On the launch party for the Union Block Project
A message from TAC Executive Director Megan Lavell:
December 3rd, 2021
It’s easy to find myself humbled in the work that I do. My work depends on people sharing their time, treasures and talents for the benefit of arts programs. But what just happened in Hastings . . . that is a whole new level of generosity.
Last night. The street party. The mural. The support of everyone who made it all happen. I find myself this morning overwhelmed with gratitude and humility. I can’t thank everyone who helped make it a success, but I hope you will bear with me while I try.
The Thornapple Arts Council Board of Directors humbles me the most. They trust and support and believe in me. They are ten amazing people — and all the amazing people who came before them — and they let ME do this amazing thing every day. Thank you all. And Kathleen Welch, thanks for always having my back and making us look good, even when I can’t keep my head on straight.
First. Thank you to J Maizlish Mole for taking my little idea and making it into a larger-than-life reality. Your time, your talent, your need for it to be perfect. Your worn-out kneepads and paint-splattered coat and evenings alone at the top of our world. You were the culmination of so many good things we have worked for.
Tom Kramer, without your space, your enthusiasm, your excitement, none of this would exist. You gave us the gift of place for a big, beautiful concept and we are indebted to you for it. Hastings is indebted to you.
The Barry Community Foundation did what they always do and gave this project the boost it needed to take off and happen. Bonnie Gettys believed in it because she always believes in the power of supporting good ideas and the gift they are to our community.
This project would still be sputtering along without the support of three anonymous donors. Their silent support, their trust in me, their belief in public art, are admirable and uncommon and beautiful. With all the gratitude I have, thank you.
Guys that Give, with Andy Cove and Chelsey Foster at the helm, stepped in, stepped up and met a need to make sure this project saw the light of day. I am honored to call most of the guys in that group my friends and my partners in making cool things happen. Thank you so much Brad Johnson, Craig A Jenkins Jr, Justin Peck, Alan Klein, Travis Alden, Tom Wiswell, Troy Dalman, Fred Jacobs and Larry Phillips, for your gifts!
A H-U-G-E shout out to the City of Hastings Department of Public Services, including the always-on-our-team Chuck Tefft (I hope you’ll show this to all the other guys at the garage!) and their indomitable leader Jim James. Every good thing that happens in the City of Hastings, happens because these guys work tirelessly and take pride in our beautiful community. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the top of the mural. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I can’t buy enough doughnuts to express my gratitude!
To all the volunteers who helped last night, WOW! You are quite the crew! Many thanks to Ayesha Williamson Franklin, Rich Franklin, Ben Geiger, Luke Froncheck, Michelle Duits, Jan Jasienski-Hawthorne, Bonnie Gettys, Jillian Foster, Chelsey Foster, Barbara Case, Emily Doherty, Justin Quiggle, Sally Shuster Schoff, and Phil Englerth for making the event, set-up and tear-down painless and quick!
Thank you to Jan Jasienski-Hawthorne and Jaqua Realtors for a heckin good street party and artist reception. You weren’t kidding when you said you could do a party right!
I hope you enjoyed some of the amazing food last night! Thanks to Taqueria Tomatitos for “the best tacos I’ve had outside Mexico”; Mexican Connexion for the cinnamon sugar twists; Bunker’s Smokehouse & Grille for the smoked hotdogs; and Red Barn Market for the fabulous doughnuts!
Thank you to Creative Designs Hair & Nails for sharing your space and bathroom with us for three months. Thank you to Previously Pink for loaning us your (beautifully painted) parking space for-ev-er. And then sharing it one more time so we could have tacos!
I want to thank every person who attended, but I know I would miss someone. I want to thank every person who stopped and talked to me and Mole and who commented on how much they love it, but I don’t begin to know who all those people are.
I forgot somebody in the official thank-you-commercial above, I’m sure I did. And I’m sorry for that. I hope you have read this far, because I also need to take a minute for some personal thanks.
"It takes a village to raise a family, make public art and create a community. "
It takes a village to raise a family, make public art and create a community. My village. They are the force behind every good thing I am able to be a part of here. They are the start of this whole beautiful project.
Endless love and every other good thing I can offer to Alan Klein and our children for being my rock and my port in every storm. None of it would matter without you to come home to.
Brian Reynolds and Linda Reynolds, my life here — my family’s life here — is only possible because we have your support and your home and your endless ability to go-with-the-flow to keep us upright.
Jillian Cline Foster, I have you to thank for bringing the people to my house that would make this dream a reality. You have also brought laughter and friendship, loyalty and support, a soft shoulder and a hard kick in the pants when I have needed it. Thank you for not only being my community partner and my colleague, but also being the friend I waited my whole life for.
Chelsey Foster, it is really remarkable how often and effortlessly you step in to help and support me and my organization when we need it. You’re a true community leader, an amazing supporter and someone I hope to always have in my corner. I am so honored to call you my friend.
Cloe Rose, I had no idea what to expect when you came to my house that first afternoon. But I’m so glad that when you came, you never really left. You brought your kids and your partner, and now you bring your dog. And now we have this beautiful weird “family” and we all get to be in it together. I love that.
There seems very little left to say. I hope you enjoy the fruits of all this labor and love.