Oct / Nov 2018

By Ingrid Sjostrand

THE HAZEL PARK CREATIVE ARTS ORGANIZATION IS DETERMINED to give students access to quality art education and they have made impressive strides in the little over four years they’ve been in operation.

Since late 2014, the 501c3 has raised over $25,000 for supplies and equipment for K-12 students in Hazel Park schools. This includes replacing the high school’s pottery kiln in 2016 and their auditorium’s lighting console in February 2018 – just in time for the annual school play.

President Mike Vanderveer says the group was inspired to create Hazel Park Creative Arts after realizing there was a booster group raising money for the high school band, but the other arts programs were lacking funding.

“We want the school arts programs to continue at their highest possible level, especially with the current financial state of schools in general, and particularly the Hazel Park district,” Vanderveer says. “That’s why we took on projects like replacing the 30-year-old pottery kiln in the high school. We firmly believed at the time that had we not done so there might not be a ceramics program in the school in the future. We’re still of the same opinion to-day, not only in ceramics, but in many of the art programs within the district.”

Vanderveer leads the volunteer board of four members, which includes Vice President Bethany Holland, Secretary Lisa Chrouch-Johnson and Treasurer Robbie Webb. All money raised by the group comes from their extensive fundraising efforts. This includes an annual dinner in the fall and a spring night out event.

THE 2018 FALL DINNER WAS HELD on Friday, October 5th at the Hazel Park Junior High and is the biggest fundraising event for HP Creative Arts. The event featured a silent auction, basket raffles, a 50/50 drawing and a barbeque dinner. Sponsors for the event included Go Comedy! Improv Theater, The Henry Ford, Arthur Murray Royal Oak, The Fifth Wall Society Escape Room and more.

While their focus is in the Hazel Park district, the nonprofit hopes their efforts impact all through metro Detroit.

“It benefits not just Hazel Park students, really it’s all the kids. We want them all to grow up to be healthy, happy and successful. I strongly feel that the arts are important to that and I’ve seen it first hand,” Vice President Holland says. “Additionally, many Ferndale residents have students in Hazel Park schools.”

“With luck, our efforts to encourage a love of the arts in the school district may inspire a young budding artist to contribute to the arts in the community as well,” Vanderveer adds.

HAZEL PARK CREATIVE ARTS is currently working with the school district to determine their next major funding project and in the meantime is focusing on their community engagement efforts and gaining some long-term sponsors.

“If there is anyone out there that would like to regularly donate, we are tax deductible. There might be individuals, businesses or church groups – any group –that want to support us and are welcomed,” Treasurer Webb says. “There is a need and that money would be used in helping kids.”

For more information on donating, getting involved or attending a board meeting with Hazel Park Creative Arts, visit their web site at hpcreativearts.org.

By Ingrid Sjostrand

DECIDING TO BEGIN A CAREER AS AN ARTIST CAN BE A DAUNTING TASK and it can be even harder to know where to start, especially as a young person or someone not afforded the opportunities of arts programs in school.

Knowing things like how to get your work into art fairs and exhibits and how to make money off your art are essential to success in the art world, which is why Vickie Elmer and her three co-founders created the Mint Artists Guild, a 501c3 nonprofit group dedicated to helping metro Detroit young artists succeed.

Established in early 2015, Mint has two main programs aimed at artists ages 14 to 21. The first, “Learn and Earn,” is a mentorship program for students already making art, who receive coaching from Mint and the opportunity to participate in two or more art shows including Ferndale’s Funky Art Fair. There is no cost to students to apply or participate in the program.

“It’s for youth that are pretty self-directed and want to create a body of work,” Elmer says. “They make their work at home and in school and we provide workshops, some mentoring and coaching and give an opportunity to sell their work.”

The second initiative Mint runs is the “Summer Arts Program” where students are paid to work approximately 20 hours a week at Mint’s Palmer Park studio creating art to be sold to clients, donated to nonprofits and used at art fairs. The main medium for the Summer Arts Program is painting and all artists create a self-portrait as one of their first projects. They have expanded into mosaics and linoleum cut prints and hope to grow their mediums more in the future.

Both programs require the young artists to apply and provide a portfolio of their work. The Summer Arts Program also requires an interview.

“We treat it like they are young professionals and if you’re a young professional artist you have to submit your work, you have to put in a statement about yourself – tell people why you would be good to be a part of it,” Elmer says.

ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROJECTS THE SUMMER ARTS PROGRAM WORKS ON is the Paint Detroit Generosity Initiative, where the youth choose a nonprofit, create a concept and image based on its mission and donate the art to the nonprofit. There will be an exhibit displaying this year’s works at the Boll Family YMCA through the end of October.

“Part of my vision is to help the young artists launch their careers, but we want to be doing cool and generous things in the community too,” Elmer says. “It’s about finding how you put the two together.”

Some ways that Mint is working to do this is through building public art installations, adding corporate clients and hosting more events. On November 3rd, they will host the Mint Masterpieces Gala at the home of art collectors Linda and David Whitaker. Tickets start at $100 and pieces will be sold and auctioned from a variety of well-respected national and local artists, as well as a few pieces from Mint artists and alumni. Proceeds will help provide supplies and funding for Mint Artists Guild.

In the three years since its founding, Mint has seen a lot of success from its artists and alumni. They’ve mentored 525 young artists, donated over 30 pieces to Paint Detroit with Generosity nonprofits, and their artists have raised over $7000 from their work.

ONE MAJOR SUCCESS STORY is jewelry artist Trinity Brown, who joined the Learn and Earn program two years ago at age 13. She has now created the Curved Teen Art Show – an all-day exhibit featuring the work of 25 young artists –and is on the board of directors for Mint.

“She is super entrepreneurial – like, I can’t believe how entrepreneurial,” Elmer says.

“This is a girl who’s not even 16 yet, can’t even drive yet, and meanwhile she still makes her jewelry and has put on her own art show.”

Other smaller successes include watching a student’s confidence grow through exploring art and seeing artists finding their true passion.

“I love the idea that in ten years we are going to have so many more success stories and so many more self-portraits,” Elmer says.

The Mint Artists Guild functions mainly through the help of volunteers. Currently they have 45 volunteers who help at workshops, art openings, and art fairs. Those interested can apply through volunteermatch.org.

By Sara Teller

MEGH HOLLOWELL IS LIVING PROOF THAT SUCCESS IS BORN OUT OF STRUGGLE. In April of this year, she received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. “I’ve been working in the nonprofit sector for over ten years and had been trying to climb the ladder,” she says of her decision to go to graduate school, although a job title far from defines her. While proud of her achievement, she adds, “I don’t worry so much anymore about climbing the professional ladder. I go at my own pace and hope that I evoke change along the way.” After all, it’s the fact that she’s persevered through life’s ebbs and flows that really matters.

In looking back on her life, Hollowell recalls, “I dropped out of high school my junior year to work full time. I had left my dysfunctional relationship with my mother and started a journey I called, ‘Who am I without my mother?’ I moved around a lot – playing music, writing poetry, womanizing, and living in complete manic highs and lows.”

She eventually decided to enroll at a local community college. “It wasn’t until an instructor told me I should apply to undergrad that I ever felt I would get an education,” she says. “I applied to the one college she recommended and finished my undergrad in two years, receiving a BA in Journalism and English.”

But she didn’t stop there. “I decided to go to grad school in 2009 after I did some campaign work in Arizona,” she explains. “Working towards my MPA degree meant that I could accomplish something. That I could fit in a normal world; a box. I had been living life so hard outside of the box I just wanted to fit in.”

And, she did it at her own pace. “After nine years in-and-out of school, I’ve come to realize that I received my education through my experiences, not a textbook or lectures,” Hollowell says. “I’m grateful I was able to start and finish something.”

HOLLOWELL EXPERIENCED FOUR TRAUMATIC LOSSES in less than two years while struggling to complete her degree – the passing of her grandfather, nana, and mom, and her beloved dog. She said, “Graduating with my MPA degree was very much for my grandpa, my nana, and my mom. I felt I needed to honor them by taking the last few steps towards completion.”

She was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2013 shortly after her first marriage had just ended. “I remember feeling like I had failed at life. I couldn’t function – at work or at home. I was stuck inside myself. And I just wanted it to end,” she says. Now, she adds, “Medication has helped manage my psychosis and mood disorder. But I’m still in survival mode. I’m learning how I can be in the now and move from surviving to thriving.”

Hollowell’s mom took her own life. “As I sorted through her things, it became clear to me how hard she tried to live. To love and be loved. She wanted to find the joy of living. I fight for my own life every day. I fight it in honor of my mom, because I know she lived for me,” she says.

Hollowell has since remarried, and calls Naomi “the love of my life,” adding, “She has been my greatest support system these last three years.” The couple lives in Hazel Park, although Hollowell has strong ties to Ferndale, she explains, “I lived and worked in downtown Ferndale for many years previously and loved being part of the LGBTQ community.”

She works for a nonprofit as a development associate, where she loves serving underrepresented communities. “It’s really important to me to serve communities that helped shape who I try to be. A kind, compassionate, truthful person,” she says.

Of how she views life, Hollowell says, “I do see beauty in the world. Sometimes unbearable, unspeakable beauty. Looking from the outside in, it might be natural to assume that the difficult things I’ve experienced would blind me to what’s amazing in my life. That is simply not the case.”

By Jill Lorie Hurst

WHEN I WALKED INTO INCUBIZIO (a shared office space on Burdette Street) to get an update on the Chamber of Commerce’s upcoming events, I was surprised to “meet” Chamber Board Chair Dale Vigliarolo, someone I’ve known from various events over the past few years. You never know who you know in Ferndale! We joined Director of Operations Kimberly Spencer in the building’s glossy white conference room to talk about “The Best of the Best” gala on November 7th, which is the annual celebration of and for the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce members.

Most towns have a Chamber of Commerce. I wonder if many of us think about them or know what they do. The Ferndale Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1936, is a non-profit that provides ways for business owners to collaborate and connect with other community leaders. And guess what? You can join up. Yes, you. Residents can become members of the “guardian of the business community.”

Spencer and Vigliarolo both take their roles very seriously. Vigliarolo, a Ferndale resident and owner of Lake Pointe Construction, was involved with the Royal Oak Chamber for several years, then brought his experience and knowledge to his hometown. Kimberly Spencer has held her job for a little over a year. She comes to us from Chicago. Her background is in project management and operations. She left Chicago to get involved in nonprofit work and was recruited by Michigan Works to head up the Ferndale Chamber. Spencer loves the collaborative spirit she sees here.

“The business owners are very involved. They attend each other’s events.” She also mentions Ferndale’s diversity and acceptance. “You don’t have to fit in, but you do.” Joining the Chamber has business and personal benefits. “People become better speakers, less shy. The communication changes you.”

Vigliarolo talks about the time and energy it takes to do justice to the job. No complaints. “I love being a part of our city. We’re in a good place and we’re going to keep building.” Regarding Chamber membership? New folks are welcome, veterans are valued. It’s all about the mix. Spencer – “We’re looking for a good representation of Ferndale so we can make good decisions for Ferndale.”

Put “The Best of The Best” (November 7th) on your calendar, to be held at Boogie Fever. Tickets are available through the Chamber web site. While you’re there, check out the calendar: “Coffee Connections,” “The Lunch Club,” “After Fives.” I love the ribbon cuttings. There was something wonderful about seeing James Tailoring, Ferndale Family Pharmacy and 3 Winks proudly become a part of the family. Find an event that appeals to you. There’s something for everyone. This is Ferndale.

www.ferndaleareachamber.com | 248-542-2160

By: Ingrid Sjostrand

AS COMPOSTING BECOMES A MORE POPULAR AND NECESSARY TOPIC, FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME OF YEAR TO SEE NATURE GIVE THE BEST EXAMPLE OF THE PROCESS.

“Composting is earth’s natural way of recycling organic materials into soil. It is happening 24-7,” Tim Campbell of Midtown Composting explains. “If you go in the woods in the fall, the leaves drop, they compost over winter and spring, and in the summer vegetation grows. The leaves that were dropping, nature turned that back into soil, it’s a cycle that repeats forever.”

A good reason to start considering composting your own waste is that Midtown Composting is expanding to more homes and businesses in Ferndale and Royal Oak. Started in Detroit’s West Village in September 2017 as a part of an EcoWorks Youth Energy Squad Project, a year later Midtown Composting is now working with 45 businesses and 60 residences.

“The Youth Energy Squad takes Detroit youth through projects related to community, some related to sustainability,” Campbell, a member of the project, says. Once the summer program ended, there was still an interest in the community but no one to manage it so Campbell took on the task.

“It started with five restaurants in West Village, and now we are across this whole city of Detroit and southern Oakland County,” he says. “It’s grown like a wildfire and is still growing. We just added another driver and another vehicle.”

SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS COMPOSTING?“ Instead of hauling something away as trash, such as fruit and vegetables, eggshells and coffee grounds – composting uses nature’s process to turn it back into soil so it can be grown into more food, and the cycle continues.”

Midtown has helped one restaurant completely eliminate dumpster services, and created a composting culture in the Detroit neighborhoods of the West Village and Corktown. They’ve added coffee grounds and brewery waste to their pickup, as well. Campbell says other cities, like Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and New York, have been composting for years, and Detroit is missing out.

“Our goal is to create a culture of zero waste by managing waste in a sustainable, responsible way that here in Detroit we are so behind in,” he says.

“It’s to help facilitate the growth of urban farmers, sourcing up locally grown produce, helping businesses save money in waste disposal. Our main goal is to provide the service that is missing. A lot of people want to compost but there is no one there to do it, so we are here to do that.”

They have relationships with urban farms in Detroit and Pontiac, where they deliver the composted materials, and are experimenting with produce delivery from the farms to local residences, similar to programs like Shipt that big box stores are doing.

“People can actually order fresh, organic, Detroit-grown produce, and have it delivered to their front door during compost pickups,” Campbell says. “It keeps the money closer to home, supports the community, less wear and tear on the roads, less fuel. The average piece of food travels 1500 miles from where it’s produced to where it’s eaten.”

WHILE THEY CONTINUE TO MOVE FORWARD on plans for the future, Midtown Composting has experienced some challenges in their first year – like the side effects of composting including smell and bugs. Campbell isn’t concerned and considers these typical of the growing pains of any new business and solvable through education.

“When you implant composting in a place where it’s a foreign concept, people don’t know what it is,” he says. “There has to be an educational component –what this is and why there is a need for it.”

“What we need is for the whole community to help expand the culture. We need to educate each other, tell your friends, tell your neighbors,” he says. “We’re saying this is a problem – for the earth, for our community, for society – and this is a practical solution to address it. If you’re not interested at least you’re aware. We can’t ask for anything more.”

If you are interested in composting at your home or business, email midtowncomposting@gmail.com. For $12 per month, they’ll deliver a resealable bin and compostable bag to your home and schedule regular pickups.

By David Ryals

THIS MONTH MARKS THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY OF JUST 4 KICKS: a Ferndale Elementary School fundraiser benefiting the Ferndale Elementary Camp Scholarship Fund. The event is an adult-only talent show where parents perform for parents at the Loving Touch to raise money.

Amy Tarrant is the lead person for the fundraiser, and recently spoke to Ferndale Friends about the up-coming event. “Just 4 Kicks started in 2012. My sister Tess lives in Huntington Woods, and her kids go to Berkley Schools. The elementary school parents at the time came up with this idea for a fundraiser for their school, but it only lasted a few years. Tess reminded me that Ferndale has so many amazing musicians and talent and that I should start this at our school. So eventually I did. The parents love this event and look forward to it. We always have a fun and entertaining show.”

The program has a made a positive impact since it started, and has helped kids get out in nature and experience camaraderie. “Just 4 Kicks is a fundraiser for Ferndale Elementary Schools outdoor education. All the money raised goes toward camp scholarships. If you need money for your kid to go to camp, you just say so. No questions asked, your kid will go to camp. Not to discount or undermine any of our other wonderful fundraisers we do – I think a lot of parents would agree that this is the one event not to miss. It is way better than selling wrapping paper or waiting outside a grocery store asking people for money.”

To make it more enticing for adults to participate in the event, it’s held at the Loving Touch every year in downtown Ferndale. “No kids are allowed! It is a time where you can meet other parents from our school family, network and really enjoy yourself. Even our teachers and principals show up and are often on stage. It’s so very different than getting to know someone at a PTA meeting and way more fun.”

Amy knows the importance of extracurricular activities for children and emphasizes using nature as a tool for learning. “Outdoor education is very important to Ferndale parents and educators. Using the outdoors as a classroom can really help a child bloom in ways he or she never had before. All kids K-5 have the opportunity to participate.”

The Loving Touch
Doors 7:00 PM
Show 8:00 PM
After party with DJ Royal-T |$15 at the door