Grounds for Thought

Climate change poses threat to coffee business

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Climate change may increase the cost of your morning coffee. Kelly Wicks, who owns Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green with his wife, Laura, was quoted in a recent Business Forward report saying that climate change is “adversely affecting the long term outlook for coffee, putting additional burdens here at home and putting small farmers in potential financial peril in all the major growing regions worldwide.” Early this year, the Wicks family and a couple key employees traveled to the Siles Farm in Matagalpa, Nicaragua to get a first-hand look at how their main product is grown, and the challenges facing the  farmers, small business owners like the Wicks family, who provide it. Coffee growers, Wicks said, are battling “rust,” a pathogen that can have devastating effects on a coffee plantation. The disease thrives at warmer temperatures. Even a temperature increase of a couple degrees can promote the disease and that can reduce the crop dramatically. The Siles farm is large enough with several thousand acres, that the growers can, for now, combat the spread of the disease by moving production to higher elevations, where the trees are less susceptible. “They have some ability to combat the challenge from climate change,” Wicks said. Siles also has its own dairy herd. The whey is used to produce a material to help protect the trees from rust. The milk is given to their employees. “It’s small growers who have no option.”  While Siles produces thousands bags a year, a small farmer may produce 20-30 bags. “They can’t say we’re just going to go up the mountain,” he said. “And if their well runs dry, they’re out of luck.” While rust is a problem wherever coffee is grown, it is a particular issue in Central America. Should the region’s coffee crop be devastated, that would put a million people out of work, Wicks said. Coffee harvesting and processing is still a labor intensive process,…


Guitarist Mike Bryce grooves in many styles on new album

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When Mike Bryce graduated from Bowling Green State University he already had experience producing two albums. Bryce, a jazz guitar performance major, had founded the Roots Music Club on campus, and took the lead in producing the club’s annual compilations. Now he’s releasing his own CD, “Eclectic Guitar,” featuring 10 originals that cover the gamut of styles he’s explored over the years. Bryce will celebrate the new album with a show Saturday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. More information is available at www.mikebrycemusic.com. While some of the tunes date back to his senior recital, Bryce said he didn’t really get started in earnest on the project until the beginning of this year. Part of the delay was working it in with his teaching schedule. He has about 40 private students at his own studio, Studio Connection, and in Bluffton. True to the title, “Eclectic Guitar” reflects a variety of styles. Those styles are in part driven by the singers and instrumentalists Bryce recruited to join him. At the core is the rhythm section of Devonte Stovall, on bass, electric bass, and cello, and JP Stebal on drums. He’s worked with them dating back to his time at BGSU, and in the band The Barncats. “It’s comfortable,” he said of collaborating with his bandmates. They are joined by vocalists and violinists on the rest of the tracks, some are folks he knew from the Roots Music Club, or jazz classes, or are friends. He said he tailored the songs to fit the approaches of the various singers. “A lot of it is not jazz,” he said. He said there’s a spontaneity to how he composes. Beau Hamann sings both on the rocking opener, “Barn Fire” and the swing ballad “First Love.” Amy Hewitt is an old friend, who works construction, with a fine singing voice, reminiscent of Nora Jones. She’s featured…


“The Wicks Family have long been a positive force in our community” – Cathy Harshman & Judy Yackee

The Wicks family and their business, Grounds for Thought, have long been a positive force in our community. Beyond providing a gathering place and nutrition for the mind and body they have hosted numerous cultural, music and intellectual events. They have been instrumental in organizing our wonderful Black Swamp Arts Festival. And now they are applying that positive force toward another community. On August 25, Port Aransas, Texas (as well as other coastal communities) was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. This beautiful beach town has lost so much including every single book in their library. We put out the word that we were collecting books to help the Port Aransas library rebuild. The result has been amazing. Our friends have really come through. Kelly, Laura and Sandy Wicks of Grounds For Thought have alone provided dozens of boxes of books. We are so very grateful for these donations and for the privilege of being a part of this wonderful BG community that Grounds for Thought epitomizes. Cathy Harshman Judy Harshman Yackee Bowling Green


Ann Beck celebrates her paintings in first solo show

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ann Beck often sees her art hanging from people’s ears. Her handcrafted earrings are a familiar fashion statement in Bowling Green, where she sells them at the Black Swamp Arts Festival and at the Christmas Boutique hosted by Grounds for Thought, and elsewhere. Less common is a chance for her to see her paintings hanging from walls. Beck and art lovers have that opportunity this month during an exhibit at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. The paintings are clearly by the same hand as the earrings with their bright colors and bold shapes, styled figures set in vivid landscapes. Though the paintings were created in the past three years, they represent a life in art that’s taken Beck, 49, from her native Colorado, to New Mexico, New Zealand and Bowling Green. The nature and myths of those places are all infused in the paintings. “I was one of those kids who always draws constantly,” Beck said of her start. In high school she had an inspiring art teacher. “I have a lot of success, and got a lot of awards.” But when she went to Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, she hesitated about making art a career. She wanted to keep her art close to her and wasn’t willing to “work for anyone.” She’s still not sure what she was thinking. “I was just young and dumb,” she conceded. “I took a ton of art classes, and just dropped out.” She traveled always continuing to draw. “An artist doesn’t give up.” Then she planned to return to study art education. But became pregnant. She and Kurt Panter, her husband, decided to start a family.  She also worked in art galleries and apprenticed with a potter. “It was a different kind of journey for me.” That journey led her and her family to Bowling Green, where Panter teaches geology at Bowling Green State University. She…


Irish duo to give listeners a taste of what’s coming to Black Swamp Arts Festival

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even though Irish piper Cillian Vallely has performed before audiences of thousands around the world, he’ll still find time after a gig to sit in at a local jam session, or seisiun. The camaraderie of those spontaneous music gatherings have become a huge part of the propagating Irish music. “You can go all over the world and go into an Irish bar and find people playing this music. There’s a common repertoire,” said Vallely, who grew up in Northern Ireland. “A lot people are not taking it up to be a performer or a top player, they take it up because they like the company.” As a member of Lunasa, called “the hottest Irish acoustic group on the planet” by the Irish Times, he’s now at the pinnacle of Irish music, but he still likes to sit in. Vallely, on pipes and low whistle, and Lunasa bandmate Kevin Crawford, flute and whistle, will play a free show Friday May 12 at 7 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. The concert, sponsored by local Irish group Toraigh an Sonas, is a preview for the full quintet’s performance at the Black Swamp Arts Festival on Sept. 8. There was a time, Vallely said, when the music was dying out in Northern Ireland. Then in the 1960s folk revival brought it back to public attention. His parents were catalysts in helping bring the music back. Though avocational musicians, they founded Armagh Pipers Club in 1966, taught and went on tour. A few years later Cillian was born. “I grew up in this house full of instruments. Several days a week some kind of musical activity was going on.” He started on the tin whistle, then graduated to the pipes. He tried the fiddle “but it felt alien to me.” As a teenager he drifted away a bit. He was active in sports. He played flute in orchestra…


Music rings out up & down BG’s Main Street

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Music brought people together in downtown Bowling Green Friday night. On South Main Street more than 100 people gathered at Grounds for Thought for “Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song” a protest song singalong led by three of the four members of the Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp. A couple blocks north more than 100 people celebrated the ageless power of rock ‘n’ roll with The Welders, who for more than 30 years have been staging a spring break show at Howard’s Club H. Mary Jane Saunders, co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, opened “Singing for Our Lives” at Grounds by explaining her rationale for suggesting the event. Many are feeling stressed and uncomfortable in the current political climate, she said. That’s been expressed in several rallies, most held in the green space next to the Presbyterian Church.             The sing-along of classic songs was offered as an occasion “to have fun together” while not forgetting the cause that has united so many in the community. “Music has the power to empower and to energize us,” she said. Pop music historian Ken Bielen gave a brief introduction to protest music, much of it by simply quoting memorable lines. He recalled that it was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who urged Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. “When people get together in the right combination, history is made.” He then recalled Country Joe McDonald’s admonition to the throngs at Woodstock singing along to “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag.” “I don’t know how you expect the stop the war when you can’t sing any better than that.” And at first the singing at the Grounds event was, let’s say,  dutiful. But humor, another unifier, helped pull everyone in. After singing the Holly Near song that gave the event its title, Jason Wells-Jensen joked…


MLK food drive needs help to reach all corners of BG

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News More volunteers are needed so the annual BG Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Food Drive reach out to more households throughout Bowling Green. The drive to collect non-perishable food and hygiene items will be held Saturday, Jan.14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 15, noon to 4 p.m. The drive is being coordinated by the Brown Bag Food Project working out of Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green. According to Amy Jo Holland, of Brown Bag, said last year about 100 volunteers were able to canvas about two-thirds of Bowling Green. About 70 boxes of food was collected and was distributed to six area food pantries. The aim this year is to have enough people to reach all neighborhoods. In a Facebook post the organizers wrote: “We have had a wonderful response in previous years and hope to set a record with this year’s endeavor. As many of you are aware, there is a dire need for food donations in our area; we have a large number of food insecure people, and the area food pantries are extremely low on supplies.” They are asking residents to have their donations ready, so that volunteers can reach as many Volunteers will also collect monetary donations. Checks should be made out to:  Brown Bag Food Project. Those donations will be divvied up among participating pantries. Volunteers will meet at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St. at the beginning of their chosen shift on either Saturday or Sunday. Shifts are two hours long. To sign up, go to: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc_P-u0wQX5gYCFWTPEs2pItvbEuwt06jOnEnp3MHXiON84iQ/viewform?c=0&w=1  


Musicians to sing for the climate

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Activism and musical entertainment will come together in a Concert for the Climate Saturday starting at 7 p.m. at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. The goal, said musician Dustin Galish, is “to try to register people to vote and generate a dialogue about environmental and green energy issues.”                   Grounds for Thought is a good venue for the event. It’s a place people come to discuss issues, he said. “Music has inherently always been anti-establishment and about stirring things up, doing that in a positive way,” he said. “There’s always a history of when the time is right of talking about the issues you care about. Music does bring people together. It’s a good bridge.” Galish’s own band Tree No Leaves will headline the event. It’s been awhile since he’s had a show at Grounds and as a field organizer for NextGen Climate, the timing seemed perfect.   NextGen is a national effort geared up to register voters and promote action to combat climate change. Galish said the group has been active registering voters every day since students arrived back on campus. NextGen Climate is helping with the show, and there’ll be tables set up for other environmental groups including those from campus. “There’s a good amount of environmental activism in the area.”   He called around to bands to see who was interested in playing. Sage Rozzel’s Beats by Sage will spin tunes, including originals at 7 p.m., as people gather and converse. Tim Concannon will open the concert at 8 p.m. The show will also feature singer-songwriter Justin Payne, who is recently back in town after an extensive tour. College rockers Balance Bird open the band portion with Tree No leaves batting cleanup.   Also making appearance will be the Mechanical Cat. Galish said the other acts won’t necessarily include any topical material. Mechanical Cat, though, trades in his own surreal way…