If you had asked me a couple of years ago what home is, I would have said, “well, where my family is” or “West Michigan – I’ve always lived here.”
But what really makes home home?
Just over a year ago, I went on a big adventure. Four day road trip from Michigan ending in Ventura, California – my new town. I quickly realized that I had taken for granted the other elements of what makes a home – a supportive community and local businesses.
So I began to explore and meet people who have helped me build connection to place.
When I first moved and was searching for a job, I would start my mornings with a walk from my house down the beach to this darling coffee shop (Kay’s Coffee Shop) and talk with the owner. Not only is their coffee fantastic, they locally-source their coffee and teas, and sell handmade pottery from a neighborhood artist (Lorna Christian).
I know my waitress by name at my favorite breakfast joint (Pete’s Breakfast House) and leave with a smile and a fully belly every time. (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Nature’s Grill and The Farmer and The Cook - two of the best natural food restaurants in town).
I used B Corporation’s “Find a B Corp” search tool to find out businesses that are a part of the movement in my town. So far Ventura has two B Corps - Patagonia (of course) and The Refill Shoppe, a body and home bulk liquids store on Main Street.
I’ve spent a couple Fridays last fall picking and then canning my own raspberries and Roma tomatoes from Underwood Family Farms. I love this farm because they are community-education oriented (and have lots of opportunities for family fun on the farm). This January I became a CSA member with one of my coworkers. We split a huge box of veggies every week and I love experimenting with new recipes and adding variety to my diet.
On weekends I like to take advantage of the area bike trails and head up to Ojai, with a pit stop at The Ojai Beverage Company (where you can sometimes find Founders on tap). Or I might go for a long hike in the mountains in Malibu and refuel at the iconic restaurant and surf spot Neptune’s Net.
Through local businesses, I connect to my place in a new way. I’ve met so many interesting people and become a regular at a few shops and local hangouts. Most importantly, I’m becoming more rooted in this new community that I call home.
Fall is a beautiful season in West Michigan as the air becomes cooler and leaves on the trees transform from green to orange, red and yellow. With West Michigan being home to the Fruit Ridge – one of the best fruit-growing regions in the world – there is an abundance of orchards and farms to explore and plenty of apples and fresh cider to enjoy during the fall season.
There are so many organizations that would benefit by having professional photography in Grand Rapids, but don’t know where to start.
From the statewide roll out of Good for Michigan to celebrating Local First’s 15th Anniversary to kicking off our annual Fork Fest in the fall, 2018 was an exciting year for Local First, our members, and community partners.