Feature Story Spring Lake's newly opened Tanglefoot Park features a universally accessible kayak launch. (Tyra Jonas/Spring Lake Village)

Accessibility to waterways becoming a priority in state and local parks

Recent projects in Spring Lake and Grand Rapids are examples of how accessibility to waterways is becoming a priority in state and local parks. Increasing accessibility is a priority for the state, which is providing grants for these projects.

Feature Story VOY Kalamazoo Poliicing

Voices of Youth: While some teens fear the police, veteran cop is hopeful relations can improve

That youth fear of police is one of the longtime consequences of criminalizing youth, of surveilling youth. Many schools have a police officer there. The idea is that they’re supposed to be keeping people safe. Even young people who’ve never personally had a negative interaction with law enforcement can be fearful, say those who study criminal justice.  

Feature Story Housing Solutions Princess Mackie

A Kalamazoo Realtor's little princess helps put kids and first-time buyers on path to their castles

When it comes to home buying a lot of people have no idea how to get started. To help change that, Kalamazoo Realtor Twala Lockett-Jones has authored a book that provides the steps necessary to buy a house in very simple terms. "I wanted to find a way to educate people at a younger age, especially people of color, about home ownership and the importance of home ownership," she says.

Feature Story On the Ground Battle Creek RISE expands

R.I.S.E. expands work to serve youth with financial support from W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The Kellogg Foundation says: "R.I.S.E.’s violence interruption strategy is grounded in a public health approach and is in alignment with the foundation’s closest held values of race equity, community engagement, and community-based leadership." 

Longform On the Ground Edison Peace Smoke

A 'Peace Smoke' in Edison brings a community to resources for healing from gun violence

The Gun Violence Resource and Resilience Rallies in Kalamazoo bring in people to learn about resources in not only prevention of gun violence, but to help those directly and indirectly impacted by it.

Longform On the Ground Battle Creek Kellogg Changes

Snap, crackle, split: Kellogg Co. divides into three. Officials predict 'no major impact' locally.

Kellogg says the spinoff of its North American cereal and plant-based foods businesses should be complete by the end of 2023. Both will continue to be based in Battle Creek.

Feature Story Many Michigan state parks adding off-road, electronic track chairs, available at no cost to visitors.

Making Michigan's beaches accessible to everyone

“It has been wonderful to hear the stories of families being able to enjoy the beaches and trails together for the first time. The stories go on and on,” says Michelle O'Kelly, coordinator for DNR Fund and Resource Development.  

Feature Story Jon Cauchi uses humor to raise awareness about living with a disaiblity. In this photo, Jon Cauchi is wearing a short sleeve light blue shirt. He is standing, holding his two thumbs up and smiling.

Jon Cauchi's stand-up comedy shares humor of his experiences as a person with a vision impairment

Jon Cauchi, who became blind at age 12, performs a comedy routine called “The Real and Funny Side of Having a Disability” that brought down the house during Laughfest in March 2020.

Longform On the Ground Kalamazoo Guys Who Give

Guys Who Give brings men together to support nonprofits' work in Kalamazoo and beyond

For the Guys Who Give in Kalamazoo County, the goal is to try to get 100 local guys, for one hour, once a quarter, to give $100, in an effort to give a $10,000 or more gift each quarter to the local community. Over the past two years, quarterly awards that have ranged from more than $13,000 to more than $16,000. 

Longform Mental Health Guns

Finding peace during war

In a city the size of Kalamazoo, with 76,000 residents, gun violence has hit record highs with numbers still small enough to feel personal: 13 people were shot to death in 2020 and 2021 respectively, up from four in 2018 and seven in 2019. Assaults with a firearm doubled from 211 in 2018 to 401 in 2021; there were already more than 92 through April this year. Public officials are ringing the alarm to quickly fix a problem decades in the making.

Longform Mental Health Gun Violence

Encontrando la Paz Durante la Guerra

En una ciudad del tamaño de Kalamazoo, con 76.000 habitantes, la violencia con armas de fuego ha alcanzado cifras históricas con números todavía lo suficientemente pequeños como para sentirse como algo personal: 13 personas fueron asesinadas a tiros en 2020 y 2021, respectivamente, frente a cuatro en 2018 y siete en 2019. Los asaltos con arma de fuego se duplicaron, pasando de 211 en 2018 a 401 en 2021; ya hubo más de 92 hasta abril de este año. Los funcionarios públicos están alertando para solucionar rápidamente un problema que lleva décadas gestándose.

Feature Story On the Ground Battle Creek We Read

We Read: Volunteers needed to read to children or have children read to them in Battle Creek program

For 19 years the We Read program in Battle Creek has been working with children who might not have someone at home to read to them or listen to them read. This year the program needs volunteers to keep those relationships growing.

Feature Story Voices of Youth Internet Overload Leland Wagner

Voices of Youth: How can Gen Z get reliable news?

Young people including some students at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo are among millions of teens who are confronted with an endless number of choices about where to get their news and information on a daily basis. The endless choices make it challenging to know if a site is credible or not. That makes them cautious when online.

Feature Story mental health list image

Opinion: Stop blaming mental illness for gun violence

With a very few and specific (and possibly debatable) exceptions, people with mental illness are no more likely to perpetrate violence than the general population. If anything, they are far more likely to be the victims of it. In the rare cases where violent behavior is elevated, the most likely victim is the person themself.

Feature Story SWMJ collab event list image

Community mental health conversation: Navigating COVID – What’s your new normal?

Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative, in collaboration with The Synergy Health Center and Integrated Services of Kalamazoo, will welcome community members to a Community Conversation.

Longform On the Ground Battle Creek Food Co-op

Food co-op in downtown Battle Creek will support local food growers and makers

The idea of a food co-op in downtown Battle Creek has been discussed for several years and now there is a demand for it given the growth of residential properties that are fully occupied with waiting lists.

Feature Story D&HHS Board President Rowan O’Dougherty speaks at the organization's capital campaign launch.

7 ways Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services pivoted during the pandemic

Responding to clients who were frustrated about missing out on critical COVID-19 information, staff at Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in Grand Rapids made changes to better serve them. 

Feature Story Porter Legacy Dunes

Hiking trails at Porter Legacy Dunes Preserve take a step forward with $100,000 grant

A recent contribution from Entergy-Palisades to the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy will enable the conservancy to design and develop trails on the property that enable visitors to safely see the spring wildflowers and enjoy spectacular views of Lake Michigan. 

Longform Voices of Youth Mental Health

Voices of Youth: Some Kalamazoo students still recovering from isolation of virtual school

A virtual school year proved difficult for both teachers and students. While teachers tried to connect, some students said they felt isolated at home. One solution is creating a safe classroom where teachers take an individualized approach to students’ mental health.

Longform Voices of Youth overview

Voices of Youth marks second year of empowering youth to offer solutions to issues affecting them

Voices of Youth lifts up the issues important to youth in our community. This year the youth wanted to report on transportation, youth mental health, and policing.

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.


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.