Forester Ben Savoie looks closely at a dying cherry tree. The field he's standing in used to be farmland and very few species of plants are growing there.
Rebecca Thiele/WMUK

Biodiversity Could Be As Important As Climate For Healthy Ecosystems

Extreme temperatures are hard on plants. They’re not used to having frost one day and 60-degree temperatures the next. But just like people will huddle together for warmth, plant species have strength in numbers. New research suggests that biodiversity — or a good variety of plants and animals — is about as important as climate for a healthy ecosystem.

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Martin Klemm

Jazz Currents: In The Studio With MOSS

MOSS is probably best described as a collaborative project rather than a band. It brings together five top contemporary vocalists to create, in a short space of time, song arrangements that draw from a wide palette of styles and techniques. Each of the five - Jo Lawry , Lauren Kinhan , Kate McGarry , Theo Bleckmann , and Peter Eldridge - have unique talents and directions: Kinhan and Eldridge are part of New York Voices, Jo Lawry collaborates with Sting, Theo Bleckmann makes use of electronics in his solo ECM albums, and Kate McGarry often draws on her folk music background. Their kinship is based on recognizing their shared strengths and unique differences. In 2008, with original member/founder Luciana de Souza (Lawry is her replacement), the five singers made a now-classic album, Moss . Only in recent months have their professional lives allowed them to focus on a follow-up project. Western Michigan University, and Gold Company director Greg Jasperse, who arranged a WMU residency for the quintet, has played an important role in reuniting the singers and offering them the chance to work on new music. In the studio at WMUK, they sing new works and favorite from their first album, with Jazz Currents host Keith Hall leading them through a musical conversation.

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Just a small part of the Willie Nelson collection in Chris Nelsen's home.
Karen VandenBos

Kalamazoo resident Chris Nelsen is one of singer/songwriter Willie Nelson’s biggest fans. After following him and his music for over 30 years, the local man has an extensive collection of Willie Nelson memorabilia and stories of the times they’ve met. 

Philip Levine, the most recent poet laureate, is coming to Western Michigan University Friday. Levine was born in Detroit. Some of his most famous poems are about his time working for General Motors, a job he says he didn't like very much. 

Southwest Michigan author D.E. Johnson just released his third novel with St. Martin’s Publishing. It’s a follow up to The Detroit Electric Scheme and Motor City Shakedown. Detroit Breakdown follows protagonists Will Anderson and his girlfriend Elizabeth Hume into a mental institution of one hundred years ago. 

WMU Theatre

Western Michigan University students will perform the play Fuddy Meers starting Thursday. Fuddy Meers is about a middle aged woman named Claire who has a type of amnesia where she forgets everything that happened the night before.

Chris Killian

The contest between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney dominates the news. But amid reports about gaffes and political tactics, is the campaign addressing issues that matter to real people? Kalamazoo independent journalist Chris Killian is on the road to find out during his Swing State Stories project. Over the next few weeks he’ll visit states where the race is close, beginning in Nevada.

Aaron Cooper

Kalamazoo Book Arts Center director Jeff Abshear has spent part of the past decade teaching book arts in Venice to Italian children, but this summer’s trip with was the first time he taught Americans there. Eleven students from the Frostic School of Art and Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University went with Abshear to Venice this summer to study book arts. They attended a printmaking school and studied at a letterpress museum.

One thing you can count on each year with the Toronto International Film Festival: It will be a treasure trove of cinema from around the world. Approximately 300 movies from all corners of the globe are screened each September over the course of a week and a half, including everything from this year’s big Oscar hopefuls to documentaries to comedies that show the lighter side of life in North Korea. 

You might have spotted billboards around Southwest Michigan advertising something a little different—local art. On Friday night from 5:30 to 7:30, you can meet the ten artists who won this year’s Billboard Art Contest at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Their work will be on display at the KIA. One of the artists is Paul Marquardt who works out of his home studio.

So you think you know bellydance?

Sep 18, 2012
Joette Sawall teaching a class at West Michigan School of Middle Eastern Dance
Allison Friedman, WMUK

There’s only one studio that holds public belly dance classes in Grand Rapids, a city with a population of almost 190,000 people. Less than half as many people live in Kalamazoo, yet there are three belly dancing studios.

Kazoo Area Foot Chase lets you be a policeman for a day

Sep 14, 2012
2011 Kazoo Area Foot Chase
David Ostrem

On Saturday, runners and walkers can imagine they're policemen trying to capture a suspect. The Kazoo Area Foot Chase is being put on by MI-COPS or Michigan Concerns of Police Survivors.

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