Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Business After Hours at Hagerty

Hello again, everyone! I hope spring has found you wherever you are. Here in TC, we're hoping we've finally rounded the corner and that no more snow is coming our way, but we still have to make it to May before we're confident about that.

But weather rarely keeps northern Michiganders inside, and that definitely applied last Wednesday when I went to the Traverse City Chamber's Business After Hours (BAH), hosted by Hagerty Insurance downtown. The Hagerty building finished up a huge addition to their beautiful building recently, and I was excited to see the inside at last. I definitely wasn't disappointed!

 I signed up with some of my fellow YPs to work the registration table when people came in from the rain. There were around 6-8 of us, and I had a really good time getting to know some new TCYP members and catching up with people I've worked with in the group. I enjoyed talking to everyone in a more social setting and learning more about them outside of the TCYP group. There wasn't a whole lot of time to chat, though, because the event was POPPIN'!

There were probably 150-200 people there in total, drinking and snacking on morsels as they mingled with one another. I was shocked to see how many people I recognized at the event, actually. The Chamber is much larger than I imagined it in my mind, and seeing all these people get together having a good time made me proud of the strength of our local economy. 

Through both the people I knew at the event and being introduced by other YPs to people they knew, I definitely had my fill of conversation for the next three hours. I learned about raising chickens from my friends at Bay Area Recycling for Charities, the local rock 'n' roll music scene from the owner of Williams and Bay Pumping Services, and caught up with my good friends, the Busleys, who own and founded the Grand Traverse Pie Company.

McKeel Hagerty, the CEO of Hagerty, welcomed everyone and told us about the new addition. They also gave tours of the new Hagerty building addition, but I missed out on it because I was too busy talking!

All in all, I'm so glad I went to BAH. Not only did I love chatting with my fellow YPs about their lives outside of work, but I was amazed by the variety of businesses involved with the Chamber. There are so many different industries and organizations represented, there is certainly someone there that any YP or new person to our community could reach out to for advice, mentorship, or employment.

Are you interested in attending the next Chamber event (or any other event in the area)? If so, email tcyp@tcchamber.org to learn about our Wingman program. We will set you up with a YP who is attending so that you have someone to go with in case you don't know anyone. Your YP community can help you meet new people, and you'll have a companion by your side the whole time. We love meeting new young professionals in the area. Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Traverse City State Hospital Historic Tour!

Hey there everyone!

I recently had the amazing opportunity to take the historic tour of the old Traverse City State Hospital. The tour was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see parts of Building 50 which will soon be completely renovated. It was surreal to be walking through the different buildings, rooms, tunnels, and just think back to the history that the building has stored within. While we're talking about history, here are a few facts about the State Hospital I bet you didn't know. Well maybe you did, but I didn't. If you're interested in taking a historic tour, the details are available at their website at http://thevillagetc.com/.

1.  The Traverse City State Hospital was opened in 1885 and took less than two years to be built. (Crazy, I know)

Photos © John Stocki

2.  At its largest occupancy, the asylum was home to over 3,000 patients and 500 staff.

Photos © John Stocki

3.  Patients were housed in the main building according to severity: the less severe lived towards the center of the building while the most disturbed (who were either a threat to others or themselves) were housed on the outlying wings of the building.

Photos © John Stocki

4.  There is approximately 400,000 square feet of total floor space in the main building, cottages and outlying structures.

Photos © John Stocki

5.  Building 50 is close to a half mile in length and was the first building in Traverse City with electricity.

Photos © John Stocki

6.  In order to obtain state tax credits, re-developers (The Minervini Group), must renovate to specific historical guidelines. Learn more about their development plans by visiting http://thevillagetc.com.

7.  The tunnels were for patients and staff to use during bad weather and tunnels for the heating, sewage, electrical, etc. Many tunnels collapsed over time as they were not built like the archway type structure the Romans used. (The style you see in the photo below and the style that you can expect to see on the tour)

Photos © John Stocki

8. The walls of the Hospital were painted using lead paint, so during certain parts of the tour they ask that you wear little booties and be extra careful not to touch the walls or take any paint chips with you.

Photos © John Stocki

9. I don't know any more facts. Enjoy the last photo!

Photos © John Stocki

For you photography geeks out there. All photos were taken by me using a Nikon D7000. Lens: Nikon DX 18-105 - 3.5-5.6G. Post-edit: Adobe Photoshop with HDR rendering. If you want to use these photos, they are for sale, please email me at johnastocki@gmail.com for photo rights.

Sources: Erin Crowell - Features & Listings Editor at Northern Express

Cheers everyone. Thanks for reading! Almost time for the beer gardens to open!

- John

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

First Friday at the Commons

Hello, everyone!

Last Friday, we headed over to the Grand Traverse Commons (one of my favorite places in TC because of its beautiful history, natural areas, and unique, thriving culture) for the first Friday of April. Like, really, that's what they call it: First Fridays.

The Village at the Commons celebrates the first Friday of every month by filling its halls with live music around every corner, wine tastings, crafts and demos, food and drink specials, and discounts at most of the shops. I'm lucky enough to live right around the corner from the Commons, so we walked down to check it out.

Down in the hallways, there is always a glow and comfort that I find positively heartwarming. Being in the old asylum buildings--refinished and renovated to keep their original character but breathe new life into the space--is always an exciting experience. On First Friday, there were people of all types enjoying the best of what this area has to offer.

We wandered over to Left Foot Charley, a winery that makes some of the best hard cider. We helped ourselves to a glass and took in the sight of families and friends enjoying the evening, the taste of crisp, delicious cider, and the sounds of E Minor, who did a great job. I'm still working on exploring the local music scene fully, but E Minor definitely encouraged me to expand my horizon and go to more music events in the area.

My favorite thing about Left Foot Charley, aside from the cider, is how creatively they renovated one of the old Commons industrial structures into an architectural gem. The natural lighting--and repurposed doors for the bar--gives the whole building a welcoming aura. It's just got a fun vibe, and the patio out front is perfect for a hot summer day.

After our drinks, we wandered back to the main Building 50 and grabbed some food at Cuppa Joe. As it happened, a burlesque show was starting in a few minutes, so we bought some tickets and took a seat. I must admit, I've never seen a burlesque show before, but I had a fairly good sense of what to expect.

As it turns out, what I expected was what we got...only it was so much more enjoyable than I was anticipating! The Northern Starlets showed a little skin, but they also put on a fun show with lots of laughs and good audience participation. The host, Felix, had everyone laughing (or at least chuckling) at his good and not-so-good-but-still-somehow-funny jokes, and the girls did a great job of keeping it "classy" so that everyone was comfortable but also interested.

All in all, it wasn't a side of TC that I'd never seen before, but it all goes to show that there's a place and niche for all kinds of people up here. I love seeing people who are passionate about whatever they do, and First Friday showed me that there are plenty of people in this area who have unique talents--and there are plenty of people who support them, because where there are passionate people there are supportive people. This especially holds true in TC, but I love being reminded of it. I can't wait until the first Friday in May!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Guest Blogger: Alyssa Irani

Today's guest blogger is Alyssa Irani, an academic advisor for Davenport University. Alyssa offers great advice for people of any age who are looking into go back to school or furthering their education. Thanks, Alyssa!

Have you ever had something you were inexplicably drawn to? Something that is your own personal geek fest? It could be absolutely anything from a hobby to a profession. Mine, for some reason, is higher education. I love colleges and universities. Whenever I’m traveling, I want to know what school is nearby, what do they offer, what is the campus like? When I moved from Plymouth to Traverse City in 1997 I was concerned about not being near big schools - which didn’t make sense because I worked in the automotive field! I grew up very near EMU and U of M and spent time on and around those schools, feeling the energy and watching the campus life. You can imagine that I was happy to find a beautiful community college in NMC (Northwestern Michigan College) and then thrilled to learn of the University Center. My need to work in this field overrode any other logic and I left the car business, completed my bachelor’s degree and found the job I wanted at the UC. Thirteen years later, I am a seasoned academic advisor for Davenport University.

I work with many students who have realized that higher-education will open doors that have previously been closed. Others have always known that a four-year degree would be a part of their life. People go to college for various reasons but aren’t always aware of certain connections. If you are thinking about more education, here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Contemplate the idea that we have unlimited potential. Never tell yourself you can’t do something (I’m talking to all of you algebra haters).
  • Ask questions until you understand and then answer questions whether you’re 100 percent sure or not. This is how you test your wings.
  • Look around at your classmates or engage them online. These folks are on a journey too and can be fellow alums and connections in the workplace.
  • Higher education is a process that takes time and energy. Enjoy the process and focus on the positive aspects because you are responsible for what you take from it.
  • Remember that you are investing in yourself and that degree completion can bring new opportunities that enhance your life and your family’s.

Traverse City is an engaged and connected community and I’ve seen how important it is to create your own network. This year I had the privilege of connecting two alums that I have worked with. One was looking to hire and another needed a better job. I was able to be a part of a life-changing connection that wouldn’t have happened without local higher-ed. People are completing all levels of education at the UC in Traverse City. As YPs we need to consider this phenomenal resource for ourselves and our employers. We have a very special gem in Traverse City and the tourists don’t even know it’s here!