Street Talk: Affairs of the heart


For someone whose job depends on interacting with high-ranking world leaders and hobnobbing with some of the country’s leading intellectuals, it’s not often Dixie Anderson, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan, finds herself at a loss for words.

When China expert and former U.S. Secretary of Treasury Hank Paulson was in town last week for the council’s 66th anniversary event, Anderson had her hands full with planning, entertaining, event details and other arrangements.

She never saw it coming.

Anderson was called to the podium during the anniversary event and surprised with public recognition for her 20 years of service to the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.

“I think this was the first time in my life that I was totally speechless! When I look back over these 20 years, I see how much fun I’ve had growing a council from a small, volunteer council to now a mid-size one with a national reputation among the council system,” Anderson said.

“It’s been intellectually stimulating, exciting and, usually, great fun! It took me until my 40s to find my passion, but I found it. I embrace our mission and am thankful for this wonderful opportunity.”

Anderson also shared a little-known secret about her start with the council.

“It’s all Birgit Klohs’ fault! She made me apply for this position when it was billed as ‘part time,’” Anderson said of the president and CEO of The Right Place. “Ha! I even think she went into my closet and picked out the suit I wore to the interview. She’s a great friend who understood this would become my passion.”

Rent control

A lucky business could get a year of free rent in Holland.

Three businesses will compete in a reality TV-style contest Nov. 12 for a year of free rent at Shops at Westshore and more than $10,000 in media and marketing support. The event is at 6 p.m. at Macatawa Legends in the Founders Ballroom.

The Shops at Westshore is the former Westshore Mall site that recently saw a $25 million redevelopment and rebranding.

Shutaveya Ward, Stacy Moulter and Violeta Salas, and Joshua Roznowski will pitch their concepts to a panel of judges in the format of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

The judges include Versa Real Estate partner Greg Erne, JCPenney manager Steve Jackson, Lakeshore Advantage President Jennifer Owens and Colliers International West Michigan advisor Mark Ansara.

It’s the culmination of the mall’s “Set up Shops @ The Shops” contest.

“The Shops at Westshore is excited to support entrepreneurs and innovators with the best ideas and the strongest pitch, and help them fulfill their dreams of owning their own business,” said Jean Ramirez, general manager of The Shops at Westshore.

“While we don’t have any sharks or any tanks, we’ve got some true competitors with great ideas, and our judges look forward to hearing from the three finalists and deciding who comes out on top. We know there’s a lot of anticipation, and we’re pleased we can provide a fun and unique way to support local businessmen and women,” said Ramirez.

Culture change

Last year the Institute of Medicine’s Dying in America report suggested comprehensive end-of-life care should include meaningful dialogue among individuals, families, caregivers and clinicians when it comes to preferences and advanced serious illnesses.

It is a conversation Dr. John Mulder, medical director at the Trillium Institute, believes in having with his patients to change the way individuals and their families navigate how to “live, die and grieve well.”

“Fear of pain should not be a part of your journey at all,” said Mulder. “I can’t answer the question on all uncertainties — some of that is more existential and spiritual, but we can absolutely address the symptom issues such that suffering does not have to be a part of the journey.”

While current perception often places palliative and hospice care as the last resort, Mulder said it should be the first step in helping patients live “the best life possible, to improve their quality of life, and reduce the burden of symptoms.” But it will take a culture change.

“I love the quote from Patch Adams at the end (of the movie by the same name), where he is giving his soliloquy to maintain his position in the school,” said Mulder. “He says, ‘You treat a disease — you win, you lose. You treat a patient — I guarantee you win every time, no matter what the outcome.’”

The Trillium Institute, which launched a little more than a year ago, focuses on raising awareness, education and utilization of palliative resources in the Greater Grand Rapids area. It also hosts lecture series on advance-care planning, living well, navigating the health care system and redefining hope.

Trillium is the primary funder of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship program, which saw a growth in applications this year from the typical two to five to nearly 30.

When applicants were asked about their decision to pick Grand Rapids for the specialty training, Mulder said most pointed to the program’s quality.

“That to me signifies, in our year of existence, we have helped to enhance the visibility of palliative care and having demand for the services,” said Mulder. “Hospice censuses through the community are up, access to palliative resources both in the hospital and community area is up, we are seeing more palliative practitioners in town, and so we think it speaks to the early effectiveness of what the institute has been able to accomplish.”

The dialogue for increased awareness for end-of-life care is fitting for November. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization proclaimed it National Hospice and Palliative Care Month.

Black Market

Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses will host its third annual Black Market this month.

Black Market brings area African-American-owned businesses under one roof to raise awareness and provide exposure.

The two-day event aims to “foster an economy that supports the revitalization of the Black community and expand opportunities for Black businesses in the Greater Grand Rapids area by promoting economic equity.”

The event will take place 6-8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20, at Start Garden, 40 Pearl St. NW, and noon-5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, at LINC Gallery, 341 Hall St. SE.

Friday night’s event will include the GRABB awards recognizing African-American-owned businesses. There will be networking and shopping opportunities, as well as a strolling dinner. The cost to attend is $25.

Saturday’s event is free and will include shopping opportunities and entertainment in the form of soulful music.

GRABB said opportunities like Black Market are important because many African-American-owned businesses in Grand Rapids are home-based, making it challenging to “attract and interact with potential customers due to the loss of foot traffic by not being in a commercial or retail space.”

GRABB hosts popup retail locations throughout the year to help home-based ventures gain greater exposure in the community and an opportunity for face-to-face interaction with existing and new customers.

In addition to providing spaces to promote African-American businesses, GRABB also provides educational opportunities for entrepreneurs, marketing support, greater community engagement, and capacity building and resource development opportunities throughout the year.

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