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The Career Stages of Sandy Bremer

September 2021

'It's Been Quite a Ride' Larry for Bell Brews on Larry Bell

A Future–focused Collaboration

Meet Paul Selden

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A Future-focused Collaboration

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From the Editor W

hen my husband and I moved to Kalamazoo in 1996, Bell's Brewery was a little local brewery in a funky old building on Kalamazoo Avenue that was known for its fun atmosphere and great beer. I remember being a bit put off when the college students I was teaching at Western Michigan University wanted me to cancel my Monday–morning classes because the day before was Bell's Oberon Release Day. "It should be a local holiday!" they exclaimed. When I traveled to see my family, they asked me to bring them Bell's beer. And T–shirts from Bell’s General Store were gifts coveted by my beer–loving nephews. Due to the allergic reaction I get from it, I don't drink beer, so I didn't understand all the hubbub. But you'd have to have lived under a rock for the past 36 years to not see the impact this feisty little brewery and its owner, Larry Bell, have had on our community and on the craft beer industry and beyond. I have long wanted to publish an Encore feature on Larry Bell and the brewery. Encore wrote about him in 1992, but a lot has changed since then. Bell's is now the No. 7 craft brewery in the U.S., with 500–plus employees, 90 different beers and the No. 1 craft beer in the U.S. for four straight years (its Two Hearted Ale). It is one of the few remaining family–owned independent breweries in the country. I was thrilled when writer John Liberty agreed to take on the assignment. Little did he or I know, it would take two years for the story to come to fruition, thanks to a pandemic, a serious illness and life in general. But it was worth the wait. Not only is this a great hometown success story, it is a look at one of the area's most savvy entrepreneurs, who has always forged his own path. Also in this issue, we meet some other folks who are successes on the paths they've chosen: Paul Selden, founder of Bike Friendly Kalamazoo, which is working hard to make bicycling in our community safer and easier; and Sandy Bremer, whose lifetime work in theater has led her to teach others and create sensory–sensitive experiences for kids on the autism spectrum. Finally, Encore has partnered with the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo on a new initiative to bring more arts coverage to our readers that we will unveil in the coming months. We are very excited about how it will increase visibility for local artists and arts organizations as they emerge from the ravages inflicted by the Covid–19 pandemic. Stay tuned.

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Jordan Bradley

When Jordan interviewed theater veteran and educator Sandy Bremer for her story in this issue, it was by phone, but she says Sandy's energy practically crackled through the lines. “It was more than an hour long but felt like it was 10 minutes,” Jordan says. “She was so enthusiastic, entertaining and funny I can see why students love to learn from her.” Jordan is a freelance writer living in Kalamazoo.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske It helps to have an inside track on story ideas, as Elizabeth did for her story on the new book What Do You See in Room 21 C? — which every Kalamazoo Public Schools second–grader will receive. The book was written by her friend and fellow writing group member Jennifer Clark and published by Celery City Books, the publishing arm of the nonprofit Kalamazoo Friends of Poetry, of which Elizabeth serves as president. “The genesis and research Jennifer put into making this book was intriguing,” says Elizabeth. “She wanted to make the best possible book to help second– graders think about their futures. And she did.” Elizabeth is a published poet who occasionally writes stories for Encore.

John Liberty

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John's profile of Larry Bell in this issue was two years in the making — pesky things like a pandemic and Bell's kidney cancer (from which he has recovered) kept getting in the way, but John persevered. “Bell's Brewery is quite the hometown success story,” says Liberty, “and many may not have any idea of Larry Bell's impact on the industry. It's important to share that.” John was introduced to Bell’s beer as a college student at Western Michigan University. He closely followed the brewery as an MLive/Kalamazoo Gazette journalist for nearly a decade and as the general manager of West Michigan Beer Tours for the past several years.

Mark Wedel

Mark is an avid biker who has long known Bike Friendly Kalamazoo founder Paul Selden, who is featured in our Back Story profile this month. “I was really interested in hearing about Paul's past bike adventures and what motivates him to keep riding into his senior years,” says Wedel. “The impact of the work he is doing to make bicycling safer in Kalamazoo will be felt beyond his and my lifetimes.” Wedel is a Kalamazoo–based freelance writer.


S e p t e m b e r 2021

FEATURE Larry Bell has changed beer for the better


Bell's Brewery's success has impacted the community, the craft beer industry and beyond

DEPARTMENTS 5 From the Editor 6 Contributors Up Front


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


Good Works


Back Story

Future–ready Reading — A new, locally written and produced book for second–graders focuses on their futures

Meet Paul Selden — The Bike Friendly Kalamazoo founder is making bicycling safer for everyone

ARTS 21 Stages of Her Career — Sandy Bremer has gone from treading the boards to teaching and making theater performances sensory–sensitive On the cover: Larry Bell on the porch at The Park Club. Photo by Brian K. Powers.

24 Poetry 25 Events of Note

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First Things Something Smooth

Joe Hertler’s band to perform at Bell's Those native sons and perennial Bell's concert–goer favorites Joe

Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers return to the brewery's beer garden to perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 24. The Lansing–based band, which features Kalamazoo native Aaron Stinson on saxophone, is known for its feel–good music with smooth vocals and funk, pop and folk influences. The band has released four albums over the past decade, including 2019's Paper Castle. Tickets are $20 and available at

Something Good

Bike ride to benefit multiple charities Get ready to pedal and do something good for yourself and others on Sept. 18,

when Bike Friendly Kalamazoo hosts its Ride for a Reason to benefit more than 15 area nonprofit organizations. Ride for a Reason is a bikeathon that begins at 9 a.m. at the Vicksburg Community Pavilion and also ends there. Riders can participate as teams or ride singly. Routes range from 5 miles to 37 miles in and around Vicksburg. Fundraising riders will select a charity to support, become a member of that charity's team and encourage friends and family to donate to their bikeathon efforts. Non–fundraising riders can also participate. The bikeathon is a part of BFK's annual Fall Bike Celebration, to be held Sept. 17–19. The cost to register for the bikeathon is $30 for individuals and $55 for families for those fundraising, or $35 per individual and $60 for families for non–fundraising riders. Registration on the day of the event is $40 for individuals and $70 for families for fundraising riders, or $45 for individuals and $75 for families for non–fundraising riders. For more information or to register, visit

Something Funny

Barn Theatre to stage two comedies With summer coming to a close, we all need a laugh, and the Barn Theatre will be providing plenty of laughs through two shows this month. You can follow the hilarity and backstage drama in Ben Hur (A Comedy), which tells the story of an amateur theater troupe that tries to produce the massive tale of the fictional Jewish prince and merchant Judah Ben–Hur. Show times are 8 p.m. Sept. 14–18 and 5 p.m. Sept. 19. A Slippery Slope, written by the Barn's managing director, Patrick Hunter, is a sequel to Hunter's In Hot Water, which was filmed on the Barn stage last summer. The sequel follows the couple Peter and Melanie in another madcap farce about family, love and money. Show times are 8 p.m. Sept. 21–25 and 5 p.m. Sept 26. Tickets for each show are $41–$49 and available online at


Something Active

What happens after I sell my business?

Walk will support suicide prevention With the Covid–19

pandemic causing the number of calls to suicide hotlines to soar, a local organization that provides suicide prevention services needs support now more than ever. That's a good reason to lace up your walking shoes and participate in the Gryphon Place Suicide Prevention Walk Sept. 25. The walk, which raises funds for Gryphon Place, also seeks to raise awareness of suicide prevention and resources in the community. The 5K walk, which kicks off at 9 a.m., begins and ends at Bronson Park, in downtown Kalamazoo. After the walk there will be crafts for children, food and music. The cost to participate is $25, or $30 after Sept. 6. Children ages 5 and under can walk for free. To register or for more information, visit

Something Spirited

Paw Paw hosts Wine and Harvest Festival With races on water and land, a bike tour, classic cars, arts and crafts, live entertainment, a parade and a grape stomp, Paw Paw is the place to be Sept. 10–12, when the community holds its annual Wine and Harvest Festival. The festival, held at various locations throughout the community, begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, with live entertainment at Paw Paw Brewing Co., Warner Vineyards’ Paw Paw Winery & Tasting Room, the Maple Lake Amphitheater and the Festival Tent in downtown Paw Paw and the opening of a carnival midway and retail vendor marketplace downtown. Fireworks follow at 9:30 p.m. Saturday's festival events include a classic car, truck and motorcycle show from 8 a.m.–3 p.m., the Grape Lake 5K Run/Walk from 9–11 a.m., an arts and craft show from 9 a.m.–6 p.m., a grape stomp from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., a turtle derby from 10 a.m.–1 p.m., and the Grape Lake Kayak Race from noon–3 p.m. Sunday's festivities include a parade with marching bands, floats and more from 1–3 p.m. and a bike tour with three routes of varying lengths that take riders through the countryside, past vineyards and orchards, and through neighboring villages. Registration for the bike tour is from 7–9 a.m. A free trolley will be available to ferry festival–goers around town. For a complete festival schedule and other information, visit Please note: Due to the ongoing Covid–19 pandemic, some of these events may be canceled or changed after press time. Please check with venues and organizations for up–to–date information.

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The power dynamics of gender are the focus of Wild Corporation, an exhibition by Japanese artist Mimi Kato that will have its Midwest premiere Sept. 23–Nov. 14 in the Monroe–Brown Gallery of Western Michigan University’s Richmond Center for Visual Arts. Born in 1974, Kato grew up in Nara, Japan, before moving to the U.S. in her late teens. This split cultural experience influenced her work, which combines photography, performance and sculptural objects that depict darkly humorous narratives referencing Japanese culture and its corporate traditions, the artist’s personal experiences, and activities as widely varied as warfare and washing laundry. Gallery hours are noon–4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, visit

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More outdoor concerts in September Just because it's September, it doesn't mean concerts have all gone inside. The downtown Kalamazoo music series Beats on Bates and Music on the Mall both have a full slate scheduled this month. Each Wednesday, beginning at 5:30 p.m., Beats on Bates will present live music under the lights of Bates Alley, which runs parallel to Michigan Avenue between Edwards and Portage streets. The shows are sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and the Downtown Kalamazoo Partnership. September’s dates Grayson Nye Experiment and performers will be: • Sept. 1: Jazz & Creative Institute/Kalamazoo Music School Student Ensemble Concert • Sept. 8: Grayson Nye Experiment • Sept. 15, 22 & 29: Kalamazoo Academy of Rock The Music on the Mall series will feature live performances on the South Kalamazoo Mall from 3–6 p.m. Saturdays. Here are the dates and performers for the September concerts: • Sept. 4: Airtight • Sept. 11: Dog Patch Airtight • Sept. 18: Pinter Whitnick • Sept. 25: Trio Desino For more information, visit or


Future–ready Reading

Collaborative results in new book aimed at second–graders BY ELIZABETH KERLIKOWSKE


very article about a schoolbook should start with a quiz, so here we go: Kalamazoo is known for Checker cabs, Gibson guitars and the Pfizer vaccine, among other products, but what scholarship program is Kalamazoo known for? What longtime local civic group is made up of business people? And how are these two nonprofits connected? You probably got the first two answers right: The Kalamazoo Promise and the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo. As for their connection to each other, the Promise is the inspiration for a new book, What Do You See in Room 21 C? — which will be distributed to every second– grader in Kalamazoo Public Schools through the Rotary is for Reading program. Rotary is for Reading was created in 2009, when the local Rotary Club joined forces with Communities In Schools (CIS) to help promote literacy and college awareness. Each spring Rotarians visited Kalamazoo Public Schools second–grade classrooms to read the book I Know I Can, by Veronica Chapman, to students, talk about college and The Kalamazoo Promise, and present each student with their own copy of the book. But after a decade of using I Know I Can, the program sought a new book that “was unique and tailored to Kalamazoo, that referenced The Kalamazoo Promise,” says Kevin Brozovich, chief people advisor at Rose Street Advisors and a Kalamazoo Rotary member since 2010. CIS had a donor willing to underwrite the cost of developing a new book, and in 2018 they asked Jennifer Clark, a KPS parent and a published poet who coordinates special projects and initiatives at CIS, to write the book. Clark was a natural choice, according to Brozovich. “Communities In Schools is an integral partner in this process, and Jennifer knows the program, CIS and Kalamazoo

schools,” he says. “We wanted a local, experienced, published author, so she was an ideal fit.” The result was What Do You See in Room 21 C?, written by Clark and illustrated by

Above: The cover of the new book written by Jennifer Clark.

Leslie Helakoski, a Southwest Michigan author and illustrator. Clark says the book is “truly built by community.” Clark held several w w | 11


focus groups, seeking feedback from parents, KPS staff, librarians, Rotarians, and recently promoted second–grade students, to guide her in writing a book that would resonate with its readers. "From the moment I said yes, I started doing some research and gathering feedback,” Clark says. “The most consistent piece of feedback I heard from students and teachers is that they love and appreciate the Rotarians coming into the schools to read to them, to talk about college and lift up The Kalamazoo Promise. And while the Rotarians wanted to use a different book to improve the experience for the second–graders, they already were offering the most successful and important ingredient in this project — themselves." The plot of What Do You See in Room 21 C? is simple: A teacher, Mr. Washington, presents an “Operation College” assignment to his students, and the kids talk about and imagine their futures. Readers learn about these students' current lives as well: One lives in a homeless shelter, another lost her father in a war, for example. Clark says What Do You See in Room 21 C? aims to be a realistic book with a positive message that reassures students that they don’t need to know exactly what career they want to pursue in order to prepare for their futures. The Kalamazoo Promise provides free or partial college tuition to Kalamazoo Public Schools graduates, depending on how many years they were enrolled in the district. The scholarship program shimmers in the background of Clark’s book — never stated,


A video was made of Sid Ellis, above, reading the book to distribute to classrooms. (Courtesy photo)

Book Release Open House What: A community celebration of the release of What Do You See in Room 21 C? where you can meet author Jennifer Clark and others involved in developing the book. When: Noon–3 p.m. Sept. 25 Where: Kazoo Books 2413 Parkview Ave. How to get the book: In addition to being distributed for free to KPS second– graders, it is available for purchase through Kazoo Books.

but implied — and not every character is bound for a four–year academic degree. Jayla considers marine biology, while Pablo wants to cook and open a restaurant. In the book, when Mr. Washington is asked by a student what he wanted to be when he went to college, he says, “When I went to college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be. In fact, when I was little, I wanted to be a bumblebee!” Despite having published three books of poetry, Clark had never before written a children’s book nor worked collaboratively with an illustrator. Similarly, Helakoski, who has authored 13 picture books for children, illustrated five of those and received the 2020 Gwen Frostic Award from the Michigan Reading Association for her role in influencing literacy, had never created illustrations for someone else’s writing.

“It was nice being able to communicate about what the author wanted in the images and get direct feedback,” Helakoski says. What was interesting to Helakoski, whose books feature animals like sheep, cows and chickens, is that the characters in What Do You See in Room 21 C? are children rather than human–like animals. “Even though most of the stories I’ve written feature anthropomorphic animals, I always strive for stories and art with layers of information that can be expanded on with a child, make them ask questions and tickle their funny bones,” she says. "Jennifer wanted to show diversity in the classroom in a realistic way, and I agreed. It gives more weight to the topic.” What Do You See in Room 21 C? was originally to have been released in the spring of 2020, but just as the Rotarians were preparing to step into classrooms to deliver the books, the Covid–19 pandemic hit. It wasn't until April 2021 that the books finally made it into KPS students' hands, either delivered to them by their teachers or picked up at the schools. Instead of Rotarians visiting classes, a video of master storyteller Sid Ellis reading the book was created and shared with the students through their virtual classrooms. This month there will be a community open house to officially celebrate the release of What Do You See In Room 21 C? (see breakout box), which is published by Celery City Books, the publishing arm of the nonprofit Kalamazoo Friends of Poetry. The hope is that next spring the Rotarians and other volunteers can get back into classrooms to read and distribute the books. Brozovich says he’s ready. "My two oldest (children) are Michigan State University grads, and I’m a Central Michigan University grad, so I wear my college buttons and talk about how my kids were able to use The Kalamazoo Promise,” he says. “I’m impressed most with the level of community engagement with our program. Communities In Schools does an amazing amount of coordination necessary to get 100–plus volunteers into the right classrooms on the right days ready to read.”

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'It's Been Quite a Story' Larry Bell has changed beer for the better BY JOHN LIBERTY


ven after 36 years in the business, Larry Bell still gets a kick out of seeing his beer as he travels the country. For example, during a six–week trip he took to Arizona earlier this year to coincide with the Chicago Cubs’ spring training, Bell enjoyed a Two Hearted Ale from a golf course clubhouse. Since Bell’s Brewery is now the seventh largest U.S. craft brewery by volume sales, with distribution to 43 states, its portfolio of beers has become easier to find. But for the head of an empire that started in 1985 with $200 and a 15–gallon soup kettle, little moments still matter. “It still gives me such a thrill to be so far away from home and to find my beer on tap, and it was delicious. It makes me giggle,” says the 63–year–old founder and president of Bell’s. Over a series of phone interviews starting in June 2020, Bell discussed a range of topics, including the pandemic, his health, his community involvement, his philanthropy, his huge collection of brewery–related items, and his succession plan. For many in the area, Bell's biography and the origins of the brewery are well known. He moved from Chicago to Kalamazoo in 1976 to study history at Kalamazoo College. While working at the original Sarkozy Bakery, he was introduced to the world of grains and fermentation. He launched his home–brew store in July 1983 and sold his first beer on Sept. 19, 1985. In the decades since, Bell and his brewery have helped transform the country’s drinking habits and turn Michigan into one of the premier beer states in the nation. David Ringler — the owner of Cedar Springs Brewing Co., just north of Grand Rapids, vice president of the Michigan Brewers Guild, and a Kalamazoo College graduate who worked at Munchie Mart during his college days — says he remembers drinking Bell’s beer in the early days of Bell’s Brewery, when it covered its brewing equipment with plastic cling wrap to keep undesirable elements from the atmosphere from getting into the brew. Ringler says Michigan beer owes a “debt of gratitude” to Bell for laying the industry’s foundation. “If there’s anything about Larry that can be said, it’s that he does what he believes is right,” Ringler says. “Whether you agree or disagree, he’s going to do what he thinks is right. You’ve got to have a lot of respect for someone who lives with integrity.”

‘The right way ’ Along the way to the massive growth of his company, Bell helped change outdated industry legislation and became entangled in several legal battles in many states — often over distribution agreements — developing a reputation as a confident, hard–driving businessman with his own unique set of standards.


Charlie Papazian, the author of The Complete Joy of Home Brewing (1984), is considered the godfather of home brewing after releasing his popular book on the subject in 1984. Papazian also founded the Association of Brewers and the Great American Beer Festival and was the long–running president of the Brewers Association, the Colorado– based trade organization promoting U.S. craft beer and home brewing. Papazian says he remembers hearing about Bell and his Cherry Stout despite Kalamazoo being “off the beaten track” of U.S. beer. It was “very extreme” to use fruit in beer in the late ’80s, Papazian says, and Bell quickly became known at brewing conferences and festivals. “People kind of migrated to Larry. He was always telling stories. People loved to hear his stories. He was going against the grain and winning,” Papazian says during a phone interview from his home in Colorado. Papazian eventually made treks to Kalamazoo, including one in 1993 to see Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, the first on–site taproom for a Michigan brewery. He returned several years later to take part in Eccentric Day, Bell's Brewery's annual winter celebration where people are encouraged “to come as you aren’t.” Papazian calls Bell a “leading maverick” in U.S. craft beer, particularly for his role in rather public battles with distributors. “He’s fiercely independent," Papazian says. “He has always been one of the leading advocates of doing things — I want to say two words at the same time — the right way and his way. And his way, more often than not, was the right way for him and his brewery. Whether it’s retailing or distribution or trade practices, he was above–board. (He was) going by the book in some ways but protesting in some ways that the book wasn’t written in a way that’s fair to smaller businesses. He pushed the envelope and oftentimes got things straightened out, whether that’s on a local level or an example for a national level as well. "He wasn’t afraid to take people to task, whether it’s to court or whether it was contractual–type stuff. He did what he thought was fair and what was right for all parties, not just one–sided agreements. He took a stand and often won. That set a precedent, certainly in national beer–distribution laws. If it happened in Michigan and someone is willing to fight for it and win, other breweries in other states take note and use those incidents as examples.”

An eye on succession Bell is proud of his brewery’s legacy of independence. In his early and mid–20s, Bell worked at the downtown Kalamazoo private dinner club The Park Club (he is now the president of its Board of Directors), in part to network with potential investors in his brewery idea and “to get paid

w w | 15

and eat.” He washed dishes, ran the dumbwaiter and did food prep, he says. Bell’s had 60 shareholders in the brewery when it opened. From 2005 through 2012, Bell sought to buy out shareholders to make the brewery a family–run operation. There were legal battles, but he eventually succeeded. He announced in early 2013 that the brewery was entirely owned by his family and that his intention was to turn it over to the next generation. As the craft beer industry matured and distribution competition spiked, some prominent breweries, including several in Michigan, sold or partnered with larger, non–craft–beer entities. Not Bell's. Bell’s produced more than 461,500 barrels of beer in 2020, second only in Michigan to Founders Brewing Co., which sold 90 percent of its business to Spain's Best Beer Inc., an affiliate of Mahou San Miguel Group, in January 2020. “You want to start thinking about feeling old?” says Bell. “There’s really only a couple of us left who were the founder and president and are still the founder and president today of an independent brewery that doesn’t have an investor partner or hasn’t been sold. In the top ranks, there’s not many of us left.” He notes that the other is Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., in Chico, California, which opened in 1980. Today Bell’s Brewery has two shareholders: Larry Bell and his daughter, Laura, who stepped down as CEO of the brewery in 2018 after almost 11 years with the company. She remains on its board of directors. In January, Carrie Yunker, who has been with Bell's for nearly 20 years, was named the company's executive vice president. She started at Bell’s as a part–time receptionist while attending Western Michigan University and ascended to the role of director of human resources for Bell’s. Today Yunker is one of Larry Bell’s “Gang of Four,” the nickname he uses for his leadership team, which also includes Vice President of Operations John Mallett, Vice President of Sales and Marketing Matthew Moberly and Vice President of Finance Lisa Miller. Collectively, they have about 60 years of experience at Bell’s. Yunker says she has a "very honest" relationship with Bell and laughs when talking about his public persona — he refers to himself as an “ogre,” and one of his cars features a vanity plate that reads, “Mr. Ogre.” “That facade, if you will, tends to be this thing where people are scared of him. I guess I’ve never experienced that,” she says. “I’m a very direct person in the moment, and I’m willing to speak up if I don’t think we’re doing the right thing or haven’t considered all the angles of something. That’s been a hallmark of how I grew up here.” Last fall Bell started conversations with the Gang of Four about ways he could remove himself from some of the day–to–day details of running the brewery, Yunker says. He invited Yunker to lunch at The Park Club to talk about making her the executive vice president. She called the conversation “humbling.” “His comment to me was, ‘I need somebody who doesn’t just know beer and brewing but will take care of all these people as I take a step back,’” she says. She ultimately took the role because, she says, she “likes a challenge.” “We are a really successful company,” she says. “We do things a little differently than particularly other suppliers do or other brewers do. It 16 | ENCORE SEPTEMBER 2021

was really important to send the right message that those things are going to remain as a part of this succession and transition. “Will we get better, faster, quicker? Absolutely, but we aren’t going to lose who we are at the core of what matters to us. This is a generational business. We don’t make short–term decisions.” Bell says Yunker’s skill set and the skills of the rest of his Gang of Four give him confidence and comfort about the brewery’s future as the industry emerges from the pandemic. Bell's leadership team met daily once the pandemic lockdown reached Michigan, scrambling to pivot to repackage thousands of gallons of beer that was destined for kegs into cans after bars and restaurants closed and packaged sales of Bell's beer spiked. Bell's established safety protocols at its Comstock brewery and downtown taproom to keep employees and customers as safe as possible. The company secured a Paycheck Protection Program loan in April 2020, when it looked as if as many as 132 of Bell's nearly 600 employees could lose their jobs. “All companies need to have people trained and in backup roles as things change,” Bell says. “Carrie has been with us almost 20 years. I think in this day and age having someone from HR is a great person to have as a leader right now. With all the things we are going through as a society, Carrie is well placed to be a great leader for the company. She has done a great job guiding the company through the pandemic and has good knowledge of other parts of the company. Certainly when you’re in HR, you’re involved in all the different departments. You have to understand what they do, why they do it. She’ll be learning a little bit more about some of the things I do. When I want to go to Arizona for six weeks, it’s great to know that someone is there that can be in charge.”

Making the community better As Bell steps back a bit from some aspects of the brewery, his involvement in the community and his philanthropic efforts move ahead. Bell has a long record of supporting a variety of organizations, either through his company or through personal donations. For more than a decade, Bell’s has sponsored events with OutFront Kalamazoo,​​ the nonprofit organization serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and its allies. It is also active in supporting youth organizations and the arts community. Bell is the president of the board of the Gilmore International Piano Festival as well as on the capital campaign committee seeking to raise $9 million to build a new facility for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kalamazoo, on the old

Clockwise from top left: The building that became Bell's Brewery on Kalamazoo Ave.; one of the brewery's first Eccentric Days; and a younger Larry Bell with some of his first brews packaged for sale. (Courtesy photos)

site of Grapevine Furniture, on Portage Road. He’s heavily involved in statewide efforts to protect Michigan’s water. And he recently became president of The Park Club. Ben Zylman, the former marketing and development director for the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre and an employee there for nearly 20 years, says he was shocked when Bell called him years ago during an economic downturn to offer financial help. Typically, it’s the person in Zylman’s position who does the asking, he says. “Think about it,” Zylman says. "In your life, when is the last time someone you barely know completely out of the blue called you and said, ‘Is there anything I can do for you?’? It doesn’t happen! I think that’s what always impressed me so much. It’s the fact that he took the time to say, 'Someone might have a need, and I might be able to help them.' That’s what really impressed me.” Shakespeare’s Pub co–owner Ted Vadella has worked closely with Bell and his staff

during the 19 years his bar and restaurant have been located just a few hundred feet from the Eccentric Cafe. “Larry Bell was a visionary in our industry long before anyone saw it as a business model,” Vadella says. “Craft brewing was for hobbyists and garage weekend warriors. Then this guy comes out of nowhere in our little town and creates an alternative to macro beers. It amazes me how he continues to stay ahead of the game not only in quality control, but social issues that have proven to be so important to the way society works. He isn’t afraid to take chances with his beer or his beliefs. He pushes for our community to be better.” Beyond the world of beer and aside from his community involvement, Bell has found a reconnection with the outdoors. Unlike others who found solace outdoors during the pandemic, Bell had motivation that wasn't entirely driven by pandemic–induced cabin fever. It was also driven by a health issue: He announced earlier this year that he had recovered after a fight against kidney cancer in the summer of 2020 and the removal of one kidney. Partly in response to this experience, Bell set a goal to hike about 270 miles, of which he's completed 260 miles so far. He revealed his plan by posting a video on his Facebook page that referenced his health recovery and announced that he was donating $30,000, to be split equally among the National Kidney Foundation, the North Country Trail Association and the Bronson Health Foundation. Now, he says, his goals include doing puzzles, visiting the Upper Peninsula, traveling with his wife, Shannon, golfing, and following the Cubs. He has some brewery– related projects he’s contemplating, including creating a sports–bar–like space at the Eccentric Cafe and a distillery at a building he owns in downtown Kalamazoo. He’s also talked with local historians and museum officials about putting his immense personal collection of brewery items, maps and historic documents into galleries for the public. “I have been toying with the idea of a museum for all the stuff I collect, because the wife is not going to put up with it too

much longer with all the crap that’s all over the place,” he says.

Looking ahead at the industry Bell is predicting leaner times in the future for craft beer. During the last several years, sales of craft beer have slowed from their meteoric pace of five years ago, which Bell says was an unsustainable pace. Add the pandemic to that inevitable sales slowdown, and Bell says he is already seeing a leveling off of action nationwide. Kalamazoo, in particular, has seen several brewery closures in the last three years. “We’ve reached the plateau of overall craft beer,” Bell says. “It’s not the rah–rah days when we were growing 20 percent every year. There’s still some growth, but that growth is nothing compared to the number of new players coming into the marketplace. The pie is getting cut up thinner and thinner and thinner. We’ll definitely see some fallout. “We’ve seen that already in Kalamazoo, in Michigan, and around the country. There will be a thinning out of the marketplace, especially for those breweries that rely on taproom sales. Those of us who have big packaging facilities will be OK.” Yunker says her immediate attention at Bell’s will focus on bringing employees back into the workplace after the pandemic. Also, in the next 12 to 24 months, with the dozen 800–barrel fermenters from Germany that arrived at the Comstock facility in July, the brewery is looking to make bigger plays nationally and enter into new markets, particularly on the West Coast, Yunker says. These plans include expanding in areas of the Pacific Northwest, where the vast majority of North American hops — one of the four main ingredients of craft beer — is grown and a high percentage of the population drinks craft beer. Bell’s, as it always has, is taking a measured approach to breaking into new states. It can be a slow, deliberate process with the intention of creating lasting relationships, not simply a money grab, says Yunker. Offering what home brewers consider the No. 1 beer in the country should help matters too. Bell's Two Hearted Ale, an India pale ale, has been named the best beer in America for

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Bell’s ‘Gang of Four’

These four people are on Larry Bell’s leadership team, which he calls his “Gang of Four”:

Carrie Yunker Carrie has been with Bell’s Brewery for almost two decades and is now the company’s executive vice president, after ascending from a part–time receptionist to director of human resources. She has helped develop a highly regarded culture for the family–owned brewery, which has been recognized on both a local and national level as one of the Best and Brightest companies to work for. She is a member of the executive committee of the National Craft Beer Human Resource Alliance.

Welcome Fall!

John Mallett He has been at Bell’s Brewery since 2001. As vice president of operations, he is responsible for logistics, brewing, packaging and brewery capital projects. He serves on many brewing technical committees and boards, including with the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, the Brewers Association, the American Malting Barley Association, and the Hop Quality Group. He has written and taught extensively, including at the Siebel Institute of Technology. In 2002, he was the recipient of the Institute for Brewing Studies’ Russell Schehrer Award for brewing innovation. He is also the author of Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse, the fourth installment in Brewers Publications’ Brewing Elements series.

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Lisa Miller As vice president of finance, she oversees the financial, compliance and IT functions of Bell's Brewery in addition to working with its executive leadership to help establish companywide strategy, policy and procedures. She has more than 30 years of financial experience, with concentrations in the brewery, restaurant, real estate and banking industries, including seven years of public accounting. She has held leadership positions at BarFly Ventures, Jade Pig Ventures, Magna International and Plante & Moran. She belongs to the Michigan Association of CPAs and is a member of the Craft Brewers Accounting Group.

Matthew Moberly He has worked in the craft beer industry for almost two decades. As vice president of sales and marketing at Bell’s Brewery, he oversees both departments, along with the business insights department, focusing on quality and data–driven outcomes. He is an active member of the Beer Industry Electronic Commerce Coalition (BIECC) through the National Beer Wholesaler Association and on the Brewers Association’s Market Development Committee. He also serves on the Board of Advisors of the Beverage Business Institute at Colorado State University and the the board of the Food Marketing Program at Western Michigan University.

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About Bell's Brewery Founder and president: Larry Bell Started: As Kalamazoo Brewing Co., which opened in 1983; became Bell's in 1985

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Number of employees: More than 500 Locations: Comstock Brewery, Upper Hand Brewery (Escanaba) and Bell's Eccentric Cafe/General Store (Kalamazoo) Number of beer types: More than 90 in 2021 Beer shipped in 2020: More than 465,000 barrels

four consecutive years by the magazine of the American Homebrewers Association (AHA), based on votes by home brewers. “Two Hearted has a ton of run room, and we’re going to go after it,” Yunker says. “Two Hearted is going to push people right out, people we love and adore, but we’re coming and selling Two Hearted and Oberon — that’s the portfolio we have. We’re going to do that kindly and respectfully, but we are going to get after it.”

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‘We changed beer in America’ Papazian, the author and home–brewing pioneer, called Bell’s “one of the shining lights in the United States as far as craft beer is concerned,” and Bell says his own role in the national and statewide beverage revolution is a point of pride. Michigan ranks sixth in the nation in number of breweries, with nearly 400 of them, according to the Brewers Association. Michigan’s craft beer industry is responsible for $914 million in labor income and a total economic impact of over $2.5 billion, according to the Michigan Brewers Guild. “The No. 1 thing is that all of us that did this craft beer thing, we changed beer in America and the world and it’s never going back,” Bell says. “We changed it for the better. We were able to blow it up and bring good beer back. That’s been a remarkable thing. “You think about all these numbers and all these breweries that have opened — we’ve done a lot of good for so many communities because these breweries in many places have taken old buildings, fixed them up and helped bring back neighborhoods. They tend to be community–based and pretty charitable. "It’s been quite a story.”


Career Stages

Sandy Bremer has gone from treading the boards to teaching BY JORDAN BRADLEY

an organization dedicated to bringing arts education to nine public school districts in the area. “It’s an honor, of course,” she says.

Brian Powers

From bean counter to Broadway tours


f you ask Sandy Bremer how she felt about receiving the Community Medal of Arts Award for 2020, she will tell you just how horrified she was — not at the award itself, which she was honored by, but at the thought of having to get up in front of a group of people and speak. “I was afraid that I'd have to say something in front of people,” says the 60–year–old actor/director/choreographer/teacher whose career has been all about standing up in front of people. How’s that again? “When you perform, you play somebody else and you're reading lines written by somebody. You're completely different,”

Bremer grew up in Portage and attended Western Michigan University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in accounting, of all things. After graduating, she worked for First National Bank and did community theater at the Civic and the New Vic.   "Sandy was the performer in Kalamazoo in the 1980s," says Janet Gover, former marketing director for the Civic and an actress who performed with Bremer many times. When Bremer auditioned and won the role of Marty in a production of Grease by Tibbits Summer Theatre in Coldwater in 1988 (Gover was alongside her, playing Cha–Cha), it became the catalyst for Bremer to pursue theater work full time. “Janet and I had a blast in that show. I really was over the nine to five and the

Above: Bremer in the dressing room at the Civic Theatre. Right: Bremer performing in a national tour of Sweet Charity.

Bremer explains. “When teaching, you're teaching in front of people about something else. Nothing's focused on yourself.” But if there has been one thing positive from the Covid–19 pandemic for Bremer, it was that she received the award via a Zoom meeting. Bremer was awarded the Community Medal of Arts Award for her dedication to teaching and directing in the Kalamazoo arts community, having worked with Farmers Alley Theatre and the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre and as a teacher with Education for the Arts,

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bank," says Bremer. "That summer just made me realize that my passion was performing and theater, and I needed to continue on that path and try to make a living as an actor. " During the next several years Bremer toured the country, performing in the national tours of Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity, The Pajama Game, The Pirates of Penzance and Tintypes. Between tours, she auditioned and won a role for a show at the renowned Derby Dinner Playhouse in Louisville, Kentucky. She opted to go back out on tour instead, but when it was over, she contacted the Derby again. "There was an opening in the upcoming show, so I threw caution to the wind and based myself in Louisville, thinking, ‘I can work out of there just as well as anywhere in the country,’" she says. She spent the next 15 years as a resident company member of the renowned Derby Dinner Playhouse, where she appeared in such roles as Mama Rose in Gypsy, the title character in Mame, Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, Sheila in A Chorus Line, and Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun.  "Name any lead female musical theater role, and Sandy has probably performed it," Gover says. After Bremer gave birth to her daughter, Bonnie, in 1999, she pulled back from performing after realizing that her performance schedule kept her from coveted time at home with her growing girl. And when Bremer’s husband, Neil Bremer, was offered a position as executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo in 2010, the trio packed up and headed to Kalamazoo. Going to the 'dark side' Sandy Bremer saw this move as an opportunity for her to go to "the dark side (meaning the behind–the–scenes work of theater),” she says with a conspiratorial eyebrow wag. She began directing and choreographing shows at the Civic Theatre, and when an opportunity to teach with EFA came her way, she seized it. With EFA, Bremer is a theater teaching artist who educates students in three areas: aesthetic arts education, which exposes them

Clockwise from above: Bremer after receiving her Community Medal of Arts Award; starring in the title role of Evita; directing the actors for The Snowflake Man; and teaching students at Woods Edge Learning Center. (Courtesy photos)

to a variety of arts disciplines and teaches them to view and consume art critically; the PACE program, which teaches students from kindergarten through eighth grade about theatrical dance, movement and expression; and the Alternative Arts Initiative, which allows students in nontraditional schooling to participate in arts programs. It's through this initiative that Bremer presents multisensory theater performances for kids on the autism spectrum. Bremer considers becoming a teacher and director as a natural progression for those in the arts. Fortunate enough to have been able to make a living performing at the beginning of her career, Bremer is acutely aware of how rare that is in any arts discipline.

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“Everybody says (when) you’re going into theater, ‘Well, then what are you going to do with your life?’” Bremer says. “So (receiving the Community Medal of Arts Award) was kind of an acknowledgment that, yeah, you’ve made the right decision. You have had an impact on others.” Multisensory theater During her eight years teaching with EFA, Bremer says her most rewarding experience has been putting together the multisensory performance The Snowflake Man at the

Civic in 2018. Multisensory performances are written and designed to be inclusive for children on the autism spectrum who may find it challenging to enjoy more typical theater performances. The Snowflake Man followed a man who was obsessed with snowflakes. The performance included piles of fake snow for kids to touch, mist to simulate snowfall and, at the end, snow. “The big thing was, at the end, it snowed. So we had a snow machine and it snowed on them, which was — talk about just making you die every day and cry,” Bremer recalls. “These kids were just in the snow. It was so fabulous.” Passing it on Bremer and her teaching colleagues eagerly await the return of in–person performances. As much fun as she has had going into virtual classrooms, it does not compare to the real thing, she says. "The village sent me on my way and I came back, and now I'm ready to send a bunch of others on their way,” Bremer says. “The biggest thing is that I really feel like you're supposed to give back and teach your craft because you learned from people and it's your obligation to give back to the community. And my community is Kalamazoo.”

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River Road Only once did we take the river rather than the road past the three houses that were grandfathered into the national lakeshore.

Where the Platte enters Lake Michigan, you can wade to the waves, look for stones, cross over to look for plovers, smell the nearest pines.

Usually we take the curves slowly, not remembering which one gives us the view of the lake, blue with blue above. Sometimes.

You never have the lake alone. But you needn’t be sociable. Just look down or across. Imagine Wisconsin smiling or the ore boat captain.

I was not good at canoeing. The seat was hard, the view flowing, the life vest too obvious. And I had to go to the bathroom.

The sun sets large and late. It repeats itself to your knees. The glowing aftereffects are why you go there, saying goodnight to summer. — Elaine M. Seaman

Margaret DeRitter


Seaman and her husband, Bill, have a home in Texas Township and own a cabin near Honor, Michigan, that provides them easy access to the Platte River, Sleeping Bear Dunes and the shore of Lake Michigan. She enjoys looking for rocks and getting her toes wet. Seaman also makes quilts for display; an exhibit of her quilts is at the Carnegie Center for the Arts, in Three Rivers, through Sept. 9.


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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 Plays Double “O” 69 — A comedy about a double agent who drinks and has the fate of the world in his hands, 8 p.m. Aug. 30–Sept. 4 & Sept. 7–11; 5 p.m. Sept. 5 & 12, Barn Theatre, 13351 W. M-96, Augusta, 731–4121, Ben Hur (A Comedy) — A stage adaptation by Patrick Barlow of this timeless story, 8 p.m. Sept. 14–18; 5 p.m. Sept. 19, Barn Theatre, 731–4121, A Slippery Slope — A madcap comedy by Barn Managing Director Patrick Hunter about family, love and making money, a sequel to In Hot Water, 8 p.m. Sept. 21–25; 5 p.m. Sept. 25, Barn Theatre, 731–4121, Other Theresa Caputo — The star of TV's Long Island Medium shares personal stories about her life and her gift, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 16, Miller Auditorium, Western Michigan University, Jeanne Robertson — Humorist and motivational speaker, 7 p.m. Sept. 18, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick, MUSIC Bands & Solo Artists Gun Lake Live Summer Series — The series' final concert will feature Brena, 6 p.m. Sept. 1, Lakefront Pavilion, Bay Pointe Inn, 11456 Marsh Road, Shelbyville, 888–486–5253. Beats on Bates — Weekly outdoor music under the lights of Bates Alley, 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays: Jazz &

Creative Institute/Kalamazoo Music School Student Ensemble Concert, Sept. 1; Grayson Nye Experiment, Sept. 8; Kalamazoo Academy of Rock, Sept. 15, 22 & 29; Music on the Mall — Live performances on the South Kalamazoo Mall, 3–6 p.m. Saturdays: Airtight, Sept. 4; Dog Patch, Sept. 11; Pinter Whitnick, Sept. 18; Trio Desino, Sept. 25. Son Little — Pennsylvania–based rhythm–and–blues artist, 8 p.m. Sept. 8, Bell’s Back Room, 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., 382–2332, Robert Cray Band — Blues, soul and R&B, with special guest Blue Veins, 7 p.m. Sept. 15, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick, TK & the Holy Know–Nothings — Country/rock band from Portland, Oregon, 8:30 p.m. Sept. 18, Bell’s Back Room, 382–2332, Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers — Michigan feel– good rock group, 8 p.m. Sept. 24, Bell’s Beer Garden, 382–2332, The North 41: Mighty Big Rig, Celestial — Funk/rock band from Chicago, 8 p.m. Sept. 25, Bell’s Back Room, 382–2332, Mustard Plug with Catbite, J Navarro & The Traitors (Rescheduled) — Midwest punk–influenced ska band, 8:30 p.m. Oct. 1, Bell’s Back Room, 382–2332, Orchestra, Chamber, Jazz, Vocal & More Violinist David Lisker and Pianist Larry Weng — WMU’s Dalton School of Music presents this performance via YouTube, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30, wmich. edu/music/events. VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349–7775, Exhibitions Yun–Fei Ji Exhibition — Yun–Fei, raised in China during the Cultural Revolution, uses historical folk tales to speak of environmental issues and mass migration through his art, through Sept. 5. West Michigan Area Show — Selected works from hundreds of entries across a 14–county region, showcasing work in many mediums, through Sept. 12.

Sosaku–hanga: Creative Printmaking in Japan — Modern–era Japanese printmaking in which artists control the entire process of design, carving, printing and promotion of their work, through Oct. 10. It’s a David Small World — Through illustrations by Kalamazoo–area artist and Caldecott Medal winner David Small, this exhibition explores the process of creating a children’s book, through Nov. 29. Unveiling American Genius — Abstract and contemporary works from the KIA’s permanent collection, emphasizing stories that African American, Latinx and other artists have told about our culture, art and history, through December 2022. Events ARTbreak: Local Sustainability — Chris Dilley and Ben Brown, from Kalamazoo’s People’s Food Co–op, share tips for everyday ways to tread more lightly on the planet, noon–1 p.m., Sept. 7. The Whole Picture: The Colonial Story of the Art in Our Museums and Why We Need to Talk About It — A virtual book discussion on if and how we might be able to “decolonize” our galleries , 2–3 p.m. Sept. 15; reserve tickets online. ARTful Evenings: Transforming Art with Digital Technology — In this virtual event, Ginny Ruffner shares how digital technology has helped enable both beauty and reflective thought, 6–7 p.m. Sept. 16; reserve tickets online. ARTbreak: Illustrating the Natural World — A virtual event with Olivia Mendoza, who creates illustrative work based on the natural world, noon–1 p.m. Sept. 21; reserve tickets online. Richmond Center for Visual Arts Western Michigan University, 387–2436, art/exhibitions Safer at Home: Pandemic Paintings — Works by Esther Pearl Watson reflecting on pandemic experiences, Sept. 23–Nov. 14, Monroe–Brown Gallery. Wild Corporation — Midwest premiere of artist Mimi Kato’s most recent body of work, which combines photography and performance to explore gendered power dynamics in large–format digital prints and surreal sculptural objects, Sept. 23–Nov. 14, Monroe– Brown Gallery.

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Gardens in the Art & Life of David Small and Sarah Stewart — Celebrating the works of Michigan–based artists and authors David Small and Sarah Stewart as part of a citywide effort to celebrate WMU Libraries’ recent acquisition of a major archive, Sept. 23–Nov. 14, Netzorg and Kerr Gallery. Other Venues It’s a David Small World: The Graphic Novels — The Kalamazoo Book Arts Center presents original drawings from the graphic novels Stitches and Home After Dark, by children’s book illustrator/graphic novelist David Small, Sept. 3–Oct. 22, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A, Art Hop — Displays of art at various locations, 6–8 p.m. Sept. 3, downtown Kalamazoo, 342–5059, LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library 553–7800, All branches are open with altered hours; see website for updates on curbside, drive–up and walk–up services. Classics Revisited Book Club — Zoom discussion of David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens, 7 p.m. Sept. 16; registration required. Friends of KPL Bag Sale — 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Sept. 18, Central Library parking lot, 315 S. Rose St. Mobile Library — Buddy Hannah shares stories about an intergenerational oral history project as well as haiku he wrote that was inspired by those stories, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Sept. 25, Eastwood Branch, 1616 E. Main St. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343–7747, Mystery Book Club — Sept. 20. Kindleberger Park History Walk — Walk through the park with local historian Cheryl Lyon–Jenness to learn about the landmarks and their history, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21 (rain date, Sept. 23), starting at the Kindleberger Park historical marker, located on Maple Street near the library. Portage District Library 329–4544, The library is temporarily offering services at 5528 Portage Road while the building at 300 Library Lane is closed for renovations.


Richland Community Library 8951 Park St., 629–9085, Mystery Club Take–And–Solve — Pick up a mystery kit, take it home and see if you have what it takes to solve the mystery, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Sept. 1; first–come, first–served. Banned Book Bingo — Cross off titles of banned books that you have read to get a bingo on your card, 10 a.m. Sept. 1 to 5 p.m. Sept. 30. MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, Portage, 382–6555, Visit and Ride Rosie’s Reply — See and take a ride on the B–25D Rosie’s Reply, Sept. 11, Flight Discovery Center, 3101 E. Milham Road; tickets for rides are available online. Be the Astronaut — Experience the wonders of space through three training stations specializing in science, navigation and engineering, through Sept. 12. Women in Air & Space — Featuring some of the earliest women in aviation, including Amelia Earhart; Harriet Quimby; Bessie Coleman; Katherine Wright, the Wright Brothers’ younger sister; and Air Zoo co–founder Suzanne Parish, the first female licensed pilot. Restoration and Exhibits at the Flight Discovery Center — See efforts to restore two World War II aircraft recovered from Lake Michigan, talk with the team and ask questions about their work, Flight Discovery Center, 3101 E. Milham Road. Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671–5089, Wednesday Night Cruise–ins — Collector cars, oldies music and food, 5–8 p.m. Wednesdays on good–weather nights, through September. Ultimate Truck Show & Swap Meet — Open to every type and all years of trucks, pickups, utility vehicles and semis, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sept. 10–11. Muscle Cars Plus — This 25th annual show and swap meet is West Michigan’s largest gathering of muscle cars, featuring hundreds of vehicles, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sept. 12. Ford Model A Day — Celebrate and learn the heritage of this early American automobile, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sept. 18. Cadillac–LaSalle Fall Festival — A celebration of Cadillacs from 1903 to 2021, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sept. 25.

Camaros at the Corners — All years of the sports car welcome to participate, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sept. 26. Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373–7990, Giants, Dragons & Unicorns: The World of Mythic Creatures — Unique cultural objects highlight the surprising similarities and differences in the ways people around the world envision and depict mythical creatures, through Sept. 12. The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality — A selection of 89 hats and headdresses from a collection of over 1,300 that speak to cultural ties and identity, through Oct. 14. Beth Bradfish Sound Sculpture — Manipulate wire– mesh screens and sounds for an auditory experience that blends arts and sciences. The Walker Brothers — A virtual exhibit about Ryan and Keith Walker, who were afflicted with the rare genetic disorder Hunter syndrome, and their lasting impact on family, friends, inclusive education and civil rights in Kalamazoo, NATURE Binder Park Zoo 7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek, 979–1351, Cheetah Choktoberfest de Zoo, Uncorked! — Cheetah Chase 5K (run or walk) from 9–11 a.m.; Festival at Zoo Pavilions, noon–6 p.m., Oct. 2; live music, bike riding, hiking, virtual auction and more. Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381–1574, Hours: Trails are open daily 9 a.m.–7:30 p.m.; Visitor Center is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Wednesday–Friday and 1–5 p.m. Sunday. Public Astronomy Observing Sessions — Hosted by the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society: Jupiter, Saturn & Summer Star Clusters, Sept. 11; Venus, Jupiter, Saturn & the Moon, Sept. 25; both sessions will be held from 8 p.m.–midnight; check for possible weather–based cancellations. Migratory Music: Connecting Chords Music Festival — Experience KNC with live music performed by Michigan Festival of Sacred Music favorites stationed around the Arboretum, 2–4 p.m. Sept. 12 (rain date, Sept. 19).

Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671–2510, Tales and Trails: Bats with the Richland Library — Pages from The Bat Book, by Charlotte Milner, will be posted along the sanctuary’s paved path for families to read as they walk, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. through Oct. 31. Birds and Coffee Chat Online — Grab your morning beverage and learn about a new bird species in Southwest Michigan, 10 a.m. Sept. 8; registration required. MISCELLANEOUS Portage Farmers Market — Local vendors selling fresh produce and wares, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 24, Portage City Hall, Portage Cornhole League — Join an eight–game season with game times running from 6:30–8:30 p.m. through Oct. 14, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave., Geo Mystery Tours — Geocaching experience with the theme "Move!" Sept. 1; registration required at mypark. Kalamazoo Farmers Market — Local vendors selling fresh fruits, veggies, baked goods and farm–fresh meats and cheeses and more, 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturdays, 8 a.m.– 1 p.m. Tuesdays, noon–5 p.m. Thursdays, with a Night Market 5–10 p.m. Sept. 23, Mayors’ Riverfront Park, 251 Mills St., Pinball at the Park — Rediscover pinball, with games for sale and play, tournaments, parts and more, 2–10 p.m. Sept. 2, 1–10 p.m. Sept. 3, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Sept. 4, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., Friday at the Flats — Local food trucks and vendors, 4–8 p.m. Sept. 3, Celery Flats Pavilion, 7335 Garden Lane, Workout Wednesdays — Free socially distanced workouts offered by local fitness organizations: Guess Who’s Dancing, Sept. 1; Bronson Athletic Club, Sept. 8; Kalamazoo Athletic Club, Sept. 15; Just Move Fitness and More, Sept. 22; Intentional Yoga, Sept. 29; all sessions 5:30–6:30 p.m., Bronson Park, Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival — Tastings and tours, 5k walk/run, grape–stomping competition, kayak race, four entertainment stages, carnival rides, fireworks and a parade, Sept. 10–12; for schedule of events, visit NSRA Street Rod Nationals North — See more than 2,500 street rods, muscle cars, custom cars, trucks and specialty vehicles, all 30 years and older, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Sept. 10 & 11, 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Sept. 12, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St., nsra– Peacock Strut Walk/Run — Walk or run on the trails of Portage Creek Bicentennial Park, 7 a.m. Sept. 11, Grain Elevator, 7328 Garden Lane, Scottish Festival and Highland Games — A family– friendly day celebrating Scottish history and culture with Highland games, clans, food, exhibits, music and dancing, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sept. 11, Kindleberger Park, 300 Maple St., Parchment. Golf 4 Youth — Charitable 9–hole golf scramble benefiting Kalamazoo Friends of Recreation,11:30 a.m. Sept. 13, Milham Park Golf Club, 7200 Lovers Lane; lunch and golf cart are provided, and live music and prizes are featured in the afternoon; register at Fall Gala Dinner with Michael W. Smith — This Christian music artist will perform to benefit Park Village Pines, a Christian assisted–living community for seniors, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17, Radisson Plaza Hotel, 100 W. Michigan Ave.; purchase tickets at Bike Friendly Kalamazoo’s Fall Bike Celebration — Featuring rides through the Southwest Michigan countryside and events including a disc–golf clinic and

live music, Sept. 17–19, Vicksburg Farmers Market and Historic Village, 300 N. Richardson St.; for details and registration, visit Bronson Children’s Hospital Virtual Walk & 5k Run — Virtual event to benefit children’s health; complete the walk/run anytime between Sept. 17 and 26; registration required at 341–8100 or bronsonhealth. com/runwalk. Fall Craft Show — More than 120 booths of local artists, crafters and vendors, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Sept. 18, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 269–903–5820. Mattawan Pirates and Ren–day — Dress as a pirate or Renaissance character and participate in games; also, sword–fighting exhibitions, vendors, food, music, and artists offering caricature art, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sept. 18, Mattawan Masonic Lodge, 25347 Front St., Mattawan, SPCA 5K Doggie Dash — Walk or run the park trails to raise money for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 10 a.m. Sept. 18, Spring Valley Park, 2606 Mt. Olivet Road, Kalamazoo's Vintage Market — Shop 44 booths filled with antiques, home décor and more, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Sept. 18, Kalamazoo County Expo Center North, 269–903–5820. Suicide Prevention Walk 2021 — A 5K walk to raise awareness of suicide prevention, connect with others and provide critical funds for Gryphon Place, 9 a.m.– noon Sept. 25; register at Michigan Kubb Championship — A competition for players of Kubb, a lawn game in which the objective is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden batons, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sept. 25, Flesher Field, 3664 S. Ninth St., Oshtemo Township; registration and more information at


DoBl “O”  August 31 – Sept 15

September 14 – 19



September 21 – 26

Written by Patrick Hunter


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We’ll do all the work.

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Willis Law . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 WMUK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

ENCORE BACK STORY Paul Selden (continued from page 30)

What was your first memorable bike ride as a kid, when you first thought, "This is the transportation mode for me"?

walking or running on the roads. Once you learn to do it, you can ride right out your front door and you've got your adventure.

When I discovered I could ride farther than I ever thought I could ride. We lived in the (Detroit) suburbs at the time. I could ride an entire mile until I came to a road that I thought was too busy to cross. Was it Telegraph Road, Ford Road? I just remember that it felt like an adventure, and it was just so easy to go places I had never seen before.

How are you working on a friendlier environment for bikers in Kalamazoo?

When did you rediscover this as an adult? I think that sense of adventure is something that I felt again, very, very strongly, as an adult. After my kids were out of the house, I thought, "You know what? I'm gonna see if I can ride my bike." Almost every week I picked a destination that was a little bit farther. First, it was, "I'm gonna ride my bike from where I live, in south Portage, to the beginning of one of the trails." Then, "I'm going to ride my bike to mail a letter at the Portage post office." And from there it just kept going. I thought, "I think I'm going to ride to the county line." St. Joseph County — wow! I hit a county line! It felt like I was the first man on the moon. Or like Davey Crockett, exploring places I'd never been before, having adventures. It was that sense of adventure, coupled with the knowledge that it was good for my health. What was your age then? It was about ten or 11 years ago, so I was approaching 60. We see a lot of older folks on bikes. Is this something one can do until you can't do it anymore? The thing about having a bicycle is, for most people, you can go right out the front door and you can ride your bike and get to a lot of places. You can actually learn to do it safely on the roads, too. A lot of people think roads are very dangerous, and yeah, sure, they're filled with the same risks that a pedestrian faces by and large. But if you follow the rules of the road and pay attention, it's just as safe as

We meet with local governmental officials, community leaders and bicycling stakeholders to listen to their ideas and explore what can be done to make Kalamazoo more bicycle friendly. Out of those meetings we concluded that we have to increase awareness–building and have better education for motorists and bicyclists. And we have to develop better infrastructure to support bicycles in all its forms. Our work with municipal and community leaders has always been as collaborative and collegial as we can make it, understanding that not everybody is ready to move at the same pace at the same time. Progress is a little bit uneven, but we're getting there. Is Kalamazoo bike friendly? Yes. And getting more so. It's always a matter of degrees. Could it be more bike friendly? There's always room for improvement. Biking hasn't been your only adventure... I became a certified deep sea diver, and up to the pandemic, I had done over a thousand dives around the world, and written about those for diving guides and newsletters. Deep sea diving is something folks always thought would be cool, but then we saw Jaws. (He laughs.) I usually trust that the local guides usually aren't going to be sending you to be eaten up — their business wouldn't last very long! It does give bragging rights, though, "Ooo! You dove and you saw a shark? Ooo!" Could you be described as an adventure seeker? Uh, yeah? I don't know if that's because I'm half Norwegian or what. Maybe it's that Viking blood in me. — Interview by Mark Wedel, edited for length and clarity.

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Paul Selden

Bike Friendly Kalamazoo T

he next time you are out bike riding on a local bike route, you might whisper a thank you to Paul Selden. In 2010 while riding his bicycle on D Avenue, a car swerved into the road's shoulder where he was riding, hitting his bike's left pedal and rear frame with enough force to break the frame. The driver fled the scene. "It sounded like a gun had gone off," Selden says. Shaken but luckily still upright, Selden yelled "Hit and run!" and pointed at the fleeing car. A Good Samaritan followed the car and phoned it in to the police, who were able to apprehend the driver. Selden decided to "turn that negative into a positive for the community" and formed Bike Friendly Kalamazoo, a nonprofit organization that advocates for safe bike routes, and to educate drivers and bikers. The organization is holding its annual Fall Bike Celebration and Multi–Charity Bikeathon on Sept. 18.

Selden, who grew up near Detroit, pedaled his bike to school up to seventh grade, and rode one around campus both at the University of Minnesota and Western Michigan University. His biking decreased as he raised his family and went into business. In 1978, "back when computer screens were still green," he founded Performance Management, a company training users of corporate computer systems. He has since retired and his time is now devoted to BFK efforts. Do you remember your first bike? It was a Schwinn... Hurricane? It was a name I thought was cool, I remember that.

Brian Powers

(continued on page 29)


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Profile for Encore Magazine

Encore Magazine September 2021  

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