Encore March 2018

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Historic Women

Playing games at Marmalade Dog

March 2018

Kalamazoo's Food Truck Scene is Revving Up

Are video games and violence linked?

Meet Nathan Dannison

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

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2 | Encore MARCH 2018

Historic Women

Playing games at Marmalade Dog

Are video games and violence linked?

March 2018

Meet Nathan Dannison

Southwest Michigan’s Magazine

Kalamazoo's Food Truck Scene is Revving Up


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

www.encorekalamazoo.com 117 W. Cedar St. Suite A, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax: (269) 383-9767 Email: Publisher@encorekalamazoo.com The staff at Encore welcomes written comment from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, visit encorekalamazoo.com. Encore subscription rates: one year $36, two years $70. Current single issue and newsstand $4, $10 by mail. Back issues $6, $12 by mail. Advertising rates on request. Closing date for space is 28 days prior to publication date. Final date for print-ready copy is 21 days prior to publication date. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by those interviewed and published here do not reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Encore Magazine or the official policies, owners or employees of Encore Publications.

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encore editor's note

From the Editor March is an eclectic month in Southwest Michigan.

It’s a little winter, it’s a little spring. Its offerings run the gamut from Bell’s Oberon release day, which is somewhat of a de facto local holiday, to the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival, which celebrates stringed instruments and the music they produce, to the gaming convention Marmalade Dog, to the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Reading Together program, which this year addresses the topic of eviction. March is a wonderful jumble that can please all the winter-weary senses, and this month’s Encore reflects that. We start with a feature looking at the rising local food truck culture, whose offerings are as diverse as they come, from artisan coffee to gourmet tacos. These eateries on wheels are not only pleasing local palates, but bringing people out to enjoy the ambiance of al fresco dining in downtown Kalamazoo and elsewhere. We also offer a look at the Marmalade Dog gaming convention, which is back for its 23rd celebration of game playing (23!), and at a local slot car racing club. Both stories show us that time spent playing with others will never go out of style. Also on the topic of game playing, we introduce you to Whitney DeCamp, a Western Michigan University researcher who is studying whether violent video games bear any relationship to violent crime. He offers some good news for those parents of kids whose idea of gaming involves defending the world from all kinds of computer-generated evil. While there’s a lot of fun and games in this issue, our Back Story feature highlights Nathan Dannison, a local Congregational minister whose efforts to combat homelessness and build community are inspiring. And he plays a mean fiddle, too. Yes, March is a weird and wonderful month.

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contributors encore

Andrew Domino We’ve decided that when it comes to Encore’s writers, Andrew probably has the most fun. This month he tells us about the gaming convention Marmalade Dog, which is in its 23rd year, and he introduces us to a local slot car racing club. Last month he explored the region’s cosplay culture. Domino, a creative game lover himself, is a freelance writer based in Kalamazoo. His work can be seen at dominowriting.com.

Lisa Mackinder Lisa is not immune to fun and games, either. This month she writes about Western Michigan University professor Whitney DeCamp, who studies whether there are connections between violent video games and violent crime. “Had Dr. DeCamp been a professor at WMU when I was a student, I would have loved to take one of his classes,” Lisa says. “Not only does Dr. DeCamp have many fascinating topics to discuss, but he also makes it fun to talk about them.”

Adam Rayes

Leave it to our intrepid college-age writer to suggest doing a story on the local food truck scene. Adam, a junior at Western Michigan University studying journalism, says there was something about late nights and food that intrigued him, so he visited one of Kalamazoo’s late-night food truck rallies. He says his favorite food truck fare is brisket, and he's lucky because there's usually a lot of it being served by Kalamazoo's food trucks, in unique and delicious ways.

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FEATURE Food Trucks Keep It Fresh

Creativity and uniqueness are key to the area’s mobile food scene


DEPARTMENTS 5 From the Editor 6 Contributors

Up Front 8 First Things

Happenings in SW Michigan

12 Five Faves — Historian Lynn Houghton highlights five women who made a difference in Kalamazoo

14 Games People Play — The Marmalade Dog convention celebrates and attracts game players of all types 19 Back on Track — Large track, small cars keep slot car enthusiasts racing

32 Good Works

Video Games and Violence — WMU criminologist studies the link of video games to violence

46 Back Story

Meet Nathan Dannison — Whether it’s music, building community, old houses or ending homelessness, this minister is a passionate man

ARTS 38 Events of Note 43 Poetry On the cover: John Schmitt orders food at an evening Food Truck Rally held in downtown Kalamazoo. Story on page 24. Photo by Entrada Photography by Esther Tuttle.

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First Things encore

First Things Something Goth

Nightwish lands at State Theatre Low on iron or metal in general? Need an

infusion of obscure Finnish music? Then you’ll want to check out Nightwish when the band performs at the State Theatre at 8 p.m. March 28. Nightwish, one of the few successful metal bands with a female lead vocalist, is known for its symphonic metal sound and soaring operatic vocals. Tickets range from $35–$185. For tickets or more information, visit kazoostate.com.

Something Cinematic

See Midwest’s best micro-budget films Great films created with not-such-great budgets

— that’s what you can catch at the North by Midwest (NxMW) micro-budget film festival noon–9 p.m. March 17 at the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. This is the fourth year of the festival, presented by Public Media Network, and it will feature more than 30 films in five categories: long feature, short feature, documentary/ profile, animation and “microcam.” Movie screenings begin at noon. Tickets are free, but attendees are encouraged to register for tickets at nxmwfilm.org.

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Something Local

Local bands back-to-back at Bell’s Get your local music and brew fix in one weekend.

Red Tail Ring

Bell’s Eccentric Café will host local American roots and folk duo Red Tail Ring on March 2 and jazz fusion group Saxsquatch & Bridge Band on March 3. Red Tail Ring, just back from a tour in the United Kingdom, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 the day of the show. Saxsquatch & Bridge Band, which offers up something a little harder to pin down but that touches the categories of folk, funk and jazz, will perform at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $5. For more information or tickets, visit bellsbeer.com/ eccentric-cafe.

Saxsquatch & Bridge Band

Something Macabre

WMU stages Fish in the Dark In its production of Fish in the Dark, Western Michigan University’s theater

department will bring laughter and light into one of the darkest moments of people’s lives: the death of a parent. This darkly funny play by Larry David (yes, that Larry David) opens in a hospital waiting room, probably one of the least funny places for a comedy to begin. As the Drexel family’s patriarch dies, various family members come to town to pay their respects, squabble over his Rolex watch and cause general shenanigans. Show times are 7:30 p.m. March 16, 17 and 22–24 and 2 p.m. March 25 at the Williams Theatre on WMU’s campus. Tickets are $10–$20. For more information or tickets, visit wmich.edu/theatre/fish-dark or call 387-6222.

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First Things encore

Something Poetic

Activist/writer to visit WMU Award-winning poet, essayist and activist for immigrant rights Marcelo Hernandez Castillo will give a reading of his work at 7 p.m. March 15 on Western Michigan University’s campus. Born in Mexico, Castillo moved to the United States at age 5 and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers' Program at the University of Michigan. He is a founding member of the Undocupoets campaign, which successfully eliminated citizenship requirements from all major first poetry book prizes in the country. His own book Cenzontle is the winner of the 2017 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, and his first chapbook, Dulce, is the winner of the Drinking Gourd Poetry Prize. Both will be published this year. In addition, his memoir, Children of the Land, is forthcoming from Harper Collins. Castillo’s reading, to be held in Room 2452 of Knauss Hall, is part of the WMU English department’s Gwen Frostic Reading Series. For more information, visit wmich.edu/english/events/frostic.

Something Whimsical

Alice dances through Wonderland Fall down the rabbit hole with the dancers of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company as they perform Alice in Wonderland at 7:30 p.m. March 9 at Miller Auditorium. The costumes, set design and music come together with the professional dancers to create a whimsical onstage adventure. Tickets are $35–$50. A Mad Hatter Tea Party will be held before the ballet, at 6 p.m., at Western Michigan University’s Fetzer Center. Cocktail sandwiches, fruit and desserts, along with lemonade and hot tea, will be served. Tickets for the tea party are $15 and must be purchased in addition to tickets to the Alice in Wonderland performance. For tickets or more information, visit millerauditorium. com or call 387-2300.

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Something Important

Evicted author speaks March 16 Matthew Desmond, MacArthur Genius and author of the New York Times bestselling book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, will speak 7–9 p.m. March 16 as the featured author of the 2018 Reading Together program sponsored by the Kalamazoo Public Library. Evicted won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction and the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. Desmond’s presentation will be at Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., and is a free event. A variety of other community discussions and events related to Evicted and KPL’s Reading Together program are also planned and can be found under "Library and Literary Events" on page 40 or at kpl.gov/reading-together/2018.

Something Classic

Disney’s Tarzan swings onto stage Tantor the Elephant, Jane and Tarzan will be on hand to sing, dance and explore the jungle in the stage musical Tarzan March 16-24 at the Vicksburg Performing Arts Center, 501 E. Highway St., Vicksburg. This live-action adventure based on Disney’s animated film Tarzan follows the story of a shipwrecked, orphaned baby raised by gorillas. Show times are 7 p.m. March 16, 17 and 24 and 2 p.m. March 25. Tickets are $5–$12. For tickets or more information, visit vicksburgschools.org/ performing-arts-center.


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five faves encore

Five Faves

Five women who made history in Kalamazoo by

Lynn Houghton

More than 30 years ago, the U.S. Congress declared March Women’s History Month to bring to light the contributions women have made over the years. In honor of this annual remembrance, I was asked to highlight women pivotal to Kalamazoo’s history. Women have played a role in every aspect of Kalamazoo’s history, whether it be education, arts and entertainment, business and industry, government and politics, health care or religion. Fortunately, these days we have diaries, letters, newspapers, photographs and other documentary evidence that help tell their stories. Choosing a select few to feature is an incredibly difficult task because there are so many, many more who could be included, but here are five:

Pamela Brown Thomas (1817-1909) Born in Vermont, Pamela Brown came with her family in 1833 to Kalamazoo County’s Prairie Ronde, where she taught school. In 1840 she married the county’s first physician, Dr. Nathan Thomas of Schoolcraft. She knew that he had been aiding escaping slaves traveling to Canada and that his house was a station on the Underground Railroad. While raising her family, she never knew from day to day how many people might be coming. She spent the next 20 years providing food and shelter for the escaped slaves before they went on to the next stop, in Battle Creek. She knew that she and her husband were violating federal law and could lose everything. After slavery ended, she wrote that she was proud of the role she played in helping an estimated 1,000–1,500 people find freedom.

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Caroline Bartlett Crane (1858-1935) When the Rev. Caroline Bartlett

Crane came to Kalamazoo in 1889 to head the First Unitarian Church, the community did not know what a force they were getting. Under Crane’s leadership, the renamed People’s Church began a number of programs, like kindergarten, study groups and services to labor groups, minorities and women, that were later adopted by other entities. After leaving the ministry in 1898, she embarked on a career of civic service, working on social issues like meat inspection, poorhouses, prisons, women’s suffrage and old-age security. She inspected 62 cities in nine years, issuing reports on city services and institutions and making recommendations for improvement. In 1924, she won the Better Homes in America Contest for Everyman’s House, a Westnedge Hill home she designed and had built for the average American family and with the needs of a mother in mind. Her papers are in the Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections.

Lucinda Hinsdale Stone (1814-1900) Education for all women was a central mission for Stone. After completing her studies in Vermont, she traveled to Mississippi to be a governess, and her time there reinforced her opposition to slavery. She came to Kalamazoo in 1843 with her husband, Dr. James A.B. Stone — he to head the Kalamazoo Literary Institute, now Kalamazoo College, and she to lead the institute’s Female Department. Even though men and women were to have separate classes, the Stones were firm believers in co-education. Along with starting her own school and taking female students to Europe, Lucinda Stone also was instrumental in the decision to allow women to enter the University of Michigan in the 1870s. She also promoted women’s clubs like the Ladies’ Library Association as a way for members to continue their education.

Marilyn “Mamie” Austin (1887-1949) Mamie Austin’s contributions live on in the photographs that she

took of this community during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Born in Watervliet, Austin came to Kalamazoo at 13 when her father, George, a photographer, became the manager and owner of a portrait studio. Mamie worked at his studio, eventually becoming its owner, after her father’s death in 1923. The studio closed about 10 years later, and Mamie got a job at the Kalamazoo Public Library through the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal program. Her responsibilities included photographing various sites in the community so that the photos could be developed and circulated. Her unique images of businesses, industries, schools, parks, buildings, houses and hospitals, which can be found at the Kalamazoo Public Library, document life in Kalamazoo during these years when not many images exist.

Merze Tate (1905-1996) Born near Mt. Pleasant, Merze Tate came to Kalamazoo to earn a teaching certificate from Western State Normal School, now Western Michigan University. After teaching in Cass County, Tate returned to Western, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1927. Three administrators at the school, including Dwight Waldo, assisted with her search to find a high school position in Indiana after no school in Michigan would hire her because she was black. She later earned a master’s degree from Columbia University, in New York City, and attended Oxford University, in England, becoming the first African-American to receive a degree from this institution. She also received a doctorate from Harvard University and spent more than 20 years as an educator at Howard University. She was a world traveler, and her interests included international relations, diplomacy and arms limitations. She never forgot WMU, giving funds for scholarships, endowments and the Merze Tate Grant and Innovation Center.

Lynn Houghton is the regional history curator at the WMU Archives and Regional History Collections. She leads the Gazelle Sports Historic Walks, a series of free architectural and historic walks around Kalamazoo County held during the summer and fall, and is the co-author of Kalamazoo Lost and Found, published in 2001 by the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission. She has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in history from WMU and a master’s degree in library and information science from Wayne State University. Photos courtesy of WMU Archives and Regional History Collections; Mamie Alexander photo courtesy of Kalamazoo Public Library.

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up front encore

Fun and Games

Marmalade Dog celebrates games people play story by

Andrew Domino

photography by

brian k. powers

Jim Tinklenberg of South Haven helps

friends and strangers fight dragons, and he’s looking forward to doing just that this month at Western Michigan University. Tinklenberg, a “game master,” or referee, of the role-playing game Pathfinder, will be one of just many game-playing enthusiasts convening at the university’s Bernhard Center March 30–April 1 for the annual Marmalade Dog convention. This will be the 23rd Marmalade Dog, which was named for a rock band that never actually formed. The event was started in 1994 by the WMU student organization Western Michigan Gamers Guild to bring game-loving students and others together. In its early years, the convention invited professional game designers and artists to speak and meet players, but in the last few years the convention has settled into a format of simply offering plenty of tables for board games and role-playing games for gamers of all types. Organizers estimate the convention draws “several hundred” attendees over the course of the weekend; some sign up for prescheduled game sessions while others just drop in and play a board game someone has brought to the convention. Not everyone is a WMU student; high schoolers and adults in their 30s, 40s and beyond also play games at Marmalade Dog.

No checkers or Monopoly Marmalade Dog 22, held in March 2017, had more than 50 tables for game players set up in the Bernhard Center’s ballroom from Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. Some Clockwise from this page: Nathan Yost contemplates while playing the role-playing game Pathfinder. Yost, sitting front left, plays Pathfinder with, clockwise from his left, David Meyers, Jeff Wharton, William Wieleba, Chris Petersen, Seth Gooch and Eric Artis; a player engaged in a card-based role-playing game.

14 | Encore MARCH 2018

Brian Powers

encore up front

tables hosted just two players going head-tohead across a game board; others had six to eight players, with one player, a game master like Tinklenberg, standing at the head of the table reading a story to the other players and keeping track of the rules. You couldn’t find checkers or Monopoly; instead, the games were more complex, and many had fantasy or science fiction themes. More than two dozen tables hosted Pathfinder games, in which players take on the roles of knights, wizards and other fantasy heroes, confront monsters and seek out treasures using their imaginations, dice and

books. Others featured detectives exploring haunted houses or 2-inch-long versions of the spaceships from Star Wars battling one another across a map of the stars. On one side of the ballroom, a half-dozen “pods,” each about the size of a bathroom shower, were set up for Battletech, a computer game in which players’ giant fighting robots fight against each other (think of a digital version of Transformers). Nearby was a row of computers for another game, Artemis, that simulates the bridge of a starship, a game pretty close to Star Trek without actually violating any copyright laws.

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up front encore

Clayton Williams of Lansing was at the 2017 convention with his wife, hoping to meet new players of Dungeon Crawl Classics, a fantasy role-playing game. As a game master, Williams had the books and dice ready for a Classics game scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, but no one sat down at his table (his wife was already playing Call of Cthulhu, a different role-playing game about investigating alien monsters). The 9 a.m. start time came and went, but Williams wasn’t worried. “This is open gaming,” he said. “If a game session doesn’t happen, there are plenty of other games to join in. People (at a convention) are always open to new players.”

‘It runs on love’ Hundreds of game conventions like Marmalade Dog are held across the U.S. each year. The largest is Gen Con, held each August in Indianapolis. And while Marmalade Dog has grown in its 22 years, organizers say the convention struggles to attract new visitors. In 2017, Marmalade Dog fell on the same weekend as Gary Con, a gaming convention in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Created by some of the first players of the original role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Con hosts dozens of well-known game authors and artists to speak and play and is close enough to Kalamazoo to be competition to Marmalade Dog. Marmalade Dog convention organizer Mike Pirkola says the availability of space to rent at the Bernhard Center affects the timing of the convention. He says the convention is listed online on sites like upcomingcons.com, and before each year’s convention organizers hang up “a lot of posters nobody reads.” 16 | Encore MARCH 2018

Clockwise from top: A player engages in the dice game Roll Player; a group plays Dungeons & Dragons; Erin Flores traveled from Ann Arbor to participate in and help run Marmalade Dog; and an attendee engages in a computer game.

“We posted on (the online message site) Reddit,” says Pirkola. “People said, ‘I live in Grand Rapids, and I’ve never heard of you.’” But Erin Flores of Ann Arbor, who graduated from WMU in 2004, returns to Kalamazoo each spring not only to participate in Marmalade Dog, but to help run the convention. She says a lot of what’s done for the convention, from renting the space to printing souvenir T-shirts, is done because everyone involved simply likes playing games. “It runs on love and many other words,” she says. “People who know about the convention know they want to come back (every year).”

They come to play, not shop In between game sessions, there’s a chance to peruse the wares of a handful of vendors. In 2017, there were 10 artists and game

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Get Your Game On What: Marmalade Dog 23 When: 2:30–11:30 p.m. March 30; 9 a.m.–11:30 p.m. March 31; 10:30 a.m.–8 p.m. April 1 Where: East Ballroom, Bernhard Center, Western Michigan University Cost: $10 Friday, $15 Saturday, $10 Sunday, $25 for all three days; reduced rates for WMU students To preregister or information: Visit marmaladedog.org

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18 | Encore FEBRUARY 2018

creators who had booths along the walls, where they sold everything from science fiction novels and the latest games to map boards for Pathfinder and handmade jewelry. Gordon Donaldson of Elkhart, Indiana, brought copies of his creation, High Ball, a Monopoly-influenced board game that simulates running a railroad. Marmalade Dog 2017 was his first convention. He chose it because it was “close by, but not ‘ginormous,’" and he had people stopping by his booth all weekend, he said. “I had no idea the game world was as big as it is,” Donaldson said. “It’s been a happy experience, talking with people who are trying the game.” Frank Russell of Holland spent his time at Marmalade Dog as a game master for a session of Call of Cthulhu. He described each scene in the game to his players, augmenting it with pictures, sounds and video clips he had prepared ahead of time. His Marmalade Dog session was a practice run for what he called the “real” game, an elaborate production of his Call of Cthulhu scenario, which he has taken to Gen Con each year for more than 20 years. “I spend too much time on it as it is,” he admitted. “Luckily, we have long winters in Michigan.”

encore Up front

Back on Track

Slot car enthusiasts keep on racing story by

Andrew Domino

photography by

john lacko

John Lacko owns dozens of race cars and

they all fit in one box. Lacko, a professional photographer in the Kalamazoo area, has been operating a slot car track for a decade as part of the West Michigan Scale Slot Car Racing Group (WMSSCRG). The group members meet twice a month to test out their 5- to 6-inch-long cars on a 96-foot-long track that takes up most of the space in a former office at the Gilmore Car Museum, in Hickory Corners. The track, four lanes wide, curves back and forth over a wooden table set up in the middle of the room. The setup includes a bridge that crosses over the track at one point and a “garage” with 2-inch-tall models of people on its roof. These elements are the first stage of a long-term project to add buildings and decorations to every inch of the table that isn’t covered with track. It’s a complex setup that has taken several months to build. Underneath the table is an electric box with dozens of wires attached to it. The wires connect to different spots on the table to make sure the cars are constantly fed the electricity needed for them to move. Each “driver” has a pistol-shaped handle connected to the track’s wiring that can be squeezed to adjust the vehicle’s speed, sending it blazing down a straight path or around a corner carefully enough to not flip over but fast enough to win. “It’s the most affordable version of motor sports there is,” Lacko says. “The cars are small, but the egos are full-size.”

Inexpensive fun The “slot” in slot car refers to the groove running down the center of each lane on a track. A small plastic tab on each car fits into the slot to keep the car in the correct Local slot car enthusiasts favor racing replicas of full-size cars, like these Scalextric Dodge Vipers. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 19

Up front encore

Clockwise from top left: John Hansen places a 1:32 Mini Cooper on the starting line before a race at Goodspeed; 1:32 replicas of Lola T-70s battle it out at Goodspeed; the intensity of competition is shown on the faces of, from left, Kevin Yonkers, John Hansen, Jerry Wofford, Tom Ryfiak and Bill Blett; and Minis fight it out on the track.

lane. WMSSCRG members use “mag” cars, which have magnets on the bottom that help them hug the track and keep from “drifting,” or sliding, when they turn a corner. Member Lonny Convis of Battle Creek says he likes racing his cars on the track about as much as he likes working on the cars. Online manufacturers sell hundreds of types of slot cars, but a car will rarely go directly from the packaging to the track, except for a test run. Most cars need some tweaking, whether it's replacing existing tires with new ones made of better-quality rubber, making sure a car is as aerodynamic and as smooth-turning as possible, filing down irregularities on an axle or wheel, or adjusting a magnet’s location. Most cars cost between $30 and $60. A car comes assembled — slot car racing is about speed, not model-making — and with appropriate decorations if it's simulating a life-size race car. Most slot cars are shrunk-down replicas of real race cars and as authentic a representation of the actual vehicle as possible.

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encore up front

John Lacko

Schleicher says the early tracks, including Cook’s, used raised rails to provide electric power. A few years later, the reverse was true for most tracks — a tab extended down from the car into the slot in the track. The hobby grew quickly in the 1960s and 1970s, but as participants aged and their interests changed, slot car racing lost popularity. But now those slot car fans who grew up in the 1960s are retirement age, and they are returning to their childhood hobby and getting their own children interested in racing too. “We sell a lot of the starter sets for Christmas,” says Rex Simpson, president of Hobby-Sports.com, an online store that has a brick-and-

Convis has several Trans-Am racing-class sports cars, bought because he simply likes them, even in miniature form. Slot cars come in several sizes, but WMSSCRG uses the most common size, 1:32 scale, roughly twice the size of a toy Hot Wheels car.

A long history here Kalamazoo has a long history with slot car racing. Historians of the hobby point to a July 1956 article in the British magazine Model Maker that shows a track built in Kalamazoo by racing fan Tom Cook and his friends that was the first indoor track in the U.S. They raced cars about the same size as the ones the modern-day group races, according to Robert Schleicher, publisher of the Colorado-based Model Car Racing magazine.

mortar shop in Portage. The store’s most popular items are radiocontrolled cars and airplanes, but the slot car market is “huge,” Simpson says, especially online, since few stores carry slot car materials on their shelves. At Hobby-Sports.com, shoppers can find entry-level slot car sets for about $80. The most expensive set, which has computer-operated tracks that allow for more than one car at a time and can simulate pit stops, is $600. Simpson, who is treasurer of the National Retail Hobby Stores Association, says he isn’t sure if it’s because of the months of cold weather keeping people indoors or a regional interest in slot cars, but many of his online slot car sales are from customers in Michigan and Ohio.

New place to play The original track used by WMSSCRG, dubbed the “Goodspeed Raceway,” operated in a downtown Kalamazoo building owned by a friend of Lacko’s. While they purchased part of it from a hobby store in Washington that was going out of business, Lacko estimates the

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Clockwise from above: The Goodspeed layout was built on a 32-foot long table; looking down the straight from the starting line at Goodspeed; WMSSCRG members Phil Carpenter & Zaf Khaja install a flat-screen monitor that will show race positions and lap times at the Red Barns Raceway as Lonny Convis, left, and Brian Casterline, right look on.

track cost more than $12,000 to complete. The downtown building closed May 2017, prompting the group’s move to the Gilmore Car Museum, where Lacko is a volunteer on the museum’s education committee. The original racetrack, including decorations like figurines and buildings, was on a table that measured 10 feet by 32 feet. There’s less space at the Gilmore Car Museum so the table is now 29 feet long and tapers from 9 feet to 6.5 feet.

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planes on museum grounds, and the Midwest Miniatures Museum features dollhouses, figurines and other tiny objects in a building just a few steps away from the new home of the slot car club. The last few months of 2017 were spent dismantling Goodspeed Raceway and moving it to the museum, where it was redesigned and built in its new space over several weekends. While decorative buildings and trees are still planned for the future, the most important thing was to get the track running and to hook up a computer to keep

What the group has given up in size, it will make up in attracting new members, says Lacko. He says adult visitors to the museum often remember playing with a slot car track as children or recognize a car as it zooms around the course. He also hopes younger car fans get interested in the hobby, not only for fun but to learn as well. “I’m looking to get kids interested in the sciences,” Lacko says. “Engineering, physics — it’s all in automotive.” Jay Follis, the Gilmore Car Museum’s marketing director, says the museum will utilize the track for public demonstrations and make it available to visitors. The slot car track complements groups already affiliated with the museum like the Thunderbirds radio-controlled flying club, which has an “airfield” for its diminutive helicopters and

track of race results, such as the leaders and cars' paces for a lap, which changes from week to week as racers test their cars. Brian Casterline of Battle Creek says racing slot cars on a track is just as competitive as actually getting behind the wheel would be, though it’s much less expensive. There’s no money on any of the slot car races, just bragging rights, but that doesn’t make it any less of a challenge. “You can crash these and it doesn’t cost $40,000,” he says. “Competition is competition — I just want to win.”

April 25 to May 12, 2018 TICKETS ON SALE NOW thegilmore.org 269.359.7311 box office w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 23


Jordyn Tovey

Keep It Fresh

24 | Encore MARCH 2018

Creativity and uniqueness are key to this mobile food culture story by

Adam Rayes


t's 9 o’clock on a breezy October night in Bronson Park, and with every 20 steps visitors take as they stroll through the park, their nostrils fill with a new, delicious scent. In the bandshell, the Break 30 Band plays a cover of 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up?” while the crowd of families and groups of friends buzzes with debate over which of the 11-plus food vendors participating in tonight’s food truck rally they’ll try. Will it be shrimp gumbo from PJW Creole Cuisine? Or brisket from Lazy Man BBQ? Maybe Blue Plate’s signature cheesecake on a stick? Small lanterns sit on picnic tables so diners can see the food they're eating, but most patrons choose to stand, talk or listen to the music as they eat. But the stars of the show are the food trucks themselves. Whether at the nighttime food truck rallies held five times a year in downtown Kalamazoo or during lunchtime every Friday at Bronson Park during the summer, people turn out in droves to partake of the unique tastes available from these mobile eateries. This is Lucile Hernandez’s second time at a food truck rally, and she says she comes for the varied foods the trucks bring. Tonight she dines on spaghetti and meatballs from Blue Plate while enjoying the company of her family. Some of the trucks, like The Organic Gypsy, Blue Plate and Gorilla Gourmet, provide constantly changing seasonal menus with such items as Gorilla’s soup made from roasted potato-cauliflower with jalapeño and celery and The Organic Gypsy’s harvest bowls with chickpeas or chicken, feta and tzatziki sauce. Others, like the Lazy Man BBQ and Coffee Rescue, have found a niche and (mostly) stick to it. In fact, the food trucks have been such a draw that the city of Kalamazoo has made them the focus of two series of events: its summertime Lunchtime Live events at Bronson Park on Fridays and its nighttime food truck rallies, which take Opposite page: Rose Humphrey serves up Blue Plate food truck’s signature cheesecake on a stick. Below: Spaghetti and meatballs is another fare offered by Blue Plate.

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place from 9 p.m.–midnight at Bronson Park or on Church Street five times a year between spring and fall. “These kinds of events are important in regard to making a town great,” says Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell, while attending the October food truck rally and eating “something his personal trainer would not be happy about.” “I like trying a lot of stuff, and the point of the food truck scene is to really experiment and try different tastes and sometimes different cultural foods,” Hopewell says. Deborah Droppers, executive director of the Kalamazoo Experiential Learning Center, says there’s something about the “cool foodie experience” that appeals to all types of people. Her organization helps organize the rallies, which began in 2016. “I’ve been running events since 1993 in downtown Kalamazoo,” she says, “and this is one of the most diverse audiences that I’ve ever experienced.” The rally attendees, she says, range from college students about to go bar hopping to people just getting off second shift to families who have just seen a show.

First food truck here Food trucks, long a staple in larger cities, are a relatively new addition to the greater Kalamazoo area’s dining palate. That food trucks exist at all in the area can be credited to Neil Corwin, owner of Gorilla Gourmet, who set out in 2009 to change not only local dining options, but city ordinances as well.

26 | Encore MARCH 2018

Brian Powers

After spending years as a pastry chef elsewhere, Corwin, who moved to Kalamazoo at the age of 4, came back to his hometown to open his own business. He was inspired by the food trucks he had experienced in Los Angeles, where he lived before his family moved to Kalamazoo. Getting the truck was the first hurdle. After plans with a company to build one fell through, Corwin decided to build his own with help from his uncle, Markley Noel. “It was a very different hat for me to wear than the chef hat,” Corwin says. “As a chef, no one ever asks you to think about the plumbing or what sort of flooring materials are going to be best suited to your needs.” It took three months of working 60 hours a week to complete the truck, Corwin says, and all of the work, except for the electrical setup, was completed by him and his uncle. “In retrospect, I think that was one of the most enriching parts of the process,” Corwin says. But there was still another obstacle: Food trucks weren’t allowed to operate on the streets of Kalamazoo. Before he could serve his graband-go “pedestrian-friendly” eats like Thai-inspired tacos, Corwin had to find a place to operate his food truck. He leased a small parking lot at 415 Oakland Drive, parked the truck and served food there. But he was determined that his enterprise would soon be mobile.

Clockwise from bottom left: A customer orders food from Lazy Man BBQ at a food truck rally; Coffee Rescue’s food truck is designed to look like an ambulance; and jambalaya from PJW Creole Cuisine. Photos by Jordyn Tovey.

He worked for three years with the city’s Department of Community Planning and Development to try to get ordinances passed to allow food trucks to operate on Kalamazoo streets. In 2013, those efforts paid off. The city approved the operation of food trucks as long as the vendors provide notice to the city and pay the fees for the metered parking spaces they occupy. “Not only did I open the door, but I also welcomed everybody with a welcome mat,” Corwin says. “The conversation was: 'We need to have some solidarity for us to be able to move forward.' Working together was definitely important and still is.” In Kalamazoo, most food truck operators believe that sense of togetherness is more important here than it would be in larger markets, where most food trucks can just park by a sidewalk and be successful on their own. Here, most food truck owners operate at events like food truck rallies or where there are other activities, like live music, to draw a crowd. “We’re all friends. We all get along,” says Lazy Man BBQ’s Brad Gillaspie Jr. “If somebody forgets something and we have it, we’ll lend it to them. We’re not close, but if you need something we’ll help you. We don’t want to see anybody fail.”

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Food variety As different as the fare they serve, food truck operators in Kalamazoo also have varying backgrounds and business models. Lazy Man BBQ serves smoked brisket and pulled pork seasoned with a unique homemade blend of spices and served as a sandwich or taco. “We found that if you keep it simple and do the best that you can with what you’re doing, people will come back and buy more,” Gillaspie says. “We’ve done chicken, but people don’t want that when they come to the barbecue truck. They want pulled pork and they want brisket.” Lazy Man BBQ has been operational since 2015 but is far from the only barbecue food truck in town. Old Moose BBQ’s Chris Slocum has served brisket and pork from his truck for two years and says his menu used to include sloppy joes and chicken, but he found customers didn’t want items they could easily make at home. “The average person is not going to spend 14 to 18 hours smoking brisket,” Slocum says. “In the world we live in, they want it quick and they want it now.” A former restaurateur, Slocum says he started his food truck to be his own boss and spend more time with his kids. Now he has a

28 | Encore MARCH 2018


Jordyn Tovey


Clockwise from bottom left: A customer receives his food from Lazy Man BBQ; a hungry crowd gathers at the food truck rally held on Church Street in downtown Kalamazoo; Nick Slocum of Old Moose BBQ takes an order.

small staff, and some employees can be at one event on the truck while others cater at another event. For the 2018 season, Old Moose BBQ’s truck won’t even be in Kalamazoo; it’ll be on the road traveling to various festivals and events across the United States. Slocum says, though, that he does plan to open a new truck in Kalamazoo in the near future. “The Kalamazoo food truck scene is growing a lot, even from when I got into it,” he says. “We’re here to stay, and there are more (food trucks) that are opening up.” Chester Emmons, who operates a truck called Motormouth, says that food truck fare is some of the freshest cooked food available and he believes that’s what keeps customers coming back.

“Most of it (the food preparation and cooking) is done the night before or that morning,” Emmons says. “And it’s pretty much tossed the next day because we might not have any other events for three or four days.”

Tents, trailers and trucks Not every food “truck” is a truck. Some of the vendors at the food truck rallies or Lunchtime Live events operate from trailers, tents or even a sidewalk cart. Toby Taverna, of Smoked Down BBQ, sells his food out of a small, red New York Citystyle food cart resembling a streetside hot dog stand, which he says makes him unique among the barbecue vendors in Kalamazoo. “I thought this would be a lot easier to take with me places and get into certain

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areas instead of having a big truck that costs $60,000 to $70,000,” Taverna says. “A lot of people will come up to us and say, ‘Oh, it’s hot dogs,’ and I’m like, ‘No, it’s barbecue. I’ve got beef brisket, ribs and pork,’ and they’re taken aback and kind of surprised.” Coffee Rescue has also employed creativity in its style of food truck. While the business serves what owner Jamie Brock says “you’d get at your regular coffee shop,” it serves it from a van fashioned to resemble an ambulance. Similarly, there’s Dotty, a rehabbed 1965 camper turned into an “artisan” coffee bar by owner Bridgett Blough. It has custom wooden countertops and windows. “I wanted someone to walk up to Dotty and just be enamored by the beauty of the actual trailer,” Blough says.

Culinary creativity Creativity is also found in the food served. Blough’s other food truck, The Organic Gypsy, serves seasonal, locally sourced, organic meals that she says constantly change. Her most popular offering is a zucchini-noodle dish with coconut-peanut sauce, cilantro, smoked onions and peanuts. “People love it because it’s really light and fresh and healthy,” she says. “It’s just something different and a little bit special that they don’t make at home.” And it’s pretty hard to ignore Blue Plate’s “cheesecake on a stick.”

Courtsey From right, Devin Ludwig and Sherri Palooza laugh while serving customers of the Weller Barbeque food truck.

“The cheesecake on a stick is the most awesome thing to happen to the dessert and food truck world,” boasts Blue Plate’s owner, Emilio Dacoba. “I think people that buy a cheesecake on a stick think it's an ice cream bar because it’s dipped in chocolate, but when you bite into it, it’s just that creamy, dense cheesecake with graham cracker crust." Most food truck vendors agree that being unique is key to success, since food truck customers are not the usual diners. “I think the customer is different than the kind of customer you’d find at a brick and mortar restaurant or cafe,” Coffee Rescue’s Brock says. “Those people are usually interested in hanging out, but a food truck customer is someone who is on the go, who likes to explore the town and what it has to offer a little bit more.” Dacoba, who has spent much of his life in the restaurant business, at his family’s eateries Mangia Mangia and La Cantina, believes that his food truck also gives him a unique opportunity as a chef. “My favorite part,” he says, “is being able to see the smile and joy on someone’s face as they bite into that cheesecake on a stick and being able to be a part of them coming out and having a good time at the event that they’re at.”


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up front good works encore encore

Do Video Games Spark Violence? WMU criminologist’s studies suggest they don’t by

Lisa Mackinder

32 | Encore MARCH 2018

encore good works

When Whitney DeCamp, director of the

Kercher Center for Social Research at Western Michigan University, would tell people he studies criminology, he would typically be met with responses like “You teach people how to collect evidence?” or “You do forensic psychology?” The answer: Neither one. “Nobody understands what that (criminology) is,” he says. “So I stopped telling people I study criminology. I just say sociology.” After that, he gets this reaction: “Oh, that’s nice.” But the work that DeCamp, 33, does is certainly more than just “nice.” DeCamp studies the nature of crime and what causes it. His most recent research projects examined whether playing violent video games might be a factor that prompts violent behavior. The short answer: It doesn’t seem to. But more on that later. DeCamp, an associate professor of sociology, admits he sort of stumbled onto his profession. Growing up in Chanceford Township, in York County, Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna River — “the middle of nowhere,” he says — DeCamp was homeschooled and graduated from high school a year early. His planned course of action:

Brian Powers

Criminologist and WMU researcher Whitney Decamp, who studies whether playing video games is linked with future violent behavior, is an avid fan of Nintendo games.

find a job and figure out his next move. Six months later, the then-17-year-old DeCamp remained unemployed and still unclear about his future. “I realized I quickly needed to change course,” he says. “This was not working.” No occupation had yet caught his interest, so DeCamp grabbed a college catalog and flipped it open. Criminal justice popped out at him. Becoming a police officer would work, he thought. Perhaps influenced by the numerous “fictionalized versions” of policing on television shows, DeCamp says, he deemed it compatible with his personality. “Which, in retrospect, was a terrible decision,” he says, laughing. As a student at York College of Pennsylvania, DeCamp worked on the college’s all-student security force. This job, plus an internship, led DeCamp to realize that becoming a police officer would not suit him well. “I was horribly out of shape and would not have worked out at all in that field, but it led me down the path to where I am now, so I don’t have any regrets,” he says. DeCamp completed a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and continued in this field but on a different path: academia. He went on to earn a master’s degree in administration of justice at Shippensburg University, in Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in criminology at the University of Delaware. Then he faced another decision: Teach criminology or research it? He chose both.

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good works encore

He says a job that fits his personality “needs to be some teaching, some research and some service. So I was lucky enough to get this job here — and it’s the right balance.” DeCamp’s interest in exploring the impact of playing violent video games was another thing he sort of stumbled on. He attended a discussion on propensity score matching led by criminology and criminal justice professor Ray Paternoster, who taught at the University of Maryland until his death last year. Propensity score matching is a statistical technique that aims to reduce or eliminate selection bias in research and thus create a random-like experiment by matching participants in a study group with participants in a control group who have

“Just the nature of the relationship with your parents is another big factor. People who have close, positive relationships with their parents are a lot less likely to engage in violence — regardless of whether they play video games or not.” — Whitney DeCamp

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similar propensity scores. (Selection bias in this case is the bias introduced when some children choose to play violent video games and others do not, and that choice is the result of different personalities rather than random selection.) This methodology intrigued DeCamp and he wanted to use it. At the time, he had been following news stories about violence and video games, especially stories regarding state-level legislation to block sales of the games to minors. “I think at some point I just put two and two together and realized that the method I wanted to use for something would be a great fit for this topic,” DeCamp says. In all, DeCamp has conducted five studies on video games, mostly sampling eighthand 11th-graders in surveys conducted by the Center for Drug and Health Studies at the University of Delaware. Three of DeCamp’s studies specifically looked at whether there’s a relationship between playing violent video games and engaging in violent behavior. “This research seems to show that there’s not really a relationship there,” DeCamp says. Other predictors of violent behavior were much stronger in the model than playing

encore good works

Brian Powers

violent video games, DeCamp says. These predictors include whether a child comes from a safe home and whether they have experienced violence in their home. “If you saw violence in your home, that’s another thing that tends to be related to violence,” he says. “Just the nature of the relationship with your parents is another big factor. People who have close, positive relationships with their parents are a lot less likely to engage in violence — regardless of whether they play video games or not.” Criminologists study the social bond theory, he says. Four principal elements comprise this theory, including attachment. “One of the key components is parental attachment,” DeCamp says, “and it’s not because your parents can necessarily communicate a lesson to you per se. It’s because, if you’re going to commit an act of violence, one of the things you might consider is: What will my parents think?”

Perhaps not on a conscious level, he says, but a child doesn’t want to disappoint his or her parents. “It impacts their judgment in some way,” DeCamp says. DeCamp currently has a study in progress that takes a further look at parental influences on whether a child plays violent games. “I’m also working on a few other studies not related to games that also examine deviance and victimization,” he says. If someone wants to know why a person commits a crime, DeCamp says, he can’t speak about a specific individual, but he can speak in generalities. “It comes from upbringing, relationships with their parents, (and) what peers they’re around,” DeCamp says. “Those are the kinds of things we look at when determining what causes crime.”

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Red — An artist questions whether true art exists in the face of ambition, 7:30 p.m. March 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17, 2 p.m. March 4 & 11, Parish Theatre, 405 W. Lovell St., 343-1313. Romeo & Juliet — Shakespeare's tragedy about star-crossed lovers, 8 p.m. March 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17, New Vic Theatre, 134 E. Vine St., 381-3328. Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist — All Ears Theatre radio theater production, 6 p.m. March 3, First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave., 342-5059. It's Only a Play — A fast-paced comedy about modern show business, 8 p.m. March 9, 10, 16, 17, 23 & 24, 2 p.m. March 11, 18 & 25, 7:30 p.m. March 15 & 22, Farmers Alley Theatre, 221 Farmers Alley, 343-2727. Fish in the Dark — Larry David's comedy about a family coping with death, 7:30 p.m. March 16, 17, 22, 23 & 24, 2 p.m. March 25, Williams Theatre, WMU, 387-6222.

modern, post-modern, and contemporary dance from across the country, 2:30–10 p.m. March 9, 9:15 a.m.–11 p.m. March 10, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. March 11, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 342-4354. FILM Teen Filmmaker Festival — Screening of films by Michigan teens, noon–2 p.m. March 17, Jolliffe Theatre, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 205, 3429837. NxMW Film Festival — A day-long event showing filmmakers’ creativity on small budgets, noon-9 p.m March 17, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, nxmwfilm.org. MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival — Instrument designers, workshops and live performances by area musicians, 5:30–8:30 p.m. March 2, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. March 3, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990. Corn Fed Girls — The Americana folk band kicks off the Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival, 5:30 p.m. March 2. Red Tail Ring — Folk, traditional and Americana band, 8:30 p.m. March 2, Bell's Eccentric Café, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382-2332.

Journey to the Center of the Earth — All Ears Theatre radio theater production, 6 p.m. March 17, First Baptist Church, 342-5059.

Saxsquatch & Bridge Band — Folk, funk and jazz band, 9 p.m. March 3, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

The Queen of Bingo — A comedy exploring bingo, family, diet crazes, hot flashes and winning, 8 p.m. Fri. & Sat., March 30–April 21, New Vic Theatre, 381-3328.

Scythian — Celtic rock and bluegrass band, 9 p.m. March 4, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

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Kitchen Dwellers — Psychedelic bluegrass band, 8:30 p.m. March 8, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.


Seussical Jr. — Civic Youth Theatre presents this musical about the power of friendship, loyalty and community, 7:30 p.m. March 16 & 23, 1 & 4 p.m. March 17, 2 p.m. March 18, 9:30 a.m. & noon March 21 & 22, Civic Theatre, 329 S. Park St., 343-1313. COMEDY Crawlspace Eviction Improv Comedy: Sorry — Improv and sketch comedy show inspired by the board game Sorry, 8 p.m. March 23 & 24, Jolliffe Theatre, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, 599-7390. DANCE Ballet Arts Ensemble Spring Concert — Program includes Carnival of the Animals and Masquerade Suite, 2 & 7 p.m. March 3, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 387-2300. Grand Rapids Ballet's Alice in Wonderland — A whimsical onstage adventure, 7:30 p.m. March 9, Miller Auditorium, WMU, with Mad Hatter Tea party at 6 p.m. at WMU's Fetzer Center, 387-2300. Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival — RAD Fest is a juried event featuring the best in 38 | Encore MARCH 2018

Lucero — American country-punk rock band, 8 p.m. March 6, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332.

Pink Droyd — Pink Floyd tribute band, 9 p.m. March 9, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers — Rock and alternative country band, 9 p.m. March 10, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Second Sundays Live: Whiskey Before Breakfast — Kalamazoo Irish band, 2 p.m. March 11, Parchment Community Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747. Terrapin Flyer — Psychedelic rock and folk band, 8:30 p.m. March 15, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Cole Swindell: Reason to Drink Tour — American country music singer/songwriter, 7:30 p.m. March 16, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125. Minor Element — Jazz, indie-pop and hiphop, 8:30 p.m. March 16, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Pink Talking Fish — Hybrid tribute to Pink Floyd, The Talking Heads and Phish, 9 p.m. March 18, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Murray Lightburn — Solo acoustic evening with the singer/guitarist of the Canadian indie rock band

The Dears, 8:30 p.m. March 22, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Zoso: The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience — Led Zeppelin tribute band, 9 p.m. March 23, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Electric Six — Rock music infused with garage, disco, punk rock, new wave and metal, 9 p.m. March 24, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Nightwish — Finnish symphonic metal band, 8 p.m. March 28, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. Start Making Sense — Talking Heads tribute band, 8:30 p.m. March 29, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Octave Cat — Jazz-funk dance band, 9 p.m. March 30, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. The Last Revel — Americana folk and rockabilly trio, 9 p.m. March 31, Bell's Eccentric Café, 382-2332. Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More Arrival From Sweden: The Music of ABBA — The Swedish band and the KSO present an ABBA tribute show, 8 p.m. March 3, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 349-7759. Chenery Gospel Series: The Booth Brothers — Southern gospel trio, 7 p.m. March 9, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 800-965-9324. Western Invitational Jazz Festival — Opening concert features pianist Kenny Werner, 8 p.m. March 9; closing concert features the University Jazz Orchestra, 7:30 p.m. March 10, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Pianist Lori Sims — Bullock Performance Institute concert, 7:30 p.m. March 14, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. Southwestern Michigan Vocal Festival — Guest conductor Eph Ehly, 7 p.m. March 15, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 387-4681.

King of Rag: The Life and Music of Scott Joplin — Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra musicians perform works by the African-American composer and pianist, 2 p.m. March 18, Ransom District Library, 180 S. Sherwood Ave., Plainwell, 685-8024. Ensemble Dal Niente — Chicago-based contemporary music collective, 7:30 p.m. March 19, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. WMU Voice Faculty Showcase — Bullock Performance Institute concert, 7:30 p.m. March 21, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300.

Lamb of God — A musical celebration of Easter, 7:30 p.m. March 23 & 24, Chenery Auditorium, 337-0440. Gold Company Vocal Jazz Invitational — Opening concert features New York Voices, 8 p.m. March 23; closing concert features Gold Company, 8 p.m. March 24, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300.

encore Events Leonard Bernstein's 100th — Stilian Kirov conducts the KSO in celebration of the American composer, featuring violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and mezzo-soprano J'Nai Bridges, 8 p.m. March 24, Miller Auditorium, WMU, 349-7759. University Symphony Orchestra and University Chorale — 3 p.m. March 25, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Jazz Guitarist Gene Bertoncini with Bassist Tom Knific and Vocalist Sunny Wilkinson — 7:30 p.m. March 26, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. First Presbyterian Church Concert Series — KSO Artists in Residence perform music of Scott Joplin, 7 p.m. March 27, First Presbyterian Church, 321 W. South St., 349-7759. Western Brass Quintet — Bullock Performance Institute concert, 7:30 p.m. March 28, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-2300. WMU Drum Choir — 5 p.m. March 29, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, 387-4667. Trumpet Day — Guest artist David Bilger, principal trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. March 30, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU, wmu-trumpetday@wmich.edu. VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775

March 18; Rhythmic Vitality: Six Principles of Chinese Painting, March 25; all tours begin at 2 p.m. ARTbreak — Programs about art, artists and exhibitions: NxMW Film Festival, talk by Nick Eppinga, March 6; Charles M. Russell, Cowboy Artist, talk by KIA Curator Karla Niehus, March 13; Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines, video, March 20; Curator's Talk, Nancy Sojka discusses Passion on Paper: Prints from the KIA Collection, March 27; sessions begin at noon. Unreeled: Film at the KIA — Screendances (works choreographed for film) by screendance makers from the 2017 Michigan Regional Alternative Dance Fest (or RAD Fest, see “Dance” listings page 38), a teaser from the 2018 fest, and a talk by Wellspring’s Rachel Miller, 6:30–8 p.m. March 8. Art League: Last Day of Pompeii — Margaret Samu, Metropolitan Museum of Art lecturer, discusses the painting by Karl Briullov, 10 a.m. March 14. Reading Together Book Discussion — Discuss Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, with Harvey Myers, 2 p.m. March 21. Artist's Talk with Dawoud Bey — The Chicago photographer discusses his work in marginalized communities, 6:30–8 p.m. March 22.

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. Other Venues Community Art: Portage Area Students — Students from Portage Public Schools display various forms of art, through March 30. Art Hop — Art at locations in Kalamazoo, 5–8 p.m. March 2, 342-5059.

KIA Exhibits

Round & Round: The Circle at Center Stage — Works from the KIA collection presenting the circle in myriad manifestations, through March 4.


My Hero! Contemporary Art & Superhero Action — Superhero and pop idol imagery, through May 13.


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 U.S.A. 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. Passion on Paper: Masterly Prints from the KIA Collection — Including works by ToulouseLautrec, Mary Cassatt, Howard Hodgkin, Richard Anuskiewicz, Luis Jimenez and Vija Calmins, March 17–July 15. KIA Events Kirk Newman Art School Hands-On Event — Create art in various media: jewelry, photography, printmaking, painting, glass, fiber, ceramics, or sculpture, 4–9 p.m. March 2. Sunday Tours — Docent-led tours: Round & Round: The Circle at Center Stage, March 4; My Hero! Contemporary Art & Superhero Action, March 11; Women Artists in the KIA Collection,

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For full season schedule, visit:


Funding provided by

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 39

events encore Jennifer Farrell, Starshaped Press — Letterpress art, from business cards to music packaging, March 2–April 27, Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A, 373-4938.

First Saturday @ KPL — Family event with stories, activities, special guests and door prizes, 2 p.m. March 3, Central Library, 315 S. Rose St., 342-9837.

Solo Gallery: Johnathan Wijnberg — Oil on canvas exhibit, March 5–April 27, Portage District Library, 300 Library Lane, 329-4544.

Animals and Society Book Club — Vegan Kalamazoo's monthly book discussion, 7–8:30 p.m. March 8, Central Library Boardroom, 342-9837.

LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library

The Eviction Process in Kalamazoo — A local panel presents different aspects of eviction, 6:30– 8 p.m. March 1, Douglass Community Center, 1000 W. Paterson St., 553-7960.

Tenants and Landlords: Their Rights and Responsibilities — Learn about laws and expectations that guide tenants and landlords in our community, 7–8:30 p.m. March 8, Van Deusen Room, Central Library, 342-9837.

When things start to come unraveled.

Homelessness: How It Impacts Families and Children — Local experts discuss challenges and long-term effects of being homeless or surviving housing insecurity, 7–8:30 p.m. March 13, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes Warehouse, 901 Portage St., 343-3663. Evicted Author Matthew Desmond — The author of this year's Reading Together book discusses solutions to a devastating problem, 7–9 p.m. March 16, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave., 342-9837. Reading Together Book Discussion — Kris Miller of the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, in partnership with the Society for History and Racial Equality (SHARE), leads a discussion of Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, 6:30–8 p.m. March 29, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, 205 Monroe St., 337-7398. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747 Parchment Book Group — Discussion of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin, 6:30–8 p.m. March 5. Friends of the Library Book Sale — 10 a.m.–3 p.m. March 24. Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544 SciFi/Fantasy Group: Norse Mythology — Experts from Norsemen of Michigan Living History Society discuss Norse culture and mythology, 7 p.m. March 5. International Mystery Book Group — Discussion of Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, 7 p.m. March 8. Reading Together Book Discussion — Discuss Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, with other community members, 7 p.m. March 12. Evening with the Author: Elizabeth Wein — Talk and book signing by the 2018 CommuniTEEN Read author of Code Name Verity, 6–8 p.m. March 14, Air Zoo, 6151 Portage Road, 329-4544. Open for Discussion — Discussion of Evicted, by Matthew Desmond, 10:30 a.m. March 20.

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A Book Talk: Ready Player One — A representative from Glitch gaming lounge discusses video games from the 1980s and the future of virtual reality, followed by an open discussion of the novel, 7 p.m. March 22. Richland Community Library 8951 Park St., 629-9085

See You in the Cosmos: A Discussion with Detroit Author Jack Cheng — Reading and discussion of the author's new teen novel about grace, love and understanding, 7 p.m. March 1.

encore Events MUSEUMS Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671-5089 Under the Hood Weekend — A look under the hood of cars on display, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. March 2, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. March 3 & 4. 2018 Lecture Series — Sir William and Jaguar: From Swallow Sidecars to Victory at Le Mans, Mike Erspamer, March 4; Walt's Pilgrimage: The Walt Disney Story with a Gilmore Connection, Christopher W. Tremblay, March 11; Slot Cars and the Kalamazoo Connection, John Lacko, March 18; Running on Empty: Abandoned Gas Stations in America, Susan Johnston, March 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. MI Winter Skies — Learn about the night sky over Michigan, 3 p.m. March 1, 6, 8, 13 & 15, 2 p.m. March 10, Planetarium.

Violent Universe — Learn about catastrophes of the cosmos, 3 p.m. Sun., Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat., through March 16, Planetarium. Kalamazoo Fretboard Festival — March 2 & 3; see description under Music: Bands & Solo Artists, page 38.

Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter — New approaches and technologies in the search for dark matter, 4 p.m. March 4 & 11, Planetarium. Led Zeppelin Music Light Show — Experience the band's classics in surround sound set to immersive computer-generated effects, 4 p.m. March 10, Planetarium. Solar Gardens/Solar Energy — Bradley Bazuin discusses the WMU Educational Solar Garden, solar cells, panels and arrays, 1:30 p.m. March 11. Practical Hands-On Experience — Hands-on interactive activities and exhibits for people with sensory challenges, including a presentation for parents, in collaboration with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, 11 a.m. March 17. Habitat Earth — An award-winning film that journeys through vast networks of life on Earth, 3 p.m. Sun., Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat., March 17–31, Planetarium. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon — The band's eighth album set to stunning visuals, 4 p.m. Sat., March 17–June 9, Planetarium.

Climate Change, Impacts and Adaptations in the Great Lakes Region — Discussion with Laura Briley, climatologist with the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments program, 1:30 p.m. March 25. NATURE Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574 Owl Prowl — Take a night hike and listen for owl calls, 7:30 p.m. March 1 & 22. From Sap to Syrup — Hike through the woods to the KNC sugar shack, 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. March 3 & 4. Maple Sugar Festival — Enjoy a pancake breakfast and a hike through the woods for a maple sugar tour, 9–5 p.m. March 10 & 11. Pioneer Maple Sugaring — Learn how pioneers made their sugar, 2 p.m. March 18, DeLano Homestead, 555 West E Ave. Boomers & Beyond: Nature Poetry Workshop — A nature hike and workshop with Kalamazoo's Friends of Poetry, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. March 27. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510 Birds and Coffee Walk — A walk to view birds of the season, 9 a.m. March 8.

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events encore Dessert with Discussion: American Kestrels Saving Michigan Berries from Predation — A discussion with MSU professors Catherine Lindell and Phil Howard, 7–9 p.m. March 26, Auditorium.

Other Venues Maple Syrup Open House — Sugarbush tours and wagon rides, noon–5 p.m. March 10, W.K. Kellogg Experimental Forest, 7060 N. 42nd St., Augusta, 731-4597. Pot o' Gold Geocaching Tike Hike — An ageappropriate hike for little folk and their adults, 3:30 p.m. March 11, Portman Nature Preserve, 28779–27815 49th Ave., Paw Paw, 324-1600; RSVP requested.

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St. Patrick's Parade — 11 a.m. March 17, downtown Kalamazoo, starting at the corner of Burdick Street (Kalamazoo Mall) and Michigan Avenue, 372-7332, kalamazooirish.org. Kalamazoo County 4-H Horse Leaders Tack Sale — Supplies and equipment for horse and farm, 5–9 p.m. March 19, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, msue.msu.edu/kalamazoo.


Kalamazoo's Ultimate Indoor Garage Sale — Antiques, baby gear, toys, furniture and electronics, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. March 24, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 903-5820.

Women's LifeStyle Expo — Information created for women by women, noon–6 p.m. March 2, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. March 3, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., 488-9780.

Kalamazoo Home & Garden Expo — New building trends, products and ideas, noon–8 p.m. March 8, noon–9 p.m. March 9, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. March 10, noon–4 p.m. March 11, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 375-4225.

4620 Arboretum Parkway | (269) 389-0118

Kalamazoo Living History Show — Reenactments, craftspeople, dealers & history buffs, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. March 17, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. March 18, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 765-563-6792.

Audubon Society of Kalamazoo — Gail Walter speaks on One Billion Birds: The Glass Collision Problems (and Some Solutions), 7:30 p.m. March 26, People's Church, 1758 N. 10th St., 375-7210.

Walking Tour of Downtown Kalamazoo Breweries — Learn about the local beer culture, noon–4:15 p.m. March 3, 17 & 31, starting at Old Burdick's Bar & Grill, 100 W. Michigan Ave.; March 10, starting at HopCat Kalamazoo, 300 E. Water St.; March 24, starting at Shakespeare's Pub, 241 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 350-4598.

Now Enrolling

items, 8 a.m.–2 p.m. March 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 & 28, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 383-8761.

Healing Body and Spirit Expo — Psychics and mediums, stones, crystals, aromatherapy and holistic products, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. March 10, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. March 11, The Valley, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, 345-1125. Kalamazoo Indoor Flea & Antique Market — New and used items, antiques and handcrafted

Spring Craft Show — Unique crafts, artists and vendors, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. March 24, Kalamazoo County Expo Center South, 903-5820. 2018 HRI Walk to End Homelessness — A 5K walk sponsored by Housing Resources Inc., 10 a.m. March 24, starting at Homer Stryker Field, 251 Mills St., 488-0913. Geocaching Adventure — A high-tech treasure hunt with experienced cachers, 1–3 p.m. March 24, Eliason Nature Reserve, 9501 Shaver Road, 329-4522. Kids' Bunny Hop Fun Run — A fun run, egg hunt and kids' activities, 2 p.m. March 24, Portage West Middle School, 7145 Moorsbridge Road, 806-6611, runsignup.com/Race/MI/Portage/ KidsEasterEggHuntFunRun. Annual Egg Hunt — Egg hunt and Easter activities, 2–4 p.m. March 31, Mayors' Riverfront Park, 251 Mills St., 337-8191.

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encore Poetry

The Ladies’ Library in Kalamazoo We told our husbands and fathers we wanted to sew with the neighbors. But as we stitched, we took turns reading aloud our favorite authors, discussing their words. We helped women gain access to books in the 1850s when most colleges excluded us and scholars believed our smaller brains limited mental growth. We adored Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh, a novel in verse about a free-spirited woman orphaned at thirteen. Though Aurora’s father taught her Latin and Greek, her guardian aunt gives her a stifling education. But Aurora discovers her father’s library and dreams of publishing poems. Aurora refuses a marriage proposal from Romney, who thinks females cannot be good writers or have success in a career. Aurora befriends and cares for an abused woman with a son, the child of rape. Then Romney perceives Aurora’s talent and they declare their love.

By 1878, we had raised funds to build a Ladies’ Library in downtown Kalamazoo. We marvel as red bricks, ornate tiles, and stone gargoyles cover the frame, wood panels adorn the walls. To host concerts and plays, we construct a theater. Stained glass windows grace the building, and one features Aurora Leigh. — Janet Heller Heller, a published author and poet who lives in Portage, has taught literature, women's studies and creative writing at Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, the former Nazareth College and several other colleges and universities. She was installed as the new vice president of the Ladies’ Library Association on Jan. 8. (See page 12 for information on Lucinda Stone, who was pivotal in the creation of the Ladies’ Library Association, as well as other women in Kalamazoo’s history. )

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WMUK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Zooroona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

BACK STORY (continued from page 46)

How did you get where you are today? My call story is complicated — I came to a point where I realized that I would be a disciple of Jesus Christ for the rest of my life. I had a mentor, Rev. Todd Petty, who encouraged me to do two things — work closely with the homeless population in Grand Rapids’ Heartside neighborhood and go to seminary. I did both. I came out of seminary more politically charged and became a community organizer with the Gamaliel Foundation, working here and in Chicago, where I really discerned that God was sowing in me this passion for Congregational ministry. We (he and his wife, Heather) left West Michigan, lived in the South for several years and did a stint in Palestine’s West Bank, where I was an emergency medical technician with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Ultimately, after supporting my partner through her Ph.D. program, I was accepted into a Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt University and completed the coursework, but was broken-hearted that I wasn’t serving a church. So we decided together to do a “search and call” — that’s the process of finding a church home — and, as God would have it, received the call here to Kalamazoo. Did you grow up as a Congregationalist? Sort of. (he laughs). My parents probably would have liked me to spend more time in church than I did. I was kind of a terror as a teenager. I was not a good student and was a rebel. I needed some guidance, and my parents were just awesome and brilliant and provided me with every opportunity. I like to think that today it gives me a perspective on kids who maybe don’t stick to the straight and narrow — you know, don’t give up hope; they might grow up to be Congregationalist ministers (he laughs). Why did you want to be on the Foundation for Excellence’s board? The foundation’s board has a fiduciary role but isn’t in charge of how the money is spent — it’s critically important that people understand that. It really is the voters and elected officials by proxy who will decide how the revenue is spent. My concern is how the monies are invested. As someone who oversees a church with a fairly significant

investment portfolio and a belief that these investments should align with our values as a church, I believe Kalamazoo has shared values and my hope in participating on this board is to encourage us to invest these monies in ways that are meaningful and impactful and align with our shared civic values. What are those ‘shared civic values’? Kalamazoo is a community that believes that public education is a public good. (Kalamazoo County) Sheriff (Richard) Fuller put it very succinctly when he said, “You either pay for schools or you pay for jails.” Giving people opportunities to get education — traditional, nontraditional, or vocational education — improves the quality of life for all of us. I also believe we are a community that values inclusiveness and accepts people that perhaps are turned away elsewhere. We prayed for marriage equality for years in this community, and when we found out that Michigan would be the Supreme Court’s test case for marriage equality, we felt that God was moving in a really powerful way. When the vote came through, we had so many people come to the church to pray and give thanks that we spilled out into Bronson Park, and the city of Kalamazoo was there waiting for us. There were thousands in the park that day. That is emblematic of who we are as a people. We are a people of hope and, we believe, taking a courageous step to be on the right side of history. You have a musical side as well. I played the violin as a kid and in college was introduced to a song circle by a friend and started playing more traditional roots music. I’ve been in Who Hit John? off and on for over a decade now. We play American music and love the songbook of American history. Now we all have jobs, wives, kids and whatnot, so we don’t play as much as we’d like to. Jamie Cavanaugh has us play once a month at O’Duffy’s, and I love it. You are also passionate about solving homelessness. Kalamazoo has a very significant homeless problem. It ought to bother us and concern us because I don’t believe we need to have that. I’m an advocate of something called “housing first,” which is the idea you can’t

use homelessness as a punishment to try to get people to make better choices. I’m not a big drinker, but if I was told, “Pastor Nathan, you are going to sleep under a bush tonight and it’s 20 degrees,” I would go buy a bottle of whiskey or something to get through the night. Homelessness creates anxiety, terror, fear and mental instability, and all these issues compound the problem. When we put up barriers to housing, we exacerbate the problem. My favorite example of a successful model is Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada — it’s the same size as Kalamazoo, has the same kind of economy and also has a funny name. They’ve reduced homelessness by 95 percent. They are motivated to do this for fiscally conservative reasons. It’s very expensive to treat people when they’re living on the street — they are hard to find and their illnesses compound. I believe we can create a solution to this problem that houses people first — not in an emergency shelter but with a set of keys, a bed to sleep on and an address to get mail — and then once there’s a roof over their head, initiate the intensive interventions and treatments that we have available to us in Kalamazoo. We have 10 empty residential units in Kalamazoo County for every single homeless man, woman and child in our community. I am not saying the answer is to redistribute those houses or take them away from their owners or something like that, but it’s not a question of whether or not we have the resources to solve this problem, because we do. We absolutely do. Do all your varying passions — music, solving homelessness, old buildings, community — ever come together? When the sound of the pipe organ and the music, the light through the clerestory windows, the smell of church coffee and the liturgy are all there waiting for you to experience with your body, it’s like opening the pages of a beautiful book that was written thousands of years ago and is still being written today and you are part of writing that story. That’s when it comes together for me, on Sunday morning. — Interviewed by Marie Lee

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 45


Nathan Dannison

Senior Pastor, First Congregational Church

First, at just 34, he’s the senior pastor at Kalamazoo’s First Congregational Church. He’s also a seventh-generation Michigander who hunts and fishes, plays fiddle in the local Americana band Who Hit John?, restores old houses, wants to solve homelessness and was just tapped to fill the single at-large seat on Kalamazoo’s Foundation for Excellence board of directors, which oversees the $70 million endowment fund established to stabilize the city’s budget, reduce property taxes and pay for community projects. Oh, yes, and he’s a husband and father who runs around after a toddler. (continued on page 45) 46 | Encore MARCH 2018

Brian Powers

Nathan Dannison cannot be described in just a few words.


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