The Success of SalesPage
‘Chocolate is Healing’ at Cherri’s Chocol’art
Dynamic Duos: Historic Kalamazoo Couples
Meet Sara Jacobs
Southwest Michigan’s Magazine
A dynamic live virtual event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, to honor Founding Dean Hal B. Jenson, MD, MBA for his legacy of leadership, and to support the mission of Kalamazooâ€™s medical school.
MAY 27, 2021 3:30 p.m. Opening Acts 4:00 p.m. Showtime
Event Co-Hosts William D. Johnston and Ronda E. Stryker
Event Co-Hosts William U. Parfet and Barbara A. Parfet
Founding Dean Hal B. Jenson, MD, MBA
To register: med.wmich.edu/WMedLive2021 or call 269.337.6335 2 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
ENCORE EDITOR'S NOTE
From the Editor T
here’s a lot of passion in this month’s issue, and not just the romantic kind — this February issue highlights several people whose passion for their work is making our community better. We are thrilled to feature Michelle Johnson in our cover story. Johnson is a historian, activist, public scholar, writer and disc jockey who brings her passion for history and social justice to everything she does, and she is doing a lot. She is simultaneously involved in many different projects, from establishing the Institute for Public Scholarship to working on an effort to develop markers throughout the city to tell the stories of Kalamazoo history that highlight Black, Latino and Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Potawatomi people to writing essays, screenplays and novels about the Black experience. While most of her efforts are local or Michigan-focused, she is gaining national attention and grant support for her work. Another individual whose passion drives her work is Sara Jacobs, director of Kalamazoo County Continuum of Care (CoC), whom we feature in this month’s Back Story. CoC coordinates local agencies’ efforts to solve homelessness in Kalamazoo, and Jacobs, who was homeless as a teen, works hard to “bring the right people into the room” to address the myriad issues of homelessness in our community. Lest you think we have missed the romantic aspects of February, we’ve got stories that highlight the two best things about the month of love: couples and chocolate. Historian Lynn Houghton highlights five couples from Kalamazoo’s past whose contributions have had long-term impacts on our community. And writer Jacquelyn Vincenta introduces us to Cherri Emery, whose love for art and chocolate has been a winning — and delicious — recipe for the success of her downtown Kalamazoo shop, Cherri’s Chocol’art. We hope you enjoy this month’s issue and thank you for reading Encore.
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The Success of SalesPage
‘Chocolate is Healing’ at Cherri’s Chocol’art
Dynamic Duos: Historic Kalamazoo Couples
Meet Sara Jacobs
Southwest Michigan’s Magazine
Her passion for history and social justice will change Kalamazoo
encore publications, inc.
Photographer brian k. powers
marion starling boyer, jordan bradley, lynn houghton, chris killian, marie lee, jacquelyn vincenta
Copy Editor/ Poetry Editor margaret deritter
Advertising Sales janis clark janet gover krieg lee
Office Coordinator kelly burcroff
Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2021, 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
Evaluation & Care of Trees and Shrubs Kalamazoo, MI • 269-381-5412 • www.arboristserviceskzoo.com 4 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
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.
When Jordan took on the task of writing about SalesPage, a data and technology company based in Kalamazoo, she anticipated a bunch of finance jargon. "But speaking with SalesPage President and CEO Aric Faber and Director of Marketing Ana Evans was not only enlightening, it was fun," she says. And knowing that SalesPage works with highly recognized companies across the globe is pretty cool, too, she adds. Jordan is a freelance writer and journalist living in the Kalamazoo area.
February Donor Spotlight WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine Proudly Recognizes Kalamazoo Philanthropists and Medical School Benefactors
Marie enjoyed the opportunity to talk to two very dynamic women doing important work in our community: Michelle Johnson and Sara Jacobs. “Dr. Johnson is a pivotal figure in Kalamazoo’s efforts to come to terms with the racism in its past and present, while Sara Jacobs is doing the mostly unseen work to help solve our community’s homelessness problem,” Marie says. “Their efforts will benefit our community for years to come.” Marie also was glad to partner with writer Chris Killian on the profile of Johnson. “Chris laid the foundation for the story and provided many interesting areas for further exploration but, because of other obligations, couldn’t do the follow-up interviewing and writing. It was fortunate for me because it gave me the chance to meet a true agent of change for our community.” Marie is the editor of Encore.
Jacquelyn was captivated by Cherri Emery’s chocolate shop the moment she entered it. “Who doesn’t want to know what it’s like to be a chocolatier? It’s fun to share what I learned with Encore readers,” she says. “Everywhere you look in Cherri’s Chocol’art there are stories. If you are ever seeking inspiration for the pursuit of your dreams, this shop is a place to visit, no matter what chapter of your life you are in.” Jacquelyn writes regularly about language and translation for Skrivanek Group, and her novel, The Lake and the Lost Girl, was published in 2017.
Susan C. Brown and Robert M. Brown We salute Susan and Bob Brown for their visionary leadership in helping to create vibrant connections between the programs of WMU Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine and genuine needs in the Kalamazoo Community. Their tireless advocacy for the mission and programs of WMed, particularly focusing on community mental health initiatives for the Kalamazoo Collaborative Care Program, along with their leadership financial support, continue to play a vital role in improving the quality of life in Kalamazoo and in advancing the mission of the medical school. Thank you Susan and Bob!
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6 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
Feb r ua r y
FEATURE Creating Change
History is at the heart of all Michelle Johnson does to foster equality and social justice in our community
DEPARTMENTS 3 From the Editor 5 Contributors 8 First Things A round-up of happenings in SW Michigan
11 Five Faves
Dynamic Duos — Historian Lynn Houghton highlights local couples and their community contributions
SalesPage — It may fly under the radar locally, but this growing Kalamazoo company has a national footprint
Chocolatier at Heart — Former gallery owner Cherri Emery finds art and healing in making chocolate
Meet Sara Jacobs — She brings ‘the right people into the room’ to solve homelessness in Kalamazoo
ARTS 32 Events of Note 35 Poetry On the cover: Dr. Michelle S. Johnson. Photo by Brian Powers.
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FIRST THINGS ENCORE
First Things Something Historic
Coloring book features Black female ‘firsts’ A new interactive coloring book honors Black History
Month with a local twist. Your Turn: African American Women of Kalamazoo was created by the Merze Tate Explorers, a program for girls in fourth to 12th grade that emphasizes travel, writing, and media and career exploration. The coloring book highlights such women as Monique Grayson, Kalamazoo’s first African American female pilot, and actress, vocalist and civil rights activist Abbey Lincoln, who grew up in Cass County. Artist Jerome Washington created the cartoon images, and Merze Tate members developed profiles of 16 women who were local firsts in career fields from business to entertainment. In addition to the coloring book, the Explorers created mini-documentaries of the women that are available to view through the Public Media Network. Your Turn: African American Women of Kalamazoo is $5.95 and available on Amazon.com. Proceeds from sales of the book will go toward scholarships for Explorers. For more information on bulk orders, contact Sonya Hollins at 359-7895.
Castalian String Quartet to perform virtually Despite the pandemic, Fontana Chamber Arts is making sure Kalamazoo audiences can still experience some of the world's best chamber music through performances produced specifically for Fontana and available for on-demand viewing. This month Fontana presents the Castalian String Quartet, an awardwinning group from London that is making waves on the international chamber music scene. A performance by the quartet filmed in London will go online at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26 and be available for viewing until March 25. This quartet has performed widely throughout Europe and North America. It was named the 2019 Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist of the Year and in 2018 won the Merito String Quartet Award/Valentin Erben Prize and a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship Award. The quartet’s performance will be preceded by a question-and-answer session for which audience members submit their questions to the artists in advance. Viewing passes are $20 and available at fontanamusic.org or by calling 382-7774. 8 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
Castalian String Quartet
ENCORE FIRST THINGS
The Gilmore offers two virtual concerts You can see a livestream performance by a young
Isaiah J. Thompson
Juilliard-trained jazz quartet or the premiere of a new piano composition performed by Rachel Kudo — or both — this month through the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. The Isaiah J. Thompson Quartet, featuring three members who trained at The Juilliard School, will perform live at 4 p.m. Feb. 7 from the Wellspring Theater. The quartet is led by pianist Thompson, with Julian Lee on saxophone, Philip Norris on bass, and Taurien Reddick on drums. On Feb. 21, 2008 Gilmore Young Artist Rachel Kudo will perform her commission of Suite à l'ancienne (Suite in the Old Style), a new work composed by Marc-André Hamelin, at 4 p.m. The event begins with a premiere of Zsolt Bognár’s Living the Classical Life interview with Hamelin and closes with a Q&A with all three. Tickets for both performances are on a name-your-ownprice basis. To purchase tickets, visit thegilmore.org. Not sure how to livestream a performance? The Gilmore offers instructions at thegilmore.org/how-to-stream.
48 Hour Playfest to debut You can watch local theater in the making during the 48 Hour Virtual
Playfest Feb. 26-28, hosted on Zoom by Bare Backstage Productions. The festival will feature Kalamazoo-based playwrights writing new pieces over 24 hours to fit the festival’s theme: Surviving 2020. Directors and actors will be given the scripts to rehearse until 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27. The plays will be livestreamed via Zoom in a 7 p.m. show that will open with music by Miranda Lee and a brief magic show by The Amazing Magic of Joe Bennett. The festival wraps up Feb. 28 with a new play by Tucker Rafferty, selected scenes from PS Lorio’s new screenplay, and a questionand-answer session with festival playwrights and directors. The second day’s events begin at 11 a.m. The 48-hour festival is free to the public but limited to the first 100 households to join via Zoom. The Zoom meeting ID, Zoom passcode and a direct link to the event will be posted the first morning of the event at barebackstage.com. The same link will be used for each day of the festival.
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FIRST THINGS ENCORE
Something to Drink
Craft Beverage Week continues Kalamazoo Craft Beverage week officially kicked off on Jan. 29, but
you can still get in on the events and specials of this weeklong homage to Kalamazoo’s thriving craft beverage industry. The week, running until Feb. 6, will feature “meet the brewer” sessions, in which patrons will be able to virtually meet the brewers, distillers and winemakers, learn about what it takes to develop their products, and achieve a greater sense of the area’s craft beverage industry. In addition, participating vendors are offering to-go packages and deals so that participants can try their products. To participate, visit kalamazoocraftbeverageweek.com.
Something Intriguing K College stages The Compass
The Compass, Michael Rohd’s interactive play exploring technology’s impact on a youth’s decisionmaking, is a challenge for any theater troupe, but add a pandemic and it becomes more daunting. However, The Festival Playhouse at Kalamazoo College is up to the challenge and will perform and livestream the play Feb. 26-28. The play was written to have a different ending each time it is performed dependent on audience participation, and while details on how The Festival Playhouse will handle that given pandemic restrictions were still being worked out at press time, there is sure to be plenty of creativity involved. According to organizers, The Compass will be performed 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, in the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse, 129 Thompson St., and recorded for online viewing. Ticket information, including cost, is available at festivalplayhouse.kzoo.edu.
THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING
MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS LAW
Please send your questions to:
Please send your questions to:
Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. Willis Law 491 West South Street Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269.492.1040 www.willis.law
Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.
Q. LAWYER I am buying ASK THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING
My husband is going into a nursing home. I’ve been told it is possible for me to create a trust and protect my assets from the spend down at the nursing home. Is that true?
THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING
assets from a company LAWYER with significant Willis Law A. Q. liabilities. I want to 491 West South Street Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. ensure I don’t take Kalamazoo, MI 49007 A. subject to those 269.492.1040 www.willis.law liabilities – what is my best path? A.
Yes. Most often when folks talk on trust planning, they are referencing a revocable trust. In fact, that is the case probably more than 99% of the time. A revocable trust under Michigan law generally is set up only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Please send your questions to: husband going into a nursing home.that I’ve told it is is anMy irrevocable trustisfor persons in your circumstances can been be established withtoyour assetsatotrust the extent they exceed protected possible for me create and protect my the assets from the spend Willis Law amount (which under Michigan law will cap at a little over $125,000). down at the nursing home. Is that true? 491 West South Street If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an Kalamazoo, MI 49007 MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS annuity LAW income stream back to you per the terms of the trust, then in 269.492.1040 such Yes. a circumstance the trustwhen will no folks longer talk be considered Most often on trusta countable planning, they are www.willis.law asset, but instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid Please send your questions to: referencing a My revocable trust. Ingoing fact, that case probably more intois atheand nursing purposes. This is husband a sophisticatedis planning technique, I highly home. I’ve been told it is thanencourage 99% of you the time. counsel A revocable trust underthisMichigan law generally before implementing or possible toforseekme to create a trust andtechnique protect my assets from the spend anyup other Medicaid planning. is set only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Willis Law MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS LAW
Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.
THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING
A. Buying assets is an important first step, along with clearly indicating in
your purchase agreement that you are not taking subject to any existing liabilities. On the other hand, a stock/membership interest purchase presumes you take all existing liabilities. It will also be important to receive an Unemployment Form UIA 1027 to verify unemployment taxes are current because you may take subject to outstanding unemployment liabilities. Ensure the seller will have adequate assets to pay its liabilities after close, and make the seller warrant to you as much. Finally, if this is of severe concern, consider asking the seller to reconstitute under Texas or Delaware law, and make the purchase agreement subject to the law of Texas or Delaware. Both of those states have laws very friendly to an asset purchaser avoiding the liability of the seller.
Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, is licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America.
10 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
down at thepractice nursing home.and isyour Is thata certified true? 491 West South is andanCounselors irrevocable for persons Michael J. WillisStreet is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys at Law, is licensed totrust law in Florida and Michigan, in registered ascircumstances public accountant that can be in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, Kalamazoo,signifies MI 49007 established with foryour the Heextent exceed that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized the highestassets levels of skill to and integrity. is listed in thethey Best Lawyers in America. the protected 269.492.1040 amount (whichYes. under Michigan law will cap folks at a little Most often when talkover on$125,000). trust planning, they are www.willis.law If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an referencing a revocable trust. In fact, that is the case probably more annuity income stream back to you per the terms of the trust, then in than 99% of the time. A revocable trust under Michigan law generally such a circumstance the trust will no longer be considered a countable up only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there asset, isbutset instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid purposes. is a sophisticated I highly is an This irrevocable trust forplanning personstechnique, in your and circumstances that can be encourage you to seek this technique or the protected established withcounsel your before assetsimplementing to the extent they exceed any other Medicaid planning. amount (which under Michigan law will cap at a little over $125,000). Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, is licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognizedincome for the highest stream levels of skill and integrity.to He isyou listed inper the Bestthe Lawyersterms in America.of the trust, then in annuity back such a circumstance the trust will no longer be considered a countable asset, but instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid This is a sophisticated technique, and I highly Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneyspurposes. and Counselors at Law, isplanning licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent encouragewhich you to seek before implementing this over technique or Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, hascounsel been rating lawyers for a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. any other Medicaid planning. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America.
ENCORE FIVE FAVES
Historian highlights couples and their community contributions by
One of the biggest challenges in
writing about five favorites of anything is that there always seem to be more than five on a list. Bringing it down to that magic number is hard, as it was for this month’s issue in choosing five couples from the past who have made significant contributions to the community (a category chosen to coincide with Valentine’s Day). There have been, and continue to be, many couples whose contributions have enriched and enhanced where we live. In the historical records there is often a wealth of information about the male member of a duo, but at times finding the same level of information about the female member presents more of a challenge and requires perseverance. After a great deal of deliberation, here are my five choices.
The Harrises Enoch Harris (1785-1870) Deborah Harris (1793-1881) Before Western Michigan University’s Parkview Campus was built on Parkview Avenue, there was a series of farms there, including one owned by Enoch and Deborah Harris, Kalamazoo County’s first African American residents. Enoch originally came to Oshtemo Township from Ohio in early 1829, planting corn and returning with his wife and growing family by the fall of the next year. Credited with planting the first apple orchard in the area, Enoch also raised wheat, corn and oats on their farm on Genesee Prairie, as the farm grew to more than 200 acres. Historical accounts credit Enoch for his hospitality, but Deborah also played a role in that, preparing whatever food was necessary to feed guests while also raising her children and working on the farm, as most farm wives did with their husbands in that era.
The Upjohns Dr. Uriah Upjohn (1808-1896) Maria Mills Upjohn (1821-1882) Before it was a pharmaceutical company, Upjohn was the surname of a family with roots in Kalamazoo County. Uriah came to the United States from England in 1828 with his brother, William, and both became doctors. Moving to Michigan by 1835, they joined many families in Richland, including the Mills family with their daughter Maria. After Uriah and Maria married in 1837, they raised 12 children while Uriah traveled on horseback for 20 years across five counties to treat patients. Education was important to both Uriah and Maria, and by 1869 eight of their sons and daughters had moved to Ann Arbor to attend school, several at the University of Michigan medical school. This couple certainly laid the foundation for their children’s successes and accomplishments. Their son William Erastus Upjohn was a medical doctor who founded the Upjohn Co. in 1886. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 11
FIVE FAVES ENCORE
The VanDeusens Dr. Edwin H. VanDeusen (1828-1909) Cynthia Wendover VanDeusen (1835-1914) If Edwin and Cynthia saw the portraits of themselves that hang in the Kalamazoo Public Library adjacent to the auditorium that bears their name, they would be disappointed — they never wanted any recognition for their contributions. The VanDeusens came to Kalamazoo from New York in 1858, when Dr. VanDeusen became the first medical superintendent of the Michigan Asylum for the Insane (now Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital). After retiring, they lived quietly until 1890, when they made the largest donation at that time to build and furnish a new Kalamazoo Public Library, which had previously been in several different locations. They made sure the library would be open seven days a week for those who worked the other six. It was their wish to give without any fanfare.
The Stones James A.B. Stone (1810-1888) Lucinda Hinsdale Stone (1814-1900) When the Stones came to Kalamazoo in 1843, little did they know the impact they would have on this community. He came here to become the pastor of First Baptist Church and president of the Kalamazoo Literary Institute (now Kalamazoo College), and she to head the institute’s Female Department. For 20 years, the Stones provided quality progressive education, embraced coeducation and exposed students to the issues of the day with help from famous visitors such as Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. After leaving the college in 1863, Lucinda continued her passion for education by operating her own school, leading foreign-study tours and organizing women’s clubs. James served as the editor of the Kalamazoo Telegraph newspaper and as postmaster. YOUR CLOSET. ONLY BETTER.
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The Kleinstucks Carl G. Kleinstuck (1853-1916) Caroline Hubbard Kleinstuck (1855-1932)
Caroline was born in Kalamazoo and graduated from the University of Michigan, where
she then became the first woman to receive a master’s degree. While traveling in Europe, she met Carl in Germany, marrying him in 1883. After briefly living in Chicago, the Kleinstucks moved to Kalamazoo, where Carl operated a dairy and poultry farm on Oakland Drive south of Howard Street and mined peat as a fuel source. In addition to raising her children, Caroline involved herself in a wide variety of organizations and causes, including women’s suffrage, kindergartens, vocational education and playgrounds. In 1922, she gave 48 acres of the family farm to the State Board of Education for a nature preserve in honor of her husband. Kleinstuck Preserve is located east of Oakland Drive between Cherry Street and Edgemoor Avenue. Ownership of the preserve was transferred to Western Michigan University in 1963, and the conservation group the Stewards of Kleinstuck recently purchased an adjacent 12 acres to add to the preserve.
Life changes constantly; and LVM remains committed to providing wealth accumulation and wealth preservation strategies to ensure our clients’ ongoing financial success. STEWARDSHIP STABILITY SUCCESS
About the Author Lynn Houghton is the regional history curator at the Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections. She leads the Gazelle Sports Historic Walks, a series of free architectural and historic walks at various locations in Kalamazoo County during the summer and fall, and is the co-author of Kalamazoo Lost and Found, a book on Kalamazoo history and architecture. She also participated in the PBS series 10 that Shaped America. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from WMU and a master’s in library and information science from Wayne State University.
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Data and tech company expands during pandemic by
n this year of the coronavirus, the Kalamazoo-based company SalesPage has seen something out of the ordinary for these strange and stifled times: growth. The technology and data company serves asset managers whose investment products make up 401Ks and retirement funds. In 2020, the company acquired two firms — SalesStation, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based data company, and Clarity Compliance, a platform that monitors funds for policy violation. It thereby expanded SalesPage’s services and tightened its foothold as a niche company that offers everything from software solutions to data analysis in the realm of asset management. But if the name SalesPage doesn’t ring any bells for you, you’re not alone. “We always joke that nobody knows us,” SalesPage President and CEO Aric Faber says with a good-natured laugh. Here since the ’80s While SalesPage has a long history in Kalamazoo, going back to the early ’80s, its work with global investment banking companies such as Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan in larger cities like New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C., has ensured that many local residents are unaware of SalesPage’s existence. The company started as a small technology company that provided software solutions for mutual fund companies. It evolved when Web-based technology became more prevalent, providing data analytics along with software solutions for asset managers. Over Zoom, Faber explains that in the financial services world there are approximately 1,000 investment firms
14 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
Left: CEO Aric Faber in SalesPage’s Kalamazoo headquarters. Top: SalesPage is a technology and data company serving the financial asset and investment industry. Bottom: The logos of SalesPage products adorn the wall in the company’s offices.
creating investment products for about 350,000 individual financial advisors to sell to buyers. SalesPage, he says, works with those investment firms, using data to help narrow down which of those 350,000 advisors can best sell the investment firms’ products and to whom those products are most relevant. “They don't want to waste time going after 350,000 advisors when maybe 20,000 will be really good to sell their products,” Faber says. “Connecting those dots in the data is where we got started.” To put it in more accessible terms, Ana Evans, director of marketing at SalesPage, uses a coffee analogy: “You go to different coffee shops. You buy a coffee. How does Starbucks figure out how they can get your market share and have you come to Starbucks more than Biggby? So they're gathering intelligence about where you go, what you’re doing. Asset managers are doing the same thing. At SalesPage, we help them bring all of that data together,
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ENTERPRISE ENCORE clean it up, organize it, run analytics on it so they can have better intelligence to distribute more effectively. We're providing them software solutions, services, data itself, a combination of things.” Although SalesPage was able to transition from its space in the collaborative offices at the Foundry and into the virtual world of Zoom meetings relatively smoothly, Covid-19 restrictions have affected the way that its clients do business, further complicating a challenging field. “The financial services business and that buying and selling used to be very personal,” Faber says, harking back to the days when financial advisors took their clients to golf courses or out for a steak dinner. “Our clients would sell the same way. It would all be inperson, it’d be personal relationships. In the Covid world, we all have to operate remotely.” That shift away from personal relationships into digital connections has made accurate and actionable data that much more pivotal for the company’s clients, and it’s something SalesPage has been providing for more than two decades. SalesPage’s office in The Foundry at 600 E. Michigan Ave. features an industrial open concept with designated meeting rooms with distinctive wall art, such as the Java Room, shown at top right. Bottom right: The famous quote by University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler hangs in Aric Faber’s office and is a mantra for the CEO.
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When one of the company’s clients lands a Zoom meeting with a potential buyer, “that Zoom meeting is more effective,” Evans explains. “They already have the intelligence to know who they’re talking to and what that person’s looking for.” All in all, it’s objectively dry stuff. No Wolf of Wall Street antics here. All about the team
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In fact, spend any amount of time speaking with Evans and Faber and you’ll walk away knowing they have a passion for teamwork and community. “‘The team, the team, the team. It’s all about the team,’” Faber says, adding that those words are literally on the wall of his office. They come from an iconic locker room speech given by University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler in 1983 before the Wolverines went on to win against longtime rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes. When Faber joined SalesPage in 2006, the company was heavily focused on streamlining and perfecting the services it offered. By 2013, Faber shifted focus to bringing in strong leadership to grow the company beyond its niche. And grow it did. In 2013, SalesPage had 25 employees. Today, it has 70 and expects to add more. “When you have good people you can lean on, smart, talented people left and right, when you can rely on people, it’s amazing what can be created,” Faber says.
ENCORE ENTERPRISE To Faber, success and growth for SalesPage means success and growth for Kalamazoo. Throughout recent years, the data and technology company has focused heavily on recruiting from Kalamazoo-area colleges. “We want to provide a great opportunity for folks to stick around,” Faber says. “We’ve realized that we’ve helped by being in our local communities. We’re having a bigger impact.” Aside from providing job opportunities, SalesPage encourages employees, especially those in leadership roles, to be involved in local charities and to be thinking about the
community in general. And with Covid-19 affecting so many local businesses and restaurants, Faber and his team members have been looking for ways to spend more money within the community as often as they can, he says. “We do recognize how fortunate we’ve been, and we’re thankful for our team members because it’s their expertise,” Evans says. “But one of the key things we wanted to invest more time in is how we’re giving back to our community.”
The décor of several of the meeting rooms at SalesPage pays homage to other Michigan companies such as the Gibson Room (for Gibson Guitar), above, and the Tap Room, right, which features taps from several Michigan craft breweries.
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Creating Change History is at the heart of Michelle Johnson’s work toward inclusion, equality and social justice by
A public scholar and intellectual. A social
justice advocate. A disc jockey. An author and screenwriter. These are just some of the roles Dr. Michelle S. Johnson has taken on. “I’m doing a lot,” the 58-year-old says. There’s an understatement. Johnson is a whirling dervish of determined energy, diverse in her focus and passionate in her endeavors, always with an eye toward unveiling inequality, promoting justice and healing, and ushering in new paradigms of inclusion, equality and social justice. “I am just carrying on the work that’s been going on for years,” Johnson says modestly. “I just love creating a stage and supporting folks who have energy to create and to create change.” Learning from the past Johnson is perhaps first and foremost a historian. It is what informs everything she does. As a child, born in Kalamazoo and raised in Saginaw, she would tape conversations with others on a Panasonic tape recorder, not knowing then that she was dabbling in her first oral history project. “I was always interested in history. I have always been interested in how people live and how it impacts their lives,” she says, “but I didn’t know it could be a career.” It wasn’t until she attended Michigan State University and learned about a degree in humanities that Johnson knew what she wanted to do. At the time she was studying pre-law, focusing on minority-majority group relations. “In that process it became very clear that many of the things I experienced in Kalamazoo and in Saginaw were resonant with these larger questions of class, race, and gender and space, place and history,” says Johnson.
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Brian Powers Michelle Johnson stands on the brownfield on Kalamazooâ€™s east side that she and her Institute for Public Scholarship are aiming to rehabilitate and turn into a park for health and wellness.
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“I found that it expanded the lens for me to understand my personal experience and my family's experience and make sense of what I had gone through and seen as a child. You know, I integrated my elementary school at 4 years old in Saginaw in the ’60s, and even though I had a great family, a 4-year-old is not equipped for people's rabid racism. My education was very much a process of making sense of where I had come from and where my family had come from.” Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities with an emphasis on English, philosophy, psychology and women's studies. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in American culture from the University of Michigan, where her work focused on African American and 19th-century literature, environmental history and African American author, anthropologist and playwright Zora Neale Hurston. And while her academic interests may seem disparate, all have found a place in her work today. After getting her doctorate, Johnson became an assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and during her second year there she was given a Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship at the University of Florida. “I went down there and followed behind Zora Neale Hurston, went to the places she’d collected folklore and went to the places in Loughman (Florida) where she collected some of the work for her book Mules and Men and her anthropological work on the South. That’s where I really realized, ‘Oh, I want to be a public scholar.’” Public scholarship is a fusion of research, education and creative activity that engages the public, with the intention of creating positive change within a community. If the field sounds a bit academic and obtuse, Johnson’s track record in it is illuminating. The Rockefeller fellowship led her to create a two-year project in Loughman of researching and staging the first-ever performance of Hurston’s play Polk County, which is set in that community. From 2000 to 2008, Johnson was Michigan’s Freedom Trail coordinator, facilitating educational curricula for
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elementary and middle school students and the implementation of historical exhibits and planning related to the Underground Railroad and resistance to slavery in Michigan. In 2014, she became a state historian, leading a statewide effort to document life in Black communities in Michigan from 1815 to 1915 and to develop exhibits. At the same time, she led several oral history projects across the Great Lakes State, including projects that explored the Civil Rights movement in Kalamazoo and the experiences of Blacks and Latinx in Saginaw and Detroit and Black residents of Kalamazoo. “The past is cool, so long as we are learning the lessons from history,” she says. “It’s easy to say we imagine that something is needed, that some kind of change needs to take place, but we need to create that change, and we need the space to be able to make it happen.” Johnson moved to Kalamazoo in 2004 and co-founded the Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative with local poet and educator Denise Miller in a renovated historic fire station building on Portage Road, in the Edison neighborhood. Fire began as a place to showcase art, poetry and music, provide a space for youth development and welcome the LGBTQ community, and help people of all ages find their authentic voice. Over time it has become a youth-driven arts and justice program that provides a safe space for youth to express, heal and connect with themselves and others through creativity. Above, top to bottom: Johnson as a young child and giving a poetry reading at Fire Historical and Cultural Johnson describes Fire as “an extension Arts Collaborative, which she helped cofound in a of my 25-year insistence on space for renovated fire station on Portage Road. Right: As DJ marginalized people to express their Disobedience, Johnson has worked as a disc jockey on WIDR and for events. autonomous and authentic selves.” She stepped away from Fire four years ago, which was a difficult decision, she says, but one that world to imagine and integrate strategies for development that benefit the whole freed her to pursue other projects. community,” Johnson says. Boosting community Her efforts have been recognized with a One of those other projects is solidly in the three-year grant from the Stryker Johnston realm of public scholarship. Johnson, along Foundation. with a team of established public scholars, “It’s a longstanding dream, something that I has established the Institute of Public have been wanting to do for at least 20 years, Scholarship, in which the academic areas of that really identifies (that) the solutions that the humanities, arts and sciences intersect we see to many of our societal issues are at and which “takes our knowledge out of the the intersection of the sciences, arts and academic walls and applies it in the larger humanities,” she says. “We are drawing from
“The past is cool, so long as we are learning the lessons from history. It’s easy to say we imagine that something is needed, that some kind of change needs to take place, but we need to create that change, and we need the space to be able to make it happen.” - Michelle Johnson the experiences and work of Black scholars that I've worked with over the decades to identify ways that we can address a variety of issues and then partnering with allied White scholars and other scholars to give community initiatives further capacity to be able to do the work that they're intending to do.” Reclaiming land for wellness An example of this work is a project Johnson calls the Riverview Wellness Park, to be created on 7.5 acres on Kalamazoo’s east side, along the Kalamazoo River. The project will create accessible intergenerational play spaces and exercise opportunities, based on transformative principles of play, for populations of play-deprived teens and adults, she says. “Play is a basic animal need, not just a human need, particularly for people of color, women, poor folks and other marginalized groups,” she says. Johnson says the park will not only promote health and wellness, but also promote the paradigm of inclusive land use in an area
predominantly composed of people of color. The project moves away from the idea that unused land must be privately developed, she says. “How do we create spaces that are accessible to everyone, especially those who have been oppressed?” Johnson asks. The plot of land for the project is problematic, however. It is located in a floodplain and is a site where coal ash from coal-burning power plants was dumped for years, leaching toxins such as lead into the soil. "One of the first areas of focus to make this wellness park accessible is to find ways to remediate the land and the toxins that are there as well as embrace the idea that it will flood. It has flooded, and it will probably flood again,” Johnson says. “We are thinking through and researching the historic use of the land to identify vital remediation processes that we can utilize to extract some of the toxins out of the land. “It's quite interesting. There were trees there that were pulling out some of those toxins, but at the same time there were people who didn't have other homes that were there living in areas under the trees, kind of camping out on that land. There's a long history of that. The city's response at that time was to get rid of the homeless problem by getting rid of the trees, so they cut the trees, which didn't end the homeless situation by any stretch of the imagination. “One of the focuses for the Institute of Public Scholarship is to make sure that the folks who are currently living on that land are at the table informing us about their experiences living on that land. We know that people are potentially having some reactions to the coal ash that is there. That’s the importance of oral testimony and of the sciences and the humanities in building an assessment of and forward movement for the land. “We are very much focused on — I don’t mean to appropriate it — but the Native American concept of the seven generations. We know, particularly in that land, that many of the issues that we're dealing with are at least 200 years old, many of the solutions are probably 200 years old in many ways too, and we have to think through anything that we do as being sustainable and thriving 200 years out from this moment.” Telling forgotten stories The idea that the past informs us is at the heart of another Institute of Public Scholarship effort: partnering with the Kalamazoo Historical and Cultural Landscape Project through Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Kalamazoo, or TRHT. The project, sponsored by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, will feature permanent markers and installations throughout the city to tell the stories of familiar and lesser-known moments of Kalamazoo history that highlight Black, Latinx and Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Potawatomi people. As a recognition of the importance of her work in this area, Johnson was named a 2021 Rubinger Fellow by the national Local Initiatives Support Corp. and will use the $40,000 award to establish a Cultural Land Trust to elevate the history and protect the infrastructure of Black and Brown communities.
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It’s a way, Johnson says, of not only bringing important and difficult issues to light, but discussing the past as a way of building a bridge to a future that heals the wounds of systemic oppression. “I feel like we are in an incredible time in history,” Johnson says. “There is a growing and powerful critical movement of Black folks seeking to do something. The level of conscious activism is rising. Kalamazoo, for all its challenges, responds to group action. There is a focus here on social justice, and we have a crucial mass of people here who understand racism and the inherent injustices in many of our institutions.” In a city that is seeing significant growth, especially in the downtown area, the institute is also seeking to provide a pathway for sustainable and equitable community development, a pushback of sorts to the inequity of gentrification that Johnson says is already at hand in the residential real estate explosion downtown. “We are shooting off on our own path,” she says. “We need to integrate notions of just development in our city planning in order to stop the social erasure of people of color and poor folks in so many development projects. The idea is to do something different, to engage the community in discussions of privilege.
Become a member today! Benje Daneman - Individual Member Co-Director/Co-Founder, Jazz & Creative Institute By helping artists through funding, providing performance opportunities, and supporting/advising artists of all areas and levels, the Arts Council allows our flourishing artist community to be even stronger, better and more creative.
Johnson, as DJ Disobedience, spins music at an event.
â€œI have spent lots of time on resistance. Now I am expanding that to insistence. I am expecting a better way of life for those who have historically been oppressed. I am claiming that space because my voice is important.â€?
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Wait, thereâ€™s more And just when you think youâ€™ve heard about everything that Johnson is doing, you find out youâ€™re wrong. Hopelessly wrong. Because she also has a prolific creative side as an author, screenwriter, producer and disc jockey. Remember that Panasonic tape recorder from her youth? â€œIt was really important for me as a kid to connect with the radio and listen to music,â€? she says. â€œOne of my favorite things to do was a made-up radio station that my best friend and I had. We called it WBOJ, and we made recordings of our radio station playing music that we recorded off the radio. We did interviews. We did the news. Iâ€™ve been in love with the idea of radio my entire life.â€? Michelleâ€™s biological father, Roy S. Merricks, was a musician who played with a Kalamazoo band called King Oliver and His Men. Johnsonâ€™s family lived on one side of a duplex, King Oliver and his wife on the (continued on page 30)
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A Chocolatier at Heart
Former gallery owner finds the art in making chocolate by
BRIAN K. POWERS
hocolatier Cherri Emery believes chocolate is healing. There are the health benefits, and there is also the simple pleasure of savoring something delicious with delightful textures. But there is even more to it than that for Emery. “For me, getting through some major losses in my life, the act of creating something so beautiful and delicious was healing,” she says. Those major losses could have been crippling. Her twin, Terri, died at 40 from an aneurysm in the wake of five major back surgeries. Emery’s son, Sean, had a rare blood disease and died just before he turned 30. 26 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
Above: Cherri Emery, left, and daughter, Ashley Rafferty-Billman, in front of the unique round cases displaying their chocolate treats. Right, from top to bottom: A cutter makes short work of cutting caramels, a coffee concoction that looks too good to drink, and beautifully decorated chocolates and caramels await shoppers.
“These are the things, I guess, that make us stronger,” she says. “What are you going to do? You can’t just give up. You miss them. You remember all the good stuff. You do things in their memory.” It is clear that Emery loves and appreciates her life. She can’t wait to get to work every morning. She enters her shop, Cherri’s Chocol’art, at 101 S. Kalamazoo Mall, turns on the lights and starts brewing coffee. She wears all the hats in the company, handling the banking, figuring
out payroll and doing other computer tasks before and after business hours. When all that is under control, she says, she can “do the fun stuff”: make chocolate. Every day she mixes large batches of chocolate to mold and sculpt into individual creations that she strives to make “as beautiful as they are delicious.” All production takes place in her shop, which also boasts an ice cream bar and a café that serves various coffee drinks and gourmet hot chocolate. Her management role here is familiar to her from many years as an owner of art galleries in Saugatuck, Douglas and Kalamazoo. She loved those businesses too, but this chocolate shop in downtown Kalamazoo is her own work of art, from the décor to the chocolates. A workplace of art Emery believes her intense love of chocolate and her desire for the chocolate shop to exist brought together the beautiful pieces that now adorn her chocolate shop. The coffee counter is from the basement of the former Piranha Alley, a skateboarding store on the Kalamazoo Mall from 1997 to 2003. She repaired it and added creative tile work by an artist friend. Wooden art-print file cabinets from her art galleries were repurposed as counters and storage. The antique pillars were something she’d envisioned for the shop and happened to find one day when she stopped at an antique store that was almost never open. “The round chocolate case was just waiting for us when I looked through a window in Otsego,” Emery says. “I did have to hunt down the owner of the building on that one. And the large headboard that we use on the wall as a focal point near the entrance was from Florida and ended up in Grand Rapids. We painted our tagline there: “The Art of Chocolate.” “With my galleries, it was a matter of finding the best artists and letting them shine,” Emery says. “I still do that here with my employees, but I have really created this thing from scratch and I am self-taught.” Her confectionary experience started with caramels in 1970. They aren’t easy to make. One batch she shared with her father destroyed his dentistry bridge. Her caramels improved over the years, and then her brother asked her to make turtles (a treat made with caramel, pecans and chocolate), but he was never impressed with the final product. Until one day he was. “You have to have a good base for turtles, a homemade caramel,” Emery says. “I started with my mother-in-law’s w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 27
SAVOR ENCORE recipe, and now we make about 10 varieties of salted caramels. Then you have to have really, really good chocolate and candied pecans for the top and bottom.” Emery learned how to work with her primary ingredient, couverture chocolate, through three years of hands-on crafting while reading everything she could about the subject. Couverture has a higher percentage of cocoa butter (32 to 39 percent) than baking or eating chocolate, tastes creamier and adds a snap and sheen to the finished confection. From start to finish through the tempering process — a tricky, sensitive process that requires a
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steady temperature to create just the right kind of crystals — Emery stirred the couverture with a spoon and carefully watched it respond to the heat. Eventually she got a tempering machine that could process 10 pounds without her minute-by-minute attention. Her next machine handled 250 pounds per day. The current “robot” (as she thinks of it) does even more, monitoring temperature with precision and stirring perfectly. From galleries to goodies Emery’s daughter, Ashley RaffertyBillman, loves this chocolate business as well. Rafferty-Billman was one of the first students
Left: Cherri Emery uses a paintbrush to decorate chocolates. Above, top: a hot chocolate bomb suitable for the new year. Below: Special chocolate wares prepared for Valentine’s Day.
to enroll in Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Culinary Arts and Sustainable Food Systems program, graduating with honors. She is a partner in Emery’s work, and some well-timed suggestions to her mother have encouraged important career decisions by her mother. One of those came when Emery gave up her art gallery with the idea of retiring but discovered she wasn’t ready. Her galleries — the last one was Gallery 344, near the Kalamazoo train station — had weathered economic downturns over several decades because her financially comfortable clients continued to be able to buy artwork. But in 2009, the effects of the Great Recession were so severe that all sales activity dried up. “It was horrible,” Emery says. “My husband had just retired. It seemed like a sign, so I had a big sale and closed the store. Two days later I was wondering what to do. My daughter says, ‘Mom, sell your caramels at the farmers market!’ One thing led to another, and then she suggested opening a retail outlet.” Cherri’s Chocol’art first hung out its shingle at a small storefront on the Kalamazoo Mall, where it operated for three and a half years. Then, when the retail space on the first level of the Peregrine 100 building, on the corner of the Kalamazoo Mall and Michigan Avenue, came up for rent, Emery’s imagination was snagged. “If you can’t stop thinking about it, you better investigate it,” she remembers thinking.
In late 2019 Emery opened the doors to an expanded shop at that location, a few months before Covid-19 restrictions began. She and her crew found themselves having to adapt quickly to the restrictions by adding outdoor seating, curbside pickup and free delivery — anything they could think of to get through the hard time. And the business has expanded its selection of chocolate and caramel creations as sales have continued to grow. “It’s amazing when you do something that you truly love how successful you will be at it,” Emery says. “You have to have an amazing product and be passionate about your trade, and everything will fall into place.” It was an unexpected post-retirement career. But now Emery’s spirit has brought life to a place where people can come for chocolate and coffee, to be delighted and uplifted. One never knows what seasonal shapes and hand-painted colors, what new flavors and textures or what combinations of ingredients might be found in the shop’s glass cases. “We just want people to enjoy it and feel comfortable here. It’s not about the money,” Emery says. “What it really is about is the customer on the other side of the counter saying, ‘Wow, that is gorgeous. Thank you so much.’”
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Creating Change (continued from page 25)
other. “After their gigs, they would come back and continue to gig and practice and play music. And as my mother says, I’d be up and they would start playing jazz. That was the way to put me to sleep, by putting out some Count Basie. Music is probably one of the most important aspects of who I am. Music and radio were one of my first places of autonomy, you know, being able to pick my own radio stations and to play my own music.” Johnson says that despite the fact that she “has been gender-nonconforming” her whole life, she never thought women could be disc jockeys. It wasn’t until she was 40 and a DJ friend from Saginaw hooked her up with some equipment that she began to live out the dream from her youth. She started small, DJing for events at Fire. Then in 2006 an opportunity to DJ a show at 7 a.m. Saturdays at WIDR, WMU’s student station, arose, and the Slip Back Soul Show was born. “That’s when I realized that I absolutely loved it, because there wasn't another thing in the world that I would get up at 5 o'clock in the morning to prepare for,” she says. “There’s been nothing else in my life that I have done with that level of commitment. It grounds me, and it's also my contribution to folks who really love radio and love this music and have quite frankly come to love me. I was named WIDR’s Most Beloved DJ, and it means a lot to me.”
When WIDR had an 11 a.m.–1 p.m. slot on Saturday open, she took it, playing R&B, soul, jazz, blues and funk, and that’s where her show had been until the pandemic. Johnson’s DJ career has extended to public events where she spins music as DJ Disobedience, the moniker she invented for herself 14 years ago. “Originally I was going to be DJ Sag Nasty because I have a strong Saginaw identity and Sagnasty is what we call ourselves sometimes, but I got talked out of that and I think it was a good thing,” she admits. Before the pandemic, she was a regular DJ at the Grand Traverse Distillery the second Saturday of every month. Her radio days have also translated into podcast producing. She is currently putting the finishing touches on a podcast she calls “Raising Hay,” which focuses on Southwest Michigan Black female artists who come from a farm background and explores how that background has informed their artistic endeavors. She has conducted all the interviews and now is piecing together “two cohesive 50-minute segments” that include stories about Remy Harrington, Heather Mitchell, Lindsay Kelly and Selina Johnson. Writing at ‘full steam’ Johnson is also sharing her voice off the air, as a writer of fiction, essays, creative nonfiction and plays. Her biographical historical essay, “‘Tell ’Em What We Did!’: Choosing and Building Black Space in the Midwest” was published
Johnson’s work has expanded to producing podcasts and writing and publishing a number of essays, stories, plays and other works. Photo by Terry Johnston.
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“I feel like we are in an incredible time in history,” Johnson says. “There is a growing and powerful critical movement of Black folks seeking to do something. The level of conscious activism is rising. Kalamazoo, for all its challenges, responds to group action. There is a focus here on social justice, and we have a crucial mass of people here who understand racism and the inherent injustices in many of our institutions.”
in September in Black in the Middle: An Anthology of the Black Midwest. It looks at Black experiences in Kalamazoo and Saginaw from Johnson’s viewpoint. “Rooster,” her creative nonfiction treatment of the Kentucky raid on Black people who had escaped slavery and lived in Cass County in the spring of 1847, appeared in the literary journal Midnight & Indigo in December. Her historical essay, “Black Shapings,” which explores Michigan’s rich Emancipation celebrations long before Juneteenth, will appear in the Middle West Review in the spring. In 2019, Dreamin,’ a play she penned, was staged by Face Off Theatre.
And Johnson is currently working on a memoir with Carlean Gill, a former dancer and producer of the Idlewild Review at the Paradise Club in Idlewild, a famous summer resort in northern Lower Michigan that had its heyday in the 1950s and ’60s and was known as the Black Eden. At the same time, Johnson has proposals out for a novel and a television series. “I am going full steam right now on my writing, and I’m wondering why I waited so long,” she says. One more thing... When asked if there’s anything else she’s working on, she shares yet one more thing: “We’re trying to republish the Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress.” Originally prepared for the Lincoln Jubilee, a national halfcentury exposition held in Chicago in 1915, the Michigan Manual of Freedmen’s Progress (Negroes in Michigan) was a 300-page quantitative and qualitative study of the status of Blacks in Michigan. It was compiled by Francis H. Warren and was republished by John M. Green in 1968 and 1985. Johnson would like to see a new edition of the manual published with an updated preface by Green, an introduction by herself and a more extensive index. “It’s a really incredible piece,” she says. “It is just rich, rich, rich, rich, rich with material. There are photographs, census data and small biographies of key folks from across the state. “It's just a huge repository of information and history and perspectives on Black people that are showing them as very educated, very connected to each other, and integral in the formations of places like Michigan Agricultural College (which became Michigan State University), the University of Michigan and what would become Wayne State University. It's a fascinating and important text that I want to see published again.” With all that Johnson is pouring her heart and soul into, you’ve got to wonder if the avid historian is going to make a little history herself.
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Please Note: Due to the Covid–19 virus, some of these events may have been cancelled or changed after press time. Please check with venues and organizations for up-to-date information. PERFORMING ARTS THEATER Plays
The Compass – An interactive play by Michael Rohd exploring technology’s impact on a youth’s decision-making with the audience deciding her fate, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 26, livestreamed and live, Nelda K. Balch Playhouse, 129 Thompson St, festivalplayhouse.kzoo.edu. 48 Hour Virtual Playfest — Original plays written, rehearsed and performed virtually via Zoom by local artists within 48 hours, including a new play by Tucker Rafferty, selected scenes from PS Lorio’s new screenplay, and a Q&A with festival playwrights and directors, Feb. 26-28, barebackstage.com. MUSIC Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More Isaiah J. Thompson Quartet – The Gilmore presents this jazz quartet paying homage to jazz greats while adding a fresh and original approach, 4 p.m. Feb. 7, livestreamed from the Wellspring Theater, thegilmore.org, 359-7311. Edward Callahan in Concert — The pianist and Kalamazoo native performs, livestreamed from The Wellspring Theater, 7 p.m. Feb. 19, kpl.gov/ venue/online.
Kudo Plays Hamelin – Pianist and 2008 Gilmore Young Artist Rachel Kudo performs a new work
composed by Marc-Andre Hamelin in a virtual program that includes her Living the Classical Life interview and a Q&A session, 4 p.m. Feb. 21, thegilmore.org, 359-7311. Castalian String Quartet – The Fontana presents a virtual performance by this London-based string quartet, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, fontanamusic. org, 382-7774. VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775, kiarts.org Galleries are open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; book tickets on the KIA website. Exhibits
Modern Abstractions: Japanese Prints from the Joy and Timothy Light Collection — An exhibition examining modern Japanese printmakers of the 1970s and 1980s to reveal abstraction as a form of artistic experimentation and a means of global conversation, through March 7. Through the Years: Selections from Our Asian Collection — This exhibition highlights artworks that include Chinese painting, Japanese printmaking, decorative arts and contemporary ceramics, through March 21. Framing Moments — 125 photos from the KIA’s collection exploring how photographers create images that preserve moments, people, and places, Feb. 5–March 16. Unveiling American Genius — Abstract and contemporary works from the KIA’s permanent collection emphasizing stories African American, Latino and other artists have told about our culture, art, and history.
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Other Venues 6th Annual Group Exhibition — View work by 12 local artists online, with links to each artist’s individual page, presented by Ninth Wave Studio, through March 5, nwsvirtualgallery.com. Virtual Art Hop – A livestreamed, interactive tour hosted by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo celebrating Black History Month, 6 p.m. Feb. 5–Feb. 7, kalamazooarts.org. Southwest Michigan Printmakers — An online exhibition featuring work from the group’s series H2O, Feb. 5-March 31, kalbookarts.org. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Comstock Township Library 6130 King Highway, 345-0136, comstocklibrary.org The library is closed until further notice, but curbside pickup and computer use are available by appointment. Kalamazoo Public Library 553-7800, kpl.gov Curbside service is available at the Central Library and Oshtemo and Eastwood branches. Alma Powell and Washington Square branches are closed; see website for details. It’s Crime We Talk: A True Crime Book Club — Zoom discussion of The Library Book, by Susan Orlean, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9; registration required. African American Genealogy: Beginner Basics — Learn how to start researching your family tree with library resources, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11; registration required. Classics Revisited Book Club — Discussion of Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Twenties, by Fredrick Lewis Allen, 7 p.m. Feb. 18; registration required. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747, parchmentlibrary.org The library building is closed to the public, but all library materials remain accessible through curbside service; see website for more information. How to Care for Your Family Treasures — Local historian Steve Rossio talks via Zoom about taking care of heirlooms, 7 p.m. Feb. 8; see library website’s calendar for Zoom link.
Mystery Book Club — Zoom discussion of a mystery featuring a president of the United States, 4 p.m. Feb. 15; see www.parchmentlibrary. org/mystery-book-club for Zoom link. Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544, portagedistrictlibrary.info The library building will be closed until further notice, but the library offers curbside service; see website for more information. Blind Date with a Book! — Pick up a mystery title from the library anytime during February and take it home with you; registration required. Book Buzz — Online book discussion of a book chosen by the adult librarian that deserves more buzz, 7 p.m. Feb. 17; registration required. Richland Community Library 8951 Park St., 629-9085, richlandlibrary.org The library is currently open by appointment only; see website for more information.
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General Trivia — Five rounds of general trivia, a live event on Facebook, 7 p.m. Feb. 4. Books with Friends Book Club — Discussion of The Only Woman in the Room, by Mary Benedict, Feb. 18; registration on the library’s website required for this Zoom event. Food & Drink Trivia — Five rounds of food- and drink-themed trivia, live event on Facebook, 7 p.m. Feb. 25. Other Venues Poets in Print — Readings by poets Joy Priest and Adam Clay in a virtual event via Zoom, 7 p.m. Feb. 20, kalbookarts.org. MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, 382-6555, airzoo.org The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday, but there is limited occupancy because of Covid-19. Amusement rides are not available. Online ticketing is encouraged. Mondays are for vulnerable people.
Flight & Flak: The Art of Paul Wentzel, Sr. — Oil and acrylic works spanning military aviation history, on loan from the Selfridge Military Air Museum, through March. Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence — A poster exhibit exploring the struggle to give women the vote, through March. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 33
EVENTS ENCORE Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671-5089, gilmorecarmuseum.org
Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510, email@example.com
The museum is open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. A complimentary docent tour is available with paid admission at 10:30 a.m. weekdays; there is limited occupancy because of Covid-19, and car rides are not available.
The trails are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The Resource Center is closed, but public restrooms at the back of the Auditorium building are open.
Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990, kalamazoomuseum.org The museum is currently closed for in-person visits.
Tracing the Path: The 1980 Kalamazoo Tornado — A virtual exhibit recognizing the 40th anniversary of the tornado, 1980kalamazootornado.org. The Walker Brothers — A virtual exhibit about Ryan and Keith Walker, who were afflicted with the rare genetic disorder Hunter syndrome, and their lasting impact on family, friends, inclusive education and civil rights in Kalamazoo, kvmexhibits.org/2020/walkerbrothers. NATURE Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574 The Visitor Center is currently closed because of increased Covid-19 risk, but trails remain open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and programs continue. Candlelight Night Hike — On the night of the new moon, one of the wooded trails will be lit with luminarias for a self-guided, ¾-mile hike, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 11; registration; see website for details.
Birds and Coffee Chat Online — Grab your morning beverage and learn about a new bird species in Southwest Michigan, 10 a.m. Feb. 10; registration required. Other Venues Truth is Stranger Than Science Fiction — In a livestreamed presentation, astrophysicist Jessie Christiansen discusses fantastic exoplanet discoveries and some famous, fan-favorite fictional planets, 7 p.m. Feb. 5, registration required, kasonline.org. KAS Remote Telescope – Enjoy the wonders of the universe as seen through the “eyes” of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society’s Remote Telescope, located under the dark skies of southeastern Arizona, 9–11 p.m. Feb. 6 via Zoom; registration required, kasonline.org. KAS Lecture Series: “Discovering the Night Sky” — Learn your way around the night sky using a star map and other guides, 1-3 p.m. Feb. 6; registration required, kasonline.org. KAS Lecture Series: “Binocular Basics” – Learn which binoculars are best for astronomy, 1-3 p.m. Feb. 20; registration required, kasonline.org. Hike 100 Challenge 2021 – Annual challenge to hike any 100 miles on the North Country National Scenic Trail by Dec. 31, northcountrytrail.org.
Michigan Wildlife — Get up close to some animals and discover how they meet their basic needs in different types of habitats with the John Ball Zoo Program, 10 a.m. Feb. 20, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave.; registration required, portagemi.gov. Animal Tracks — Join a ranger hike to look for signs of animal life, 2 p.m. Feb. 27, Eliason Nature Reserve, 1614 W. Osterhout Road, portagemi.gov. MISCELLANEOUS Kalamazoo Craft Beverage Week 2021 – Learn about local brewers, distillers and winemakers via virtual and hybrid event offerings, Jan. 29-Feb. 6, kalamazoocraftbeverageweek.com.
Little-Known Facts — Discover some memorable moments and courageous stories in history through this exhibit featuring interesting, lesser-known events and people in American Black History, 9 a.m. Feb. 1-4 p.m. Feb. 26, Portage City Hall, 7900 S. Westnedge Ave., portagemi.gov. Flakes, Flurries & Finger Painting — Snowthemed art projects and experiments for children 5-9 years old, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 6, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave.; registration required, portagemi.gov. Winter Snow Party — Enjoy sledding and snowman-building contests, a bonfire, hot chocolate and more, hosted by the Portage Youth Advisory Committee, noon-3 p.m. Feb. 6, Oakland Drive Park, 7650 Oakland Drive, portagemi.gov. Valentine’s Day Skate — Bring that special someone out to the rink for a night of skating, 7 p.m. Feb. 14, Ice Rink at Millennium Park, 280 Romence Road, Portage, portagemi.gov.
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— Italian word for ring-shaped stains left by a wet glass
I know a few tricks to remove the white rings sweaty glasses leave on polished tabletops: a hairdryer on low, a light buff with extra fine steel wool or mayonnaise rubbed into the grain. My mother and grandmothers kept their dining room tables shining. For company, the table was protected by a thick, custom-made pad and pressed tablecloth. Our family guards a glossy surface. In rainswept Scottish glens more than five thousand years ago, humans hunched over flat tables of sandstone to peck patterns of cups and rings into the rock. Cups and rings, circles within circles, were carved in stone on every continent people have lived. I’ve seen on the face of one sandstone rock in Utah’s canyonlands thousands of petroglyphs—
antelope, buffalo, men on horseback, bighorn sheep and circles like wheels, circles that spiral, rings like water rippling—each carving an anecdote of ancient triumphs, of tribal news. I wish now for a long wooden table handed down by my people. I want its surface littered with rings left when the family gathered, laughing, feasting. I want rings to mark my mother’s grief, some emblem for the time we lost my infant sister, Joan. The death we could never speak about. White rings in the wood from late-night brooding over bills, from too much drink, every dull halo from our wet glasses overflowing. — Marion Starling Boyer Boyer is the author of four poetry collections. Her most recent is The Sea Was Never Far (Main Street Rag, 2019). A professor emerita at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and former board member of the Kalamazoo Poetry Festival, Boyer moved in 2017 from Mattawan to Twinsburg, Ohio, which annually hosts the largest gathering of twins in the world. This poem is from a new collection she’s creating about untranslatable words.
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1116 W Centre Ave PortagePrinting.com
Halls Closets & More . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport . . . . . . . . 40 LVM Capital Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Do you like what we do? ed Robin The Stamp t Door Is Going Nex
Schools that l Are Too Coo
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Michiga Southwest 0
er 202 Novemb
Mercantile Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
the Putting r Neighbo in ck Ba ood Neighborh
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Portage Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 RAI Jets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Ray Financial Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Jeff K. Ross Financial Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Shinar Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 Southern Michigan Bank & Trust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
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Greater Kalamazoo’s community magazine since 1972
WMed Office of Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 WMed First Decade Celebration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
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YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
36 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
ENCORE BACK STORY Sara Jacobs (continued from page 38) year enduring the daily struggle of trying to find food, shelter and safety. That’s how Jacobs knows there is no one solution or agency to end homelessness. “It's not just a one-agency problem,” she says. “It takes more than even the agencies and the funding. It takes the people that live in the community to understand, to learn about homelessness in our community. It's something that we all need to be aware of and work on. It's not something you can just say, ‘Oh, this is somebody else's job.’” Jacobs, 46, took the helm of the Kalamazoo County Continuum of Care (CoC) in June 2020, when the organization transitioned from being under the auspices of the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) to the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. At that time, full-time staff positions were created. Since then, she’s been battling the community’s problem of homelessness during a global pandemic that, she says, has magnified the need to address the issue. What is the Continuum of Care? It's a local planning body that coordinates the efforts of multiple organizations, government agencies and funders to address services and infrastructure to support those who are experiencing homelessness. It’s an exhaustive list of all the different agencies and organizations we work with, but it's really about coordinating efforts. We know that addressing homelessness isn't something that any one entity or agency can do. We also work on creating coordinated entry points to get service for those who are experiencing homelessness. We don’t want to send somebody who's experiencing homelessness to 25 different agencies to try to qualify for whatever program they have. Every funded program has parameters that you have to fit in, and if you don't fit in that box, then there's really nothing they can do because that's what the funder or the funding stream requires. We coordinate the entry points so we can help prioritize people to get them the services they need and to get people to the programs they qualify for. How did you get where you are today? When I was homeless (in Phoenix), I would call my mom every couple of weeks to see how she was doing and let her know I was OK. I had been homeless for just over a year and I called and she said, “Hey, I'm glad you called. I am moving to Michigan in three days and I want you to come with me.” I agreed and we moved to a farm outside of Hartford. It was a legit farm, on a dirt road and the whole nine yards, and it was quite the shock for me. I stayed there for six months and then gravitated to the largest area that felt comfortable, which was Kalamazoo. By the time I was 16, I was out on my own again but working and living with roommates. I started looking at going to college. My whole thought process at the time was, “How do I get a job and keep it?” I thought, “HR (human resources)! They do the hiring. They're usually the last to go.” It’s pretty funny, but self-preservation, you know, it's a hard thing to shake.
I got a degree (in human resources management and business administration from Western Michigan University) and was working in corporate sales. I started to have thoughts like, “We get this big bonus at the end of the year, but what does it really do for me?” The executives were talking about the boats and cars they were going to buy and the trips they were going to take, but I thought, “This represents an entire year of hard work, and it's just to buy people more stuff, more boats, more vacations.” I found out that CARES (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services) was starting a pilot program to help LGBTQ homeless youth overcome barriers to safe housing, and said, “It's worth the pay cut.” That one-year pilot turned into a four-year pilot. When the CoC opportunity opened, I had the experience and was ready. Your role seems enormous. How do you tackle it day-to-day? I’m not doing the lifting alone. It's a communitywide effort. It's about pulling the right people in the room to address whatever issue we're working on. For instance, Ministry with Community provides a lot of our day shelter, but with Covid restrictions there's a capacity issue. With winter coming we were asking, “What are we going to do?” We get the right people in the room, pull funding into it, and put all those pieces together. And we were able to launch a day shelter at The River Church nearby. We do that on a larger scale too. We are working on purchasing a hotel to provide space for people to live in. We have a rapid rehousing program, which is a really low-barrier program that can get people into a housing situation relatively quick, that we were able to help pull together with LISC. One of the biggest things that we talk about at CoC is transparency. We want to be as transparent as possible about what's happening, what resources are available, where those resources are going, what we're supporting and potentially any gaps there are. We don't want to say, “Oh, we've got it all handled.” We want to say, “This is the picture, this is where we're at, and this is the thing we're working on to fill these gaps.” What do you like about what you do? I feel like I'm doing something that's for real people in our community, that means something. It’s bringing like-minded people together, people who are putting in all of this energy and time and passion within their own agencies and working together to accomplish something greater than ourselves and greater than any one agency could do, any one person could do. It feels good. You have a pretty heavy job. What do you do for fun? I'm a percussionist and have been playing since I was 20. I play different drums and get to play with a lot of talented musicians in town. Playing gets me out into the community in a nice, positive, light way where you're just enjoying each other's company. We haven't been able to do that because of the pandemic, and I definitely miss it. —Interview by Marie Lee edited for length and clarity
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BACK STORY ENCORE
Director, Kalamazoo County Continuum of Care
Sara Jacobs knows a lot about homelessness.
Not only because she heads the organization that works to coordinate the agencies and efforts to solve homelessness in Kalamazoo, but also because she lived it. When she was 14, Jacobs was homeless, alone and living on the streets of Phoenix. She left â€œan unsafe situationâ€? at home, she says, and spent a (continued on page 37)
38 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2021
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