Best community events of 2016

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 - 5:42pm

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3. Nick Offerman

This past October the Michigan Theater hosted Nick Offerman, the man behind the beloved Ron Swanson of “Parks and Recreation” in honor of his new book, “Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Workshop.” At times, it was difficult to distinguish Offerman from his most celebrated character. Yet aside from physical characteristics, the two have little in common. Reading select passages from his new book, a collection of thirteen exploring his own and other’s projects, Offerman pinpointed the singular love he and his character share — woodworking. Galavanting through his workshop, Offerman peppered his book with comments on his own and others' woodworking technique, accompanied with a wit and insight he inevitably brought to the Michigan Theater stage and the Ann Arbor community.

— Natalie Zak

2. Ross Gay

In September, Ross Gay read from his third book of poetry “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” a series of poems that explore the natural world’s beauty and all of the simultaneous joy and pain it encompasses. A few miles away from central Ann Arbor, at Lotus Farm, the picturesque backdrop led for an immersive experience of Gay’s lush imagery. Amid the twilight and blooms, Gay exalted everything from the musical names of plants to the dance of a robin, while still finding moments of silence and stillness to honor loved ones gone too soon. He shared “essayettes” as well, anecdotes focused on “delight” steeped in humility that harkens back to an alternate definition of an essay as an attempt or trial — humorous musings on anything from nightmares to sneakiness. Gay’s work did, and still continues to, remind its readers of the small joys and ineffable bliss that persists amid an often gloomy backdrop.

— Maria Robins-Somerville

1. Canterbury House

Each month, the Canterbury House, located at 721 East Huron Street, presents “A Night for Us: Colorful Soul,” as part of a concert series presented by “Artists of Color in Ann Arbor,” a student-formed organization conceptualized and executed by SMTD students Alexis Lombre, Brian Juarez, Mike Perlman and Tristan Cappel. Each month, a local student artist of color headlines a live concert, showcasing immense talent and passion for music and community. With free admission and free (delicious) soul food, the welcoming environment of the Canterbury House is tangible; all are invited, all are embraced. This space offers and encourages discussion of social issues, the chance to meet those of similar (or completely different) opinions and mindsets and the opportunity to become part of a community and cause vital to the University of Michigan. Featuring some of the University’s most talented musicians, the performances are truly not to be missed. Their next event is January 26th at 7 p.m.

— Allie Taylor