Day One: Kalamazoo, Michigan
One could say it was our first stop, but Kalamazoo was really our first “Start.” Kyle took the morning train in from Chicago, while Emily picked me up at the farm and we drove in together. The first stop was the Amtrak station to turn our reservations into tickets. The nerves of ticketing thirty-five days of travel were palpable and a surreal start to the day. We were jumping in with both feet, with a full, three interview day lined up.
We started in Kalamazoo because it lined up well on the map. It’s a good pivot on the “94 Corridor” that mirrors the train lines across Southern Michigan and connects Chicago to Detroit. It was also significant, because it’s where my life in Michigan began two decades ago. There was an “old home week” sort of feel, as I connected to some longtime friends and mentors. I figured it would be a good starting point to work through any nerves or equipment glitches and find our stride amongst some trusted supporters. This turned out to be a really good idea, as the first day with my new wireless lavalier microphones did include some technical difficulties and with the accompanying anxiety.
After three successful interviews, we grabbed a late dinner, before heading to the train. A mis-entry in our calendar had us arrive at the Amtrak station only moments before we heard the train whistle from the West. I suppose it served as a field test to see how fast we could move fully “geared-up.” We each had a suitcase, an equipment pack and a backpack of some sort. We boarded our first shared train car, breathing hard, but laughing, following a calamitous run around the station and straight to the boarding platform with only seconds to spare.
Julie Stanley, Owner, Food Dance
The third time was the charm for Julie. After starting two businesses prior, she founded Food Dance in 1994 with the ‘simple’ idea that “Eating well, just makes life better.” She’s a multi-tasking, multi-talented, creative force who enjoys watching staff grow and Food Dance become greater than the sum of its parts. For decades, she has worked hard to bring connection between farms and people and the region’s food options are better for her efforts.
Photo Gallery - Food Dance
TCN 19: Victor Vague - Photographer - Vague International
TCN 19 - Victor Vague is a wet plate photographer in Kalamazoo, MI. This episode takes us back to Day one, and interview number two. Kyle and I met Victor at Earthwork Harvest Gathering 2016. Within seconds of talking to Victor, we could feel that he was the real deal; this was something genuine and something we should experience.
Victor's knowledge and passion for his craft showed through so clearly that it was natural to think of him when we started to put our short list of makers together. We had just left Food Dance after a lovely talk and lunch with Julie, and met Victor in his basement studio on the East side of town.
Victor Vague, Vague International
Victor Vague found his persona and appreciation for photography through the lens of vintage clothing and Etsy entrepreneurialism. His connection deepened as he was inspired to learn the old-school methods of wet-plate photography. He creates liquid film through chemistry, which coats the metal plate, now sensitized to light, and sets up for a single shot, with manually timed exposure of a few seconds or more.
Photo Gallery - Victor Vague
Kara Aubin, Artist, Owner, Kara | Daniel Jewelry
Daniel Juzwiak, Artist, Owner, Kara | Daniel Jewelry
Kara and Daniel have combined their world views, their eye for aesthetics and their soft-spoken creativity into a remarkable jewelry studio. They blend techniques from many eras, innovating through technology as well as simplicity. They pay close attention to materials and sourcing, including fair-mined, ethically sound sources that contribute to their communities, and exhibit stunning natural beauty.