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SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN’S MAGAZINE

CONSERVANCY SAVES NATURAL SPACES GRACE NOTES: TEENAGERS IN TUNE VINEYARD OUTREACH SERVES THE STRUGGLING FROM MIGRANT WORKER TO RESTAURATEUR


When the goal is not riches, but to live richly. For the sake of discussion, let’s say wealth is a relative term. To some, it could mean having an eight digit portfolio. To others, it might mean having friends, family and good health. To others still, it could be the ability to do and have what is most rewarding. Whatever the definition, and regardless of whether wealth is a means or an end, those who have it also have goals that shape their decisions. That’s why clients of Greenleaf Trust benefit greatly from our goals-based wealth management approach. Thoughtful and holistic in its methodology, goals-based planning ensures clear-minded focus on managing your wealth so that you achieve the things in life that are most important and meaningful. Through reliable benchmarks, we measure progress in meeting your goals, instead of narrowly measuring performance against any one financial index. And at every step of the way, our client-centric team model puts your well being at the center of every decision, and gives you peace of mind. To learn more about Greenleaf Trust, and how goals-based wealth management can help you live a life well spent, call us.

Financial Security from Generation to Generation

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WHEN I STARTED FEELING DIZZY

AND LIGHT-HEADED,

I SHOULD’VE LISTENED

TO MY HEART. Something wasn’t right. But like many women, I downplayed my symptoms and assumed the stress of my job was getting to me. Or maybe I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Turns out, I had a bad heart valve. And it was only a matter of time before it would give out. That’s when I turned to Bronson. Their cardiac surgery program is rated best in the region, according to HealthGrades® (2013).

After being a patient, I can see why. I was able to go home a few days after having major heart surgery. And in no time, I was back at work and back to my self again. Although now, when my body tries to tell me something, I listen.

bronsonhealth.com/heart


Character Counts!

With 60 years of combined experience. soUThWesT MichiGan’s MaGazine

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conservancy saves naTUraL sPaces Grace noTes: TeenaGers in TUne vineyard oUTreach serves The sTrUGGLinG FroM MiGranT WorKer To resTaUraTeUr

publisher encore publications, inc. editor

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Encore Magazine is published 9 times yearly, September through May. Copyright 2012, Encore Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Editorial, circulation and advertising correspondence should be sent to: www.encorekalamazoo.com

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350 S. Burdick, Suite 214, Kalamazoo, MI 49007 Telephone: (269) 383-4433 Fax number: (269) 383-9767 E-mail: Publisher@encorekalamazoo.com The staff at Encore welcomes written comment from readers, and articles and poems for submission with no obligation to print or return them. To learn more about us or to comment, you may visit www. encorekalamazoo.com. Encore subscription rates: one year $27, two years $53, three years $78. 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.


j a n u a ry 2013

features

Land Lovers Land Conservancy is a proud protector of area’s natural spaces.

24

Reaching Out Vineyard Outreach Ministries serves the struggling of Kalamazoo.

18

6 Pain Reliever Local doctor pens book to help headache sufferers.

Margean Gladysz 28 From company spy to newspaper indexer, she’s seen — and learned — a lot in 84 years. Grace Notes Teenage cellists find fun — and a little fame — playing together.

Up Front

32

9 Photo Challenge You know you’ve seen it, but where? Solve our picture puzzler and win a gift certificate to Millennium Restaurants.

10 Update With new players, the beat goes on for the Western Jazz Quartet.

12 Good Works How a little garage tinkering brought Clean Water for the World.

14 Savor Esteban Blanco carries on a dream at El Gallo Blanco.

Arts

36 New Plays on Display Theatre Kalamazoo’s annual event sets the stage for new playwrights.

37 Abundant Author Multilingual writer Hedy Habra

has three books published in a year and more to come.

38 Poetry 39 Events of Note Departments

Correction: The photo accompanying the Lending Hands article in December’s issue incorrectly identified the volunteer working on the wheelchair as John Hilliard. The volunteer pictured was Ken Long. On the cover: Sunset at Bow in the Clouds Preserve Photo by Erik Holladay

17 First Glance An inspiring image by a local photographer. 46 The Last Word Going from boyhood to fatherhood at Asylum Lake.

Massie’s Michigan Beginning this month, historian Larry Massie will be taking a sabbatical from writing this feature. We look forward to his return.


UP FRONT ENCORE

Headache Helper Book sheds light on causes, treatments for headaches

Dr. Gary Ruoff hopes his new book, Knock Out Headaches, helps ease others’ pain. by

MARIE LEE

It wasn’t the lure of The New York Times

bestseller list that made Dr. Gary Ruoff write a book. He did it, he says, because “I feel for people in pain.” The medical director of clinical research at Westside Family Medical Center and longtime Kalamazoo physician has put his 40-plus years of experience in treating headache patients in a new book, Knock Out Headaches, published by Spry Publishing in Ann Arbor. Ruoff says the purpose of the 200-pluspage book, available locally at Michigan News Agency, Bookbug and Kazoo Books, is to educate headache sufferers so ”they can take control of their headaches.” “It advocates the idea that people with headaches can help themselves,” he explains. “I wanted to educate people about the different types of headaches and what is going on in their bodies that causes these headaches. There are a lot of processes going on that affect headaches.” As a researcher, Ruoff knew that a number of books on migraines and headaches al-

6 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013

ready existed. He read “the best five” of those books but found they were written for the clinician, not the patient. So last year, during the evenings after work, he wrote the book that he wished he had to give to his patients. “I write the way I talk to patients,” he says. “I wanted to put down all this information for those people who aren’t my patients.” In addition to educating readers about the different types of headaches, Knock Out Headaches also discusses a variety of triggers, from weather and hormones to food and environmental factors, that can cause headaches. And while the list can be rather long, Ruoff identifies what he considers the “big four” responsible for making headaches more intense and frequent: caffeine, the artificial sweetener aspartame, MSG and chocolate. “It’s a cumulative effect,” Ruoff explains. “Having a piece of chocolate every now and then may not seem iike a big deal, but if it’s combined with other triggers like drinking diet sodas and coffee and hormones, it be-

comes a big deal. Imagine it as a glass filled with water, which are your other triggers, and that piece of chocolate may be the drop that causes the glass to overflow.” It is estimated that 50 percent of headache sufferers are not under a doctor’s care and treat their headaches with over-the-counter medicines. But when the headaches start occurring three to four times in two weeks and last up to three days, it’s time to start looking at preventative care, says Ruoff. “When it begins to affect your quality of life, then it’s time to do something,” he says. The book’s first three chapters describe types of headaches, from “ice cream” and tension headaches to cluster and migraine headaches. Two chapters are devoted to “taking control” of headaches through medication as well as exercise and diet. Those chapters also look at factors such as anxiety and depression that can cause headaches. Ruoff also spends a chapter discussing the patient-doctor partnership, which he believes is critical to headache treatment.


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“It helps to be able to describe your symptoms and triggers so that the doctor can more successfully diagnose what you have,” he says, “so you need to learn as much about headaches as you can to help work with your doctor. “We need to treat people, not their headaches.” Ruoff, who is originally from New Jersey, went to medical school at Loyola University in Chicago and came to Kalamazoo to do a residency at Borgess Medical Center in the 1960s. A family physician, Ruoff became intrigued with headache treatment after attending a session on the ailment at a medical conference on pain. “I learned that up to 40 million Americans suffer from headaches and that many are silent sufferers who just think this is how life is. I really wanted to help them.” Ruoff has devoted much of his research and many of his outside activities to headache treatment. His efforts have earned him a number of accolades, including being named one of America’s Top Family Doctors in 2008 by the Consumers’ Research Council of America. And despite the huge increase in available medications for migraine sufferers during the past several decades, Ruoff says “there is no magical pill” when it comes to treating headaches. “Everyone’s body works differently. That’s why we need to treat people, not their headaches.”


UP FRONT PHOTO CHALLENGE

Where is this?

Tell us for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to Millennium Restaurants. 1) Go to www.encorekalamazoo.com and click on the Photo Challenge tab at the top. Fill out the form and submit your answer; or 2) E -mail your answer to editor@encorekalamazoo.com. Type “Where is this?” in the subject line. Include your name, address and telephone number; or 3) M  ail your answer to Encore, 350 S. Burdick St., Ste. 214, Kalamazoo, MI 49007; include your contact information. One entry per person. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing of correct entries. Entries must be received by Jan. 15, 2013. The correct answer will be printed in the February issue of Encore Magazine and on Encore’s website beginning Feb. 1. Need a hint? Go to our Facebook page, facebook.com/EncoreKalamazoo, for weekly clues.

photo challenge winner

Another stumper! Despite many good guesses, there were no correct answers to our December Photo Challenge image of the fountain in Van Buren County Park, in Paw Paw. Keep your eyes open and try this month’s challenge at left. We’ll also offer weekly clues on our Facebook page: facebook/com/EncoreKalamazoo.

Rudresh Mahanthappa Quartet Saturday, February 9 · 7:30 & 9:30 pm Wellspring Theater, Epic Center

Tokyo String Quartet Saturday, February 23 8 pm Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU

A Soldier’s Tale WITH THE WMU SCHOOL OF MUSIC

Friday & Saturday, March 15-16 · 8 pm Dalton Center Multimedia Room, WMU

Tia Fuller Quartet Saturday, April 20 · 8 pm Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU

A Quiet Revolution Friday, April 26 · 7:30 pm Wellspring Theater, Epic Center

Anonymous 4 WITH THE WMU MEDIEvAL InSTITUTE

Friday, May 10 · 8 pm Stetson Chapel, Kalamazoo College

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UPDATE UP FRONT

Western Jazz Quartet’s new lineup, from left: saxophonist Andrew Rathbun, drummer Keith Hall, pianist Jeremy Siskind and bass player and original member, Tom Knific.

by

JEREMY MARTIN

In celebration of its 40th year, Encore is taking a second look at some of those who have been featured in past issues of the magazine. This month we catch up with the Western Jazz Quartet, whose members have been featured in Encore numerous times during the past two decades.

For nearly a quarter of a century Tom Knific has directed the Western Jazz Quartet.

10 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013

Dominick Gladstone

The bass player spent 24 years playing beside saxophonist Trent Kynaston, pianist Steve Zegree and drummer Tim Froncek. Gig after gig, the same lineup, the same stage setup, the same mindset. “We were like a band of brothers,” Knific says of the quartet, composed of Western Michigan University professors of music. “We’d circled the globe many times and put out five CDs together.”


UP FRONT UPDATE However, following an early 2012 concert trip to Africa for the Mozambique International Jazz Festival, this seemingly inseparable set of musicians found themselves in a unique and unsettling situation: the dissolution of the band. “The whole group basically changed during the tour. Steve had gotten hired away, and it was Trent’s last concert with us, anyway,” Knific says. After Zegree left for a position at Indiana State University and Kynaston opted for retirement, Knific was left with a decision: What to do with a group that had earned international renown, recorded numerous CDs and performed around the world? Knific decided to start fresh with a brand new lineup, save for himself, of course. Replacing three members in an established group is always challenging but it was made more so in this case by the fact that the Western Jazz Quartet is made up of WMU faculty members, so any new addition to the group had to be employed by the university. After some searching, Knific found the perfect replacements and cut the average age of the quartet nearly in half. “When we left for the tour to Africa last May, I was the youngest (member),” the 53-year-old Knific says. “By the time we got home, I was the oldest.” They may be young, but the musicians

joining Knific have impressive credentials. Pianist Jeremy Siskind has been a finalist twice for the American Pianists Association’s Cole Porter Fellowship and won second place in the 2011 Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition. Drummer Keith Hall has toured and recorded with many artists, including Curtis Stigers, Grupo Yanqui, Jeff Haas, Mind’s Eye, Steve Talaga, Vanessa Trouble and Kate Reid. Saxophonist and composer Andrew Rathbun, who rounds out the quartet, has garnered praise as a leader and a sideman, working with well-known musicians such as Luciana Souza, Eddie Gomez, John Abercrombie, Reggie Workman, Ingrid Jensen and Jay Anderson as well as recording several CDs of his own. The new lineup hit the ground running in September when it performed its first concert together, an on-campus program originally intended to showcase the old lineup. “That wasn’t a debut when it was booked,” Knific says, chuckling. The concert turned into a trial by fire for the new group. “We met 10 days before our first concert,” Knific says. “In jazz that happens with certain kinds of groups, but we’re supposed to be a legacy group, a very highlevel group. We all contributed a couple tunes to the thing.” And “the thing,” as Knific puts it, turned out to be a rousing success. “If you get the right people, you might not be able to predict

the product, but you can guarantee it will be a great product. I was sure that it would really be a great thing, I just couldn’t promise what it would be.” By the middle of December, the quartet was in the studio to record its debut CD, which will consist entirely of original material. “The pace has definitely quickened,” Knific says. “It took the original group two years before we made our first CD, and none of that was our own music. It was not for four or five years that we released a record of all original music. The new guys are just chomping at the bit and loving it. They’re writing music left and right.” The group is also getting ready to go on the road. Performances in Africa, Portugal and the Caribbean are in the planning stages, and Knific hopes to take the quartet on a tour of Southern California as early as this April. The group will also continue to play three or four times per semester at its local home base, The Union Cabaret & Grille, in downtown Kalamazoo. “The spirit of the original group was to create an original sound and an original repertoire and to build a bridge to our community and to communities throughout the country and world,” says Knific. “The spirit’s the same. We’re just doing the 21st-century version of that.”

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 11


GOOD WORKS UP FRONT

Little contraption brings clean water to the world

JEREMY MARTIN

Erik Holladay

by

Jerry and Judy Bohl have been working for more than a decade to bring clean drinking water to those without.

W

hen the phone rang on a recent Monday morning, Jerry Bohl was busy tinkering in his Otsego garage. The retired machine-shop owner wasn’t restoring a car, staining cabinets or fixing an old toaster. He was hard at work doing what he has done nearly every day since 2002 — building water-purification systems to send to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and other regions of the globe where people struggle to find clean drinking water. For more than a decade, Bohl and his wife, Judy, have dedicated themselves to supplying that most basic of human needs to people who, as Jerry says, have trouble “just getting through the day.”

12 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013

Clean Water for the World officially came into existence as a nonprofit organization in 2007 after the Bohls were joined in their thirst-quenching efforts by former Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Institute of Arts art instructor Paul Flickinger. Since 2007, Clean Water for the World has installed water-filtration systems in nearly 20 countries around the globe. The systems that Clean Water for the World builds weigh less than 35 pounds each and work by running local water through a cotton and paper filter to remove


UP FRONT GOOD WORKS all particulate matter and then pumping the filtered water into a stainless-steel ultraviolet-light chamber that sterilizes the water, rendering it safe to drink. “These things run perfectly fine on 39 watts of electricity,” Jerry Bohl says. “We’re talking five gallons a minute, 300 gallons an hour — serious water here.” And, as Bohl discovered during a 1995 trip to El Salvador with a church group, the clean water produced by his machines is seriously needed. “That was an eye-opener,” he says. Until we saw firsthand what the real destitute folks in the world have to go through, we just had no idea.” Judy Bohl made the same trip the following year and came to the same realization as her husband: Something had to be done. “We came back with this drive: There’s something wrong with this story. These folks don’t have clean water. What are we going to do about this?” Jerry explains. It wasn’t until 2001 that they stumbled upon the answer to their question.

The couple read a magazine article about a professor and student from the Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, N.Y. — the same school their daughter attended — who had created a crude but effective homemade water purifier that had been installed in Haiti. Right away the Bohls knew they had to speak with the creators of this device. “We took this guy’s ideas along with the student’s, Sarah Brownell, and adapted it for our personal experiences and the applications that we needed it for,” Jerry Bohl says. Once installed, the equipment is more or less self-sustaining, needing only a single person to check in on its functionality occasionally. “The unit was designed to be pretty much maintenance-free and not require too much attention,” says Bohl. The unit comes with a very pictorial maintenance manual. If you can look at the pictures, you can pull it off.” The units cost between $800 and $1,450 to create and are given away for free, with the stipulation that the water produced must

also be given away for free. Jerry and Judy Bohl continue to make yearly trips abroad, not only to check on the systems that have been installed but also to establish relationships and make sure they aren’t too comfortable with their own lives. “It’s about getting outside the comfort zone,” he says. “We all like our comfort zone. If this experience or our story can get someone outside their comfort zone, great things will happen.” Great things already are happening. What began as a small operation that received donations through St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Kalamazoo has evolved into a fulltime nonprofit entity that takes donations and uses them to build and install more water filters. “This isn’t magic,” says Bohl. “It’s just human beings being aware of someone else’s reality.” Visit Clean Water for the World online at: cleanwaterfortheworld.org.

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www.encorekalamazoo.com | 13


Erik Holladay

SAVOR UP FRONT

Esteban Blanco features authentic Michoacán cuisine at his restaurant, El Gallo Blanco.

El Gallito

Former migrant worker makes culinary dreams come true by

BRIAN LAM

A

t 25 years old, Esteban Blanco is continuing a dream that began with his father decades ago in the southern Mexico state of Michoacán. Esteban owns El Gallo Blanco, a small Mexican restaurant at 2838 S. Portage St. in Kalamazoo that focuses on the cuisine of Michoacán, the birthplace of his father. “My dad always had a dream of owning a restaurant,” says Blanco. “He came to America when he was just 16 to pursue that dream.” The senior Blanco, Octaviano, first had to get on his feet, however, and found work in migrant farming, splitting his time between Michigan and Florida. “He would go to Florida and work in the orange

14 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013

orchards,” the younger Blanco says, “and then head up to Michigan for the apple and blueberry harvests.” Because Esteban was born in October, his birthplace was in the North, in Manistee. “From as young as I can remember, I helped my father in the fields,” says Blanco. “Back then, they didn’t have the same child labor laws.” Blanco remembers clearly when the laws changed. He recalls the adults sitting the kids down and explaining that they would have to hide when the orchard owners came around. “Hide,” he emphasizes. “Not stop working, just make sure our work wasn’t seen. I used to wish I’d get spotted so that I could stop working.” Blanco lived on migrant farms with his parents and younger brothers but attended American schools. He spent his summers and evenings helping in the orchards. “I have mixed emotions on a farm,” he says. “On one hand, I’m very comfortable. It reminds me of my youth. On the other hand, I really used to hate picking blueberries.” Fortunately for Blanco, his life changed direction when his dad took the next step toward the pursuit of his dream. “My dad and uncle opened La Perla in Benton Harbor, and I immediately went to work for them.” La Perla, or The Pearl, is a small grocery store that focuses on Mexican foods and ingredients. It also sells


ready-to-eat dishes that include many of the recipes his dad and uncle learned in Michoacán, like tortas and traditional carnitas. “My father was cooking at an early age,” says the young restaurateur, explaining that in Michoacán people live off the land. They often use simple ingredients, but the preparation and cooking methods take time and knowhow. Blanco says his grandmother was a skilled cook, as were her parents before her. Blanco spent his teens helping at the store and learning about the business side of the culinary arts. “I liked working with my dad,” says Blanco, “but we’d butt heads a lot. It’s hard because I’ve worked with him as long as I can remember. I was really itching to do my own thing.” As Benton Harbor residents, the Blanco family considered Kalamazoo the “big city.” They would drive to Kalamazoo to see extended family or to visit the malls. Blanco’s dad began forming bonds with Kalamazoo’s Hispanic community and became involved with the Hispanic American Council. Blanco says their trips east became more frequent, and they started making plans to open another grocery store in Kalamazoo. According to Blanco, they were scouting Kalamazoo for a good spot when they saw the vacancy in their current location, the former Bilbo’s restaurant on Portage Street, in the Milwood neighborhood. El Gallo Blanco opened on the site in October 2011. El Gallo Blanco means the white rooster, but the symbolism isn’t poultry-related. The restaurateur explains that in Mexico a rooster is a symbol of valiancy and bravery and says the rooster is representative of the traits he and his family have needed to become entrepreneurs. Originally, his father’s idea was to keep El Gallo Blanco connected to La Perla, featuring the same dishes that were sold out of the grocery story. But young Blanco was eager to step out of his father’s shadow and fought to make El Gallo Blanco his own. “They’re two completely separate entities now. I’m the sole owner of the restaurant, I choose my own menu, and I even designed

the logo,” says Blanco, who attended Southwestern Michigan College for graphic design. “Now my family jokes around and calls me el gallito – the little rooster.” Blanco purposely avoids the word “traditional” on his menu and website. “Too many restaurants say they’re traditional,” he says. “It’s losing its meaning.” He prefers the word “authentic” to describe his cuisine, explaining that ingredients are made in-house using authentic Mexican methods. “In addition to a menu with family recipes, we have chefs that have spent their lives cooking in Mexico. Our kitchen has staff from Mexico City, Michoacán and Yucatan,” he says. Much of the menu is á la carte, a result of the original grocery-inspired dishes, but Blanco says the platters are what people order most. And with good reason: The platters are enormous, reasonably priced and highlight some of the culinary specialties of Michoacán. For example, a giant slice of cactus sits atop the tampiqena platter, which features flank steak, a whole grilled onion and homemade guacamole, all piled on top of a hidden chorizo-and-bean taco. A fun side dish is elote, which is corn on the cob, rubbed down with mayonnaise, a light, crumbly cheese called cutija and chili powder. El Gallo Blanco is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and the owner can almost always be found there, often with his son, Eliseo, and his wife, Shawna Marie, who is expecting a new Blanco in January. Blanco says he is realizing the dream his father had so many years ago in the south of Mexico, but this is just the beginning. “Eventually I want to franchise,” he says. “We’re listening to customer feedback, and we’re focusing on what is working. We’re putting systems in place that will allow us to replicate our same level of service, our quality of food and our great recipes.” Blanco realizes that reaching this goal will take hard work, something he’s no stranger to. “It will take time,” he says, “but I’d like to take my dad’s dream nationwide.”

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ENCORE FIRST GLANCE

See page 40 to learn more about the photographer.


by

MARGARET DERITTER

Erik Holladay

Building relationships, is key to Vineyard Outreach’s mission

18 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013


n 1987, a group of Reformed and Christian Reformed church leaders decided to start a two-year pilot program to help people in Kalamazoo’s Vine neighborhood who were struggling, especially children. They hired Catherine Dance to lead the program, and in 1988 she began knocking on doors to ask people what kinds of help they might need. At first, she didn’t know what she was doing, she says, but she felt a divine calling. And she knew this much: “I wanted us to be personal, present and tangible with people, to build relationships where people are known.” Twenty-five years later, Vineyard Outreach Ministry and its hundreds of volunteers are still building relationships, and Dance is still leading the effort. The organization is now an independent nonprofit with support that transcends denominational lines and extends beyond churches. Its mission, however, is still the same: to create a community that shares God’s love by ministering to the needs of the hungry, the emotionally wounded and the spiritually impoverished. Vineyard Outreach has a community center called The House of Bread at 811 S. Westnedge Ave., where neighborhood residents can go for advice, encouragement, emergency assistance, spiritual guidance or to find out about the many programs and events Vineyard offers, from tutoring and youth clubs to rest-and-renewal programs for mothers to family outings, holiday celebrations and Sunday worship. Dance is the only full-time worker at Vineyard, and her part-time assistant, Arlynn Spresser, is the only other staff member, so the organization always needs volunteers. Volunteers are asked to make at least a six-month commitment. “We used to let the volunteers come at will,” Dance says, but that wasn’t good for them or those they served. “If you stay beyond the honeymoon, that’s where the real love comes in.” Love is what it’s all about for Dance — the kind of love that stands with adults in their darkest struggles, that sticks with children even when it seems they don’t care about anything or anyone. “I remember one girl (in Kids Klub Supper Hour) who sat there with her arms crossed and looked like she hated everybody,” says Dance. “But when the children were asked to say something they were happy about that day, this girl said, ‘I love Tuesdays because I get to come here.’ … “All you can do is just be there and just care. Sometimes that’s got to be enough. You offer an open heart and mind and presence and hope that will make a difference.” Dance says no formal schooling could have prepared her for the work at Vineyard. “What prepared me for this was suffering of my own.”

“All you can do is just be there and just care. Sometimes that’s got to be enough. You offer an open heart and mind and presence and hope that will make a difference.” - Catherine Dance

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 19


Erik Holladay

Above, Lauren Younger and her sons, Lamarion, left, and Latravion, right, attend Kids Klub events at Vineyard. Opposite page, Catherine Dance, by door, enjoys working with the children who attend Vineyard’s programs, including, from left, Kolton Hazen and Latravion Younger.

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Dance, who turns 64 this month, was divorced in the 1970s while living in South Bend, Ind., and had to take care of a son and daughter on her own. “We were forced into instant poverty. I worked for an insurance company, but it didn’t pay the bills.” She had to sell her house and move into a low-income housing project. Sometimes people from church groups would show up at her door. “They were there to save my soul without knowing anything about my background or what had happened to me or how devout a Christian I was. It was insulting and not helpful. They never once asked me, ‘What can we do to help you?’ … I told God, ‘ If you put me in a position where I can help other people, I will never do what’s been done to me.’ That started this journey.” The call to lead Vineyard came after a number of years and a variety of jobs and volunteer positions: hospice worker, hotline crisis interventionist, administrator for a firm that handled pensions and insurance, facilitator for a grief support group. Dance was running a Kalamazoo drop-in center for the homeless on a part-time basis when the man who gave her that job told her about a full-time opportunity. “He told me I had what people in the Christian Reformed Church and Reformed Church wanted in an outreach worker. I met with a group of guys (for an interview), and an hour later they called me and offered me the job. You can’t open your own door when you’re on a faith walk. God opens it for you.” Dance, who was raised a Roman Catholic, has had a strong sense of God’s presence for as long as she can remember. That and her belief that God’s love should be lived and shared with others inspire all she does as Vineyard’s executive director and pastoral worker. Those who know her rave about her spirit and her work. “She lives and breathes Vineyard Outreach,” says Amanda “Mandy” Sutton, who began volunteering for Vineyard when she was 19 and now, at 40, serves as president of the board. “I wish I could entice people to volunteer the way she does.” “She has a real passion to help children make the right decisions,” says Betty VanderMolen, 82, who, along with her husband, Dick, 83, has served as a Kids Klub volunteer for 20 years. “She tries to break the cycle that some of them have been in for so long.” “Catherine Dance has such dedication. It’s just remarkable,” says Judi Taylor, whose daughters attended Vineyard programs and whose grandson now attends Kids Klub. “She’s one of those people, if you had any problem, you could go talk to her and she would give you advice on what you should or shouldn’t do,” says Taylor’s daughter Jodi Younger. “But she’s kind of stern too, which is great because you don’t want someone you can run all over.” ““I think she has done an amazing job in that neighborhood,” says Lauren Younger, Jodi’s sister. But Dance is not one to take credit for Vineyard success stories. “It’s not about me,” she says, “but about what God has done through very ordinary people in one of Kalamazoo’s poorest neighborhoods.” The VanderMolens can attest to lives transformed at Vineyard. Betty recalls “one little girl who would just as soon kick you as look


Erik Holladay

at you.” The girl’s mother had a boyfriend who was more important to her than her kids, says Betty. When the girl came to Kids Klub, the VanderMolens mentored her, went to her school functions and invited her to their home. She is in her late 20s or early 30s now, says Betty, and happily married, with three sons. “She told us that the last child she gave the middle name Richard, after Dick, because we had mentored her and she had seen what a happy marriage was,” Betty says. “We cried when we read the letter.” Jodi Younger, 25, and her sister, Lauren, 24, had their own lives transformed by Vineyard, where they participated in Kids Klub and Hope for Teens and had many opportunities to volunteer — raking yards, cleaning houses, helping flood victims mop up their basements.

The sisters say the people and programs at Vineyard helped keep them out of trouble, taught them to make good decisions and opened their hearts to the needs of others. Their mother worked a lot when they were young, and their father left when they were 3 and 4. The sisters saw their friends picking on people, starting fights and breaking into buildings and witnessed college students in the neighborhood drinking and partying. “Our mother wanted us to go to Catherine’s programs so we weren’t getting in trouble or hanging out with the bad kids,” says Jodi. “I think because we were involved with Catherine we weren’t subjected to that stuff.” “I had children pretty young and didn’t value time with them as

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I should have,” acknowledges their mother. construction, many be left as ended “I’d like to say the girlswill would have green spaces. up with the same values if they hadn’t been “We sell thebut property involved withcan Vineyard, I’m nottosure they neighbors would have.”for a very reasonable price, or thea block can opt to create residents Jodi, whoonhas 1-year-old daughter and garden space for vegetables or trees and a long-term relationship with the girl’s fabushes to sit and ther, wentand on places to graduate fromenjoy high the school, surroundings,” Boring says. take classes at Kalamazoo Valley Community Galilee Baptist Church, on from NorthhavCollege and online and is one class Westnedge Avenue, hopes to create a ing a certificate in medical administration. serenity garden on property at 430 W. She gives a lot of credit for how she turned Paterson St., who across from church. The out to Dance, was herthe tutor and menLand Bank Adopt-A-Lot program leases tor. “I wouldn’t be who I am without her. She properties use as green space attitudes and taught me tofor respect other people’s gardens. and opinions, to love other people as who “”When we heard thelook property they are, not what they that might like or would be available, we thought it would what they might have or not have.” a good place a serenity garden,” be Lauren feels theforsame way about Dance, saysabout William church elder for and her Roland, Vineyarda tutor and mentor, outreach chairman. Don Elzinga.ministry “He wasand likeboard a father figure to “WeLauren want tosays. make“Any it aesthetically me,” basketball game I pleasing and a place for peaceful played in elementary school he was there. and members Inreflection, middle school he came of tothe mychurch volleyball will maintain games. Even nowthe he’sgarden.” still in touch.” So far, there have been 12 Adopt Lauren has two sons, and the oldest, A-Lot leases as part the Land Latravion, 5, goes toofKids Klub. Bank’s Recently, Community Garden program. when Lauren and Jodi went to pick up “Trey” Boringthey approached from aLast clubyear meeting, were thrilled to residents in the 1500 block of East run into the VanderMolens. “When we were Michigan Avenue, were says little, they would pickwhere us up there for church,” three empty lots, and asked if they Jodi. “They were so nice. They took us would in like bewere interested having a garden space we part ofin their family. That made them there. “They not only agreed but said stick out so much to us.” would take her overson thetobuilding they Lauren sayslove she to wants have a and maintenance,” she says. similar experience, to “be around other peoThe is the Trybal Revival ple who willresult give him love, besides his family.” Eastside Eco-Garden, with more Unfortunately, she says, he doesn’tthan have a 100 plantings and 28 species of mostly good relationship with his dad, but Kids Klub trees isfood-producing a bright spot in his life.and shrubs. Funds the Kalamazoo for “Hethe is garden such a came ball offrom joy when he comes Community Foundation, one of manyhe’ll home. He’s just so excited.” Sometimes Land Bank partners. have fights at school, but at Kids Klub he’s “The learning theneighbors no-hittinghave rule, been “and great he’s startpartners,” Boring ing to take that rule says. to school.” As the Banktoand its partners Lauren, whoLand expects receive an associlook across the Kalamazoo landscape, ate’s degree in March through the Univerthey the fruits of their labors — sity of see Phoenix and hopes to get a bachelor’s new homes, rehabilitated and degrees in human serviceshomes and business, lush gardens where dangerous eyesores wants to take the lessons she learned at Vineonce — andperhaps know that they yard tostood help others, in her Northside have changed the face of Kalamazoo in neighborhood. “I want to open an activity profound and lasting ways.


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center so kids aren’t out on the streets late at night,” she says, “and I want it to be a support-group system.” She especially wants to help children who have lost parents to violence or prison and young mothers, since she knows how hard it was to be a teen mom. In observation of Vineyard’s 25th anniversary this year and to honor those who have been served by or involved with the ministry, Dance and her assistant organized a Jan. 5 celebration called 100 Seasons of Blessings Dance says she is grateful for volunteers who give freely and expect nothing in return but also for the people Vineyard serves and how they have transformed her. “My background is middle class, and I had all these misconceptions about people different from me. Working here has been a way of breaking down stereotypical ideas and helping me grow up, helping me see how I can be more generous.” In one case, the lesson came from a 6-year-old girl, Nicole. Dance had received a donation of crayons and had given some to Nicole, who loved to draw but had no crayons. “On Christmas Eve, we had a candlelight service,” says Dance. “People were answering the question ‘What are you grateful for?’ and Nicole said, ‘I’m grateful for the crayons I received. I gave them to my cousin because she didn’t have any.’” Another lesson came from a group of street people Dance came to know through Vineyard. A guy was angry at her and looked like he wanted to punch her. The group formed a circle around her, she says, and “this little older woman who had mental health issues said to him, ‘If you lay one hand on Catherine, we will take care of you. We will make sure you don’t hurt her.’ They were going to have to go back to the same neighborhood as this man, while I was going home in my car to a much safer place, but … they stood up for me. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed here. I’ve met people with noble spirits and compassion for others, and they choose to give it to me.” Dance says she wouldn’t trade her Vineyard work for anything. But then this everyday saint lets her human side show through: “Well, maybe if Liam Neeson came along.”

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Erik Holladay Erik Holladay


G

Opposite page, Nate Fuller, SWMLC’s conservation and steward director, helps manage the organization’s 11,000 acres of preserves and conservation easements.

uarding

natural treasures Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy protects 11,000 acres

by

KIT ALMY

S

outhwest Michigan is rich in natural resources — dunes, lakes, rivers, forests and farmland. Consequently, the region is also rich in people with a strong connection to the natural world. “There’s a depth of knowledge in Southwest Michigan of how the natural world works that’s more extensive than a lot of places I’ve been,” says Peter Ter Louw, executive director of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. The forward-thinking founders of the SWMLC had considerable knowledge about and commitment to the preservation of nature, enabling the organization to be recognized as a national leader in land conservation. “(This is) a testament to the conservation ethic of Southwest Michigan,” Ter Louw says. In the early 1990s, there was a surge of interest in land protection around the country. Locally, a group of science professors from Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University were concerned that many of the natural areas where they had been taking their students for field study were disappearing. In the fall of 1991, they formed a land conservancy, a private nonprofit organization whose mission was to try to permanently protect some of these special places by acquiring land or development rights. Since then, the SWMLC has protected nearly 11,000 acres in the counties of Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. It owns 43 preserves outright and holds conservation easements on an additional 71 properties.

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From the beginning, the conservancy’s founders knew it was just as important to manage, or steward, natural areas as it was to protect them from future development. “That was kind of a founding principle from day one,” says Ter Louw. This early focus on land management is somewhat uncommon among land trusts even today, but it was especially so 20 years ago, say Ter Louw. According to the SWMLC’s conservation and stewardship director, Nate Fuller, this emphasis has made his job easier and makes his colleagues at other land trusts — who are just now trying to develop management programs — jealous. And while many other land trusts have to buy “every square inch” of the land they want to protect, “about 90 percent of what we hold is outright donations,” Fuller says. These exceptional achievements have earned the SWMLC national recognition. In 2010 it received the National Land Trust Excellence Award from the Land Trust Alliance. In 2012, the Land Trust Accreditation Commission recognized the SWMLC with land trust accreditation, a status held by only 10 percent of the land trusts in the United States. Accreditation recognizes that the conservancy meets national standards for excellence, upholds the public trust and ensures that conservation efforts are permanent. Most of the conservancy’s early acquisitions came about because property owners came forward offering to donate their land. The 230-acre Chipman Preserve in Comstock Township is one example. In 2001, the late John Chipman, founder of Landscape Forms Inc., and his wife, Patti, approached the conservancy with the intent to bequeath their property to it in their will in order to preserve it for future generations. As they discussed the long-term conservation plans with Fuller, they got excited and decided to make the transfer sooner. According to Ter Louw, they said, “Let’s give it to you now so we can see it happen in our lifetime.” The Chipmans were active participants in the restoration of their own land, which is now the conservancy’s most popular preserve. Restoring ecosystems Restoring the region’s native ecosystems, such as prairies, savannas and wetlands, to their natural states makes for more diverse and healthier landscapes. “We’ve really grown to recognize the greatest thing we can do for our land is build resiliency into it,” says Fuller. “If nature’s one thing, it’s dynamic. It’s never static.” He cites climate change as an example, noting that while some may argue about the rate of change, land stewards see undeniable proof that it is happening. “We see it every year on our

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properties, on our preserves. And we see that the healthiest ones can respond. That’s why we try to return health to our landscape, so that it can retain its water (and) its nutrients (and so) there’s a variety of habitats and plants and wildlife that can support each other.” In conjunction with broader habitat conservation, the SWMLC works to protect federally listed endangered species. The organization’s “poster critter” is the Mitchell’s satyr butterfly, which is found at fewer than 20 sites in the world, most of which are in Southwest Michigan. “People debate about the intrinsic value of an endangered species, especially a little butterfly that no one ever sees, but it’s the canary in the coal mine,” says Fuller. “It’s the indicator species of our headwater stream systems.” Most of the area’s main river systems start in springfed fens where the butterflies live, so maintaining butterfly habitat also benefits the region’s water supply. “If you’ve got Mitchell’s satyrs, you know you’ve got good-quality clean water,” Fuller says. An active volunteer corps helps the organization with every aspect of its work, but stewardship activities are particularly attractive to many volunteers and keep them serving the Land Conservancy year after year. Volunteers help pull invasive plants, chop down non-native trees and sow native seeds on Saturday workdays at preserves all over the region. Local stewards — property donors who still live nearby and tend the land — also play a significant role. In the Kalamazoo area, a team of volunteers called the Wednesday Workday Warriors has been getting together at nearby preserves almost every week from March into November for the past 10 years. Kristi Chapman, of Portage, is one of the Warriors and also coordinates other volunteers for their workdays. The retired sales trainer and technical writer from Pharmacia (now Pfizer) says she was hooked from her first workday. Many of the other volunteers are so knowledgeable about nature and conservation, she says, “it hardly feels like volunteering because sometimes it turns into a field trip.” It’s still hard work. Chapman says she comes home after three hours of work dirty and exhausted but very satisfied. “I love when we do a prescribed burn,” she admits. “There is just nothing more fun than hearing the sound of a big, roaring fire and standing there in all our gear and feeling like we’re a part of something. Seeking key habitats Just as landscapes change over time, so has the conservancy. The organization has evolved to be more proactive about conservation planning, seeking out lands that are especially ecologically valuable. Due to a focus


Erik Holladay

SWMLC staffers, from left, Emily Wilke, Nate Fuller and Kristin Schinske stand amid a clean-running stream in the Bow in the Clouds Preserve.

on watershed management in the last decade, Ter Louw says, “we’ve done a lot of conservation plans to identify the critical terrestrial habitats to protect water resources.” One project aimed to find the most important properties for water quality and habitat protection in the Rocky River watershed, near Marcellus. In such cases, the conservancy does “a pretty substantial outreach campaign” to educate landowners about conservations plans, often working with previous property donors. “There’s no better way to communicate our message and provide an understanding to people than to have someone who’s done it and can speak to it in their own terms,” says Ter Louw.

As a result, the Rev. Vernon and Alice Miller contacted the Land Conservancy about protecting their land, and the Spirit Springs Sanctuary in Cass County was born. The out-of-the-way preserve opened to the public last June but is already getting a fair amount of use from hikers, bird-watchers and walkers. “Now we have 120 acres in the headwaters of the Rocky River that’s both a public resource and water conservation site,” Fuller says. One of the conservancy’s most significant recent acquisitions is the Pilgrim Haven Natural Area, near South Haven, donated by the estate of Suzanne Parish in 2010. The 26-acre former camp includes 800 feet of frontage on Lake Michigan. The conservancy will lease the property to a local recreation authority, which will maintain it and provide for public use. “This property is part of a bigger regional initiative that we’re involved in, protecting land up and down the lakeshore and along the Black River,” says Ter Louw. Much of the work the conservancy does is in conjunction with governmental entities and private landowners. “We do a great job of collaborating and partnership building,” says Ter Louw. “It seems like every project we’ve done in the last five years we’ve had multiple partners, and that’s really what made the projects successful.” As a testament to its reputation for collaboration, the SWMLC was appointed in 2010 by a Berrien County judge as a special trustee of 250 acres of designated natural area within Warren Dunes State Park as well as the nearby 300-acre Warren Woods State Natural Area. The properties had been under a long-term lease to the state by the E.K. Warren Foundation. Now the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment holds the titles, and the conservancy’s role is to oversee the state’s management of the parks, ensuring they are maintained forever as natural areas for public recreation. Preserving places to walk Public use is a key piece of conservation so the conservancy also endeavors to conserve places that people value for reasons other than ecological, such as for scenic beauty or historical significance. “There are other things that are harder to quantify,” Fuller says. “We’ll always be looking for the highest-quality natural areas we can protect, but we are also looking to help protect some of the public open spaces that may not be the richest ecological gems of the region but are incredibly important for the community for all those other reasons, (like) having a place to take a walk, having a place where kids can go.” The Land Conservancy integrates public use into its conservation work by improving access to preserves (continued on page 43)

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D N BO the

Gladysz n a e g r a M exer Library ind a spy’s life once lived

28 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013


by

THERESA

EIL

COTY-O’N

national jourok was lauded by bo e Th s. es Pr s butu t Jim Lehrer, passenger by Ar s bus ticket agen ay lw ai Tr er rm e this … and fo another book lik in 1946 nalist be t r oi ve tr ne De ill w to re ed ad “The stealyhound bus he an who wrote, back on drunk, om rt w po g re un d yo an d boarding a Gre ot se sp dres She was there to should be fired… rved a sensibly embroidering. bus drivers who d y might have obse tt an nu er d iv an dr ss e le ise.” reck behind th and a half. I prom it up” with ing, t g ea in tr in black sitting tt a ha is “c s Bu en e up on a y on th likely have be oman who grew ke covert A Sp w ta g to un g She would very yo in a us pa es hool But how do ger, all the while a one-room sc ed nd te at , . a fellow passen rm ve fa ee r sl graduated early Galesburg dairy es in a pad up he tional #1) and notes, sometim ac Fr k oc st om degree in souse (C e up to? niversity with a ly graduated ho U nt n What was sh ce ga re hi d ic M ha rn ho te st Gladysz, w e of from Wes on a bus? Margean Wor at the tender ag ity rs s become a spy ve ie ni farming,” U ud n st ga al hi ci ic a M as rn w te geography and e es in Sh ed b. st jo from W re te ng in yi s er, and here was “I was alway her first well-pa t was officially been anyplace ev 18, was working r ha w ve ne or d t, ha ra “I ny . ys a compa ays and she sa “spy on the bus,” reyhound, Trailw G by ance.” id aid for colch pa y r, m ke try to re ar era, financial un -w co st e known as a chec po th e ss th ro in ac , then . Gladysz to ride buses It was Back War II veterans . ld ce or an W m or other companies to rf d pe te d raphy alloca ers’ behavior an degree in geog was lege was te ch ua hi ad w t gr a bu port on the driv e on ar set e aw get the degree, had her sights hich drivers wer Chicago, but to a position of w of ity rs ve ni U to see the om the e money. Eager th few women fr at rn very hush-hush. th ea b to jo a ve so ld ha applied. 940s, it was al nically she wou checker job and e ch th te ed as w er In the mid-1 ov sz sc dy di Gla ladysz ography, one for which g course in ge a bold world, G in in liv ho a w , on occupied, and sz ed dy rk Gla l terrain, people She then emba is did not stop the cities, natura at it would be underage. But th il th ta d de te in es g gg tin su en ay. ture boss into the docum red along the w letter to her fu d ready to step at she encounte an th d es ed right,” ne ic is ai pr ra tr d e re an er w raid if you’ .” af ed be rr cu to “timesaving if I g oc y un nc yo . They too ent that a vaca it, a “You’re s had utter faith lk ve fo y ha M ld . le ou position the mom ib w ns ck se lu ways had their she says. “I was resist? And as ere worried. I al ray into life as w How could he fo ’s ey sz th dy e la m G n ld ver to find out what’s ed. So bega d her travel ne r eagerness to ha ei vacancy occurr th ly s al ay tu w en al ev d an s, work that es. In support a spy on the bu ar II United Stat W ld or .” g buses, -W on st g po in the miliar with ridin ures in go fa nt as ve w ad r sz 138,000 miles of he dy la ed G oo nicl It helped that ay, Gladysz chro burg to Kalamaz other preserved. her observant w bus from Gales m r by he es ed ch us el hi “B av w . , tr llege having 4 of them she attended co oir, The Spy on s ar letters home, 38 em ye m a us e pl m oca tw ultimately be 2008 for the Those letters t, published in Ra ny pa m Co a r of The Bus: Memoi a ring her days as she appeared du as z ys ad Gl st Margean Wor

company spy.

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 29


were very interesting back then. They became very communal, just like a family.” Before Global Positioning Systems, video cameras and electronic tickets, bus drivers had a lot of independence. Their children, wives and the occasional girlfriend often rode free, and sometimes fares were shorted or driving was poor. Gladysz wrote detailed reports, which sometimes took her several hours. Her bosses knew a good worker when they saw one and gave her accolades and further destinations. After a severe bout of homesickness in her initial month, she gave herself a firm talking-to and never looked back. “You get sand in your shoes. I would go home and after three days, I couldn’t wait to get the clothes put together and get out on the road. Every day was an adventure.” She documented those three years of adventures in letters home, all of which began, “Dear Ones,” and she related her daily stories to eager ears. “When I was on the road, I would see things happen and there was always a story there and I would just wonder. Once at a station, I saw this family kissing and hugging goodbye to a woman. The woman got on the bus, and then she got off the bus and decided to stay, and I wondered, what was the story? Why did she stay?” Eventually, Gladysz, too, got off the bus. “All of my friends were married, beginning to have kids, and here I was still living out of a suitcase. So I called and I resigned.” When Gladysz returned to Kalamazoo, she found a job at the Michigan Veterans Vocational School and met her husband, Ed, a retired veteran. They soon married and had two children, John, a biochemist at Texas A&M, and Margean, an engineer. Gladysz typed up the letters she’d written while riding the bus, organized them in a notebook, packed them in a trunk in an attic and forgot about them.

30 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013

While raising her children, she earned a master’s degree in Library Science from WMU and began working first for the Kalamazoo Public Schools and then for the Kalamazoo Public Library. One day her grandmother handed her a pristine copy of a Greyhound wartime brochure. She got online to investigate and discovered a brand new Greyhound Museum had just opened in Hibbins, Minn. “I started thinking, ‘I have other stuff related to buses. I wonder what I have.’ ” So she hauled down the trunk with her letters. “I couldn’t believe that I had done all this. By then I was working at the KPL History Room, and I knew I was looking at original source material.” She showed the letters to a friend, who told her, “You have a book, Margean.” After careful editing, The Spy on the Bus: Memoir of a Company Rat was published. Many who know Gladysz were surprised by the details of her earlier life. “I had never talked about this with anybody. That work was so out of everybody’s comprehension. People I worked with never knew about it. “Those three years really shaped the way I make friends, the way I talk to people, the way I don’t tell too much about myself because I’m always interested in the other person’s story. I am not humble about what I did. I was very, very good.” At 84, Gladysz still embroiders, chronicles her life, travels and wears only black. She also speaks at many events, including groups and clubs, both about her bus adventures and about her work as a newspaper indexer (see related story opposite page). In characteristic fashion, Gladysz revels in whatever she does. Whether recounting her youthful adventures or working in KPL’s History Room, she is equally enthusiastic. “Such fun!”


Erik Holladay

ENCORE ARTS

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www.encorekalamazoo.com | 31


ARTS ENCORE

Teenage cello ensemble in tune with one another

by

T

KIT ALMY

he local cello ensemble Grace Notes has developed a following in Kalamazoo, playing in various venues and receiving standing ovations at New Year’s Fest. The eight cellists, most of whom have been playing together for about a decade, have performed with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, where they had the opportunity to meet — and play for — world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. While this may not seem unusual in a town where, as the octet’s director, Grace Field, says, “we’ve produced some pretty fine musicians over the years,” it is when you consider that Grace Notes members are all teenagers. Field is cello director of the Suzuki Academy of Kalamazoo, and the members of Grace Notes are her current or former students. Five of them have been studying with her — and each other — since they were 3 or 4 years old. As some members of the original group have graduated from high school or moved on to other interests, new ones have come in to take their places. Grace Notes’ current lineup 32 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013

features Brett Howland, Ellie Lambrix, Joshua LaTour, Cullen O’Neil, Hanna Rumora, Lydia Schubkegel, Alex Smith and John Mark Wenger. The Suzuki method of teaching music was developed by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki. Instruction often begins when children are very young and follows a defined repertoire. Students are taught to play by ear, memorizing what they hear and playing it back, before learning to read music. Field, who has taught at the Suzuki Academy of Kalamazoo since its inception in 1973, says, “I’ve had other really good groups over the years, but they haven’t stuck together like these kids. They just love each other. They support each other.” Grace Notes member Rumora says they are “kind of like a giant family. We’re all so comfortable around each other.” Although none of the eight attend the same school, Wenger’s mother, Naomi, points out that most of them have been friends since kindergarten. “This is their cohort. It’s their friendship group,” she says.


Erik Holladay

One half of the octet Grace Notes, clockwise from far right, Cullen O’Neil, Hanna Rumora, Lydia Schubkegel and John Mark Wenger.

www.encorekalamazoo.com | 33


Erik Holladay

The other half of Grace Notes, clockwise from top left, Alex Smith, Joshua LaTour , Brett Howland and Ellie Lambrix.

34 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013


ENCORE ARTS The students are equally close to Field, who has also taught cello at Kalamazoo College and elsewhere. As a performer, Field played with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for 30 years and has played with the Bach Festival Orchestra and several string quartets. “She’s a fantastic teacher,” says Wenger. Rumora concurs. “She always knows what to say and when to say it, like when we need to be pushed, (or) when we need to just lay back and have fun.” Ellie Lambrix adds, “We have really crazy ideas, and she’s so supportive.” While their accomplished musicianship belies their age, Grace Notes members’ youthful exuberance and humor are obvious. “Making music with other people is just lots and lots of fun,” says Wenger. Field says the group loves playing together so much that sometimes they don’t want to stop at the end of rehearsal time, even though they are all busy with school and with other musical and non-musical activities. If they don’t have any pressing homework, “they’ll just stay and play,” she says, so she asks them to turn out the lights when they’re done, and then she goes home. “They just never get tired of it.” The students particularly enjoy playing more modern styles, like jazz. Field says that for years the Suzuki repertoire was mostly limited to baroque and classical, but that has changed. She thinks a greater variety of genres has helped this group bond more than some of its predecessors. “Now we have rags and we have tangos and we have all this stuff that the kids just love to play.” “I love just sitting down and kind of improvising. That’s something that we’re kind of getting into more,” says Rumora. “We’ll sit down and someone will start playing something and we’ll just improvise on it, and it sounds so cool — sometimes.” The group’s members are very thoughtful about music and like to try different techniques but are also respectful of each other’s ideas. “We’re all equal,” says O’Neil. “We can all say whatever we want.” The Suzuki method is described as “a way of learning music like a language,” and the members of Grace Notes clearly are musically as well as verbally fluent. When rehearsing a piece, they stop frequently to discuss a section of music, sometimes using their instruments to demonstrate their ideas, switching quickly from words to music, the way bilingual people change from one language to another, sometimes in mid-sentence. Another component of the Suzuki method requires parents to attend lessons and be involved in teaching at home. Even so, Field thinks the level of parental commitment with this group of students is exceptional and a contributing factor to their success. “Not only have these kids grown up together, the parents have grown up together. They’ve been around the kids for all this time, and they support the other kids as well as their own.” For example, as the group has started performing publicly more often, the parents have taken it upon themselves to meet with each other while their children are rehearsing to discuss the direction of the group and work out the logistics for public appearances.

Currently the members of Grace Notes are planning a tour of Canada next summer, hoping to play several concerts in Ontario and Quebec and spend some time sightseeing. While ensembles of Suzuki students occasionally perform in local venues, these students have taken public performance to a new level. Their first appearance as Grace Notes was a 2010 Advent concert at the First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo. Since then, they have performed at the Parkview Hills Clubhouse several times, for Macy’s department store’s “Shop for a Cause,” with the KSO, and at New Year’s Fest in 2010, 2011 and 2012. They also performed a series of concerts in Charlevoix in summer 2011. Audiences are impressed with the students’ talent and how serious they are about music. “People don’t think a group of young kids could put out a sound like that,” says Lambrix’s father, Paul. Fans also appreciate the group’s enthusiasm and chemistry. “You can tell that they’re having such a great time, and that really surprises audiences, I think,” Field says. “They’re good ambassadors for classical music.” The Parkview Hills audience enjoyed Grace Notes’ first performance there so much they asked them to come back and wanted to know how to find out where else to hear them. (The group now has a web site: www.gracenoteskzoo.com.) “They’re like groupies — they want to follow these kids around,” Fields says. Grace Notes has also recorded a CD. The members are unable to sell it due to the difficulty of acquiring rights from composers, but they give it away at events in hopes of receiving donations. The group needs to raise funds for its Canadian tour, but an even higher priority is that some of the students need to get good cellos. When a sales representative from Chicago visited the Suzuki Academy recently, the cheapest cello available cost $6,500. The members need good instruments because they are serious musicians. Seven of them play with the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony; three play with Kalamazoo College’s orchestra, the Kalamazoo Philharmonia; and several play in string quartets. Some also play with their school orchestras, and individually they have won many awards and attended highly selective music camps. Despite having taught them for years, Field continues to be amazed by the students’ abilities. “They hear things that they shouldn’t even be playing — they haven’t even been taught yet — and they’re sitting there picking it out and playing it. It just is really mind-boggling.” Several Grace Notes members plan to pursue music formally after high school. Wenger, for example, wants to be a conductor. But even those who don’t pursue a music career will be well served by their experience with the group. “They have so much confidence in themselves,” Field says. “They’re all going to do big things, if they want. They have such a good attitude and have done a lot already in their young lives that most people haven’t.” Naomi Wenger agrees. “What they get out of (the group) is a lot of personal affirmation just from each other and from making music together and learning to give to each other and function as a team.” Field tries not to look too far ahead, however. “I can’t stop teaching until these kids graduate because they are such a joy.” www.encorekalamazoo.com | 35


ARTS ENCORE Joan Herrington, chair of the WMU Department of Theatre and Ed Menta, director of theatre arts at Kalamazoo College, are two of the organizers of this year’s New Play Festival.

Erik Holladay

E

Playing Together New Play Festival highlights new talent, local collaboration by

JEREMY MARTIN

ight area organizations that produce live theater are coming together to set the stage — or stages — for a three-night celebration of playwriting. The third annual Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival will be held Jan. 25-27 at the Epic Center Theater, in downtown Kalamazoo. The festival features a dozen 10-minute and one-act plays written and performed by local people, many of whom are new to theater. “It’s such a unique thing, not only having new works be presented in Kalamazoo but also having all these theaters — many of them, let’s be honest, in competition with each other — coming together to produce this three-day event,” says Adam Weiner, executive director of Farmers Alley Theatre. In addition to Farmers Alley, the theater organizations participating in this year’s event are the Western Michigan University Department of Theatre, the Kalamazoo Civic, the New Vic, the Black Arts & Cultural Center, Kalamazoo College’s Festival Playhouse, Center Stage of Comstock and the Portage Summer Entertainment Series. The event is funded by a grant from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation and produced annually by Steve Feffer, Western Michigan University professor of playwriting, and Ed Menta, professor and director of theatre arts at Kalamazoo College. The festival organizers put out a call to the community for submissions early last summer. A panel of local professionals whittled the submissions down to 12. From there, Feffer and Menta determined which theaters would stage each piece. “Steve and Ed work with the theaters to assign a play that works the best for all of us,” explains Joan Herrington, chair of WMU’s Department of Theatre. “For example, I am more likely to be assigned (continued on page 42)

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ENCORE ARTS Hedy Habra, at left, and the covers of her three recent books.

Languages of Literature

Flying Carpets just the beginning for prolific writer Hedy Habra by

MARIE LEE

Hedy Habra couldn’t sleep after she did

the first reading for her new book, Flying Carpets, at the Portage District Library in December. The author and professor at Western Michigan University says she was “so energized” by the experience, “I felt like a tiger. I enjoyed it so much that I was on a real high.” “High” and “energy” are the perfect words to describe Habra, who, in the space of a year, will have three books published: Flying Carpets (March Street Press/Main Street Rag), a collection of short stories released last March; Mundos Alternos y artisticos en Vargas Llosa, an academic book examining the novels of Peruvian writer and 2010 Nobel

Prize recipient Vargas Llosa; and a forthcoming collection of poetry, Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53). The books are a result of 20 years of writing, with many of the stories and poems contained within having been published in journals and anthologies during that time. While it took Habra two decades to get these together, it’s easy to understand why. She’s been a bit busy. Habra, who is Lebanese, was born in Egypt. She and her husband, Nabil, and their two children left Lebanon in 1975, shortly after that country’s civil war started. After brief stays in Belgium and Greece, the family

ended up in Kalamazoo in 1981, where Nabil worked for Upjohn. Originally a pharmacist, Habra decided to pursue a new path when she reached Kalamazoo. “As soon as I came to Kalamazoo, I started taking classes and didn’t stop. I studied Spanish in Belgium and wanted a master’s degree in Spanish someday so I started taking classes at WMU,” she says. WMU didn’t offer a master’s degree in Spanish, so she got one in English. That led to an M.F.A. in creative writing from WMU. As luck would have it, as she was finishing her M.F.A., WMU added a master’s program in (continued on page 41)

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POETRY ENCORE

Winter Field

Old House

Earth turns and turns again chasing the sun down invisible lines of latitude deep into the Southern Hemisphere.

You are a dream, old house. A picture of charm and quaint character. You lured me in with your potential. I am a sucker for potential. Oak floors lay in wait beneath the matted, gold-flecked carpet. The cool gray-green slate of the fireplace, a relic, untouched by time. And eight-paneled doors, solid, eight-paneled doors, deep walnut stain and vintage knobs.

Winter embraces the field, lays down deep white pillows, envy of the most luxurious eider, where life lies huddled beneath. Winter fields stand empty, dead above the surface where summer’s lush life has dried, descending to its roots — Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, rudbeckia, echinacea — bristling stalks thrust above sculpted snow. Emptied heads rattle in harsh winds, seeds consumed by birds and insects now sheltered in their winter dens. Deep blue-gray shadows cast out from dormant trees rimming the field, dapple the sun-struck snow, line the meandering tracks of winter foragers. Below the surface life continues conserving, hoarding, consuming the last autumn fuel. Heartbeat, breath slowed to lightest sibilance, pulsing, waiting. While the wolf moon strides overhead, pursues Orion across celestial tundra, scatters stars like ice chips struck from a skater’s edge and Sol begins its certain journey north. — Christine L. Parks Christine L. Parks coordinates and facilitates programs and retreats at Transformations Spirituality Center, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph located on Gull Road in Kalamazoo. She has been in love with poetry since high school and says earth, nature, creation and the amazing universe are the sources of much of her inspiration.

Encore invites area poets to share their work with Southwest Michigan readers. For consideration, submit your poetry and a short personal profile by e-mail to editor@encorekalamazoo.com or by mail addressed to Poetry Editor, Encore Magazine, 350 S. Burdick St, Suite 214, Kalamazoo, MI, 49007.

You promised a window to the 1930s. A time when the city street was for neighbors gathering their November leaves for a bonfire at the gravel curb. A time when mothers washed cloth diapers with chipping soap, together in the basement. When street cars ran up Westnedge Hill attached to a north- and south-bound cable. A time I can never touch, except through your crystal doorknobs. But you deceived me, led me to believe there is no flip side to the coin, or blessing turned curse, or winter after the fall. Your potential now fades like your decade. Roots drive in through basement cracks, and water and mold chase after. Moisture sits on the windows, weather-worn agents of the cruel wind. They are but a glass blanket against January’s brutal attack. You are the neediest member of my family, scraping up my Saturdays with gritty sandpaper and wire brushes. The sun has sucked you dry, and your cedar-shake siding knows a thirst no paint can quench. I am left with you. The mirage of simplicity and meaning escapes like the heat out your hollow walls. And you are left with me. A deluded dreamer with little skill to tend to your steady decline. We are separated by generations but linked in our flaws. — Jamie Marshall Jamie Marshall, of Kalamazoo’s Westnedge Hill neighborhood, is the leading lady in her own “old house,” where she enjoys the company of her clever husband, three lively daughters and a giant puppy. This is her first published poem.

38 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013


ENCORE EVENTS

PERFORMING ARTS Plays New Play Festival — Theatre Kalamazoo presents six 10-minute plays and four one-act plays written by local playwrights, produced and performed as staged readings by member theater companies, 8 p.m. Jan. 25; 4 & 8 p.m. Jan. 26, Epic Center Theater, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. Free.

Musicals & Opera Grey Gardens: The Musical — An alternately hilarious and heartbreaking story of two women, the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, 8 p.m. Jan. 18, 19, 25, 26, Feb. 1 & 2; 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24; 2 p.m. Jan. 27 & Feb. 3, Parish Theatre, 429 S. Park St. 343-1313. Caroline, or Change — University Theatre presents a musical exploring the relationship between an African-American woman and her employer’s son during the tumult of 1963, 8 p.m. Jan. 24-26, 31, Feb. 1, 2, 8, 9; 2 p.m. Jan. 27, Feb. 3 & 10; 7 p.m. Feb. 3, York Theatre, WMU. 387-6222. Les Misérables — Dream the Dream is the 25th anniversary production of this iconic Broadway musical with new staging and dazzling sets, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29–31; 2 p.m. Feb. 1–3; 8 p.m. Feb. 1 & 2, Miller Auditorium, WMU. 387-2300.

Dance Winter Gala Dance Concert — The WMU Department of Dance’s annual showcase event featuring commissioned pieces by Monique Haley, KT Nelson and Lauren Thompson Hall, 8 p.m. Jan. 31, Feb. 1 & 2; 2 p.m. Feb. 2, Shaw Theatre, WMU. 387-6222.

Dalton Wed@7:30 — A series of WMU School of Music concerts. Chris Norman, flute and David Greenberg, violin, Jan. 17; Western Brass Quintet, Jan. 23. All concerts at 7:30 p.m. Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU. 387-2300. Horn Day — The final concert of the annual WMU Horn Day Festival, with featured artist John Ericson, WMU’s Lin Foulk, the Western Horn Choir and the Mass Horn Choir, 6:30 p.m. Jan. 26, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU. 387-4667.

Symphony The World of … Respighi — The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra explores the music, life and times of Italian composer and conductor Ottorino Respighi, 3 p.m. Jan. 27, Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave. 349-7759.

Vocal & Radio Faculty Recital — A free recital by soprano Karen Kness, 3 p.m. Jan. 3, Dalton Center Recital Hall, WMU. 387-4667.

Chamber, Jazz, Orchestra & Bands Winter Evening — An intimate concert featuring the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra’s Burdick-Thorne String Quartet and other KSO musicians, 8 p.m. Jan. 11, Cityscape Event Center, 125 S. Kalamazoo Mall, upstairs. 349-7759.

All Ears Theatre — Live radio performances for later airing on 102.1 WMUK-FM, The Green Hornet, Jan. 12; Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Blue Carbunkle, Jan. 26, 6 p.m. First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave. Free.

Gilmore Rising Stars Series — Featuring Kris Bowers, 2011 winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, 4 p.m. Jan. 13, Wellspring Theater, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. 342-1166.

Miscellaneous Bill Cosby — The legendary stand-up comedian and television star, 8 p.m. Jan. 12, Miller Auditorium, WMU. 387-2300.

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EVENTS ENCORE VISUAL ARTS Richmond Center for Visual Arts, WMU, 387-2436 Complex Conversations — An exhibition by contemporary sculptor and conceptual artist Willie Cole, Jan. 10–Feb. 15, Albertine MonroeBrown Gallery. Prints from the University Art Collection —  Jan. 10-March 22, Rose Netzorg & James Wilfred Kerr Gallery. Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, 349-7775 A Legacy for Kalamazoo: Works Acquired through the Elisabeth Claire Lahti Fund, 1998–2012 —  Including works by Mary Cassatt, Jim Dine, Helen Frankenthaler and Jasper Johns, through Jan. 20. Treasures from Kalamazoo Collections — Art of all genres on loan from local collectors, through Feb. 17. Up Close: Exploring the Collection — A series of educational programs with Associate Curator of Collections Greg Waskowsky, Myth, Art, and Life: Picasso’s Suite Vollard, 6:30–7:45 p.m. Jan. 10, 17, 24. ARTbreak — Informal free presentations on art-related topics: Topic to be announced, Jan. 8; Running Fence (Part 1), a documentary about the California installation piece by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Jan. 15; Running Fence (Part 2), Jan. 22; The Art of Chinese Paper Cutting with artist Jamie Lesman, Jan. 29. Guests can bring a lunch to these noon sessions. Miscellaneous Park Trades Center — Visit many of the artists in open studios with glassblowing and other demonstrations, 5–9 p.m. Jan. 4, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave. 345-3311.

Midtown Gallery — Capture, an exhibit of photography by Gary Ciadella, Heather Binns, Caitlin DuBrule, Lynne Heasley, Mary Landi, Michael Garyat and Doug Neal, Jan. 4-26, 356 S. Kalamazoo Mall. 372-0134. Art Hop — View the works of local artists at various venues and galleries in downtown Kalamazoo, 5–9 p.m. Jan. 4. 342-5059. LITERARY EVENTS Kalamazoo Public Library, 553-7879 or 342-9837 Classics Revisited — Join in discussion of standard and modern classics with librarians and other readers. George Orwell’s Selected Essays, 7 p.m. Jan. 17, Central Library. Town and Gown Event — Featuring poets Joe Costello, Denise Miller, Diane Seuess, Daneen Wardrop, Traci Brimhall and Glenn Shaheen, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28, Central Library. Portage District Library, 329-4544 Great Books Reading & Discussion Group —  The group will discuss selections from the anthology Great Conversations I, 2–4:30 p.m. Jan. 6 & 20. Open for Discussion — A literary discussion focusing on Cutting for Stone, a novel by Abraham Verghese, 10:30 a.m. Jan. 15. Joseph Heywood — The Michigan author will read from his book of short stories, Hard Ground, answer questions and sign books, 2 p.m. Jan. 27. Miscellaneous Poets in Print — Kalamazoo Book Arts Center presents a poetry reading by Sandra Beasley of Washington, D.C., and Jill Osier of Fairbanks, Alaska, 7–9 p.m. Jan. 26, KBAC, Park Trades Center, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave. 373-4938.

MUSEUMS Kalamazoo Valley Museum, 373-7990 Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller —  This exhibition looks at the problem-solving design process used at the famed West Michiganbased furniture company, through Jan. 27. Music at the Museum — Mark Sahlgren and Friends, free concert during Art Hop, 6–8 p.m. Jan. 4; The Moody Coyotes, 7 p.m. Jan. 11; Pleasant Drive, 7 p.m. Jan. 25. Sunday Series — Tom Dietz presents lectures on topics of local interest, 1:30 p.m. Sundays, Kalamazoo “Patent King”Jay B. Rhodes, Jan. 13; Capitalists of Kalamazoo, Jan. 27. Weird Science — Demonstrations, hands-on experiments and crafts help explain the mysteries of science, 1–4 p.m. Jan. 19. NATURE Kalamazoo Nature Center, 381-1574 Small Wonders — Interactive nature stations are set up to encourage learning with your child. Winter Tracks and Homes, 10–11:30 a.m. Jan. 12. Winter Wonders Walk — Learn about winter animal activities and how the animals survive, 2–3 p.m. Jan. 13. Boomers and Beyond — A program for adults over 50; this month learn All About Owls. 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Jan. 29. Winter Tree ID - 101 — Learn about important characteristics of winter trees and take a walk to learn to identify them, 2–3 p.m. Jan. 27. Audubon Society of Kalamazoo Wonders of Woodpeckers — Presented by Kristen Hintz, park naturalist of Ottawa County, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28, People’s Church, 1758 N. 10th St. www. kalamazooaudubon.org.

First Glance Artist SAM ZOMER has been a photographer since the late 1970s, working as a freelancer. In 2001, he began shooting for the Kalamazoo Gazette, and he continues to freelance for the publication today. Zomer, whose work often appears in Encore, describes his work photographing the people that live and work in Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan as “a privilege and a joy.” PHOTOS WANTED!

Do you have an image that captures the essence living in Southwest Michigan? We invite photographers of all ages and abilities to submit their work for consideration as a First Glance photo. Send your photos and contact information to editor@encorekalamazoo.com. 40 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013


Keep up, Kalamazoo! Habra (continued from page 37) Spanish. About the time she finished that degree, WMU added a Ph.D. in Spanish. In 2007, Habra was the first student to earn a Ph.D. in Spanish from WMU. “I have a passion for languages,” explains Habra. Perhaps that’s because she speaks four of them and writes in three of them. Habra learned French, English and Arabic at the French-run school she attended as a child in Egypt, and is also fluent in Spanish. She writes her poetry and fiction in French, English and Spanish. “Each language is going to direct you to write a certain kind of poetry. Oftentimes I’ll write the same poem in all three languages,” she says. “It’s not so much that I’m translating them into other languages, but I’ll be writing in one language and some of the lines will automatically resonate with me in another language. It’s more like cross-pollination.” Habra, who didn’t view poetry as a “practical” career path when she was younger — hence the pharmacy degree — wrote her early poems in French. When she entered the M.F.A. program, she began writing poetry and short stories in English. The Spanish came later. “It really is the sound of languages. It’s a music to me,” she says, but admits that writing a poem in three different languages can be a little problematic. “I never know which poem is the original. I keep revising and changing, going back and forth between the languages,” she says, “but I am not sure what language they may have started out in.” Neither Stuart Dybek nor Herb Scott, who were Habra’s mentors in the creative writing program, saw her multilingualism as a problem. “They didn’t see it as an obstacle,” she recalls. “Stu Dybek told me it was a plus. They were great mentors, and I was extremely lucky to have them. They helped me so much with my self-confidence.” That self-confidence would certainly come in handy as Habra entered the world of literary submissions and rejections. “I have been submitting work and getting rejections for 15 years. I’ve submitted hundreds of poems

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New Play Festival (continued from page 36) a play where the characters that populate the play are younger.” For this year’s festival, Herrington and the WMU Department of Theatre will stage “Goodman James,” written by local resident Jeremy Lawrence. WMU student Darcie Crager will direct the play. “It is an interesting play,” Herrington says. “I don’t want to give it all away, but it has something to do with technology and gaming and the influence that video games have on our lives.” Another WMU student, Marissa Snead, has been enlisted by Farmers Alley to direct “Outdoors,” a 10-minute play written by recent Kalamazoo College graduate Dana Robinson. Herrington sees the New Play Festival as an opportunity for student writers and directors to showcase their abilities for new audiences. “It allows them to come out of the environment in which they have been working. It puts them into a whole ‘nother venue and lets them get some feedback from the public, which they might not otherwise have garnered. This allows them to develop their work further.” The festival, for which admission is free, also lets the theater-going public see as many or as few plays as they choose. “Anybody can just drop in,” Herrington says. “You can see one play. You can see five plays. Some of the plays are only 10 minutes

Habra (continued from page 41) long. You can watch an hour of them or a couple of hours. It has a nice flexibility and accessibility.” The festival is also a great opportunity for theaters — here and elsewhere — to scout otherwise undiscovered talent. “We’re always looking for potential projects,” Weiner says. Herrington says playwrights who have debuted their work at the New Play Festival have gone on to have the work performed in other theaters. “The festival has had a playwright whose work was done in a professional theater in Lansing, we’ve had one done and produced in Chicago, and one was a finalist in the American College Theatre Festival.” Perhaps most unusual about the New Play Festival is its collaborative nature, as the area’s theater groups each contribute to its success. But the joint effort is in keeping with the mission of Theatre Kalamazoo, the nonprofit organization behind the festival. Theatre Kalamazoo was formed in 1998 by local theater groups as a way to foster a spirit of cooperation and support among the groups and to promote live theater in Kalamazoo County. “Anytime a community can come together and bridge their individual organizations and have an event that brings people together who share a passion, that’s really a celebration,” says Herrington.

and short stories,” she says. “But I always pay attention to the comments and reasons and along the way change and revise.” Not that it’s all been negative. Habra has had more than 150 works of poetry and fiction published in anthologies, journals and magazines from Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry and Poetic Voices Without Borders, Vol. 2, to Linden Lane Magazine, Letras Femeninas, The New York Quarterly, Cider Press Review and Parting Gifts. In addition, she’s authored numerous critical essays on Spanish and Latin American authors. The good news about being such a prolific writer is that she already has plenty of material for her next literary undertaking: a bilingual collection of short stories. She is also still submitting poems, stories and articles for publication. Oh, and did we mention she also created the original watercolor painting used on the cover of Tea in Heliopolis? “Someday I want to write a novel,” she admits, “but I have to finish all these other things first. In many ways, I can’t do the work I want to do. But I am doing a lot.” No doubt. Habra’s short story collection, Flying Carpets, is available at Kazoo Books and Michigan News Agency. For more information, visit www.hedyhabra.com.

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SWMLC (continued from page 27) and creating trails, signage and other amenities. Fuller says there is a “new and exciting project underway” to develop the conservancy’s newest preserve, 70 acres of rolling hills and deciduous woodlands on KL Avenue, which is not yet open to the public. Trails and parking will be developed hand-in-hand with restoration efforts on the property, which was donated by Dr. Dick Malott, of Oshtemo Township. The township is a partner in the effort, incorporating the preserve in its parks-andrecreation plan. A prime example of finding a balance between natural restoration and public access is Bow in the Clouds Preserve, on the Nazareth campus of the Congregation of St. Joseph, in northeast Kalamazoo. Sister Virginia “Ginny” Jones had been taking care of the preserve for nearly 40 years with the help of volunteers, including several Eagle Scouts. When she started working there, she saw a lot of native Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes — a good sign, Jones says, because they need both “quality wetland and good woods.” Like the Mitchell’s satyr butterfly, the rattlesnakes are a bellwether species. But in more recent years Jones saw very few of the snakes. “I knew the habitat quality was going down, and I couldn’t do much about it,” she says. Although the management of the property had gotten to be more work than Jones and

sout hwe st

mag azin e mich igan ’s

her volunteers could handle, “we wanted to preserve that area — it’s in the city,” she says. “It combines both wetland and upland woods, and we kind of love it and wanted to be able to have it used by other people who would care about it and protect it.” Because Jones had attended some of the first meetings of the SWMLC and was quite familiar with its work, the Sisters donated the preserve to the conservancy in 2007. “It’s a special gem right within the city limits,” says Fuller. The conservancy has done extensive habitat restoration and trail improvements, and now “we have this wonderful green corridor going through the city of Kalamazoo with surprisingly rich plant and wildlife,” he says. Gaining easements The bulk of the acreage protected by the conservancy is private land, and it’s protected through conservation easements. A conservation easement grants the conservancy the right to limit development of a piece of land, while the landowner maintains all other rights and can use the property or sell it. Ter Louw says such an agreement recognizes that “there’s something of value, there’s a conservation value that’s worth protecting.” That value is purchased by or donated to the conservancy, and the easement remains on the deed in perpetuity, so that if the property

changes hands, it will still be protected from development. Though not available for public use, land protected by conservation easements is important ecologically. A project to protect Prairieville Creek, the main surface-water source for Gull Lake, involved acquiring conservation easements. “The Boudeman family alone has protected over 1,000 acres near Gull Lake,” says Fuller, and the conservancy acquired a grant to purchase additional conservation easements along the creek. Helping property owners preserve their lands is rewarding, says Ter Louw. “The compensation isn’t financial. It’s fulfillment of what you’re able to accomplish. You can see the impact we have on the people and the land, and that’s incredibly powerful and fulfilling.” The SWMLC has made a long-term commitment to the lands it protects so it needs to be around to protect them forever. It’s a tall order, but, as a nonprofit with a track record of collaborating with public and private entities, it is well positioned to do so. “As state and federal dollars are drying up, it’s the private nonprofit conservation organizations that are stepping forward,” says Fuller. Government agencies and private land owners “see us as the tool of the future of how conservation is going to move forward.”

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The New Year is a perfect time to pause and reflect. To carefully consider the past and to see how far you’ve traveled.

My Laundry Angel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

But when was the last time you soared? When was the last time you took a leap of faith? When was the last time you allowed yourself to dream?

Parkway Plastic Surgery . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

For us, it was today. You see, that’s what we do here; we help people realize their dreams— whether they’re looking to grow their business, reach new markets, expand their involvement in the community, or even publish a little bit of local history for the visitors’ center or heritage society. People bring us their ideas, and we help them spread their wings, have a little fun, and take a few flights of fancy. Come on in and spread your wings.

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ENCORE THE LAST WORD (continued from page 46)

pad, and everyone gathered around to laugh, talk and play the politics of high school social interaction. We heard the crackle of the dispatch unit on walkietalkies before the beams of flashlights scattered about our makeshift firepit. That gave us just enough time to scatter off through the trails we’d explored earlier in the night. As police flashlights strobed behind the trees off in the distance, we made our way to the grassy field on the south side of the preserve and laid low in the grass. The moon was so full the field had the glow of dusk, and occasionally we’d pop our heads up to see the silhouettes of bodies moving across the field hundreds of yards away. A flashlight beam would strafe the field, and the silhouettes would break into a sprint and disappear into the woods. Eventually, the cops got wise and just waited for us to return to our cars, where we all got in trouble. My wife was born and raised in Colorado. She grew up hiking foothills, skiing never-ending slopes and identifying the direction she was headed by looking at the mountains. “How do you know which direction you’re facing in this state?” she’d ask on our visits back to my hometown. Ten years after moving West, I was considering moving back home. My wife and I were giving serious thought to starting a family. We were living in Aspen — four hours from our nearest relatives — and wondered if an expensive tourist town was the best place to start the process. She was hesitant about the move. “Colorado is such

a beautiful outdoor state,” she insisted. On our next trip back to Michigan, I grabbed an old hockey stick from my parents’ garage and, using it as a makeshift walking stick, took her on a Michigan-style hike at the Asylum Lake Preserve. We walked the trails, and I told her about the walks with my parents, the frog eggs, the gravestone searches and the high school parties. We weighed the pros and cons of moving to Michigan. We saw a possum scuttle across the path and disappear into the low brush. We hopped from stone to stone in the low riverbed where the path turns west. We emerged from a canopy of trees into the blonde, open field, sequestered by forest on all sides. We moved to Michigan. I don’t think we’re ever going to find my daughter’s shoe, but I like that Asylum Lake has meaning for her. Someday she may walk with her own children on those trails, with her own stories of what Asylum means to her. My guess is she’ll always keep an eye out for that pink Croc.

Brian Lam was born and raised in the Kalamazoo area and currently resides in his native city with his wife and daughter.  He is the owner of Lam Creative Solutions and co-founder of Improv Effects, LLC.

Have The Last Word Have a story to tell? Non-fiction, personal narratives about life in Southwest Michigan are sought for The Last Word. Stories should be no more than 1,000 words. Submit your story and contact information to editor@encorekalamazoo.com.

Michelle Eldridge and Sandi Doctor, of LVM Capital, partner with others — like Jeanne Grubb, Donor Relations Officer at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation — to sponsor philanthropic education events for women in our community.

7840 Moorsbridge Road | Portage, Michigan 49024 269.321.8120 | 800.488.2036 | lvmcapital.com www.encorekalamazoo.com | 45


THE LAST WORD ENCORE

Growing up with Asylum Lake by

BRIAN LAM

I

live about two blocks from the Winchell Avenue entrance to the Asylum Lake Preserve, the last known whereabouts of my daughter’s left pink Croc. I’m reminded of the lost Croc regularly by my daughter as it is the first thing she mentions every time we take a stroll through the historic preserve. It’s astounding that she remembers. She lost that holey neon clog before she was 18 months old, but she has remained optimistic on every Asylum outing in the two years since then that this will be the time we find it. She actively searches it out in the brush alongside the paths. She bounces simple theories off me as to what might have happened to it. “Maybe a bear took it.” “Maybe it fell in the lake.” At this point in her young life, each trek to the winding, wooded trails is an adventure, a case to be solved. I grew up about eight blocks from the house where I currently live. My family moved from Plainwell when I was just a few years older than my daughter is now. I remember walking with my dad along that same downhill trail from the Winchell entrance, past the sandy inlet to the lake, around the giant bend to the right, and down the long stretch to the cement pad before the trail bends left again. I vaguely recall my dad bringing fishing poles and a white bucket, presumably to create some adult interpretation of father/son bonding time. What I vividly remember was the child version of father/son bonding time: looking for frog eggs under lily pads. How exciting to turn over a lily pad and see a gelatinous clump of little eggs stuck to the bottom, knowing each slimy bubble would eventually turn into a real frog. We never brought a single fish back in that white bucket, but we did haul lily pads with dozens of frog eggs. I was going to have the biggest collection of pet frogs ever. Despite those eggs receiving top care from the Winchell neighborhood’s leading 6-year-old frog expert, I never remember any of them hatching.

46 | ENCORE JANUARY 2013

Back before cell phones, bike helmets and child yoga classes, kids in my neighborhood used to head off on their bikes for the afternoon, promising their parents that they’d be back before dark. Sometimes we’d take the trail from the Congregation of Moses synagogue to the stream at Kalamazoo Christian High School to catch crawdads. Sometimes we’d go to the bikefriendly trails of Kleinstuck Preserve to build dirt jumps for our bikes, where we’d excitedly recount the massive air we achieved despite each of us witnessing that the others’ back tires never left the ground. For a little intrigue and danger, however, we’d head to Asylum Lake. According to the older kids in the neighborhood, this was where the old insane asylum used to be hidden away. And to an 8-year-old, an asylum is not just a mental health facility; it is a towered castle behind which lightning is always striking and from which the screams of the “inmates” ring out through eerie moonlit nights. “Sometimes an inmate would escape,” the older kids would say. “Sometimes the inmates were tortured or killed, and they’d bury them right in these woods.” We’d spend hours looking for the foundations of the asylum, snapping our heads in fear when we’d hear the crunch of footsteps from what we thought could be the ghost of a wronged, vengeful and insane former inmate. Fortunately for us, it was always a living, breathing person — often with a dog or spouse — shaking his or her head when we announced that we were looking for gravestones. When it comes to ideal places to throw a secret high school party, the cement dock at Asylum Lake where I used to collect frog eggs has to be at the bottom of the list. What police officer wouldn’t investigate a gathering of several dozen cars at the Winchell entrance at 11 o’clock on a Friday night? It started out as a beautiful moonlit night with enough light to make one’s way around the small trails that shoot off of the main path around the lake. Somebody started a small fire on the cement (continued on page 45)


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SEPTEMBER 2012 ENCORE | 47


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January 2013