Wow. Three years. It’d be easy to put together a few sentences of laughter, positivity, and thanks, but the truth is... I have more on my mind today. Hopefully, that’s okay.
As I look back on Kalamadoodle’s past three years, I can’t help but reflect on the culture and climate that has surrounded, and often overshadowed, our events. Together, we’ve experienced—and continue to experience—some horrifically challenging times; in our city, state, country, and world.
And while many threads have been pulled, I’ve been able to find comfort in the fabric of our foundation; in knowing our greater purpose has always remained intact.
We pride ourselves on being a diverse and inclusive group. Though we may not agree on all things, there is an obvious and abundant sense of comradery and teamwork flowing through our Kalamadoodle community. We’ve been building this together since the beginning, and that’s something I’m extremely proud of.
But, the reality is our world is full of uncertainty, and we can expect it to topple and turn from time to time. And even though these changes can be full of pain and stress, we must not easily forget our most important act; caring for one another. We must continue to engage with our neighbors; both within our events, and outside our neighborhoods. We must lend an ear and helping hand to those we love, and more importantly, to those we do not. We must use our creative abilities to start a positive dialogue, and establish a more respectful understanding of the many characters, colors, and cultures that all share this little world. It’s during these dark times that we need to shine brighter, and use our imaginations to bridge the gaps that our hands and feet cannot. These are times to be loud; there is no room for silence.
And while I have no intention of using Kalamadoodle as a tool for my personal politics, I acknowledge my audience, my position as a white male with privilege, and my responsibility to continue searching for positive ways this platform can be used to give hope, empathy, love, and power to those in our society who need it most. To provide a microphone for those who deserve to be heard, and are telling truths much more important and significant than my own. For me, this project was never simply about drinking and drawing. It has been, and always will be, about trying to make an impact.
To wrap this up, I want to give a few words of thanks:
I want to give a very special thanks to my team of volunteers. Blake, Elena, Mary, and the countless others who step in and step up to lend a helping hand. Your continued passion and support brings me purpose, and I’m thankful for the friendships we’ve forged along the way.
I want to thank our brewery and community partners for providing invaluable resources and support that allow Kalamadoodle to be successful and grow.
I want to thank the greater Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan communities for encouraging and fostering the vibrant ideas and unique opportunities that make our corner of the mitten so very special.
And lastly, I want to thank our attendees, our audience; you. Watching complete strangers come together, connect, and create with each other, is a dream that continues to come true. Thank you for that.
I look forward to seeing you tonight at One Well Brewing to help us celebrate three incredible years.