Category Archives: People in the Community

Getting to Know Mike Gallagher…

Mike is the Editor and co-founder of our local Newspaper, the Local Observer. We are working on a civics project to round out the school year (keep your eyes out for our newest adventure coming soon!) and we wanted to know more about how the press is involved in every day life in America.

We were impressed with how brave he is! It was hard to believe how daring reporters have to be and the lengths he goes to get the truth and all the perspectives of a story!! Until this week, we had no idea that a reporter is like a secret agent.

He has lived and worked in many places. We were happy to have had the chance to meet him! A special thanks to Mike for lunch and taking the time to talk with us about his job!

mike gallagher

Mud Lake Farm

As part of the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, Intriguing Conversations program, we attended a presentation on the Future of Farming where farmers Kris and Steve Van Haitsma from Mud Lake Farm in Hudsonville, Michigan presented how they are using technology to move small scale agriculture into the future while still maintaining a chemical and fossil fuel free farm!

We love how creative and resourceful farmers are (have to be!). One more vote for small scale, diversified farms!

These were the Graphic Recordings I created during the hour long presentation:

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Personal Energy Transportation!

This week, we went for a business tour to the West Michigan branch of an organization named Mobility Worldwide that makes wheelchair-like carts for disabled adults and children in areas around the world.

The first thing we saw when we came in to the building was the newer and older versions of the PET carts which were sitting next to the door as we entered the building. The original cart wasn’t as durable as the new design and it was smaller and less comfortable, which isn’t good for someone sitting in it all the time. The newer design had high-tech foam on the seat {instead of wood} which is usually used for medical purposes and the back of the seat is a new stretchy kind of fabric. A cover was added for safety around the gear chain and he handles are now easier to pedal. {we know so because we tried one… WOW that is so fun to pedal around (Eventhough I don’t look very happy in the picture!}! Anyways, so many improvements!!!

We also saw the workshop where the carts are handmade, and saw some people in action! All of the volunteers who work there are retired, {what a good way to spend your retirement!} And there’s no measuring involved when putting together a PET cart, thanks to the great planning and fixturing that has been designed to help them. It comes down to a whole lot of cutting, painting, packing and fun!

Just to let all of you charity givers out there know, you can in fact donate to the company, the cost of each cart is $300. That actual cost, since the people building it volunteer, and so many of the parts and processes (powder coating, for example) are donated.  Each member of our family put money together so we could make a donation to this amazing project. And guess what? If you sponsor an entire cart, they will custom make a plaque on the back of the cart with YOUR name or someone who you would like to honor or commemorate! Isn’t that cool!!

We loved seeing the work they do there! A special thank you to Dr. Dale Dykema who did such an excellent job explaining the process to us and to Mr. Gary Wallace who helped figure out the tech issues with the video & projector :0)! Thank you for having us!!


This is the original PET.
This PET has new modifications to make it safer, more durable and much more comfortable!


One of the super happy PET recipients!!





We the People…

Two days ago, I was teaching the girls about crowd sourcing and exponential numbers of populations, money & projects. To better explain it through an example they could relate to, I took the girls on a tour of Kickstarter. Based on a crowd funding model, it was a perfect example of asking like-minded people to support often a ton of work to get an idea off the ground and connect with those who want to be part of it. The challenge is usually, how to get your message or idea out among all the other ones trying to do the same.

We happened across this project that we think is INCREDIBLE. Please do check it out today.  They have 5 days left before it ends… before the inauguration. We backed this project and feel, for the first time in a while, that by doing so we have a voice to help support diversity. The fact that it is through beautifully created art, makes it all the more meaningful to us. We backed it end of the day Wednesday. We were number 637. There are now almost 5,000 people supporting this project. This was the lesson in exponential numbers. The more people that know about it, the farther and faster it spreads.

In our household, we aren’t particularuly political. We believe this is a COMPLETELY non-partisan issue. It is an issue of what this country means when it says, “We the People…” Here at Water Street, we believe that means ALL the people.


The Great Thanksgiving Banquet!

Every year a great Thanksgiving banquet is put together for people in the Holland, Michigan area by the Holland Rescue Mission. Over the years it keeps growing and this was the first year we were able to volunteer and we were quite SURPRISED to learn what a massive undertaking it is! The Banquet is open to those who can’t afford a dinner of their own, or those who are alone and haven’t any place to go for a Thanksgiving meal.

We arrived at the HOPE College Field House stunned to see enough seating for 1,500 people. ONE THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED! Tables as far as the eye could see in each direction! It was so well orchestrated by Anna Southwell and the HRM staff, within just a few short hours, everything was set up, laid out and decorated for the guests that would arrive later that evening. Community members donated desserts and there was a line of volunteers slicing, boxing, and stacking them for others (like us) to place at each seat. There were crafts on each table, crayons for kids, snacks and centerpieces. Volunteers from the Holland Fire Department came to help, it was the most firemen we had ever been around in one place!!

Set up was full of life and levity – fast and efficient – each of us happy to be contributing to the greater good of the community. It was really fun to be part of and made us all the more grateful for what we have. Some quick stats (hoping I get these right!!) to feed that many people – 140 turkeys, 500 pounds of potatoes, a cooking staff working a week in advance to prepare. The meal is ‘free’ for the visitors, but better than a meal, it makes a larger community of people into family for one day – differences aside for the sake of gratitude.

Local churches created care boxes for each household filled with cleaning supplies and household products. over 500 boxes created and decorated by kids. Truly amazing. Countless cheers for the staff, people and organizations that came together for such an auspicious event!






Toys for Tots…

This is the season when you can start seeing the Toys for Tots white and red boxes at places around communities. In our home, each year, we pool our money, and come up with a total amount we can spend to donate toys to less fortunate kiddos. With pen, paper and calculators in hand, we head out to find the best and most toys we can for the money we have. The goal is not only to stay on budget, find items that seem like good quality and interesting, but also to imagine it being out of the fancy packaging and see what are you left with… some of the packaging is so enticing, that in the store it seems impressive, but once it is taken out, it feels like most of the excitement was the packaging. A good lesson in marketing!

This is what we were able to purchase for $108… it was fun to find things on clearance and we were excited that we were only $1.22 cents over budget when we got through the checkout! We went directly to the drop off site and happily unloaded the toys. What an incredible organization and it is amazing to see how many volunteers and donations it takes to make so many people’s holiday a little bit brighter!


We thought this was a cool inside look at a Toys for Tots warehouse and how many toys end up in just this one location!

Simply Paper…

We recently had the chance to visit Krista Reuter’s Studio and learn about her incredible work. The last 3 photos below were taken from her website. You should check it out at the link above!

Krista shows and sells her work around the country in galleries and I think, online. In her beautiful home, she has a well lit studio where she creates and frames her artwork. Her first pieces were cut outs from thin sheets of paper and then thicker and thicker. She has hundreds of different tools and techniques that she uses to make small details [as an example, stippling and dotting, sewing] so when you look at the picture from far away, it looks very different that when you move into investigate. Layering the paper away from each other casts shadows and changes the artwork as light in the space shifts throughout the day. It is cool to see how a flat piece of paper can become so dimensional!

As an aside, we were amazed how clean and WHITE everything must remain through the process of creating it. One slip of the xacto knife or a surprising drop of a pen, could ruin endless hours of hard work!! That is SO COMPLETELY different from our own workspaces where everything is everywhere and color finds its way on to the strangest things :0)

It was a very inspiring tour. From the colors she incorporates to the paper she uses, she has thought of everything to make it look as awesome as it can get! A special thank you to Krista for having us over to see your work in action!!