A fundraising event is planned for long-time local non-profit Row-by-Row (formerly Buckets of Rain) at Broomstack Kitchen & Taphouse in Maple City on Sunday, Sept. 24. Festivities run from 3 to 6 pm and include food, a silent auction, live music by the Dune Brothers and a tribute to the music of Gordon Lightfoot by Paul Koss, Patrick Niemisto and Chris Skellenger. Row-by-Row has been involved in food security in northern Michigan, Detroit, Guatemala, and several parts of Africa since 2007. The majority of their efforts in recent years focus on providing fresh, locally grown vegetables to area pantries and shelters via Northern Michigan Food Rescue.
Local troubadour and gardener Chris Skellenger and former Buckets of Rain treasurer Mike Binsfeld have created a new nonprofit called Row by Row, which helps economically challenged Guatemala women establish community gardens on vacant public land. Buckets of Rain previously taught bucket drip irrigation to communities in Lesotho and Detroit. Skellenger also plays guitar and sings at Boonedocks, Little Traverse Inn, French Valley Vineyard, Cherry Republic, and Lake Ann Brewery with an assortment of his musical friends. And Skellenger is the new nursery manager at the expanded Northwood’s Hardware & Garden Center in Glen Arbor. “We are so happy to have Chris Skellenger to help us get this going,” said co-owner Jeff Gietzen. “He is a skilled, legitimate nursery person.”
Buckets of Rain, a Leelanau-based nonprofit which aims to “support the rebuilding of Detroit by transforming blighted areas into agricultural oases” will hold a work bee on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 8:30 a.m. at the Empire United Methodist Church. Volunteers will make smoothies using locally picked apples and produce donated by Kroger.
“Creating Community: The Agriculture Connection,” a panel discussion with two local food and community activists who link local agriculture with the work of building strong, creative communities, takes place Sunday, Oct. 14, at 2 p.m. at the Glen Arbor Arts Center, 6031 S. Lake St., Glen Arbor.
Singer-songwriter-instrumentalist John Kumjian’s new CD, “Vulnerable,” is particularly poignant in light of his recent health scare. The popular “Mr. K,” as he’s known to hundreds of kids he taught at Glen Lake School, nearly died on the operating table two years ago.
Singer-songwriter Chris Skellenger, a longtime entertainer at local watering holes, recently posted this news flash on Facebook about his nonprofit. “I just heard that starting tomorrow, Buckets of Rain is working on an urban garden with a free Muslim health clinic in the heart of one of the most destroyed parts of Detroit, a predominantly African-American community. We’re all in this together, brothers in arms.”
Again, this year, local musicians and performers are donating their time and talent to perform the Woody Guthrie classic, “This Land is Your Land” over and over (and over …) on a street corner in downtown Traverse City. They will be there, rain or shine, day and night for three straight days, singing their hearts out to help the hungry. And you can help. Buckets of Rain, the nonprofit that organized this musical marathon, provides sustainable gardens and fresh vegetables to impoverished areas of the world, including overseas and in inner-city Detroit.
Gerry Shiffman, president of the Empire Area Community Center, reports that last Sunday’s Empire Area Emergency Fund Concert was a blast — and marked the two-year anniversary of the unique, community supported effort. The performers at Art’s Tavern were folksinger Jim Crockett along with Chris Skellenger, Patrick Niemisto and the gifted Beach Bards including Norm Wheeler, Bronwyn Jones and Joe Vandermeulen, who played to a full house. The impromptu appearance of Louan Lechler, Sandy Blumenfeld and the Leelanau School’s budding musicians was icing on the cake.
Local nonprofits Buckets of Rain and Great Lakes Friends of Safe Passage are organizing a “music marathon” next week in Traverse City which, if successful, will feature Woody Guthrie’s patriotic ballad “This Land is Your Land” sung, over and over again, for 72 hours straight. The performance will begin at noon on Tuesday, Sept. 17 and conclude at noon on Friday, Sept. 20.
The Empire Area Community Emergency Fund has gone into overdrive. Instead of the usual Sunday afternoon concert at a local venue, organizers Gerry Shiffman and Chris Skellenger have planned a day-long Summer Solstice Celebration for this Sunday, June 23, from noon until 9 p.m. at Empire’s Johnson Park. Two stages will feature continuous live music performed by 29 talented local musicians who have volunteered to support this effort.