interpreter.” Rix’s talents are called upon for a wide range of situations. She has worked with students in Kalamazoo Public Schools for 12 years, and, as a freelancer, she is mostly hired for official business like doctor’s

36 | Encore AUGUST 2015

appointments, court cases and financial advising. Her job has also taken her to such diverse events as poetry readings and golf tournaments and “anywhere a deaf person needs to interface with hearing people,” she says. Understanding the importance of sign language interpretation involves a paradigm shift for many of the hearing people she encounters in her work. “A lot of people think I am an interpreter for the deaf, but I’m actually an interpreter for the hearing, too,” she says. When she goes into a doctor’s office and says, “I’m here to interpret for Dr. Smith,” she’s often met with the response that the doctor doesn’t need an interpreter, but Rix

Western Michigan University student Delon Dixon practices sign language in a class taught by Jamie Rix.

then asks if the doctor knows sign language. “Unless you can sign, you need an interpreter just as much as your deaf patient needs it," she says. "You need access to their information, they need access to you.” Rix, who teaches ASL at Western Michigan University’s College of Health and Human Services, says ASL is a language like any other, with its own grammar, syntax, idioms and regional dialects. It takes years for adults to gain fluency in ASL, but young children who are immersed in it acquire it naturally. Rix taught her daughter sign language, and the child didn’t speak until age 3. But when she did, she leap-


ENCORE Arts

frogged baby talk and “just started telling stories,” Rix says. “That’s what sign language can do. All of her language files were already built,” she says. Learning to interpret goes beyond becoming fluent in ASL; an interpreter needs to think in both languages simultaneously. ASL does not correspond word for word with English; signs can stand for single words as well as for concepts requiring multiple English words. “There are times when the languages don’t match, and that’s when interpretation comes in,” Rix says. “What is the meaning of what you’re trying to say? Your interpreter will make the change or the link between the two languages.” The goal is “to make sure that the message — not necessarily the words — is exactly what (is) meant,” Rix says. This requires extreme precision by Rix in legal or medical settings, but other situations allow for more creativity on Rix’s part. For example, she loves interpreting poetry because “there’s some visual fun you can have that might not necessarily depend on the English words.” Poems are pictures made of words, and when Rix signs a poem, she gets to put it “into this moving language, like a dance… a three-dimensional language.” Rix interpreted at both the 2014 and 2015 Kalamazoo Poetry Festival. The hallmark of the annual festival is a reading featuring

representatives from various groups in the community, and one of the community poets at the 2014 festival was deaf. “We needed to have someone read his poem as he signed it,” says Marsha Meyer, program and events coordinator for the Portage District Library and one of the festival’s directors. “Also, one of the mainline poets we brought

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Jamie Rix teaches American Sign Language to students at Western Michigan University.

in, Ilya Kaminsky, is deaf, and we especially wanted to make our readings accessible to the deaf community. Jamie is now a part of each KPF reading. Her energy and skill add to the performances as well as make our deaf community feel more welcome.” Putting the deaf and hearing on equal footing is what it’s all about for Rix. “What makes me happy doing my job is when I see people get it. I’ve interpreted for little kids in classrooms, and when they can plug in and get it the same as their hearing peers, that feels awesome,” she says. “I wish more people knew sign language because then it would give deaf people just a little more entry into our society.” Rix tells her advanced sign language students that even if interpretation does not become their career, “when you meet that one deaf person that just needs access, you know how to make that happen. You can make somebody’s life easier, you can make somebody’s stress go away, you can give them entry into your everyday life.”

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Arts

encore

Bringing Big Band Back

Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra features impressive roster of musicians by

Lisa Mackinder

Courtesy

W

Above: Members of the Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra play big-band music at a recent performance. Opposite page: The Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra features musicians who have played and toured with legendary musicians such as The Tommy Dorsey Band and Cab Calloway.

38 | Encore AUGUST 2015

hen Harry Boesch worked for the Kellogg Co. in the 1960s and went to New York City on business, he made sure to arrive on a Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. That ensured he could nab a seat on Monday night at Village Vanguard, a famous, now80-year-old jazz club in Greenwich Village. Boesch recalls an insightful moment that happened at the club many years ago. After the first set, he complimented Roland Hanna — a major jazz artist and solo pianist — on his band. “Man, this ain’t no band,” Hanna replied. “This is a team.” All these years later, Boesch gets it. In 2005, Boesch put together the Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra, a contemporary 18-piece jazz orchestra that has since released a CD, Timeless, and fills the house when it performs at The Union Cabaret & Grille, on the Kalamazoo Mall. It also plays at other locales, including Bronson Park for the Concerts in the Park summer series. “I now know what Roland was talking about,” says Boesch, who plays trombone. “We are playing as a team, listening and interacting with each other. The more you play, the more in tune you become with each other. That’s what I attribute most of our current success to.” Since the group has retained most of its members for the past five years, the members have learned to pick up on each other’s cues. “It’s the continuity of people and playing together that has been as instrumental as anything in improving our performance quality,” Boesch says. Another element that greatly contributes to the band’s success is its wealth of talent. Notable professional jazz musicians who have played and toured with legendary musicians worldwide make up its roster, including trumpeter Danny Barber, who played with The Tommy Dorsey Band and


ENCORE Arts

Maynard Ferguson; bassist Denis Shebukhov, who has performed at contemporary things with more of a jazz feel. That was the basis on The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and Detroit International which I started the band, and then I refined it.” But something else also propelled Boesch to form the jazz orchestra Jazz Festival; trombonist Earlie Braggs, who performed with Cab Calloway and Cat Anderson; saxophonist Gary McCourry, who — the area’s lack of a place to listen to a live, big-band orchestra. Boesch, who has played trombone served as a military musician at since the fourth grade, says he is West Point for 23 years and now a self-professed “big-band junkie.” plays with several area groups, He became hooked during high including the Grand Rapids school in the 1950s, the heyday of Jazz Orchestra and Kalamazoo the large jazz orchestra. and West Michigan symphony “Now we come to today, and orchestras; and vocalist Edye it has become difficult to hear Evans Hyde, who has performed good, professional big-band music around the world for more than anymore,” he says. “There’s as 30 years and shared the stage many as ever recording, but you with world-renowned singers can’t go hear them. Nothing can such as Ray Charles. duplicate a live performance. The In addition, the Gull Lake power, performance and beauty Jazz Orchestra features faculty don’t translate to recording.” members from Western Michigan See Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra live Classifying their group as a University’s School of Music, When: 7 p.m. Sept. 16 contemporary jazz orchestra, the including trumpeter Scott Cowan, Where: Union Cabaret and Grille, 125 S. Kalamazoo Mall members of the Gull Lake Jazz associate professor of jazz and director of the WMU Jazz Orchestra, whose own CD, Jack’s Place, has Orchestra play compositions and arrangements by current arrangers. The group does, however, perform some of the music created in the been highlighted on more than 50 U.S. radio stations. When Boesch put together the jazz orchestra, he was playing in 1950s and 1960s. “I still like to hear melody,” Boesch says. “I don’t like a lot of small groups and dance bands. “When you are in a dance band, you play stuff over and over,” he says. “You like playing but get bored and dissonance. I’d rather play a jazz arrangement of ‘My Funny Valentine’ that people understand. I guess I’m still traditional in that approach.” complacent.” The jazz orchestra’s opening tune, “Time After Time,” was updated Wanting to play more-sophisticated music, Boesch approached other musicians and found his cohorts expressed similar feelings. by artist Don Schamber. “People can hear that melody and relate to it,” “They said, ‘We’d be glad to join the band, provided you are not Boesch says. “And it still fills our need to play good, solid arrangements going to play dance music,’” Boesch says. “They wanted to play more- (with which) musicians can be as creative as they want to be.”

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THEATER

MUSIC

Plays

Bands & Solo Artists

See How They Run! — A British farce by Philip King, 8 p.m. Aug. 1, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328.

Donna the Buffalo — Original roots music since 1989, including Cajun, rock, folk, reggae and country, 9 p.m. Aug. 1, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382-2332.

Musicals The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical — A trailer park Scrooge gets amnesia at Christmas, 7:30 p.m. Thurs., 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., through Aug. 9, Farmers Alley Theatre, 221 Farmers Alley, 3432727. Rock of Ages — This jukebox musical follows those at a 1980s classic rock club, 8 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 5 & 8:30 p.m. Sat., 5 p.m. Sun., through Aug. 9, Barn Theatre, 13351 West M-96, Augusta, 7314121. Hands on a Hard Body — Contestants compete to win a new truck in a country, gospel rock musical, 8 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 5 & 8:30 p.m. Sat., 5 p.m. Sun., Aug. 11–23, Barn Theatre, Augusta, 731-4121. Once ... Twice ... Thrice: The Best of the Odyssey — The New Vic’s original folk music trilogy of ’50s, ’60s and ’70s music, 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., Aug. 14–Sept. 26, New Vic Theatre, 381-3328. The Will Rogers Follies — Tom Wopat reprises his starring role, 8 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 5 & 8:30 p.m. Sat., 5 p.m. Sun., Aug. 25–Sept. 6, Barn Theatre, Augusta, 731-4121.

40 | Encore AUGUST 2015

G. Love & Special Sauce — Groove-heavy, Chicago-bluesinfused, stripped-down rock ’n’ roll, 9 p.m. Aug. 6, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Fat Guy Fest — Touring bands perform punk rock, ska, indie and rock ’n’ roll, Aug. 6–9, Shakespeare’s Lower Level, 241 E. Kalamazoo Ave. , 810-394-7501. Academy of Rock in District Square — Musicians ages 8–18 perform their summer recital, 7–10:30 p.m. Aug. 7, District Square, 139 S. Edwards St., 3127246. United Teens Talent Show — Local youth ages 13–19 perform, 7 p.m. Aug. 8, Civic Auditorium, 329 S. Park St., 492-1792. Lucas Jack — The tenor examines life and love with pop-rock tunes, 9 p.m. Aug. 15, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass — The singer-songwriter performs one solo set and one set with his Grateful Dead tribute band, 9 p.m. Aug. 22, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Lake Street Dive — Motown and ’60s soul plus folk and rock, 8:30 p.m. Aug. 23, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

Vulfpeck — A funk band that got its start at the University of Michigan, 8 p.m. Aug. 27, Bell’s Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

sound to Thursdays in the Park jazz series, 6 p.m. Aug. 27, Bronson Park, 342-5059.

Outdoor Concerts

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

Concerts in the Park — Singersongwriter Yolonda Lavender, Aug. 2; jazz drummer Keith Hall’s Homecookin’ with singer Nashon Holloway, Aug. 9; Schlitz Creek’s traditional and contemporary bluegrass, Aug. 16; U.S. Navy Band Cruisers’ jazz, R&B, classic rock and pop, Aug. 23; all shows at 4 p.m., Bronson Park, 3425059. Mixer on the Mall — Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys, Aug. 5; TBD, Aug. 12; Flypaper, Aug. 19; all mixers 5–7:30 p.m., North Kalamazoo Mall, 388-3083. Gun Lake Live Summer Series — Live music, food, cocktails and dancing: Jedi Mind Trip, Aug. 5; Brena, Aug. 12; Bronk Brothers, Aug. 19; Union Guns, Aug. 26; all shows 6–10 p.m., Lakefront Pavilion, Bay Pointe Inn, 11456 Marsh Road, Shelbyville, 888486-5253. Crescendo Fiddlers in Concert — Folk fiddle music spanning multiple generations, 1 p.m. Aug. 15, Bronson Park, 345-6664. Cereal City Concert Band — Lakeside concert (bring lawn chair), 3 p.m. Aug. 23, W.K. Kellogg Manor House grounds, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners, followed by tours of manor house, 671-2160. Herlin Riley Quintet — The drummer brings his New Orleans

VISUAL ARTS

West Michigan Area Show — Juried exhibition from a 14-county region, through Aug. 9. Rediscovering Nina Belle Ward — Portraiture, still life and harbor scenes from coast-to-coast collections, through Aug. 23, with gallery tour at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20. Adaptation: Transforming Books into Art — Contemporary artists’ transformations of books into sculptures, through Sept. 6. Flowers in Chinese Art — Chinese paintings and ceramics, through Jan. 24. ARTbreak — A weekly program about art, artists and exhibitions: A Full-Circle, Mid-Career Journey, with photographer Adam Kuehl, Aug. 4; Through the Lens of L.H. Bailey, with John Stempien and David Curl, Aug. 11; Film: Against the Odds: The Artists of the Harlem Renaissance, Aug. 18; Film: Richard Mayhew: Spiritual Landscapes, Aug. 25; all sessions begin at noon, KIA Auditorium. John James Audubon: Drawn from Nature — A film followed by a look at “White-Headed Eagle” by Audubon, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6, KIA Auditorium.


Chinese Ink Painting: Blooms and Wine — Create an ink flower painting in the traditional Chinese style, 6:30–9 p.m. Aug. 13. Common Ground: AfricanAmerican Art — Works from the Flint Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and Muskegon Museum of Art, Aug. 22–Nov. 15, with gallery tour at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27. Manierre Dawson: Engineering Abstraction — Abstract painting collection, Aug. 29–Dec. 13. Other Venues Paul Sizer: Super Heroes & Graphic Novel Art — Through Aug. 30, Lower Level, Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, 329-4544. Chinese Artists & Calligraphers — Through Aug. 30, Community Art Wall & Solo Gallery, Portage District Library, 329-4544. Art Hop — Local artists and musicians at various venues in Kalamazoo, 5–8 p.m. Aug. 7. Nature Art Fair — 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Aug. 29, Binder Park Zoo, Battle Creek, 269-979-1351. 8th Annual Art Walk — Walk through trails and chat with artists as they paint, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 29, Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, northwest corner of 18th Avenue and 77th Street, South Haven, 324-1600. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library In the Tradition — “Africancentered” jazz group from Detroit performs hard-swinging bebop and jazz, 6 p.m. Aug. 4, Eastwood Branch, 1112 Gayle, 553-7810.

Urban Book Discussion — Discussion of What’s Real, by Daaimah S. Poole, 6 p.m. Aug. 25, Barnabee Gallery, Alma Powell Branch, 1000 W. Paterson Ave., 553-7960. Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544 Top Shelf Reads — Book vs. movie: The Silver Linings Playbook, 7 p.m. Aug. 13. PDL Writers Group — Focusing on fiction and creative nonfiction writing, 6 p.m. Aug. 13 & 27. Art Encounters — Musicians, interactive art and crafts, 1–3:30 p.m. Aug. 15. Homebrew 102: Wine Crafting — Craft your own wine with experts from Tempo Vino Winery, 1 p.m. Aug. 22; registration required. After Hours Game Night — Board games, card decks, LEGOs or your own games, 9 p.m. Aug. 24. Fall Fashion Show — Fashions from J. Jill and jewelry by Silpada, 9 a.m. Aug. 29. Other Venues The Adventure of the Abernathy Brothers — Fred Colgren of the Gilmore Car Museum tells the story of two young brothers who travel from New York to Oklahoma by automobile, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 3, Parchment Community Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747. Parchment Book Club — Discussion of The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, 7 p.m. Aug. 3, Parchment Community Library, 343-7747. August Book Group — Discussion of All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr, 7 p.m. Aug. 13, Richland Community Library, 8951 Park St., 629-9085.

MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, 866-5247966 DaVinci: The Exhibition — Handson journey through da Vinci’s life, research, innovations and art, through Oct. 4.

archaeologists discover a buried city, 3 p.m. Mon., Wed., Fri.–Sun., through Sept. 18. TINKERTOY®: Build Your Imagination — Giant replicas of the classic construction set, with fun educational activities, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Thurs. & Sat., 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Fri., 1–5 p.m. Sun., through Sept. 20.

Black Wings: American Dreams of Flight — Smithsonian traveling exhibition chronicles African- NATURE American aviation pioneers, Kalamazoo Nature Center through Oct. 4. 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574 Gilmore Car Museum You Can Can — Learn basic home 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory canning techniques, 3 p.m. Aug. Corners, 671-5089 3, DeLano Farms Market Barn, Red Barns Spectacular Car Show 357 West E Ave. & Swap Meet — Antique, classic and special-interest cars, 9 a.m.– Golf Cart Tour: Beech Maple 4 p.m. Aug. 1. Forest — Visit the forest and Trout Run Stream, especially for Relix Riot — Traditional hot rods, those with limited mobility, 4 customs and motorcycles, 9 p.m. Aug. 10. a.m.–6 p.m. Aug. 15. Butterfly Habitat Exploration — Pierce-Arrow Gathering — The Learn about butterfly gardens 12th annual Pierce-Arrow and how to attract butterflies to Society car club meet, 10 a.m.–3 your yard, 2 p.m. Aug. 16. p.m. Aug. 23.

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary Emergency Vehicle Meet — 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, Antique and modern emergency 671-2510 vehicles, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Birds and Coffee Walk — A walk Kalamazoo Valley Museum to view birds of the season, 9 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990 a.m. Aug. 12. Evidence Found: Explorations in Archaeology — Learn the science and methodology of archaeology in this visual and hands-on exhibit, through Aug. 30.

MISCELLANEOUS

USTA Boys’ 18 & 16 National Championships — Over 400 juniors compete for the national tennis championship title, gates Treasures of the Great Lakes — open 8 a.m. daily, through Aug. Learn how navigators on the 9, Stowe Stadium, Kalamazoo Great Lakes have used the night College, 337-7343. sky and lighthouses to navigate, 2 p.m. Sat., 3 p.m. Tues. & Thurs., BlackRock Medieval Fest — Live entertainment, jousting, vendors through Sept. 12. and food, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Aug. 1 Lamps of Atlantis — Explore & 2, Olde World Village, 13215 how ancient artifacts and M-96, Augusta, 580-1290. astronomical evidence help

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Salsa Cook-off — Sample varieties of salsa, 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Aug. 1, various downtown Kalamazoo restaurants, 978-2167. Reptile Weekend — Entertainment and hands-on encounters with reptiles and amphibians, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Aug. 1; 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Aug. 2, Binder Park Zoo, Battle Creek, 269-979-1351. Downtown Kalamazoo Brewery Walking Tour — Learn about Kalamazoo’s craft beers, noon–4:30 p.m. Aug. 1, starting at Tibbs Brewing Co.; Aug. 8, TBD; Aug. 15, starting at Central City Tap House; Aug. 22, starting at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema; Aug. 29, TBD; Aug. 30, starting at Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill, 350-4598. Speedway Events — Full 5-in-1 Show with Late Models 75 Lap Special, Aug. 1; Vores Cup, Aug. 2; Autograph Night, Aug. 8; Full 5-in-1 Shows, Aug. 15 & 22, Outlaw Late Model Special, Aug. 16; Season Championships, Aug. 29; “Run What You Brung,” Aug. 30; gates open 4 p.m.; hot laps, 4 p.m.; qualifying, 5 p.m.; racing, 6:45–11 p.m., Galesburg Speedway, 573 S. 38th St., 665-7100.

Kalamazoo Ribfest — Rib vendors, competition and entertainment, 11 a.m.–11:30 p.m. Aug. 6; 11 a.m.–12:30 a.m. Aug. 7 & 8, Arcadia Creek Festival Place, 381-6514. 2015 Gazelle Sports Historic Walks — A historical walking tour focusing on Kalamazoo’s history and architecture, West Main Historic District, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 6, starting at Monroe Street and Grand Avenue; Preservation in Kalamazoo, 8 a.m. Aug.14, starting at Gazelle Sports; Mountain Home Cemetery, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27, starting at West Main Street; Westnedge Hill Neighborhood, 8 a.m. Aug. 28, starting at Inkster Avenue on west side of Westnedge Avenue, 342-5996. National Blueberry Festival — Aug. 6–9, downtown South Haven, 637-5252. Lunchtime Live! — Live music, food trucks and pop-up vendors, 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. Aug. 7, 14, 21 & 28, Bronson Park, 337-8191. BBQ and Music — 5 p.m. dinner, 6 p.m. music with the bands Who Hit John? and Red Tail Ring, Aug. 9, Pierce Cedar Creek Institute, 701 W. Cloverdale Road, Hastings, 269-721-4190.

families The best information and activities for families in Southwest Michigan! Upcoming Issues Fun Fall Festivities

October /November

Picking a Preschool

December /January

Kalamazoo County Fair — Entertainment, farm animals, 4-H exhibits, carnival rides, games and food, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Aug. 10–15, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., 373-5181. Oshtemo Fun Day — Food, rides, games, exhibits, music and entertainment, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 15, Flesher Park, on Ninth Street south of Stadium Drive, oshtemorotary.org. Sensory Showtimes: Fantastic Four and Shaun the Sheep The Movie — A welcoming movie environment for guests with special needs, including autism, 10:30 a.m. Aug. 15, Celebration Cinema, Portage, 324-7469. Kalamazoo Promise 10-Year Anniversary Celebration — Food, entertainment, student testimonials and career information, 11 a.m.– 3 p.m. Aug. 15, Bronson Park, 337-0037. Kalamazoo BB Gun & Airgun Show — 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Aug. 16, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 779-9851. Tour de Zoo — A bike ride through Binder Park Zoo, in Battle Creek, with beer, games and music, 5 p.m.–9 p.m. Aug. 20, 269-979-1351; registration required. Art and Vine Royal Wine and Painting Party — Create a painting and do a six-flight wine tasting, 5:30 p.m. Aug. 20, Henderson Castle, 100 Monroe St., 344-1827. Richland Park Horse Trials — An equestrian triathlon, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Aug. 20–23, Richland Park, 8651 N. 30th St., 629-5532. Murder Mystery Dinner — Enjoy dinner while unraveling clues to solve a murder, 6–9 p.m. Aug. 21, Henderson Castle, 344-1827.

Guide to Area Schools

February/March

Ultimate Summer Camp Guide

April /May

Distributed at more than 200 locations in SW Michigan Available online at fyiswmichigan.com

42 | Encore AUGUST 2015

Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Animal Show — 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Aug. 22, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 373-5181. Haunted History of Kalamazoo Tour — A walking tour to learn about the haunted side of Kalamazoo, 8–10 p.m. Aug. 22, Bronson Park, 216-9727. Island Fest 2015 — Reggae music and Jamaican and Caribbean cuisine, 3 p.m.– midnight Aug. 27; noon–1:30 a.m. Aug. 28– 29, Homer Stryker Field, Mayors’ Riverfront Park, islandfestkalamazoo.com.


ENCORE Poetry

Simulacra At sunset, evading the canvas, her weary brush rests, inert, a broken stem. Drawn to the stream's silent murmur, she watches lines of liquid light encircle white boulders, tremble into a mosaic of reflections. The painter sits still, loosens her bow, wishes she'd lie on the riverbed, water running like fingers through her hair, the way the undercurrent combs long wavering algae, willowing over rippled sand. At a distance, passing clouds delineate black naked branches, heavy with birds like berries. She thinks of paper, pen and ink, reaches for her nearby portfolio leaning against the abandoned easel. Unable to move, her hair, entangled with mossy filaments, flows through crystalline waters. Reclined, she sees the birds fly, clouds disappear as night falls over the creek. — Hedy Habra Habra is the author of the poetry collection Tea in Heliopolis and the short-story collection Flying Carpets. She teaches Spanish at Western Michigan University. “Simulacra” was first published by GraFemas and was among Habra’s five poems that won the Victoria Urbano Prize.

From under Outside this ground-level window a feathery sprite splashes in a pool left from yesterday’s deluge flinging clear globes from its crimson waistcoast, its gray tails. As I stand with arms perched on wooden sill, our dark pupils meet, a matched set. Were the dead suddenly to rise up, peer out from their sunken rooms, what would their filmy eyes see? Water beads whirligig, catching the wind’s arc as the sprite rises, dips its wings and wheels away. How bright these wings spied from below. — Linda Cook MacDonald MacDonald, of Mattawan, keeps pursuing the mystery and meanings of words as a poet, opera singer, peace advocate and Presbyterian pastor still exploring retirement. "Engaging the written and spoken word after years of preparing, writing and delivering sermons, I’ve discovered a surprising and fabulous community of writers, thinkers and artists living and creating in Southwest Michigan,” she says. “What a pleasure to be able to learn from so many gifted folks of all ages and backgrounds!” w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 43


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BACK STORY (continued from page 46)

How did you get where you are today? I am a Western Michigan University graduate in accounting, so I am a bean counter. I started in banking at 18 simply because someone hired me for no real reason other than she had an opening and I applied for it. I started in trust accounting, then went to brokerage and then to First of America’s securities department. The year First of America was bought (1998) was the same year I ran for city commission and won. I never should have won. But I knocked on hundreds and hundreds of doors. Everyone was surprised, including me. I served on the city commission for three terms, and then the county treasurer retired abruptly so that job was open. In an elected job that’s open, the hire is made by the county’s clerk, chief judge and prosecuting attorney. I was picked and served for a year and a half and then ran for the position and won for a four-year term and ran again and won. You became treasurer around the time of the economic downturn. What was that like? In 2009, the county had 1,500 mortgage foreclosures and 350 tax foreclosures, which was the highest our foreclosures had ever been. I was able to get a lifeline grant for $100,000 from a foundation and United Way to help a ton of people save their homes. Now we have less than 400 mortgage foreclosures and 180 tax foreclosures, of which half are vacant lots. The economy is really improving, which is good news. How do you choose where to focus your efforts? If you shot a shotgun at the whole county — ping, ping, ping — it would be very hard to pick up all the bullets. That’s the way it is in development, too. If I did just all this scattered stuff, you’d be like, “Mary, you spent a lot of money, but we really can’t see an impact.” So we decided to narrow it and have a really targeted focus, and that targeted focus is Edison and the Washington Square corridor. Edison is the county’s largest neighborhood, with more than 10,000 residents. We are focusing our investment there to improve housing stock and give them services they need. On Alcott Street, we’re going to build a new healthy living campus that will have a family health center, the (county) Department of Health and Community Services and (the state) Department of Human Services. Right now, if you had to take the bus to go to the health center and then Health and Community Services and then the Department of Human Services and you had two children with you, it is almost logistically impossible to get to all those places in one day. We’re seeing that people aren’t getting immunized, not because they object to immunizations, but because, for them, it is a logistical nightmare to do so.

When I worked on the Northside and built a bunch of new houses on Willard and Rose streets, people said, “You’re crazy. You build that in Texas Township, and you’ll have a stable market and stable family.” The first house I sold on Rose was to a white schoolteacher who I told, “You know this is the wrong side of the tracks for most people,” and he said, “I absolutely want to live here.” The second house I sold there was to a professor and schoolteacher, and everyone I’ve sold a house to is still there. It speaks to “If you build it, the middle class will come.” They pay their taxes, and they are current on their mortgages. That’s stability. What do people say when you tell them what you do? A lot of people think it’s very interesting because no two days are alike. The variety of things you can do is wide because I don’t have a boss. I report to the people. But it’s more than about taxes. It’s about people. People tell me their stories. When I’m in my office and I have all the power and you have nothing, people are generally very honest. I say, “Tell me the truth about how you got here, so I can figure out how to help you.” When someone has worked hard to own their own home and they have kids, I have a hard time kicking them out of their house because they can’t pay their taxes. I have found there’s always someone who will help them. Recently a donor gave me $60,000 to do home repairs for homeowners who have kids in Kalamazoo Public Schools but can’t afford the repairs. We picked two families on the Northside and one in Oakwood, and they are getting new roofs and windows. The family in Oakwood consists of an older gentleman whose son is in jail, and he has seven grandchildren living with him. What would you do if you didn’t do this? I would work in community development in some way, shape or form. It’s like a puzzle. You see a nasty abandoned tuberculosis sanitarium, and you think, ‘How can you put all the pieces together to make something happen here?’ So you work with people and you get creative and it becomes Prairie Gardens, a mixed-income, mixedrace development. What word would you use to describe yourself? Enthusiastic … maybe passionate. If you’re passionate and can share your vision, you can bring a lot of people with you. If you aren’t personally engaged, it probably won’t happen. What was the most influential moment in your life? I must say it was the birth of my first son. We had waited a long time to have him, and I was literally on “cloud nine” for days.

What do you like most about what you do? I like community development the best. It’s important, especially in the neighborhoods we work in. There’s been a lot of disinvestment there in 50 years.

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 45


BACK STORY encore

Mary Balkema

Kalamazoo County Treasurer

Mary Balkema takes her

job personally. She knows every nickel and dime coming into the county’s coffers and oversees big things such as the county’s budget and smaller things like dog licenses. But this hometown girl is more than a bean counter: Through her job, she has become pivotal in the community development of the county by working to rehabilitate tax-foreclosed properties and get them back on the county’s tax rolls. If you’ve been to Riverview Launch, you’ve seen her work firsthand. And remember the abandoned tuberculosis sanitarium on Blakeslee Street? Thanks to Balkema and the Kalamazoo Land Bank that is now a housing development for seniors.

Brian Powers

(continued on page 45)

46 | Encore August 2015


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Profile for Encore Magazine

Encore August 2015  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine -- Treasure hunting at the Allegan Antiques Market, Michigan's "blueways" (water trails), meet Mary Balkema, h...

Encore August 2015  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine -- Treasure hunting at the Allegan Antiques Market, Michigan's "blueways" (water trails), meet Mary Balkema, h...