Page 1

Truffle Love

Brewing Up Delicious Bread

Coexist Café

Meet Kelly Henderson

February 2018 Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

The creativity and fun of

COSPLAY


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“The day of my injury, me and my friends were preparing for the football season. I scored a couple of touchdowns. Then about two plays later, my dad saw me get hit and take a direct knee to my head. The paramedics came and took me to the local hospital. Once the doctors realized that my neck was broken, they decided to fly me on a helicopter to Bronson Methodist Hospital—they said Bronson had the best spine experts around. After fearing I may be paralyzed, I was able to make a miraculous recovery. I’ve never felt so happy to walk. You know, you realize how grateful you should be for everyday life. I’m so grateful to Bronson.” CJ, Three Rivers, Michigan To learn more about CJ’s story and the benefits of choosing Bronson for spine care, visit bronsonpositivity.com/spine.


Truffle Love

Brewing Up Delicious Bread

Meet Kelly Henderson

Coexist Café

February 2018

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

The creativity and fun of

COSPLAY

Publisher

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Editor

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Designer

alexis stubelt

Photographer brian k. powers

Contributing Writers andrew domino marie lee lisa mackinder

Copy Editor/Poetry Editor margaret deritter

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Office Coordinator hope smith

Encore Magazine is published 12 times yearly. Copyright 2018, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to:

The Schoolcraft and Harbor Springs locations formerly known as Ayres-Rice Insurance have joined with Ralph Hayward of Vicksburg to form Trust Shield Insurance Group. While our name has changed, our commitment to service remains unchanged. Our long-term and knowledgeable staff will continue to provide top-notch customer service based on strong relationships and a commitment to community.

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ENCORE EDITOR'S NOTE

From the Editor One thing we love about our jobs at Encore is discovering the

creative, novel things that are going on in our community. There’s always a surprise or two in store, even for those of us who have lived here a long time. For example, this issue’s cover story is on the burgeoning cosplay community in our region. Andrew Domino’s story highlights how deep and diverse the cosplay culture is in Southwest Michigan, and we saw evidence of that when we put out a call for some cosplayer models and were overwhelmed by the response. There are a lot of people who participate in this activity, many who do so as a hobby and some who make it their business. Whether they construct, piece together or buy their costume elements, cosplayers are a creative and crafty group. Another creative endeavor is happening in Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s culinary program, in which the participants use spent grain from the college’s brewing program to make delicious and hearty bread. It’s a great example of ingenuity and sustainability. But we can’t forget that February is the month of love, and this month’s issue introduces you to some people working hard to spread more love through the world. Our Back Story is on Kelly Henderson, who this month takes over the helm at Ministry with Community, a local organization that serves people who are hungry, lonely or homeless. Another story features Karin and Ken Rourke, who have hosted more than a dozen international exchange students in their home and, as a result, have forged bonds around the globe. Speaking of love, we hope that you will love this issue as much as we loved putting it together.

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CONTENTS

F E B R U A R Y 2 01 8

FEATURE Cosplay on Display This Is Serious Dress-up

From stormtroopers to superheroes, local cosplay enthusiasts abound

Cosplay for Profit

Pretty Princess HQ takes cosplay to a profitable level

24

DEPARTMENTS 5 From the Editor

29

8 Contributors

10 First Things Happenings in SW Michigan

14 Five Faves

Truffle Love — Chocolatier Dale Anderson picks five delectable favorites

16

Good Works

Foreigners to Family — Couple has hosted and bonded with more than a dozen exchange students

20 Savor

Beer to Bread — KVCC program uses brewery waste to create hearty bread

32 Enterprise

Connections and Comfort — Coexist Cafés atmosphere serves up food and friendship

46 Back Story

Meet Kelly Henderson — Ministry with Community’s new executive director is spreading the love

ARTS 36 Events of Note 43 Poetry On the cover: Cosplayers and brothers, David Perrigo, left, as Dr. Doom, and Matt Perrigo, right, as Captain America, are photobombed by an unknown princess, center, at the 2017 Kalamazoo Comic Con. Photo by Brian Powers.

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CONTRIBUTORS ENCORE

Andrew Domino For his story on cosplay, Andrew met superheroes, princesses, Ghostbusters and warriors. Andrew, who has written about comic books and role-playing games for Encore in the past, says he was impressed by the authenticity of some cosplayers’ full-body superhero costumes, although he won’t be wearing head-to-toe purple body paint to portray an elf anytime soon. Also in this issue, Andrew highlights the cozy atmosphere created by Coexist Café owners Rebecca and Sam Abu Alsaud. You can find more of Andrew's work at dominowriting.com.

Marie Lee

Meeting Kelly Henderson, the new executive director of Ministry with Community, and seeing the work the organization does for the homeless, hungry and lonely was inspiring on many fronts for Marie. “Kelly, who began at Ministry as an executive assistant, credits her success to people who believed in her and encouraged her to reach beyond what she saw as her limits,” Marie says. “She works tirelessly to pass that spirit on in her work with the hundreds of people Ministry serves every day. It’s really a beautiful thing to see.” Marie is the editor of Encore.

Lisa Mackinder

This month Lisa brings us two stories. For her story “Beer from Bread," Lisa learned how the spent grain from Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s brewing program is used to make bread by students in the school’s culinary program. She also sat down with Ken and Karin Rourke, who have hosted 13 foreign exchange students since 2005. Karin admits she sleeps poorly the night before each new exchange student’s arrival, joking that it’s a case of “mom brain” because she wants to make sure the kids are safe and happy. “Ken and Karin take their responsibility as host parents very seriously,” Lisa says. “They also like to make sure the kids have fun — such as going to baseball games, basketball games and theme parks.”

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FIRST THINGS ENCORE

First Things Something Super

Be a hero or dress like one Summon your superpowers and don your

super accessories for a family-friendly cosplay party 5-8 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. The event, which is part of the monthly Art Hop, will include art making; a costume contest with prizes for adults, teens and children; and the first look at a new exhibition at the KIA, My Hero! Contemporary Art & Superhero Action. Costumes are encouraged under the broad theme of “hero.” Participants are invited to dress as anyone they believe deserves the title, perhaps a teacher, pastor or family member. There will even be a costume consultant/medic for wardrobe concerns. The My Hero! exhibition opens Feb. 3 and will feature a collection of 50-75 international artworks that explore iconic superhero imagery and reimagine our classic heroes. For more information, visit kiarts.org.

Something Musical

Enjoy The Sound of Music live In the category of live musicals, The Sound of Music is coming to Miller Auditorium Feb. 9–11 with such memorable songs as “Do-Re-Mi” and “My Favorite Things.” This new production, which tells the classic story of Maria and the von Trapp family, has been described by the L.A. Times as “fresh, sparkling and lively.” You can almost feel that Alpine air, can’t you? Show times are 8 p.m. Feb. 9, 2 and 8 p.m. Feb. 10 and 1 p.m. Feb. 11, and tickets are $32-$77. For tickets or more information, visit millerauditorium.com or call 387-2300.

10 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2018

Jenny Parks, The Catvengers, 2013, digital print


ENCORE FIRST THINGS

Something Theatrical

Show chronicling slave’s journey debuts Ships, Shells and Chains, a series of short plays penned by Western Michigan University playwriting student Kendra Ann Flournoy, will be presented Feb. 22-25 at First Congregational Church, 345 W. Michigan Ave. Presented by the Black Arts and Cultural Center’s Face Off Theatre Company and timed for Black History Month, the show tracks the journey of Naju from her village in West Africa to the U.S. as part of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, with each vignette providing a snapshot of her ordeal and how she copes and begins anew. The playwright is a founding member of the theater company. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22-24 and 2 p.m. Feb. 25. Tickets are $5-$10. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit FaceOffTheatre.com or call 359-0908.

Something Good

Roll out for Bowl for Kids’ Sake Like bowling? And helping a good cause? Well, you can score big

this month and next by participating in one of the Bowl for Kids’ Sake bowling parties planned by Big Brothers Big Sisters. The parties are fundraisers for the organization, which matches children with caring adult volunteers, and there are a dozen parties to choose from: • 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Feb. 17 & 24, Revel & Roll West, 4500 Stadium Drive. • 7 p.m. March 16, Marshall Lanes, 1154 W. Michigan Ave., Marshall. • 7 p.m. March 23, Bowlero Lanes Fun Center, 775 W. Columbia Ave., Battle Creek. •12:30 and 3 p.m. March 24, Snowden’s Sunset Lanes, 504 Western Ave., Allegan. For information on how to register or if you have other questions, visit amplify.netdonor.net/4041/BFKS or contact Kathy Praedel by calling 382-6800 ext. 118 or emailing her at kathyp@bbbsmi.org. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 11


FIRST THINGS ENCORE

Something Funny

Kevin Hart on stage at Wings Actor and comedian Kevin Hart will dish on life, career and other topics when he

brings his Irresponsible Tour to Wings Event Center at 7 p.m. Feb. 9. Hart, who penned the 2017 bestselling memoir I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons, appears with Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black in the recent remake of the film Jumanji. Tickets for his Wings event are $59-$547. To buy tickets or for more information, visit wingseventcenter.com or call 345-1125.

Something Telling

Family stories focus of festival Families are fodder for great stories and the Kalamazoo Valley Museum will celebrate family stories at this year’s Storytelling Festival, Feb. 2-3. The annual event brings storytellers, musicians, authors and vendors together to celebrate the art of storytelling. The event kicks off at 5 p.m. Feb. 2 with musician and artist Dan Smith and author Deanna Scelzo, who will sign and share books they have written and illustrated together. In addition, Entertainer Louie, from New York, will present concerts of family songs at 6 and 7 p.m. On Feb. 3, presenters will include Michigan author Lisa Wheeler, comedian and storyteller Tim Cusak, La’Ron Williams and Elisha “Mother” Minter. The duo Gemini will offer a musical performance. Admission is free. For more information, including a schedule of performances, visit kalamazoomuseum.org. Tim Cusak

Deanna Scelzo

Something Racy

Get sexy with Shakespeare You’ll never look at Romeo and Juliet quite the same way after Fifty Shades of Shakespeare comes to the State Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14. This hilarious and steamy improv show explores relationships, gender roles and sexuality through 12 of Shakespeare’s sexiest scenes. With the audience picking which of four actors will play each role, every scene is a surprise. Most tickets are $20-$35; VIP tickets are $85 and come with a reserved table in the orchestra area. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.kazoostate.com or call 345-6500.

12 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2018


ENCORE FIRST THINGS

Something Swedish

ABBA tribute band joins KSO If you wish you still could go to an ABBA concert — and really, who doesn’t? — the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra has you covered. The KSO will perform with Arrival from Sweden, an ABBA tribute band, in a concert starting at 8 p.m. March 3 at Miller Auditorium. Complete with replicas of the original costumes and some of the original musicians who played with ABBA when the group was still together, Arrival from Sweden is sure to have audiences exclaiming “Mamma Mia!” and becoming “Dancing Queens” all over again. (Yeah, we know that was cheesy.) For extra ABBA-ness, the KSO League is hosting a meet-and-greet fundraising reception with Arrival from Sweden at 5 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Kalamazoo Country Club, 1609 Whites Road. For $75 per ticket, you can mingle with group members and enjoy a smorgasbord of food. Proceeds will go to the KSO. Tickets for the concert are $12-$60. For more information on the concert or the KSO League event or to purchase tickets, visit kalamazoosymphony.com.

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FIVE FAVES ENCORE

Five Faves

Chocolatier picks five flavors to give or get by

DALE ANDERSON

With nearly 90 flavors of caramels or truffles available at Confections with Convictions at any given time, it’s hard to pick just five favorites. I dreamed up all of the flavor combinations, so each of these has been my favorite at some point. In addition to using unique flavor combinations, we also decorate the chocolates to make

them look as good as they taste. When I am asked to put a box of chocolates together, I try to choose those truffles and caramels that not only complement each other flavor-wise, but also look attractive together. These five are an example of that:

Chai Tea Milk Chocolate Truffle We steep English breakfast tea in cream, blend that

with a rich milk chocolate, and add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, fennel, cardamom, white pepper and cloves. It’s a subtle blend of warm spices and is finished off with a white chocolate swirl on top.

Dark Chocolate Cranberry Truffle This truffle is 56 percent dark chocolate, with organic cranberries steeped in cream and a touch of orange marmalade. It’s topped with hazelnut croquant — a fancy French word for brittle — and a bit of dried cranberry.

Dark Chocolate Truffle with Toasted Cocoa Nibs This

truffle is a blend of 73.5 percent Venezuelan and 70 percent Peruvian dark chocolates, a blend that makes a dark, mellow chocolate that isn’t bitter or acidic. It doesn’t get much better than that.

White Chocolate Hazelnut Caramel This

caramel has a delicate, melt-in-the-mouth, buttery, coffee, hazelnut flavor. It has hazelnut croquant on one corner, a chocolatecovered cocoa nib on the other and a stripe of dark chocolate down the middle.

This white chocolate truffle combines poppyseeds, walnut and vanilla, with a little stripe on top of poppyseeds, which are bluish in color. We don’t see poppyseeds used in this country as much as I think we should, and this truffle has a very nice Eastern European flavor. 14 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2018

Brian Powers

White Chocolate Poppyseed Truffle


Dale Anderson, chocolatier and founder of Confections with Convictions, located at 116 W. Crosstown Parkway, spent three years studying and practicing the art of making fine, artisanal chocolates. Since he opened his shop in 2010, he has not only emphasized the use of fair trade, organic chocolate in his products but utilized his store to train youth with criminal records and other barriers to employment, giving them life and work skills as well as paying jobs.

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GOOD WORKS ENCORE

From Foreigners to Family Host family forges bonds across the globe LISA MACKINDER

I

n August 2017, Ken and Karin Rourke finally realized a dream that took a year and half of planning: a vacation just east of Malaga, Spain, with 10 of their 13 “kids” — foreign exchange students from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Denmark and Norway — whom they have hosted in their home during the last 12 years. “We were really happy to have so many (on the trip),” says Karin, a child life specialist at Bronson Children’s Hospital. “We heard about the few who couldn’t come and it was so heartbreaking. But my mom was like, ‘Karin, really, 10 out of 13 is good!’”

16 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2018

Brian Powers

Brian Powers

Brian Powers

by

Above: Holding a picture from their reunion with past exchange students, Karin and Ken Rourke, center, with the exchange students they are currently hosting, Sofie Nehlsen of Denmark, left, and Flavia Cocchi of Italy, right. Opposite page: Photos show past exchange students and adventures the Rourkes have had.

For both Karin and Ken, an emergency department informatics liaison at Bronson Healthcare, each of the exchange students holds a unique place in their hearts. They have all become family, Karin says. “I don’t think when we started doing it we really thought about it like that — that you’d be a lifelong family,” Karin says.


Brian Powers

ENCORE GOOD WORKS

Their first exchange student, in 2005, was Sascha Dibow from Germany. The Rourkes, who do not have children of their own, regularly keep in touch with their foreign brood through Facebook and emails. Even before the trip to Malaga, Ken and Karin had journeyed to Europe and visited some of their students and the students’ families. “I know that our student from France, her parents refer to us as ‘your American mom and dad,’” Karin says. “To them, we’re an extension of the family. They made a picture collage, and there was a picture of Ken and I in there.” For their reunion with their exchange students, whose ages range from 16 to 29, the Rourkes rented a house in Malaga, a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol. Sofie Nehlsen, of Denmark, one of their current exchange students, made the trip to Malaga with her family to meet the Rourkes before coming to live with them in August. Flavia Cocchi, from Italy, the Rourkes’ other current exchange student, was not able to make the trip to Spain. “We got to meet (Sofie’s) parents, which gives them the comfort of having met us,” Karin says. Over the course of that week in Malaga, the group swam in the pool and ocean, cooked dinners together, played board games and exchanged fond memories. Ken and Karin put together a 15-minute video with 15 pictures per student. One of the students created T-shirts with “Rourke Family” printed on the front. Since the Rourkes often host exchange students in pairs, some of the kids already knew each other. This trip offered the opportunity for all of the participants to meet, and they all bonded, says Ken.

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 17


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“We worked hard to find each group (pairs of kids) that worked well together and worked with us,” Ken says of selecting exchange students. “So we found out there was a commonality with all of them. It really felt when you were there (that we were) a family. They’re all siblings with each other.” The older “Rourke” kids immediately brought Nehlsen into the fold. Some of them sat down with Karin, she says, and approved their newest “sister.” “I think that she’s going to be a really good part of our family,” Karin says they told her. The Rourkes were familiar with the foreign exchange programs before hosting students. Ken’s sister, Linda Woodbury, spent a year with a host family in Australia when she was a 16-year-old junior in high school. Woodbury has maintained a lifelong relationship with her foreign family, Ken says, traveling to visit them — and vice versa — and attending family weddings. “That gave me a great, positive feeling,” he says of deciding to host students.


ENCORE GOOD WORKS

Brian Powers

fostering international understanding through educational and cross-cultural programs. ASSE was established by the Swedish government in 1976 as the American Scandinavian Student Exchange and has grown to include 38 offices in 31 countries. The Rourkes currently utilize ASSE for hosting students, and Karin also worked there prior to becoming a child life specialist. In 1985, at 15, Karin became an exchange student herself and spent six weeks in

Above: The Rourkes play cards with the exchange students. Right: Some of the items given to the Rourkes by past exchange students they have hosted.

When Karin was growing up, her family hosted six foreign exchange students — two from Sweden and one each from Norway, Denmark, the Czech Republic and New Zealand. Karin’s mother also worked at ASSE International, an international student exchange organization with a mission of

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Sweden with a host family. In 1989, she revisited them. When the Rourkes stayed in Malaga last year, they met with Karin’s Swedish “parents” —the first time Karin had seen them in 28 years. The connection between her and the family remained strong, she says. “He (her host father) hugged me and patted my head and said something in Swedish,” Karin says. “And I had to think about it for a minute. He said, ‘My little girl.’ I almost needed a little tissue.” Karin describes herself as “an old hippie soul that wants everyone to get along and love each other.” She and Ken both encourage people to open their homes to foreign exchange students. It benefits host families and students, they say, who learn from each other about similarities and differences between cultures. Plus, there’s a need to fill. “There’s always students that are looking for families,” Karin says. “It’s a great opportunity to expand your horizons.” When asked if the hosting experience ever gets old, the Rourkes firmly shake their heads no. “To me it’s just as exciting with No. 12 and 13,” Karin says. “You love them all for different reasons.”

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ENTERPRISE ENCORE

Bread from beer

KVCC program uses brewery waste to create hearty breads by

LISA MACKINDER

20 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2018


ENCORE ENTERPRISE

S

Brian Powers

ustainability isn’t just talk at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Bronson Healthy Living Campus, on Walnut Street, in downtown Kalamazoo. It’s practice. Which is why the waste created at the campus’s Allied Health Building by the college’s sustainable brewing program is used by culinary students elsewhere in the building to make bread. “The brewery is right there,” says culinary instructor Cory Barrett, pointing to its close proximity to his office, “and the bakery is right down the hall, so it made sense. They (the brewers) have leftover product, so let’s use it up.” Using spent grain — also called mash — which is left over from the beer-making process, Barrett and students in KVCC’s culinary program create two types of bread that are sold at the culinary school’s on-site café: Spent Grain and Beer Soda Bread and Spent Grain Beer Bread. It takes a bit of practice to use this grain, Barrett admits, since spent grains can be tricky to work with. “It makes things really dense,” he explains. “Bread is basically a big network of little tiny balloons — that’s where you end up with all the air that the yeast makes inside of the bread.” When spent grain or any whole grain with a hull intact is mixed into those balloons, it acts like little razor blades that break the air sacs. “Then the bread deflates and it ends up really dense,” Barrett says. The brewery’s close proximity to the bakery allows the students to use wet mash — still damp from the brewing process — as opposed to dry mash to make bread. Wet mash works better, Barrett says, because it has more flavor and still contains some of the malted liquid from the brewing process. The bran and husks of wet mash are also more tender and easier to knead into bread dough, he says. A loaf of Spent Grain Beer Bread looks like most handcrafted bread, well-risen with a golden brown crust, and the texture “has a fun element of chewiness to it,” says Barrett. Some of the ingredients used to make Spent Grain Beer Bread in Kalamazoo Valley Community College's culinary program.

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ENTERPRISE ENCORE

Above: Instructor Cory Barrett demonstrates the dense texture of a finished loaf of Spent Grain Beer Bread. Opposite page: The finished bread is sold and served in KVCC's culinary program’s on-site café.

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The word “beer” appears in the breads’ names for a reason: Beer is substituted for water in the recipes to produce a malty flavor. Barrett likes to use brown ales containing a strong malt backbone without many hops. Anything “really hoppy,” he says, produces bitterness in bread, but a strong ale doesn’t. “It goes into a 400-degree box for almost an hour,” he explains. “Flavors are going to be lost, but other flavors develop.” The bakery’s Spent Grain and Beer Soda Bread is easier for students to make because it depends on baking powder to rise rather than yeast. “It’s not as dependent on those tiny little yeast networks,” Barrett explains. Barrett and his students produce about 70 pounds of bread per week, with the spent grain breads accounting for nearly 30 pounds of that total. The bakery has three baking stations, which can each accommodate up to five students. Over an eight-week period, students train for five and a half hours five days a week. “They get a full experience,” Barrett says. “By the time that they’re all done, they get to go through all of the recipes.” Before Barrett came to Kalamazoo, he worked as a corporate pastry chef for Michael Symon Restaurants in Cleveland and appeared with Symon on more than 15 episodes of Iron Chef America on the Food Network. Prior to that, Barrett was a pastry chef at Wynn Las Vegas and The Herbfarm restaurant in Seattle. But he admits he saw himself teaching one day. “When I went into culinary school, I knew that one day I was going to be a teacher,” says Barrett. “There was no doubt about it because it was a way to stay in food, to be intellectually involved and hands-on, and not have the maniacal hours.” KVCC’s sustainable approach to food also intrigued Barrett. “I think the most interesting part of coming here — and it’s been a year now — was an alternative look on traditional culinary, kitchen and hospitality settings, an alternative look being done in a sustainable manner,” Barrett says. “I think at a lot of places the conversation is one that you have after you get everything set up — asking how


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can we do things better? Here it’s a conversation that we have at every step of the process.” Working seven years for Michael Symon Restaurants and appearing on Iron Chef America was challenging due to long hours and high expectations, but also greatly rewarding, he says. “One of the things I do miss about that job tremendously is you’re in a setting completely surrounded by individuals who are excellent at

cooking already. The people that you work with who know everything are constantly challenging you. In the end that builds a really great result for everyone.” The end result in this case: a knowledgeable instructor. “I’ve had enough time to make all the mistakes students are probably going to make,” he says. “I joke to them in class, ‘Well, I’ve been there before.’”

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Brian Powers

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ou can find stormtroopers, Disney princesses and ghostbusters in the flesh almost any weekend in Kalamazoo — without going to a movie theater. Try a birthday party, a children’s hospital or a comic book convention. These are just a few of the places you can glimpse enthusiasts of cosplay, a term that is short for “costume play” and refers to the hobby of dressing up as characters from movies, TV shows, video

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Local cosplayers, from left: Jennifer Smargiasso (Beauty), Jake Andrews (Deadpool), Laura Schubkegel (Cinderella), Danny M. Holroyd (ghostbuster), Matt Perrigo (Kylo Ren), Anthony Snyder (ghostbuster), Thomas Birkenbach (ghostbuster), Matt Perrigo (Bumblebee) and Alysia Cook (Snow Queen).

games and more. Cosplay most often refers to dressing like comic book and screen characters — a specific character like Star Wars’ Darth Vader or a generic character like an elf from The Lord of the


m Fro opers s, ro t e o m r r e o h t s er rious p u to s is se p this ress-u d stories by

ANDREW DOMINO

Photo collage by Brian Powers

Rings. Cosplay can be a broad tent, however. The folks who dress in animal costumes (nicknamed “furries�), Elvis impersonators and even Civil War re-enactors are all taking part in cosplay. Some of us may be familiar with cosplay as something that is endemic to national comic book conventions like the annual Comic Con events in San Diego and New York. But cosplay is spilling over into the mainstream. According to the website Hypebeast,

the number of cosplayers and fans is now at an all-time high, as evidenced by the increasing numbers of cosplayers that attend the national conventions. Cosplay has been featured in popular television shows such as The Big Bang Theory and in the reality series Heroes of Cosplay, which aired on the SyFy network. Cosplay has a growing legion of local fans as well. Dokidokon (dokidokon.org), a convention focused on Japanese animation and

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Richard C. Drew

comic books held for the first time in July 2017 in Kalamazoo, drew 1,000 attendees, nearly all of whom were cosplayers, according to event founder Rebekah Clark. Kalamazoo Comic Con 2017, held in October at Kalamazoo College, featured nearly 40 vendors and hundreds of attendees. Why do people find it so appealing to dress up and take on the persona of a fictional character? Maybe it’s because cosplay is a little bit Hollywood, a little bit craftsmanship and a lot of creativity. Cosplayers say that they’re motivated by a love of their favorite characters and the creativity that it takes to be as much like the character as possible. Thirteen-year-old Carrie Jacobson of Portage attended the 2017 Kalamazoo Comic Con dressed as Harley Quinn, a villain found in Batman comics. “I really like her story,” she says. Jacobson says the character is a silly, not-very-threatening enemy and that she herself has the same kind of personality, which makes her want to not only watch Harley on TV, but cosplay her too. Scott Rozema’s motivation is a bit different. “I’m a toy collector. I’ve just moved on to life-size toys,” the 49-year old Grand Rapids resident says of his interest in cosplay. A member of the 501st Legion, a national organization for Star Wars cosplayers, Rozema has nine costumes of different villains from the Star Wars movie series,

including the robes of the evil emperor and the white armor of a stormtrooper. Most often, though, Rozema dresses as Darth Vader, one of his favorite characters from the movie series.

Brian Powers

Bringing characters to life

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For participants, cosplay is more than just dress-up for grown-ups. “I grew up watching Cinderella and Belle (from Beauty and the Beast),” says Laura Schubkegel, 25, of Kalamazoo, who turned her penchant for dressing as Cinderella into a viable business. Schubkegel owns Pretty Princess HQ, which brings princess cosplayers to children’s parties (see story page 29). Like Rozema, Schubkegel says she always liked dressing up. Several of the other Pretty Princess HQ performers are former theater students who view it as a type of acting. Other cosplayers say they just enjoy the opportunity to inhabit the roles of their favorite characters. Watching movies, playing games and collecting toys featuring the characters simply aren’t enough for them. “Cosplay makes (the experience) more tangible,” says Tom Birkenbach, 47, of Paw Paw, who dresses in a Ghostbusters-themed costume, complete with a “proton pack” that has sound and light effects. He is a member of the Kalamazoo Ghostbusters, a group of


Zach Balakas, 35, of Allendale, also makes special appearances while cosplaying. Balakas wears the costumes of several superheroes, including Green Arrow and the Red Hood, but tends to dress as Spider-Man when he visits hospitals as part of the Cosplay Crusaders, a Grand Rapids-based cosplay group that visits hospitalized children. “(Spider-Man) has been my favorite since I was a kid,” Balakas says. “It’s important on hospital visits to have a relatable character. We give hugs, give high-fives and play games. Kids like to beat Spider-Man at Mario video games.” Birkenbach says while it’s no surprise that children think he and the other Kalamazoo Ghostbusters group members are “real,” even adults will sometimes suspend their disbelief. “You can hear them say, ‘It’s a Ghostbuster,’ not ‘It’s someone in a costume,’” he says. But the most serious cosplaying group? That would be the 501st Legion, a Star Wars group that is formally organized and officially

Special appearances Members of the Kalamazoo Ghostbusters appear at charity events and movie openings as well as comic-book-related events. For example, they appeared outside Kalamazoo comic book shop Fanfare in May 2017 for Free Comic Book Day and at the local theatrical release of the 2016 Ghostbusters movie, posing for pictures and answering questions about how they assembled their costumes.

Courtesy

fans of the Ghostbusters movies who like the challenge of recreating the film’s costumes and props and wear their costumes at special events. The Ghostbusters group members are different from other cosplayers. They don’t dress as specific Ghostbusters characters such as Peter Venkman (Bill Murray’s character). Instead, they portray themselves as ghostbusters. Birkenbach and other group members emphasize that the outfits they wear are not costumes like someone might wear on Halloween, but uniforms. Online stores sell name tags that are designed to look like the ones in the films but customized with the cosplayer’s own name. Birkenbach has one on his uniform. And he has a white PT Cruiser car, decorated like Ecto-1, the car in the movie, complete with “no ghost” symbols and caution tape.

Opposite page: Paul Ashley dressed as the character Foxy from the video game Five Nights at Freddy’s for Kalamazoo Comic Con in October 2017. Center: Rebekah Clark, left, as Widowmaker from the video game Overwatch poses with another similarly dressed cosplayer. Above: Natalie Olinger, of Kalamazoo, dressed as the Miraculous Ladybug, poses with a younger version of her character at the Motor City Comic Con in Detroit.

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Justin Pineda P&V Rebekah Clark, above, spent more than $300 and 100 hours to create her Warrior Mega Charizard X costume, while Matt Perrigo painstakingly created each piece of his costume of Transformers’ character Bumblebee.

recognized by Disney, which owns the Star Wars movies and characters. Members have to adhere to guidelines for building their costumes to make sure the outfits are movie-accurate, and the costumes must be approved before being worn at a public event. Darth Vader’s costume, for example, has to be made of leather and plastic and feature the same buttons and switches as the on-screen costume. Rozema says he wears his Darth Vader costume nearly every weekend for a two- to three-hour stint as the character. Like the Cosplay Crusaders, members of the 501st Legion’s Great Lakes Garrison visit hospitals and libraries. Members were also present in costume from Grand Rapids to the Detroit suburbs on Dec. 14 and 15 for the theatrical release of the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. Rozema says he has noticed when visiting theaters or hospitals to take pictures with fans that wearing a Darth Vader costume has certain advantages. “We try to stay in groups, but I like to wander,” he says. “I go wherever I want, and people don’t stop me.”

The cost of cosplay Creating an accurate cosplay look that is as close to the actual character as possible can be an arduous process and doesn’t always come cheaply, even for do-it-yourselfers. Rozema’s Darth Vader suit cost $4,000 and was assembled over several years. It includes leather pants and a shirt purchased from a manufacturer in Argentina. He’s the third person to own his Vader helmet, which another cosplayer made from the molds used to create the helmets the Star Wars movies. A $600 voice-changing device that lets him recreate Darth Vader’s classic menacing bass voice, including the asthmatic breathing, is attached (continued on page 30) 28 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2018


Brian Powers

While other cosplayers may volunteer to appear at charity events in costume, Laura Schubkegel has made her hobby a business. Two to three times a month, performers from her Pretty Princess HQ appear in costume as Disney-inspired fairy tale princesses at birthday parties, parades and other activities for children. Schubkegel has 10 performers ages 16 to 26 on her roster, including her sisters Gretchen and Meredith and former university theater students. Pretty Princess HQ offers several packages for events, from the $100 “Sparkle” storytime with a princess to the $220 “Be Our Guest” package, which has a princess performer sit for “tea time” with the party attendees. “You dress up as a character and people trust you,” Schubkegel says. The Pretty Princess HQ performers style their clothing and hair to look like the characters from the Disney movies. Their costumes are purchased online, and they use makeup and wear their hair to look like the familiar Disney princesses, including some of the newer princesses like Jasmine from Aladdin and Moana. But Schubkegel says they they’re not legally allowed to claim they’re supported by Disney. Depending on the company that owns the original characters, cosplayers can be viewed as “free advertising” or become the subject of cease-and-desist letters asking them to stop dressing like the characters. It’s a legally gray area, and courts have not determined whether a cosplayer’s costume counts as copyright infringement. But few companies are willing to sue cosplayers simply because they’re fans of the company’s movies or comic books.

Courtesy

The business of cosplay: Pretty Princess HQ

Schubkegel says her solution is to make sure Pretty Princess HQ avoids claiming it’s connected to Disney in any way and to stay in the Kalamazoo area. “I would be flattered if they did know about me,” she says of Disney. Schubkegel says the idea of turning her hobby into a business came when she was making volunteer appearances in costume as a princess and was approached by several parents looking for a princess to attend their child’s upcoming event. In 2017, the business’s first year, the company had enough bookings to keep the princesses busy throughout the year. For more info, visit prettyprincesshq.com.

Brian Powers

From left, Alysia Cook (Snow Queen), Jennifer Smargiasso (Beauty) and Laura Schubkegel (Cinderella) are just three of nearly 10 princesses that perform and entertain children, as seen in top right photo, through Pretty Princess HQ.

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(continued from page 28) to the inside of the helmet, along with a small fan to keep him cool. Natalie Olinger, 15, of Kalamazoo, has been cosplaying since 2014, but for more than a year she has focused on one character: the Miraculous Ladybug, a superhero star of a French animated series. Olinger’s costume includes a sleek red latex body suit with black dots, a wig and a small mask that covers her eyes. According to Olinger’s mother, Christina Olinger, the body suit was made by a Los Angeles costumer who creates costumes for pop stars such as Lady Gaga, and cost $700, not counting the slippery silicone lubricant Natalie needs to be covered with to put on the costume. Christina says it took a “lot of emails

and a lot of calls” before the customized costume was ready to wear. It takes Natalie about 15 to 20 minutes, with her mom’s help, to put on her form-fitting costume. Jasmine Contreras, 23, of Coldwater, spent about $250 on the black armor, bow and purple makeup she uses to portray a night elf warrior from the video game World of Warcraft. The armor is made from a thick foam floormat that had to be cut and painted. Contreras says it took her nearly three months to put together the costume and she is still perfecting the quality of her body paint to be more authentic to the character. Clark, 29, of St. Joseph, who often portrays women warriors of video games like Black Rock Shooter and Overwatch, makes most

Above: Kalamazoo Ghostbusters members, from left, Anthony Snyder, Danny Holroyd and Thomas Birkenbach, each crafted their own proton packs (top left photo) to resemble those used by characters in the Ghostbusters movie series.

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of her own costumes. Clark says the cost and time to create a costume varies depending on its complexity. Her most elaborate costume is Warrior Mega Charizard X, a blue and black dragon from the Pokemon cartoon series. It

cost about $300, and it took more than 100 hours just to create the costume’s foam armor and wings. On the other end of the spectrum is Breanne Birdsong’s costume for her Game of Thrones character Khaleesi. Birdsong, of Kalamazoo, paid $50 for it from an online Halloween shop and added a simple necklace purchased at Hobby Lobby. Anthony Snyder’s Ghostbusters uniform was also fairly inexpensive to create. He says his jumpsuit cost $40 from an online store and his black boots were purchased at a local thrift shop. His proton pack backpack is a wood replica of the movie prop, complete with functioning lights that he built for $100. Snyder says he’s found that being a Ghostbusters cosplayer means you can save a little money on repairs to the uniform and props. “Tears and cuts can be ‘battle damage,’” Snyder says, "and paint covers so much.” But before someone debuts a costume in public, Clark says, it needs to be “pretested.” “Usually you need to do pre-con testing” to make sure the costume can be worn all day inside a hotel or convention area, she says. “Sometimes I can’t go up stairs in the costume, or the costume doesn’t allow me to sit down — you don’t think of that when you’re making the costume.”

‘Nobody judges you’ The goal for most cosplayers is to have a costume that’s accurate in terms of their chosen character. But that’s not everyone’s plan. Birkenbach says a friend in a regular business suit sometimes appears with the Kalamazoo Ghostbusters as their “project manager.” Balakas came to the Kalamazoo Comic Con wearing a “mashup” costume of two superheroes, combining Spider-Man with the robes and boots of Ezio, the main character of the Assassin’s Creed video game. That a “mashup” cosplayer doesn’t match up accurately with a character’s form isn’t a problem, says Clark. “Most of the time people are just curious” about the costumes, she says. “It’s a great hobby and a creative outlet,” Clark says, summing up her feelings about cosplay. "It’s just a way to say, ‘Let’s get together and have a lot of fun.’ When people want to take pictures (with cosplayers), it means the world to them. Nobody judges you.” Christina Olinger says she fully supports her daughter’s interest in cosplay. She calls it a “good family activity” that has helped relieve some of Natalie’s social anxiety. “Everybody is so friendly when you’re in an outfit,” she says

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Connections and Comfort

Coexist Café’s atmosphere serves up food and friendship by

ANDREW DOMINO

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Brian Powers

hen Lindsey King walks into Kalamazoo’s Coexist Café, she could be coming in to work as a server or planning to order the sandwich that bears her name. No matter the reason, there’s one thing she says is a constant at the cafe: “The atmosphere feels like your living room.” Coexist Café, located in the middle of Campus Pointe Mall, at the corner of Howard Street and West Michigan Avenue, is not easy to see when driving past, even if you know where to look. Despite that, the cafe, which has been open since June 2016, has been successful from the start, its owners say. They attribute that success to the homey atmosphere. That comfortable feeling was the goal from the moment Sam Abu Alsaud and his wife, Rebecca, dreamed up Coexist Café, he says. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Sam came to the U.S. 22 years ago to study electrical engineering at Western Michigan University. As a boy, he says, he would often sit with family members at a table as they drank coffee and talked. “I have a love of talking with people (and) making connections,” he says. “Even ‘connecting me with me,’ if you want to sit in silence with your thoughts, you still want to feel connected.” Sam, Rebecca and their two children — Yusof, 12, and Leila, 2 — live in Kalamazoo, where the couple owns the beer and wine shops Salut Market, 3112 S. Westnedge Ave., and Bottoms Up, 930 W. Michigan Ave. While

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those stores are devoted to selling alcohol, Sam says the inspiration for Coexist Café was to offer coffee and something else. “We want to offer people who don’t like to party a place to meet and talk or to go for a date.”

Menu namesakes

Something Somewhere Photography

In addition to coffees and teas, the restaurant’s menu includes a handful of sandwiches as well as vegan options. For example, The Lindsey sandwich, named for King, features two fried eggs, spinach and tomato, while The Todd features two fried eggs, provolone cheese and sage. The Todd is named for a character from the TV show Scrubs. King, a junior at WMU, says she actually likes The Todd better than her namesake sandwich. Toward the back of the cafe there’s a small bar where customers can hop on a stool and talk with Sam, Rebecca or one of their staff as coffee is brewed and sandwiches are assembled. About 4,000 pennies are spread on the floor under the bar area in one layer, covered in acrylic. Rebecca created that design and spent 40 hours putting it together, simply “to see something unique on the floor,” she says. The front of the cafe features large glass windows, with tables and comfortable chairs and a small stage. A local musician plays there about once a month, and Sam says he’d like to add more performers — maybe Clockwise from opposite page: Coexist Café owners Rebecca and Sam Abu Alsaud; merchandise bearing the café’s logo; the interior of the café; bookshelves invite patrons to get cozy with their coffee.

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a poetry slam or a stand-up comedian. Sam says WMU student groups have held meetings at the café, mostly on reading and writing projects, and a knitting circle even sat down one day to work on their creations.

‘An opportunity to meet’ On a recent winter day, music producer Eric Dunklin was enjoying a coffee at the cafe as he looked through his emails. Originally from Kalamazoo, Dunklin now lives in Los Angeles, and he says Coexist Café reminds him of the “coffee shop vibe” of that city. “There’s always an opportunity to meet someone and talk about something that sparks an idea for a song or for something to go online and research,” he says. Rebecca Abu Alsaud says meeting people and learning their stories is one of the things she likes best about running Coexist Café. She says that she didn’t attend college, but while she makes sandwiches and coffee drinks, she’s learns about everything from biology to drama from talking with students who stop in for a meal or to study. Sam, too, is appreciative of living and working in a college town. “(A college town) Below: Rebecca Abu Alsaud created the penny mosaic on the floor using nearly 4,000 pennies. Top: A handcrafted sign with the shop’s name. Bottom: Coexist Café’s menu features breakfast sandwiches, wraps and more. Opposite page: Beverages at Coexist include coffee, espresso, tea and other drinks.

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Brian Powers

is a great hub for connecting people from around the world and learning to coexist with people,” he says. “College is a great spot to do that.” Shortly after the café opened, Rebecca had a booth at WMU’s "(A college town) is a great Bronco Bash, an annual event hub for connecting people welcoming students back to school for the new academic year. First, from around the world and she offered coffee to passersby. learning to coexist with If they didn’t want coffee, she offered tea. If that didn’t work, people. College is a great she offered sandwiches. Sooner or spot to do that.” later, every student who stopped at her table found something — Sam Abu Alsaud, to enjoy. Coexist Café Owner “You can’t say no to all three,” she says. Hardy Fuchs, 76, a retired Kalamazoo College professor, is a café regular. His German club meets at Coexist Café occasionally, and he stops in himself two or three times a week. “I go ice skating and then reward myself with a cappuccino afterward,” Fuchs says. Like many of the café’s staff, King sometimes stops in even when she’s not scheduled to work. She says the atmosphere has made it easy to get to know and become friends with customers. “I’ve asked people talking to each other, ‘How did you meet?’ and they say, ‘We met here.’”

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PERFORMING ARTS THEATER Plays

Lucky Stiff — An offbeat murder-mysterymusical farce, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2, 8, 9 & 10, 2 p.m. Feb. 4 & 11, York Arena Theatre, WMU, 3876222. The Adventures of Johnny Forrest and Sue McGee: Sue Gets Her Man — All Ears Theatre radio theater production, 6 p.m. Feb. 3, First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave., 3425059. Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches — Explores American history, AIDS, sexuality, love, death, religion and community in the mid-1980s, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9, 10, 15, 16 & 17, 2 p.m. Feb. 18, Williams Theatre, WMU, 387-6222. Calendar Girls — A group of women raise money for cancer research by posing nude for a calendar, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24, 2 p.m. Feb. 11 & 18, Civic Auditorium, 329 S. Park St., 343-1313. The Christians — A play about a pastor's sermon that shakes the foundation of his megachurch, presented by Farmers Alley Theatre, 8 p.m. Feb. 9, 10, 16 & 17, 2 p.m. Feb. 11 & 18, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15, Little Theatre, WMU, 798 Oakland Drive, 343-2727. No Way Out — A family struggles to survive anti-Jewish laws in Nazi Germany, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16, 17, 23 & 24, 2 p.m. Feb. 18 & 25, Carver Center Studio, 426 S. Park St., 343-1313. The Adventures of Pelli Perfect: The Cloven Tree Manor Mystery — All Ears Theatre radio theater production, 6 p.m. Feb. 17, First Baptist Church, 342-5059. Ships, Shells & Chains — A series of short plays exploring a slave’s journey from Africa to the U.S. and the ordeal she endures, presented by the Black Arts & Cultural Center’s Face Off Theatre Company, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 22–24, 2 p.m. Feb. 25, First Congregational Church, 345 W. Michigan Ave., 359-0908.

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Romeo & Juliet — Shakespeare's tragedy about star-crossed lovers, 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., Feb. 23–March 17, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328. Musicals

Rock of Ages — Broadway musical parody about 1980s heavy-metal rockers, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2, 3, 9 & 10, 2 p.m. Feb. 4 & 11, Parish Theatre, 426 S. Park St., 343-1313. The Sound of Music — The musical story of Maria and the von Trapp family, 8 p.m. Feb. 9 & 10, 2 p.m. Feb. 10, 1 p.m. Feb. 11, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Chicago — A universal tale of fame, fortune and "all that jazz," 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. COMEDY Kevin Hart: Irresponsible Tour — American comedian and actor, 7 p.m. Feb. 9, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125.

Fifty Shades of Shakespeare — Twelve of Shakespeare's steamiest love scenes performed by four actors using comedic improv, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 3456500. Crawlspace Eviction Improv Comedy: Candy Land — Improv and sketch comedy show inspired by the board game Candy Land, 8 p.m. Feb. 16 & 17, Jolliffe Theatre, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 599-7390. MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Ben Miller Band — Folk, blues, bluegrass and country band, 8:30 p.m. Feb. 1, Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382-2332. Umphrey's McGee — American progressive rock band, 8 p.m. Feb. 2 & 3, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125. The Lil’ Smokies — Progressive bluegrass band, 9 p.m. Feb. 2, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Dustbowl Revival — Americana and soul band, 8:30 p.m. Feb. 8, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

Eric Paslay — Country singer/songwriter, 9 p.m. Feb. 9, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

Second Sundays Live: Zion Lion — Local reggae band, 2 p.m. Feb. 11, Parchment Community Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747. The Ballroom Thieves — Indie folk-rock band, 9 p.m. Feb. 16, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Mainstays and Nashon Holloway — Funk and soul band performs with the singer/ songwriter, 9 p.m. Feb. 17, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

A Tribute to J Dilla — Local musicians Lushh, DJ Sic Musiq and DJ Conscious celebrate the Detroit-based hip-hop producer, 8:30 p.m. Feb. 22, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Steel Giant — Rock 'n' roll band, 8 p.m. Feb. 23, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Big Something — Alternative rock band, 9 p.m. Feb. 24, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Robert Cray Band — Grammy Award-winning blues, soul and R&B band, 8 p.m. Feb. 28, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More Gold Company Show — WMU's vocal jazz ensemble, 8 p.m. Feb. 2 & 3, 2 p.m. Feb. 3, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. 2018 Cooper's Glen Music Festival — Great Lakes Acoustic Music Association presents workshops and performances by musicians including Americana folk icon Tom Paxton, jams and a guitar raffle, 11 a.m.–midnight, Feb. 3, Radisson Plaza Hotel, 100 W. Michigan Ave., 349-5144.

Something to Hunt — New contemporary music by diverse living composers, 8 p.m. Feb. 3, Dalton Theatre, Kalamazoo College, 929-7825. University Symphony Orchestra — 3 p.m. Feb. 4, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300.

King of Rag: The Life and Music of Scott Joplin — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra musicians perform works by the AfricanAmerican composer and pianist, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 6, Kalamazoo’s Alma Powell Branch Library,


ENCORE EVENTS 1000 W. Paterson, 553-7960; 2 p.m. Feb. 9, Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, 329-4544; and 10:30 a.m. & noon Feb. 17, Kalamazoo Public Library, 315 S. Rose St., 3429837. Western Winds — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Burdick-Thorne String Quartet — KSO musicians perform, noon Feb. 7, Garden Atrium, Bronson Methodist Hospital, 601 John St., 349-7759. Flutist Maxim Rubtsov & Pianist Sergei Kvitko — Guest artist recital, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7, Dalton Center Lecture Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Saxophonist Drew Whiting, Guitarist John Mayrose & Pianist Ed Martin — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 7, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 3874667. Burdick-Thorne String Quartet — KSO musicians perform, noon Feb. 8, Atrium Lobby, Borgess Medical Center, 1521 Gull Road, 3497759. Under One Sun — Guest artist recital by contemporary jazz band, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Horn Day — 12:30–8 p.m. Feb. 10, Dalton Center, WMU, featuring a free final concert by guest artist Aaron Brant of the Dayton Philharmonic, the Western Horn Choir and a Mass Horn Choir, 387-4667 or wmich.edu/ horn/horn-day. Concerto Competition Finals — 3 p.m. Feb. 11, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667.

Tchaikovsky Discovers America — KSO's Family Discovery Series concert about the composer's arrival in New York in 1891, 3 p.m. Feb. 11, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 349-7759. Trombonist Evan Clifton — Alumni recital, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667.

Love Is, Love Is, Love Is — Kalamazoo Bach Festival Chorus, Kalamazoo College Singers and Kalamazoo Male Chorus present songs celebrating love, 7 p.m. Feb. 14, First Congregational Church, 345 W. Michigan Ave., 337-7407. University Jazz Lab Band — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. WMUsic Showcase Spectacular — 8 p.m. Feb. 16, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300.

Iberian Inspiration — Kalamazoo Concert Band performs, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, Chenery Auditorium, 337-0440. Wu Man & the Shanghai Quartet — Pipa (Chinese lute) virtuoso Wu Man performs new works with the string quartet, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 359-7311. Crescendo Academy of Music Student Recital — 2 p.m. Feb. 18, First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St., 345-6664. University Symphonic Band — 3 p.m. Feb. 18, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300.

Dreams Deferred: Art Born of Adversity — Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra performs Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony and the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Stulberg 2017 bronze medalist, violinist Karisa Chiu, 4 p.m. Feb. 18, Chenery Auditorium, 337-0440. University Concert Band — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-2300. Birds on a Wire — WMU’s new-music ensemble, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Vince Mendoza Orchestra/Jazz Project — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300.

Haydn & Beethoven — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and cellist Pablo Ferrandez-Castro performing Haydn's Cello Concerto in C Major, 8 p.m. Feb. 24, Chenery Auditorium, 349-7759. Choral Showcase: University Chorale, Cantus Femina & Collegiate Singers — 3 p.m. Feb. 25, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667.

The People Sing: Folk Songs and Spirituals — Kalamazoo Singers in concert, 3 p.m. Feb. 25, First Presbyterian Church, 373-1769. WMU Trombone Choir — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Imani Winds — 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. DANCE Winter Gala Dance Concert — WMU dancers perform works by Taylor 2, Brendan Duggan and Christian Denice, 8 p.m. Feb. 1–3, 2 p.m. Feb. 3, Shaw Theatre, WMU, 387-5830. VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775 Exhibits

Round & Round: The Circle at Center Stage — Works from the KIA collection presenting the circle in myriad manifestations, through March 4. Rhythmic Vitality: Six Principles of Chinese Painting — Works from the collections of the KIA and Joy and Timothy Light featuring concepts established by early Chinese art critic Xie He, through March 25. Dawoud Bey: Harlem, USA and Harlem Redux — Photography of Harlem in the 1970s and 2014–16 by Bey, alongside images by Harlem Renaissance photographer James VanDerZee from the KIA’s collection, through April 11. My Hero! Contemporary Art & Superhero Action — Explore superhero imagery and pop idols, Feb. 3–May 13; opening celebration includes a family-friendly cosplay party, art making and costume contest, 5–8 p.m. Feb. 2. Events Sunday Tour — Docent-led tours: Rhythmic Vitality, Feb. 4; My Hero! Contemporary Art & Superhero Action, Feb. 11; Dawoud Bey and James VanDerZee, Feb. 18; African American Art and Artists in the KIA Collection, Feb. 25; all tours begin at 2 p.m.

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EVENTS ENCORE ARTbreak — Programs about art, artists and exhibitions: Kenjii Jumanne Marshall, illustrator, writer and comic artist, talk, Feb. 6; Lost Kingdoms of Africa: Ethiopia, video, Feb. 13; Art School Residents Review Their Year, talk, Feb. 20; The Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival, talk, Feb. 27; sessions begin at noon, KIA Auditorium. Unreeled: Film at the KIA — View the documentary White Scripts and Black

Austen, Jorden and Branden DeHaan with their father, DRS founder, Robert DeHaan

Supermen: Black Masculinities in Comic Books, by Jonathan Gayles, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8, KIA Auditorium. Art League Talk: Albert Kahn: American Architect — Claire Zimmerman explores Detroit's Albert Kahn Architects and Engineers, 10 a.m. Feb. 14, KIA Auditorium. Get the Picture: Black Bird — Michelle Stempien discusses Benny Andrews' lithograph, noon Feb. 15.

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Book Discussion: South of Pico: African American Artists in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s — Jo Ann Mundi leads a discussion of the book by Kellie Jones, 2 p.m. Feb. 21, KIA Library. Artist Talk: James VanDerZee's Harlem — Kalamazoo College Professor of Art Richard Koenig explores this leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22, KIA Auditorium. Richmond Center for Visual Arts Western Michigan University, 387-2436

Site & Survey: The Architecture of Landscape — Featuring three international artists: Patrick Van Caeckenbergh, Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson and Lina Puerta, through March 11, Monroe-Brown Gallery. Sniedze Janson-Rungis: Altars & Myths — Abstract, anthropomorphic sculptures in an environment recreating the sensation of walking through an enchanted forest, through March 11, Netzorg and Kerr Gallery. 17 Days (Volume 10) — One artist's video work per day is played on 50-inch plasma screens, through May 1, Atrium Gallery. Rita Grendze: Signs for Those Seeking Light — Cast-off books that have been cut by hand, mounted and suspended give voice to writing as a powerful visual language, through Dec. 16, Atrium Gallery.

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Other Venues Art Exhibit: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks — Local and out-of-state artists celebrate the life of a woman whose cancer cells have aided modern-day medicine, 5–7 p.m. Feb. 1, Alma Powell Branch Library, 1000 W. Paterson, 553-7960. Art Hop — Art at locations in Kalamazoo, 5–8 p.m., Feb. 2, 342-5059. Community Art: Portage Area Students — Portage Public School students display various forms of art, Feb. 5–March 30, Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, with reception at 2 p.m. Feb. 11, 329-4544. Solo Gallery Artist: Sudi Rouhi — Digital prints and traditional arts, through Feb. 23, Portage District Library, 329-4544.


ENCORE EVENTS

Garage Sale Art Fair — Overstocks, seconds and leftover supplies, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Feb. 24, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., garagesaleartfair.com. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library Overdue Brew Series — Beer Tasting, 7 p.m. Feb. 1, Tibbs Brewing Co., 402 S. Burdick St.; The Polkaholics, a band that blends punk rock and polka, 7 p.m. Feb. 10, Old Dog Tavern, 402 E. Kalamazoo Ave.; Meet Pure Brews America host Shannon Long of the Emmy-winning TV series, 7 p.m. Feb. 15, One Well Brewing Co., 4213 Portage St.; KPL Barrel-Aged Beer Bus Tour, noon–6 p.m. Feb. 24, starting at Old Burdick's Bar & Grill, Radisson Plaza Hotel, 342-9837; registration required for each event. First Saturday @ KPL — Family event with stories, activities, special guests and door prizes, 2 p.m. Feb. 3, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., 342-9837. Poetry Writing Workshop with Amber Pryor — Black History Month poetry workshop for teens, a poetry slam and pizza, Feb. 6, Alma Powell Branch, 1000 W. Paterson St., 553-7960; Feb. 7, Eastwood Branch, 1112 Gayle St., 553-7810; both events begin at 5 p.m.

p.m. Feb. 21, Washington Square Branch, 1244 Portage St., 553-7970.

adult novel, 6 p.m. Feb. 28, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 342-9837.

Vanished Kalamazoo and You: Preserving Your Kalamazoo Legacy — Meet and share with those who love Kalamazoo history, 1–4 p.m. Feb. 24, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 342-9837.

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

A Novel Idea Book Club: Evicted from a Sociological Perspective — Discussion of this year's Reading Together book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26, Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St., 553-7980. Kalamazoo's Colored School — Lynn Houghton and Regina Gorham discuss the mystery of a separate school for AfricanAmerican children on North Street between 1861 and 1871, 7 p.m. Feb. 27, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 342-9837. Meet the Author: Kwame Alexander Talk and book signing by the award-winning poet, educator and author of Solo, a young

Parchment Book Group — Discussion of Kalamazoo Reading Together book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5. Pamper Yourself with Aromatherapy — Learn to use essential oils in relaxing and therapeutic ways, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 6; registration required. Front Page: Donuts & Discussion — Building Blocks of Kalamazoo and Transformations Spirituality Center lead a discussion on "Holding It Together: Community, Caring & Eviction," 10:30 a.m., Feb. 17. Mystery Book Club — Discussion of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19. Yum's the Word: Cook with Chocol'Art — Learn how to make turtles and truffles, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21; registration required.

Reading Together Book Discussion — Discussion of Chapter 20 of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond, 6 p.m. Feb. 8, Alma Powell Branch, 553-7960. Animals and Society Book Club — Discussion of Chapters 4–6 of How to Create a Vegan World, by Tobias Leenaert, 7 p.m. Feb. 8, Boardroom, Central Library, 342-9837. Soulful Cooking with Keneisha — 6 p.m. Feb. 12, Eastwood Branch, 553-7810. Movie Screening: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks — View and discuss the HBO movie, 6 p.m. Feb. 15, Alma Powell Branch, 553-7960. ‘Evicted’ from a Legal Perspective — Discussion of this year's Reading Together book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond, 6:30

MARK YOUR 2018 CALENDAR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18 | 4 pm 2017 Bronze Medalist Karisa Chiu, violin and the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra Chenery Auditorium

FRIDAY, MAY 18 | all day – evening 43rd Stulberg International String Competition Dalton Center, WMU, daytime semifinals and evening finals Judges Aaron Dworkin, Anthony Ross, and Scott St. John Breaking News: NPR’s From the Top with host Christopher O’Riley will be on site during the 2018 Competition, creating a documentary episode to be broadcast at a later date.

SATURDAY, MAY 19 | 12:30 pm Stulberg Master Classes Dalton Center, WMU Judges Aaron Dworkin, Anthony Ross, and Scott St. John

STU43-- Encore Ad.indd 1

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EVENTS ENCORE Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544 Friends of the Library Book Sale — 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Feb. 3. SciFi/Fantasy Group: Time Travel Methods — 7 p.m. Feb. 5. International Mystery Book Group — Discussion of The Case of the Missing Servant, by Tarquin Hall, 7 p.m. Feb. 8. Top Shelf Reads — A young professionals' book group discussion of The Chosen, by Chaim Potok, 7 p.m. Feb. 12, Latitude 42 Brewing Co., 7842 Portage Road, 585-8711. Open for Discussion — Discussion of The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, by Richard Blanco, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 20. MUSEUMS Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671-5089 2018 Lecture Series — Your Muscle Car Memories, John Lacko, Feb. 4; The Relevance

of Abraham Lincoln, Cameron S. Brown; Automotive Lubrication Testing Lecture/ Seminar, David E. Persell, Feb. 18; Art, Architecture and the Automobile, David Lyon, Feb. 25; all sessions begin at 3 p.m. Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990

Golden Legacy: Original Art from 75 Years of Golden Books — This special exhibit showcases 65 original illustrations from these classic children's stories, through April 15. Top Secret: License to Spy — Explore the science and technology of the undercover world of spying and espionage, through April 29. Storytelling Festival — Storytellers, musicians and illustrators share their stories, music and books, with author book signings and vendors, 5–8 p.m. Feb. 2, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Feb. 3. Led Zeppelin Music Light Show — The band's classics in 5.1 surround sound set to immersive computer-generated effects, 7 p.m. Feb. 2, 4 p.m. Feb. 3, 10, 17 & 24, Planetarium.

MI Winter Skies — Learn about the night sky over Michigan, 2 p.m. Feb. 3, 10, 17 & 24, 3 p.m. Tues. & Thurs., through March 15, Planetarium. Sunday Series: Sustainable Gardening — Kalamazoo River Watershed Council and Common Ground—Kalamazoo Community Garden Network discuss sustainable gardening projects and resources, 1:30 p.m. Feb. 11.

Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter — New approaches and technologies in the search for dark matter, 4 p.m. Sun., Feb. 11–March 11, Planetarium. Sunday Series: Passacaglia: Discovering Patterns in Life and Music — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra violist Grace Byrd explores the musical form called "Passacaglia," 1:30 p.m. Feb. 25. NATURE Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510 Winter Tree Identification Workshop — Hike and learn to identify common Michigan trees, 1–4 p.m. Feb. 10. Birds and Coffee Walk — A morning bird walk and discussion over coffee, 9–10:30 a.m. Feb. 14. Other Venues Kalamazoo Astronomical Society: Trouble in Paradise: Astro Problem Solving 101 — Joe Comiskey discusses common problems and solutions to observing the night sky, 7 p.m. Feb. 2, Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center, 600 W. Vine St., Suite 400, kasonline.org. Winter Snow Party — Sledding, snowmanbuilding contest and bonfire, noon Feb. 3, Oakland Drive Park, 7650 Oakland Drive, Portage, 329-4522. Owl Prowl – Hygge Hike — A night hike to listen for owls and a bonfire, 6–8 p.m. Feb. 9, Chipman Preserve, Comstock Township, 3241600; registration requested. Birding Basics — Learn about local birds and how to attract them to your yard, 10 a.m. Feb. 10, Celery Flats Grain Elevator, 7335 Garden Lane, Portage, 329-4522.

40 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2018


Endangered Species — Learn how animals become endangered and how to help, 2 p.m. Feb. 11, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave., Portage, 329-4522.

Making a Positive Impact

Kalamazoo Bee Club's Annual Bee School — Information for “bee-ginners” through advanced beekeepers, with bees and equipment for sale, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Feb. 17, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, 6767 West O Ave., kalamazoobeeclub.com.

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Give a Hoot about Owls — Learn about and meet live owls, noon Feb. 23, Celery Flats Grain Elevator, 7335 Garden Lane, Portage, 329-4522. Audubon Society of Kalamazoo — Yu Man Lee speaks on "Vernal Pools: Coral Reefs of Michigan's Forests," 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, People's Church, 1758 N. 10th St., 375-7210.

the

MISCELLANEOUS Ice Breaker Festival — Ice sculptures, chili cook-off, skating and cardboard sled race, Feb. 2–4, South Haven, southhaven.org. Winter Auto Swap Meet — Hosted by the Kalamazoo Antique Auto Restorers Club, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. Feb. 3, 8 a.m.–1 p.m. Feb. 4, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., 375-3669.

Kalamazoo Indoor Flea & Antique Market — New and used items, antiques and handcrafted items, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Tues. & Wed., Feb. 6–28, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 3838761. Kalamazoo & Calhoun County Polar Plunge Benefiting Special Olympics Michigan — 9:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Feb. 10, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Adult Painting in the Park — A wine and canvas event, 6 p.m. Feb. 10, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave., Portage, 329-4522; registration required.

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Saturday, March 3, 2018 | 8pm | Miller Auditorium Daniel Brier, Conductor & Arrival From Sweden

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UPCOMING SHOWS

Chinese New Year Celebration — Presented by the Chinese Association of Kalamazoo, 7 p.m. Feb. 3, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 337-0440. Casino Night Speakeasy — Prevention Works fundraiser with games of chance, entertainment, wine and delicacies, 7–11:30 p.m. Feb. 3, Kalamazoo Country Club, 1609 Whites Road, 388-4200.

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Feb 3 The ADVENTURES of JOHNNY FORREST & SUE McGEE: Sue Gets Her Man

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Feb 17 The ADVENTURES of PELLI PERFECT: The Cloven Tree Manor Mystery March 3 SHERLOCK HOLMES and the ADVENTURE of the SOLITARY CYCLIST

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w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 41


Black Panther — Private screening of the film, sponsored by the Black Arts & Cultural Center, 6–10 p.m. Feb. 15, Celebration Cinema, 6600 Ring Road, Portage, 349-1035. Valentine's Dinner — Guided historic tour of the Kellogg Manor House at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 16, four-course dinner and live music at 6:30 p.m., W.K. Kellogg Manor House, 3700 E. Gull Lake Drive, Hickory Corners, 671-2400. Eat Drink Give 2018 — Gryphon Place fundraiser with local chefs' creations, wine and beer sampling, raffle and silent auction, 7-10 p.m. Feb. 16, Radisson Plaza Hotel, 100 W. Michigan Ave., gryphon.org/events. Shipshewana on the Road — New and used items, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Feb. 17, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Feb. 18, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 979-8888. Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Buy, sell or trade reptiles, amphibians and small mammals, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Feb. 17, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 779-9851. Kalamazoo Record & CD Show — Collector records, music memorabilia and supplies, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Feb. 18, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, Room A, 734-604-2540. Princess Tea — Join Cinderella and Princess Tiana for tea and refreshments, 2 p.m. Feb. 18, Stuart Manor, 7340 Garden Lane, Portage, 329-4522; registration required.

Dulce Pinzón, Superman (detail) from The Real Story of the Superheroes series, 2005-10, photograph

Coffee + Compassion = Freedom from Eating Disorders Fundraising Event — Coffee and tea tasting event featuring local businesses, sponsored by Southwest Michigan Eating Disorders Association, 9:30 a.m.–noon Feb. 24, Wesley Foundation, 820 Rankin Ave., 254-5631.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with the Binder Park Zoomobile — View the 1938 film and a woodland creature presentation, 3 p.m. Feb. 24, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500.

Opening Celebration Family cosplay & costume contest Friday, February 2 5-8 pm, free

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Winter Carnival — Magician Brian Penny and fun attractions, 4–7 p.m. Feb. 24, Portage Northern High School gym, 1000 Idaho Ave., 329-4522. Winter Blast Half Marathon, 10K & 5K — Hosted by Kalamazoo Area Runners (KAR) and the city of Portage, 8 a.m. Feb. 25, Portage Central High School, 8135 S. Westnedge Ave., https://portagewinterblast.wordpress.com.


ENCORE POETRY

Daddy It’s only February but the full sun lightens the wintry world that only yesterday was starry with frost, and as surely as that sun has risen so have my hopes that May will rise again and with it the violets and lilies-of-the-valley that tie us to one another, Daddy, as strongly as our common May birthdays and, along with lilacs and you, still send the divine scent of our common life into my very particular life. As I see in my own aging hands images of your own, I itch to pick the flowers in cold February here on this Michigan hillside where the does, preparing to drop new life onto promising land, forage for the remains of last year’s green, and the tender shoots of brave crocuses and snowdrops remind me of the grace that was yours, Daddy, and that never really leaves us, and those years upon years when you welcomed spring with your own marvelous gardener’s heart, the heart that never really leaves me, aging lily of the Illinois valley. Know this: I always walk with you, here at my side, deep in my bones and sinews, steady and sly, brave and wise, shyly smiling through the rose mist of my own blood.

— Marianne Novak Houston Houston, an independent consultant and facilitator in Kalamazoo, is also a poet and activist. Having failed at retirement, she is working on a second book of poetry and a memoir and continues her work with Michigan Courage and Renewal, which offers retreats aimed at personal and professional renewal for leaders.

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BACK STORY (continued from page 46)

that can help with housing, employment and other needs. Henderson, 40, who began at the agency in 2008 as an executive assistant, is now running the place. “I can’t imagine doing anything else. I can’t,” she says. “This place has my heart, and I can see myself in a lot of people who are here.”

How did you get where you are today? If you look at me on a piece of paper, I don’t have the qualifications to have made any of the steps I have. I was a single teen mom. I had my son at 17. When I was 19, he was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism. I graduated from WMU with a bachelor’s degree, and it was suggested we move to Schoolcraft because the schools there had a really good program in autism at the time. We lived in a trailer and worked odd jobs, and I got involved with the People’s Church. I was there one Sunday when Ministry’s former executive director, Kendra Stetser Rowe, said she was looking to hire a volunteer coordinator. I met with Kendra, and she recognized that I was not ready to be the volunteer coordinator at that point but was ready to step in to Ministry as the executive assistant. Kendra left in early 2010, and Rob Oakleaf stepped in as executive director. He said, “Kelly, you are going to be operations director.” And I said, “I can’t do that. How am I going to run the facility and do human resource stuff?” He said, “You’ve been doing it. You can do this. You got this.” I did that for a few years, and then Rob said to me, “You know what? You’re the No. 2 in the organization. You step in for me when I am not here and make a lot of decisions. You’re the associate director.” And I said, “I can’t do that. That’s too much.” He said, “No, no, you can.” So I said OK. He knew at some point he was going to leave and, not that it was his choice to make, asked me to become the executive director because he saw the potential in me. I said, “I can’t do that … (she laughs).” It took some time, and I’m ready. I’m excited.

What made you want to do this? Coming here and being with the people that believed in me ... (she tears up). The whole point of Ministry for me is to love people, and that’s what we try to do every day. So we smile and we welcome folks, and that includes our members (the people the organization serves), our staff and our volunteers.

“The whole point of Ministry for me is to love people, and that’s what we try to do every day. So we smile and we welcome folks, and that includes our members (the people the organization serves), our staff and our volunteers.” — Kelly Henderson, executive director, Ministry with Community So many folks who come here say that as they go about their day no one looks them in the eye or says hi to them. So when they come here, we do that. Anybody that walks through our doors is an important, lovable human being, so we want to treat them that way. They have stories to share and they want someone to talk to, and we listen and we learn.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve done in your career? The place we are sitting in, this building (Ministry moved into a new facility in 2016). I worked really closely with the architects and picked out paint colors and chose materials. I had no idea you could have a two-hour meeting about toilets, but it’s possible (she laughs). We tried to work in what our members and volunteers were looking for and what our staff needed to make this the best place

that it could be, because this is our home for a very long time. We won’t have that opportunity again, so we tried to knock it out of the park.

What are you looking forward to doing at Ministry? We’ve been in the new space for just over a year and have a lot of the kinks worked out, so it’s time to move to that next step and align our staff to our strategic plan and change some roles and positions in the organization. Several staff will take on different work that hasn’t been done before because we were so busy trying to keep the old building in one piece. Being the executive director gives me the opportunity to recognize folks, just like Rob and Kendra did with me, and help them continue down their path.

What keeps you up at night? The touching stories here, whether it’s a struggle or a success. I worry because I know some of these folks live outside, and as it gets colder you wonder if you’ll see them tomorrow. Sometimes I feel the weight of the world, and then I remember I come here and do this work and this is my piece that I can give back to the community that I’m in.

What’s on your bucket list? Go to Ireland, because I’m Irish. It’s like a heart calling — I love to travel and see new things and I’m a total tourist. So, even though I’m terrified of heights, I have got to kiss the Blarney Stone. (To kiss it, one has to climb the steps to the battlements of Blarney Castle and lean backward from the edge of a parapet walk, holding on to iron railings. Protective crossbars have been installed as safeguards to prevent long falls, but some people still find the experience frightening. Legend has it that kissing the stone gives the kisser great eloquence.)

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BACK STORY ENCORE

Kelly Henderson

Executive Director Ministry with Community K

elly Henderson has come a long way in her career, and it’s because “people believed in me,” she says. Now, as the new executive director of Ministry with Community, Henderson wants to pay that gift forward. Ministry with Community is a day shelter and organization that serves people who are hungry, lonely or homeless. It is open from 6:30 a.m.—5:30 p.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year. Ministry with Community is expecting to serve more than 150,000 meals to those in need this year as well as provide shower and laundry facilities, access to social workers and connections to local agencies

Brian Powers

(continued on page 45)

46 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2018


Kalamazoo Public Schools

are reaching higher! tion rates a u d ra g r a e -y 5 d n a  Rising 4 ool and high h sc le d id m , ry ta n e  Rising elem vement ie h c a t n e d u st l o o h sc students taking f o r e b m u n e th le b  More than dou e last 9 years th in s e rs u o c t n e m Advance Place tuition for e g e ll o c e e fr : e is m ro y)  The Kalamazoo P ce requirements appl an nd te at & cy en id KPS graduates (res have been or ts n e d u st S P K 0 5 ,7  More than 4 zoo Promise a m la a K e h T f o s e ri are beneficia 2,500 students ly te a im x ro p p a f o  Growth e last 12 years (24 percent) over th

For enrollment or more information please contact Kalamazoo Public Schools at

269.337.0161


Encore February 2018  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Local cosplay culture, Coexist Cafe, baking bread from beer, Ministry with Community's Kelly Henderson, and m...

Encore February 2018  

Southwest Michigan's Magazine: Local cosplay culture, Coexist Cafe, baking bread from beer, Ministry with Community's Kelly Henderson, and m...