The Rapidian

March 16: Summary of pitches and goings-on




If you're up for covering an event, let us know at [email protected] or claim your pitch by commenting below. Each iteration of the weekly story pitches spans the Wednesday it's published 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.


  • [POLITICS + HEALTH] A response to H.R. 3 - Discussion with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan
    5:30 p.m. at Women's City Club (254 E. Fulton)
    $15 general admission
    Sarah Scranton, executive director of PPAM will join Progressive Women's Alliance for a program addressing the current situation Planned Parenthood faces and what's next for H.R.3 and women's healthcare. The passage of H.R.3. has the potential to limit STD testing, free cancer screenings and the availability of condoms for thousands who rely on the organization for these services.
    Potential questions
    • Where does H.R.3 stand now?
    • Which groups would be affected in Grand Rapids?

Thursday, March 17

  • [DINING + BUSINESS] Brewery Vivant's grand opening to coincide with St. Patrick's Day
    3 p.m. at Brewery Vivant (925 Cherry SE)
    $10 admission
    Brewery Vivant is having its grand opening with three days of eating, drinking, and to kick off on St. Patrick's Day. Grand opening events on Friday and Saturday. Festivities include outdoor beer tents, live local music, food specials and limited release ales.
    Potential questions
    • Brewery Vivant has been open since December. Why did they wait and what loose ends had to be wrapped up before they could settle on a grand opening date?
    • Brewery Vivant is a Belgian-themed eatery and brewery. What are some Belgian twists on an Irish holiday?
  • [ARTS + EDUCATION] Lecture: Art in Public - Politics, economics and a democratic culture
    Lecture at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Grand Rapids Art Museum (101 Monroe Center)
    Symposium on Friday at 1 p.m. at UICA (41 Sheldon SE)
    Lambert Zuidervaart's recently published book, “Art in Public” is Informed by his experience as a leader in the Grand Rapids cultural community as well as his expertise in the arts, humanities and social sciences. He is in Grand Rapids to lecture and conduct a symposium from March 17-18.
    Potential questions
    • How was Lambert involved in the local art scene? What was his impact?
    • The symposium has a call for papers. How many papers and presentations are there? 
    • Are symposium presenters all local? How far are conference-goers coming from?


Friday, March 18

  • [ENTERTAINMENT] Laser light show to celebrate the vernal equinox
    8, 9, 10 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Public Museum (272 Pearl NW)
    $7 admission
    The Public Museum will be acknowledging the vernal equinox with three laser light shows at the Planetarium set to music from Led Zeppelin, Rush and Radiohead.
    Potential questions
    • Who composes the laser light shows?
    • What are some signatures of a laser light show timed to music?
    • How often do these special light shows happen?
    • Why were Led Zeppelin, Rush and Radiohead especially appropriate for ringing in the vernal equinox?


Saturday, March 19

  • [GARDENING + EDUCATION] Starter plants from seeds
    10 a.m. at K-House (424 LaGrave SE)
    Our Kitchen Table is beginning year four by growing food starter plants. Learn how to prepare the soil, fill the trays and plant seeds for your own sustainable, year-round neighborhood, indoor, yard or communal food gardens.
    Potential questions
    • What is the mission of Our Kitchen Table?
    • What type of soil does Grand Rapids have? Different areas of GR?
    • At what point in the year is it advisable to cultivate starter plants?
    • Are starter plants more maintenance than when they are fully blooming in warmer seasons?
  • [ARTS + BUSINESS] Grand opening/opening exhibition for GR Art Group
    10 a.m. at GR Art Group (1054 W. Fulton)
    Celebrate the grand opening of "GR Art Group," which comprises four business: Accents Supplies, operated by Tom Weed; Gallery of Frames, operated by Michael Kicz; GRcityscapes and GR Accents Online, operated by Carol VanderNat and Patti Wisniewski.
    Potential questions
    • Why did GR Art Group form? What needs did they see in the community?
  • [HEALTH + EDUCATION] Womyn's empowered health workshop
    1-4 p.m. at The Bloom Collective (671 Davis NW)
    The workshop will share information on alternative practices and philosophies around the issues of women's healthcare as well as provide a safe space for women to share health wisdom with each other.
    Potential questions
    • What are the various types of alternative practices that the workshop highlights?
    • Were there guest speakers to represent those practices and philosophies?
  • [ARTS + BUSINESS] Grand opening of Gallery 31
    7 p.m. at Gallery 31 (820 Monroe NW)
    Gallery 31 is an art gallery and tattoo space overlooking the Grand River. The grand opening photography exhibit will feature selections from Sita Mae’s popular “Modern Primitives” series as well as extensive selections from her body of figure work.
    Potential questions
    • What about a combo art gallery/tattoo space was particularly fitting to the owner(s)?
    • Being such a unique space, does the owner/curator(s) plan to exhibit mostly artists whose work reflect unusual complements?
  • [LITERATURE + MUSIC] Poetry at the Wonder Wagon
    7 p.m. at The Beerhorst Home (106 Fuller SE)
    $6 suggested donation
    Xan Lls, Azrael, and Benjamin John Davey are sharing their poetry with music performed by Joshua David Mogck.
    Potential questions
    • How big is the poetry producing community like in Grand Rapids?
    • Where can their works be found when they are not being performed? Can some of the pieces only realize their full meaning in performance?

Monday, March 21

  • [YOUTH + LITERATURE] Creator of "Arthur" to visit GRPL
    4 p.m. on Monday, March 21 at Grand Rapids Public Museum (111 Library NE)
    This year marks Arthur's 35th birthday. Arthur is a beloved aardvark that came about in stories Marc Brown would tell his son. He later penned a book series that was adapted for the hit PBS children's show of the same name. Brown has set aside 35 days to travel to 35 schools and libraries celebrating Arthur's impact. The event is free.
    Potential questions
    • 35 stops will not bring Brown to all 50 states and probably not even to 35 if he doubles up in some states. What drew Brown to GR?
    • Arthur is a well-known character to many generations. Is his impact still as powerful and thorough with current youth in GR?


Tuesday, March 22

  • [COMMUNITY SAFETY + EDUCATION] Introduction to a healthy home
    6:30 p.m. at Healthy Homes Coalition (742 Franklin SE)
    Among the things this workshop will cover are living in a pre-1978 home, invisible lead hazards, experiencing problems with asthma and allergy triggers such as mold, moisture, and pests (cockroaches and mice), testing your home for radon, getting up to code with smoke alarms and equipping yourself with the tools to tackle any of these environmental hazards in the future.
    Potential questions
    • Do these tactics prevent health issues due to lead paints and mold or do the tactics reduce their effects?
    • Healthy Homes Coalition gives out free radon test kits and other tools. What is the value of each of these kits and how are they able to afford this?
    • How many homes in GR are affected by the conditions described by Healthy Homes Coalition and what percentage does that number make up of GR homes?

Wednesday, March 23

  • [PROPERTY + EDUCATION] Kent County Land Bank forum
    3:30 p.m. at the Dominican Center (2025 E. Fulton)
    Land Banks are a relatively new tool for strategic community and economic development efforts and to revitalize neighborhoods and communities damaged by the foreclosure crisis. This workshop will go over the ins and outs of landbanks and also introduce the Our Kent County Land Bank Authority, created in November 2009 and recently adopted by-laws, policies and procedures.
    Potential questions
    • What is a land bank and how exactly can it be used strategically?
    • Is it used strategically by organizations of a certain type or can it also be leveraged by individual citizens?
    • What is the purpose of the Our Kent County Land Bank Authority and why did it take so long to be adopted?


Friday, March 25

  • [MUSIC + CAUSES] WYCE spring fund drive
    March 25 - April 1
    In fall 2010, WYCE raised over $80,000, its most successful fund drive ever. With a new bar set, WYCE wants to raise at least $88,100 during its spring fund drive.
    Potential questions
    • What is the money put toward?
    • Where do donations come from?
    • For weeks after, WYCE staff receive decorated envelopes and care packages from all over the world, stuffed with checks, notes and goodies. What are some of the most interesting ones?
  • [WOMEN + ARTS] (a)wake: an exhibition
    5 p.m. on March 25-27 at The Cornerstore Building (89 Ionia NW, fifth floor)
    In honor of Women's History Month, this exhibition features the work of local women artists addressing issues related to gender and history via site-specific installations in the commercial art studios of the former Steketee's department store.
    Potential questions
    • Was there a selection process for the artists?
    • Why is the exhibition only up for a few days and at the end of Women's History Month rather than throughout the month?
  • [ARTS] D/E/C at GRAM
    5 p.m. at Grand Rapids Art Museum (101 Monroe Center NW)
    A variety of the areas most talented and successful design-focused entrepreneurs come together for interviews and an AIGA poster contest at GRAM.
    Potential questions
    • What are the entrepreneurs interviewed about?
    • What is the wider application of the entrepreneurs' key points and takeaways?
    • The AIGA poster contest and the AIGA Grand Valley event (scroll down) are on the same day. Do the groups have a history of collaborating? Is there overlap in membership between the two groups?
  • [ARTS] AIGA pattern show: Maps and Directions
    8 p.m. opening reception at The Division Avenue Arts Collective (115 S. Division)
    AIGA Grand Valley is holding its Third Annual Pattern Show. The theme this year is Maps & Direction. The posters are designed by Grand Valley students.
    Potential questions
    • What are the criteria for the pattern show?
    • Are the students who participate coming from a particular discipline at GVSU?
    • As the GVSU AIGA, why did they choose The DAAC, a GR exhibition location, in light of the Grand Rapids AIGA chapter?
  • [EDUCATION] Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and Rapid Growth's nonprofit smackdown
    8 p.m. at Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy SE)
    Each day, nonprofit sector organizations go head to head for fund-raising, volunteers, community capital, even employees; a generally cordial competition. At the smackdown, see 16 contenders representing eight nonprofit sectors - from the arts to homelessness to foundations to healthcare - square off, honing their skills to convince the audience why they're the most worthy.

    Potential questions
    • In making their appeals, did the contenders highlight their sectors, compare their sectors or something else?
    • Does the event double as a fundraiser at all for any of these organizations?
    • The event description invites attendees to bring noisemakers. Does the audience determine the winner and how?


[WOMEN + HISTORY] Ladies of the Lights exhibit
All of March at Grand Rapids Public Library (111 Library NE)

Lighthouse keeping in the 19th and early 20th centuries was a rugged life of long hours and hard work. At least 50 women in Michigan acted as both assistants and full-fledged keepers during this time. This traveling exhibit from the Michigan Women’s Historical Center, highlights the stories of dedication and determination of the women lighthouse keepers
Potential questions

  • What were the various paths these women took to becoming lighthouse keepers?
  • How were these women lighthouse keepers regarded in society?
  • What was involved with being a lighthouse keeper and how has that changed over time?

    12 p.m. at Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (41 Sheldon SE)
    $8 general admission
    As part of LaughFest, 19 Holes is a mini-golf course designed by artists. The mini-golf course will take over UICA’s entire building, including walls, windows and ceilings for the month of March.
    Potential questions

    • What were some of the wackiest courses?
    • Are the courses just aesthetically pleasing or were they actually engineered to be possible to play?
    • How did the UICA select artists to construct the courses? 


    • [WOMEN] Women's history month
      March is a month to celebrate women, and there are a wealth of events, some peppered in this weekly digest. Girls Day tomorrow, International Women's Day next week and many other commemorative events as well as groups that center on women. If you've admired any local women or organizations that empower them, now's the month to shine the spotlight!
    • [GOVERNMENT] Suggestions to change the city governance system
      There has been a summary draft circulating that suggests combining city governments for Kent County and Grand Rapids. This would move the city governance system to a metropolitan one.
      Potential questions
      • Grand Rapids has held its current style of government for almost a century. In the January City Connection, Mayor Heartwell explained how the current governance system of a part-time mayor came to be. What are some of the immediate effects if a metropolitan government system were to be implemented?
      • What are some of the duplicate roles and functions that would have to be resolved between the two governments?



    • [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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    City Commission meeting accepting public commentary Mar 22

    Also, don't forget that the City Commission will be meeting with the Planning Commission (and the public are invited to comment) regarding the St Andrew's School demolition question.  This seems to have a lot of folks interested, and may be a great chance to see how the City forms their decision on this.

    March 22, 7pm, 9th floor of City Hall downtown.

    Amanda Hogan has called dibs...

    ...on the laser light show

    Carolyn Schaut's landbank story

    Carolyn, who often covers civic events, has graciously contributed a piece that breaks down exactly what the Kent County land bank is and why it should matter to Grand Rapidians.