Features

Feature Story Benjamin's Hope friends enjoying the accessible swing set at the Park Township campus.

Mother finds accessible play space to accommodate the entire family

Jess Ronne found a play space where her son Lucas, who is autistic, could come along with his siblings. The accessible playground and barn at Benjamin’s Hope in Holland is a place designed for those with disabilities but welcomes everyone.

Longform On the Ground Kalamazoo new bike lanes

A work in progress: City of Kalamazoo takes a big step in guiding how we roll

The City of Kalamazoo has begun to transform major arterial roads into city streets. We hear from traffic engineer Dennis Randolph and City Planner Christina Anderson about the how and why, and go for a ride with transportation engineer/non-motorized activist Dustin Black to get the pros and cons of the new Westnedge and Park.

Longform OTG Kalamazoo National Night Out 2022

Neighbors come together for fun and information during National Night Out in Kalamazoo

Pamphlets, fliers, business cards, and lots of information about community projects, city services, educational opportunities, job opportunities, civic affairs, and human services was available Tuesday in Kalamazoo’s core neighborhoods.

Longform ON the Ground Battle Creek Choir camp

Annual church camp in Battle Creek: Give them a week and they'll create a musical

Now in its 27th year, choir camp at First Congregational Church in Battle Creek this year features “Table for Five…Thousand”, a musical that tells the story of the Loaves and Fishes miracle that appears in the Bible's New Testament.

Longform HOUSING SOLUTIONS

Kalamazoo County board hears a new plan to address a critical need for more housing

High construction costs, low rates of construction, increased demand from a growing population, and housing costs that are increasing faster than wages, all contribute to the shortage and to affordability issues in Kalamazoo, according to the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Feature Story On the Ground Battle Creek Connection

Connecting virtually, supported locally: Website delivers workforce resources in B.C.

Connect Battle Creek is a centralized workforce hub for Battle Creek where job seekers can find the resources they need to get or keep a good job. Employers can find ways to address workforce challenges so that their workers can have a positive work experience. And community organizations can list their services so that people who need them can find them.  

Feature Story On the Ground Milwood New President of Neighborhood Association

Kalamazoo's Milwood Neighborhood has a new leader and a new name

The lead organization for Milwood residents has been renamed after operating for more than 28 years as the Milwood Neighborhood Watch. The organization is being re-branded as the Milwood Neighborhood Association to send a message that it is more than a neighborhood watch.

Feature Story On the Ground Kalamazoo National Night Out

National Night Out 2022 is set to be a great time for Kalamazoo neighbors to check in

Resident associations in the Northside Neighborhood, Eastside Neighborhood, Vine and Edison neighborhoods will bring people together on Aug. 2, by hosting free, casual, family-friendly activities.

Feature Story To help people better understand the challenges faced by those with disabilities, the United Ways in Michigan have launched the 21-Day Disability Equity Challenge. 

United Ways, Disability Network partner for Disability Equity Challenge

To help people better understand the challenges faced by those with disabilities, the United Ways in Michigan have launched the 21-Day Disability Equity Challenge. 

Longform On the Ground Calhoun County Millage renewal

Calhoun County millage renewal votes put elder healthcare and Veterans services front and center

Maintaining or expanding the capacity to provide medical care for Calhoun County’s elderly population and ensuring that veterans in the county have access to the services they need are the focus of two separate millage renewal proposals on the Aug. 2 ballot.

Longform On the Ground Calhoun County Millage Request

Millage request asks voters to approve improvements to tools for Calhoun County’s 911 program

New radios and radio towers for first responders in Calhoun County will take 911 call system to the next level.  

Feature Story Paul Ecklund

Kalamazoo advocate works behind the scenes to create a more inclusive community

From affordable housing to accessible transportation, big-picture thinker Paul Ecklund works to make lasting changes by changing systems.   

Feature Story Valarie_Portrait

Synergy Health works to overcome the barriers to accessing mental health care for people of color

“Talking about mental health and how it impacts Black people shifts the narrative from (it being) taboo to normalization, from shame to acceptance, from lack of understanding to a greater awareness,” says Valarie Cunningham. She opened a nonprofit mental health services clinic in 2003 to increase that awareness.

Feature Story Valarie

Synergy Health trabaja para superar las barreras de acceso a la atención de salud mental

“Hablar sobre la salud mental y cómo afecta a las personas negras cambia la narrativa de (ser) un tabú a la normalización, de la vergüenza a la aceptación, de la falta de comprensión a una mayor conciencia”, dice Valarie Cunningham. Abrió una clínica de servicios de salud mental sin fines de lucro en 2003 para aumentar esa conciencia.

Longform Housing Solutions Mt. Zion senior housing project

The Lord will provide: Efforts underway to build affordable senior housing in Kalamazoo’s Northside

The $26 million housing project involves the construction of two, three-story buildings -- a 36,000-square-foot northern structure with 36 apartment units, and a 33,000-square-foot southern structure with 34 units. 

Longform On the Ground Battle Creek River Naturalization

A next step: $13 million grant carries river naturalization project forward in Battle Creek

Proponents of the removal of a concrete channel that contains the river in downtown Battle Creek no longer feel like they’re swimming against the current.

Longform VOY Kalamazoo Summer 2022 Mahdi Hassnawi

Voices of Youth: A look at youth mental health, an art project

For the summer 2022 Voices of Youth Mahdi Hassnawi’s expressed himself through artwork on the topics of youth mental health.

Longform On the Ground Kalamazoo  Playscape

Children turn out to romp as first phase of downtown Kalamazoo’s Nature Playscape opens

The Children’s Nature Playscape at Bronson Park project is dedicated to transforming reclaimed greenspace into a nature park in downtown Kalamazoo where it is expected to foster the cultural, emotional, intellectual, physical, social, and spiritual development of children and families.

Longform SWMi Journalism Collab Mental Wellness Peer Support

The power of hope, the power of peers in dealing with mental health care

Recovery Institute of Southwest Michigan, Inc. in Kalamazoo, is run entirely by peers. The nonprofit was established in 2006 on the peer support concept. All but one of the 16 staff members have all traveled the challenging path of recovery with various mental health and/or substance abuse issues and now they help others like themselves.   

Longform List image peer support

El poder de la esperanza, el poder de los pares en la atención a la salud mental

Recovery Institute of Southwest Michigan, Inc. en Kalamazoo, está dirigido en su totalidad por pares. La organización sin fines de lucro se estableció en 2006 con el concepto de apoyo entre pares. Todos menos uno de los 16 miembros del personal han recorrido el desafiante camino de la recuperación con varios problemas de salud mental y/o abuso de sustancias y ahora ayudan a otros como ellos.

Battle Creek

A call for foster families

There's a need for more foster care homes in Calhoun County, especially for youth who identify as LGBTQ+.  A mom who has fostered more than 30 children talks about why her family keeps opening their home. For the full story, click hereFor more stories, please visit here.
 
 

Kalamazoo

Home of her own

At one point, in a one-bedroom apartment on Vine Street Kathy White had seven kids living in that one-bedroom apartment. Her family members had nowhere else to live and so she took the in. After 50 years sharing her home with so many family members, she now has her own space. Many local residents double-up because the housing market makes it hard to find affordable housing.  Read the full story here. Read more stories here.