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Monday, December 25, 2017

Positively Muskegon - What's in a Sign?

You know, it's been on my mind for a while, and before the rush hits today, I thought I'd point a little something out about one of the most visible signs in all of our community and I thought too that it might be time for a little more credit for this particular sign as more often than not, it's purpose is not one of self serving...but it lends itself to helping others get the word out about what's going on around town.




Positively Muskegon has even been the subject of this sign.  Of course, this was long before the recent upgrade of the sign that sits along one of the most traveled areas of town.  Shoreline Drive is where you'll find the sign for The Mart Dock.  The Mart Dock is home to The Sand Products Corporation.  They supply sand and gravel products.  They also have ample storage space available in their buildings, utilize their property for gatherings and memorials.  Their property is home to the LST 393 Museum and you'll find the Port City Princess tied up waiting to hit the waves again when things warm up.  But on the sign....you don't often see "get your sand here".

A Surprise for Positively Muskegon Once Upon a Time
No, Mart Dock uses their sign to promote all things Muskegon.  From what's happening at the Frauenthal Center to The Lakes Mall.  When Party in the Park is happening to the fairs and festivals around town.  If there is a blood drive, a food truck, a special occasion or a reason to reflect, quite often you'll see it on the marquee out in front of the Mart Dock.  Milestones are celebrated, retirements are honored, people are thanked and goodwill is spread all by a sign that got an upgrade in recent months!

The old fashioned hanging letter sign gave way to a bright new digital sign.  Not that the classic hanging letter sign was bad or anything, but with the evolution of all things Muskegon, the owners of the Mart Dock must have figured it was time for a new splash.  So where there was once a classic looking sign, we now have yet another bold and beautiful way to say "Watch Us Go".  Watch all of us go...near and far in an ever growing, and ever evolving Muskegon Michigan.

Mart Docks New Digital Sign All Lit Up

It's been a while since we were surprised by the shout out by the Mart Dock sign for the work we do here at Positively Muskegon and we figured that since there was the flashy new gadget out front, there wouldn't be a better time to return the favor by saying thank you...you are noticed too.  Thanks for using your assets to spread the word about what makes Muskegon, Muskegon...and for keeping our commuters in the loop on what's going on around town.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Britta Cleveland Visits The First Congregational Church of Christ in Muskegon to Talk About Their Community Breakfast

I am constantly amazed by the people and organizations I find in my home town of Muskegon.  Recently a dear friend told me of her church located in the "Heart" of Downtown Muskegon....First Congregational Church United Church of Christ. 







For the past 15 years they have kindly invited the entire community to join them for an absolutely FREE Saturday morning breakfast!   Every Saturday morning... Rain or shine (on holidays too)...for the past 15 years!  No strings attached.... All are welcome for a FREE nourishing meal...and even more....for a real, true sense of family and community.

Located at 1201 Jefferson Street at Third Street in a beautiful, stately red-brick church's fellowship hall, community volunteers come together early every Saturday morning to prepare a mouth-watering breakfast for all....usually well-over 400 people.    I myself volunteer on a regular basis and find that it is one of my most enjoyable times of my entire week.   It is truly like attending a family reunion every Saturday.   A delicious nourishing meal, laughter, fellowship and a great way to make new friends while staying in touch with old friends.

I had a chance to sit down and talk with Elizabeth Major, the Administrative Director at the church, and we talked about the origins of the breakfast, how it's grown and what it means to the people who help put it on, and those who come to be a part of it.  Take a listen.



As you can imagine, hosting a FREE breakfast of this size requires a lot of work and supplies...if you are interested in volunteering or donating goods and services please contact the First Congregational Church office by calling 231-726-3254...... To find out more about the church and all of its wonderful programs click on the photo below for more information about the church.



Sunday, December 17, 2017

Positively Muskegon and The Muskegon Channel Welcomes Britta Cleveland

It's an exciting day for us here at Positively Muskegon and the Muskegon Channel!!  Positively Muskegon came along in October of 2015 and The Muskegon Channel in March of 2017.

The idea behind both is that Muskegon is a pretty great place.  We don't claim perfection, but, you know...we're a lot better than we're portrayed in a lot of the news.




I will say, that I have noticed a shift in the amount of negative news that others report, it's been a step in the right direction but there are those too who continue to only point out the things in Muskegon that are bad and they never even try to offer a solution.  I'll say too that in a world where "cash is king" is the motto, we've never used either of the sites to get someone to pay to have their story shared.  We've been blessed with a handful of awesome sponsors, they have helped keep the lights on and given us some room to grow.  It all started with a GoPro camera and a free blog program.

Today, there are a bunch of HD cameras, a mobile live studio, daily news features, weekly programming and collectively between the 2 pages 662,735 page views.  We're spreading the news!
All that being said, it's been a group effort.  It's the people of these pages that make them happen.  We have regular folks who've never really done any reporting here working.  They all bring their passion and love for different things.  They write about what matters to them, they talk about who and what is part of their life and I am able to help guide them on the "vibe" of how we want to tell our story.  Well, in as much as helping an upstart staff is a great thing to help craft a vision, when a seasoned pro becomes available, and that seasoned pro happens to be one of your all time best friends, you jump at the chance.
Andy O with Wife Cindy Briggs and Britta

I am beyond proud today to tell you that Britta Cleveland is joining the fold!  After an amazing career in over 25 years of broadcasting, Britta took a little time off to decompress and all it took was a phone call and she jumped at the chance to be part of what we're doing.  Britta is all Muskegon.  A graduate of Puffer and mom of 2 beautiful girls, Britta has spent her entire career finding ways to help people in Muskegon spread the word about what they are doing.  Her radio audience was one of the most dedicated there was and to think that she's willing to bring her talents and passion to our platforms....simply amazing.

I sat down with Britta to catch up a little bit at her house, all dressed up for Christmas, take a listen to what she's been up to and what she hopes to bring to our sites.



 We're excited.  We're thankful and above all...we're honored to know that Britta is home!  She's right back where she belongs in Muskegon and ready to share the stories of our hometown like only she can.  If only there was a way we could do "The Way Back Lunch" on a website huh?  Please, take a minute and welcome Britta.  The motto of The Muskegon Channel is "We've Got a New Story to Tell" and we've just added one amazing story teller.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dear Santa - Muskegon Teens Help Answer The Timeless Letters - Maybe This Story is Best For Grown Up's

For years, there has been a "Letters to Santa" drop off box in Roosevelt Park.  Local youngsters put their Christmas list down and send it off in the hopes that St. Nick will hear their plea and bring them what they wish for at Christmas.  For the longest time, all the letters were answered by one woman. Ann Wisnewski. 
Today, it takes a group to to handle it and you'll get a chance to meet them here.




Now, let me say that we prefaced this story saying it's for grown up's because there's a magic about the whole subject of Santa.  We certainly don't want to spoil that for young-in's, but we wanted you to see too, that other young people are stepping up to preserve a tradition and some of that innocence in a world of ever increasing cynicism, accusations and polarization.  As much as us grown up's all know Santa, maybe it's time to remember what Santa really stands for.

Santa is the belief that there is good in the world.  Santa is the embodiment of what we hope and dream about.  We stay on the straight and narrow and we hope Santa notices.  Santa brings the unattainable.  If we long for hard to find toys in our youth or things that just can't be afforded any other day of the year...somehow that Christmas Miracle happens and Santa did it.  As grown up's we hope Santa brings things like a day of peace, a little time with friends and family, maybe a break from bills.  We hope for good tidings and joy and we strive to protect our little ones and we allow them to believe because once innocence is lost...it's gone for good.  We go the extra mile for the kids too because we desperately hope that even though they may never see Santa coming down the chimney, we want them to know that the good in the world he represents is there, albeit illusive most of the time.   Santa is safe to confide in, you can tell him a secret, you can ask for an indulgence or you can go to bat for your parents or siblings.  You can ask for a sack of toys, a pony, a puppy or maybe that your grandma up in heaven has a Merry Christmas.  It's really a shame that Santa only comes once a year.

Well, with all that in mind, Ms. Helmer at Mona Shores High School has a leadership class made up of students who strive to get into it.  They are young people who are determined to make a difference in their school and community for now, and who knows...maybe some day the world.  In the weeks leading up to Christmas, these young people volunteer their time to hand write all the letters and get them back to the kids who dropped them off.  I'd like you to meet Connor, Leanna, Erin and Chloe and hear their story about what they read in the letters to Santa and what they learn by answering....well, "help" answer.


I'd like to take a moment to congratulate these young people and thank them for their time and effort to jump in and take the initiative to keep that thought that there is good in the world.  You know...there really is good in the world...it's in all of us.  It's up to every one of us to remember that it doesn't take a miracle...it just takes a caring hand.  It takes a moment of compassion.  Follow the example of these distinguished young helpers of Santa....be the miracle like they are!  This is what makes Muskegon so special.  This is why I love this community and all the people in it!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Giving Back Christmas Returns to the VFW on Apple Sunday December 17th

2015 was a year of firsts!!  We launched the Positively Muskegon blog in October of that year and Andrea Rosema was kicking off an event at the Apple Avenue VFW Hall for local kids to come and have a little holiday fun decorating cookies, making cards for veterans, first responders and more.  A visit with Santa, maybe get a present wrapped and a chance to just have some holiday fun and games with friends and neighbors.



As Andrea and her crew got things going, they invited me out to share their story and in as much as I had a pretty good idea of what the long term purpose of Positively Muskegon would be, I still had yet to focus it.  I knew what I wanted to get done, but would I be invited in to peoples homes and business to help share their story?  Would there be an audience for what we were doing?  I mean, it's easy to grab headlines when someone gets shot, or a store gets robbed....but would people actually respond if some guy went all over Muskegon and found local people who put their pride and passion into making sure that kids had fond memories of the holidays?  Keep in mind too, back then...I only had a Go Pro camera and a tiny little tripod to work with.  I didn't even have the money for that, I had to get it 6 months same as cash at Best Buy.  Well, it's going to be 3 years for Andrea and her group and it's 330,000 page views for us....so I guess you can say the true inspiration to all of this goes to Andrea and a group of moms from Wolf Lake.
Handmade Raffle Entry Box for Kids

Well, here we are again talking about this years Giving Back Christmas.  We're back in the hallowed grounds of the "She Shed" out behind Andrea's house.  I am going to swipe the event description from their Facebook page - "Dedicated to the children of our community. We offer a Christmas card booth for kids to fill out Christmas cards for our veterans, fire fighters and police. We also choose a family or child to send cards to. We have an ornament/craft booth for children to make a gift for a loved one, we have a booth for the kids to wrap the gift they made, they can make it look super cute. We have a booth for Kids Food Basket, kids gets to decorate paper sacks for children in need. We have Christmas games they can play to earn prizes, we have a Christmas story area, for kiddos to sit and listen to some of the very best Christmas tales. We have a Christmas cookie decorating area, kids can design their own cookie and share or eat :) .....and we have SANTA!!We offer food and drinks and their are raffles for the kids and for adults. We have a bake sale and local crafters can sell items This event is free, donations of postage stamps are very appreciated."

This years party will be at the VFW at 6285 Apple Avenue on Sunday December 17th from 2p-6p.

Take a listen to our chat about this years even and some of the people that help put this on!



We've run the numbers up on readers, we've also made some technology advances on how we record the people who make this channel happen.  Heck, we even got to the point where we were so busy that we had to add another whole website to accommodate the amount of stories that were coming in.  But I want to tell you something from the bottom of my heart.  Nothing we do is more important than finding people like Andrea and her friends who make a difference in their neighborhood.  Muskegon is FILLED with stories like her's where people see a need... and they fill it.  The leg work, the donation requests, the time treasure and talent that goes into making the lives of their fellow community members better....THAT IS EXACTLY what makes Muskegon the community it is.  That is exactly why we started this page and that is exactly why we'll continue to work to share the stories of those who choose to make a better world for those around the.   For more information on the Giving Back Christmas Event.... click on the image below to visit their Facebook page.