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A Year in Review: Top 10 Blogs of 2018

Top 10

As 2018 winds down, Team KzooConnect thought it’d be fun to highlight our top blog posts of 2018. Whether the topic was sustainable brewing, food-blogging, or individuals looking to make a positive mark on their community, we are proud to have shared many examples of Kalamazoo’s progress and uniqueness. Without further ado, let’s look back at 2018’s most popular posts.

10. World-Class Cuisine, Kalamazoo Comfort

We hope you’re hungry, because kicking off this list is a story about Café ’36 and Chef Jason Tillman. Located in the upper level of Sawall Health Foods, Café ’36 serves delicious food while catering to a wide variety of dietary restrictions. This level of culinary excellence is made possible by Tillman’s culinary knowledge cultivated by training with renowned chefs all over the world.

9. Finding Passion in the Unexpected

Trying to find out what you want to be when you grow up can be downright daunting. Jay Prince, President and CEO of Heritage Community of Kalamazoo (Heritage), sat down with us to talk about his professional journey. We learned about the mentality and expertise that is required for his line of work, and how Heritage is bucking the stereotypes associated with senior living.

8. A Beacon of Hope: Urban Alliance

Luke Kujacznski is no stranger to the process of personal reinvention. Since changing career paths and becoming the Executive Director of Urban Alliance, he has made it his mission to aid unemployed citizens in joining Kalamazoo’s workforce. Through methods such as street outreach and the Momentum program, Kujacznski and the Urban Alliance are helping residents reach their potential.

7. “Fermenting” a Future in Sustainable Brewing

Home to numerous hometown brewing institutions including Bell’s Brewery and Arcadia Ales, it makes sense that Kalamazoo is also home to one of the most renowned Sustainable Brewing programs. Jake Kirkendall, a recent graduate of the program, described how this program allowed him to transform his love for beer into a budding career track.

6. A Canine Community in Kalamazoo

A lot can happen over the course of eight years. In 2010, the land at the corner of South 8th Street and West KL Avenue in Oshtemo Township was home to a cornfield. In 2018, that land has evolved into a magnet for dogs and their owners. What started as Patty Rupple’s personal project has grown into a multipart facility that features an off-leash private dog park, dog-friendly tavern, training school, and more.

5. Shes Serving - And Serving Those Who Serve

In June, we connected with Amanda Kurtz, who splits her time between serving as a paid-on-call firefighter for Oshtemo Township Fire Department and personal training at the Borgess Health & Fitness Center. Kurtz provides health and wellness programs for first responders and has plans to expand on her work.

4. DAD Series: Life Decisions - What comes first, the Opportunity or the Journey?

Sometimes the unexpected occurs and we are forced to react accordingly. For Greg Edwards and his family, this meant leaving Portland, Ore., for Kalamazoo in order to find a brighter future. This story is a lesson in finding hope in the journeys that we face and not shying away from opportunities that life gives us.

3. Treadmills, Trains and Human Resources - Nick Christy, Director, Human Resources and Labor Relations City of Kalamazoo.

Part of what makes Kalamazoo such so unique is the variety found in its residents. Take Nick Christy, the Director of Human Resources and Labor Relations for the City of Kalamazoo, for example. Stints at Norfolk Southern Railroad and IBM have helped inspire him to initiate beneficial projects for Kalamazoo including a compensation study for city employees.

2. One more reason to ‘Feel Good’ About Kalamazoo.

It is always special when a talent or hobby grows into something more. For Kalamazoo resident Yumna Jawad, this was the case for her blog, FeelGoodFoodie. With over two million followers, Jawad’s love of food and healthy recipes has grown steadily thanks to a passion for her topics and the reach of social media.

1. Teacher by Day, Rocker by Night

When the sun is up, he shapes young minds at Vicksburg High School. When the sun is down, he plays the blues. As an English teacher and guitarist, Dan Ouellette is the living embodiment of what a strong work life balance is. It is hard finding success in just teaching, let alone teaching and music. But Ouellette’s band Out of Favor Boys are a staple of Kalamazoo’s blues community, have recorded multiple albums, and are featured on Pandora and Spotify.

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