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Friday, August 30, 2019

The Livability Lab - Muskegon's 100 Day Challenge

A while back, we told you about the Photo Voice Project.  It was a series of photos taken by area residents about their lives, the circumstances in their world and what they saw as positives and negatives.  The original story ran on our other page, The Muskegon Channel and it was called; "The South Heights Photo Voice Initiative".  A bright young man named Marquis Childers joined us to talk about his photo and the inspiration behind it.



Well, we are on to the next phase of the project.  The Muskegon Livability Lab is taking place on September 10th at the Folkert Community Hub and it's a day FILLED with information, speakers, breakout sessions, and data that has been acquired and studied by Michigan State.  You'll also get to see the Photo Voice Project once again give feedback, help target priority challenges, and yes, even have a chance to determine some next steps.

Does it sound like a lot?  Agreed!  Simply put...Muskegon is booming. We all see it, we all feel it and an event like this is designed to coincide with that boom to help define community priorities, what people feel is the most important part of their daily lives here in town and what that "Livability" term means to them.  As you'll hear in our interview, Mary McDonald makes a mention of something as simple as what time the street lights go out in a community are part of what factors into the "Livability" of a community.  This is not limited to just the city either, this is a discussion for the entire county so anywhere from White River Township to Ravenna Township is included.

Time is short to register.  They are asking registrants are in by September 4th as the event is September 10th from 7:30a-4p.

Take a listen to the chat between Mary McDonald, Marquis Childres, Kari Vanderhoff and myself at the Folkert Community Hub about this event for all the details.


Get signed up and save the date!  It's going to be a lot but, a lot is at stake!  Be heard!  Be a part of the future and let those involved with the Livability Lab know what your ideal Muskegon County is.  You can visit their website to register for the event by clicking below.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore Turns 50! Let's Have a Groovy Party!

50 years!  It seems to be a repeating theme this year.  Moon landing, Woodstock, the Trans Am was introduced the Beatles made their last public performance on the roof top of Apple Records and in the Muskegon area, Big Brothers and Big Sisters put down roots to begin to change the lives of kids, and adults who agreed to help them along with a little of their time and a little guidance when it comes to the art of growing up.




Since 1969 Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore has helped find those matches of "bigs and littles" and to date, over 12,000 kids have found their match through the BBBS program here in the Muskegon area.  That's a lot of lives that have been changed for "good" in a manner of speaking.  Good meaning positive and good meaning forever.  The impact that one positive role model can play with a younger person reverberates for generations and the impact that you can have by just including a younger person in your life for a few hours here and there, can literally change the world.

Click Here for Tickets to the Party
We've always asked for your attention on behalf of BBBS from time to time, because of the importance of the outreach of the organization.  It's not about how much money you can spend on a kid, or taking them along on fancy vacations or anything like that.  Sure, BBBS has to have plenty of fundraisers and ways to fund what they do throughout the year, but we direct your attention to them to maybe get you thinking if you do have those spare couple of hours here or there...maybe you find it in your heart to make that difference.  The organization has been run by some pretty cool people over our time with them too, so that always makes it easy to come and do a story on what's needed and why, or where you have the chance to get out and do a little something to help them in their work.

With a 50th Anniversary, they are rolling back the years and making things super groovy!  They are having a 1969 themed party to celebrate at the Bella Maria Event Center on September 26th.  Come dressed to get groovy and enjoy the hors d'oeuvers, the auction, the drinks, the band.  Get your photo done up in a custom VW Bus photo booth and more.  Tickets for the party are available in the link above and if you'd like some more details, take a listen to the chat between Suzanne Prell and myself.  We have all the deets.


A great party coming for a great purpose.  If you've had first hand experience with BBBS you know what a difference they make.  If you're curious, come learn more.  If you just want to hippy it up and come to a great party....that's cool too.  Our congratulations to this incredible organization for 50 years of making a difference in Muskegon and for the 12,000 plus they have served, which in reality is more like 24,000 because for every "little" a "big" has equally reaped the rewards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lakeshore.  You can visit their website below to learn more.



Sunday, August 25, 2019

New Mural Going Up on 3rd and Monroe - Meet Artist Jube Rodriguez

The beautification of Muskegon continues everywhere you look.  From the big new buildings gong up to the pride being shown in neighborhoods and in yards, renewal is upon us and for all of us who have weathered the storm, it's a relaunch that feels so incredible.  Pride is bubbling and Muskegon is on the rise!  It's an effort from so many, and from the projects large and small...some of the real eye catchers stand out.



We've got a LOT of artful things popping up to add to the luster!  We saw the addition of the mural on the wall on the Masonic Lodge a year or so ago celebrating the likes of Barak Obama, Fredrick Douglas and more.  We've got historical art detailing Muskegon's industrial eras on Western avenue, more recently some butterfly wings went up on the side of the Frauenthal and now, in Midtown on Third and Monroe, we have a local artist up on the scaffolding working on an inspirational piece for all to admire with a few hidden messages in it to relay to future generations of their limitless possibilities.

We got a call from the building owner, to say that we outta come see what was gong on so, we grabbed the camera and headed down to the Third Street Midtown District.  Third and Monroe to be specific only to be astounded by what we found.  Not only is the building being completely redone on the inside with beautiful, modern and affordable apartments that are some of the coolest you'll find anywhere, the exterior is getting a make over by local artist Jubenal Rodriguez.  "Jube" is a graduate of Kendall College in Grand Rapids and works as a designer in his real job. But in his spare time, he's got the brushes and buckets and he's leaving his mark on the community.

It's a project in part with Community ENcompass and the message is pretty clear.  "Hope Equals Power" and we'll let Jube tell you a little more about the project.  Take a listen!


Pretty awesome.  Pretty inspirational and a great feeling to know that an artist that's right from here in Muskegon who's doing his part to elevate.  Not only elevate, but to beautify and lave a mark that one day he'll be able to go by and say to his kids, or grand kids..."I did that".   Jube is leaving his mark on a building, that is being completely renovated in a neighborhood that was once forgotten but is now growing, reinventing and adding to the amazing change we're all seeing in Muskegon.  It's clearly written on the shirt of the kid in the mural.  "Hope equals power".  The collective hope of all in Muskegon has led to the power of change and the power of positive hope has brought on renewal, and it looks amazing.  Jube asked if we'd link up his Instagram account, so follow the link in the photo below and watch the progress of his amazing career.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Zumba on the LST 393 in Muskegon to Benefit Every Woman's Place

If you've been a part of Muskegon for any amount of time, you know that one of our most precious outreaches in town is Every Woman's Place.  They have been at the forefront of helping victims of domestic abuse in Muskegon and surrounding areas since 1975 and they continue to offer respite and shelter in a time where you'd hope that society wouldn't need their services anymore, but...they do.




One of the best things about Every Woman's Place is the way Muskegon embraces their work.  Small donations to large fundraisers, EWP is funded in part by the generosity of gifts large and small and no matter the size, they all add up and help this incredible agency do their work to protect the vulnerable.  Cash donations, health care supplies and more all add up and make a true difference.  Of course, you can ask for cash and toothpaste only so much....it takes a little innovation and pop up ideas to keep things fresh and some moolah coming in and those ideas come from people of all backgrounds and practices.
3Z Club Crew on Facebook

So,  with all the ideas..willingness to help and ways to raise money that there are in town, put them to work right!  It's happening!  We have a group in town who LOVE to Zumba and they are trying to spread their love for the workout and combine that with a way to help EWP!  There's a group called the 3ZCrew here in town.  They are all about getting YOU involved with Zumba for the good of your health and they want to take this love of the sport and help out EWP!

You have a chance to give it a whirl on the LST 393 on August 26th.  There's going to be a special event on board the ship not only to get you up and get you moving...but to send the proceeds over to EWP.  Every dime raised at this special event will go to help the agency as well as the people they serve.  7p is the time and there are no real pre requisites to be able to participate.

I met up with Elisa Hoppper and Quintina Pittman from EWP to talk about the event, take a listen.



Sound like fun?  Well, join them!  Do something fun and help out a remarkable cause and get yourself in the groove of Zumba!  You can click on the image below to get registered to be a part of the event!  It's a small donation, that will go so far...get your Zumba on and go!!  If you'd like to know more about Every Woman's Place, click on their photo below that!

Click Here to Register to Zumba on the LST






Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Humans of Muskegon - A Project Detailing All of Us

So, we spend a lot of time here on Positively Muskegon trying to find those who do something remarkable and work to make a difference for all of us here in Muskegon.  Big or small projects, they all add up and they all help weave the fabric of what makes Muskegon home.  Some have unlimited grandeur to share, while others pick a small project and do all they can with what they have to make it shine.  We're not the only game in town however.



There are others who are preserving our history one human at a time.

Thing is though, it's not always easy to get someone who's more accustomed to being behind a camera or a computer screen to come out in front of one, so....I had to use a little trickery to land this meet up, but we pulled it off.

I first got to know Tara Marquard through on Facebook through her project "Humans of Muskegon".  It's a simple premise.  She asks people to send in a photo of themselves.  Can be any kind of photo that best describes "you" and a short story or paragraph about who they are, what this world is to them and what their life is all about.  It's a project that's been done in some other cities, but Muskegon is such a diverse community and has so many people from every end of the spectrum that to know a little more about them and what makes them tick...well, it gets interesting quick.  I myself have submitted a couple of stories about some parts of me that make me a unique human from my meteorite on my night stand to some of what makes me love Muskegon the way I do.

What makes Tara a "Human of Muskegon"?  All through this project, Tara has managed to battle and win breast cancer...she's a friggin warrior....she's also managed to keep working until just recently when a lay off notice came, and she's pushed and pushed to find more and more people to help share their story instead of trying to hide under a shell and wish it all went away.  She's shown strength in the face of fear and persists in wanting to leave her mark with photography and giving others a chance to share what makes them who they are.  She's kind of shy, not really one for the spotlight but definitely is working to show us all as the real Humans of Muskegon.  Meet Tara Marquard.


Now, here's your chance!  Think about who you are and what makes you that person!  Share your story.  It doesn't have to have your name attached.  You can maybe hide behind some shades...you can maybe even send in a picture of a shadow!  But...be part of Tara's amazing project and show your human side!  You will find the link to the Humans of Muskegon Facebook page linked below!  Don't let this pass you by.  Tell your story and help Tara continue hers! 


Thursday, August 8, 2019

70x7 - Now The Fresh Coast Alliance of Muskegon A New Start For Many

We introduced you to 70x 7 years ago.  It was an organization in Muskegon dedicated to helping those who had spent some time in prison become re-acclimated to being part of society.  How do they get used to being out in the world again.  How much has changed in the world since they were sentenced and how are they going to fit back in when it comes to things like family, friends and how will they avoid the pitfalls that got them sent away in the first place?


They are scary and tough questions but 70x7 boldly answered them and did it on a level that people could understand.  After all, the Muskegon founder of 70x7 had his fair share of knowledge of life on the other side of the law.  After his time though, Nate Johnson's life had changed dramatically and he wanted to give back his new found freedom to others.  As he says, he was part of the problem and now, it's on him to help fix it.
Follow Fresh Coast Alliance on Facebook

Today, there's a new name for what was started.  70x7 is now called The Fresh Coast Alliance and encompasses so much more than just working to end recidivism.  Today, The Fresh Coast Alliance of Muskegon offers not only reentry programs, they offer recovery, employment, housing and counselling for substance abuse.  Their ministry has extended to include both men and women and encompasses a full approach through faith in rebuilding lives that were once thought to be lost.  Fresh Coast also works to help educate the public as well as legislators when it comes to issues revolving criminal justice reform and others issues.  Which brings us to our visit today.

There will be 2 opportunities to learn a little more about Fresh Coast and their work.  First up.. "Facing Choices".  August 15th at the Fresh Coast Alliance a discussion will be held.  It will be a discussion with parolees and probation servers about guns.  We are seeing far too much gun violence in more than just one area...and this will be a very frank and to the point discussion of the consequences both state and federal if you commit a crime with a firearm.   Then on August 17th there will be a convening of Clean Slate Michigan.  It's about working to get the record of those who have served their time and made life adjustments that are so profound, that consideration of a "Clean Slate" should be given to them so then can resume their life free of a record that can keep them from things like jobs, housing or other benefits.

Nate and I sat down to recap all the changes as well as talk about the upcoming programs.  Take a listen.


Amazing work going on to help break the cycle and offer some new hope for those who have faced some of the worst in life.  From the streets to the cell and back again....it's got to stop somewhere and an organization to help those who desire to change for good is an amazing resource for people and the community.  If you'd like to know more about Fresh Coast Alliance, please....click on their logo below to visit their website and support their work.