Tuesday, November 26, 2013

YP Survey Results Are In!

Recently, the Traverse City Young Professionals hosted a survey about living, working and the future of Traverse City. After tallying the results from the 94 respondents, we've created a nice little infograph that makes it easy for everyone to read and understand the results. I'll summarize a few of the notable points below too.

A few facts that were interesting to me was that more of the respondents were NOT Traverse City natives and the largest age segment of respondents was between the age of 25-30. I think that this is a reflection of how many local organizations and companies are putting a larger emphasis on recruiting and retaining young talent to Traverse City, and I hope that the trend continues.

With no surprise, natural beauty and local food/wine/beer took the top two spots on unique assets to TC, which i completely agree. Especially Georgina's. If you haven't been there. Stop what you're doing and go. No questions. Go.

Also, tied for first place in the things TC should focus on in the next 5/10 years was the ability to turn the East Front Street alley into a river walk and increase the amount of outdoor seating. This past summer, the City completed a renovation of Clinch Park, which did offer a brand spanking new public space and some outdoor seating, but I personally would have hoped for a little more seating :)

Keeping waterfront/bay views open as well as recruiting young talent with affordable housing came in 1 & 2 as ways to preserves TC's competitive advantage, followed by retrofitting existing buildings for reuse, such as the TC Commons and encouraging local/unique businesses, not chains.

So what do you think? Accurate? Not so much?

We'd love to hear from you, so leave us a comment and be sure to share!


John Stocki

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Business After Hours: Opa! Uptown

Hello, everyone! I wanted to check in and share the most recent Business After Hours (BAH) that I went to this week, working the registration table on behalf of TCYP. It was my second BAH event since joining the YPs this past January, and I had a lot more fun this time around because I saw many familiar faces!

This month's BAH took place at Opa! Uptown, which was already great because their food is FANTASTIC. I was really glad that we were able to sneak some nibbles while working, and that everything tasted so good. I've never had a blueberry pierogi before, but I'll be surprised if I deprive myself of having another one over the next few weeks...

The place was packed. It was great to see so many people walking about and enjoying the new digs at the restaurant (they opened up a few months ago) and people were all over the place. No doubt Opa! got some good exposure, because people were raving about the food and service. 

One of my favorite things about Opa! Uptown is the artwork they have around the restaurant. Yes, perhaps it's a bit of a curveball in terms of what most people notice when they go out to eat, but I think their restaurant has some of the coolest, most unique, and intriguing artwork in this town. As a History of Art major in college, I can't help but notice stuff like that! It does so much for the ambience, and it has made a strong impression on my the times I've visited. I love the "wow" factor of each large-scale piece they have...it's refreshing to see a place unafraid to fill their walls with big, bold works of art!

But, of course, my favorite thing about BAH is spending time with my fellow YPs. We had a really fun group working this week, and it's always nice to talk with YPs in a more casual setting where we can really spend time getting to learn more about each other. We spent two hours working the registration table and chatting with various Chamber members, but my favorite conversations were the ones I had with the YPs I was working with that night.

Well, that's all from me. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving! Winter is beginning to settle in Traverse, and while we've had a few snowflakes fall there isn't anything sticking on the ground yet...I hope it stays that way until December, but I know how Michigan weather has a mind of it's own. We'll see!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dancing for a Cause - Guest Blogger Lauren Harris!

Living in the diverse Traverse City area, we have many unique dining, shopping, and activity opportunities. Fundraising opportunities, in particular, have also become increasingly common and more creative in their efforts - Roller Derby’s, men wearing bra’s, or jumping into frigid water in the middle of winter (brr!).

One of the most creative fundraisers has grown exponentially within the past 5 years is SwingShift and the Stars, a local dance competition to raise money for charities.

As a fellow Young Professional in Traverse City, I also teach at The Dance Center two days/week and given the honor to be one of the six dance instructor’s. As a first year participant, I’ve been paired with a local star in the community, Lars Kelto, a local technology guru who has worked with the Traverse City Film Festival and the State Theatre.

                                                                                                                                                                      ^^^^^Lauren ^^^^^
Together we are representing the Great Lakes Children’s Museum, a local non-profit museum in TC, designed to educate children on the importance of our local environment in fun and engaging activities. It is such a fun charity to represent – and with Lars as a partner and his experience at the Old Town Playhouse, we are ready to win!

Similar to the popular TV show, Dancing with the Stars, six local stars in the community pair up with an instructor and represent a charity. The SwingShift in the name, refers to the local “uber talented” band, SwingShift, who performs all of the songs live at each event. Three judges score the couple’s performance and the collective audience vote counts as the last judge. How does the audience vote? Through a minimum $5 donation to their favorite charity. Voila!

In 5 years, they’ve raised over $600,000.00! That’s a boat load of money!

The event is inherently designed to be social. Outside of the 2 minutes each couple is dancing, everyone is socializing, having a local beverage and meeting new people. There’s even a group dance lesson the first half hour of the show for audience members!

The event draws a diverse crowd from all over the area, from different industries and background. Some previous Stars to participate have included:

· Bill Marsh, owner of Bill Marsh Automotive (and our most recent keynote speaker at the 2013 YP Annual Conference)

· Kelly Ignace – Director of Marketing for American Waste

· Erika Erikson – former local 7&4 news anchor

· Denise Busley – owner of Grand Traverse Pie Co.

Here are some sneak peeks behind the scenes and pictures of the fun from the first event held this past September. 

Don’t miss out on the FUNdraising for October 18th, November 15th, and December 20th for the Grand Finale.  Tickets are available at the City Opera House’s website. www.cityoperahouse.org  No seat is a bad seat, especially since there’s so many reasons to be on the dance floor!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

TCYP Annual Conference Recap

Last week, I joined around 50 young professionals in the TC area for a fun-filled day we like to call the TCYP Annual Conference! This year the TCYPs decided to do something a little "out-of-the-hotel-conference-room" and into the great northern Michigan outdoors. As you can imagine, it was an incredibly good time and a beautiful place to spend the day (even if it was chilly and a bit rainy).

This year's conference took place at the Leelanau Outdoor Center, which is a camp during the summer and acts as a company/school retreat facility in the fall and winter. It never ceases to amaze me how many wonderful things there are in our area that I've never seen or experienced before, and the Leelanau Outdoor Center (lovingly dubbed "LOC") is one of those places. The whole property took my breath away, and it made me want to be a kid at summer camp all over again. Luckily, that is essentially what I got to do: play games and have fun with total strangers who end up being my friends at the end of the day, all while playing outside and stepping away from technology. I'm always game for that.

The morning started off with a hot (delicious) breakfast and gave us the chance to meet with some new friends and reconnect with old friends. Everyone gathered in the great house, which was nice because it kept us out of the rain during the worst of it.

After breakfast, we listened to Bill Marsh Jr. give the keynote address. I found Bill's presentation to be insightful, beneficial, and relevant to my life and where I am in my career. He talked about personal branding, and how to view yourself as a brand where people come to expect certain things from you as an individual just as we expect certain things from other brands we use. What do you stand for? How do you present yourself to people? Do you deliver a consistent high-quality product to everyone you work with, so that they know what to expect when they work with you? It made me think about who I am, how I want to be perceived by the world, and what I need to change to get what I really want out of life (and also spend more time pinning down what I really want out of life. As he put it, the steps are very straight-forward and easy to grasp but are difficult to think about and put into place. I am working each day to take what he said into consideration for my life as both an individual and as a professional.

After all that sitting and focusing, it was time to head outside and start moving! We were broken up into groups and set off to do some team-building and communicating activities, which were really fun and very challenging. For instance, I was blindfolded while my team tried to guide me to swing over to a wooden platform 12 feet away. Oh, yeah, and only 2 members of my 10-person team could talk. It was intimidating, but I learned to work together with these total strangers and trust in them to help the whole team succeed. We also did a balancing-beam-type activity (shown above) where we needed to move from the little square platforms and move the beams to get our whole team across to the other side...without talking to each other. Pretty nuts!

It was great learning more about my team members and working together to accomplish something even though we didn't know each other at all when the morning started. We established a sense of companionship and teamwork through our body language, physical actions, and attentiveness to each other without being allowed to talk to each other for 90% of the activities. I didn't realize how tricky or rewarding it would be, but I definitely noticed the growth in our group and how much more relaxed and comfortable we were with each other when we were finished.

The LOC is located right on the coast of Lake Michigan, so I was ecstatic that we were able to go down to the beach before lunch. I mean, just look at that beautiful water! Even on a cloudy, rainy, chilly day...I am still so calmed and yet exhilarated by the power and magnitude of Lake Michigan.

After another delicious and satisfying meal, we were off to some more fun! Rock climbing, canoeing, a high ropes course, ziplining...man, I really do want to go back to summer camp!!

I chose to do the climbing wall and the zipline, and I was pumped about both my choices. I realized two-thirds up one of the climbing walls that I was pretty uncomfortable up there and maybe a bit scared of heights, so I came back down. But, I gave the "harder" wall a chance and made it all the way to the top with the help of one of the LOC counselors and my fellow YPs cheering me on. I was very proud! Everyone did a great job. I had to go over and see what the ropes course crew was up to, though, because it looked like one sweet ropes course.


We also got to ride the 250' zipline through the forest, which is ALWAYS fun. Still, I think it's even more fun when you're with a fantastic group of YPs and you're trying to shoot a ball into a basketball hoop situated halfway down the course. Just sayin'.

Our day concluded with a hike up to Pyramid Point. If you live in the TC area and you've still never had your breath knocked out of you from the view at the top of Pyramid Point, you absolutely positively MUST GO. It is one of the most fantastic views in the whole area, and it's a very secluded hike...it is not as popular as some of the other sights in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, which makes it feel even more intimate and personal. Like I said, even on a "bleh" kind of day, there is something magical about this place we are lucky to call home.

Warren Call, 2013 TCYP Chair, trying to convince everyone to run to the bottom of the sand dune...or something.

Our group had diminished some by the end of the day (I heard that some canoes flipped over the in water...ouch), but I still had the opportunity to meet new YPs I didn't get to see during the rest of the day and connect with some fantastic people. Oh, and did I mention that Pyramid Point is amazing?

Overall, the conference exceeded my already-high expectations. I met some truly fantastic and inspirational people, and I felt that I grew as an individual and as a professional. I was challenged, I tackled new activities, and I was able to make some real connections with professionals who are my age and live in my town. There is a great strength and comfort that comes with being around like-minded people who are ambitious, intelligent, passionate about what they do, and in love with this region we all call home. I was so glad I was able to be a part of this day and learn so much from so many people. It was a wonderful experience, and I already can't wait until next year!

Did you attend the TCYP Annual Conference? What did you think about it? Please share your feedback and thoughts in the comments below!

- Mo

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fall Color Tour in Traverse City! Guest Blogger Aly Jarosz

Guest Blogger Aly Jarosz takes us on a fall color tour of Traverse City and makes a new friend called Bacon! :)

The sun is setting on our Traverse City summer, and although the warm weather has followed us into October, the trees are begging to change, and the nights have become much cooler. We’re getting ready for the much anticipated color tours, and the bountiful harvest of fall in Northern Michigan. Expect the evenings to creep up much sooner, as our days to become much shorter, and for the temptation of caramel-coated apples to lurk around every corner.

The landscapes that line each our trails have already been sprinkled with color, and pops of orange, yellow, and burgundy take center-stage amongst the greenery. Not only can you see the colors of fall, you can almost smell this crisp, nutty, aroma in the cool breeze as well.

I’ve been welcoming this change by taking long drives out to Old Mission Peninsula, and returning to the Empire Bluffs, with my dog Khloe, one last time before the snow falls. Living in this area lends such beautiful scenery. We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to take a drive along the shoreline, whenever you want to experience the changing seasons and darkening colors of fall.

My one-stop-shop for all of my fall favorites, is Gallagher’s Farm Market! They are located on East Traverse Road, making it my first stop for fresh produce, crisp apples, sweet treats, and choice-pumpkins every year.

As Khloe and I embarked on our hiking adventure at the Empire Bluffs, we made sure to drop in and say hello to an old friend.

It was hard to choose a favorite, but I carefully selected my pumpkins for carving, a big bushel of apples, and even stopped to see an old friend, before I was on my way.

It doesn’t matter how old I am, I look forward to seeing the intricate designs of Jacob’s Corn Maze every year. Jacob’s Corn Maze is conveniently located right across the road from Gallagher’s.

It became so nostalgic to see all of these welcoming signs of fall that I couldn’t help but share my evening with you, in hopes that you would be able to make a visit as well! After all, this masterful maze may have been set-up to stump 8-year-olds, but my friends and I love to compete, and we usually end up treating it as if it were some mad-dash race to the finish!

I found my first fall color tour of the year to be exhilarating. Seeing backdrops of treetops hug every winding corner of the road creates an entirely new experience every time. I’ll be looking forward to pumpkin carving with my friends and family, and homemade apple crisp pie now too!