Encore December 2017

Page 1

Going After Human Trafficking

December 2017

Studio Grill’s ‘Crazy Concoctions’

The Best of Brewery Décor

Meet Rex Bell

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

Revealed A treasure trove of unseen Encore photos

up front encore



Call 269.381.4416 or visit www.kalfound.org to learn more.

2 | Encore OCTOBER 2015

Constance Brown Hearing Centers

Going After Human Trafficking

Studio Grill’s ‘Crazy Concoctions’

The Best of Brewery Décor

Meet Rex Bell

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December 2017

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Revealed A treasure trove of unseen Encore photos


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Contributing Writers

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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.

4 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

encore editor's note

From the Editor We’ve made many changes to Encore magazine in the past five years, but

what has generated the most response is our beautiful photography. “I love the way the magazine looks,” readers tell us. “The photos are so good.” “So many beautiful images.” Invariably our response is, “You should see the photos that didn’t make it into the magazine.” We have a treasure trove of great images that go with each story. But because print space is limited, we can share only so many of these photos within the pages of the magazine. It’s a lot like having a box of assorted chocolate truffles and having to pick which ones to give away, knowing that the recipient would probably love them all. That’s why this month’s Encore is featuring more of that eye candy, sharing the shots taken over the past year that were awesome and beautiful but for one reason or another didn’t make it into print. Take the floating clown photo on Page 26, for example. Brian Powers captured that shot on an assignment to photograph historic Kalamazoo structures for our October issue. We only had room for only one photo to illustrate that part of the story, so we asked ourselves: What should we choose — the historic house or the cool, floating clown from its garden? The house won. While we are excited to bring these images to you, we also admit, again, it’s only a sampling of what’s available. Which is why we are thrilled that Mercantile Bank’s downtown branch, at 107 W. Michigan Ave., will be hosting a companion exhibit of Encore’s photography for the December Art Hop, on Dec. 1. The exhibit will feature an amazing display of images taken for Encore, and our photographer and Encore staff will be on hand to meet and greet folks. Enjoy this early holiday gift from us. It’s better for you than a box of chocolates and just as sweet.

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contributors encore

Lisa Mackinder

Olga Bonfiglio Working with the Sisters of St. Joseph at Nazareth first alerted Olga to the issue of human trafficking. Researching her story for this issue then illustrated to her how what is seen as a global issue is also a local one. This article is intended to educate citizens about how the most vulnerable in our society are being used and abused unjustly for profit. It also reveals how local government and organizations are working together to stop a practice that is ruining the lives of children, women and men.

Brian K. Powers

It is Brian’s beautiful images that dominate this issue. A freelance photographer, Brian shoots for clients that include Encore, Hour Media, the University of Michigan, Bronson Healthcare and Western Michigan University. Normally an introvert, Brian says he has learned to approach each shoot with a sense of discovery for the people and subject matter he will capture with his camera. “Photography has opened up a new world for me,” says Brian, who grew up in Kalamazoo. “In addition to meeting people and seeing places


“Craig Dotson’s passion is definitely food,” says Lisa Mackinder, who spoke with the owner of Studio Grill, in downtown Kalamazoo, for this month’s issue. “He literally dreams up menu items as he lies in bed at night,” Lisa says. Dotson and his wife, Daphney, opened the restaurant in 2010 with a focus on using fresh ingredients. “Craig is a hands-on business owner,” Lisa says. “You’ll see him moving about the restaurant during your entire meal, checking on customers and making sure they enjoy their meal.”

and things that are new to me, being behind the lens has allowed me to see familiar people and places with totally new perspectives. I grow with each shot.” His favorite part of creating images is finding ways to connect with subjects and make them feel comfortable with having their picture taken. “There is nothing more fulfilling than when someone sees their picture, smiles and tells me they look 'pretty good' or that they enjoyed the experience.” To see more of Brian’s work, visit briankpowers.com.

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FEATURES Revealed: Unseen Encore Photos


Human Trafficking


So many photos, so few pages…. Amazing, unpublished images from this year’s stories

How locals are tackling this hidden, but pervasive, community problem

DEPARTMENTS 5 From the Editor 6 Contributors 8 First Things Happenings in SW Michigan

12 Five Faves

Brewery Décor — Beer tour guru John Liberty points out artistic touches at local brewpubs




Back Story

‘Crazy Concoctions’ — Creativity and nonconformity fuel the delicious fare at Studio Grill Meet Rex Bell — Construction CEO by day, rockin’ guitar player at night

ARTS 38 Events of Note 43 Poetry

On the cover: Western Michigan University dance student Samantha Soltis rehearses Loïe Fuller’s Fire Dance. Photo taken for January's issue of Encore by Brian K. Powers.

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First Things encore

First Things Something Fun

Ride the Rainbow at Bell’s

RM Sothebys

We appreciate it when folks come home for the holidays, especially if they’re going to perform for us. So it is with Michigan band Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers, who are going to be back in their old stomping grounds Dec. 30 and 31 when they perform at Bell’s Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave. The band is promoting its third album, Pluto, and will perform both nights, beginning at 9:30. Detroit singer/ songwriter Jacob Sigman will open for the band on Dec. 31. Tickets are $16.50–$50, and a pass to get in both nights is $32. For tickets or more info, visit bellsbeer. com/events.

8 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

encore First Things

Something Rockin’

Melissa Etheridge performs It will be a “Merry Christmas, Baby” if you give yourself a gift this holiday and check out iconic rocker Melissa Etheridge when her holiday tour lands at the Kalamazoo State Theatre Dec. 12. In addition to performing her holiday favorites such as “Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)” and “Merry Christmas, Baby,” Etheridge will also perform her top hits, including “Come to My Window” and “I’m the Only One.” Tickets are $45–$125, and there’s an eight-ticket limit per person. VIP tickets are also available for $225–$675. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit kazoostate.com.

Something Rare

See two unique, old Mercedes models If you’re into cars — especially ultra-rare and expensive ones — then you will want to check out the Gilmore Car Museum, 6865 Hickory Road, in Hickory Corners. Two ultra-rare German-built Mercedes-Benz 540 K models, considered by many to be among the most valuable cars in existence, are being showcased at the museum through April. Introduced in 1936, the 540 K featured a supercharged eight-cylinder engine that could easily propel it at speeds exceeding 100 mph, and it instantly became a favorite of the ultra-wealthy.

The two cars at the museum are an original 1936 Special Roadster that has been driven only 10,000 miles and a 1938 Sport Tourer that was hidden away in a basement bunker in East Germany during the Cold War and discovered decades later. Only two of these Tourers were ever built, and this is the only surviving example. The Gilmore Car Museum hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $13, or $10 for ages 7–17 and free for kids 6 and younger and active military members. For more info, visit GilmoreCarMuseum.org.

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First Things encore

Something Jolly

Don a Santa suit and run Here’s what will get you in the holiday ho-ho-ho-ing

mood: running through the village of Paw Paw dressed as Santa (or watching hundreds of others do it). The Paw Paw Rotary’s annual 5K Santa Run/Walk will take place Dec. 9, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Paw Paw Middle School, 313 W. Michigan Ave. Every runner 13 and up gets a five-piece Santa suit to wear during the race (those 12 and under get Santa hats). There’s also a Reindeer Romp for kids under 8 years old and a 1K Fun Walk for all ages. Registration is $25 (online) until Dec. 5 and $30 (in person) the day of the race. To sign up or get more info, visit runsignup.com/race/pawpaw/5Ksantarun.

Something Festive

New Year’s Fest welcomes 2018 There is no better New Year’s party out there. New Year’s Fest, featuring performers ranging from The Red Sea Pedestrians and a tuba ensemble to bubble artists and magicians, offers a full slate of fun in downtown Kalamazoo beginning at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 31. This annual extravaganza will feature more than two dozen performers at several venues across downtown. In addition, there will be food vendors (elephant ears and hot chocolate, anyone?) and activities for all ages. Stick around for the fireworks and ball drop at midnight. Admission buttons are $7 and go on sale Dec. 15 at various locations, including Harding’s Markets, the Kalamazoo Public Library and its branches, and Maple Hill Auto Group. Admission buttons will be $10 the day of the event. For more info, visit newyearsfest.com.

10 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

encore First Things

Something Wonderful

Talents of many in The Nutcracker There will be a lot of performing arts talent present when Ballet

Arts Ensemble stages its production of The Nutcracker Dec. 9 and 10 at Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave. In addition to dancers from the Ballet Arts Ensemble, the performance of this classical ballet will include professional soloists, dancers from Western Michigan University’s Department of Dance, singers from the Kalamazoo Children's Chorus and musicians from the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. Performances will be at 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 9 and 2 p.m. Dec. 10. Tickets are $15–$22 and available at millerauditorium.com or by calling 387-2300.

Something Country

Tap your toes at Honky Tonk Angels Farmers

Alley Theatre’s production of Honky Tonk Angels — a tribute to those female spitfires of country music Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn and others — is sure to get your toes a-tappin’ this month. It will feature such down-home favorites as “Stand by Your Man,” “9 to 5,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and more. The show will be staged at the theater’s 221 Farmers Alley location from Dec. 1–17. Tickets are $37, or $18 for students. For tickets and show times, visit farmersalleytheatre.com.

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five faves encore

Five Faves

Beer tour boss tags best brewery decor by

John Liberty West Michigan Beer Tours

While frequenting the breweries of the Kalamazoo area, it’s easy to let your eyes wander to some of the establishments’ artistic décor touches. Few places possess more eye candy than Bell’s Eccentric Cafe with owner Larry Bell’s collections of maps, masks and historical beer

memorabilia, but there are several other unique decorative pieces with intriguing backstories to be found in Kalamazoo area microbreweries. Here are a few of my favorites (along with a suggestion for a beverage to enjoy while there):

Wood-burning fireplace Arcadia Brewing Co., 701 E. Michigan Ave. During fall and winter’s cooler months, the Tulikivi soapstone fireplace from Masonry Heater and Design House in Kalamazoo has exactly the impact Arcadia founder Tim Suprise hoped for. “It engages the senses,” Suprise says of the large wood-burning fireplace that graces the brewery’s main room. Suprise says he attended a fundraising event at the Girl Scouts facility on Maple Street before opening the Kalamazoo River location and noticed Doug Hren, of Masonry Heater and Design House, cooking pizzas in a Tulikivi oven. “I fell in love with the wood stove. I started asking questions.” Suprise coordinated with Hren to create a fireplace design that provides some heat for guests as well as a communal element. The fireplace generates a significant amount of heat and creates a warm ambiance. Surprise says the brewery plans to use the oven more this fall and winter to make flatbreads. Suggested beer: Shipwreck Porter, a Baltic-style porter (12 percent ABV, or alcohol by volume)

Historical map of Kalamazoo breweries Tibbs Brewing Co., 402 S. Burdick St. An impressive piece of Kalamazoo brewing history is displayed on the wall leading to the stairway to the basement bar at Tibbs Brewing Co. Using a Kalamazoo map from 1890, owner Cindee Tibbs assembled a shadow box depicting where the seven pre-Prohibition breweries of Kalamazoo were located and offering some historical nuggets about their existence. Tibbs used a research project from Keith Howard, web coordinator for the Kalamazoo Public Library, to piece together the visual representation of Kalamazoo’s beer history. The display also contains the years the breweries were in operation and the Kalamazoo Gazette headline when residents voted to go “dry” in 1915. “People enjoy it quite a bit,” says brewer Kevin Tibbs, Cindee’s husband. “I didn’t know any of that until she put it together.” Suggested beer: Ben Jonesin’, a chocolate toffee imperial porter (5.8 percent ABV) 12 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

encore five faves

Audrey Klein

P-51D Mustang Texas Corners Brewing Co. 6970 Texas Drive Prominently displayed beside the bar at Texas Corners Brewing Co. is a collage of an American flag, a wedding photo, a series of medals and a black-and-white image of a man standing beside a P-51D Mustang fighter aircraft. The photo is of Victor Schultz, a then-22-year-old pilot standing in an airfield in Tunisia in 1944. Schultz flew reconnaissance missions over southern Italy in World War II as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, according to Andrew Schultz, his grandson and the general manager of Texas Corners Brewing Co. Victor hailed from Dowagiac and moved to Mattawan in 1951 to start the family fruit farm, Schultz Fruitridge Farms. When the Schultzes began producing hard cider and craft beer, they named their first beer P-51 Porter to honor Victor, who died in 2002 at age 80. The beer is a year-round offering and very popular among veterans. “It’s a tribute to him and starting the family business,” Andrew says. Suggested beer: P-51 Porter, an English-style porter (6 percent ABV)

‘Happy Brewery’ metal art Boatyard Brewing Co. 432 E. Paterson St. While visiting a Vermont brewery in 2013, shortly before opening his own brewery, Boatyard Brewing Co. co-owner Brian Steele noticed an employee there who appeared grumpy while pouring beer for customers. Steele looked to his longtime friend and Boatyard partner, Dan Gilligan, and said, “I never want to be that way. We have to be the ‘Happy Brewery.’” That motto now hangs just inside the Boatyard’s front door. The metal art piece was created by Michelle Zorich, of Things of Steel, for Boatyard’s third anniversary, in June. “It’s the motto we live every day by,” Steele says. Suggested beer: Frosted Harbor, a dark raspberry wheat ale (5.4 percent ABV) w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 13

five faves encore

Arched tree installation One Well Brewing 4213 Portage St.

Brian Powers

A wind-damaged white oak in the Bloomingdale backyard of Tim Overhuel has been transformed into a decorative eye-catcher at One Well Brewing’s expanded taproom. Overhuel, owner of Bad Adz Custom Wood Design, is responsible for much of the woodwork featured in this Milwood neighborhood brewery. The tree was more than 20 years old when it was harvested. It had been “trained” to grow in an arc by Overhuel following a storm on his property and was more than 40 feet long. When One Well decided on a forest theme for its space, Overhuel suggested his tree as a focal point. “Tim’s thought was to do something he had never seen before,” says One Well head brewer and co-owner Chris O’Neill. Co-owner T.J. Waldofsky, who helped skin the bark off the several-hundredpound tree, says it’s very popular on social media outlets. Suggested beer: Bad Adz, a brown ale named after Overhuel’s company (5.5 percent ABV)

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John Liberty is a former journalist who has followed Michigan’s craft beer industry since 2006. He is the general manager of West Michigan Beer Tours, which offers public and private tours around the region.

encore savor

‘Crazy Concoctions’

Creativity and nonconformity fuel Studio Grill Lisa Mackinder

Brian Powers



raig Dotson had dreamed of owning a restaurant for much of his life. This aspiration started back in high school when he spent summers working at his uncle’s Sterling Heights restaurant. “He would take me there and teach me how to cook,” Dotson says. His uncle was a professionally trained chef. During those summers, Dotson discovered two things he loved about the restaurant business: interacting with people and being creative. After spending 40 years as a general manager in the corporate restaurant world, an arena that Dotson says “doesn’t allow for deviation,” he finally realized his dream in 2010, opening Studio Grill at 312 W. Michigan Ave., in downtown Kalamazoo.

Studio Grill owner and chief chef Craig Dotson with the specials board in his downtown Kalamazoo restaurant.

“I love to play with food — different flavors, combining, and all of that,” Dotson says. “Life gets boring if you’re serving the same thing every day.” At Studio Grill, nonconformity is the norm. Dotson changes up the menu every few months and dreams up unconventional stuffed burgers, such as the Autumn Burger, stuffed with cinnamon apples and topped with bacon and peanut butter, or the Canyon Burger — the restaurant’s top-selling burger, he says — which is stuffed with jalapenos and topped off with cheddar, bacon, a fried egg and grape jelly.

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Above: Dotson’s daughter, Ashley, often works as a server in her father’s restaurant. Below: A Vegan Texas Tank Burger featuring a black bean patty smothered with homemade vegan chili and hummus served with sweet potato fries.

“I lay in bed and I will think about stupid ideas and crazy concoctions,” Dotson says. “And then I will wake up, come in here, make them, and, if I like them, then we run them as specials.” If a special goes over well, it appears on the menu. Same thing if a customer suggests a recipe and it passes muster. And Dotson does give credit where credit is due, naming menu items for whoever recommended them. The menu currently includes some of those items — such as Ryan’s Grilled Cheese, which has options of tomatoes, honey ham or bacon, and Kyle’s Chicken Tender Wrap, which includes Southern-style chicken, lettuce, diced tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, cheddar cheese and chipotle ranch dressing. Studio Grill’s menu also features a regular item that Dotson says “customers rant and rave about” — pancakes made with a special recipe. “It’s my wife’s grandmother’s recipe that she used years and years ago that I tweaked just a little bit,” he says. Studio Grill’s patrons also gravitate toward the eatery’s omelets because the ingredients are

16 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

Brian Powers

Brian Powers

savor encore

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Brian Powers

savor encore

18 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

fresh, Dotson says. For the Saturday morning college crowd, Dotson and his crew invented a hamburger topped with peanut butter and bacon sandwiched between two chocolate chip pancakes. “It’s been a big hit,” he says, noting that he hasn’t added it to the regular menu simply because it takes up a great deal of grill space. Dotson says his decades of restaurant experience taught him “what to do and what not to do” when he opened his own establishment. Ninety percent of the food at Studio Grill, he says, is made in-house. Dotson uses fresh ground beef, breads and buns delivered daily from Renzema’s Bakery, in Parchment, and fresh produce from Van Eerden Foodservice, in Grand Rapids, and the Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market. “Every corporate restaurant that I worked at uses processed food,” he says. “They

encore savor

The first face customers might encounter, however, is that of the Dotsons’ daughter, 27-year old Ashley, who has worked at Studio Grill for the past five years. Their 18-year old son, Kyle, washes dishes at the restaurant on weekends when it’s not football season. The Dotsons’ restaurant has not only drawn a following of regulars, but also built relationships for the family. “We’ve made a lot of friends from the restaurant,” Dotson says. These relationships extend to the restaurant’s staff — known by first name to regulars. Dotson says he makes a point of hiring caring people and instills in them an appreciation of every person who walks through the door. “I hire on personality,” Dotson says. “If you came in and you had a super personality, beautiful smile, but you didn’t have experience, I would hire you. Because I can teach you how

to serve, but I can’t teach you personality — and that’s huge. People comment on our servers and how friendly they are.” Studio Grill, at just 1,700 square feet, has 12 tables and four seats at the counter and can accommodate up to 50 people. The restaurant serves breakfast and lunch and is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays. Dotson clocks around 80 hours per week, he says — and that’s OK with him. This is his passion, he explains, and, unlike the corporate restaurant world, it allows him to be home at night with his family. Plus, Dotson says, owning his own business has many rewards. The one that tops the list? “If something goes right it’s my fault, and if something goes wrong it’s my fault. And I love it.”

Clockwise from bottom: Often an Art Hop stop, Studio Grill features art by different local artists each month; The Canyon Burger with potato cakes on the side; and the restaurant’s “special recipe” blueberry pancakes.

don’t make anything in-store. Everything is premade. Nothing is fresh — that’s what I learned not to do.” A hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves kind of business owner, Dotson can routinely be seen maneuvering about his restaurant, coming out of the kitchen to welcome and talk with customers and check on them at their tables. Dotson’s wife, Daphney, will occasionally work at Studio Grill on Sundays when she’s not busy with her own business — Yoga for Kids Kalamazoo, which offers private inhome yoga sessions for children and works with Portage Public Schools. Daphney creates the vegan and vegetarian dishes on the menu.

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Revealed A trove of unpublished Encore photos from this year's stories

22 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

photography by

Brian K. Powers


o here’s one of the great things about a printed magazine: the photos. Ever since the invention of the camera we have been a population possessed with shutterbug fever. And there are those among us who can capture single faces, places and moments with a camera in a way that is nothing short of artistic. Magazines have been singularly the best medium to bring those artistic creations to audiences. While we try to give readers as many of the beautiful images created by our photographers as we can in each issue, we rue the fact that we have amazing images that don’t make it into print. It feels like having beautiful paintings and putting them in the back of a coat closet. In this issue, we bring many of those images to light. Encore staff and photographer Brian K. Powers have sorted through hundreds of photo files to pick never-published pictures to share here.. Just like assorted chocolates, each one is unique and delicious in its own way.

WMU dance student Samantha Soltis rehearses Loïe Fuller’s Fire Dance. Photo taken for January 2017 Encore.

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This page, top: Beekeeper Jeremiah Barnes smokes a hive as he prepares to move his bees at night when they are dormant. Barnes sends nearly 140 million honeybees around the country to aid in crop pollination. Photo taken for June 2017 Encore. This page, bottom: The ornate iron fencing from in front of the Chappell-Stewart House at 213 Elm St. in Kalamazoo. Photo taken for October 2017 Encore. Opposite page: Portrait of cellist and Western Michigan University graduate student Jordan Hamilton. Photo taken for May 2017 Encore.

24 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

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This page,top: The top of a workbench at Kzoo Makers, a makerspace at 1102 E. Michigan Ave., shows the evidence of creative work. Photo taken for June 2017 Encore. This page,bottom: Brian Powers was photographing old houses and chanced upon this little clown hanging in one home's garden. Photo taken for October 2017 Encore. Opposite page: A portrait of Prashant Dault, WMU student and entrepreneur behind BambĂźz, with a flurry of his hand-dyed socks. Photo taken for May 2017 Encore.

26 | Encore NOVEMBER 2017

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Opposite page, far left: A virtual reality headset glows at Nova VR. Photo taken for March 2017 Encore. Center photo: The receiving vault at Mt. Home Cemetery photographed in the morning sunlight. Photo taken for October 2017 Encore. Above: The ornate chimney atop a historic home in Kalamazoo. Photo taken for October 2017 Encore. Left: A portrait of Stephen Carver, executive director of The Civic. Photo taken for January 2017 Encore.

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This page, below: The luminous Fetzer Institute building at night. Photo taken for December 2016 Encore. This page, right: Two children catch some screen time while adults around them draw at a monthly Kalamadoodle event. Photo taken for February 2017 Encore. Opposite page: A portrait of Kalamazoo singer and songwriter Nashon Holloway. Photo taken for March 2017 Encore.

30 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

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Human trafficking

Istock photography

Local groups are fighting community’s hidden, but pervasive problem

32 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

story by

Olga Bonfiglio


any people believe that human trafficking occurs only in poor countries, but it occurs throughout the United States, including here in Southwest Michigan, according to local law enforcement officials. Human trafficking is defined by the United Nations as the “acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.” Because of its location on the I-94 corridor between Detroit and Chicago, the Kalamazoo/ Battle Creek area is susceptible for human trafficking, says Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller. “We know that traffickers are constantly moving across the state,” says Fuller. “There were some traffickers found in Battle Creek hotels by Homeland Security. We also know that vulnerable young people meet traffickers on the internet through social media.” In October, a 16-year old girl in Battle Creek was rescued by police after being held against her will by two men who sexually assaulted her and forced her to have sex with other men for money. In December 2016, a man from Kalamazoo was convicted of transporting women from Michigan down to Kentucky to work as prostitutes during the Kentucky Derby. In May 2016, another man was charged with forcing four women into prostitution out of a hotel in Oshtemo Township to pay off their drug debts. In addition, some of the workers who come to Michigan each year to pick crops may very well be the victims of trafficking, Fuller says. There are two types of trafficking: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking occurs in street prostitution, pornography and escort services and in massage parlors, brothels and strip clubs. Labor trafficking occurs in sweatshops, hotels, restaurants and factories, in domestic and custodial services, construction, agriculture and tourism. Here’s how human trafficking works. A trafficker entices victims with bribes and promises and later threatens them through coercion or violence to keep them doing what the trafficker wants. Victims are not paid for their work, and often their proof of identity is taken from them so they are forced to stay with the trafficker. In this way, trafficking is considered modern-day slavery.

‘Can happen to anybody’ Sara Morley LaCroix became aware of human trafficking in the Kalamazoo area through her work with the Junior League of Kalamazoo’s State Public Affairs Committee. “Once I heard that kids were sold and exploited, I had to do something,” says Morley LaCroix. “There are more than 90 missing children in Michigan, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Where are they? Trafficking can happen to anybody, and we have to make it stop happening.” Morley LaCroix researched the issue, attended conferences, shared ideas with advocates in other communities and met survivors. “I was determined to go home and start something in Kalamazoo so I emailed all the people I knew, and we met in the basement of my real estate office. Nine people showed up,” she says.

Morley LaCroix then sought out others interested in stopping trafficking, including Sheriff Fuller and representatives of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, the Junior League of Kalamazoo and the YWCA. She also contacted churches and several religious organizations including The Ark , a crisis intervention center for youth run by Youth for Christ; the Congregation of St. Joseph; and the Kalamazoo Deacons Conference. In 2012 Morley LaCroix established the Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition, a nonprofit with a $16,000 budget and a group of committed volunteers but no paid staff. “Our mission is simple,” says Morley LaCroix. “We promote awareness of the problem, we train those who are most likely to help survivors, and we provide a road map of services for survivors to get back on their feet.” She also worked diligently with the Michigan attorney general’s office to help pass victim-centered legislation, including a law requiring that the human trafficking hotline number, 888-3737888, be publicly displayed in bus stations, airports, train stations, strip clubs, massage parlors, freeway rest areas, welcome centers, gas stations and truck stops. In fact, 21 public acts designed to help human trafficking victims were signed into Michigan law in 2014 and took effect in January 2015. “It was thrilling to see Gov. Snyder sign these bills that advocate for victims of human trafficking,” says Morley LaCroix, who testified at the state capitol for three of the bills. “This was God’s plan for me, and I’m helping to do God’s work.”

By the numbers When it comes to numbers, it’s hard to accurately gauge how prevalent human trafficking is in the Kalamazoo area. The FBI keeps statistics on all crime in the United States, but its human trafficking statistics are not very accurate because records have not been consistently kept over the long term, says Western Michigan University sociologist Dr. Angela Moe, a specialist in criminal justice, victimology and women’s issues. Nonetheless, estimates by various national and international agencies illustrate the seriousness of the problem. The U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally each year, with 14,500 to 17,500 trafficked into the U.S. annually. Of these, an estimated 50 percent are minors and an estimated 80 percent are women and girls. The CIA estimates that 40,000 to 50,000 people are trafficked throughout the United States each year. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 300,000 American children are at risk to be trafficked and that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 years old. It also reports that New York City alone has 3,500 minors for sale. According to Polaris, an organization leading the global fight to eradicate trafficking, there were nearly 26,727 calls in 2016 to its National Human Trafficking Resource Center, with 7,572 known

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Brian Powers

cases of trafficking. Of these cases, 73 percent involved sex trafficking, 14 percent labor trafficking, 3.5 percent sex and labor trafficking and 9 percent unspecified trafficking. “Slavery didn’t end in America after the Civil War. It just changed,” says Ben Moe, a counselor at The Ark in Kalamazoo, which provides shelter, housing and programs for homeless youth and runaways and counseling for families in crisis. “International borders are more fluid today because now we’re more traveled, and access abroad is easier. The internet provides a whole other avenue for exploiting people across the world in complex networks.” Trafficked children are usually runaways and are frequently picked up by traffickers within 24 to 48 hours of leaving home. Most are 12 to 13 years old, says Moe (who is not related to Angela Moe). Sara Morley LaCroix founded the Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition to fight human trafficking in the region.

“The traffickers know where to find vulnerable youth. They’re at bus stops or the mall. They (the traffickers) may start a relationship with online chats on the internet, or a youngster who is already being trafficked goes into schools and looks for recruits.” Traffickers see vulnerable children, approach them, buy them a meal, ask about their story and give them a place to stay, usually at a hotel, he says. Then the trafficker demands payment for these services, money kids do not usually have. To pay off the debt, traffickers make them perform sex or labor. Traffickers also take advantage of kids hooked on drugs or alcohol who need the money to keep up their habit. “Traffickers appeal to the child’s needs and offer him or her a job or money,” says Ben Moe. “Recently, four young women in Oshtemo with debt from drugs were promised that they could pay it off if they performed sex for the traffickers.”

34 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

Dynamics of trafficking When asked why so much trafficking is occurring, Morley LaCroix says the answer is simple. “Money. Traffickers regard human beings as a huge commodity to sell. One victim can ‘service’ seven to nine men every night of the week, which can add up to $40,000 to $50,000 per year. It’s better than selling drugs, which are used only once.” Sex trafficking customers are mostly white, middle-class men, says Morley LaCroix “Pornography plays a huge role in human trafficking,” says Angela Moe. “People who look at pornography get ideas, and they are desensitized to what it means to exploit other people.” Not surprisingly, pornography is big business, but today it goes beyond “girlie magazines” and instead depicts scenes of violence, murder and sexual assault. “I don’t think healthy people do that,” says Angela Moe. “As a sociologist, I see it as learned behavior.” At least 50 percent of the people trafficked are likely to be children, she says. That’s because they are easily exploitable and vulnerable. They tend to be very trusting of adults and can be tricked, taken advantage of and easily restrained. Those most at risk for sexual assault are people ages 10 to 22, while younger children are more at risk for all forms of child maltreatment, she says.

“Such abuse occurs because children learn how to be at the disposal of their parents,” she says. “That’s all they know. They may not like it, but (they) think that’s the way it is.”. Labor trafficking is difficult to pin down because law enforcement has to respond to a complaint or discover such trafficking through an investigation before it can apprehend traffickers, says Fuller. “Farms, for example, hire large groups of people who come to pick the crop quickly and then move on to another farm,” he says. “There may or may not be trafficking activity going on, but we just can’t go in on someone’s property and start questioning them or arresting them. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has some of these abilities, but the sheriff’s department doesn’t.” Morley LaCroix says that “many migrant workers who pick the blueberries, apples, peaches and sweet corn that we grow and eat here in Southwest Michigan may be trafficked. They are vulnerable people who don’t speak English and have no worker rights,” she says. Traffickers go into poor areas in Mexico, for example, and arrange for busloads of migrant workers to be taken to U.S. farms to harvest crops, says Morley LaCroix. They promise these workers jobs, food, housing and transportation but later tell them they have to pay for these services. Then the traffickers take any money the victims earn and sometimes charge exorbitant interest rates so that the workers are trapped and cannot escape.

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She says restaurants are often among the places where trafficked immigrant workers go to work eight- to 16-hour days. The workers’ passports and other identification are taken away from them so they can’t run away. “Without identification, workers are at risk for being sent to jail,” says Morley LaCroix. “This same sort of coercion goes on with housekeepers, cooks and babysitters, too.”

Taking action The Kalamazoo Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition is going beyond citizen advocacy in Lansing to bring greater awareness and training programs to people in the community, including those in public schools. Volunteers speak to teachers, counselors and staff, offering free prevention training for students. Last year volunteers provided training in 10 health education classes at Portage Northern High School, one social justice class at Kalamazoo Central High School and two dance classes at Education for the Arts, a program that serves nine school districts in Kalamazoo County. Even so, there seems to be some reluctance to address this issue in the schools, says Morley LaCroix. She believes that kids who know the consequences of trafficking and what to do when strangers approach them are going to be safer than those who remain ignorant of it. “People don’t have to be scared about human trafficking,” says Morley LaCroix. “They have to become aware of it so they can protect themselves and others.” Meanwhile, many professionals in the Kalamazoo area are being trained to recognize the signs of trafficking. Among them are health care workers at Borgess Medical Center, where Sister Sue McCrery, director of spiritual care, has conducted training on the topic. For example, staff learn that when traffickers bring their victims to hospitals for treatment, they usually accompany them or have a “bottom girl” bring the victim in for treatment, says McCrery. The “bottom girl” is one whom the trafficker has groomed and entrusted with some power, she says. Because traffickers tend to move their victims from city to city, she says, the victims

often don’t know their address or where they are. They usually lack any personal identification. One way of detecting victims, she says, is by asking them where they live or if they feel safe at home. The trafficker or “bottom girl” will usually answer for them — and they resist being separated from victims in order to keep them from speaking about their situation. The Michigan State Police are also trained to watch for signs of human trafficking when they make legitimate vehicle stops for violations like a broken taillight or speeding, says McCrery. Likewise, over the past eight years the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department has aggressively fought human trafficking by paying more attention to the possibility of trafficking when they encounter other crimes such as drug cases or prostitution, Fuller says.

Helping victims The sheriff’s department has also initiated partnerships with various local, state and national law enforcement and social service agencies to fight trafficking. Last year Fuller created the Victim Services Unit, a group of trained volunteers who help victims and survivors work through the trauma prompted by a crisis or crime against them. The group’s purpose is to serve as a gobetween among the victims, their families and law enforcement.

These volunteers go to a crime scene with officers and set up counseling and conduct a needs assessment, says Fuller. They then may connect victims with a safe house, a church or even help them find a job through Michigan Works. Because many victims are heavily drugged to perform the acts they are forced to perform, the volunteers may also take them to addiction specialists who can help them recover. “In the past, when police found victims, they didn’t know what to do with them,” says Fuller. “Now we are finding ways to work with victims and help them feel safe.” In November, the YWCA Kalamazoo announced plans to open the first and only shelter for victims of labor and sex trafficking in Michigan, as well as provide increased comprehensive services to all survivors, after receiving a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. The sheriff’s department is also trying to stop trafficking at its source by teaming up with agencies like the Internal Revenue Service, which catches traffickers who fail to report their income. Because traffickers use the internet to recruit kids, the sheriff’s department also consults an FBI computer specialist to learn how children have been induced into trafficking online, Fuller says. “This mix of government and nonprofit organizations allows us to fight human trafficking more effectively,” says Fuller.

Know what to look for Employees of hotels, airlines and airports are also learning how to spot victims. A local campaign aimed at helping to stop trafficking in hotels was led by the Congregation of St. Joseph, which put labels on bars of soap and Q-tips used in hotel rooms. The labels offered help and a hotline number to those who may be trafficked. “While we don’t know if any trafficked victims called for help, we hoped that they would see the message on the labels,” says Sister McCrery. There are now laws in Michigan mandating that certain professionals be trained to recognize signs of trafficking and report it to law enforcement. McCrery received such training through the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. “It really opened my eyes to the reality and severity of the problem we have right here in Michigan,” says McCrery. “What is needed is systemic change — a cultural change that values every human person, where people are not property to be bought and sold for one’s enjoyment. “We can save lives, so we must learn more about the problem, be informed, speak out against it and then do something about it. Someone may need your help to be freed from this horrendous problem.”

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 37

Lloyd & Pleasure P. with Nick LaVelle — R&B singers/songwriters, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, State Theatre, 345-6500.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical — Featuring characters from the TV holiday classic, 7 p.m. Dec. 8, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300.

Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold — Interactive comedy/improv show, 7 p.m. Dec. 20, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300.

Christmas Cabaret — Favorite carols and holiday songs performed, 7 p.m. Fri., 2 & 7 p.m. Sat. & Sun., Dec. 8–23, Barn Theatre, 13351 West M-96, Augusta, 731-4121.



A Christmas Carol — Dickens' holiday classic, through Dec. 28, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328, thenewvictheatre.org.

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The Little Mermaid — Disney family musical about a mermaid who desires to live in the world above the sea, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 & 2, 2 p.m. Dec. 3, Civic Theatre, 329 S. Park St., 343-1313.

Adam Labeaux — Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist, 7–9 p.m. Dec. 1, Arcadia Ales Kalamazoo, 701 E. Michigan Ave., 276-0458. Tommy Emmanuel Classics and Christmas Tour — Australian guitarist, songwriter and singer, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500.

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— Progressive improvisational rock band, 9 p.m. Dec. 1, Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382-2332.

Tom Waits Tribute Night — Local artists honor works of singer/songwriter Tom Waits, 8 p.m. Dec. X 2,5.5” Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.


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Scarface — American rapper, 9 p.m. Dec. 7, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Tab Benoit — Award-winning blues musician, 8 p.m. Dec. 8, State Theatre, 345-6500. Eccentric Day 2017 — Various performers, 9 a.m. Dec. 8, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Home Free: A Country Christmas Tour 2017 — The a cappella ensemble sings country and holiday favorites, 8 p.m. Dec. 9, State Theatre, 345-6500. Less is More — Folk and indie pop group featuring M. Sord, 9 p.m. Dec. 9, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Tuba Christmas — Local tubists play holiday classics, 4 p.m. Dec. 10, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Big|Brave — Montreal rock trio, 9 p.m. Dec. 10, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Melissa Etheridge: Merry Christmas, Baby — The singer performs her holiday favorites, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12, State Theatre, 345-6500. Tomb of Teeth — Sludge/doom metal band, 9 p.m. Dec. 14, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Ultimate Holiday Jam — Featuring R&B artist Ginuwine, with Jon B, Hi-Five, Ruff Endz and Adina Howard, 8 p.m. Dec. 15, State Theatre, 345-6500. The Appleseed Collective — Bluegrass/folk string band, 9 p.m. Dec. 15, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Frankie Ballard's Country Christmas — Michigan-born singer/songwriter, 8 p.m. Dec. 16, State Theatre, 345-6500. Desmond Jones — Album release concert for rock/funk/jazz fusion group, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 16, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Crane Wives — Rock/pop/folk band, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 22, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers — Michigan-based folk/pop band, Dec. 30, with '90s night Dec. 31; both concerts begin at 9:30 p.m., Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More


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Kalamazoo Mandolin & Guitar Orchestra — Old and new holiday music, 6 p.m. Dec. 1, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., 345-6664. A Joyful Christmas — Pianist Jim Brickman performs with Kalamazoo Concert Band, 8 p.m. Dec. 1, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300.

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A Choral Christmas — Western’s University Chorale, Cantus Femina and Collegiate Singers perform, 4 & 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St., 387-2300.

Descant and Dewey: Holiday Music — Local band The Living Room Musicians on recorders and percussion, 2:45–4:45 p.m. Dec. 3; Jeff Dallavalle on keyboard, 2–4 p.m. Dec. 17; Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, 329-4544. BachFest Christmas — Bach Festival Chorus and Western Brass Quintet present a festive classical program, 4 p.m. Dec. 3, Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College, 337-7407. Gilmore Rising Star Andrew Tyson — The American pianist performs works of Scarlatti, Ravel and Liszt, 4 p.m. Dec. 3, Wellspring Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 342-1166. Student Composers II — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. At This Special Time — Celebration of the words and music of Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 4–6, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328, thenewvictheatre.org. Christmas in Kalamazoo — Kalamazoo Ringers, Kalamazoo Male Chorus and Kalamazoo Brass perform, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Centerpoint Church, 2345 N. 10th St., kalamazooringers.org. University Percussion Ensemble — 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. New York Polyphony — Fontana presents this vocal chamber quartet singing new works and traditional medieval and Renaissance carols and motets, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 359-7311.




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A Jazzy Christmas: Traditional Tunes with a Twist — Kalamazoo Singers concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, First Presbyterian Church, 373-1769. Holiday Music with the KSO Quintet — 2 p.m. Dec. 10, Parchment Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747. A Brass Celebration of Christmas — Western Brass Quintet and friends perform, 3 p.m. Dec. 10, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Meredith Arwady — Opera singer performs holiday favorites, 7 p.m. Dec. 11, Westminster Presbyterian Church, 151 Helen Ave., 344-3966. Sounds of the Season — KSO perfoms music from the movies, with flutist Sara Andon and Kalamazoo Children's Chorus, 8 p.m. Dec. 16, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 3497759. Holiday Cheer — Four choirs of Kalamazoo Children's Chorus present seasonal music, 3 p.m. Dec. 17, Chenery Auditorium, 547-7183.

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Burdick-Thorne String Quartet — These KSO musicians perform holiday favorites, Dec. 20, Garden Atrium, Bronson Methodist Hospital; Dec. 21, Atrium Lobby, Borgess Hospital; both concerts at noon, 349-7759.

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Events encore



Other Venues

In the Works with WMU Dance — Western Dance Project presents lecture/performance, including faculty and student choreography during Art Hop, 6 p.m. Dec. 1, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 387-5830.

KIA Holiday Sale — Purchase art created by art school students and faculty, 5–8 p.m. Dec. 1, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Dec. 2.

A Time for Everything — Pastel and coloredpencil art by Susan Snyder, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.– Fri., 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat., through Dec. 28, Ann Harrison Gallery, Friendship Village, 207-7386.

Nutcracker 2017 — Ballet Arts Ensemble, professional soloists, WMU dancers, Kalamazoo Children's Chorus and Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, 2 & 7 p.m. Dec. 9, 2 p.m. Dec. 10, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 387-2300. Fall Showcase — Featuring choreography by WMU dance students, 3 & 7 p.m. Dec. 9, Dalton Center, Studio B, WMU, 387-2300. VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775 Exhibits

Kirk Newman Faculty Review — Juried exhibition of works by KIA art school faculty, through Dec. 31. Circular Abstractions: Bull's Eye Quilts — Twenty-six quilts in the Bull's Eye pattern, through Jan. 21. Round & Round: The Circle at Center Stage — Works from KIA collection presenting the circle in myriad manifestations, through March 4. Rhythmic Vitality: Six Principles of Chinese Painting — Works from collections of KIA and Joy and Timothy Light featuring concepts established by early Chinese art critic Xie He, Dec. 9–March 25.

Sunday Tours — Docent-led tours: This Land is Your Land: Looking at Landscapes, Dec. 3; Kirk Newman Art School Faculty Review, Dec. 10; both begin at 2 p.m. ARTbreak — Programs about art, artists and exhibitions: Creating Sculpture in Ibadan, Nigeria, with Al LaVergne, Dec. 5; Curator Karla Niehus, discussion of new exhibitions, Dec. 12; both sessions begin at noon, KIA Auditorium. Art League Talk: Lisa Rotondo-McCord — "Courting Favor: Objects of Diplomacy and the China Trade," 10 a.m. Dec. 13, KIA Auditorium. Book Discussion: The Painted Kiss — Denise Lisiecki leads a discussion of Elizabeth Hickey's novel, 2 p.m. Dec. 13, KIA Library.

Chuck Bronson: Oils and Watercolors — Through Dec. 29, Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, 329-4544. Art Hop — Art at various locations in Kalamazoo, 5–8 p.m. Dec. 1, 342-5059. Denise Miller Exhibit — Reclaiming Humanness: An Historical Broadside Journey of Black Women as Reluctant Heroes, 1781–Present, 5–8 p.m. Dec. 1, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., 345-6664. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library

Richmond Center for Visual Arts Western Michigan University, 387-2436

First Saturday @ KPL — Family event with stories, activities, special guests and door prizes, 2 p.m. Dec. 1, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., 342-9837.

Faculty Exhibition — Featuring work in a variety of media, through Dec. 10, Monroe-Brown Gallery.

Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747

Patricia Villalobos EcheverrÍa: Retrace — The artist documents her projects in Beijing, China; Managua, Nicaragua; and Kalamazoo, through Dec. 10, Netzorg and Kerr Gallery; artist lecture, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Room 2008, Richmond Center. 17 Days (Volume 10) — One artist's video work per day is played on 50-inch plasma screens, through May 1, Atrium Gallery.

Parchment Book Group — Discussion of A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, 6:30–8 p.m. Dec. 4. Holiday Chocolate and Parchment Wassailing — Hot cocoa and cookies at the library and a Holly Trolley ride to Parchment businesses, 6–8 p.m. Dec. 6. Front Page: Donuts and Discussion — Experts lead a discussion of current news topics, 10:30– noon Dec. 16.

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Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544

a.m. Mon.–Fri., 1 p.m. Sat., 2 p.m. Sun., through Dec. 31, Planetarium.

Friends of the Library Book Sale — 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Dec. 2.

Let It Snow — Full-dome video images choreographed to classic Christmas music, 1 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 4 p.m. Sat. & Sun., through Jan. 5, Planetarium.

SciFi/Fantasy: Trivia Contest — Topics related to science fiction, fantasy, comics, and manga, 7–8 p.m. Dec. 4. Lingo at the Library: An ESL Conversation Circle — English language learners can practice their conversational English, 1:30–2:30 p.m. Dec. 7, 14, 21 & 28. Local Author Expo — Buy books, get autographs and meet 10 local authors, 2–4 p.m. Dec. 10. International Mystery Book Club — Annual book exchange, 7 p.m. Dec. 14. Other Venues Holiday Open House — KSO Jazz Trio, Mrs. Claus, crafts, games and live reindeer, 1–3 p.m. Dec. 9, Comstock Township Library, 6130 King Highway, 345-0136. WMU Alumni Reading: Ephraim Scott Sommers & Dan Mancilla — Gwen Frostic Reading Series, 7 p.m. Dec. 12, Rooms 157–159, Bernhard Center, WMU, 387-2572. Reading by Mark Nepo — With launch of the author's new book, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky, 7–9:30 p.m. Dec. 12, Transformations Spirituality Center, 3427 Gull Road, 381-6290. MUSEUMS Gilmore Car Museum 6865 W. Hickory Road, Hickory Corner, 671-5089 New Year's Eve Celebration — Semi-formal event with dancing, live music, car-themed photo booth and ball drop, 9 p.m. Dec. 31–1 a.m. Jan. 1. Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990 Season of Light — How candles, Christmas trees and Santa Claus became holiday traditions, 11

Mystery of the Christmas Star — A scientific explanation for the star the Wise Men followed, 3 p.m. Sun., Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat., through Dec. 23, Sun.–Sat. Dec. 26–Jan. 5, Planetarium.

Guitar: The Instrument That Rocked the World — Exhibit with hands-on experiences, through Jan. 7. Hateful Things — Exhibit examining the history of racism to help promote racial healing, through Jan. 14. Sound Waves and Wave Properties — Michigan State University Science Theatre demonstrates basic scientific concepts about science in everyday life, 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10. NATURE

Star Wars Tike Hike — Wear your costume and hike Wolf Tree Nature Trails, 3:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Wolf Tree Nature Trails, 8829 West KL Ave., just east of Fourth Street, on the south side, Oshtemo Township, 324-1600. Birds and Coffee Walk — Morning bird walk and discussion over coffee, 9–10:30 a.m. Dec. 13, Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510. Winter Discovery Programs — Different nature programs each day, with children's program at 11 a.m. and program for all ages at 2 p.m., Dec. 27–31 & Jan. 2–5, Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574. MISCELLANEOUS Holiday Gifts & Greens Sale — Live greenery on sale by Kalamazoo Garden Council, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Dec. 1, 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Dec. 2, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 2900 Lake St., kalamazoogardencouncil.org.

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Events encore

Connect Kalamazoo — Community conversations about inclusion and belonging, noon–4 p.m. Dec. 1, Eastside Neighborhood Association, 1301 E. Main St., 254-8224.

Holidays at the Homestead — Discover holiday 5K Santa Run — Participants wear Santa suits traditions from 1800s, 1–5 p.m. Dec. 3, DeLano during walk/run through Paw Paw, 9 a.m. Dec. 9, Farms, 555 West E Ave., 381-1574. Paw Paw Middle School, 313 W. Michigan Ave., Tea at the Manor House — Specialty teas, a 624-4841.

Pre-Kwanzaa Bazaar — Vendors, food, music and activities, 5–8 p.m. Dec. 1, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 349-1982.

guided tour and holiday market for families: Mrs. Claus Tea, Dec. 3; Holiday Snowflake Tea, Dec. 10; Holiday Tea—Feliz Navidad, Dec. 12; Holiday Spice Tea, Dec. 19; 3–5 p.m. W.K. Kellogg Manor House, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners, 6712400; registration required.

Christmas at Wings Arts & Crafts Show — 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Dec. 2, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Dec. 3, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125. Walking Tour of Downtown Kalamazoo Breweries — Learn about the local beer culture, noon–4:30 p.m. Dec. 2, starting at Kalamazoo Beer Exchange, 211 E. Water St.; Dec. 9 & 30, starting at Old Burdick's Bar & Grill, 100 W. Michigan Ave.; Dec. 16, starting at HopCat Kalamazoo, 300 E. Water St., 350-4598. Traditional Holiday and Tree Lighting — Caroling and tree-lighting ceremony at City Centre and stroll to Celery Flats, 6 p.m. Dec. 2, Portage City Centre, 329-4522.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation — View the 1989 film about the Griswold family, 8 p.m. Dec. 2, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500.

Buy Local Art & Gift Fair — Local artisans and one-of-a-kind gifts, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Dec. 9, Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574.

Christmas Expo & Craft Show — Artists and crafters, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Dec. 9, Kalamazoo County Underwear Party — Support Ministry with Expo Center, 903-5820. Community's warm clothing collection, 5–7 p.m. Candy Cane Hunt — Candy canes, crafts and visit Dec. 4, Radisson Plaza Hotel, 100 W. Michigan with Santa, noon–2 p.m. Dec. 9, Homer Stryker Ave., 366-3095. Field, 251 Mills St., kzooparks.org. Kalamazoo Indoor Flea & Antique Market — Portage Holiday Market — Fresh produce, baked New and used items, antiques and handcrafted goods and handcrafted gifts by local artisans, 10 items, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Tues. & Wed., Dec. 5–27; 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Dec. 10, Portage Senior Center, 320 a.m.–3 p.m. Dec. 16, Kalamazoo County Expo Library Lane, 359-6727. Center, 383-8761. Kalamazoo Record & CD Show — Collector Scholastic Book Fairs Warehouse Sale — Large records, memorabilia and supplies, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. book sale, 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Dec. 7, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Dec. Dec. 10, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, Room A, 8, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Dec. 9, Kalamazoo County Expo 734-604-2540. Center North, 800-843-0112. Gala Holiday Celebration and Reception - KSO League presents special guest flutist Sara Andon, music by the Frank Silva Trio, dinner and dancing, 5 p.m. Dec. 14, Radisson Plaza Hotel; reservations at nkern513@sbcglobal.net. Family Night at the W.K. Kellogg Manor House — Winter stroll, sledding, crafts and activities, 5:30–7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners, 671-2400. Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Buy, sell or trade reptiles, amphibians and small mammals, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Dec. 16, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 779-9851. Santa Skate — Holiday music and skating with Santa, 3–5 p.m. Dec. 16, Millennium Park, 280 Romence Road, Portage, 329-4522. Kalamazoo Dance — Monthly ballroom dancing at 8 p.m., with samba lesson at 7 p.m., Dec. 16, The Point Community Center, 2595 N. 10th St., 344-5752. New Year's Eve Skate — Upbeat music and party lighting, 5–9 p.m. Dec. 31, Millennium Park, Portage, with special countdown at 7 p.m., 3294522. New Year's Fest — Performing arts, fireworks and food, 5:30 p.m. Dec. 31– 1:30 a.m. Jan. 1, various venues in downtown Kalamazoo, 3882380 or newyearsfest.com.Kalamazoo's Christmas trees, 5–7:30 p.m. Nov. 24, Bronson Park, kzooparks.org.

42 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

encore Poetry

Eclipse A dog barks somewhere near a Kentucky cornfield as the moon bites its way across the sun, leaving a cheddar crescent visible through tinfoil lenses. Yet, daylight — no, something not quite daylight—prevails. Shadows sharpen. The air cools. Language falters. Grass and trees gain a peculiar sheen. but darkness falls from overhead instead — The crescent shrinks at either end. What remains a sudden whoosh — as cheers rise up from nearby resembles that glob of red-hot glass that melts homes and the corona makes its grand appearance. into Lake Michigan on a perfect summer day. It’s been called a diamond ring, but it’s too kinetic, The dog across the road goes silent. rising and shrinking, waving and dancing, Clouds turn to cotton candy on every horizon. as if a sparkler were carving a circle on the sky. I expect a giant shadow to race in from the west — Margaret DeRitter DeRitter worked full time as a journalist for 30 years, including 22 at the Kalamazoo Gazette, and now teaches journalism at Western Michigan University and serves as copy editor and poetry editor of Encore. Her poetry has appeared in New Verse News, Midnight Circus, Melancholy Hyperbole, Scarlet Literary Magazine and Encore and is forthcoming in The 3288 Review and Pocket Change Literary Magazine.

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INDEX TO ADVERTISERS Adrianne’s Boutique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Amy Zane Store & Studio/Earthly Delights . . . . . . . . . . . 20


Arborist Services of Kalamazoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Better World Builders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Betzler Funeral Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Brink, Key & Chludzinski, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40 Bronson Health Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 The Civic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Confections with Convictions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Constance Brown Hearing Centers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Consumers Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 Dave’s Glass Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30


DeMent and Marquardt, PLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5, 36


Family & Children’s Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Farmers Alley Theatre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Fence & Garden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 First National Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Framemaker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20


Gilmore Real Estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Halls, Closets & More . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Hettinger & Hettinger, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 HRM Innovations, LLC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Kalamazoo Community Foundation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Kalamazoo Institute of Arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Kalamazoo Public Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Kalamazoo Valley Museum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Lana’s Boutique . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Lewis Reed & Allen, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 LVM Capital Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Masonry Heater Design House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Mercantile Bank of Michigan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Metro Toyota . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Meyer & Allwardt, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Nature Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 New Year’s Fest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Portage Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Ray Financial Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Jeff K. Ross Financial Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Spirit of Kalamazoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Trust Shield Insurance Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Tempo Vino Winery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Terrapin World Imports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

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V&A Bootery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Vandenberg Furniture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 VanderSalm’s Flowershop . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

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44 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

Varnum Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Willis Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 WMUK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

BACK STORY (continued from page 46)

for me because I was just out of college. Juxtapose that with where we are today (at the construction site of Later Elementary in Mattawan), which is a project around $79 million. But the process is the same — there’s just a lot more of it and it takes longer to do it. What drew you into construction? You know, only a few years ago did I learn that I had a grandfather who was a contractor. I had an interest in architecture in high school, and, yeah, I think I wanted to build things, but it was mostly that if you were good in math and science in school they guided you toward engineering of some sort. So I went to Purdue University in civil engineering. How did you get where you are today? I interviewed with Miller Davis in college and have pretty much worked my entire career here. At the time I hired on we had offices in Chicago, Indiana and the home office in Kalamazoo, and I’ve worked at all of them, coming here in the 1980s. I have also worked in most of the areas of the company — except accounting — which has given me a good basis to manage and to lead from. Do you have a favorite building you’ve built? Sangren Hall (at Western Michigan University) is one of my favorites because it is such an important building to the university.

We’ve worked on buildings for Notre Dame, Michigan State University, Central Michigan University and UCLA, but Sangren is as well made, designed and equipped as any. Pretty much all WMU students will go through it, and it’s important to have facilities like that to be able to compete. What keeps you up at night? The talent question. In our industry we need workers in the skilled trades as well as college-trained management. We need to portray our industry as one that’s exciting so it can compete with bioengineering or whatever the hot thing out there is now. I think about: How can we identify those young people out there that have the same passions we have and get them plugged into the right jobs in our industry? Also, at this stage of my career — I’m probably more than half done (he laughs) — succession management and equity transfer is also a concern. We are believers in sustained growth and looking at where the next opportunities are, and you have to have the business and the people to execute those. Making sure the company has the services we need to be competitive and the people to carry out those services is really important. Even though I’ve played the guitar since I was 9, it’s only been a few years since I have come to appreciate the role of the arts in education, the sciences, leadership and problem solving. There’s an undeniable connection there, and so I really believe it’s

important for students to be exposed to arts education. It helps you be creative and imaginative. Today’s young people are going to have to solve problems that have never been solved before, and they are going to have to visualize things in different ways than previous generations did. Having exposure to artistic education is foundational to that. Why did you start playing guitar? I had an older cousin who looked just like Elvis Presley, with a big, black pompadour, and who was a guitar player in bands, and I wanted to be just like him. I started playing in bars for money when I was 14. Now I play in the Bronk Bros. band, which is fronted by Keith and Brian Bronkema. I coached soccer with their dad and knew them when they were little kids. We connected again 20 years later at an event. I didn’t know they had a band, and they didn’t know I played guitar. They were looking for a guitar player, so I auditioned for them and have been playing with them now for 10 years. I have played for thousands and thousands of people all over the country, opening for national acts, learning new styles of music and techniques, and meeting relatively famous musicians — all things I never would have had a chance to do without them. It helps ground you a bit. It’s good to go out and be part of the hired help and be incognito. I enjoy that. I just get paid like everybody else does at the end of the gig.

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Rex Bell

President, CEO and chairman, Miller Davis Co.


s the head of Miller Davis Co., Rex Bell oversees the construction of multimillion-dollar buildings, but being a builder wasn’t something he was drawn to as a kid growing up in Peru, Indiana. His childhood passion was his guitar, which he started playing at age 9. As a grown-up, he’s kept that passion alive as a member of The Bronk Bros., a Kalamazoo-based country music band that has opened for national acts and recorded three CDs of its own work. With 15 to 20 major construction projects and several dozen smaller efforts in the works at one time in his full-time job, the 61-year-old Bell says that his time playing music is pivotal to keeping him “fresh.” “I think we need hobbies that get us out of our day-to-day routine and expose us to something completely different,” he says. ‘The older I get, it serves a lot of different purposes — it keeps your mind active, challenges you, and keeps you out in front of people, and it’s fun.” What was the first building you ever built? It was an $80,000 telephone switch gear building in Fish Lake, Indiana, and it was a big deal

Brian Powers

(continued on page 45)

46 | Encore DECEMBER 2017

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