Ask Christos Moisides about what the Greektown neighborhood means to Detroit, and he’s quick to respond:
“It’s been one of the heartbeats of Detroit for many, many decades,” said Moisides, whose family has owned businesses in the district on the city’s near Northeast side for years. “It means a lot to continue the tradition of what Greektown was and then be a part of transition it into what Greektown will continue to be.”
That’s the same assessment offered up by Tasso Teftsis, the owner of the legendary Astoria Bakery.
“(Greektown) is special to Detroit because it’s the last ethnic neighborhood that is still living and vibrant,” he said. “It’s special to Greeks around here, they feel ownership of Greektown, and we have a responsibility to keep it going.”
Greektown was established in the 1880s as a residential district where immigrants could hold on to their culture as they adapted to a new way of life. It morphed to a commercial streetscape led by family-owned businesses and marked by historic properties and Victorian era architecture.
The event served as a reminder of the Hellenic influence in the neighborhood, but it was also an introduction to one of the city’s prime entertainment district and diverse shopping experiences.
Residents and visitors strolled through the neighborhood watching lamb being traditionally roasted on a spit over open flames, Greek entertainers singing and dancing and a children’s area with balloon artists and inflatable playhouses.
The day-long festival is led by the Greektown Preservation Society with sponsorship by the Greektown Casino-Hotel, which opened in 2007 and has helped the area evolve while staying true to its roots.
“Greektown Casino-Hotel are awesome neighbors,” Teftsis said. “They are a big part of the festival, but they’re also a big part of the community, a part of our Greektown neighborhood partnership…it’s really an exciting time for Greektown.”
While Greektown’s history is evident in its name, the district has also served as a melting pot of cultures, one of which is shown through mutual support to and from The Old Shillelagh, an iconic Irish bar at the corner of Brush and Monroe streets. Owner Shellie Lewis said the festival is a chance to learn more about neighbors who share the goals of keeping Greektown strong.
“There’s a lot of new businesses coming in, and it is making this an even better place to be,” Lewis said. “If it wasn’t for Greektown Casino and Hotel, we wouldn’t be able to pull off the event. They are pillars of the community.”
Moisides, meanwhile, said as other areas of Detroit attract attention for their rebirth, it’s important to remember that Greektown never went away. It’s part of the pulse of Detroit, Moisides said.
“For the longest time, Greektown was everything,” Moisides said. “It’s still such a vital part of the community, where you have vibrant businesses and a great pulse of the area. It’s a place where everyone’s coming to see what’s happening and (wants to be) a part of the community.
“It’s still a safe family environment during the daytime and turns into a great entertaining, kind of nightlife hospitality enhanced area in the evenings.”
But there’s so much more to see and do while staying in and around Munising while enjoying panoramic views of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes.
From majestic waterfalls to crystal clear waters that reveal a scuba diver’s shipwreck paradise, Cori-Ann Cearley, president of Munising’s Visitors Bureau, says the region is more than a one trick pony destination.
“We call Pictured Rocks our ‘big gun’ attraction, and rightfully so,” Cearley said, “but one of the moments we love to see is when our guests come and discover all of the other beautiful and amazing parts of our area that they weren’t aware of.
“They find there’s beautiful scenery to explore while hiking, biking, kayaking or on a boat cruise.”
As Labor Day approaches and the fall colors set to explode – and crowds tend to dwindle with school back in session – now is an ideal time to head north and check out these Northern Michigan gems:
Hugging the lakeshore between Munising and Grand Island, the eight shipwrecks of the Alger Underwater Preserve are a throwback to another era of transportation and shipping. Whether diving or viewing from a glass-bottomed boat tour, the wrecks, some of which have been preserved for more than a century, are visible through clear blue and green waters that are breathtaking in their own right. The area was a shipping sanctuary with the natural protection of Grand Island, but big seas sometimes proved too strong. Wooden schooners, steam barges and steel freight ships dot the coast.
At its core, a waterfall is a simple concept – gravity pulls liquid from a higher point until it finds an outlet, but the release and flow of water is something that captures the attention of nature lovers and photographers. The tranquil sights abound in the Munising area, where 17 waterfalls are found throughout Alger County. The waterfalls are accessible to all and active year-round, an ice-flow waterfall in the winter is a sight to behold on its own. The waterfalls can be found on Grand Island, the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and elsewhere. The Munising Visitors Bureau can help you find all the waterfalls in the area.
Navigational advances may have diminished the need for the prime function of lighthouses, but the uniquely built structures remain a beacon for people interested in history and beauty on the shores of the Great Lakes. Munising is the home of eight lighthouses, including the Au Sable Point light that can be toured and climbed from mid-June through Labor Day. Other lights have been renovated and can be seen up close while serving as the center for memorable vacation photos. Some lighthouses have been converted to dream-like private residences.
Hop aboard a narrated bus tour and learn about the 3,000-year history of Grand Island, a 13,000-acre bit of paradise in the Hiawatha National Forest that sits only a half-mile from Munising. The southernmost island in Lake Superior, this natural phenomenon is ideal for hiking and biking to white-sand beaches, stunning elevated vistas and an “I’m all alone in the woods” secluded sites that offer silence from the rush of daily life. Visitors can get to the island via personal boat or ferry. The wilderness area offers unmatched scenery where travelers can see black bear and white-tail deer. Be sure to check out Echo Lake and bring your fishing pole.
Practice your “oohs” and “wow!” before visiting this national treasure that features 40 miles of sandstone cliffs, rock formations, sea caves and sea arches that are equally stunning from the ground and the water. The dramatic colors are breathtaking and the sheer size of the protected lakeshore allows you a freedom that doesn’t generally exist where up to 700,000 people visit annually. Hike 100 miles of trails or jump on a guided boat tour to take in beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls and hardwood forests that will leave an impression for a lifetime – or at least until you come back to experience it again.
Dancers rappelling off a rooftop to perform intricate routines 100 feet above street level on the side of a building in downtown Grand Rapids.
A cellist who creates a blend of hip-hop, folk, soul and classical music like has never been heard before in a Southeast Side park.
The U.S. debut of drag queens and kings living with Down Syndrome and expressing themselves on stage.
The artists and their mediums challenge the status quo.
And that’s exactly what the founders of Project 1 – the brainchild of ArtPrize organizers who are launching the public art exhibition’s new biennial structure on Sept. 7 – want to do. It’s part of the intentional effort to confront boundaries, both visible and invisible, that affect a sense of belonging.
“These artists are crossing lines of their genres and putting on a performance that people have never seen,” said Derek Call, ArtPrize’s director of operations and production. “We want people to be comfortable experiencing something new, and we are shining a spotlight on Grand Rapids as the place to go for art that opens your eyes to more than what is normally part of your life.
“The entire exhibition and the events we’ve curated around them will have people asking themselves ‘Will I ever witness anything like this again?’”
Project 1 bases five artists’ works at three sites around Grand Rapids. The artists – Amanda Browder, Heather Hart, Olalekan Jeyifous, Paul Amenta and Ted Lott and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – were carefully selected, and the locations in downtown, at Martin Luther King Jr. Park and at a former manufacturing plant, were chosen to bring art to the people. It also is designed to take people to places in the city they may not have visited before.
Although the exhibition is primarily a self-guided exploration, there are free event-based performances and programming around artists’ installations. Project 1 leaders have structured the opening weekend with performances at each site. After that, the exhibition will highlight one location per weekend.
Here’s the itinerary for the free events and when to get a first glimpse of the art when it is amplified:
dancers from the Grand Rapids Ballet performing on one half of Hart’s The Oracle of the Soulmates, a rooftop sculptures that will have an installation component in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. At 1 p.m., Rafael Lozano-Hemmer will take part in an artist discussion.
The day progresses to the park, where the second half of Hart’s installation will be available for viewing along with Amanda Browder’s largest work in Kaleidoscopic. Browder’s vibrant fabric creation will be draped over the exterior of a community center building. The park will also be the setting for cellist Jordan Hamilton’s musical fusion at 2 p.m., and an artist conversation with Hart and Browder.
The final part of the opening ceremonies takes art explorers to Tanglefoot, a former flypaper manufacturing campus that is now home to urban artist studios. Artists Paul Amenta and Ted Lott, who created Critical Infrastructure to focus on issues of accessibility, will have a 6 p.m. conversation with collaborators Chris Smit and Jill Vyn of DisArt.
DisArt will later host the Underground Drag show at a location to be determined.
Call said Project 1 staff hope to form a caravan of sorts with people flowing from site to site and taking in the installations as the opening weekend energy builds.
“It’s going to be a really great day with some moments visitors won’t want to miss,” he said. “We’re giving people an opportunity to interact with the art and the artists. We plan to carry that on throughout the event.”
The focal point of Project 1’s second weekend turns to the Blue Bridge over the Grand River and to the city’s West Side, which is hosting its annual street fair. The bridge is home to Lozano-Hemmer’s Voice Bridge, an installation on the iconic span’s handrails that allow participants to record a message and then experience it as it plays back on a loop while jumping from speaker to speaker.
Project 1 has enlisted Dan Deacon, a nationally recognized composer and performer, to take control of the interactive piece that is part architecture and
Dan Deacon: Courtesy Paradigm Talent Agency
part performance art. Deacon, who has worked with artists ranging from Miley Cyrus to The Flaming Lips, will use the sound system and 400+ lights for a one-of-a-kind electronic music show.
The show begins at 8 p.m. as night sets in on Grand Rapids and the light displays will sync to the beat of the performance.
“Dan’s amazing and it’s going to be so cool to have him perform and have the lights responding to the music and the vibration,” Call said. “The Blue Bridge has never seen anything like this, that’s for sure.”
It’s time for a city-wide slow roll bicycle ride that takes art lovers to all three Project 1 locations and builds community by bringing together visitors and area residents. The ride is open to all skill levels and is not a timed event, Call said.
“This is a nice and easy ride, and it’s a really unique way to see the installations and meet new people along the way,” Call said.
The guided tour, which is approximately eight miles and will be roughly an hour of ride time, starts downtown at 8:30 a.m., features a group yoga warm-up and then makes stops at each site after taking off at 10 a.m. There is an extended stop at MLK Park, where Grand Rapids’ annual African American Art & Music Festival is taking place. Registration is required for the ride for logistical reasons and allocation of safety resources.
Organizers expect the tour to take approximately 2½ hours and the final route will bring riders past Olaleka Jeyifous’ The Boom and the Bust, a 25-foot sculpture at the corner of Louis Street and Monroe Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids. The installation juxtaposes massive downtown development alongside foreclosure and displacement.
“It’s going to be a cool way to explore art and explore the city’s neighborhoods from a different vantage point,” Call said. “You won’t be rushing by in a car or thinking about something else. You’re slowing down and seeing what’s around you. That’s something we as a whole don’t do enough of, finding out more about the community that we live in.”
The last themed weekend of events returns to the Tanglefoot site with Project 1 collaborator DisArt presenting a first-person multimedia project a la the non-profit StoryCorps. Titled Voices, the project gathers and visualizes stories of alienation from disabled community members and visitors to the site. The groundbreaking and instructive piece is open from noon to 10 p.m. and is set among the installations at the site.
“One thing we’re trying to do is give people a sense of belonging and a feeling that they’re welcome anywhere in the city,” Call said. “No one should be excluded because they don’t live somewhere or they don’t look a certain way. We all have our own story.”
Project 1 leaders believe visiting the installation sites during planned performances and then on a return self-guided visit will lead to different experiences. Pieces might strike a contrasting chord or be viewed in a different light. Perhaps guests will be more informed or more focused on the art.
“There will be moments that if you miss them, you’ll miss them and the interactivity can’t be recreated,” ArtPrize Artistic Director Kevin Buist said. “We think that will draw audiences and excite and inspire the visitors to gather together. And then people will want to go and get another unique look at the installations.
“That’s what we want people to do, to challenge themselves to see more.”
Lisa Crawford, the director of the Detroit non-profit Humble Design, knows exactly how much impact community-minded businesses have on tightly run charities like hers.
“We literally could not do it without partnerships like we have with Lake Trust Credit Union,” she said. “They are a game-changer for us when they send full teams of people to volunteer for the day. It speaks to their dedication to the community and helping strengthen neighborhoods one home at a time.”
Lake Trust Credit Union, which is headquartered in Brighton and serves 175,000 members with 22 branches across the southern lower peninsula, is stepping up its commitment to Humble Design and five other Michigan non-profits with innovative programs for home mortgage loans and home equity loans that benefit its members and the larger fabric of the state.
As the community-based credit union continues its expansion throughout Michigan, adding new locations in Detroit on Woodward Avenue and Plymouth within the last month alone, its team remains committed to donating its time and resources to help create and sustain strong neighborhoods.
“As both Detroit and Plymouth continue to experience significant growth and development, we saw this as an opportunity to contribute to the positive energy taking place in these communities while better serving small businesses and our members living and working in these areas,” said Nicole Whitely, a member experience manager for Lake Trust Credit Union. “These branches not only offer modern conveniences that impact the way we communicate with and provide solutions for our members, but they also expand our platform for building and growing strong relationships with our communities in Michigan.”
“Our goal is to build a stronger Michigan by improving communities and helping our neighbors,” said Whitely. “We want to put people first and help make the lives of our members better.”
In addition to Humble Design, which helps people emerging from homelessness transform their new housing with a coordinated design of donated furniture and household goods, Lake Trust Credit Union has partnered with:
The City Rescue Mission of Lansing, a shelter that uplifts the homeless.
Love in Action, which pairs medical professionals with support agencies in rural communities.
Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, a temporary shelter.
LaCasa, a Howell-based group that aids domestic violence victims.
Isabella County Restoration House, a mid-Michigan housing assistance group.
Lake Trust began the program in July and planned to have it in place through August. The overwhelmingly positive response led to the credit union extending the donation period through September.
The timing of the member benefit and the charitable donation comes at a great time. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, an industry trade group, average rates for a 30-year mortgage recently dropped below 4 percent for the first time in nearly three years. Rates on 15-year loans are even lower.
“We take pride in being involved in the community and focusing our efforts on giving back. It’s part of our culture,” Whitely said. “We don’t just say it, we show it with our commitment to helping neighborhoods thrive.
“We think this is a unique way of showing the dedication of our credit union.”
Crawford agrees, saying Humble Design is honored to have been chosen among the recipients of the financial boost.
“It’s been incredible to work with Lake Trust team members,” she said.
On one side of the classroom, a few children gathered around a sewing machine and put buttons on clothes. Three kids worked on puzzles at a table nearby. A lone boy cut out paper dolls with scissors. A girl painted at an easel.
On a play mat with pictures of roads and buildings, four boys driving matchbox cars led a teacher around town to the school and then to the supermarket.
“Where are we going to go now?” the teacher asked.
Hmm, maybe to the bin of blocks in the corner, or the play kitchen against the wall, or to a sensory table with pieces of colored macaroni.
Welcome to “Purposefully Playing Toward Kindergarten” (PPTK), a growing summer program that emphasizes open-ended play to get preschoolers ready for kindergarten.
“It looks different for each child,” said Onalee Melton, a site coordinator at Buchanan Elementary School, one of four campuses where PPTK is taking place this summer. “We have the blessing with this program to guide kids into whatever they’re excited about.”
About half of incoming kindergarteners these days are not prepared to succeed in school. In some cases, the children are lagging behind in their understanding of basic math concepts or their use of language. In other cases, they’re not quite ready socially or emotionally.
PPTK aims to build all of those kindergarten-readiness skills through a unique partnership involving the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) and donors including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Delta Dental. In the program, GRPS teachers and paraprofessionals are teaming with “play facilitators” from the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum to immerse students in four hours of open-ended play time Mondays through Thursdays for five weeks.
It’s the same kind of open-ended play the children would experience if they were to visit the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum downtown. Only the PPTK program is right at their local neighborhood school.
‘There are so many barriers for our kids in these neighborhoods to get to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum that we’re not going to just stay inside our four walls anymore,” said Maggie Lancaster, the museum’s CEO. ‘We’re going to come to you and provide this wonderful open-ended play where you are.’
The children at each of the four sites eat breakfast and brush their teeth each morning and get lunch before they go home. In between, they enjoy about an hour-and-a-half of indoor exploration – building things out of magnetic tiles, for example, or making bead necklaces or figuring out how the sewing machine works. They also get about an hour of outdoor exploration.
In other words, they learn through play – even if they don’t realize that they’re learning.
“When they play with bubbles, when they play with Legos, when they play with slime, that open-ended play is a critical part of brain development,” said Maggie Lancaster, CEO of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. “That’s where we come in. If you go into our museum you’ll never see signs. There’s no way that we’re ever going to tell anybody how to play with something or where to go or what to do. It has to be child-led. GRPS has provided that opportunity in this summer program as well.”
PPTK is a free program that began two summers ago with 25 children and now involves 205 children at four GRPS schools – Buchanan, Kent Hills, Martin Luther King and Sibley. Partners plan to expand the program even more in 2020.
Many families can’t afford preschool, so PPTK fills the gap by exposing them to play-based learning in a structured environment with a high adult-to-child ratio. Having a safe space with the opportunity for open-ended play helps the children build confidence and a sense of autonomy, said Lauren Greer, director of education for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum.
“The best parts are the tiny stories that come out of each day, where maybe one child who isn’t very verbal one day had a lot to stay about something, or some child has a breakthrough and discovers that they love painting and they paint all day,” Greer said.
“That’s how you know this is really valuable. The space that we’re providing these children for their social and emotional growth is most important.”
The growth of the program alone is evidence that parents find value in PPTK. But the program also is proving to be successful at preparing kids for kindergarten. By the end of the summer, 90 percent of parents feel that their children are ready for school, said Yazeed Moore, program officer with the Kellogg Foundation.
Plus, each child in PPTK gets a free Grand Rapids Children’s Museum membership for a year so they can experience even more open-ended play.
The bottom line is that through play, more children are having fun and getting ready to hit the ground running on their first day of kindergarten – which is critical to their chances of long-term academic success.
“Kindergarten readiness is so critical,” said Kate Lara, GRPS director of early childhood. “To be able to learn the academic skills of kindergarten, you need to have those social skills as your basis first. Right now (through PPTK), they’re learning how school works. They’re learning that it’s a safe space. They’re learning that there’s expectations and that they can follow those expectations. They’re learning what a classroom is, how to function in school and how to function with their peers.
“We’re going to have 205 kids who are much more ready for kindergarten than they sure would have been without this program.”
Two months ago, Alex Pietrangelo captained the St. Louis Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup title and scored the series-clinching goal in a winner-take-all Game 7. Nine years before reaching the pinnacle of professional hockey, he was skating at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.
Long one of the top defensemen in the National Hockey League, Pietrangelo is one of many players who competed in the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City and then went on to All-Star careers. The annual event returns to Centre Ice Arena in September with another batch of the world’s best hockey prospects. The 16-game tournament Sept. 6-10 offers a glimpse of the future for the Detroit Red Wings and seven other NHL teams.
Who knows which prospects might follow in Pietrangelo’s steps and soon hoist the Stanley Cup?
“The NHL Prospect Tournament is some of the best hockey played for a minor cost of $10 a day,” said Tom Rodes, tournament director. “Top-end talent and future stars headline rosters every year.
“Additionally, many former NHL stars are now managing, scouting or coaching some of the teams, so you could bump into (Red Wings’ brass including new General Manager) Steve Yzerman, (assistant general manager) Pat Verbeek, (director of scouting) Kris Draper or (director of player evaluation) Jiri Fischer.”
In fact, ticket sales for this year’s tournament are going faster then ever, and “we’re thinking it
Stanley Cup champion Alex Pietrangelo (left) has tussled with the Detroit Red Wings for years, going all the way back to the 2010 NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City.
has something to do with returning Red Wings ‘Captain’ and now General Manager Steve Yzerman,” Rodes said.
The Red Wings started the NHL Prospect Tournament in 1998, the year after the team started holding its pre-season training camp at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City. The tournament gives team management and scouts the chance to evaluate prospects before the season, and it’s a great opportunity for fans to find new favorite players for the future.
The NHL Prospect Tournament was the first of its kind and remains the largest with eight NHL teams participating including the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and the Red Wings.
As host of the NHL’s largest prospect tournament, Traverse City has become the gateway to the NHL for many of the game’s best players. In fact, more than 600 NHL Prospect Tournament alumni have played or are currently playing in the NHL including current Red Wings Dylan Larkin and Jimmy Howard.
Detroit Red Wings goalkeeper Jimmy Howard is one of more than 600 current and former NHL players who participated in the NHL Prospect Tournament at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.
The eight teams in the NHL Prospect Tournament consist of drafted players from the Canadian junior leagues, European players and players with up to a year of minor-league experience such as Filip Larsson, who is slated to play goalkeeper this year for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League. Three of the top six players picked in this summer’s NHL Draft are expected to participate including Kaapo Kakko, Kirby Dach and the Red Wings’ own Moritz Seider. Top Red Wings’ draft picks in 2018, Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno, as well as current Red Wings Ryan Kuffner and Taro Hirose also are likely to suit up.
The eight teams each play four games in a round-robin format that concludes with a championship game at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 10. Red Wings games are scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, and at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9. The Red Wings also will play on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at a time to be determined.
“The hometown Red Wings draw a full house every time they play and the championship game at the end of the tournament is also typically jam packed,” Rodes said.
Tickets are available for $10 per day and include all four games scheduled that day. Evening and weekend games tend to attract the largest crowds. Undated general admission, not game specific.
After the NHL Prospect Tournament, the full Red Wings team will gather at Centre Ice Arena for the annual Red Wings Training Camp with practices and games Sept. 13-16. Ticket prices range from $10 to $35 with games scheduled at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, and noon Sunday, Sept. 15.
While in town for the NHL Prospect Tournament or the Red Wings Training Camp, you’ll have a great opportunity to enjoy a last blast of summer or a first taste of fall in beautiful Traverse City. Starting in September, you can get Fab Fall Packages in Traverse City with deals on places to stay as well as discounts on dining, shopping, wineries, spas and more.
Long before Lauren Golden began working with customers at Golden Shoes three summers ago, her grandfather and great-grandfather were the community’s go-to experts for footwear. And long before that, going all the way back to the 19th century, the building where she helps customers find the right fit for their feet has been a shoe store.
For generations, 122 E. Front St. in Traverse City has been the place people come for quality shoes and excellent customer service.
It’s in the DNA of the place – and the people.
“Locals love to come back because they know the employees,” said Lauren, 17. “We treat them like the family community that we have here. It’s one big community.”
Welcome to Golden Shoes, as pure an example of local, Michigan retailing as there is. Golden Shoes operates in the same building as the business did in 1883 and it plans to be there far into the future, too.
Although you can find shoes in less personal ways in this day and age, Golden Shoes continues to thrive with a family atmosphere that provides the ultimate customer service and expertise.
For example, the store recently welcomed back a customer who moved to New Orleans. Since the family had outfitted each of their first five daughters with a first pair of shoes from Golden Shoes, they wanted to do the same for their new baby girl. So, they came all the way back to Golden Shoes this summer!
“That’s a tradition,” said Bill Golden, Lauren’s dad, who runs the business with his older brother, Craig. “Golden Shoes is a tradition.
“You can go anywhere and buy anything nowadays, but it’s still the experience of walking into the store and somebody recognizing you that brings people back here.”
Like a lot of family-owned local retailers, Golden Shoes has a long history. The store’s heritage goes back to the 1883 founding of Friedrich Shoes at 122 E. Front St. in one of the original buildings in downtown Traverse City.
Lauren’s grandfather, also named Bill, and her great-grandfather, Nathaniel, bought the store in 1954, long before her father was even born. It has been in the Golden family ever since, with Lauren’s dad, Bill, and her uncle, Craig, now running the business.
Through the years, many employees have become part of the family business. Members of the Golden family, for sure, but also many other people who now are part of the Golden Shoes family.
For some, working at Golden Shoes has literally become a family affair. When Tiffany Edge sought a job after 15 years as a stay-at-home mom, she looked to Golden Shoes where her mother, Shelly Edge, has worked since 2004. Even Tiffany’s daughter worked at Golden Shoes until recently moving out of state.
“I’ve stayed at Golden Shoes because of the family and the owners,” Tiffany Edge said. “They’re a good family to work for. They treat us with respect.”
Beyond the employees, the customers, too, are part of the Golden Shoes family. Employees greet customers by name and try to make sure everybody gets welcomed as they come in the door. It’s a more personal experience than shopping at a mall, or online.
“We can measure, and they don’t get that online where they play the shipping game back and forth,” Shelly Edge said. “We’re here to help people find what they need and fit them, and we take the time to do so. It’s not just ‘Here’s your shoes. Help yourself.’ We would never do that.
“We’re here to the do the No. 1 job for you, take care of you step by step. It’s nice to make people happy.”
As a result, Golden Shoes has customers in northern Michigan, New Orleans and all over the country, even from around the world. And they come back, again and again. “We see the same faces over and over,” Shelly Edge said.
“We’re very honest and tell them what they need,” Tiffany Edge said. “They appreciate that. Not only do they love that the business is very family oriented, they’re very appreciative of the service we give.”
Likewise, after nearly 140 years, Golden Shoes is appreciative of the Traverse City community. That’s why the business gives back to the community. Bill Golden, for example, has been a part of the Downtown Development Authority for the past eight years, helping to ensure that downtown Traverse City remains vibrant.
Golden Shoes also sponsors the annual Traverse City Cherry Festival and participates in Boots for Kids, a charitable program that provides winter boots to children. The children get measured to make sure they get a good-fitting pair of boots so they can go outside and play during the winter.
Whether it’s fitting kids from families in need with winter boots or store customers with the latest in footwear fashions, what makes Golden Shoes special is that employees take time to fit their customers and make sure they get the right shoe – whatever the customer’s unique needs may be.
“I love meeting people from all over, and it’s great when they fall in love with a shoe,” Lauren Golden said. “As they put on a really good shoe that is good for their foot, they instantly fall in love.”
Lauren Golden has one more year of high school, then plans to go to college. But whether she ends up in the shoe business long term or not, Golden Shoes is guaranteed to stay in the family.
As Bill Golden likes to say, “everybody that’s here is my family.”
The organization’s new vision of an interactive art exhibition is carefully curated with five intentionally selected artists who will launch the concept with their work at three sites in and near the city’s downtown.
“Project 1 flips ArtPrize on its head,” Buist said recently. “We’re taking our resources and investing them in a smaller number of commissioned pieces with no competition. ArtPrize was very experimental, and it became, and will continue to be, a great success.
“For Project 1, we had to be willing to make a shift to breathe new life into the community and ask new questions. The artists are crafting massive public and interactive pieces that couldn’t exist in a competition format. It’s an exciting step in continuing to make Grand Rapids the pre-eminent location for remarkable art in the fall.”
And Buist has no doubt that will be the case. The experience will be different, but it will be just as memorable for visitors, he believes.
“These are going to be big, beautiful projects that people will want to explore. They’ll want to photograph them,” Buist said. “This is serious art that has a ‘Gee, Whiz,’ factor. There’s still going to be a huge art exhibit, and I think people will understand and appreciate the change after they witness it.”
The evolution to a biennial structure, ArtPrize will return in 2020, also allowed the ArtPrize team to deepen the significance of art by creating a theme that serves as an inspiration for the pieces while also examining critical issues. Project 1 selected “Crossed Lines” to look at how boundaries, both visible and invisible, affect a sense of belonging that can unite or divide the city.
“Art can deal with difficult topics and reveal histories that are uncomfortable or contemporary practices that may not be widely known,” Buist said. “This is not prescriptive or didactic. We’re not looking for a particular outcome. Art is open to interpretation, and ultimately, we hope to expand people’s views about life and empower them to think critically.”
When is Project 1 being held?
The first Project 1 will run from Sept. 7 to Oct. 27, a much longer event than ArtPrize, which typically lasts about two weeks. Project 1 will still be a self-guided exploration, but there will be more event-based performances and programming around artists’ installations. The plan is to kickoff the opening weekend with a burst of activity at each site and then highlight one particular location per weekend in a rotation.
Downtown Grand Rapids, which will feature a walkable experience with installations by four of the five commissioned artists. Exact locations of the art will be revealed shortly before the opening of Project 1.
Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Southeast Grand Rapids, where one artist will locate a piece that visitors can walk and climb on, as well as venture inside. The piece will also be a stage for local music, dance and spoken word. Another artist will use the park’s community lodge as a centerpiece.
Tanglefoot is a former flypaper manufacturing campus that is now home to urban artist studios, on the city’s near Southwest side. Here artists will build spaces for use by other artists and encourage audiences and performers to occupy a courtyard space at 314 Straight St. SW.
The artists and their Project 1 plans:
Amanda Browder: Browder creates large-scale, vibrant fabric installations and transforms building exteriors into multi-colored sculptures. The largest and most ambitious section of Kaleidoscopic will be draped over the exterior of a community center building in Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Southeast Grand Rapids. Browder will also wrap four skywalks which link buildings in the heart of downtown. The final section will cover the facade of a building at the Tanglefoot site on the southwest side of the city.
Heather Hart: Hart creates submerged rooftops, complete with shingles and dormer windows, that look like they were dropped from the sky. The rooftops refer to home, stability or shelter. Hart speaks about the rooftops as thresholds between public and private space. Combined with family and oral histories, and activated by performance, her work explores the power these thresholds have in our lives. Hart will create The Oracle of the Soulmates — twin rooftop sculptures, one in the center of Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, the other on the lawn in MLK Park. Climb on the rooftops and venture inside the attics.
Olalekan Jeyifous: Jeyifous’ work in public art and installation explores the past and potential futures of urban environments. He will create The Boom and the Bust— a sculpture referencing the historic and contemporary challenges of housing discrimination and the inequities of urban life. This abstracted multi-story building form will rise 25-feet from the ground at the corner of Louis Street and Monroe Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids. The sculpture arises from the artist’s research into the recent history of housing in Grand Rapids. By combining references to skyscrapers and single-family houses, it juxtaposes massive downtown development alongside foreclosure and displacement.
Paul Amenta and Ted Lott: Amenta and Lott, known for their history of wide-ranging collaborative artistic productions with SiTE:LAB, will present Critical Infrastructure — a site-specific architectural intervention at the landmarkTanglefoot Building. In collaboration with DisArt, an arts and culture organization that focuses on creating public art events that cultivate and communicate a disabled culture, the intervention will create an environment that addresses issues of accessibility in both form and function. The project will reimagine the site by temporarily transforming a private space into a fully accessible public space, through a series of ramps and landings which welcome visitors and a wide variety of performances and interventions by other artists.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer: Lozano-Hemmer develops interactive installations that live at the intersection of architecture and performance art. He will create a new site-specific installation called Voice Bridge. Along the handrails of Grand Rapids’ iconic Blue Bridge — a pedestrian bridge which connects the East and West sides ofdowntown over the Grand River — you’ll find speakers and 400 lights that shine on the footpath of the bridge. You’ll control the intensity of each light by speaking into the intercoms at each end of the bridge and recording a message. Once recorded, your message will play back as a loop — jumping from speaker to speaker across the bridge as more messages are recorded.
What is the expectation?
Project 1 leaders believe the installation sites will have contrasting experiences, ephemeral but enduring. Visiting while the location is activated with planned performances will be different than when guests return and challenge themselves to see the art in another light.
“There will be moments that if you miss them, you’ll miss them and the interactivity can’t be recreated,” Buist said. “We think that will draw audiences and excite and inspire the visitors to gather together. And then people will want to go and get another unique look at the installations.
“People will be surprised and challenged and engaged, but, yeah, it’s a bit of an unknown right now. That’s a fine place for us to be in because we want to see the reaction to something that, again, is totally new.”
As the race director for the Crim Festival of Races, Andy Younger witnesses the excitement of runners crossing the finish line and the incredible spirit of the community supporters, but every year there are moments that provide waves of satisfaction that have little to do with running.
“Without fail, every year, I hear people say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that Flint was this nice,’” Younger said. “And that’s what the Crim is really about. It’s not just a race, it’s a celebration that shows off the best of Flint and changes the way people look at our city.
“Flint is roaring back and people may not realize all of the positive things that are happening downtown. Restaurants are thriving and new ones are opening all the time. Businesses are succeeding, and we’re growing by leaps and bounds. It’s completely different from what people picture.”
The 43rd annual Crim races and surrounding community events are set to highlight Flint on Aug. 23-24. In addition to the 10-mile, 5-mile and 5K races on Saturday, Aug. 24, the city will host the Michigan Mile and a free “Rock the Block Crimstock,” concert on the evening of Aug. 23. The post-race celebration will feature more live music and a festive atmosphere.
Each year the Crim welcomes up to 15,000 runners and as many as 50,000 spectators. It is among the five largest 10-mile races in the U.S. and attracts many of the country’s top runners, including an appearance by Parker Stinson this year. Stinson holds the American record in the 25K, and it’s possible he’ll challenge the 1983 U.S. 10-mile record held by Michigan native Greg Meyer.
The 10-mile race began in August 1977 by Michigan House Speaker Bobby Crim, and the ensuing years have seen it develop into an institution in Michigan running circles. The Crim Fitness Foundation, which organizes race day, focuses its year-round efforts on improving the community’s health and quality of life.
“The entire weekend totally transforms downtown,” Younger said. “There are just people everywhere and you can feel the energy of the city and the shared experience that people are feeding off.”
The race courses wind through Flint’s downtown, with the signature 10-mile event taking runners through the scenic University of Michigan-Flint campus and toward Kettering University, one of the best engineering schools in the country. Each university is involved in the race and in a deep commitment to the community, Younger said.
Participants will then head through the Mott Park neighborhood, a region of the city marked by green space and public parks, before hitting the storied “Bradley Hills,” Flint’s version of the Boston Marathon’s Heartbreak Hill.
“The Bradley Hills are a nice feature that make the Crim challenging for runners of all abilities,” Younger said. “It’s kind of that midway point, and once you’re done, you know you’re on your way in to the finish.”
Next comes the city’s southwest side and a visit to the Woodcroft Estates subdivision, where historic homes feature a look at Flint’s past in the structures that date to the 1920s. The neighborhood, Younger said, generally hosts the greatest concentration of race support outside of downtown.
“It’s legendary what they do out there for the runners and there’s never a dull moment,” Younger said. “There are crowds of people and bands and ‘unofficial aid stations’ handing out all sorts of refreshments to keep people going. There are a lot of good distractions in Woodcroft, and the residents really get into it.”
The final mile of the Crim leads runners through the American Mile, where veterans, active military and their supporters cheer and distribute hand-held flags to participants. It’s a show of national pride and spirit, and a way for people to give back to each other, Younger said.
“It’s that final extra burst of energy, and it’s cool,” he said. “It gives runners a chance to show their appreciation to the armed forces, and it’s a fun thing for them to do for the community.”
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