Encore January 2024

Page 1

Bonnie Jo Campbell's watery world

January 2024

Elina Organics thriving, naturally

Telling treasures from the past

Meet Brian Persky

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

Building a Community

Jerico is a haven for artists & makers

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Zinta Aistars There's something in the water. We keep hearing that about Kalamazoo and its remarkable allure for the creative minds drawn to this area. "When I spent the day with author Bonnie Jo Campbell to talk about her newest novel, The Waters, she spoke about how she must always be near water to thrive, not only in her personal life, but in her writing life," Zinta says. "Then I visited Jerico, the complex of businesses and art studios thriving in buildings that had once threatened to crumble, but now rise again with new life. I'm convinced. I don't know what it is in this area, but it's undeniably magic for creativity." Zinta is the creative director of Z Word, LLC, and the producer and host of the weekly radio show, Art Beat, on WMUK 102.1 FM.

Marie Lee As a business owner herself, Marie says she enjoyed speaking with Elina Fedotova about the trajectory her company, Elina Organics, has taken in the past 25 years. "As a businesswoman, Elina trusts her instinct and intuition. In a very competitive field, she approaches her decisions with integrity and the self-confidence of someone who believes strongly that the products she creates will stand on their own merit. And they do," Marie says. Marie also spoke with Brian Persky, director of business development at Discover Kalamazoo. Like Elina, Brian approaches his work with the staunch belief in what he does: promotes Kalamazoo as a destination for conventions, sporting events, meetings and more. "My love for Kalamazoo started when I came here for college and the more I learn and know about it, the more bonds I make with this community. Kalamazoo sells itself," he says. Marie is the editor of Encore.



From the Editor H

ere's to starting 2024 on a high note, and this issue has the stories that do just that. They spotlight how the ingenuity, creativity, determination and sweat equity of individuals can create something that benefits the community as a whole. Our cover feature is about Jerico, a complex of three formerly dilapidated buildings on the east side of Kalamazoo that owners Jeb and Krystal Gast have redeveloped into space for businesses and artists. The Gasts are more than just landlords; they have created a community where artists, makers and entrepreneurs feed off of each other's energy and creativity. Also in this issue is an update on Elina Fedotova, who launched a holistic skin-care salon 25 years ago that has grown into a thriving skin-care product line and two spas — one in Kalamazoo and the other in Florida. She's one of those entrepreneurs whose success has been impressive but not widely known in the community. We are glad to try to rectify that. We also visit with a homegrown daughter who is a little better known, Bonnie Jo Campbell, whose new book, The Waters, hits shelves this month. Writer Zinta Aistars catches up with Campbell about her new work and the indelible influence water, women and the wild have had on this award-winning author's writing. Finally, we meet Discover Kalamazoo's Brian Persky, who oversees efforts to bring sports competitions, conventions and other events to Kalamazoo County. He and his team are quietly working behind the scenes to make Kalamazoo a destination of choice for groups planning conventions, competitions and more.

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Bonnie Jo Campbell's watery world

Elina Organics thriving, naturally

Telling treasures from the past

Meet Brian Persky

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

January 2024

Building a Community

Jerico is a haven for artists & makers


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Building Jerico 16

Krystal and Jeb Gast have turned run-down buildings into a hub for creativity and industry

DEPARTMENTS 4 Contributors 5 From the Editor 8 First Things A round–up of happenings in SW Michigan 10 Five Faves

Treasures that tell tales from the Regional History Collection

12 Update

Elina Fedotova — Her company, Elina Organics, has been thriving, naturally, for 25 years

34 Back Story

Meet Brian Persky — He works to bring meetings, conventions and sports competitions to Kalamazoo

T heArts

26 A 'Watery Life' — Bonnie Jo Campbell's new novel inspired by water, women and the wild 30 Film 30 Visual Arts 31 Music 31 Literature 31 Theater

On the Cover: Krystal, left, and Jeb Gast in the workshop of Fido Motors in the Jerico complex that the couple redeveloped into a hub for artists and industry. Photo by Brian K. Powers

32 Events of Note 36 Poetry "Heartbeat of Winter" by Karen A. VandenBos

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First Things Something Commemorative Talks and exhibit to mark MLK Day Among the area events commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day are an exhibition and two presentations. The exhibition Living the Dream: The Man, the People and the Park will be on

display in the Portage City Hall Lobby from Jan. 2–31. This free exhibition will look at Dr. King's work, a new Portage city park dedicated to him, and ways to make the community more just and equitable. It can be viewed 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Monday– Thursday and between 8 a.m.–noon Fridays. For more information, visit portagemi.gov/ calendar. Award-winning author, educator, producer and daughter of Malcolm X, Ilyasah Shabazz will speak at 6 p.m. Jan. 15 in Miller Auditorium. Shabazz, whose presentation is titled Chaos or Community: Let’s Talk with Ilyasah Shabazz, has authored five historical novels, served as project advisor for the award-winning PBS documentary Prince Among Slaves, and is currently producing a television series based on her latest publication, The Awakening of Malcolm X. Her presentation is free, but tickets are required and can be acquired through the Miller Auditorium box office or online at tickets/millerauditorium.com/25733.

Something Musical

Digable Planets to play at State Theatre A night of jazz-informed hip-hop will celebrate three decades of the group Digable Planets’ music Jan. 25 at the Kalamazoo State Theatre. Digable Planets burst onto the music scene in 1993 with their Grammywinning single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat).” The group is composed of Ishmael Butler (“Butterfly”), Craig Irving (“Doodlebug”), and Mary Ann Vieira (“Ladybug Mecca”). Their debut album, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), was praised by Pitchfork as “a world within a world, complete with its own language and monuments.” Throughout the 2000s, the members of Digable Planets pursued their individual careers, but the group re-emerged in 2015 with a series of successful live shows and has been touring since. Tickets are $30–$55 and available at the State Theatre box office or kazoostate.com. 8 | ENCORE JANUARY 2024

On Jan. 16, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts presents the artists behind last year's Festival Playhouse staging of Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop. This in-person and online presentation, titled Staging IIyasha Shabazz Dr. King: Reflections on The Mountaintop at Kalamazoo College, runs from noon–1 p.m. at the art museum. The play, directed by Quincy Thomas, assistant professor of theatre arts at Kalamazoo College, featured actor Jared Pittman as Dr. King and Milan Levy as the enigmatic Camae, a fictional character who prepares King for his final transition. The event is free, but tickets for the inperson presentation are required and can be reserved at kiarts.org. A livestream of the event will be available on YouTube at tinyurl.com/StagingMLK.


Something Delicious

Restaurant Week returns With 18 venues participating, this year's Downtown Kalamazoo Restaurant Week will offer a full plate of fine dining Jan. 25–Feb. 4. Participating venues will offer special "prix fixe" meals (typically three courses with multiple options at a set price), and their bartenders will compete for producing the week's best cocktail. Information about the participating venues, menus and parking options is available at kalamazoorestaurantweek.com.

Something Jazzy

The Birdseed Salesmen to perform Prepare to transport yourself to the cafés and bistros of 1930s and 1940s Europe on Jan. 14 when Kalamazoo group The Birdseed Salesman play at the Parchment Community Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive. The group, composed of Helen Yee, Nathan Tabor, Jay Gavan and Denis Shebukhov, plays swinging "hot club" jazz in the French “manouche” style made popular by Romani jazz guitarist Jean "Django" Reinhardt and French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. The show begins at 2 p.m. and is free.

Something Uplifting

Come from Away at Miller How the people of a tiny town in Newfoundland welcomed 7,000 stranded passengers when the 9/11 attacks shut down global air travel in 2001 is the focus of this musical, to be staged Jan. 30 and 31 at Miller Auditorium. This touring show is based on the original Broadway production, which won a Tony Award in 2017 for Best Direction of a Musical. Show time is 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $47–$87 and available at the Miller box office or millerauditorium.com. …providing wealth accumulation and wealth preservation strategies to ensure our clients’ ongoing financial success through a combination of unparalleled personal attention, creative planning, and experienced investing.

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Five Faves

Telling treasures from the Regional History Collection BY LYNN HOUGHTON


he Regional History Collection at Western Michigan University's Zhang Legacy Collections Center, along with the University Archives and Rare Books and Special Collections, has a wide range of paper-based materials from southwestern Michigan, including business and institutional records, photographs, diaries and letters, just to name a few examples. Some were created to be long-lasting; others are examples of ephemera, meaning things meant to last only a short time. I was previously given an opportunity to highlight some of my favorites in Encore and here are a few more:

Farmers Mutual Insurance Co. Records The Farmers Mutual Insurance

Temperance Coffee House Card, 1875 Coffee shops today provide not only a hot beverage, but also an opportunity to gather with others. The Temperance Coffee House in Kalamazoo, which opened in 1875, had a much larger purpose — to convince people to turn to caffeine rather than alcohol — and those who ran it handed out these cards in that effort. Temperance organizations were prevalent during the 19th century, with the first one in Kalamazoo created in 1836, not long after the village was established. The Temperance Coffee House, which was located on the east side of North Burdick just to the south of Eleanor Street, provided not just coffee but food, including oyster stew, and held temperance meetings on weekends. There is no mention in the Kalamazoo Gazette of the coffeehouse after May 1876, although demand for alcohol continued.


Co. of Michigan, which was formed in 1863, provided all types of affordable insurance for farmers. The records at the Zhang Center are from Kalamazoo County, and their dates range from 1864–1880 and 1919–1954. The records encompass many policies taken out by farmers, and those policies include information about their land and any buildings on it, sometimes with construction dates. For those who are searching for information about property that may have once been agricultural, this is a good place to start, in the hope there is a policy that may have been issued. Also included in the records is a bound, hand-drawn collection of township maps dated 1869, with property owners named. Even though the acreage is not included, the detail is incredible.

Tuberculosis Sanitorium Admission Card

The respiratory disease tuberculosis, known as the “white death,” has been around for thousands of years and last year claimed more than 1.3 million people worldwide. The death toll from TB in the U.S. has dropped sharply over the years, but in 1908 more than 78,000 people died from the disease in the U.S. In that year Kalamazoo’s AntiTuberculosis Society began raising funds, and by the fall of 1911, it had enough money to start the Tuberculosis Sanitorium on Gull Road, across from where Borgess Ascension Hospital is now located. Sanitorium patients stayed in tents outside for an undetermined amount of time, no matter the weather, since fresh air was found to be helpful in curing people. By the next year, the city of Kalamazoo constructed Fairmount Hospital in the West Douglas neighborhood for those suffering from not only tuberculosis, but also diphtheria.


Kalamazoo Post Office Records

For many years, Kalamazoo's main post office could be found on the southwest corner of Burdick and South streets. It moved in 1939 to what was then the new Federal Building on West Michigan Avenue, and its historical records were transferred to Grand Rapids and later Chicago. In the mid-1970s, the material was returned to Kalamazoo. It includes ledgers filled with information on pay, hours and routes for postal carriers; sales of stamps and money orders; railroad schedules; and even lists of newspapers and magazines arriving for delivery. It also includes copies of letters sent and received, including this one in which the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Postal Service refused to reimburse the office for an unusual expense.

Kalamazoo County Poorhouse Records During

the 19th century, Michigan counties supported those who were poor and destitute by operating poorhouses or poor farms. In 1849, Kalamazoo County purchased land in Comstock Township (the site of today's River Oaks Park) for its poorhouse and poor farm. The Regional History Collection holds several ledgers related to this poorhouse, including one that is a record of residents. Spanning from 1885–1912, the ledger includes names, races, ethnicities, ages, residency dates and reasons for people being there, including alcoholism, disease, pregnancy, desertion and old age. During the 20th century the federal government created programs to deal with many of these issues, and the Kalamazoo County Poorhouse became a senior citizens residence until it closed in 1971.

K-Central High School & Loy Norrix Choirs

About the Author Lynn Houghton is the regional history curator of the Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collection. She leads the Gazelle Sports Historic Walks, a series of free architectural and historic walks at various locations in Kalamazoo County that happen during summer and fall, and she is the co-author of Kalamazoo Lost and Found, a book on Kalamazoo history and architecture. She also participated in the PBS documentary series 10 That Changed America, about the history of architecture and urban planning. 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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Concocting Success

Elina Organics is thriving here and beyond, naturally BY MARIE LEE


This page: Elina Fedotova in the spa she operates on Westnedge Avenue. Opposite page, top to bottom: Among the thousands of hand crafted skin-care products Elina Organics ships to clients worldwide are the awardwinning Baikal Crystal line, facial care products like her Rescue Sanitizing line and a skin-care line for men. 12 | ENCORE JANUARY 2024

Brian K. Powers

here is nowhere Elina Fedotova would rather be than "playing in her lab." And that's saying something, considering the cosmetic chemist and aesthetician owns and operates two spas — one in Kalamazoo and one overlooking the ocean in Pompano Beach, Florida. But her lab, located in a business park on the east side of Kalamazoo, is where she "makes magic happen." She is the founder of Elina Organics, consisting of the two spas, a lab, and a skin-care line boasting more than 70 products made of natural, organic elements, plus an additional 60 products that are available just to professionals in the skin-care industry. Her skin-care products are carried by 200 spas and salons across the globe and regularly get "best of" accolades from industry publications like DermaScope, DaySpa and Skin Deep, the magazine for Associated Skin Care Professionals. For Fedotova, the 25 years since she established her company have gone by in a flash. When the native Russian, who has a university degree in chemistry, started Elina Herbal Skin Care in 1998 in a small building on Portage Road, she was one of the first skin-care practitioners in the U.S. to focus on all-natural, organic products. She based her vision on combining what she had learned about skin care from generations of women in Russia with the chemistry she learned in school. "When I was starting, everybody thought I was cuckoo because I was doing something very old-fashioned and weird, like one little crazy hippie among all the scientists," she recalls.


But what she created resonated with clients. She soon opened a second clinic on Chicago's Miracle Mile, shuttling back and forth between there and Kalamazoo to treat clients on designated days. She trained staff members, including other aestheticians, who were pivotal in the growth of her salons. She now has nearly 20 employees between her Kalamazoo and Florida locations. As the interest in organic skin care grew during the past two decades, Fedotova established the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners in 2007 to provide education to other professionals in the industry. The organization, of which she is the president, holds an annual conference in Kalamazoo that includes training, workshops and presentations. In addition, Fedotova has trained hundreds of skin-care professionals from across the globe in holistic skin care.

When Elina Fedotova was first in Encore In honor of Encore's 50th anniversary, we are revisiting stories from past issues and providing updates. Encore first featured Elina Fedotova, along with her husband, professional viola musician and Western Michigan University professor Igor Fedotov, in 2010. Read the original story at encorekalamazoo.com/igorand-elina/.

This success confirmed Fedotova's belief in the effectiveness of her products, but she knew the conventional world needed scientific proof. In 2010, she worked with the local genomics lab Genemarkers to conduct what was one of the first-ever studies that showed the efficacy of skin-care products on a genetic level. "I felt I needed to prove that skin-care formulations should be clean and that if we do transdermal formulations (across the cellular levels of the skin), they work better. I was driven by the idea, but I had to have proof," Fedotova says. And proof she got. The study showed that Elina's Ambra Lift Elixir, made with Baltic amber, showed significant stimulation w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 13

Brian K. Powers


of key anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant genes in skin cells across the cellular levels of the skin (epidermal, the top level, and dermal, the middle level). The results were presented in 2009 at the Cosmeceuticals Summit, a national conference for the cosmetics and skin-care industry in Orlando, Florida, by Genemarkers CEO Anna Langerveld and Fedotova, and soon genomic testing of products' efficacy became the standard for the cosmetic industry. In 2021, Elina noticed that many of her Chicago clients were moving to the South, so she made a bold leap and opened a new spa in Pompano Beach, Florida, on the Atlantic coast. The Florida salon started small, with Elina's aestheticians and Elina herself traveling from Kalamazoo for two weeks at time to treat clients. Now, two years later, Elina Organics is planning to move the spa to a larger space 10 miles down the road, in Fort Lauderdale. "We had a lot of clients who moved to Florida from Chicago, and many of them will drive from wherever they are — like the Villages near Orlando (a three-hour drive) and Naples (two hours away) to come to the spa," she says. "The space in Fort Lauderdale is bigger, and we are building it out to be just what we want. It also overlooks the ocean." Back in Kalamazoo, Fedotova's son, Yuri Fedotov, 32, handles the production of Elina Organics products. It's a job that involves an ever-growing roster of new formulations as well as continual tweaks to older ones. Recently Elina Organics introduced its Baikal Crystal line, which uses collagen-regenerating extracts and microcrystals (spicules) of the Lubomirska sponge from Russia's Lake Baikal, the world's largest, oldest and deepest freshwater lake. "The sponge has served as a remedy for inflamed, damaged and bruised skin for ages," Fedotova says. "In my formula, the microcrystals


Clockwise from top left: Jars and containers of natural ingredients that Fedotova uses in her product formulations; Fedotova working in her lab; Elina Organics lab workers prepare product for shipping; dried herbs and plants in Fedotova's lab; and Fedotova with son Yuri Fedotov, who oversees production of her skin-care line.


from the sponge penetrate the skin and create micro-channels which stimulate the skin-repair process." In 2023, Baikal Crystal Face Infusion won Dermascope Magazine's Aestheticians' Choice Award for "Best Antioxidant Moisturizer," one of many accolades the company’s skin-care products have garnered from the magazine over the years. Other formulations Fedotova has created include a Gemstone Collection, which features crushed diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire infusions blended with herbs, mushrooms and other organic ingredients. Her mainstay products — skin-care cleansers and toners for different skin types that she created in the beginning — continue to be customer favorites. That doesn't mean she doesn't improve upon those formulas. "I'll put in different essential oils and ingredients based on the season," she explains. Fedotova gets her inspiration for her products in a variety of places. It was a dream about amber that led her to create Ambra Lift. "I knew that amber had been crushed into powder for use in antibiotics in the Baltic and other Russian territories," she says. "When I started to do more research, I found that Siberia has the Kaliningrad

Regional Amber Museum, where they do research on the healing properties of amber." The use of natural sponge in her products was based on her knowledge of the Lubomirska sponge from Lake Baikal. "This is one of the coldest, most oxygenated lakes in the world. There have been a lot of medical studies of Lubomirska sponge and its properties but none for skin, so I decided to do studies of my own,” Fedotova explains. “Sponges are one of the most promising hopes in treating antibiotic resistance because they filter the water they live in. When they encounter toxins and pathogens in the water, they produce microorganisms to overcome, neutralize or kill the pathogen. These microorganisms are healthy bacteria and that's the kind of biome our skin needs most." Despite a full schedule of seeing clients, managing the Kalamazoo spa, manufacturing products and traveling to Florida to see clients and manage the spa there, Fedotova still prioritizes getting into her lab to experiment and create. "Last night Yuri and I were there until midnight just making and playing," she said on a recent Wednesday morning. “It is really, really my happy place."

Q: Will my will be valid in a foreign country? It depends. Many countries are a party to the Hague Convention on Form A: of Testamentary Disposition of 1961 (“HCFTD”). As a result, as long as your will complies with the laws of your home country then it will be recognized by countries which are a party to the HCFTD. Major countries which are party to the HCFTD include: Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brunei Darassalam, China, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Maritius, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tonga, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Notably, the United States is not a party to the HCFTD, so foreigners do not have the same rule applicable to them here in the United States. That said, and the HCFTD aside, a will from another country may be valid under the international rule of comity. If you own real or personal property in a foreign country, you should seek legal counsel for guidance on the disposition of those properties. 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 w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 15

The No-Longer-Crumbling Walls of Jerico How one couple's vision has created a hub for creativity and industry BY ZINTA AISTARS


t first approach, it appears that Jeri the Cat is the owner of Jerico. The ginger cat wanders the grounds of Jerico, a complex of three brick buildings at 1501 Fulford St., on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo's Edison neighborhood, that house artists' studios, manufacturing facilities and more. He slips into one of the buildings, trots up the stairs and settles into an armchair in the top-floor studio of Fido Motors. Officially, Jerico is owned by Krystal and Jeb Gast. Jeri the Cat, however, has his own Instagram page and serves as the facility's mascot. He freely wanders the buildings and inspects the occasional second-floor door that opens into thin air, the steep stairs that lead to one or another studio where some type of creativity or industry happens, and the narrow walkway between buildings that spills over with native plants, serving as a rain garden and a perfect hiding place for a cat. A centered signpost in the walkway points in all directions, toward more studios and offices there, there and there.


Brian K. Powers A signpost in the middle of the complex shows Jerico's roster of tenants and where to find them.

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 17


“The buildings of Jerico date back to 1898,” says Krystal Gast. That's when Charles B. Ford and the Ford Buggy Co. constructed the complex's first building, to produce some of their earliest automobiles, she says. “Star Brass Works added the second building in 1913 or 1914,” she says. “They made brass wheels for electric trolleys and shipped them everywhere nationwide. They went bankrupt in the 1950s, but Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Manufacturing Co. Ltd. began using Star Brass Works to create tone rings for pre-war Gibson banjos during those years. The third building was added around 1941.” When those businesses went under or moved away, the buildings were employed for


multiple uses. Other owners included United Van Lines, Ransler Moving & Storage, and Records Retention. The Gasts purchased the buildings in 2014 from Records Retention, but their story began years before.

How they came to own Jerico Krystal, a native of Flint, grew up in Phoenix, which was also Jeb's hometown. The two met, but then Krystal moved across the country to New York City. Jeb's path took him to Seattle. “I was in New York for less than a year,” Krystal says. “I was interested in photography and worked, among other jobs, in a photo gallery, but the cost of living in New York was too high, so then I moved cross-country again and joined Jeb in Seattle.”

Above: Jerico owners Jeb and Crystal Gast in the walkway that runs through the center of the complex (photo by Elemental Media). Right: An aerial view of Jerico shows the three buildings that comprise the complex.

There, Krystal worked in another photography gallery as studio manager, handling exhibits and marketing, while Jeb worked as a mechanic and opened his own shop, converting and selling electric scooters while working on his own scooter prototype. “We lived in Seattle for seven years, and our first daughter, Maci, was born there,” says Krystal. “We had hoped to find a house, and we kept moving farther and farther out of the city, but the costs were prohibitive no matter how far out we moved. We started looking for someplace else to live.”

Within the Walls of Jerico Only one of the three brick buildings owned by Records Retention was being used to store records for various local businesses and hospitals. Since there was no need for the buildings to be open to the public, their windows had been boarded up and the complex appeared unused to outsiders. “I think she — the owner — was a bit surprised when we expressed an interest in the buildings,” Krystal says. “Records were becoming digitized by then, and there was less of a need for what she did. The building wasn’t yet on the market, but she offered us a land contract, and in April 2013, with the help of a partner back in Seattle, the place was ours.” “At 30,000 square feet, it was way more space than we needed, but the price was right,” Jeb adds. “That’s when we had the thought, 'If we couldn't find a space to lease in Kalamazoo, maybe others were looking too?'”

Argenta Park, industrial design and technology The Clover Room, listening room and rental venue The Dapper Hammer, carpentry and woodworking classes Elemental Media, video and photo production Fiddle Leaf Café, coffee shop Home Energy Solutions, energy-efficient heating and cooling Hot Metal Artist, metal sculpture and design Jerico Workshop Room, venue for events and workshops Kalamazoo Backyard Yogis, yoga

Brian K. Powers

The Gasts' ears perked up when a friend in Kalamazoo told them about the Kalamazoo Promise, a pledge made by a group of donors to cover tuition and mandatory fees for students graduating from Kalamazoo Public Schools to attend any in-state public community college or university. They moved to Kalamazoo in 2012. Their second daughter, Whidbey (named after the island near Seattle) was born soon after. “At first we lived with a friend while looking for a place of our own,” Krystal says. “Over the next year I worked at People’s Food Co-op while Jeb looked for a place to open up his shop, Fido Motors.” “At first I was actually only looking to lease a small incubator space to manufacture bikes,” Jeb explains, “but I was not having any luck finding anything in town, so we began looking at real estate for sale. It was by chance that we found these old buildings that the owner was willing to sell.”

Jerico rental spaces are at full capacity, according to owners Jeb and Krystal Gast. The tenants vary greatly in what they do:

Kalamazoo Creative Studio, photography Kim Shaw Art, painting and art education Piano Quest, piano sales, rentals, tuning and moving Sew Retro, quilting and upcycling retro textiles Seedling Studio, nature and fabric art Stuffed Brain Studio, branding and graphics Traeger, wood-fired grills Trent Rex Tattoo, black and gray tattoos Weavers Unlimited, metal design and fabrication Yes Electric, electrical contractor Ylva Tattoo, tattoos

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The Clover Room

A place of good luck for musicians and audiences BY ZINTA AISTARS

seem like a small, tuckedaway space, but it often contains big sound — music that bursts from its doors and out into the world. It is The Clover Room, a performing venue created by local musicians Cori Somers and Mechele Peters. “Mechele and I met in 2000, at what was then called Kraftbrau, now Old Dog Tavern,” Somers says. “Mechele was bartending, and I was performing that night. We quickly became friends and began to play music together that winter. "Our lives became filled with raising children, and it wasn’t until the pandemic that we circled back again to begin our work together as business partners for The Clover Room and also for Isobel and Ernest — an artisan business of small-batch hand-dyed and handmade goods. We’ve been talking about creating an artist space together for the past 20 years, and the time seemed right in the summer of 2022.” Although that first meeting was an easy click, the paths both took to meet and form a partnership had some twists and turns. “I was born into a farm and horse family in a rural town outside of Kalamazoo,” Peters says. “My grandparents were old-time musicians who played the barn dances, and I spent my childhood riding horses while my parents rode the rodeo circuit. My earliest years were immersed in old-school country and '70s radio.” Peters attended high school in Muskegon, developing a love of R&B, funk and soul music. After graduating from Western Michigan University, she taught herself to play guitar and began putting her love of music and language on paper, writing melodies and lyrics. She spent most of the 20 | ENCORE JANUARY 2024

Brian K. Powers

Suite No. 6 at Jerico may

The Clover Room 1501 Fulford St., Suite 6 For performance schedule, information and to purchase tickets, visit thecloverroomkalamazoo.com.

1990s in London, where she was wowed by the club scene and electronic music. Somers was born and raised on the east side of the state and moved to Kalamazoo to attend WMU in 1993. Moves to the Keweenaw in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the West Coast, and Ontario followed, and she earned a master’s degree in music with a concentration on violin. Somers returned to Kalamazoo in 2008. “I discovered music through my family,” she says. “My great-grandfather would bring his violin when traveling, and I knew that was what I wanted to do by the age of 4. He

Top: Musicians Cori Somers, left, and Mechele Peters, opened The Clover Room as a music and event venue. Bottom: The venue offers a cozy "listening room" atmosphere.

would let me hold and play his violin every time he visited.” Somers brought her more than 20 years of experience in arts administration, including most recently as the executive director of

Brian K. Powers

Kalamazoo Choral Arts, to The Clover Room. She is also a violinist for the Grace Theisen Project and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and was formerly part of the Red Sea Pedestrians. “Music is a form of intimate communication like no other,” Somers says. “It is a place where I can express myself without words but transform myself and others through the powerful energy of creating music.” In July 2022, Somers and Peters established The Clover Room, with the mission of supporting local, regional and national artists by "showcasing work in an intimate setting (that is, not a loud bar) while also working toward equitable pay, top-notch hospitality, and inclusivity for all of our musicians and artists." With a vision to provide a space for local musicians to perform as well as for local visual artists to display their work, the partners aim to give priority to those who have traditionally been overlooked, such as people of color, women and LGBTQ+ artists. The Clover Room invites all to the stage and offers audience members pay-whatyou-can and buy-one-give-one ticket models so that no one will be turned away at the door. Most ticket prices are less than $20. The Clover Room is also available for workshops, benefit concerts and cross-genre music performances. “Having an all-female trio from Ontario called the Pairs in January 2023 perform in The Clover Room has been a highlight for us," says Somers. "We've had artists like Faith Quashie, Santino Jones, Candace Lavender, Grace Theisen and Nathan Moore, to name a few. Collaborating with Sounds of the Zoo to bring in a Young Artist Series and (with) The Edison Jazz Fest to support monthly jazz is also a highlight. Providing a space for up-andcoming local artists has been a really important part of what we do."

Others were. To make the space within the buildings suitable for renters, however, the Gasts first had to do many repairs and updates. “We built out the spaces as people moved in,” Krystal says. “Word got around through a lot of networking. Bobby Hopewell was mayor (of Kalamazoo) at that point, and he was talking a lot about makerspaces. He was having community meetings about it, and there was a good response from people.” The Gasts wondered what to call their complex of makerspaces. Interestingly, they found inspiration in the biblical story of the city of Jericho, one of the earliest settlements in history. In the Bible, the walls surrounding the city were brought down in battle by the blowing of horns. “We wanted something that could be like a town somewhere,” Jeb says. “The many crumbling walls led to our jokingly calling it Jerico, and that stuck.” Another inspiration for Jeb was a former one-room schoolhouse, Jericho Corners in Van Buren County, whose own crumbling walls were brought back into use to house a liquor and convenience store.

Creative redevelopment At the front of the complex, the Gasts opened Fido Motors Café, a coffee shop with comfortable tables surrounded by shelves with art offerings. Outside of it is openair space, plus a colorful Little Free Library, perched on a post and brightly painted by

Traeger employees Sam Armstrong, left, a test engineer, and Joe Marietta, director of mechanical engineering, in the company's design studio housed at Jerico.

Kim Shaw, programs director of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and a Jerico tenant. Tenants and their guests gather for their daily cup of coffee, and Edison neighbors cross the street to partake as well. “Initially, I worked at the coffee shop up front full time,” Krystal says. “I also helped Jeb in his shop upstairs — Fido Motors — with bookkeeping and that sort of thing. Jeb made a couple Fido scooters and a prototype, but, other than that, we depended on rental income to keep us going.” Among the first renters at Jerico were Rootead, a nonprofit supporting people of color; Piano Quest, a company providing various piano services; and the now-defunct Kal-Tone Musical Instrument Co., which offered guitar manufacturing and instrument repair services. Later, Hollander Development moved in, as did Celery City Press, Flat Mountain Press, Seahorse Ceramic and other businesses that have since moved to other addresses.

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“Piano Quest is the only one of those still here at Jerico,” Krystal says, “but we just rented out our last open space, with more than 20 renters now.” The array of studios and businesses now occupying Jerico are varied. The coffee shop recently changed ownership and was rebranded as Fiddle Leaf Café. It features Michigan-sourced coffees and teas, handmade syrups and a range of “goodies” by local vendors (see the sidebar "Within the Walls of Jerico," page 19). La Luna Recording Studio may be one of the better-known tenants at Jerico, established there in 2018 with Ian Gorman at its helm. Gorman, a graduate of Western

Michigan University, brought a lifetime of experience to the studio after working in the music industry in Chicago but then deciding big-city life was not for him and returning to Kalamazoo. At Jerico, Gorman maintains an 1,800-square-foot, eightroom recording studio that offers spaces for analog and digital recording, private lessons, audio workshops, isolation booths and live events (see Encore's 2021 story on Gorman at encorekalamazoo.com/sonic-mad-scientist).

Evaluation & Care of Trees and Shrubs Kalamazoo, MI • 269-381-5412 • www.arboristserviceskzoo.com 22 | ENCORE JANUARY 2024

Creating community The landlord–tenant relationships at Jerico are not of the usual variety. The Gasts pop into the studios and shops to exchange friendly conversation and to occasionally collaborate on ongoing projects. Jeb can be seen walking Jerico rooftops eyeing space for a patio that can be an outdoor testing ground for woodfired grill prototypes produced by Traeger. Krystal stops in at Weaver’s Unlimited, a metal fabrication shop, to chat with owner Stu Weaver, who builds prototypes for Traeger and other companies. Someone has placed a sign that reads "FREE" on Jeb’s truck as a joke, which elicits laughter from Jeb. And tenants gather around firepits to share fun moments. What makes Jerico so loved is that it is more than a collection of business people in working relationships — it is a community. “We also recently had a reveal party for the new murals on our buildings,” Krystal says, pointing at windows that were long ago bricked over but have been given artistic treatment by artists Anne and Chafe Hensley, of Weirder Wonderland. “We’ve been putting in new windows in many of the studios, but they are expensive. When we thought about these bricked-over spaces, the idea of murals came up. We were able to get a grant from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo for the murals. It was a fun experience to work directly with the artists. We want to keep doing more things like that.” As Krystal winds through the hallways and up and down the stairways of Jerico, she points out another popular space — The Clover Room.


Brian K. Powers

Clockwise from top left: The Dapper Hammer workshop offers carpentry and woodworking lessons; the studio for Kalamazoo Backyard Yogis; the interior of Fiddle Leaf Cafe; and Ricky Biddle, an engineer, in the studios at Argenta Park, which does industrial design.

“The Clover Room is a kind of listening room for intimate shows. It has a capacity of only 55 to 60 people," she says. "They have been here for about a year but have already hosted local as well as national musicians, hosted the Edison Jazz Fest, and served as a venue for Sounds of the Zoo, a weeklong music festival. And it’s affordable, usually around $20 a ticket, so most anyone can come and enjoy. It’s more of what we want at Jerico” (see story, page 20). Around the corner from The Clover Room is a space with walls covered with paintings. “Here,” Krystal explains, “we would like to have more local artists show their work.” Dell Darnell, the owner of The Dapper Hammer, an LGBTQ+-owned school for carpentry and woodworking, has had a studio at Jerico for three years. “Before having a studio at Jerico, I was working out of my basement at home,” Darnell says. “The advantage of moving into a space here is not only that it is a bigger space, but that we

are surrounded by creative people here, the energy of creatives and makers, being able to trade tips and tools, and just the warmth of being surrounded by these people.” That community, Krystal says, was very much missed during the Covid-19 pandemic, when people avoided contact with others. “During the Covid pandemic, Jerico became very quiet," she says. "Very quiet and very sad. Tough times. We had to learn how to pivot. The café brought in new products, and we tried making weekly deliveries rather than to have it open to the public, but it was rent that kept us going. We don’t do deliveries anymore. “It’s just great to have us all here again.” As those renting space began to return after the quiet years of the pandemic, Krystal opened the café to the public again in 2021. It wasn’t long before Jerico was bustling with life again. One of the most popular events that brings crowds to Jerico is the twice-yearly Jerico Faire (the most recent was Dec. 2). It features local artists and makers, along with food vendors and musicians. The event is free to the public. “We started Jerico Faire as a kind of 'Small Business Saturday,'" says Krystal. "It was really cool, so we decided to keep doing it and expanding it as an annual event or, more often, during the summer and then again in December for the holidays.” Vendors offer handmade art, fiber art, prints, jewelry, woodworking and much more. While the summer Faire may take place outdoors as well as indoors, the winter Faire brings people inside.

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“In October, Jerico was also part of the Washington Avenue Art Crawl, similar to the Art Hop in Kalamazoo, put on by the Edison Neighborhood Association,” Krystal says. “It’s a quarterly event, and we have participated in two of those so far. It was pretty successful, so we plan to do more of that. We have neighbors here who regularly come over to Jerico, and we enjoy that relationship.”

Looking to the future Emerging again from the complex, Krystal points to railroad tracks that run between the buildings. Back when trains ran through Jerico, one stop was to drop off shipments of raisins in a small alcove to one side, she says, as the raisins were on their way to Kellogg’s the next day. It is another piece of history running through the present at Jerico and leading into the future.

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Brian K. Powers

“When we think about the future of Jerico, we try to pay attention to what this community needs,” Krystal says. “I do tend to take on too much at times. I’m trying to be more realistic now of what we take on, but we want to continue to support the local arts, whether with projects like the new

murals or Jerico Faire or partnering with artists on other projects. And we are also thinking about starting an artist residency at Jerico.” Jeri the Cat ventures by, seeming to purr with approval.

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Clockwise from top left: The workspace of Seedling Studio; a kitchen area in the Traeger studio; and the inviting space of photography studio Kalamazoo Creative Studio. KALFOUND


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A 'Watery Life'

T heArts

The many inspirations that flow through Bonnie Jo Campbell BY ZINTA AISTARS


’ve lived this watery life,” Bonnie Jo Campbell says, “always surrounded by water and drawn to water.” Campbell walks around H House, a brown five-bedroom house with red window trim, shaped like an H and perched over Comstock Creek. It is where she grew up, surrounded by stately maples and old oaks, and, like the water around it, the house and her experiences growing up there have left an indelible mark on Campbell's newest novel, The Waters, published this month by W.W. Norton. “The house was built by my grandfather, Frank Herlihy — that’s why it is called the H House,” Campbell explains. “He worked in a construction company owned by my great-grandfather. My mother, Susanna, grew up here too. She loved this house.” Campbell walks inside and points to a desk in the middle room of the house. “She died there at that desk, sitting in her chair, feet up on the desk. I almost feel like I’m carrying around my mom’s ghost when I’m here, superimposed over me.” Campbell’s mother divorced her father when Campbell was 7 years old, and, like the ghost of her mother, the impressions of the women who gathered at H House around her mother have had their own ripple effect in Campbell's new work. “I’ve always been a watcher,” she says, resting her hand on the back of a couch in the room. “I hid behind the couch and watched and listened to the women of my mom’s generation, her friends. Women in that generation were under the thumb of men, imprisoned by motherhood. They were always pregnant, limited in their lives and tied to their husbands.” Women and water Set on an island in the fictional Great Massasauga Swamp — an area known as The Waters to nearby residents in the fictional town of Whiteheart, Michigan — Campbell's new novel follows the family of strong, independent women who live on that island: Herself, a healer; the young and beautiful Rose Thorn; her 11-year-old daughter, nicknamed Donkey, who is a math prodigy; and others who move in and out of the household in a blend of fairy tale and realism. The similar ambiance of H House and the house in The Waters is palpable. “The women in my life are like water,” Campbell says. “They flowed in and out of H House. It was wonderful to grow up in this everchanging community with all kinds of characters to observe. I didn’t


Above: The cover of Bonnie Jo Campbell's new novel, The Waters. Right: Campbell on the shores of the Kalamazoo River, which has inspired much of her writing.

judge — I just observed their strengths and their weaknesses. I saw that everyone struggles. Adults don’t have it figured out. I knew already as a kid to question what they did.” The Waters was not Campbell’s first attempt to capture the flow of such a community on her pages. Years ago she had sold a novel

Brian K. Powers w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 27

Brian K. Powers

to a publisher about a girl who loved math — Campbell herself earned a degree in mathematics — but she recalled it before it went to print. “I just wasn’t happy with it,” she says. “It didn’t rise up singing.” Campbell took that story years back into the past, writing the book that came before, a prequel of sorts, and asked questions of her characters: Why does the girl like math? Why is her mother so bedraggled? “And that became The Waters,” she says. “It took me eight years to write The Waters. Now maybe I will go to the first book submitted and give it another look.” Another of Campbell's personal journeys made it into The Waters. The character of Rose Thorn suffers a diagnosis of breast cancer, just as the author has. “Rose Thorn resisted treatment,” Campbell says. “She’s more in touch with her animal nature. I had two lumps found, and I did the whole treatment, then took the drugs for four-and-a-half years. I wrote The Waters while I was on them, but I found they turned my mind to mush and affected my memory, so I quit them six months early so that I could write. My mother had breast cancer at the same time that I did, but she refused treatment. That’s why cancer made it into the book.”



Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo 28 | ENCORE JANUARY 2024

CREATE. CONNECT. ACHIEVE. Become part of a network of members that share a similiar respect and passion for the arts! New added benefits reach even further to connect you with the community. Each Arts Council membership includes: • Unlimited event listings on the arts calendar • Promotional opportunties through select media channels • Waived application fees for Grants and Art on the Mall • Rental discount rates at member partner organizations • Membership at Public Media Network • And much more! Membership has its benefits.

Visit KalamazooArts.org/membership/

Meet the Author Bonnie Jo Campbell will appear at these local events: •B ook signing, 3 p.m. Jan. 9, Michigan News Agency, 308 W. Michigan Ave. • Release party, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9, this is a bookstore, 3019 Oakland Drive. • Conversation with author Andy Mozina, 1 p.m., Jan. 20, Kazoo Books. • Once Upon a River, a presentation with director Haroula Rose to discuss the making of the film of that name, followed by a showing of the film, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 2, Lake Auditorium, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, 6767 West O Ave. • Reading, 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14, Comstock Township Library, 6130 King Highway. • Reading, 7 p.m. April 4, Richland Community Library, 8951 Park St., Richland. For a complete list of Campbell's appearances, visit bonniejocampbell. net/events. Campbell at her desk in the River Shack, where she writes everyday.

A morning routine When it comes time to sit and write, Campbell first calls out to her father-andson team of donkeys to feed them, rubs their velvety ears, then leaves them and H House. She and her husband — whom she refers to as Darling Christopher — share a home a few miles away, but when she writes, Campbell retreats to her own space. A few miles through the town of Comstock, a turn right, another turn, and she drives up to a 550-squarefoot home she calls the River Shack. Forest green, the tiny house blends into its wooded surroundings and is, of course, perched next to water. Here, it is the Kalamazoo River. Campbell writes every morning. It doesn't matter if it's a weekend, a holiday, a vacation day — each day she sits at her writing table and laptop and tries to get in touch with her characters and their stories. She writes many, many drafts. “Life is complicated, people are complicated, so my only hope (for writing time) is in the morning, when I can keep all that at bay,” she says. “I never miss a day. That habit is now ingrained.” The first thing she does each day is write poetry. For many years, Campbell avoided poetry. Not her thing. But sometime around 2015, encouraged by a writer friend, she gave poetry a try and fell in love with the form.

"Now I write poetry every day,” Campbell says. "I play with language, then I turn to the novel. You can't screw around when you are writing a novel. I probably have a poetry manuscript ready now, although my agent doesn’t seem interested in it. Essays are fun. There’s probably a memoir in my future. But fiction — fiction is playing God.” Campbell is the author of the novels Once Upon a River, a national bestseller later made into a feature film, and Q Road. Her shortstory collections include American Salvage, a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; Women and Other Animals; and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters. Campbell’s honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Eudora Welty Prize, the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Mark Twain Award. The Waters is her first novel with a waterproof cover. Actually, the only waterproof copy is one that Campbell created to submerge in water to photograph for her social media accounts. Campbell smiles. “Nothing better than tromping around in the water. When I got the cover, I put it in the creek to photograph it.”

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Calafate, Zoologicos ¨ humanos (Human Zoo: The Story of Calafate) Jan. 28 Kalamazoo College

This documentary looks at a time near the end of the 19th century when 25 people from four indigenous Chilean groups were kidnapped, kept in cages and exhibited as attractions in cities throughout Europe. The film pays particular attention to the story of Calafate, a 9-year-old Selk'nam boy who was among those exhibited. The movie will be shown with English subtitles at 4 p.m. in 103 Dewing Hall as part of Kalamazoo College's Spanish language and literature department's fourth annual Latin American Film Series.

FILM A Christmas Carol

Jan. 6 Kalamazoo Valley Museum

A live band will accompany the 1910 silent movie A Christmas Carol when it is screened in the Kalamazoo Valley Museum's Stryker Theater. The movie is based on the classic Charles Dickens tale. Show times are 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., and free tickets are available at the museum's front desk. For more information, call 373-7990 or visit kalamazoomuseum.org.

VISUAL ARTS Ongoing Exhibitions: Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Celebrate! — through Jan. 14. Kirk Newman Art School Faculty Review — through Jan. 28.

Kalamazoo Book Arts Center Erica Spitzer Rasmussen: Books Abound — through Jan. 12.

Vincent Paints July 4th Fireworks over Manhattan, 1972, Gregory J. Constantine, lithograph.

The Lion in Winter and Cats Civic Theatre

There's a definite feline bent in the titles of two productions being staged by the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre this month, but that's where the similarities end. Rivalries abound as the Plantagenet siblings compete to inherit the kingdom of their father, Henry II, in The Lion in Winter, to be staged Jan. 12–21 in the Civic's Carver Center Studio. The show sat 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12–13 will be ASL-interpreted for those with hearing impairments and audio-described for those with visual impairments. Other show times are 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19–20 and 2 p.m. Jan. 14 and 21. Tickets are $17–$30. Toward the end of the month, the Civic Youth Theatre’s Penguin Project, which offers the opportunity for children with disabilities to participate, will present the musical Cats in the Civic Auditorium. This musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber is based on the 1939 poetry collection Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, by T. S. Eliot. It occurs on a magical night when a tribe of cats gather for an annual ball. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, 2 p.m. Jan. 27–28 and Feb. 3–4, and 10 a.m. Jan. 31–Feb. 1. Tickets are $15. Tickets for the shows are available at the Civic box office, 343-1313, or at kazoocivic.com. 30 | ENCORE JANUARY 2024

Native Gardens Jan. 25–Feb 4 Farmers Alley Theatre

How good intentions turn into an allout border dispute between neighbors is the focus of this comedic production. The play exposes two couples' notions of race, class, privilege and taste. It is directed by Christopher Llewyn Ramirez, an actor and director from Dallas who now lives in Chicago. Show times are 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25–27 and Feb. 1–3 and 2 p.m. Jan. 28 and Feb. 4. Tickets are $25–$44 and available by calling 343-2727 or online at farmersalleytheatre.com.

MUSIC Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Throughout the month Various venues

The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra has a busy month ahead, with three programs planned. On Jan. 17, the KSO artists in residence will perform Craft Music: Folk Songs at 7 p.m. at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe. Tickets are $5–$25. On Jan. 21, the full KSO will join with the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra and choirs from Kalamazoo Central and Loy Norrix high schools to present a concert titled Symphony of Brotherhood: Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 3 p.m. at Miller Auditorium. Tickets are $5–$22. Finally, saxophonist Andrew Rathbun, a professor at Western Michigan University, will play one of his own compositions when he performs with KSO chamber musicians at 3 p.m. Jan. 28 at WMU's Dalton Center Recital Hall. The concert, titled Saxy, & We Know It, will also include works by Georges Bizet and Daniel Schyder. Tickets are $5–$35. To purchase tickets, visit kalamazoosymphony.com.

Author Talks


Online or in-person Kalamazoo Public Library The library is sponsoring four talks by authors this month, including a local author will who discuss her young-adult fiction at an in-person event. The scheduled authors are: • Christine Webb, a Kalamazoo author who will discuss her young-adult novel, The Art of Insanity, in person at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 6 at the library's Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St. • Rebecca Serle, the author of Embrace Love in the New Year: A Heartfelt Conversation, who will give an online talk at 8 p.m. Jan. 10. • Rajiv Nagaich, the author of Your Retirement: Dream or Disaster, who will give an online talk at 2 p.m. Jan. 23. • Robert Lustig, the author of Metabolical: The Lure & the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition & Modern Medicine, who will give an online talk at 2 p.m. Jan. 30. Registration is required for all online talks and can be done at kpl.gov/live.

THEATER Murder on Air Jan. 20 All Ears Theatre

This new radio play written by local actor and playwright Tim Eschelbach, who also directs the production, will be performed at 6 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition building (First Baptist Church), 315 W. Michigan Ave. Admission to see the all-audio murder-mystery production is free. For more information, visit facebook.com/ AllEarsTheatre.

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The Lion in Winter — Rivalries abound as the Plantagenet siblings compete to inherit a kingdom, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12–13 (ASL-interpreted & audio-described) & 19–20, 2 p.m. Jan. 14 & 21, Carver Center Studio, 426 S. Park St., 343-1313, kazoocivic.com. Native Gardens — A comedy about clashing cultures among neighbors, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25– 27, Feb. 1–3, 2 p.m. Jan. 28 & Feb. 4, Farmers Alley Theatre, 221 Farmers Alley, 343-2727, farmersalleytheatre.com. Musicals

Jagged Little Pill — Musical based on Alanis Morissette’s life & music, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 & 17, Miller Auditorium, WMU, millerauditorium.com. Cats — The Civic Youth Theatre’s Penguin Project, which gives children with disabilities the chance to participate, presents this musical about a tribe of cats that gather for an annual ball, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 & Feb. 2, 2 p.m. Jan. 27–28, Feb. 3–4, 10 a.m. Jan. 31–Feb. 1, Civic Theatre, 329 S. Park St., 343-1313, kazoocivic.com.

Digable Planets — Jazz-informed hip-hop, 8 p.m. Jan. 25, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., kazoostate.com.

Kirk Newman Art School Faculty Review — Biennial exhibition showcasing 40-plus Southwest Michigan artists, through Jan. 28.

Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More


Ruben Studdard & Clay Aiken — American Idol singers celebrating 20 years of performances, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11, Miller Auditorium, millerauditorium.com.

ARTbreak — Programs about art, artists & exhibitions: Diá de los Reyes: Cultural Traditions in Mexico & Beyond, talk by Irving D. Quintero Gervacion, Jan. 9; Staging Dr. King: Reflections on The Mountaintop at Kalamazoo College, a look at Kalamazoo College’s Festival Playhouse production a year later, Jan. 16; Coloring the Mind: Fantasy, Imagination, & Stereotype in Early 20th-Century Pulp Fiction Illustration, talk by James Denison, Jan. 23; Closed Reserves: A Look at the Special Collection of the Meader Fine Arts Library, led by KIA Librarian Jacqueline Thompson, Jan. 30; all sessions begin at noon in the KIA Auditorium, with tickets available for online or in-person attendance.

The Birdseed Salesmen – Jazz string music played in the French “manouche” style, 2 p.m. Jan. 14, Parchment Community Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747, parchmentlibrary.org. KSO Craft Music— The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra performs while patrons enjoy a pint of brew, 7 p.m. Jan. 17, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, 382-2332, kalamazoosymphony.com.

Symphony of Brotherhood — Performance by the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra & the KSO celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , 3 p.m. Jan. 21, Miller Auditorium, WMU, kalamazoosymphony.com. Crescendo Academy of Music Student Recital — 2–3 p.m. Jan. 27, First Congregational Church, 345 W. Michigan Ave., 345-6664, crescendoacademy.com.

Saxy, & We Know It — KSO chamber musicians perform with WMU saxophonist Andrew Rathbun, 3 p.m. Jan. 28, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, kalamazoosymphony.com. FILM

Come from Away — The true story of 7,000 passengers stranded on 9/11 & the small Newfoundland town that welcomed them, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 & 31, Miller Auditorium, millerauditorium.com.

A Christmas Carol — Screening of the 1910 silent film, with the score performed by a live band, 11:30 a.m. & 1 p.m. Jan. 6, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990, kalamazoomuseum.org.


Napoleon Dynamite — Screening of the movie followed by a moderated discussion with cast members, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 19, Miller Auditorium, millerauditorium.com.

Murder on Air — An all-audio theater production of a murder mystery, 6 p.m. Jan. 20, Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition, 315 W. Michigan Ave., allearstheatre.org. MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Bell’s Eccentric Cafe Concerts — The Docksiders, Jan. 4; Steppin’ In It w/Zak Bunce, Jan. 12; Sage Castleberry w/Prior Noon & The Band McCain, Jan. 13; Spafford, Jan. 24; all shows begin at 8 p.m., 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382-2332, bellsbeer.com. David Kruse, Spectral Snake & Bailey Miller — Folk & psychedelic music, 7–10 p.m. Jan. 13, Dormouse Theatre, 1030 Portage St., dormousetheatre.com.


Zoológicos Humanos (Human Zoo: The Story of Calafate) — A documentary about indigenous Chileans, particularly a boy named Calafate, who were kidnapped and exhibited in cages in Europe in the late 19th century, in Spanish with English subtitles, 4 p.m. Jan. 28, 103 Dewing Hall, Kalamazoo College. VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775, kiarts.org Exhibitions

Celebrate! — Images of joyful events & environments, through Jan. 14.

Book Discussion — Discussion of Jennifer Robson's The Gown, 2–3 p.m., Jan. 17.

Movement in the Museum: An Interpretive Response to American Realism — Wellspring/ Cori Terry & Dancers present an improvised interpretive dance inspired by the exhibition American Realism: Visions of America, 19001950, 6–7 p.m. Jan. 25. Other Venues

Erica Spitzer Rasmussen: Books Abound — Sculptural objects & hand-bound books, through Jan. 12, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A, 373–4938, kalbookarts.org. LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Antwerp Sunshine Library 24283 Front St., Mattawan, 668-2534, vbdl.org Big Furry Friends — Sign up for a 10-minute slot to read to a therapy dog, 10:30 a.m.–noon Jan. 6. Comstock Township Library 6130 King Highway, 345-0136, comstocklibrary.org State Rep. Matt Hall Listening Hour — A discussion with the representative’s staff, noon– 2 p.m. Jan. 17. Adult Book Club — Discussion of Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds, 5:30–7 p.m. Jan. 31; registration required. Kalamazoo Public Library 553-7800, kpl.gov Write to Your Future Self — Write a letter to your future self for staff to mail later in the year, during open hours Jan. 1–31, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., and all branches.

ENCORE EVENTS Quiet Time with Sue — Reserve 15 minutes with therapy dog Sue, 3:30–5 p.m. Jan. 2, 9 & 23, Eastwood Branch, 1112 Gayle Ave; registration required. Critchlow Alligators — Meet animals from the Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary, 2–3 p.m. Jan. 4, Central Library; 1–2 p.m. & 2:30–3:30 p.m. Jan. 5, Oshtemo Branch, 7265 W. Main St.; registration required. Christine Webb — The author discusses her young-adult novel, The Art of Insanity, 2:30– 3:30 p.m. Jan. 6, Oshtemo Branch. Music & Memories — Songs & discussion about how music moves us & brings up memories, 10:45 a.m. Jan. 8, Oshtemo Branch. Page Turners Book Club — Discussion of Tania James’ Loot, 6:30–7:30 p.m. Jan. 8, Oshtemo Branch & online; registration required. Reading Race Group — Discussion of Carol Anderson’s The Second: Race & Guns in a Fatally Unequal America, co-sponsored by SHARE & Antiracism Transformation Team, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 9, Oshtemo Branch. Rebecca Serle — Online talk by the author of Embrace Love in the New Year: A Heartfelt

Conversation, 8–9 p.m. Jan. 10, kpl.gov/live; registration required. Rose Street Poetry Club — Poetry reading & writing session for adults, 10–11 a.m. Jan. 13, Central Library. Classics Revisited — Discussion of Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, 2:30–4 p.m. Jan. 18, Central Library; online option available. Kalamazoo Lyceum: Hope for Ourselves— A place for discussion, presentation & friendship, 2–4 p.m. Jan. 20, Central Library. Confections with Convictions — Dale Anderson speaks about fair-trade chocolate & the social impact of his local store, 6–7 p.m. Jan. 22, Oshtemo Branch. Rajiv Nagaich — Online talk by the author of Your Retirement: Dream or Disaster, 2–3 p.m. Jan. 23, kpl.gov/live; registration required. Chinese New Year Celebration — Organized by the WMU Haenicke Institute’s Chinese Language & Culture Programming, 5:30–7 p.m. Jan. 24, Oshtemo Branch.

Dungeons & Dragons Game Night — Beginner & experienced tables, 5:30–7:30 p.m. Jan. 24, Central Library; registration required.

Senior Citizens’ Breakfast — A hot breakfast & opportunity to ask health-care questions, 10:30–noon Jan. 26, Eastwood Branch. Coffee & Connections — An open-door event offering a friendly chat with neighbors & library staff, with community resources & information, 9–11 a.m. Jan. 29, Central Library. Friends of the Library Bag Sale – Fill a grocery-size bag with books for $3, Jan. 27, 10 a.m.–3:30 pm. Robert Lustig — Online talk by the author of Metabolical: The Lure & the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition & Modern Medicine, 2–3 p.m. Jan. 30, kpl.gov/live; registration required. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747, parchmentlibrary.org Great Michigan Read Launch Party — Find out about events planned in connection with Angeline Boulley’s book Firekeeper’s Daughter, 4–5:15 p.m. Jan 8. Parchment Book Group – Discussion of Elizabeth Thompson’s Lost in Paris, 6 p.m. Jan 8.

KIA’s Centennial Kick-off Celebration!

heART pARTy Friday, February 16, 2024 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM Image Credit: Artwork image credit: Fused Glass artwork by Sue Caulfield


VISIONS OF AMERICA 1900-1950 January 20 - April 14, 2024 Members-only reception Friday, January 19 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Image Credit: Arthur Bowen Davies, Driobe and her Handmaidens, ca. 1902-06, oil on canvas. Collection of the Muskegon Museum of Art, Museum purchase, through the gifts of Knoll, Inc., Dr. Frederick D. Levin and Mr. I. Richard Levin,Vin and Alyce Erickson, Bernard and Helen DeVries, and the Mary J. Stevens Estate, by exchange 2018.21


314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007 | 269.349.7775 | kiarts.org w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 33

Mystery Book Club – Discussion of Elsa Hart’s Jade Dragon Mountain, 6:30 p.m. Jan 16. Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544, portagelibrary.info Muffins & the Market — A discussion of recent stock market trends, 9 a.m. Jan. 4 & 18.

Share in the beauty of what the Park Club has to offer for Rehearsal Dinners, Showers, Weddings & Special Occasions.

Exploring Options with Warren: The Basics of Investing with Options — Librarian & retired personal investment expert Warren Fritz presents the fundamentals, 10 a.m. Jan. 4. Yoga with Apral — Apral Milan-Corcoran leads an hour of movement, 4 p.m. Jan. 8 & 15; registration required. International Mystery Book Club — Discussion of Shelley Burr’s Wake, 7 p.m. Jan. 11. Documentary & Donuts — Viewing of TED Talks about Thinking, 10–11:30 a.m. Jan. 12.


Adult Vision Boards — Make your own vision board, 2–4 p.m. Jan. 14; registration required.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 7, 2024 11:30AM - 3:30 PM

Kalamazoo Valley Genealogical Society — Open to anyone interested in genealogy, 7–8:30 p.m. Jan. 15; in-person & online.


Plots & Pages: A Local Writers Group — Author Mark Love discusses the craft of writing, 6–8 p.m. Jan. 16.

We offer endless possibilities at a Historic Downtown Location including a beautiful view of Bronson Park.

Car Maintenance 101 — Basic tips & tricks for automobile maintenance, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23.

Since 1904, we have served our Members with superior cuisine, attentive personalized service, and a loyalty to comfortable elegance. If you would like a private tour, please contact us: 269.381.0876 frontdesk@parkclub.net

Cookies & Conversation: Heartwarming Reads Book Club — Discussion of Jade Beer’s The Last Dress from Paris, 2–4 p.m. Jan. 17.

How to Invest Your First $50 — What to look for & questions to ask, 7 p.m. Jan. 24. ’80s Trivia — Questions about the 1980s, 6:30– 8:30 p.m. Jan. 25; registration required.

Richland Area Writer’s Group — Open to new members, 10 a.m.–noon Jan. 13 & 27, in person & online. RCL Book Club — Discussion of Angeline Boulley’s Firekeeper’s Daughter, 6 p.m. Jan. 18. Estate Planning 101 — An attorney speaks on the basics of estate planning, 6–7 p.m. Jan. 23; registration required. Vicksburg District Library 215 S. Michigan Ave., 649-1648, vicksburglibrary.org Bridge Club — 9:30 a.m.–noon Tuesdays. Tai Chi Class — 7–8 p.m. Tuesdays & 10:30– 11:30 a.m. Thursdays. Ladies Library Auxiliary — Noon–3 p.m. Jan. 5. MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, Portage, 382-6555, airzoo.org Winter Break Family Fun Days — Crafts, games, guest visitors & interactive demonstrations, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Jan. 3 & 4, with the theme "Shades of Science" Jan. 3 & "Snowbotics" Jan. 4. Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990, kalamazoomuseum.org

SPLAT! The Buzz About Flyswatters — A collection of 3,300-plus fly swatters, through Jan. 7. Off the Shelves: Exploring the KVM's Furniture Collection — A collection spanning 200 years, from one-of-a-kind items to massproduced pieces by local manufacturers, through Jan. 21.

Richland Community Library 8951 Park St., 629-9085, richlandlibrary.org

Adult Discovery Series & Retro Café — “Cooking a Comet,” with light refreshments & planetarium show, 2–4 p.m. Jan. 9; registration required.

Bridge Club — Noon–3 p.m. Tuesdays.


Vicki Nelson & Jeanne Fields — Exhibition of the painters’ works, through Jan. 16, with artists' reception 3–6 p.m. Jan. 9.

Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574, naturecenter.org

Cookbook Club — Sample & discuss recipes from B. Dylan Hollis’ Baking Yesteryear, 6–7 p.m. Jan. 9.

Owls and Conifer Cones — Learn about pine cone identification and the role conifers play and create bird feeders and owl figurines out of pine cones, 4:30 p.m. Jan. 18; registration preferred.

RCL Film Club — Discussion of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), 6 p.m. Jan. 10. Creative Boot Camp: Six Exercises to Spark Artistic Creativity — A six-session CreativeBug workshop, 6–7 p.m. Jan. 11 & the 34 | ENCORE JANUARY 2024

second Thursday of each month through May; registration required.

Elderberry Syrup Crafting — Haley Terpstra, owner of Herbal Meadows Botanicals, discusses the elderberry fruit and how it can boost your

ENCORE EVENTS immune system, plus participants make and take with them 4 ounces of elderberry syrup, 10–11:30 a.m. Jan. 27, DeLano Homestead; registration required.

Chaos or Community: Let’s Talk with Ilyasah Shabazz — The daughter of Malcolm X speaks in celebration of MLK Day, 6 p.m. Jan. 15, Miller Auditorium, millerauditorium.com.

Other Venues

Kalamazoo Outdoor Sports Expo — Fishing gear, paddle sports, RVs, ATVs & more, 2–7 p.m. Jan. 19, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Jan. 20, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Jan. 21, South & Main Expo areas, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, kalamazoooutdoorexpo.com.

Beginning Birding Walk — Led by an experienced birder, 9–11 a.m. Jan. 6; meet at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery's second parking lot, 34270 County Road 652, Mattawan, kalamazooaudubon.org. Kalamazoo Astronomical Society Online Viewing — See the universe through the “eyes” of the KAS Remote Telescope, located in southeastern Arizona, 9–11 p.m. Jan. 6; cloud date Jan. 13; register online at kasonline.org. C

Kalamazoo Astronomical Society Meeting — Jay Anderson speaks on Moonshadow Madness & Eclipse Journeys, 7–9:15 p.m. Jan. 12, Kalamazoo Area Math & Science Center, 600 W. Vine St.; register for in-person or online viewing at kasonline.org. M





Introduction to Amateur Astronomy — A five-part lecture series presented via Zoom: “Part 1: Our Place Among the Infinities,” Jan. 13; “Part 2: Discovering the Night Sky,” Jan. 27; “Part 3: Binocular Basics,” Feb. 10; “Part 4: Telescope Tutorial,” Feb. 24; “Part 5: The Art of Astrophotography,” March 9; all lectures 1–3 p.m.; register at kasonline.org. CMY




John Ball Zoo: Meet & Greet Animal Station — Meet ambassador animals & learn how their young grow up in this session led by John Ball Zoo staff, 10 a.m. Jan. 20, Portage Parks & Recreation Building, 320 Library Lane; registration required, portagemi.gov/calendar. Traditional Bowhunters Expo — Bows & archery supplies, 2–6 p.m. Jan. 26, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Jan. 27, 9 a.m.–noon Jan. 28, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, kzoobowworks.com.


1:26 PM

For more than 60 years the Friends of Kalamazoo Public Library has provided support to the Library with grants and donations that support literacy and reading programs. Visit kpl.gov/friends to learn more about our mission, volunteer and donation opportunities, and upcoming special book sales, both in our bookstore and online. Shop gently used books at the Friends Bookstore located in the Lower Level of Central Library in downtown Kalamazoo. Our hours are Wednesday 12–6 pm, and Thursday–Saturday, 10 am–4 pm. Our friendly volunteers look forward to assisting you!

MISCELLANEOUS Virtual Portage Farmers Market — Shop vendors virtually, with vendor list & links at portagemi.gov/643/markets.

Living the Dream: The Man, the People and the Park — On the life & legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Jan. 3–31, Portage City Hall Lobby, 7900 S. Westnedge Ave., portagemi. gov/calendar. First Friday Open Studios — Demonstrations of making glass art, 5–8 p.m. Jan. 5, Glass Art Kalamazoo, Suite 100, Park Trades Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., glassartkalamazoo.org. Pink & Fabulous: Father & Daughter Dinner & Dance — A pre-Valentine event organized by Kalamazoo Junior Girls, 6:30–9:30 p.m. Jan. 6, Main Expo area, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St.; registration required, 344-2330. Beat the Winter Blues Craft Show — 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Jan. 13, Main Expo area, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 903-5820. Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Reptiles, amphibians, small mammals & other exotic pets, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Jan. 14, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, kalamazooreptileexpo.com.

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This morning I step outside to listen and I hear the heartbeat of winter thumping under a blanket of wet brown leaves.

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Detecting the click of scurrying claws, I turn towards the stand of tulip trees and watch as two bushy-tailed fox squirrels chase each other around the trunk in what looks to be a game of tag. In the distance, a hawk voices its hunger.

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Pine cones thud against the stacked wood and I feel the tree branches shiver as the wind pushes back against the thermometer’s call to spring. A red-bellied woodpecker hammers at a cake of suet as the thin ice on the pond cracks loudly and releases a choir of birds. Along the sloping trail into the woods, my boots crunch against the cold hard ground. The wind shifts, giving lift to my hair and I stop and stare with wonder as a bedded-down deer rises from where she lay hidden and disappears among the trees. — Karen A. VandenBos

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Once upon a time, VandenBos was born on a warm July morn in Kalamazoo. She can be found unleashing her imagination in three online writing groups, and her poetry has been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Blue Heron Review, The Ekphrastic Review, The Rye Whiskey Review, One Art: a journal of poetry, and other publications.

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Brian Persky (continued from page 38) strongest roots to Kalamazoo. I loved my student teaching and I still stay in touch with some of the kids that I taught, but when it came down to making a choice, I had more of a passion for this." "This" is generating business for Kalamazoo County by bringing visitors to the county through meetings, conventions and sporting events. Before becoming the director of business development at Discover Kalamazoo, Persky was the director of sports development for the organization How did you get where you are today? I was at DKI for six years with my internship and my full-time role after that internship. In 2014 I was thinking about my next career step and was approached about a full-time director position in Three Rivers' downtown development program. At the time I was like, "Am I ready for that? I've only been in this career for four or five years, and I'm still learning." But I was ready for the next challenge and wanted to put my skills to the test. I was there for about a year and a half until, similarly, somebody called me and said, "Hey, we have a role here that you would be great for." It was the sports event development manager role at Discover Kalamazoo. I started at Discover Kalamazoo in December 2015 and, after about two-anda-half years, was promoted to director of sports event development. Then in November 2022 I was elevated to director of business development. What do you like about what you do? I know it sounds cliché, but the people that we work with. One of my favorite things about Kalamazoo is that we punch above our weight for everything. We host some really unique events here that a lot of communities our size can't host. That's because of the people that run these organizations and the passion that they have. Our job is to support and uplift them and give them the ability to continue hosting. That's a lot of fun to me.

The other thing that I enjoy the most about Discover Kalamazoo is our team. It's a fun challenge for me to have five or six people that I oversee, mentor and coach as we work on getting that next wave of business to Kalamazoo. What is that 'next wave'? Above everything, we need to diversify our business. We have five sports — ice hockey, ice skating, soccer, tennis and wrestling — that have been 85 to 90 percent of our sports business here, and we're really grateful for those events that have become staples in those sports communities. But it's also problematic because if one of them goes away, that's a huge chunk of our business that we can't get back. Or if we have a facility close, we need to look at what else is out there and the facilities we can use to bring new business here. That's true on the meeting side as well. What are the next emerging markets? We have a huge convention at the Radisson called Dodidokon that has grown over the years, so what's the next Dodidokon? What keeps you up at night? Our aging facilities in Kalamazoo. We are in need of new, modern facilities and venues in order to attract those new diverse events that we're looking for. I think the event center downtown is going to be a great addition. The study that showed a demand for a downtown event center also uncovered the need for a

separate indoor amateur and youth sports facility in the area, primarily for basketball and volleyball. They are the two indoor sports that have the highest level of participation in the country and in the Midwest by a landslide. We have strong basketball and volleyball communities here, but in many cases they're leaving our community to do tournaments and are having a hard time finding court time in Kalamazoo. What do you say when you are trying to convince people to bring their event to Kalamazoo? A lot of times the destination sells itself. When we get somebody to visit Kalamazoo, our chance of getting their event here increases dramatically once they see downtown and everything the community has to offer. We are a very family-friendly destination. If you have a sports event or a convention where you're bringing your family, there's a ton to do here when you're not at that meeting or competition. If you're an outdoors person, we have great trails, and we have many museums that cities our size don't have, like the Air Zoo and the Gilmore Car Museum. The other thing we tell people is that when you go to a bigger market, you get lost in the shuffle. There might be five or six other major events going on, and people may not hear about yours. But when a thousand extra people are in Kalamazoo, it really stands out and people know that you're here. — Interview by Marie Lee, edited for length and clarity


James R. Shinar T: (269) 329-4625 F: (269) 323-3418

8051 Moorsbridge Rd. Portage jim@shinarlaw.com

www.shinarlaw.com w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 37


Brian Persky

Director of Business Development, Discover Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo Brian Persky thought he would

become a teacher, as his parents had. He majored in geography, with an Earth science minor, and got a bachelor's degree in secondary education at Western Michigan University. He also did student teaching, but an internship at Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. in a totally different realm — community planning — inspired him to do a 180. "All I knew at that time was teaching, but I loved geography and social studies and took an internship with Downtown Kalamazoo Inc. which opened up my eyes to other things I could do with that major," says the 38-year-old who grew up in Grandville. "I learned that I loved building relationships and working with downtown businesses, and that's where I grew my

Brian K. Powers

(continued on page 37)



w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 39


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