Top Ten: A quick look at readers' favorite stories from 2016

Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave is back from our holiday hiatus. In keeping with the reflective nature of the season of long nights and cold days, we take a quick look back at the stories that were reader favorites in 2016. We also had two stories from 2015 that continue to be widely read that are included in the list. For this report, we asked our writers to tell us a snippet of what they recall about the assignment. We hope you enjoy looking back at the year that was. 

10. Winging it: Of butterflies, beer (mostly butterflies), and travels with the Butterfly Lady
Donna McClurkan says, “Writing the (Monarch) article helped me to better understand how ordinary people can have an impact on preserving what remains of our natural world.”

9. How the state's action supporting LGBTQ students could impact kids in Kalamazoo
It was heartening to learn about proactive measures, including inclusion practices and alliance groups, that local schools are taking to support their LGBTQ students, says writer Kathi Valeii. 

8. Changing the Michigan food world one potato at a time
Writer Zinta Aistars tracked down all the food hubs in Michigan to report on the ways food distribution in the state is being remade and readers wanted to know all about it.

7. Kalamazoo's first Tiny Home: a three-decade long dream in the making
Ben Brown was such a fun person to talk to, and watching the enthusiastic collaboration between the volunteers, Habitat, and the City of Kalamazoo on the Tiny Home project was very exciting, says wirter Kathi Valeii.

Raising the walls on Kalamazoo's first Tiny House

6. New musical memories to be created at reunion for iconic Club Soda
Say the words ”Club Soda” to old punks or aging blues fanatics in Kalamazoo, and watch them light-up nostalgic memories of unique and amazing musical moments in a dank and smokey bar, is what writer Mark Wedel remembers of this piece.

B C Rides helps people get to work
In 2016 readers rediscovered this story by Kathy Jennings first published in January 2015 that talks about a unique way to fight unemployment. BC Rides helps people get to work by offering rides seven days a week, 24 hours a day. 

5. This spring Kalamazoo becomes part of soccer nation
Second Wave Managing Editor Kathy Jennings who wrote this piece has no background in soccer, but knowing that readers would be interested in this development on the local sports scene she interviewed owner Mike Garret to report local were enthusiastic about the team even before it formed.

4. Free Love Bakery shares the gluten free love with Portage retail operation
As Free Love Bakery got ready for its opening in Portage owner Julie Fox sat down with Second Wave Managing Editor Kathy Jennings to talk about what led Julie to open a retail operation for those who need to eat gluten free and solutions she has developed for her own food allergies. The story published on Julie's birthday and she called it a gift.

The top 10 rides on southwest Michigan trails
Writer Mark Wedel says of this 2015 story that readers continued to enjoy in 2016: I got hooked on biking when I started exploring the trails around Kalamazoo and Portage. Imagine, riding a bicycle for miles and miles, exploring the varying environments of Michigan without having to worry about motor vehicles…. Update to the list: The 2016 extension of the Portage Bicentennial Trail through the Eliason Nature Preserve.

3. Love for old buildings turns corner of West Michigan and the mall into residential, retail space
Writer Chris Killian took a behind-the- scenes look at the development taking place in the former PNC bank on the Kalamazoo Mall and readers wanted to know what was happening with the four-story, 46,000 square foot building.

Plans for Peregrine 100

2. The Japanese Knotweed: Don't try to kill this invader on your own
People might not get too worried about invasive weeds hampering native wildlife, but when the weed is a monster that will burst through asphalt, crack home foundations, ruin property and cost a chunk of income in damage, then the Japanese knotweed literally brings home why invasives are such a threat, says writer Mark Wedel.

1. Reporting methods mask the high lead levels of children in Kalamazoo's core city neighborhoods
It was alarming to learn the percentage of children who tested with elevated blood lead levels in some pockets of Kalamazoo, especially considering that the County had ended their lead intervention program in 2014. says writer Kathi Valeii.

Is your favorite story here? Let us know what you would like to read more of in the coming year. 

Kathy Jennings is the managing editor of Southwest Michigan's Second Wave. She is a freelance writer and editor.
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