Green Scene

September 9, 2005
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Despite the pioneering efforts of West Michigan’s green building and sustainable business community, of which there is legion, the national green community has largely overlooked the region.

Whether it be green cities, green buildings or green giants, the area has been left off every list and ranking.  Until now.

In its latest issue, The Green Guide named The Goodwillie Environmental School in Ada as one of the nation’s Top 10 Green Schools.

Now others can be green with envy.

  • For all those lost Kevheads still running around out there, your time has finally come. Radio personality Kevin Matthews, along with his alter ego Jim Shorts, is back in Grand Rapids.

When Matthews left WLAV 97 FM in 1986 for greener pastures on the other side of Lake Michigan, his show dominated the airwaves and was ranked first in the region. It had taken him roughly five years to conquer West Michigan radio — a quarter of his tenure in the Chicago market — leaving behind a reputation that sustained through at least a half dozen generations of radio.

“Kevin has been a legend in Grand Rapids radio even in the 20 years he has been gone,” said Matt Hanlon, president of the Michigan region of Citadel Broadcasting Co., which owns WLAV and 22 other Michigan stations. “There is nothing greater than to bring this type of major market talent back to a continuously growing area.”

The Kevin Matthews Show began broadcasting live on WLAV 97 FM this morning from 5:30 to 10 a.m. The previous morning anchor, WLAV’s vice president of brand development and Matthews’ college roommate, Tony Gates, was bumped to midday.

From Matthews, the move back home — where he attended Grand Valley State University and met his wife, Deb — sounds a little like a step toward retirement.

“Chicago has been the foundation of who I am, where I raised my family and thousands of great friends and fans, but this is an opportunity to get close to mine and Deb’s families, while we live this next chapter of our lives,” he said.

Matthews also has assumed the role of director of station development.

Shorts’ responsibilities are still up in the air.

  • Here’s our obligatory mention of the Wayland casino: Gun Lake Tribe chairman and veteran Red Cross volunteer D.K. Sprague was deployed last week as part of the Hurricane Katrina response team. He readily admits that the majority of his role is paperwork, but this marks his 15th national disaster, and no matter what side of the casino debate you’re on, that’s an accomplishment.

  • On the subject of the Hurricane Katrina response, West Michigan has answered the call in droves. This page isn’t large enough to list all the companies and individuals volunteering, donating, and otherwise contributing to relief efforts. However, starting today, the Business Journal’s online edition, www.grbj.com, will make an effort to do so with a daily summary of local efforts.

To be included, send a brief description to GRBJKatrina@gmail.com

  • Not mentioned in this week’s article on conventions displaced by the disaster (see story, page 1) is that SMG, the Pennsylvania-based management company for DeVos Place and the Van Andel Arena, also manages the Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans Arena and Pontchartrain Center in New Orleans, as well as the refugee-filled Reliant Astrodome in Houston.

“We have a very strong presence in the Gulf Coast,” said local SMG General Manager Rich McKeigan. “A lot of our corporate efforts are geared for refugees and dealing with employees.”

  • Also concerning Hurricane Katrina, Eolas Technologies Inc., a Chicago-area Internet technology firm best known for its long-running patent suit against Microsoft Corp. (which, by the way, is basically a patent on all animated and interactive online applications — root for Microsoft), has released Muze 1.0 Hurricane Relief Edition.

The company will donate 60 percent of profits to relief efforts, meaning it will keep 40 percent.

“We’re not a wealthy company, but sometimes events happen that make you put things into proper perspective. Hurricane Katrina did that for us. We knew that we had to help in some way, and we decided that doing what we do best, making new kinds of software, would be the most effective way we could contribute to the effort,” said Eolas founder, CEO and (somewhat distasteful) marketing genius Michael Doyle

If any company is looking for a surefire way to get slammed on this page next week, follow Doyle’s lead and work a national emergency into your promotional efforts.

  • Next Monday, Sept. 19, the Grand Rapids Jaycees and WKTV, in partnership with the Wyoming-Kentwood Chamber of Commerce, will host The Festival of Chefs at WKTV in Wyoming.

At only $15 a ticket, the event features an all star line-up: Master Chef Josef Huber of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel; Pastry Chef Amy Sherman of Two Chicks and an Oven; Chef Oliver Hale of Noto’s; Chef Kathleen Scheifler of Woody’s; Chef Chris Perkey of The Firehouse Grill; Chef Juan Carlos of Sundance Grille; Chef John Kinsey of Sierra Room; Chef Susan Dow of SueChef; Chef Tommy Bloodworth of Crystal Springs; Chef Robb White of Baker College; and Chef Jenny Kommitt of Artisan Cooking School.

Wyoming couldn’t have a better lead-in to its seventh annual Taste of Wyoming event on Oct. 26. Except for one thing: None of these chefs is from Wyoming.

  • West Michigan might be poised to have more impact on the furniture industry.

Oliver H. Evans, president of Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, has received an invitation from the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research (FIDER) to participate with a group of eight prominent individuals selected to identify issues and trends impacting interior design higher education in the future. The group will convene near Chicago on Oct. 29. Invited participants represent a diverse group of individuals who have an enhanced view of interior design higher education as a result of their experience and interests.

The focus group is a critical element of a FIDER Research Council initiative to identify trends in higher education and project how those trends may influence FIDER Standards. Understanding possible changes will help FIDER prepare future practitioners with an education responsive to the world they will inhabit.    

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