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Archive for the ‘Northern Profile’ Category

Our new mayor in Traverse City, Chris Bzdok, has a healthy outlook on the future of our town. He comes from a mindset of environmental sustainability, and works to balance the needs of Traverse City while keeping the big picture in focus.

He is redefining how the City Commission acts on projects, proposals and citizen input. Instead of waiting until the end of a process to invite citizen input, he’s looking for it up front. His new website, PlanforTC.com, enables residents to proactively voice their ideas and input on proposed projects or make new suggestions.

I’m confident that Chris Bzdok will lead us in the right direction during his two-year term as mayor. Here’s to 2010 and a prosperous Traverse City!

February is bound to be a hot month with the new Traverse City National Writers’ Series set to feature the likes of Tom Brokaw, Woody Harrelson, Mario Batali, James Bradley author of “Flags of Our Fathers”, and Walter Kirn writer of “Up in the Air” to name a few. To cap it off, on February 19-21, Michael Moore and Jeff Garlin from “Curb Your Enthusiam” have teamed up to create the Traverse City Comedy Arts Festival! It’s going to be a banner year!

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Most Traverse City people know John Robert Williams as one of the guys who founded the Traverse City Film Festival and as a local photographer who has operated his photo studio in town for 30 years. His studio also shares his moniker, John Robert Williams Commercial Photography. Some know of his 22 years of creating zany laugh-out-loud floats in the National Cherry Festival’s Cherry Royale Parade. JRW 2009  4x5 color

John is a community visionary and leader whose philosophy is to “pay rent to the community” through activism. John is also a bike nut. He has over 40 bikes in his garage, each has a name and most of them are one-speed fixed gears. Obviously with a love of bikes, it’s no surprise that John was a founder of what is now known as TART Trails. The trail group was formed when US31 was widened all the way out to the Grand Traverse Resort in 1986 in preparation for the Governor’s Conference; however, when the road was widened, it left no room for shoulders or sidewalks and there was no where for cyclists or pedestrians. Thus, a group called Citizens for Better Ways was formed and later became TART Trails. When the first phase of TART was paved in 1989 from Barlow to Three Mile, John worked with Rotary Charities and Homestretch to build affordable housing along the trail and rail corridor.

John has always found studios fascinating- whether it’s a studio for photo, film or radio. He sees them as “places to create.” With a philosophy like that, it’s also no surprise that John was one of the Traverse City Film Festival founders with Michael Moore and Doug Stanton. This summer, the festival celebrated it’s fifth year but John knew it would be a resounding success from the beginning. He just knew that Northern Michigan was ready for the culture and art that a movie festival would bring to the region. He thought that the festival would draw crowds of people who are interested in movies as well as the area’s burgeoning wine and craft brew industry, restaurants, fresh foods and unique shops. Also, John was a founding member and musical director at WNMC, Northwestern Michigan College’s radio station.

Of course, with all of this activity in the community, you’d bet he’d have a strong home base. He’s married to Terrie Taylor, who he’s had a crush on since the 8th grade. Terrie is also an amazingly generous person, spending six months a year in Malawi leading a research team to understand and end childhood malaria in Africa. 

John also has 2 sons, Evan and Colin, who are just now beginning to appreciate their dad’s sense of humor, love for community and zest for life. To view John’s work or to book an appointment for a family portrait, visit him at www.jrwpix.com

The photo was taken in John’s studio with his camera and equipment, but with my eyes on the viewfinder and finger snapping the pic. I’m no pro photog, but I think I did ok.

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