Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

On the Grand River

Last week I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the annual conference of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). BALLE is the national network that includes Dane Buy Local and one of my “jobs” is securing sponsorships here in the Madison area. I heard many passionate speakers who not only talked the talk about the importance of thinking local first when making purchasing, banking, and even investing decisions, but they have walked the walk over the years. 
A view of Grand Rapids from the Amway Grand Hotel where we stayed. 
An interesting part of the conference was a sustainable manufacturing tour. We visited the headquarters of Herman Miller and Haworth, two of the companies in what is now known at the “Furniture Capital” of office furniture manufacturing. Both companies put NOTHING in landfills these days – amazing stories of how they manage to repurpose, reuse, or recycle just about everything that is used in the furniture manufacturing process.
A green roof at Haworth that is planted with sedum. The roof keeps the building
underneath cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Excess water
runoff is directed to a rain garden. Employees tend the garden. 
Frank Lloyd Wright designed windows displayed at Haworth.
(It's always important to find a Wisconsin connection
no matter where I wander!)
I had some free time and managed to squeeze in a visit to the Gerald R. Ford Museum that was on the other side of the Grand River from our hotel. 

I learned that an attempt to restore the "rapids" in the Grand River has been in talks
for years, and now Grand Rapids Whitewater is working to do just that.
The organization hopes to restore 2 miles of the rapids and turn downtown
Grand Rapids into an outdoor hotspot for kayaks and fishing.

Looking for Wisconsin connections, I found this official
Green Bay Packers helmet in the exhibit that had been autographed
and presented to President Ford by team members.
 Where are the autographs? Maybe they've faded with time!
My colleagues, Lark and Leslie, and I checked out a local restaurant, the Electric Cheetah, for lunch one day. After a short stroll down the street, we ended up at Art of the Table, a unique specialty retail shop with gourmet foods, tabletop accessories, and home accents. The beer cooler at the back of the store was an original from the early days of the store. The store is located in Heritage Hill, one of the largest urban historic districts in the country. The district includes 1,300 homes that date from 1843 and represent Michigan’s finest collection of  19th and 20th century architecture.
The walls of the women's bathroom were "papered" with zig saw puzzles.
A return to Grand Rapids would be fun for Wisconsin Wanderers – lots to do and see in a city that’s right across the lake from Milwaukee!


  1. Check out the book Cradle to Cradle as the author worked with Herman Miller to develop the process and methods so that nothing gets sent to the landfill - it's a model for other businesses.

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