It was just over a year ago that we met Kaja Thornton-Hunter through some different channels. She first came on to share Kaja's Flavor Packs during a taping of Soul Filled with Chef LaKisha Harris and learning a little more about her set us into motion on getting to know this dynamic and very forward thinking community leader. We learned about her Overcoming Barriers program. We met those she works with and learned about their missions to help others and this little café..The US Café at Barney Maffet Place...we got a first peek at her idea of igniting a heartbeat in the neighborhood. What was an old grocery store....it's exactly what was hoped for, it's a centering point for a community on the rise and now that year two is upon is, it's time for another block party.
May 28th it's game on. Last year 40 plus vendors turned out to show off their goods and crafts, this year it's bigger. Last year, it was the kick off of some hopes and dreams. This year it's proven revitalization and action. Last year we were still in a bit of a proceed with caution mode over a pandemic and while it's not quite over, things are opening up and we're all breathing a little easier and on the end of it all....we can learn from what we've been through.
The lesson in isolation for all of us begs a question. Why have we gotten to the point where our neighborhoods are all segmented the way they are? We all long for "the good old days" but we also all seem to be content in our little silos of life and the long gone days of heading to this neighborhood or that neighborhood for their party have kinda dried up. Even back 20 years ago we did a little better with some of the shin digs around town, but the evolution of all of us see us more and more looking across digital platforms and bemoaning what's been lost? At The US Café, that sense of community, communication and togetherness is priority one and the idea is simple, get on the ride or get left behind. It's a place where young and old are coming together. Business and community mix, leaders and citizens are meeting to make it happen.
The party gets underway at noon Saturday and the location is 2300 Maffett Street. Not familiar with the neighborhood? Put it in the GPS and follow it until your nose and ears take over as you get closer. The smell of food, the sound of music and the kids laughing as they are playing or enjoying some of the activities provided by area sponsors will be sure to help you finish off the journey there. Then stroll the block. Meet the chef's, meet the artisans and crafters and spend a little time getting to know the neighbors. This is the invite. This is the time. Kaja and Jeff Walker join me from Kaja's Tidbit Tuesday set. Take a listen!
We're all probably sick of the term "the new normal", but what better time to reset the "new normal" back to what was the "old normal"? We all know this. We're better as one. It takes nothing away from our unique neighborhoods to be a part of our surrounding communities. In fact, the stronger we are all together in our individual areas and being willing to get involved in others strengthens all of us. We have SO much incredible stuff happening here in Muskegon now and it's not exclusive to one particular area. As we emerge from what's been the last couple of years, let's reset to what it was back before we all kinda got stuck in front of a screen. What better way to kick off a holiday weekend than a block party at one of the fastest growing blocks in Muskegon County. Head to the corner of Barney and Maffett and see just what I am talking about.