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Interesting Tales Behind Local Tombstones

Lathered in Love: Soapmaker Molly Appledorn

Why We Need Nature Now

The KNC celebrates 60 years

Meet Tony Humrichouser


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Interesting Tales Behind Local Tombstones

Lathered in Love: Soapmaker Molly Appledorn

Meet Tony Humrichouser

Why We Need Nature Now

The KNC celebrates 60 years

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Copy Editor/ Poetry Editor margaret deritter

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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.


ENCORE EDITOR'S NOTE

From the Editor While not always easy to find, there are positive things that have come out of the COVID-19

pandemic and lockdown. For one, people have rediscovered the natural world. When we couldn’t take being inside anymore, we went outdoors and hiked, biked, walked and enjoyed the natural beauty and opportunities our area abounds with. One of the places that helped us do that was the Kalamazoo Nature Center, which we feature in our cover story this month. Sixty years ago, local nature lover Lewis Batts had the foresight to preserve a chunk of land north of Kalamazoo known as Cooper’s Glen. Since then, the KNC has spread its wings into nature education, conservancy, camps, an environmental field school and animal rehabilitation. During the pandemic lockdown, when the outdoors was one of the few safe places to be, this membershipbased center opened its trails to everyone, allowing many people to find a peaceful and beautiful respite during stressful times. In another story in this issue, we meet Molly Appledorn, who turned to prolifically making homemade soap during the lockdown and then just as prolifically giving it away. It’s a wonderful story told by her sister, local author Jennifer Clark, about how something as ordinary as soap became something extraordinary. We also meet Tony Humrichouser, the artistic director of the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. The pandemic has brought a tidal wave of change to the local arts community, and Tony talks about how he and the Civic are rethinking theater in a pandemic. Finally, on a less upbeat note, we bid farewell to someone very special to Encore and the greater Kalamazoo community. Celeste Statler, our venerable sales and marketing genius and the first hire we made after purchasing Encore in 2011, is leaving us for the mountains and rangeland of Montana. For nearly a decade, she has enchanted us with her effervescence, awed us with her amazing fashion sense, and generally improved everything she touched in relation to Encore. Celeste is known to many of you because of her work with the Kalamazoo Gazette and her involvement with the former Chamber of Commerce and on the boards of the Civic, Ministry With Community and many other organizations. Without her around, I think we’ll all feel as if there’s a lot less bubble in our champagne. Thank you, Celeste, for being our light on gray days and championing Encore everywhere you went. And thank you, Encore readers, for your interest in our magazine. Enjoy the beauty of autumn.

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CONTENTS

O ct ob er 2020

FEATURE ‘Certain Places Have a Magic’

For 60 years, the Kalamazoo Nature Center has been soothing souls and connecting people with the natural world

22

DEPARTMENTS 5 From the Editor 8 Contributors Up Front

9

First Things — A round-up of happenings in SW Michigan

12 Five Faves — Interesting local tombstones and the tales behind them

16

Enterprise

38

Back Story

Lathered in Love — Extraordinarily unordinary times cry out for the desperately ordinary: soap

Meet Tony Humrichouser — The Civic Theatre’s artistic director talks about rethinking theater in today's world

ARTS 32 Events of Note 35 Poetry

On the cover: Nathan Smallwood, executive director of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, at left, chats with KNC landscape coordinator Luke Allison on one of the center’s trails. Photo by Brian K. Powers

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CONTRIBUTORS ENCORE

Jennifer Clark Encore copy editor and poetry editor Margaret DeRitter brought Jennifer’s wonderful essay on her sister’s soap making during the pandemic to our attention. While this essay is a bit of a departure from the articles we usually run, we wanted to share this delightful snapshot of life during COVID-19 with our readers. This essay will also be included in Jennifer’s upcoming collection of essays and poetry, Kissing the World Goodbye, to be released in March by Unsolicited Press. Jennifer is also the author of three poetry collections — Necessary Clearings, Johnny Appleseed: The Slice & Times of John Chapman and A Beginner’s Guide to Heaven — and serves on the staff of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo.

Donna McClurkan In the early weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown, experts emphasized the importance of nature experiences as a way to maintain both physical and mental health. When it was deemed safe, the Kalamazoo Nature Center opened its trails to all — no entry fee, no membership required. Learning of this gift to the community during the KNC’s 60th anniversary made Donna aware of how little she knew of its history and programs. In this month’s issue, she writes about that history and those programs, emphasizing the center’s resilience and adaptation. McClurkan is a Kalamazoo-based freelance writer.

Julie Smith

With a background in theater, journalism and the social sciences, Julie has always been fascinated with how theater and cinema reflect and shape society. Following the civil unrest that has rocked Kalamazoo, Julie spoke with the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre's artistic director for this month’s Back Story about how local theaters can help heal hurting communities. Julie and her family live in Cooper Township and are active volunteers at the Civic. She has watched her children's passions come alive on the Civic stage and longs for a day when everyone can return to this Kalamazoo treasure. You can see more of Julie’s writing at juliesmithwriter.com.

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Panelists: Mary Whiteford

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Elizabeth Hertel

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Brian Thiel & Judith Zink

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Alan Bolter

Associate Director Community Mental Health Association of Michigan

Sherri Boyd

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ENCORE FIRST THINGS

First Things Please Note: Due to the COVID–19 virus, some of these events may have been cancelled after press time. Please check with the venue and organizations for up-to-date information.

Something Musical

Virtual Gilmore features rising pianist

Thomas Brunot

Despite COVID-19, the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival is still bringing first-class pianists to Kalamazoo. But instead of seeing them perform live on stage, you can see their performances live-streamed to your living room. South Korean pianist Chaeyoung Park, winner of the 2019 Hilton Head International Piano Competition, will perform at 4 p.m. Oct. 18 as part of The Gilmore’s Rising Stars Series. Among the works the 22-year-old will play is Brahms’ Sonata No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 5. Park will also answer live questions after the concert. Tickets are available on a “name your own price” basis and can be purchased at thegilmore.org.

Chaeyoung Park

Something Important

Symposium examines Black mental health Systemic

racism, the historical roots of trauma, and school-induced anxiety and depression are among the topics to be discussed during a two-day online symposium Oct. 15-16. The event, titled “Breaking the Stigma: African American Mental Health Symposium,” will take place from 8:30 a.m.—noon each day via Webex and will provide an examination of the stigmas affecting African Americans. The keynote speakers will be Dr. Rajiv Tandon, professor and chairman of psychiatry at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, on Oct. 15 and Kevin Fischer, executive director of the Michigan affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), on Oct. 16. The event is sponsored by the WMU College of Health and Human Services and The Synergy Health Center, and the cost is $75. To register, visit wmich.edu/events/60799.

Something Nostalgic

See the cars of American Graffiti If you’ve seen the film American

Graffiti, then you know the stars of that blockbuster 1973 movie were the cars. And now you can see several of those iconic automobiles in a new exhibit at the Gilmore Car Museum — Where Were You in ’62?. The exhibit, which runs until spring, features memorabilia from the 1950s and ‘60s, including a jukebox playing music from the era, alongside a diner booth. On display is the 1958 customized Chevrolet Impala that actor Ron Howard drove in the movie, which is on loan to the museum from NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Ray Evernham, as well as a 1932 Deuce Coupe hobbyist-built tribute car, a 1956 white Ford Thunderbird and a 1958 Edsel Pacer four-door hardtop. The museum is located at 6865 W. Hickory Road in Hickory Corners. Its hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday and 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $16 for adults and $11 for youth ages 11-17. Children 10 and younger and active military members are admitted free. For more information, visit gilmorecarmuseum.org. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 9


FIRST THINGS ENCORE

Something Bony

SkeleTour returns to downtown Kalamazoo Here’s a fun reason to get outside and take a walk — SkeleTour

hits the sidewalks of downtown Kalamazoo again this October. During the month-long SkeleTour, downtown streets are adorned with skeletons representing local businesses. You can enjoy the creativity and genius of the creators of the skeletons, which run the gamut from creepy and scary to funny and silly. And don’t forget to look up: Last year there were skeletons hanging onto the sides of buildings. For more information, visit downtownkalamazoo.org/event/ skeletour.

Something Soothing

Festival offers meditative music

Something Spooky

Portage plans drive-in Monster Mash Portage is offering an evening of trick-or-treating, a spooky forest and a movie — all of which can be taken in from the comfort of your car — at its Monster Mash Oct. 17. The event runs from 3–7 p.m. at Ramona Park, 8600 S. Sprinkle Road, and will be entirely drive-in style. Driving through the forest and trick-or-treating will be followed by a drive-in movie screening of Hocus Pocus at sunset. The event is free, but parking will be limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 3 p.m. For more information, visit mypark.portagemi.gov.

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Not to be daunted by COVID-19, the Connecting Chords Music Festival will bring its soothing music to audiences this month. Throughout the month, the Resonance Music Project will be featured at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S. Park St. The project features short recorded works by local musicians in response to selected artwork from the KIA's Unveiling American Genius exhibit. Also, on Oct. 17, cellist Elizabeth Start and drummer Eric Donovan Lester will present concerts at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St. The Connecting Chords festival is presented by the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music. Ticket prices for events vary. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit mfsm.us or call 382-2910.


Something Theatrical WMU stages show outdoors

It won’t be in a park, but you can enjoy an outdoor production of Sunday in the Park with George Oct. 1-4 at Western Michigan University’s Miller Fountain Plaza, in front of the Richmond Center for Visual Arts. WMU Theatre will present the musical, which was inspired by the painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, by Georges Seurat. It tells the story of George, a fictionalized version of Seurat, who immerses himself deeply in painting his masterpiece, and his greatgrandson (also named George), a conflicted and cynical contemporary artist. In order to ensure social distancing, attendees will sit in pods of no more than four members from their own household groups and masks will be required for all patrons, performers and staff. The pods will be clearly marked and spaced at least 6 feet apart. Seating is general admission and will begin 45 minutes before the show. Audience members are encouraged to bring chairs; blankets are not recommended because of the concrete of the plaza. Show times are 7 p.m. Oct. 1-3 and 2 p.m. Oct. 4. Tickets are $20 per person and available online at tinyurl.com/sundaywgeorge or by calling 387-6222.

Something Cinematic

Local premiere of Once Upon a River planned Once Upon a River, hailed as one of the “most anticipated movies of fall 2020” by Time magazine and based on the best-selling book by local author Bonnie Jo Campbell, makes its national virtual debut Oct. 2, after winning 17 awards at film festivals. The Ladies Library Association is offering the Kalamazoo premiere of the movie that day via virtual streaming. The online event will begin at 7 p.m. This Midwestern gothic story is, in the words of Jane Smiley for The New York Times, “an excellent American parable about the consequences of our favorite ideal, freedom.” The story takes place in 1970s rural Michigan as a traumatized young woman embarks on a river odyssey to find her estranged mother. The day before the premiere, Campbell will engage in a Facebook live discussion from 1–1:45 p.m. of her experiences during the process of having her novel adapted into a major motion picture. For tickets and more information about these events, visit tinyurl.com/LLAfilmpremiere.

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FIVE FAVES ENCORE

Five Faves

Historian highlights interesting local tombstones by

LYNN HOUGHTON

When they were younger, my daughters would hold their breath when we drove by a cemetery. Holding my breath near a cemetery would have been a problem for me as a kid, since I spent a lot of time in cemeteries with my brother, the family genealogist who loved to quiz me at a family plot as to who was who. Unfortunately, I did not pass all his examinations. Over the years, my interest in cemeteries has changed from focusing on family to concentrating on design and architecture, points I make when giving walking tours of these areas. Here are five of my favorite local tombstones:

Anna Jannasch-Shortt Gravestone Riverside Cemetery Anna came to Kalamazoo from Germany with her family in 1850. After graduating from high school, she became a teacher in 1868. Already teaching music privately, she opened her own music institute in 1879 on East Michigan Avenue east of Portage Street. Local advertisements and articles listed 19 different instruments she taught for close to 50 years, until her death in 1924. In 1902, a new building at 254 E. Michigan Ave. was completed for her that still stands. Around 1889, Anna called herself Madam. She later stated in her will that this moniker would be on her tombstone, and she also left very explicit instructions on the color of her casket and dress and requested a brass band to accompany her body to the cemetery.

Allen Family Monument Mountain Home Cemetery This prominent granite globe, positioned at a high point in the cemetery, has specific significance for this family. In 1865 Oscar M. Allen Sr. organized the Globe Casket Co., which was one of the first in the country to make clothlined caskets and was in business until 1950. One of his sons also used the name Globe for the construction company he started in 1912, a company that is still in operation. Born in New York, Oscar Sr. came to Michigan in 1837, finding his way to Kalamazoo by 1853. He owned companies that papered and painted house interiors and sold furniture, and he created the village’s first dollar store. Buried in this family plot are Oscar Sr., his wife Hannah, five of their eight children, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter.

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ENCORE FIVE FAVES

Sutherland Family Monument Riverside Cemetery Born on a farm in Portage Township, the Sutherland brothers, Frederick and Louis, became involved early in their careers with the local paper industry. In 1917 they formed the Kalamazoo Sanitary Carton Co., which produced packaging for food-related products and was later renamed the Sutherland Paper Co. This monument, erected after Frederick’s death in 1939, has a vertical, linear design reflective of the Art Deco style very popular during the 1920s and 1930s for a wide variety of items, including buildings and home decor. The headstones for Frederick and his wife, Bessie, also have the same style. Buried next to them are Louis and his wife, Agnes, all four together in death as they were in life.

Tree-stump Tombstones: Wagner Family Monument Riverside Cemetery Found

in many cemeteries, tree-stump tombstones are one of my favorite types of monuments for their uniqueness. Filled with so much detail and symbolism, these limestone markers became popular during a rustic movement from 1880 to 1905. Found in catalogs like Sears, the monuments also were available to members of a fraternal organization called the Modern Woodmen of America that had nothing to do with lumbering. (It’s a member-owned fraternal financial services organization.) The stones were decorated with such items as ferns, ivy, flowers, books and animals, which all symbolized a wide variety of wishes and desires for the deceased. The length of limbs or branches on a stone could signify the longevity of the deceased. This monument is for the Wagner family. The individual headstones for family members are in the shape of logs. w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 13


FIVE FAVES ENCORE

White Bronze Monuments: Potts Family Monument Mountain Home Cemetery Another of my favorite types of cemetery monuments are white bronze monuments — a misleading label because they are made not of bronze, but of zinc carbonate. Bronze, however, sounded more appealing. Popular between 1870 and 1915 and predominantly purchased from catalogs, these monuments ranged in price from $6 to $5,000 and came in many different sizes and shapes. One could choose a certain design and pick out specific panels with different symbols. The Potts family monument contains corn, wheat, an anchor, a crown and a chain, which all have multiple meanings. Unfortunately, because of the material from which these monuments were made, they became brittle, and many bent and cracked. Eventually their popularity waned, but many cemeteries still have them, both big and small.

About the Author

Lynn Houghton is the regional history curator at the Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections, located in the Zhang Legacy Collections Center, on Oakland Drive. She is the co-author of the book Kalamazoo Lost and Found and leads the Gazelle Sports Historic Walks and other public history programs. She also participated in the PBS series 10 Streets That Shaped America. She has bachelor's and master's degrees in history from WMU and a master's in library and information science from Wayne State University.

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ENTERPRISE ENCORE

Lathered in Love

Unordinary times cry out for the desperately ordinary by

JENNIFER CLARK

S

Brian Powers

ince the pandemic hit, my sister, Molly Appledorn, can’t stop making soap. Or talking about it. We’re on her back deck, six feet apart, sipping strawberry jalapeño margaritas. This soap thing rocks! she says. And she’s rocked quite a few soaps, from Sassy Citrus to Date Night to Grandma’s Lemon Bars, turning out loaf after beautiful loaf. To make her soaps, Molly buys refined shea butter, rice bran oil, essential oils and pounds of sodium hydroxide, all delivered safely

16 | ENCORE OCTOBER 2020

through the mail. She obtains avocado, castor and hemp oils from Sawall Health Foods. For some batches, she snatches eggs, still warm from her hens, and adds them in. Into others, she drizzles milk from coconuts or goats. Three months into the pandemic, she placed a custom order with some guy named Jeremy for a soap cutter made from solid cherry. She drove 76 miles, from Kalamazoo to Sand Lake, to pick it up. She Molly Appledorn, right, has found a new purpose creating soaps, like those below, during the COVID-19 pandemic.


ENCORE ENTERPRISE

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ENTERPRISE ENCORE

now slices Strawberry and Lemon Poppy Seed loaves with ease. With wild abandon she gives away Cucumber Melon and Sexy Beast Mowing the Lawn. She drives across town delivering soap to relatives, former coworkers, soccer moms and book-club friends she sees now only on Zoom. To the Amazon delivery person she gives Sideways Smile Sandalwood. The other day she slipped some fresh slabs to the masked salesladies at J. Jill. She’s hauled an assortment to the grocery store and let these essential workers choose the bars that spoke to them. Even before these recipients use the soap, I imagine they feel, like me, already lathered in her love. Mol, that was so cool how you wove that twine around that almond soap you gave me. You should do that with all your soaps. I don’t want to get distracted by packaging. It’s what’s inside that matters. Molly goes on

about the essential oils she wants to infuse into her next batch. She talks so fast I can’t follow. Instead, I marvel how the sun has found its way through the trees and is kissing her face. She shines. In times of fear and anxiety, some people flounder while others, like my sister, unfold and open themselves anew. She’s now your gal for sunburn, poison ivy, eczema, psoriasis. In this age of uncertainty, in which the world’s economy has shrunk along with our lives, Molly offers plenty of options. Need a vacation? She’ll gift you one. Little vacation soaps, she calls them. Made with chamomile and honey. Scrub the tiny rosebud over your body. Breathe deeply. For a more rustic getaway, try her Pine Tar, a bar that smells like a smoky, closed-up cabin. Itching to host a big party with guests close and touching, shoulders bumping?

Clockwise from above: Creative names are a unique aspect of Appledorn’s soaps; Appledorn using a specialty, hand-crafted soap cutter; bottles of essential oils and other tools of soapmaking; and Appledorn’s soaps are as colorful as the names she gives them.

Slather yourself in Confetti. Missing the bar scene? Suds up with some Coconut Porter. If you’re craving something more spiritual and happen to be walking down a street in Kalamazoo, Amazing Grace, humming with lemon and jasmine, may arrive to you unbidden and unmerited. In response to her soap gifts, Molly has received face masks, a four-pack of Founders

18 | ENCORE OCTOBER 2020


Brian Powers

ale, blueberry buckle, wines, peach jam, sour-cherry jam, tart-cherry jam, an infinity scarf, chocolate chip cookies, hand-knitted soap savers, homemade Bloody Mary mix and sourdough bread. You need to sell your soaps, I say, sipping my margarita. Put up a website. Start making some money. And you’re going to have to change some of the soap names. Mouse Poop Lavender isn’t enticing. Who wants to rub that on —

— It smells delish! And Big Ass Orange Addict — — People love that one! she says, laughing. It’s got notes of tobacco and vanilla. Half the fun is coming up with the names, so I’m not changing them. Anyways, I can’t sell my soap. It would suck the joy right out of it. I ask what else she’s gotten lately.

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Brian Powers Just some of the items Appledorn has received in reciprocation from people she gifted with soap.

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Gratitude and love, she says. That’s all I need. Fueled by an economy of kindness, she labors deep into the heat of summer. During these extraordinarily unordinary times, her desperately ordinary work brings joy to both giver and receiver. In this time when we physically distance and avoid touching even our own faces, Molly has figured out how to embrace weary spirits residing inside flesh. Each nourishing soap, whether bartered or given away, restores hope and serves as a reminder that, beneath the grime of despair, we are part of the slathery goodness thrumming wildly in this world. Not a day slips by that Molly isn’t texting photos of her latest creation, each loaf a canvas of comfort waiting to be shared. I hope these soap interruptions are welcome diversions for our brother, John. As an infectious disease doctor and hospital epidemiologist, he is extremely busy these days. Forty-six batches of soap later, our brother texts back: Dear Tiny Baby Jesus — Please allow me to have at least 1/10th the joy that soapmaking gives Molly in all that I do each day. Amen. Amen, brother. Note: The title of this piece was inspired by the following quote from Proctor & Gamble, makers of Ivory soap (which made its debut in 1879): “Soap is a desperately ordinary substance to us.”


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‘Certain Places Have a

Brian Powers

Magic

22 | ENCORE OCTOBER 2020


Kalamazoo Nature Center has been soothing souls for 60 years by

DONNA MCCLURKAN

It’s an open invitation from Nathan Smallwood,

CEO of the Kalamazoo Nature Center: “I urge you to come out in this challenging time. Walk the trails. I promise you will feel better.” It’s a simple promise grounded in science. There’s abundant evidence that being in nature is restorative. Necessary even. Humans are part of nature, and our well-being depends on the health of the environment, which was one the founding tenets of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, which observes its 60th anniversary this month.

Nature Center CEO Nathan Smallwood, left, walks one of the center’s trails with Luke Allison, KNC's landscape coordinator.

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“Certain places have a magic that draws people to them” begins the Kalamazoo Nature Center story in Glimpsing the Whole (Beech Leaf Press, 1995), a retrospective book about the center by Renee Kivikko, Constance Ferguson and Monica Evans. That magic is evident in Cooper’s Glen, a wooded, rolling countryside five miles north of Kalamazoo that was named for James Fenimore Cooper, a prolific 19th-century American author of historical fiction, perhaps best-known for The Last of the Mohicans and whose novel Oak Openings (1848) is set on a wooded prairie in Kalamazoo during the War of 1812. H. Lewis Batts Jr. was a frequent visitor to Cooper’s Glen in the 1950s. Originally from Macon, Georgia, Batts came to Kalamazoo as a teen. His early interest in birds led to an academic career teaching ecology and ornithology at Kalamazoo College. He often met Western Michigan University professor of biology Dr. Harriette Bartoo and their respective students in the glen. The threat of a gravel mining operation and commercialism, along with the love both professors shared for the rolling hills, prairies and abundant plant and animal life of the glen, led them to action. They formed community partnerships with natural history, legal, fundraising and business experts to purchase the property and create an outdoor environmental education center. The Kalamazoo Nature Center was incorporated on Oct. 31, 1960, and Batts was appointed executive director.

An uncharted path The center’s leadership faced unchartered territory, since nature centers were new at that time, but the founders knew the facilities and programs they envisioned would live on well into the future by incorporating concepts of diversity, financial stability and sustainability. Research, education and stewardship were foundational and remain so today. From the start, the founders’ vision was to establish a center that developed, especially in children, an understanding of and appreciation for natural resources for the long-term benefit

24 | ENCORE OCTOBER 2020

of all people. For us to appreciate the natural world of which we are a part, the center’s programs were — and to this day are — designed to be interactive and accessible to all, serving people of every age, race, ability, education level and economic status. Batts retired in 1988, after nearly 30 years of leading the nonprofit institution.

He was succeeded by Willard (Bill) Rose, who retired in 2018, after a nearly 30-year career marked by the center’s growth and expansion. Under Rose’s leadership, land holdings of the KNC doubled, to nearly 1,200 acres. Also, with the multi-milliondollar support of an anonymous donor, the center acquired the Heronwood Field


Station, in Alamo Township, which includes 70 acres of woodlands and a 5,000-squarefoot building that is now a classroom and laboratory space. This acquisition allowed expansion of programming to target populations that historically did not access nature-based learning. For example, the Nature Center partnered with the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency’s Education for Employment program to develop a curriculum on conservation biology for

high school students. The field station has also been used for college classes, middle school summer programs, adult Citizen Science programs and endangered butterfly propagation work. In addition, the center’s Nature’s Way Preschool, established under Batts (among the three earliest nature-based preschools in the country) and located off Oakland Drive, was rebuilt to double its capacity. The Stryker Nature Preserve — 30 acres of protected woodland on which the preschool sits —

abuts Portage Creek and includes the Carver House, a mid-20th-century house designed by the late local architect Norman F. Carver that is used for programming and rentals. “If Lew (Batts) was the visionary founder, Bill (Rose) was the one to expand it to a scale that helped set the standard for premier nature centers,” says Smallwood, the center’s CEO since two years ago. Reflecting on his time leading the center, Rose says, “I do feel grateful for having had the opportunity to help the organization grow and to serve the mission. Yes, there was considerable expansion in terms of land acquisition and high-quality services and programming, but — and I want to emphasize this — it was the dedicated staff, volunteers and board who carried that same passion and commitment to the mission that made our successes possible.” Tallgrass prairie and savannas were extensive and complex ecological features native to southwestern Michigan before European settlers began claiming and transforming them for plowing and animal grazing in the early 1800s. Restoration initiatives started during Rose’s tenure remain integral to the center’s landmanagement strategies. “Last week I biked the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail to the (Willard Rose Tallgrass) Prairie,” Rose said in a July interview. “All my favorite flowers were in bloom: purple coneflower, blackeyed Susan and orange butterfly weed. I’m so grateful to have this in our community.”

The work behind the scenes Clockwise from top left: A family walks to a tunnel connecting Nature Center trails under a roadway; a student group visits the center in this picture from the 1960s; Rhonda Spink (in hat) discusses butterfly habitat with children; the center’s first executive director, Lew Batts, in 1966; and Bill Rose, who was at the helm of the center for 30 years. (Photos courtesy of the Kalamazoo Nature Center)

Leaders understood early on the need for relatively undisturbed habitats for ecosystem support and human exploration and enjoyment, so most of the land under the Nature Center’s stewardship is undeveloped. Still, there is considerable maintenance that goes on behind the scenes, most of which was put on hold when the pandemic hit in March. During the early stages of the pandemic, the center closed its facilities, and its team of more than 300 volunteers had to be furloughed. Many of them normally help

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Brian Powers

maintain trails by planting flowers and pulling invasive species such as garlic mustard. “Our approximately 15 miles of trails were left to go wild early in the pandemic,” says Luke Allison, the landscape coordinator responsible for the center’s main campus grounds and equipment, as he gently coaxes a tiny, bright-green grasshopper-like creature from his left forearm to the top of the picnic table where we are sitting, masked and 6 feet apart. Grading and leveling are required to reduce erosion and, on some trails, to maintain wheelchair accessibility. Downed trees and branches that obstruct pathways require removal. Poison ivy must be controlled. Midsummer, Allison was focusing on the Nature Center’s safety and sanitation as the center gradually and partially reopened to young day campers and the general public. “I thrive on working outside,” he says. “What I love most about it is the land. Nature doesn’t care who

At left: Citizen scientists engage in butterfly monitoring. Above: Nathan Smallwood, was named the KNC’s CEO in 2018. Right: Students can engage in activities at the center in winter (top) and summer (bottom).

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you are, if you’re sick or healthy, what gender you are. Flowers still bloom, birds still chirp. It’s very humbling.” The center’s summer camp director, Tanequa Hampton, also thrives on being outside, especially with children and teens. Hampton started her job at the Nature Center shortly before the 2019 summer camp season, so she was relatively new to the position when COVID-19 canceled camp for approximately 1,000 young people for the first time since camps began there, in 1961. She says the loss of the camps had profound unseen effects, taking away social and learning opportunities for young people. Not only is camp “a place to find new friends, a place to be (oneself), a place of belonging,” it is a place to reinforce what children and teens learn elsewhere or not at all, says Hampton, a former camp counselor at Pretty Lake Vacation Camp. “In the outside world, we have to sit down, be proper, follow directions,” she says. “Here, of course, we have boundaries and we manage risk, but we also help campers finetune soft skills: social and self-awareness, responsible decision making, relationship building. These are essential for making our way through the world. We learn how we impact others, how we impact the land. Here, we connect children with nature.”

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Hampton says it’s common for campers to return later as camp counselors. They return to give back, she says. “The skills you learn here are passed on to others. I love this work. We keep kids safe, engaged and learning. What other job can you go to, be outside and be a kid all day?” Camp resumed in July with scaled-back programming, shorter days and fewer campers, after considerable internal planning and policy guidance from the American Camp Association. The hardest part, Hampton says, was having to tell many counselors hired for the camp season that they no longer had jobs.

Change and adaptation This passage about the Nature Center from Glimpsing the Whole seems especially prescient: “As times change, the Center changes, and so do its programs, staff and sources of funding. The ability to adapt to changing surroundings is the hallmark of a successful organism and of a successful organization. It is important, however, to manage change, to be certain that it is driven by vision and not just by available funding.”


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A family explores a back trail at the Nature Center.

It’s a passage that also indicates the challenges the center’s CEO, its board and its staff face. Smallwood is at the helm during a period of unprecedented social change and crises: the pandemic, a fractured economy, increasingly dire impacts of climate change, and widespread awareness of the inequities inherent in our society. Yet he’s all in. “We know we have to reprioritize and refocus on what we want to become in the context of rapidly changing circumstances,� he says. “What we are creating is something I’m really excited about. I think rebuilding our programs and the ways we are becoming sustainable will set a standard in the community.� Sustainability is one of two key themes of the center’s emerging strategic plan, which was in the process of being developed during the early part of the pandemic, when the center was closed to the public. That process was restarted in late summer via video meetings. Reducing carbon emissions is a priority, Smallwood says. “The daunting part is there is no blueprint. We want to set standards

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for other nature centers and nonprofit organizations,” he says, noting that the center’s efforts go beyond such physical improvements as renovating the 1960s-era Visitor Center to be more energy-efficient. “DeLano Farms offers a farm internship program,” Smallwood says. “We’re expanding our subscriber-based food-share program that currently generates hundreds of pounds of organic produce, using regenerative practices focused on healthy soil. “Another program, Fair Food Matters, engages elementary students in growing food. These are ways to model and practice resilience and adaptation. “Many know the center for its summer camp and trails, but the center’s $3 million operation also conducts leading research and conservation activities that most nature centers don’t do. “There are also KNC properties along Lake Michigan and up north that have been set aside as preserves. We know habitat preservation is crucial for survival of animal and plant species and our own.”

Above: Citizen scientists collect a sample from a creek. Right: Two camp participants participate in an activity on the Nature Center grounds.

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An eye on equity The other key theme of the center’s emerging strategic plan is equity, inclusion and diversity. “My educational training was ecology before it was business,” Smallwood

says. “We know ecosystem survival depends on diversity. It’s not a big jump to apply that to human systems. It’s our best path to survive and grow.” There’s a connection between the climate crisis and racism and environmental justice, he says. “Structural and institutional barriers in nature centers and environmental sciences in our country have made it hard for indigenous and other people of color to be part of those movements, but the truth is they have always been invested in preserving the natural world, just not within our dominant culture’s model. That model had an unintentional arrogance — ‘If only you had my education and experience, you would share my values’ — when, in fact, matters of the environment affect us all.” Two incidents in May bolstered the center’s determination to begin addressing matters of equity, diversity and inclusion: first, the incident in New York City’s Central Park between Amy Cooper, a white woman walking her dog, and Black birder Christian Cooper and, second, the death of George

Floyd, an African American, after a white police officer in Minneapolis put a knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes. That officer has been charged with second-degree murder, and three other Minneapolis police officers

have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. “What happened in Central Park could have happened at the Kalamazoo Nature Center,” Smallwood says. “We have not made our institution as safe as we need to. It’s our job to change that, and it’s an awesome responsibility. “Our equity statement (see sidebar) speaks to the work ahead. It wasn’t created top down but rather emerged from among a team of folks committed to vulnerability, honesty and trust. We want to be held accountable by the community at large. We are advocates of building relationships between humans and nature, but we have to understand the dynamic under which we are trying to pursue our mission.” That mission is to inspire people to care for the environment by providing experiences that lead them to understand their connection to the natural world. So go out and walk the trails. There’s solace in knowing we are part of nature.

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EVENTS ENCORE

Please Note: Due to the COVID–19 virus, some of these events may have been cancelled after press time. Please check with the venue and organizations for up-to-date information. PERFORMING ARTS THEATER Farmers Alley Theatre Online Events — Visit the theater’s website: farmersalleytheatre.com.

Sunday in the Park with George — WMU Theatre presents the musical inspired by the painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, by Georges Seurat, a musical that tells the story of painter George and his great-grandson, a conflicted and cynical contemporary artist, 7 p.m. Oct. 1–3, 2 p.m. Oct. 4, Miller Fountain Plaza, in front of the Richmond Center for Visual Arts at WMU, 3876222, millerauditorium.com. MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Tusk: The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute — All the great hits of Fleetwood Mac, 8 p.m. Oct. 9, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500. Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More Resonance Music Project – Short recorded works by local musicians in response to selected artwork from the KIA's Unveiling American Genius exhibit, presented by the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, on display in October, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 314 S. Park St., 382-2910, mfsm.us.

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Sound Sculptures of Beth Bradfish — Sound sculptures by this composer and sound artist, presented by the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, opening Oct. 3, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., 382-2910, mfsm.us. Cello + Drums Concert — Cellist Elizabeth Start and drummer Eric Donovan Lester, presented by the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. & 4 p.m. Oct. 17, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 230 N. Rose St., 382-2910, mfsm.us. Gilmore Rising Star Chaeyoung Park — This South Korean pianist performs Brahms’ Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5, live-streamed from the Wellspring Theater, 4 p.m. Oct. 18; see thegilmore.org for details. VOCES8 — Fontana Chamber Arts presents this British vocal ensemble performing a cappella chamber music, from Renaissance polyphony to contemporary arrangements; filmed on location in London and presented online, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 and available through Nov. 29, fontanamusic.org. FILM

Once Upon a River — Online Kalamazoo premiere of a film adaptation of local author Bonnie Jo Campbell’s best-selling book about a traumatized young woman who embarks on a river odyssey to find her estranged mother in 1970s rural Michigan, presented by the Ladies Library Association, 7 p.m. Oct. 2, tinyurl.com/ LLAfilmpremiere. Housesitter … The Night They Saved Siegfried’s Brain! — The debut of a horror movie filmed entirely in Kalamazoo, including at the Henderson Castle, WMU, Kalamazoo College and the Kalamazoo State Theatre, combining 1980s horror and 1950s sci-fi, 7 p.m. Oct. 31, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick St., 345-6500.

VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349-7775, kiarts.org The KIA is now open. Visit its website for more information.

West Michigan Area Show — Works by regional artists in a variety of media. Nature–Inside/Out: Selections from the Permanent Collection — Works from the KIA’s collection featuring natural themes. Unveiling American Genius — An exhibition of works from the permanent collection organized according to influences and identities rather than a timeline. ArtBreak — Join in a virtual chat featuring artists, scholars and guest speakers, noon–1 p.m. Oct. 13 & 27. Other Venues Portage Community Art Award Exhibition — Works from this year’s winning Portage artist in the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts’ West Michigan Area Show, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. through Oct. 30, Portage City Hall, 7900 S. Westnedge Ave., portagemi.gov. Art Hop — Art displayed online by area artists, 5–9 p.m. Oct. 2; visit the Facebook page of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo at 5 p.m. to see the creative process of some local artists, kalamazooarts.org or facebook.com/acgk.359 LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Comstock Township Library 6130 King Highway, 345-0136, comstocklibrary.org Virtual Quilt Show — View quilts made by Michigan crafters and vote for your favorite, Oct. 12–23; visit the library’s Facebook page or website for a link to the show.


EVENTS ENCORE

Michigan’s Most Haunted Locations — Chad Lewis presents a ghostly journey to some of the most haunted places in Michigan on Facebook Live, 2 p.m. Oct. 20; visit the library’s Facebook page. Kalamazoo Public Library 553-7800, kpl.gov Geek Fest — Live or prerecorded events, such as bot-building, cosplay contests and Zoom meeting with Jeffrey Brown, author of Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess; virtual programming beginning Oct. 5; visit kpl.gov for more information. Page Turners Book Club — Online discussion of Fruit of the Drunken Tree, by Rojas Contreras, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5; registration required. It’s Crime We Talk: A True Crime Book Club — Online discussion of The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, by Jeff Guinn, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 13; registration required. Baseball Book Discussion League — Read any book about players, teams or the Negro Leagues for an online discussion, 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15; registration required. Urban Fiction Book Club — Online discussion of Dirty Game, by Shannon Holmes, 6 p.m. Oct. 27; registration required. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343-7747, parchmentlibrary.org Book Sale — 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Saturdays, outside in front of the library. Hoopla Book Club — Zoom discussion of The Museum of Modern Love, by Heather Rose, 1 p.m. Oct. 1; register at the library website. Presidential Postcards — Presentation by Wally Jung on Zoom, 7 p.m. Oct. 13; register at the library website. Mystery Book Club — Zoom discussion of any mystery book you have read, 4 p.m. Oct. 19.

Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329-4544, portagelibrary.info

Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373-7990, kalamazoomuseum.org

International Mystery Book Discussion — Discussion of Crimson Lake, by Candice Fox, 7 p.m. Oct. 1 on Zoom; registration required.

Halloween Museum Mayhem! — Explore "Great Lakes Haunts and Shipwrecks" through a series of videos on YouTube and take curbside pickup of “trick-or-treat” treasure bags filled with crafts, scavenger hunts, games and science experiments, 1 p.m. Oct. 31; registration required.

Super-Villains Trivia Challenge — Questions on super-villains like Brainiac, the Joker, Thanos, Jeff the Killer and King Pin, 7 p.m. Oct. 20 on Zoom; registration required. Book Buzz — Discussion of The Institute, by Stephen King, 7 p.m. Oct. 21 on Zoom; registration required. Richland Community Library 8951 Park St., 629-9085, richlandlibrary.org Facebook Live Trivia — A new game of trivia each month, 7 p.m. Oct. 1, www.facebook. com/search/events/?q=richland community. Virtual Mystery Club — Discuss a new mystery every month; see website for more information or to register for Oct. 6 discussion. MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, Portage, 382-6555, airzoo.org

Flight & Flak: The Art of Paul Wentzel, Sr. — Oil and acrylic works spanning military aviation history, on temporary loan from the Selfridge Military Air Museum. Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence — A temporary poster exhibit exploring the struggle to gain women the vote. Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671-5089, gilmorecarmuseum.org

American Graffiti: Where Were You in ’62? — New exhibit of cars, featuring the 1958 customized Chevrolet Impala that Ron Howard drove in the movie.

NATURE Binder Park Zoo 7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek, binderparkzoo.org The zoo is now open. Visit website for details. Binder Park ZooCam — Offers remote access to watch a variety of savanna animals go about their business in real time, binderparkzoo.org/ zoocam. Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381-1574, naturecenter.org The Visitor Center is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Wednesday–Saturday and 1–5 p.m. Sunday, and trails are open 9 a.m.–7:30 p.m. daily. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671-2510, birdsanctuary.kbs.msu.edu Birds and Coffee Walk — Guided walk looking for birds of the season, 9 a.m. Oct. 14. Dessert with Discussion: Heroes to Hives — Adam Ingrao will talk about beekeeping and the Heroes to Hives veterans program, 7 p.m. Oct. 15; registration required. Other Venues Wildlife Geocaching Expedition — Discover stone artifacts of Michigan wilderness animals hidden in Portage parks, Oct. 1; register at mypark.portagemi.gov.

Congress of Motorcars — Celebrating the first 50 years of the automobile, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Oct. 2 & 3.

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EVENTS ENCORE MISCELLANEOUS Kalamazoo Farmers Market — 8 a.m.–1 p.m. Tuesdays, 2–6 p.m. Thursdays, 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturdays, 1204 Bank St., pfcmarkets.com. Portage Farmers Market — 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sundays, Portage City Hall parking lot, 7900 S. Westnedge Ave., farmersmarket.portagemi.gov. Late Night Food Truck Rally — Enjoy a variety of food options, 6–9 p.m. Oct. 2, 3406 Stadium Drive, foodtruckrallykz.com. SkeleTour — Kalamazoo’s downtown streets are adorned with skeletons representing local businesses, Oct. 3–Nov. 1. The Autumn Escape — Fundraising ride and silent auction to support Open Roads, Oct. 3 & 4, registration and information at secure.qgiv. com/event/autumnescape/. Old Tyme Harvest Festival — Hayrides to the pumpkin patch, corn shocks for sale, pumpkins for the kids, husker shredder and more, Oct. 10–11, Scotts Mill Park, 3451 S. 35th St., Scotts, sotpea.org.

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Breaking the Stigma: African American Mental Health Symposium — A two-day online symposium focusing on mental health in the African-American community, 8:30 a.m.–noon Oct. 15 & 16, visit wmich.edu/ events/60799 for details. Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Buy, sell or trade reptiles, amphibians and exotic pets, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Oct. 17, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 2900 Lake St., 779-9851. Makers Tour: Walking Tour of a Downtown Kalamazoo Winery, Distillery and Brewery — Noon–4 p.m. Oct. 17 & 31, starting at Shakespeare’s Pub, 241 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 350-4598, westmichiganbeertours.com. Kalamazoo's Ultimate Indoor Garage Sale — Antiques, baby gear, toys, furniture and collectibles, 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Oct. 24, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 903-5820. Kalamazoo Craft Fair — Local artists, crafters and vendors, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Oct. 24, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 903-5820.

Halloween Beer Bus Tour — A spooky bus tour featuring Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill, two brewing companies (Paw Paw and Final Gravity), and one of Kalamazoo’s haunted attractions (Psycho Ward & Nightmares) and some fall beers, 5–11 p.m. Oct. 24, starting at Old Burdick’s, 100 W. Michigan Ave., 350-4598, westmichiganbeertours.com. Southwest Michigan Train Show & Sale — Featuring layouts, clinics, demonstrations and vendors, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Oct. 25, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 344-0906. Kalamazoo Record & CD Show — Collector records, music memorabilia and supplies, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Oct. 25, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, Room A, 734-604-2540. Kalamazoo Numismatic Club Annual Fall Coin Show — Buy, sell and trade coins and paper money, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Oct. 31, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 381-8669.


POETRY ENCORE

At Riverside Cemetery, Kalamazoo After my mother died, I walked among the tombstones, oak trees and old stone walls. She wasn't buried here, but this cemetery always spoke to me as I drove past.

Yesterday I learned a dozen relatives rest in Riverside. Never even knew they lived, let alone in this town I’ve called home for thirty-two years.

I want to be buried at Riverside, I told my friends. Were the spirits of the dead calling me even then?

My mother’s father’s folks were immigrants, Hollanders— Zoodsmas, Soodsmas, Sootsmas—people of the marshland. I thought they had all settled in New Jersey, where I grew up, where my great-grandfather farmed his land just down the road. But here they are—Ykje, Akke and Dirk—three of his siblings. I find their spouses and descendants too, and more Dutch surnames—Wiersma, Wielenga, Nap, Vosser, Glerum. The only relatives I can’t find are the Wielenga babies— they’re somewhere in the ground in Section 4. My cousin rubs her shoe in the dirt where their graves should be, and there it is, a tiny stone, no bigger than a fist you could shake at God. Other gravestones have simple sayings: Under His Wings, Singing His Praises, Our Little Angel. I like this inscription best: Sometime We’ll Understand. The woman who chose it for her husband must have learned to live with questions. She was clearly my kin. — Margaret DeRitter DeRitter is the copy editor and poetry editor of Encore. Her full-length poetry book, Singing Back to the Sirens, was published this year by Unsolicited Press and is available at local bookstores and through the publisher. (The Five Faves feature this month is on interesting gravestones in Kalamazoo. See page 12.)

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ENCORE BACK STORY Tony Humrichouser (continued from page 38)

censorship. Children need art to develop an appreciation for the human experience and the skills required to become the next great interpreters of that experience.

What has been your favorite Civic experience? Every time I get to walk down the center aisle with a full house and be able to introduce myself as the artistic director of the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. I waited 33 years for that moment.

What role do you see the Kalamazoo Civic playing in this? I interpret the term “Civic responsibility” in and out of context. Community responsibility requires participation, and the key to community is you. You are the Civic. We are just the stewards of the institution. Come down. Participate. Many people don't know it, but we have been providing free programming to the community for 93 years. And once you get to know our professional staff of artistsin-residence, you will learn about all our hands-on programming and classes, which we have been proudly providing our entire volunteer community since the 1920s.

Why do you think Kalamazoo has such a thriving performing arts scene? I feel valleys geographically tend to be artistic hotspots. There is a collective spirit that is hard to describe, and this spirit infuses all of the arts in Kalamazoo. It has always felt very authentic and innovative. Artists respond to that. What has been the best part of your job at the Kalamazoo Civic? Helping people become the best that they can be. I have been so lucky to have been able to work with so many incredible artists over the years and gained so much knowledge that I feel it's my chance to give back to the people and the community that gave me my career.

With all the uncertainty in the entertainment industry, how do you and Stephen manage your careers and a relationship? It is the life of a performer. You must go where the work is. That is the reality. We can fret about it, and sometimes we do, as do all couples negotiating distance. But we FaceTime every day, and he remains my favorite person in the world. And it helps that he is talented. It's hard to get behind someone who isn't committed to the thing they do.

How can the arts, especially community theater, help society to move forward? Every major civilization's decline can be linked to its sudden disregard for the arts. Art reflects what we feel as individuals and as a society without prejudice or

Ask ASK

LAWYER

Please send your questions to:

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.

Q.

THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING

LAWYER

My husband is going into a nursing home. I’ve been told it is possible for me to create a trust and protect my assets from the spend down at the nursing home. Is that true?

ASK

No, but I did replace him as Jinx in Forever Plaid at the Royal George in Chicago in 1997. That is how we first met. What are the three things that all inspiring actors need to know? 1. Your only arsenal as a performer is preparation. 2. Chemistry is real. Sometimes people click, and sometimes they do not, and that is OK. Do not take it personally. 3. You cannot always rely on impulse. You can always rely on technique. What’s next for the Kalamazoo Civic? We are finding new ways to adapt to the need for social distancing. We have several projects, including The Importance of Being Earnest, that will be streamed online for audiences very soon. We are also working hard on a heartwarming family show for the holiday season. There is an upcoming outdoor cabaret performance on tap too. Due to social distancing, we can only sell a limited amount of tickets, so everyone should stay tuned for that announcement. — Interviewed by Julie Smith and edited for length and clarity

THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING

LAWYER

THE BUSINESS AND ESTATE PLANNING

ASK Q. Why would I

MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS LAW

Please send your questions to:

Have you and Stephen ever competed for a role?

A. You might consider a Trust instead of a simple Will because a so-called “liv-

AND ESTATEing trust” will generally avoid probate when you die, whereas a simple Will as you put a Trust in place Michael J. Willis, PLANNING describe generally would not. Avoiding probate avoids significant costs and time instead of a simple LAWYER Q. J.D., C.P.A. delays. Next, when one creates a Trust, we see the possibility of creating asset Will which distributes Willis Law protection for Trust beneficiaries (you and your children). A simple Will which A. Q. all my assets outright directs and distributes assets outright (noting that this is the same for a Trust that 491 West South Street Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. and directly to my distributes assets outright) provides no asset protection for its beneficiaries. Third, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 A. children? if estate tax is a concern, a trust is able to minimize against estate tax for current and 269.492.1040 Willis Law 491 West South Street Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269.492.1040 www.willis.law

A.

THE BUSINESS

Yes. Most often when folks talk on trust planning, they are referencing a revocable trust. In fact, that is the case probably more MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS LAW than 99% of the time. A revocable trust under Michigan law generally is set up only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Please send your questions to: husband going into a nursing home.that I’ve told it is is anMy irrevocable trustisfor persons in your circumstances can been be established withtoyour assetsatotrust the extent they exceed protected possible for me create and protect my the assets from the spend Willis Law amount (which under Michigan law will cap at a little over $125,000). down at the nursing home. Is that true? 491 West South Street If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an Kalamazoo, MI 49007J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS MICHAEL annuity LAW income stream back to you per the terms of the trust, then in 269.492.1040 such Yes. a circumstance the trustwhen will no folks longer talk be considered Most often on trusta countable planning, they are www.willis.law asset, but instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid Please send your questions to: referencing a My revocable trust. Ingoing fact, that case probably more intois atheand nursing purposes. This is husband a sophisticatedis planning technique, I highly home. I’ve been told it is thanencourage 99% of you the time. counsel A revocable trust underthisMichigan law generally before implementing or possible toforseekme to create a trust andtechnique protect my assets from the spend anyup other Medicaid planning. is set only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Willis Law

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.

9471992-01

down at thepractice nursing home.and isyour Is thata certified true? 491 West South is andanCounselors irrevocable for persons Michael J. WillisStreet is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys at Law, is licensed totrust law in Florida and Michigan, in registered ascircumstances public accountant that can be the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, Kalamazoo,insignifies MI 49007 established with foryour the Heextent exceed that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized the highestassets levels of skill to and integrity. is listed in thethey Best Lawyers in America. the protected 269.492.1040 amount (whichYes. under Michigan law will cap folks at a little Most often when talkover on$125,000). trust planning, they are www.willis.law If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an referencing a revocable trust. In fact, that is the case probably more annuity income stream back to you per the terms of the trust, then in than 99% of the time. A revocable trust under Michigan law generally such a circumstance the trust will no longer be considered a countable up only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there asset, isbutset instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid purposes. is a sophisticated I highly is an This irrevocable trust forplanning personstechnique, in your and circumstances that can be encourage you to seek this technique or the protected established withcounsel your before assetsimplementing to the extent they exceed any other Medicaid planning. amount (which under Michigan law will cap at a little over $125,000). Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys and Counselors Law, istrust licensed toispractice law in Florida andand Michigan,the and isassets registered asare a certified public accountant established in an Ifatthe irrevocable effectively in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognizedincome for the highest stream levels of skill and integrity.to He isyou listed inper the Bestthe Lawyersterms in America.of the trust, then in annuity back such a circumstance the trust will no longer be considered a countable asset, but instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid This is a sophisticated technique, and I highly Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneyspurposes. and Counselors at Law, isplanning licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent encouragewhich you to seek before implementing this over technique or Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, hascounsel been rating lawyers for a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. any other Medicaid planning. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America.

future generations which is not at all available when one simply distributes assets directly outright through a Will or otherwise. These are some of the reasons why you might consider a Trust instead of a Will, but it would be wise to talk with an estate planning attorney to acquire more information specific to your circumstances.

Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, is licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America.

9471992-01

9471992-01

www.willis.law

w w w.encorekalamazoo.com | 37


BACK STORY ENCORE

Tony Humrichouser Artistic Director Kalamazoo Civic Theatre

F

or centuries, theater has provided its audiences with a means to escape the imperfect world in which we live. And during tumultuous times, theater is a place that can offer perspective and inspiration and aid in healing, says Tony Humrichouser, the artistic director of the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. “Now we have an even higher charge,” Humrichouser says of the Civic’s role. “We must listen and understand that Black lives matter. Then we must find stories to tell that reflect all experiences on our stages.” Humrichouser, who first arrived in Kalamazoo in 1986 at the age of 19 as a student at Western Michigan University, is no stranger to the Civic’s role in the community. He performed in Brighton Beach Memoirs and had high regard for the position of artistic director. Through the years, he has acted, directed and taught professionally in cities such as Chicago and New York, working with many household names, but he says he always knew he'd return to Kalamazoo. He is engaged to actor Stephen Wallem, of Nurse Jackie fame, and the couple split their time between homes in Kalamazoo and New York City. What brought you back to Kalamazoo after all these years? Kalamazoo has always felt like home to me. In fact, every time I dream about being on stage, it's on our stage. It is a special place. (continued on page 37)

38 | ENCORE OCTOBER 2020


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