photo of peter kageyama

With 500 people gathered in the newly renovated ballroom of The Radisson on an August evening, author Peter Kageyama (pictured above) informed, enlightened and inspired 2012 Community Meeting attendees on the importance of loving where you live — and how to do something about it.

Community Foundation Board of Trustees chairperson Barbara James opened the PNC-sponsored event with a review of the board’s ongoing strategic planning initiatives to maximize the vision of our donors and the needs of the community. After recognizing former trustee Don Vander Kooy for his leadership during 2011 as interim leader of the organization, she introduced President/CEO Carrie Pickett-Erway who assumed her new duties this past April.

Pickett-Erway gave an overview of the past year’s achievements at the Community Foundation, including how 2011 was the Community Foundation’s biggest giving year ever, with 2,685 gifts totaling $24 million — "a powerful example of community giving in difficult times." Meanwhile, with the help of our donors, the Community Foundation granted almost $17 million to the work of area nonprofits. Among other initiatives, she gave an update about The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, supporting a core priority of our organization: K-12 education.

"This is a critical time in our community," said Pickett-Erway. "We have far too many individuals and families struggling for the basics. And, of course, our community’s nonprofit organizations struggle to keep up with the demand.

"We all agree that in a place like Kalamazoo, this is not acceptable. We all want everyone in our community to enjoy the highest quality of life possible, from our young children to our wise elders."

"The challenges that face our community require the resources, talents and gifts of all of us," Pickett-Erway said. "A community foundation is just that, a collection of talents and resources that come from the community, to be used for the community. Your community foundation is well-prepared to work collaboratively with other community partners to make an impact and create positive change."

Kicking off the Community Foundation’s theme of "Love Where You Live," Pickett-Erway introduced Kageyama, the author of For The Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places and expert in bottom-up community development.

Kageyama presented examples gathered from his travels on how ordinary people are enhancing and celebrating their "place." He delighted the audience with pictures of the Kalamazoo area sprinkled throughout his presentation, having arrived in town the day before to get a feel for some of our unique offerings.

Says Kageyama, "I travel a lot to different cities and I was incredibly impressed with the people I met in Kalamazoo and the ideas and energy folks have for their community. You have great community ‘love notes,’ from the Park Trade Center to the People’s Food Co-Op to the Open Roads Bike Project — all of which make for a very lovable community."