Opening Riverview Launch
Riverview celebrated its grand opening with over 200 people, who came out on a beautiful night to see the finished space and celebrate a job well done. Emcees from Improv Effects, a band, games with Open Roads, a scavenger hunt, delicious food courtesy of Millennium Restaurant Group, and the fantastic support of the community brought Riverview alive. The site kept buzzing throughout September with a Go Places event, where the documentary filmmakers of Latitudes of Longevity talked about the intersections between health and community. The Kalamazoo Water Festival, hosted by the Kalamazoo River Watershed Council, the Kalamazoo Drain Commissioner, and the Land Bank brought over 600 people came out to learn about our Kalamazoo River, and the important role water plays in our lives. Kids played while they learned, and had the opportunity to explore Riverview Launch. While we’re winding down the outdoor events, Riverview has also welcomed new friends for business retreats, work sessions, and events in the conference room and hub – click for more info about facility rentals. Thanks to everyone who walked, rode, and drove to Riverview in the past month to support this community space and celebrate new beginnings in grand style!
Riverview will host several events throughout the month of September. We’ll be celebrating our Grand Opening, inviting the community to join us on September 10 for games, food, fun, and a look around the new spaces at Riverview Launch. September 19, the Kalamazoo Water Festival will be held at Riverview, bringing FREE family fun and hands on activities and education to kids and families. Look for more information on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/riverviewlaunch, and please help us spread the word throughout the community.
Springing into action
Riverview is once again becoming a hive of activity as work continues on the buildings, and outdoor work ramps up for the season. The Kalamazoo Nature Center’s Ecological Management team is partnering with us to complete native plant restoration on the site. The riverbank and prairie areas are being cleared of invasive species, in order to make way for growth of native plants. Flowers are blooming all over, and landscaping in the front of the site is starting soon. Keep in touch as things are developing quickly and the site is coming together to host the new Land Bank and Open Roads offices.
Earth Day 2015 was chilly and spitting snow, but along with our friends at Naylor, we teamed up to brave the weather and plant 11 trees along Riverview Drive. The construction crews are working hard and making great progress toward a place we’re eager to call home. We’re looking forward to spring planting, seeing last year’s gardens bloom, and some nice, warm sunshine!
The Center for Community Progress put a call out to share the love for vacant lots during Valentine’s week for their #LoveThatLot campaign. Riverview Launch was included on their blog as one of the community projects that are transforming the face of formerly vacant lots. We were inspired by all the other great projects happening across the nation in places that need a little extra love. Check out all the great posts on Facebook – #LoveThatLot
One piece at a time…
We’re making progress at Riverview! It seems now that week to week, the site is changing with renovations and new construction going in. Last week, we saw steel beams going up for the “hub” area of the office. Open Roads’ space is getting ready to house its new tenants, and the greenhouse is finally cleared of all the broken and falling down glass. We can’t wait to see the fresh new face of Riverview, and are eager to move into our new home in the spring! Keep up with the progress on our Facebook page.
Autumn at Riverview Launch
We enjoyed beautiful colors and crisp fall air at Riverview Launch this year, as did our friends from Kazoo school, who came to the site to plant bulbs for the spring, paint gourds, and stretch their legs. In the midst of much running, jumping, and playing, Kazoo kids got to participate in the life cycle of Riverview’s native perennials and learn a little more about pollinators by visiting our bee ‘condo.’ We’re looking forward to having them back again for more hands-on experiences, when our plants begin sprouting in the spring!
The follow up event to April’s Go Places conference was held at Riverview Launch in early September. Participants gathered in the barn to participate in an improv session with Brian Lam and Dann Sytsema of Improv Effects. Working through various exercises and scenarios, participants used the power of “yes, and…” to work off one another’s ideas and dream up something new and interesting for Riverview. Thanks to Becky Fulgoni for putting together this fun event and keeping the spirit of placemaking alive throughout the year. Check out more from Second Wave media in their article One Idea Leads to Another.
Movie on the Barn
Our very first Movie on the Barn was a great success with over 200 in attendance. The rain passed through before the event started, to our relief. Hot dogs, popcorn, and the Bistro on a Roll food truck were there, providing snacks before the movie started. City of Kalamazoo Parks and Recreation crew set up games for the kids, including a giant checkers board. Mayor Bobby Hopewell was in attendance, and treated us to a ‘dance party’ on the deck of the barn with all the kids. At sundown, The Lego Movie began – which was funny and engaging for kids and adults both. Thanks to all who attended and to those who helped pull this event together. More pictures are available on our Facebook page. We can’t wait for the next Movie on the Barn!
Growing Gardens & Open Roads
The participants from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kalamazoo are enrolled in a seven week Earn-A-Bike program. Open Roads Mechanic Instructors and Social Skill Instructors meet with this group weekly. Each session they are working on building their own bike and learning new social skills. All of our curriculum has Positive Behavior Support methodologies at it’s base, including our ROADS Expectations. ROADS stands for Respect, Owning your actions, Attitude counts, Discipline, and Safety. After students successfully complete the program they go home with a great bike that they built, a new set of social skills, a helmet, bike lock, and a smile on their face.
MSU Youth Growers is an 8-week, pilot program taught by our partner, Linda Whitlock from MSU Extension, bringing children from the Boys and Girls Club to Riverview Launch for hands-on growing education. Kids have planned and planted gardens, built scarecrows and will learn about environmental stewardship and agricultural careers from guest speakers. They’ll receive a Junior Master Gardener certificate at the end of their program, and will have been exposed to cultivation, ecosystems education, healthy foods, and agricultural career opportunities.
Arcadia Brewing Company generously hosted a gathering at their new brewery in Kalamazoo to showcase the Riverview Launch project and update everyone on all that’s been accomplished lately. People came out to talk, share, and enjoy a pint of excellent Arcadia Ales with friends. Kalamazoo County Parks and Recreation brought their golf carts to shuttle groups over to Riverview along the KRVT trail for a look around. Arcadia donated a generous matching gift for every beer sold on July 1. Thank you to all who showed up to support this project!
Summer Planting & Volunteers
What a big difference a little more green can make! Sod Rolling Day was a great success thanks to the hard working volunteers who showed up to roll out new sod next to the barn at Riverview. After a couple hours of bending, lifting, kneeling, and rolling, we were ready to grab a delicious taco lunch from Gorilla Gourmet and enjoy the music of the Kalamazoo Fiddlers. Thanks to all who helped make Riverview a bit greener! Check out more great pictures of our volunteers on Facebook.
Summer has been a time of big, exciting changes for Riverview. We’re seeing a difference in the site from one day to the next as these transformations take place. Kids from Kazoo School came out to learn about native plants and got the chance to dig in the dirt and plant flowers at Riverview. A group of volunteers from Phizer helped stain the deck, plant landscaping, mulch, and do carpentry work that made a huge impact in just one day. We’re so thankful to all the volunteers and supporters who’ve taken time to help make this site look and feel alive again.
New additions to Riverview
Spring has brought a whirlwind of activity to Riverview Launch. Within the last few months we’ve worked with friends, volunteers, and partners to renovate the barn, build a deck, install a flagstone patio and crushed gravel walkways, plant native landscaping, and install railings and artistic signage for the rain garden. We are grateful to Naylor Landscaping for all their great work making Riverview’s outdoor spaces look great, and a big thank you to Conrad Kaufman for building beautiful, nature-inspired posts and signs for the rain garden. Next month will offer an opportunity for volunteers to get involved at Riverview and get their hands dirty rolling sod on June 13. Lunch and music will follow the volunteer time. Find out more about this event on Facebook.
Go Places Conference
Riverview was one of the four sites featured at the 2014 Go Places conference in Kalamazoo. Participants had the chance to work with noted MIT lecturer, author, urban planner, and architect Susan Silberberg. We took a day to tour project sites like Riverview, the Urban Nature Park, the KRVT and the future KVCC Health and Wellness campus. Her placemaking insights revealed connections between the projects happening around Kalamazoo, and encouraged small changes that make a big impact. We were able to show off all the fantastic updates to the barn accomplished in the past few weeks, and talk about the work still to be done before Riverview Launch is complete! Check out more photos on our Facebook page.
Barn Rehab and Pollinator Workshop
Rehab efforts on the historic barn are making steady progress. New barn doors were installed, electrical fixtures fitted, the interior has been power washed and will be stained and finished soon. For a hundred-year-old structure, she’s looking pretty great! A Native Pollinator workshop was hosted at the barn on a beautiful, sunny Saturday in April. Ann Fraser, of Kalamazoo College’s Biology Department, spoke about the importance of native bees, and participants got the chance to put together bee boxes that promote nesting sites for native pollinators. Check out more photos on our Facebook page.
4-H Project at Riverview Launch
Through a generous grant from LISC to facilitate early 4-H programming, Kalamazoo area 4-H will be teaming up with the Land Bank to build an innovative Native Bee Condo at Riverview Launch this spring. The Bee Condo will support native bees and is uniquely designed to address the parasite issues associated with dense nesting populations. 4-H groups will be assembling the nesting modules as well as designing and planting a pollinator garden surrounding the Bee Condo.
Site Improvements Off to a Great Start
Thank you to our many volunteers and partners that helped start the transformation of Riverview Launch. In a short period during the fall of 2013, volunteers helped install the rain garden and patio, and painted the barn. We’ll have more volunteer opportunities in the spring of 2014, including deck building, landscape and site work, and interior finishes. Please contact Mike Deditius (269-216-9870) if your interested in helping with these projects.
Kazoo School Digs In to Help Riverview Launch
Students at Kazoo School recently participated in a day-long planting event in support of Riverview Launch. Students from pre-school through 8th grade planted pare-root plants and learned about the importance of native plants in stabilizing soils and pollination. All potted plants will be planted at Riverview Launch in the Spring. The event was a partnership with the Land Bank, 4-H, Naylor Landscape Management, and the Kazoo School. Read more about this story: Students learn power of native plants.
Friend Raiser at Old Dog Tavern