The Rapidian

April 6: Summary of pitches and goings-on




ATTN: It has come to our attention lately that contributors assume the events in this list are already spoken for. GOOD NEWS! In fact, they are not! SO if you're up for covering an event, let us know by commenting on the story bank listing in The Rapidian.

Each iteration of the weekly story pitches spans the Wednesday it's sent out to Friday of the following week.

If you want to attend a paid event, organizers might be open to providing access. Although editorial standards are not negotiable, other parameters such as deadline should be negotiated directly with the organizer.

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  • [ARTS] Closing reception for exhibit sponsored by Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids
    5 p.m. on April 6 at 532 Ottawa NW
    This is the last week to catch an art exhibit sponsored by the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids. T'Alyne, a local artist, has works up at 532 Ottawa NW that explores one of Michigan's greatest treasures, fresh water. The closing reception with the artist is at 5 p.m. this Wednesday.
    Potential questions
    • There's much talk about global warming, peak water and changing landscapes. Has local appreciation for the value of Michigan's fresh water sources increased over time?
    • How does the Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids select among the many artists that could be vying for exhibit space?


Thursday, April 7

  • [HISTORY + SUSTAINABILITY] Parks for everyone! The story of GR parks
    7 p.m. at Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)
    The next exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Library is opening on Thursday with a history of parks in Grand Rapids. On the opening night, the library's historian, the chair of city parks and recreation advisory committee and the executive director of Friends of GR Parks will be sharing the story of GR parks from different perspectives.
    Potential questions
    • What are the various perspectives and how are parks incorporated into the city's master plan?
    • Some of GRPL's exhibits last from one month to a couple of months. Why is this one especially long (runs till October)?
    • What constitutes an exhibit at the library? Is it arts based? Featured books? Historical posters?
  • [DESIGN + SUSTAINABILITY + EDUCATION] Three day symposium on shelter and sustainability
    April 7-9 at Fountain Street Church (24 Fountain NE)
    A symposium on shelter and sustainability will kick off on Thursday starting with a discussion led architect and bestselling author then followed up by other philosophers, architects and urban planners throughout the week.
    Potential questions
    • The site says that there are more events than just the ones going on at FSC. What were some of the other events and where were they? Were they easy to find out about?
    • What conversations in the community and national scene led up to this symposium?
    • Who are the intended participants for the symposium?
  • [LITERATURE + EDUCATION] Litribune writers workshop
    8:30-11 p.m. at 26 Fuller SE)
    Litribune workshops are a public forum for artists to get immediate feedback and criticism on their work, volunteer their time to critique others’ works, and get connected with other artists in their community.
    Potential questions
    • Is there a predominant type of artist that attend the workshop?
    • What is the process for the workshop?
    • How does the workshop accommodate facilitation of multiple types of art and literature critique at the same time?

Saturday, April 9

  • [COMMUNITY + DINING] Franklin Farm's Till-and-Turd
    9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on the corner of Franklin SE and Eastern SE (Contact Holly for more info)

    It's that time of year again... and our little urban homestead needs some extra nutrients! We'll be going out to the farm to get a haul of "turds" (compost, actually, from our organic cow share) and we're going to make a party of spreading it all over the garden and tilling it in! Traditional farmhouse spread for a late lunch when we're done, so plan on being rewarded heartily!
    Potential questions
    • What is the Franklin Farm?
    • Do a lot of people from the neighborhood participate?
  • [SUSTAINABILITY + SPORTS] Yankee clean-up, cookout and ride
    8 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Deep Lake Trailhead (Yankee Springs Recreational Area, 1035 Godfrey SW)
    The clean-up is always Motion Initiative's first event of the year. Volunteers will help the West Michigan Mountain Biking Association prepare the trail for an upcoming time trial.The Motion Initiative is looking for help to clean up the two-mile warm-up loop that is also used for the youth race.
    Potential questions
    • What other activities can the Deep Lake Trail accommodate?
    • What exactly is a time trial? How long has the wMMBA been doing them?


Sunday, April 10

  • [ARTS + HEALTH] Alternative body image photo shoot
    2-5 p.m. at 138 Union SE
    The "Emancipating Empathy" community art project is conducting a photo-shoot to capture images of diverse bodies within the community. The pictures will be printed in a local zine and in mock advertisements. Anyone who has experienced marginalization due to race, ethnicity, age, size, gender, sex, sexuality, class, ability, &c. is invited to be part of the photo shoot. Photographers are also invited.
    [More: Contact [email protected] for more info]
    Potential questions
    • What is the Emancipating Empathy community art project and who facilitates it?
    • Is this an annual event?


Wednesday, April 13

  • [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?
  • [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?
  • 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?

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?


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

  • [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?



  • [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?

  • [FILM] Meanwhile Film Series
    8 p.m. every Tuesday at Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy SE)
    The Meanwhile Bar and Wealthy Theatre team up to present the Meanwhile film series, the only brew-in-view in the greater Grand Rapids area. The cult classics series is curated by Jeff Vandenberg of The Meanwhile.
    Potential questions
    • How did the partnership between The Meanwhile and Wealthy Theatre come about?
    • In the couple of years that Jeff Vandenberg has been curating the series, does he ever worry that he'll run out of cult classics?
    • Does Jeff choose any old cult classic or does he have a set of standards?
  • [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![More]
    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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[HISTORY + SUSTAINABILITY] Parks for everyone! The story of GR p

I emailed [email protected] and got a confirmation from Denise that I'm covering this story tomorrow. :)

Alternative Body Image

Jaime Johnson and I are looking into covering this one!

[ARTS + DISCUSSION] Grand Rapids Slow Art Day

This sounds like a great idea for Grand Rapids! I would not be able to attend the event this Saturday, but could I write a story about it and interview the hosts as soon as tomorrow?

[FILM] Meanwhile Film SeriesI

[FILM] Meanwhile Film Series

I will answer the questions posted and answer a few of my own! The story should be done in less than 2 weeks.


Thanks, John! So glad to see someone's finally taking up such an eclectic film series!

[Arts + Entertainment] Art Downtown

I am hoping to break away tomorrow and cover this (I'm not entirely sure I will be able to), but I think more than one person could cover this event. My question is: where is the contact information for the organizer of this? (I didn't see it on the link provided, so I might be clueless who to talk to if I do indeed go.)


Hi Craig:


Yes, I imagine we could have quite a few articles about Art.Downtown and they would all provide different angles! For contacts, you may want to try the folks listed in the Created by" section on the Facebook event. Otherwise, don't be shy: introduce yourself as a citizen journalist for The Rapidian and ask a few questions of volunteers and staff working the event! 

RE: Organizer

The person who's most prominently associated with organizing Art.Downtown is Jenn Schaub of Dwelling Place and Avenue for the Arts. She'll be the one who can direct you to the right people. There are also several other initiatives timed to Art.Downtown, including UICA's Associations, The Store and Site:Lab.

RE: Coverage

I concur with Holly! There are tons of different angles, and I probably just made the event seem more massive by listing all the other orgs. My two cents: Pick your favorite aspect of the event and do a recap with interviews with a few organizers and attendees. Or if there was something particularly unusual, an idiosyncratic spin that one of the events or artists did, chase that lead!

National Record Store Day?

I talked to Herm at Vertigo today, but don't see this in the pitch any more. Is someone already covering it?