Developer Produces Community Conversations

There are some things that Grand Rapids needs to talk about. Which is why Grand Rapids-based developer 616 Development is launching a new monthly speaker series.The series is free and open to the public and will be called 616 Community Conversations.

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616 Development said the aim of the public events is to “encourage dialogue among city and business leaders with the public on a variety of topics influencing local communities.”

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“We wanted to create opportunities where people could learn about and discuss issues that impact their communities, schools and families, in a relaxed, open environment,” said Monica Steimle, 616 director of development and facilitator of the series. Steimle added that the series will give residents “an opportunity to connect with local leaders and to create an engaging dialogue.”

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Initial dates and speakers:

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The first event will be held in Grand Rapids on May 19 at 4 p.m. at Osteria Rossa, located at 16 Monroe Center St. NE.

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Elissa Hillary, executive director of the nonprofit Local First, will serve as the first speaker. After a moderated discussion, guests can ask questions.

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Questions can also be asked beforehand via social media on each event’s Facebook page or by tweeting at @616lofts, using the hashtag #616communityconversations.

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The next 616 Community Conversations event will be with Tami VandenBerg, who's the owner of The Meanwhile, The Pyramid Scheme and executive director of the nonprofit Well House.

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VandenBerg will speak on June 16 at 4 p.m. at Osteria Rossa.

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See original article by Mike Nichols here.

North Michigan indie-folk darlings The Accidentals to play Street Party stage

While the most apparent feature may be their age (the duo are still in their teens), The Accidentals’ songwriting is polished, mature, and far beyond their years. Known for their electric shows where they switch between twelve instruments, these two folk-pop prodigies have collected ringing endorsements from the likes of Marshall Crenshaw and Andrew Bird. Their two full-lengths, one recorded during their time in high school, have been met with critical acclaim.

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The Accidentals’ Savannah Buist and Katie Larson met at an orchestra class in their Traverse City high school, bonding over their eclectic music tastes and their musical families. While Buist and Larson expertise in violin and cello, respectively, the multi-instrumentalists began to song-write together with guitar, banjo and piano. Known for their finely-crafted songs as much as their on-stage charisma, The Accidentals don’t only play around with different instruments, but delve broadly into different genres, from traditional folk to gypsy jazz to indie-rock. Having graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Northwestern Michigan and with years of touring under their belt, The Accidentals are true professionals. Their 2014 addition of multi-instrumentalist and percussionist Michael Dause has further filled out their sound, taking their shows to even greater heights. If this is just the beginning, there is no telling how far they will go.

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See The Accidentals live at the Local First Street Party on Saturday, June 6. Find out more here.

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Q&A: Vincent Stanley, Patagonia

Since Yvon Chouinard began selling reusable climbing pitons from the trunk of his car in 1957, Patagonia has built a reputation as a sustainable and environmentally conscious company. While the clothing and equipment retailer’s sustainability efforts have expanded over time, it took the Ventura, Calif.-based company nearly two decades to fully understand its responsibility to its customers, the environment and society, said Vincent Stanley, who serves as director of philosophy at Patagonia, a certified Benefit Corporation (B Corp). Stanley, Chouinard’s nephew, is helping to spread the company’s philosophy internally while also working to promote the benefits of corporate responsibility to others. Prior to a May 12 public event hosted by Local First to tout the region’s B Corp community, Stanley spoke with MiBiz about how sustainability can impact profitability.

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See Vincent Stanley at a free public event at the Goei Center on May 12.

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At what point in the life of a business do you think corporate responsibility begins?

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I think it starts when you open the doors. The rule of thumb is if there’s something you can do or a problem you can solve, then do it.

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So size doesn’t matter for sustainability?

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Companies often use size as an excuse to not do anything. When I talk to young entrepreneurs, I encourage them to go for a B Corp or 1{6be771524f35e681d5eb1711abbe9ad08f29540a742404ae9fff00be7e8f65de} For the Planet designations from the beginning. I think for companies that start right off making that commitment, it creates a lot less pain than it does when you’ve been in the business two or three years and have to change your margin structure or persuade your investors and employees to go along with it. It’s much easier to define that task in the early stages.

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How does becoming a certified B Corp drive a company’s bottom line?

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Companies that pursue sustainability efforts get savings in water, energy and waste. Often in that effort, you learn more about your own process and sometimes come up with products that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to develop. I think it also helps in recruiting young people — millennials who care very much about having meaningful work and what kind of companies they’re working for.

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What do these certifications – B Corp, LEED and so on – do for consumer perception?

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Every business these days in the age of social media and instant communication faces reputation risk. There’s an interest for all businesses to be aware of what their practices are, regardless if they believe in those processes, because they don’t want to alienate their customers.

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What’s an example of the sustainable business philosophy at work for Patagonia?

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Durability (in the design process) has become more important to us. That’s the value that came out of designing climbing equipment because you don’t want to make equipment that doesn’t last. But it also plays out environmentally because there are very few things that we can make that don’t cost the environment more than what we can pay back. Making something to last for a long time to reduce the need for replacement is an environmental value.

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What’s on the horizon for Patagonia’s sustainability efforts?

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A lot of the work we’re doing right now is concentrating on cooperative work. We helped create the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which is a coalition of brands and factories that are responsible for making a third of the clothing and footwear in the world. The effort there is to figure out the best environmental and social practices for these organizations and try to get that info to the designers.

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How does Patagonia work with partner organizations to solve sustainability and corporate responsibility issues?

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We try to work collaboratively in our supply chain. If we identify a problem with wastewater or labor, we don’t just leave the factory, but go in and talk with them. We also don’t necessarily insist that the factory solve the problem on its own if it creates a financial hardship and we work as closely as we can with them.

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As the nephew of Yvon Chouinard, have you always been interested in this line of work?

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I’d been with the company off and on since I was 20 years old in 1973 and would come and work six months to make enough money to go travel in Europe. It was an accidental journey for me. I had no strong environmental interests when I joined. I learned what I learned after I joined the company.
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nInterview conducted and condensed by John Wiegand. Read original article here.

Daddy Pete’s BBQ— Taste the South

Daddy Pete’s BBQ is a business with southern charm reminiscent of homestyle cooking. Eating at Daddy Pete's is a unique experience, which is why it is no surprise that Daddy Pete’s BBQ is a businesses with storybook beginnings. After winning a food competition in 2012, Cory and Tarra Davis, owners of Daddy Pete’s BBQ, were flooded with praise and earnest requests asking them to share their  homemade BBQ sauce. This sea of positive responses soon lead Cory and Tarra to start their own business in which everybody could try their BBQ sauce. It began small only selling to family and friends, but word spreads quickly when delicious food is the topic of conversation. Soon the Davis’ were ready to acquire a food truck. Their mission? Providing southern, slow-smoked meats consisting of locally sourced ingredients which are prepared fresh and daily onboard the commercial kitchen and rotisserie smoker.

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Daddy Pete’s boast items like their Pulled Smoked Chicken Sandwich, Creamy Cole Slaw, and Bacon Explosion Sandwich, all of which are made fresh and with local ingredients. What can you expect from Daddy Pete’s BBQ at this year’s Street Party? Savory items like their Pork Ribs, Six Cheese Mac and Cheese and their Beef Brisket— all born out of passion for slow-cooked meats. If you are worried about not trying the best item, don’t be. Every item Daddy Pete’s makes is on par with the next. Daddy Pete’s boast a standard of excellence. “we don't make any menu items that we don't like ourselves, Tarra says. “In fact, we have won awards for a majority of the items we'll be bringing with us, so we think, they're all great!”

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To kick off your summer with delicious barbecue, join us at this year’s Street Party and try out authentic barbecue cooked low & slow over real wood for hours.

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Heaters to bring on the heat at Local First Street Party

Heaters, a Grand Rapids-based West Coast psych-rock band, has experienced a steady rise in success experienced by very few. From their humble beginnings in 2013, playing basement shows and churning out material directly onto Bandcamp. Heaters has grown to play the stage at SXSW and enjoyed high praise by independent music websites such as Pitchfork and Sterogum. Their washy guitar tones combined with kinetic drumming and distorted, distant vocals create a 60’s sound that is both familiar and enjoyable to all fans of psychedelic rock.

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Heaters was formed by high-school friends Andrew Tamlyn and Nolan Krebs who moved to Grand Rapids to pursue their music career. There they quickly met Joshua Korf, their next door neighbor, and included them in their roster. The trio began jamming and recording in their home-studio, playing energetic house shows in the local neighbourhood and putting out an incredible amount of work. Their debut 10”, Solstice, was released by dizzybird records to critical acclaim, while Brooklyn-based label Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records will be releasing their first full length album.

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Heaters will be bringing their surf-rock to the Local First Street Party stage on June 6.

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(Photograph by Emily Jonker originally posted on cmj.com)