Category Archives: People in the Community

The Great Banquet!

As you might remember from a post a while back, we volunteered again at the Holland Rescue Mission’s Great Banquet the day before Thanksgiving. Families young and old, students, police and firemen were on the scene to help set up tables and centerpieces, food and desserts for over 1,500 people that were treated to a full Thanksgiving feast free of charge. It takes hundreds of volunteers to set up, prepare and plan for this annual event! It was such a welcoming environment and so well organized. Every detail was attended to from small crafts at each table to care boxes that community members donated for any family who needed household supplies to take home.

This year, we were dessert cutters and packers and helped set up tables and condiments. We are honored to have been part of such an auspicious event!!

Stay tuned for our post on our own Thanksgiving extravaganza!


Going Back in Time to 1874…

We love period clothing and design! We always think of it as a simpler time. No iPads or general distractions like we have now. For an afternoon last week we got the chance to experience a glimpse of what that might have felt like by visiting the Cappon House and also a Settlers home, both in Holland, Michigan.  Some of what we saw was exactly as we imagined in our mind, much was so, so different.

The Cappon House – 1874. Built by Issac Cappon, first Mayor of Holland, Michigan. He had 11 children with his first wife and after his first wife died, he married one of his housekeeper and had an additional 5 children, which in my opinion is very impressive! We took a tour through to house, visiting many of the rooms which had been restored to mach the original home in 1900. Most of the furnishings and objects were original to the house! The last daughter to live in the home had the top floor (attic) filled to the rafters with belongings from her family. (I think the docent used the word hoarder – that’s a little hard to imagine isn’t it?)

On the second floor we saw the “play room” it was cool to see but the dolls, in there were certainly not our idea of joyful – they felt uncomfortably terrifying at the thought of playing with them! One of the things we got to see were the first hair clippings from the youngest boy of the second marriage. They were so pristine it looked like they’d been chopped off yesterday, except they were about 150 years old!! We were very happy to have been able to go in something so old but so pretty…. now on the Settler’s House which is 5 homes down from the Capon residence.

The Settlers House. This one tiny space housed 5 children, and their parents. It was a startling contrast to the Cappon house we had just left. It had one main floor and a small loft which was not stable enough to have tour groups go up to. That was OK with us… There was enough to imagine in that main part of the home. There were painted wooden floors with extremely rustic wallpaper and a kitchen that consisted of a small stove. Following the 5 minute tour of this house, we heard a terribly depressing story about the Morsley family – people who actually lived there and who had a life filled with suffering, sickness and untimely deaths of the father and 2 of the 5 children. It was hard to be in that space knowing what a difficult life they had in that exact place. A very different environment than the Cappon house, just 5 doors down.

After that trip to these historic homes, we are ever more grateful for our lucky lives here in Douglas!!


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Sending Messages through Flight…

Imagine this…. 500 carrier pigeons in one place. Near a corn field. Raised and raced by a lovely man by the name of Reed. Now imagine that once they are born in that location, they will forever be able to find their way back after they are about 6 weeks old. Drive the one of the birds south to Georgia 600 miles and once released, it will appear in that same backyard in Michigan where it hatched. Crazy, right?

We had the lucky chance to visit this magical place! While we were there, we saw hundreds of birds both flying and in very spacious houses, experienced holding birds that were born that day to pigeons that were adults! It was soooo cool! We also watched Reed put bands on the freshly hatched chicks (5 days old) that will stay on their leg permanently.  Any older and the bands wouldn’t fit. Before we left that peaceful place, we took a pit stop in his garage to see some racing birds that evidently can do some pretty cool flips and dives in the air!

How do they bring messages back and forth, you ask? Well, they only fly home, not back and forth. We learned that carrier pigeons were exchanged in boxes long ago (and can still be used this way today if you don’t have email ;0) ) between 2 people or communities. Each person would take the other persons bird(s) home with them and wait until they needed to send a message. Then they would attach a message to its leg and release the bird and, you guessed it, home it flew – to it’s original birth place. It really is INCREDIBLE!

A special thank you to Reed for sharing his lifelong hobby of raising carrier pigeons. For a family of birders this was a super exciting opportunity we won’t forget!!


it may not look like it in the photo, but those coops are very luxurious!


See all of  the black on his chest?  Thats all food.  Someone’s being fed very well!


This little guy had just hatched within 24 hours of us meeting it. SO tiny!!!


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!

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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.