Back to School: Free college with The Kalamazoo Promise

The Promise Starts Here by Ed Roth
The Promise Starts Here by Ed Roth

Quite simply, The Kalamazoo Promise is a scholarship offered to every Kalamazoo Public School student. Depending on the time in the district and income level of the family, students may earn up to 100% tuition at any public State of Michigan university or community college.

You can get an update on how the Kalamazoo Promise is working you can check out ‘Promise’ helping hurting Michigan economy from USA Today. They also have another article about how the Kalamazoo Promise has spawned other free college programs across the country. One of these programs is located in the village of Northport, Michigan: The Northport Promise.

If you want to really geek out on how the program is impacting Kalamazoo, click over to The Upjohn Institute’s Kalamazoo Promise page with research and articles that explore the impact of the Promise. You can get a great historical picture of the program from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Below you can watch an episode from Katie Couric’s The American Spirit on the Kalamazoo Promise. The episode (from February 2007) refers to a plan to create a “Michigan Promise”. State Sen. Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland) discusses Michigan Promise legislation currently being considered in this editorial.

What can (and should) we in Michigan do to help students prepare for the challenges of the 21st century in this era of spiraling education costs? Let us know in the comments!

Dig Michigan: Kalamazoo Region

Situated approximately half way between Detroit and Chicago and home to Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo is the second of Michigan’s regions that we are exploring this month. Our goal with this series of articles is to give you a little taste of some great vacation opportunities that are probably less than a tank of gas away, so if you have suggestions or questions about visiting the area, we’d love it if you would share them in the comments

july 20 station

A Brief History
Through Discover Kalamazoo we learn that Kalamazoo County began as a small fur-trading post founded by Titus Bronson in the late 1700s. Like many Michigan cities, Kalamazoo’s name was adapted from an Indian word, “kikalamazoo,” meaning boiling water. Water has long been a vital component in Kalamazoo’s major industries including papermaking and agriculture which have helped the area grow and prosper.

Some of the many famous products manufactured in Kalamazoo include Checker Cabs, Gibson guitars, Kalamazoo Stoves, Stryker hospital beds and Shakespeare fishing rods and reels. In the late 1800s, W. E. Upjohn moved to Kalamazoo and created The Upjohn Company, which is now part of Pfizer Corporation, the world ‘s largest pharmaceutical company.

Recently Kalamazoo has made national news with the Kalamazoo Promise which provides a scholarship to every Kalamazoo Public School student. It has served as a catalyst and an inspiration throughout Michigan, the United States and even the international community.

Culinary Delights
Once know as ‘Celery City‘, Kalamazoo was once was noted for celery and bedding plants. To this day the surrounding countryside still continues to produce significant quantities of farm crops of which can be found at one of the many area farmers markets and u-pick farms. Like other regions in Michigan the Kalamazoo area has become home to the burgeoning wine industry. The Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail hugs the southeast shore of Lake Michigan, extending from the Michigan-Indiana border north 70 miles to the Kalamazoo River. The Kalamazoo area also is home to several micro-breweries such as Aradia brewing Co in Battle Creek and the granddaddy of them all Bell’s Brewery. Other notable food producers include Tree-Mendus Fruit which is home of the world famous International Cherry Pit Spitting Championship, the A.M. Todd Company which is a leading producer of peppermint oil and their offshoot Kalsec which produces spice, herb, hop, and vegetable extracts. Just a few of the great restaurants in the area include Zazios which features an interactive dining experience, the Epic Bistro, Food Dance, Tello Wine Bar and the historic Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub.

Kalamazoo and surrounding areas, in pictures
The photo above is titled july 20 station taken by Kathie Gibson aka noearlybird and is part of the Kalamazoo flickr pool. The location of the photo is the new Kalamazoo Transportation Center. Also check out Kathie’s shots of Binder Park Zoo in nearby Battle Creek. In addition to Kalamazoo, some other areas you may want check out include, South Haven, St. Joseph, Battle Creek and Saugatuck.

South Haven Pier by the kcephoto
South Haven Pier by the kcephoto

But what is there to DO in Kalamazoo?
Known as the land of rolling hills and numerous lakes it is the cities that bring rich and diverse community culture to the Kalamazoo region. This area of Michigan is packed with must see attractions, abundant recreation and unique shopping experiences for everyone. In the summer months the beautiful inland lakes and the the Lake Michigan shoreline towns of St. Joseph, South Haven and Saugatuck are popular destinations. Other notable outdoor hotspots include the Kal-Haven Trail State Park, which is a 34.5 mile linear Kal-Haven Trail State Park extends from South Haven, on the shores of Lake Michigan, to the northwest suburbs of the City of Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Watershed Heritage Water Trail and Warren Dunes State Park. There is also plenty to do year around such as the Air Zoo, the Gilmore Car Museum, the #1 in the nation rated Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kalamazoo Valley Museum, the Binder Park Zoo, the American Museum of Magic and the expansive Fort Custer Recreation Area.

Where do I go for more?
You can dig deeper through Absolute Michigan by checking out Absolute Michigan county pages for St. Joseph , Kalamazoo, Cass, Barry, Van Buren, Allegan, Calhoun & Branch and also try the pages for Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, South Haven and many other towns that you can see on the Absolute Michigan Map of Michigan. Of course there are tons of other web sites with useful information. Some of our favorites are the The City of Kalamazoo, South Haven Visitors Bureau, St. Joseph Today and Battle Creek Play for Keeps.

Road Trip: 2008 World Disc Golf Championships; August 8 – 16

From August 8th through the 16th, 2008, Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Michigan will be hosting the biggest Disc Golf event to date, The 2008 Professional and Amateur World Championships, crowning the best disc golfers from around the world in one location.

The World Championships will invite over 1000 participants from all over the world to come to Kalamazoo and Battle Creek for the biggest Disc Golf event seen to date. The Worlds is a revolving tournament, visiting only the most desired disc golf locales in the country for one week a year.

About Disc Golf
Disc golf began on the west coast in 1976 by the father of the disc golf, “Steady Ed” Headrick. He took the principles of Ball Golf and applied it to his passion for playing frisbee, changing the simple plastic disc into a physical, mental, and social game for all ages to enjoy. The object of Disc Golf is to complete a hole, starting at a teeing location (teebox) and finishing at the target (polehole or basket), an above ground version of the ball golf green and cup. Just as in ball golf, the least amount of strokes is desired and shooting par or under is the goal.

The sport grew because of the dedication of the few involved at inception and with the help of the Professional Disc Golf Association (www.pdga.com), the sport is exploding due to the over 1000 courses around the country and the challenge that each hole provides.

Disc golf is a relatively inexpensive sport as equipment costs are low and most courses are free to play. Mixed with the mental game of ball golf and the easy learning curve, most beginners will be making pars by the end of their first round. However, to be a World Champion, it takes mental prowess, dedication, and a love for the sport much like our sport professional heroes.

Visit the 2008 Disc Golf World Championships website for complete details!

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Road Trip: Air Zoo – Kalamazoo

p39 by scherbis

The Air Zoo is a highly charged, multi-sensory atmosphere that goes beyond anything you’ve ever seen. Everything is designed to help you achieve the total flight experience.

The Air Zoo is divided up into three campuses:

Main Campus
Their Main Campus is the newest building on the Air Zoo grounds. It is home to a fleet of full-motion flight simulators, a breathtaking 4-D theater and indoor amusement park rides. All framed by the world’s largest indoor mural.

East Campus
The incredible Air Zoo had its beginnings in the building that is now their East Campus. Just a short walk from the new facility, a tour of the East Campus is included in the price of a regular Air Zoo admission. It is home to a multitude of aircraft and the Michigan Space Science Center.

North Campus
The talented craftspeople working in their Restoration Center breathe new life into aviation relics. Many rare, historic aircraft and space artifacts are also housed in this facility.

Tours of the North Campus are available beginning on Saturday, June 7. There is a $3 fee for the tour, and participants must be 16 years or older.

Helpful Tip:
Purchase tickets online and save 15%!

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Proton Beam Group, Attacked by a lamp post

 Attacked by a lamp post (150)  by caterpillars

There’s pretty much zero chance that I’m NOT going to post a link to an article titled “Proton beam group forms“. More here.

The photo is Attacked by a lamp post (150) by caterpillars. It’s part of her Detroit show. Yow.

Five things you need to know for Thursday, March 27, 2008

Five Things You Need to Know About MichiganWelcome to a special Michigan Homes & Real Estate edition of Five Things you need to know about Michigan. Before I dive in I wanted to say a little something about our month themes. We got the word that a) you like them but b) you would like them to be not so loud so c) we’re listening and turning it down a little while d) continuing to develop this kind of thing. There should probably be an “e” in there to keep the Number 2 pencils sharp, so I’ll add e) keep the comments coming!

 Detroit Riverwalk at Sunset #2 by epeoples
Detroit Riverwalk at Sunset #2 by epeoples

The Sweet 16 of Detroit’s Development Scene

Model D got into the March Madness Mood with 16 Sweet Developments in Detroit. The feature lists some great projects like RiverWalk, Hatch HQ, Dequindre Cut and the Tiger Stadium redevelopment and also general trends like better food, a facelift for the arts and Open City, an informal networking group in which business ownders share tips about real estate, start-up financing, marketing and other thorny issues with folks starting businesses. One thing is clear – there’s an energy in the D that can’t help but benefit the city and the rest of the state.

Mortgage Crisis Hits Hard in Michigan…

It’s probably a surprise to nobody that Michigan is near the top (#6, see Freep article) in real estate foreclosures. While 75% of foreclosed homes are located in southeast Michigan (according to WZZM, Grand Rapids), the effects of the mortgage crisis are dropping home values statewide (Gaylord Herald Times, WOOD-TV Grand Rapids), making it difficult to sell even “dream homes” up north (Detroit News) and even tightening commercial credit (mLive).

Commercial Real Estate Hit too … by the Legislature

When residential markets collapse, commercial buyers often move in and soften the impact by buying foreclosed properties. The Kalamazoo Gazette’s business writer Alex Nixon has an informative (though depressing) look at how Michigan’s new business tax is imposing 200% or greater tax increases on commercial real estate. While it makes some sense due to the fact that the old SBT was payroll based, it is proving challenging to many in the industry. (thanks to Real Estate Bloggers for the tip)

So Where’s the Silver Lining?

One of the things that we always try to do is find the good in the news. While the whole homes & real estate picture is pretty gloomy, here’s a couple of thoughts. One is that while the drop in real estate value is bad for home owners, those who are seeking to buy are – when they can get credit – finding good value in Michigan. Many of those are young families, something that might help stem our population loss over the long haul. A second is that the difficulties are forcing Michigan to take the lead in confronting the foreclosure tide that is rising all across the nation. Whether our political leaders and institutions can rise to the challenge is an open question, but it seems to me that items like this bill aimed at providing transition loans for ARM holders through the Michigan Housing Development Authority are a step in the right direction.

Detroit Riverwalk at Sunset

Detroit Riverwalk at Sunset #2 by epeoples is one of a number found in a search for riverwalk in the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr. Many are from the Detroit Riverwalk, and all show something that is another amazing thing about making Michigan your home: the magic of our water.

Michigan Neighborhoods: Kalamazoo’s Historic District

Henderson Castle, Effets de Neige
by John Clement Howe

The homes in the neighborhoods of Stuart, West Main Hill and South Street in Kalamazoo reflect both the individuality and also the economic status of their original owners. There are a variety of architectural styles examples here from the the turn of the century. The most popular of these are Queen Anne and Renaissance style, but there are Italian, Gothic and Greek influences as well.

The Henderson Park neighborhood was platted by Frank Henderson, who took advantage of Kalamazoo’s topography by rejecting a typical grid pattern in favor of curving, tree-lined streets and deep setbacks. The Kalamazoo Public Library’s excellent Kalamazoo Local History section features articles and photos of many of the homes. The Henderson Castle feature says in part:

The Queen Anne style house–always called “The Castle” by local residents because of its ornate style and imposing hilltop location–was designed by C. A. Gombert of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and cost $72,000 to build. With seven baths, a thirteen-head shower, an elevator, a third-floor ballroom, and a hot tub on the roof (added later) the 25-room castle exemplifies high society and expensive tastes. The castle’s exterior is made of Lake Superior sandstone and brick, and the interior wood includes mahogany, bird’s eye maple, quartered oak, birch, and sycamore.

John Clement Howe has a great set of photos of the historic district in Kalamazoo (slideshow). The city has many sites on the national, state and local historic registers and you can get a walking tour map from the Kalamazoo County Convention & Visitors Bureau – call (269) 381-4003.

If you’re looking for a rental, check out the Kalamazoo Area Rental Housing Association. If a home purchase is in your plans, try the Greater Kalamazoo Association of REALTORS ®.

Check out more Michigan Neighborhoods from Absolute Michigan

Michigan Restaurants: Saffron in Kalamazoo

Saffron in Kalamazoo

Saffron in Kalamazoo features authentic Northwest frontier Indian Cuisine with items including Samosas, Tandoori-Sensational Chicken, Shrimp Karahi Masala, Lamb Jhalfrazi and a blistering Vegetable Vindaloo. Sides like clay-oven baked Tandoori Breads and Ralta complete your meal and they’ll prepare your meal to suit your palate: mild, medium or hot.

They do catering and have a great page with information about spices used in Indian cooking from which we got the pictures to the right!

Fall Color Tours: Lansing – Grand Ledge – Hastings – Battle Creek – Eaton Rapids

maplepath by Aunt Owwee

Our next fall color tour from Travel Michigan, Lansing – Grand Ledge – Hastings – Battle Creek – Eaton Rapids, starts where the photo the the right (maplepath by Aunt Owwee) was taken: at the Fenner Nature Center in Lansing (once known as the Fenner Arboretum). The park is named after biologist Carl G. Fenner and has 130 acres with 4 miles of trails winding through maple groves, pine forests, swamp forests, old fields and 3 different ponds. This weekend (Oct 20 & 21) they’re having an Apple Butter Festival. Aunt Owwee (Shirl) has a cool four seasons view from here and lot more great shots of autumn in Michigan.If you’ve got the nature center bug, you can stop at the Woldumar Nature Center, located along the Grand River not far southwest of Lansing. From there, it’s north on M-43 to Grand Ledge. Fitzgerald Park aka “The Ledges” are absolutely gorgeous in the fall, as evidenced by this photo from Rein Nomm of Fall at the Ledges that appeared last year on Michigan in Pictures. Not convinced? Search fall at Grand Ledge on Flickr. Last weekend, the city of Grand Ledge held their annual Color Cruise, but there’s still plenty of color to be found.

Thornapple River by hansendmThen it’s on to Hastings and Historic Charlton Park, a re-creation of a 19th century town. The structures are open only Memorial Day to Labor Day but you can certainly enjoy strolling along the river. For a little more exercise, jump on the non-motorized vehicle only Paul Henry – Thornapple Trail (see photos of the trail on Flickr). When complete, the trail will be a 42-mile route from Grand Rapids to Vermontville. The photo to the right of the Thornapple River was taken by hansendm.

The it’s on to Gull Lake and the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary is one of the North America’s pioneer wildlife conservation centers and offers a chance to see birds in the wild, bird displays and birds of prey enclosures featuring rare and common raptors including a bald eagle, red-tailed hawks and eastern screech owl.

Travel Michigan suggests a possible detour to the Fort Custer Recreation Area, located between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. It features three lakes, the Kalamazoo River and an excellent trail system that includes 16 miles of mountain bike trails. The 3000+ acre area was farmland that was acquired by the federal government to establish Camp Custer, an induction and military training center for the US Army during WWII.

If it’s raining or all this outdoor stuff doesn’t sound fun, consider stopping at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners which features almost 200 vehicles spanning over 100 years of automotive heritage from a 1899 Locomobile to the muscle cars of the 60s and 70s.

Kalamazoo river from the Nature Center bridge by cathieContinuing south, we come to the city of Battle Creek where recommended stops include the Sojourner Truth Monument, Binder Park Zoo, the Leila Arboretum and Children’s Garden and the Battle Creek Linear Park. The park is a walkable, bikeable and billed as “the world’s largest classroom,” featuring signs that tell about plant, animal, cultural and historical points-of-interest along the park.

If you’re hungry as you head out on Old 27, consider Cornwell’s Turkey House aka Turkeyville USA in the town of Marshall. In addition to being a shopping mecca, Marshall’s downtown is designated as a National Historic Landmark District and features a wealth of historic attractions including the American Museum of Magic.

The photo to the right is of the Kalamazoo river from the Nature Center bridge by cathie and it’s just one of the places you can stop as you ease on down the road back to Lansing through the towns of Albion, Springport & Eaton Rapids. They recommend a stop at The English Inn of Eaton Rapids for dinner. Having eaten there before, I can only say “got room for another?”

Just so it’s clear, these fall color tour entries are produced by Absolute Michigan & Michigan in Pictures using the great information compiled in Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours as a starting point. We’re trying to add to what they’ve put together – not rip them off! As always, if you have links to information or photos that we missed, comments or reports, post them in the comments below!

Don’t miss our Michigan Fall Wallpaper series and see more of Travel Michigan’s Fall Color Tours.

Dance your way through Kalamazoo videos

Train to Kalamazoo by P4T

We’ve been slacking a bit in stocking our Absolute Michigan station on chime.tv, but our video team has just unveiled a veritable videographic Kalamazooapalooza (see also Kalamazoo, Michigan photos on Michigan in Pictures).

We have an EDC style tour of Kalamazoo from Southwest Michigan First, Katie Couric looking at the Kalamazoo Promise, a promo for the Air Zoo (airzoo.com), a trip to Whitford and Lawler Lakes (one of MANY available from kzoolakes.com) and the Glenn Miller Band doing I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo.

And finally, to those who say there’s nothing new under the sun, I point to the video short This Is Kalamazoo by Angeletti Pictures and featuring the dancers of the Ballet Arts Ensemble of Kalamazoo. It’s currently featured on our Absolute Michigan channel on chime.tv and I have to say that after watching this, I’m ready for a road trip!

You can find information on all this and lots more at Absolute Michigan keyword Kalamazoo.