Street Talk: Economic development by design


Regional organizations have collaborated to host a weeklong event starting today that showcases West Michigan’s design expertise and capabilities.

Design Week is intended to demonstrate the strengths of incorporating design thinking within the community, in addition to introducing a network of designers to academic, cultural and business leaders.

Sara Klele, Design Week chair for AIGA West Michigan, said the goal of celebrating the design community in the area is to raise awareness of how design influences daily surroundings.

“This is West Michigan’s first year leveraging the Design Week concept, which has done very well around the globe in places like San Francisco, Beijing and Milan,” said Klele.

“Our goal is to share the impact that design has on the world around us — from the brand of coffee that wakes us up to the smartphone we fall asleep to at night.”

West Michigan’s first Design Week builds on the regional history of design innovation and the area becoming a world-class design community. Consisting of a series of events throughout the area, Design Week is meant to increase opportunities for existing designers and attract new talent to the industry.

The 19 events consist of workshops, lectures, tours, films and exhibitions that will be held throughout West Michigan, including Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Holland.

Some of the highlights are: the May 5 Great Lakes Software Excellence Conference at The Prince Center on Calvin College’s campus; a May 6 tour of the recently restored Basilica of Saint Adalbert on Grand Rapids’ west side; TEDxGrand Rapids, held at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre on May 7; and Wet Paint: Reviving the Fine Art of Sign Painting, which incorporates a documentary screening, discussion and live demonstration, held May 7 at the State Theatre in Traverse City.

Design Week also features a series of lectures from design professionals such as Richard Saul Wurman, Susan Szenasy and Mei Mah.

Founder of the TED conference, Wurman also is the inventor of the field of information architecture. Mah is deputy director of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City. Szenasy is editor in chief and publisher of respected design magazine Metropolis.

John Berry, executive director of Design West Michigan, said the collaboration among the diverse design talents has created a unique energy in the country.

“The first ever Design Week in West Michigan is both evidence and a tribute to our growing creative community,” said Berry. “Design Week celebrates those connections and provides a greater awareness of how design is an economic building block for our region.”

Good grief

West Michigan children who have lost a loved one are invited to a special day camp June 20.

Hospice of Michigan is accepting applications for Camp Good Grief, designed to help children cope with the loss of a loved one.

The free one-day camp is being held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, June 20, at Camp Newaygo. Children ages 8-17 are invited to attend the camp, which offers a combination of fun camp activities and grief education and emotional support.

“At a time when they’re trying to fit in, the death of a loved one can make kids feel different and alone,” said Tangela Zielinski, grief support service manager at HOM. “Camp Good Grief allows children to connect with others that are in a similar situation and leaves them feeling they’re not all that different.”

HOM grief professionals and trained volunteers facilitate the camp, which is open to all children in the community who have experienced the loss of a loved one.

Space is limited. For applications and more information, parents or guardians should call Zielinski at (231) 527-0913.

Road to recovery

The Michigan Department of Transportation puts out a series of “myth-busting” videos, and the latest should be required viewing for state legislators.

The latest “Reality Check” video and fact sheet from MDOT examines why Ohio’s roads are in better shape than Michigan’s.

“The heart of this myth isn’t that Ohio’s roads are better than Michigan’s — they are — it’s about why they’re better,” said Kirk Steudle, the state’s transportation director.

“It’s not some secret formula. Ohio simply invests $1 billion more each year in its roads than Michigan does.”

For the past 50 years, Michigan has ranked among the lowest 10 states in the country for investment in roads. In fact, a recent examination of U.S. Census data shows that Michigan invests less in transportation per capita than every other statein America, according to MDOT.

Michigan spends about $154 per person on roads, compared to $214 per capita in Ohio, a difference of $60 per person. Steudle said that may not sound like a big difference, but it adds up to more than $1 billion more invested in Ohio’s roads each and every year for the past nine years.

That’s almost as much as the $1.3 billion additional annual investment in Michigan roads that Gov. Rick Snyder has called for.

A look at some of Michigan’s Great Lakes neighbors yields some even more telling differences. Minnesota invests $275 per capita in roads — $121 more — and Indiana spends $289 per capita — $135 more. Wisconsin spends almost twice as much per capita as Michigan does at $302 per person, and Illinois invests $412 per capita — $258 more per person. Pennsylvania invests $530 per capita, more than three timeswhat Michigan spends.

Obviously, this is a situation in which you get what you pay for.

Thank you, beer

For two years in a row, Grand Rapids beer lovers put the city on the craft beer map by winning the title BeerCity USA. Now Grand Rapids breweries want to say thank you.

The now defunct online BeerCity USA was organized by Charlie Papazian, founder of the American Homebrewers Association and Great American Beer Festival and a beer writer for Grand Rapids shared the title in 2012 with Asheville, N.C., but won it outright in 2013 with more than half of the 50,000 votes cast.

To celebrate the win and thank those who voted for Grand Rapids, craft beer enthusiasts Kelli Cain, founder of MIbeers, and Kelli Williams, founder of Momma Needs A Beer, have partnered with Grand Rapids brewers to organize a BeerCity Thank You Tour. GR brewers, local celebrities and BeerCity team members will tour several of Grand Rapids’ favorite brewpubs to thank voters and hand out some fun giveaways.

“Grand Rapids has been so supportive of our local breweries and brewpubs, we thought it would be cool to find a way to give back and say ‘thank you,’” said Jackson VanDyke, chair of the event and co-owner of Harmony Brewing.

The three-day tour runs from 5-9 p.m., May 6-8. Local personalities joining the tour include Mayor George Heartwell, WOTV’s Jordan Carson, Food Network Ice Brigade’s Randy Finch, D&W Chef Amy Sherman, MLive’s John Gonzalez and many others.

The tour will include stops at HopCat, The Meanwhile, Logan’s Alley and Last Chance Tavern on Tuesday; Big Bob’s Pizza, Speak EZ Lounge and Tip-Top Deluxe on Wednesday; and J.D. Reardon’s, Rezervoir Lounge and Graydon’s Crossing on Thursday.

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