Get to know Grand Rapids (and the world)

GrandConversations is back, new and improved with a focus

Photo by Pat Evans

About a year ago, I ended what was one of the greatest writing streaks of my life. 

Five months of daily interviews turned into blog posts. It was supposed to be a year-long journey, but it wore on me. I began to struggle with my workload and writing abilities. The internal struggle led to a loss of the fire to continue. 

I meant to start it back up after a month, two months, three months…etc. Eventually my busyness overwhelmed those desires; increased responsibilities at the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Grand Rapids Magazine, a new position at the Mitten Brewing Co., various freelance opportunities and a book with TJ Duckett (still in progress…) all took their part of my time. 

But those five months did an enormous amount for me. It introduced me to a number people in Grand Rapids and helped me develop a well-connected network. It helped attract a book deal (on Grand Rapids beer. Which adds on to my already loaded plate.) 

Although my time is still filled up, I need a platform for my work. I’ve known this since I stopped, but it’s taken this much time to reinvent the website. As much of as I loved what it did, I need it to be of better quality.

The site won’t be updated as frequently, nor will it be just my work — it will be to start. A few friends, but mostly Matt Radick, will join my journey and provide photography for the venture.

It’s going to offer a better look at life, and why we live the way we do. It’s not going to stick to a certain format; Q&As, conversational essays, opinion pieces, and in-depth features will be included. There will be pictures. And each month will take a look at a different industry in Grand Rapids, with a occasional random subjects thrown in as they come my way.

This world of gotta-be-first, short blog-like posts and, so far, less than impressive data journalism has taken over the world, in a terrible way. 

Stories of people, places and industries are increasingly more difficult to find, even though the world is opening up with people doing crazy and innovative things.

This is where I’ll discover and share them. 

May is coffee month. (June is already in the works: music.)

Grand Rapids has an incredible coffee culture, and it’s only beginning to come to light, at least for me. The past six months, I’ve seen an incredible advancement of my palate as I’ve learned to stop,  taste and appreciate the various liquids taking over my life, be it coffee, beer, whiskey and even wine.

The first splash in a giant world of coffee was MadCap, one of the nation’s finest coffee roasters. Then Rowster Coffee. Between those two, my tastebuds and brain cells awoke to a new world, very similar to the one of beer I hold near and dear to my heart. 

Rowster-cup-1024x768

Photo by Damon Card

But those led to other discovers, like Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge, the true story behind Ferris Coffee & Nut, the hidden story of Schuil Coffee, my childhood stomping ground of Kava House and many more. 

The world of coffee is expansive and even the “experts” learn new pieces every day. But hopefully the relaunch of GrandConversations can help Grand Rapids (and the world) learn a little bit more. 

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