The Rapidian

April 13: Summary of pitches and goings-on




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  • [CAUSES + DINING] East Hills Council of Neighbors Spring Fundraiser
    5-8 p.m. at The Meanwhile (1005 Wealthy SE)
    There will be food and information regarding the East Hills Council of Neighbors. 30% of the proceeds from the entire night (4pm to 2am) will be donated.
    Potential questions
    • What is the footprint of East Hills?
    • How much did EHCN receive from the night?
  • Friends of GR Parks celebrates its second birthday
    5 p.m. at ICCF (920 Cherry SE)
    Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is celebrating its work with the community to protect, enhance and expand parks in Grand Rapids. The keynote for this free event will explore what the best parks systems look like and how community partnerships can help them become a major economic tool for a city.
    Potential questions
    • The keynote speaker has helped design many parks. What are some of the ways in which parks can become an economic driver?
    • What considerations go into park design? Park placement if a city is considering a new site? Construction if it's sprucing up an old park?
    • Are there any researched benefits to having a park in your neighborhood?
  • [BUSINESS + EDUCATION] GRYP young entrepreneurs panel discussion
    6 p.m. at The B.O.B. (20 Monroe NW)
    $10 admission
    This event will feature six panelists that were honored as Grand Rapids Business Journal's 2010 'Top 40 Under 40'. Panelists will talk about the successes and triumphs they went through to get where they are today.
    Potential questions
    • What different services do the six panelists represent?
    • Are there any common themes among their success stories?


Thursday, April 14

  • [ARTS] Bling! Flash! Art!
    5-7 p.m. at Skywalk Gallery, DeVos Place
    This collaborative GVSU Senior Thesis Showcase is part of Grand Valley State University’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. The show features 15 photographers and 14 graphic designers.
    [More: Victoria Veenstra: 616.331.3957, Chitra Gopalakrishnan: 616.331.8164, Performing Arts Center Gallery: 616.331.2564]
    Potential questions
    • How were the collaborations set up? Were photographers and graphic designers paired up or grouped, and did the artists pick who they were going to collaborate with?
    • The showcase is taking place at DeVos Place. Is this GVSU's crowning senior showcase or are there many other senior exhibits and this one happened to land a high profile venue?
  • [TRANSPORTATION + EDUCATION] Not Your Average Speaker Series: Transporting our economy
    6 p.m. at Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy SE)
    Three Michigan leaders outspoken on transportation and transit issues will share their expertise and visions for Michigan and the region. They will be answering questions such as: where are investments being made in transit and transportation in Michigan? What do the next 5, 10, 20 years look like for Michigan's transit and transportation future? And what transit issues are on the near horizon locally that deserve attention?
    Potential questions
    • The speakers for this panel come from outside of GR proper and are speaking on more of a statewide level. Where does GR fall in the spectrum of cities that are building usable and realistic public transportation systems?
    • Where do the speakers see transportation heading and how Michigan will incorporate new transportation technologies as they come up?


Friday, April 15

  • [ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT] Art.Downtown
    6-11 p.m. in Downtown GR
    Art.Downtown is the biggest gallery hop of the year. Independent galleries, graduate studios, art institutions and local businesses extend their hours for the public to enjoy art.
    Potential questions
    • How many years has the event occurred?
    • Who are all the partners and how do they contribute?
  • [ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT] Site:Lab's first event of the year
    5-11 p.m. at 2 E. Fulton
    The old JA building downtown is being transformed into a weekend art gallery. SiTE:LAB is a project that congregates temporary, site-specific art projects to encourage collaborations between the art, education, business and cultural communities of Grand Rapids.
    Potential questions
    • This Site:Lab's theme is Praxis. What does that mean?
    • What is the significance of the JA Building and what does JA stand for?
    • Site:Lab seems to become more and more associated with Kendall over time. Does this skew who gets involved as an artist?
  • [ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT] Opening reception for "Associations"
    6 p.m. at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (41 Sheldon SE)
    The Visual Arts Committee has selected artists that have previously shown at UICA to join them for an encore appearance. In turn, each invited artist will choose another artist to participate as a means of encouraging new connections and collaboration.
    Potential questions
    • Is every member of the VAC an artist? Do they have to be an artist to be part of that committee?
    • Who are some of the people that inspired VAC members and when did they exhibit at the UICA?


Saturday, April 16

  • [ENVIRONMENT + EDUCATION] Celebrate Earth Week at GRPL
    April 16-23 at Grand Rapids Public Library branches
    For years, the library has organized a whole week of activities to recognize Earth Day. This year, they've jam-packed the week with everything from an expo, markets, swaps, movies, an author visit, storytimes, and a selection of workshops ranging from container gardening to vermicomposting.
    Potential questions
    • Preview! What are all the events? What events has the library done in the past to great success and are repeating this year?
    • The author of Sooper Yooper, a kids' book, is coming to town. There are many GR transplants from the UP. What are some of the anecdotes that the author shares that touch on familiar UP landmarks/traditions and would resonate with UP-ers? What are some of those familiarities that UP-ers would see in the book?
  • [TECHNOLOGY + BUSINESS] Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference
    All day at the Prince Conference Center at Calvin College
    This is the fifth GLSEC conference, and the theme for 2011 is "Competitive Innovation." Top speakers from all over the Midwest will be in attendance and speaking about software topics including mobile, cloud, embedded development, software testing, and the business of software.
    Potential questions
    • With programs like momentum and tech meetups sprouting with greater frequency, there has been much software and tech clamor in GR lately:
      • Is there any quantitative evidence that software development is growing in GR as an industry?
      • Is it the community itself that's coming together and organizing more actively?
  • [ENVIRONMENT + EDUCATION + ENTERTAINMENT] John Ball Zoo Society's Party for the Planet
    10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at John Ball Zoo (1300 W. Fulton)
    This is a national event initiated by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association that our zoo is participating in. It brings together the area’s top conservation-minded organizations as well as a convenient drive-up recycling center to interact with the public. Animals that are threatened or endangered will be showcased with ideas on what you can do to help save these valuable species in Grand Rapids.
    Potential questions
    • Are there endangered or threatened species around GR?
    • What are some of the conservation groups in the area besides the usual suspects (i.e.: Friends of GR Parks, WMEAC) and what is their approach to the issue they focus on?
    • Is there any effort to connect this party to parties going on with any of the other 25 participants around the country?
  • [MUSIC + BUSINESS] Vertigo Music Celebrates National Record Store Day
    11 a.m. - 8 p.m. at Vertigo Music (129 S. Division)
    Vertigo Music -- one of only a few remaining independent music retailers in the Grand Rapids area -- is hosting performances by many local bands and, in keeping with Record Store Day tradition, offering deals from national and indie labels and artists who have put out special limited-edition releases for the occasion. My Chemical Romance, in town for a sold-out show at the Orbit Room, will sign autographs and meet fans.
    [More: Contact Lydia Clowney or call 616-240-0574]
    Potential questions
    • What are some of the difficulties facing independent music retailers today? Is it due to corporate retailers, rapidly evolving technology? Are record stores closing due to financial reasons or is the public deeming them less relevant as new music technology appears?
    • Record lovers will swear that records have an additional sound experience not present with .mp3s. What are some of the things that make records special to those enthusiasts?
    • Vertigo has been participating in National Record Store Day since the event began in 2008. What are the roots of that celebration and are there others in West Michigan?
  • [ARTS + DISCUSSION] Grand Rapids Slow Art Day
    1 p.m. at Grand Rapids Art Museum (101 Monroe Center)
    Slow Art Day was started to invite novices - and experts - to experience the art of looking at art slowly. It's a very simple process. Volunteer hosts (not necessarily experts) invite people to come to a local museum and view a small number of works of art for 5-10 minutes each. Then everyone meets for lunch at a nearby cafe to talk about their experience. And all this happens the same day around the world.
    Potential questions
    • Last year, the event was hosted by ArtPrize. This year, it's hosted independently. What was the turnout like last year and what encouraged the organizer to repeat the event this year? 
    • In the same vein, why isn't it sponsored again by ArtPrize?
    2 p.m. at Rosa Parks Circle (155 Monroe NW)
    The Rapid Revolution is a free concert to encourage participation in the May 3rd millage.
    Potential questions
    • What are the various initiatives tied up in the millage?
    • Which cities are part of the millage?
    • Which cities' residents would benefit most from the millage and why?
    • Would it just be convenient for current users or would it encourage more people to become users of public transit?

Sunday, April 17

  • [ARTS + DISCUSSION] Build the Guild, Part 1
    1:30 p.m. at Mexicains sans Frontiers (120 S. Division)
    ArtPeers is facilitating an open conversation – that will be ongoing throughout 2011 – to establish guidelines and “best practices” for artists, known as The Guild Idea.
    Potential questions
    • What are some of the standards the group is trying to set?
    • The invitiation is open to arts and creative "leaders" in the community. How are standards to be set among different art and creative media and services?

Monday, April 18

  • [SPORTS + FILM + CAUSES] Clemente Skatepark fundraiser: Movie marathon
    7 p.m. at Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy SE)
    $10 admission
    To raise funds for building a skate park at Clemente Park, the committee will be showing the 1986 classic BMX film, "Rad" followed by a brief intermission and raffle prize giveaway, and then a screening of the 1986 skater cult classic, "Thrashin."
    Potential questions
    • The Clemente Skatepark committee has been working to raise funds for at least a year. The site has not been updated in quite a while. Where is the park in terms of progress?
    • Were the 1980s the heyday for skating movies?


Thursday, April 21

  • [CAUSES] "Recycle Yourself!" Blood Drive for Earth Day
    8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at Michigan Blood HQ (1036 Fuller NE)
    WYCE plans to broadcast live all day from Michigan Blood's main donor center in Grand Rapids. Each pint of donated blood may help as many as three people.
    Potential questions
    • If you're doing a preview of the event, what are some of the things participants should come prepared with? What are some tips (i.e.: what to eat beforehand, water intake, rest) for a smooth donation?
    • Historically, there were eligibility restrictions, some of which surrounded sexual relations or living abroad that kept potential donors from participating. There was much widespread indignation about those restrictions. Since the beginning of this month, those bans have been lifted.
      • What were they?
      • Why were they lifted?
      • Is the lift local? National?



  • [LITERATURE] Pre-reading classes for babies and toddlers
    11-11:30 a.m. on various weekdays at Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)
    Parents and caregivers are invited to introduce their babies, birth through 18 months, to music, movement, and language in 30-minute classes designed just for their specific developmental stages. Classes geared toward toddlers 18 months to 3 years of age feature hands-on, literacy-rich activities such as stories, songs with fingerplays and other action, and sign language.
    Potential questions
    • Is this a new program at the library?
    • Did the library use any sort of recommended learning models to organize their 30-minute classes?
    • Are the classes part of a series or one-time sessions?
  • [MEETUP] Toastmasters roundtable
    7:30 a.m. on every Thursday at the downtown GVSU campus
    Toastmasters hosts weekly roundtables with the goal of bolstering members' public speaking skills.
    Potential questions
    • When did the local Toastmasters group first begin?
    • Are there other local groups like Toastmasters?
    • What are some of the basic tips they impart for pulic speaking?
  • [TECHNOLOGY] Computer literacy classes at Grand Rapids Public Library
    Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)
    The library offers free adult education classes that range in level from basic computing to effective use of social media. Click on one of the links above for more information about the specific class.
    Potential questions
    • What does computer literacy encompass?
    • How did the library determine what to fit into each computer literacy course?
    • What are some common things that the "computer literate" take for granted?
  • [ARTS + EDUCATION] Friday nights at GRAM
    5 p.m. every Friday at GRAM (101 Monroe Center)
    $5 admission
    On Friday nights, Grand Rapids Art Museum invites the public to tour their galleries (open late), enjoy live piano music and a cash bar. alleries open late, live piano music, and a cash bar. The evening includes participation in their Friday Night Conversations series.
    Potential questions
    • What are the range of activities for Friday Nights?
    • Why are certain exhibitions (like Princess Diana) excluded from Friday Nights access?
    • What are the range of topics for Conversations?
  • [MUSIC] Weekly Irish music sessions at McFadden's
    7 p.m. on Sundays at McFadden's (58 Ionia SW)
    Whether you are a musician or an Irish music fan, this session is as close to visiting an Irish Pub Session in Ireland, as you can get without flying to the Emerald Isle! Food, beer and drink specials, and toe-tapping traditional Irish Music. Traditional Irish musicians (any instruments - including voice,) are invited to join in!
    Potential questions
    • How popular are the weekly Irish music sessions?
    • This weekly event is is not advertised on McFadden's site, so who are the organizers and sponsors of the music sessions?
    • What are some traditional Irish instruments? What are the defining characteristics of Irish music?
  • [DANCE] English ritual dance group holds practice every Sunday
    6:30 p.m. every Sunday at St. Mark's Episcopal Church (134 N. Division)
    Bells of River City members have fun while educating the general public about the tradition of English ritual dance as performed in Grand Rapids, modeled upon but not limited to Cotswold Morris, Border Morris, Mumming, and English Sword Dance.
    Potential questions
    • Opportunity for a photo essay: What do the dances mentioned above look like?
    • How old are these ritual dances?
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