Charlotte Soup Returns October 23

CanDo! will host Charlotte Soup this month, repeating an event based on a similar idea from Detroit. The concept is simple; citizens come together to share a meal and then generate ideas to help improve the community!

Charlotte Soup in 2018 funded two new attractions in the community. A Community Sing and Pass-It-On project.  A Community Sing took place Memorial Day Weekend on Court House Square.  Pass-It-On is still in the creating stages and will be taking action soon. The 2018 winners included, Charlotte Christmas and Art of Charlotte. In 2017, Charlotte Christmas was held at Camp Frances and featured lighted trails, horse-drawn wagon rides, reindeer, Santa Claus and a campfire. In 2018, Charlotte Christmas was held at Court House Square and is now planning for the 2019 event. In addition, in 2017, Art of Charlotte took place in downtown with live music, visual arts and local cuisine.

The CanDo! board of directors is interested in building on past success by identifying new projects to fund. To take part, participants buy a $10 ticket. $5 covers the cost of the meal –soup, beverage and a cookie — and $5 goes into a collection to fund a community improvement project. Participants work in groups to generate ideas, and at the end of the night, everyone will vote on the projects that they would like to see funded. One project will be funded from the money raised by the event and a second project will be funded with a grant from CanDo!

Charlotte Soup will take place from 5:30-7:30 pm on Wednesday, October 23rd at the Eaton Area Senior Center, 804 S Cochran Ave, Charlotte, MI.  Plan to attend and be part of the next GREAT IDEA for our community.  All Charlotte community members are welcome. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the County Journal offices.  Tickets will also be available at the door.

Ticket Information and questions about the event can be directed to CanDo! Chairperson Yvonne Ridge at or

Education and Safe Routes To Schools On The Agenda For September

Each month, Charlotte Networking for Development and Opportunity (CanDo!) explores one of the 7 Elements of a Healthy Community.  CanDo will focus on Education for its September 25th gathering.  This is an opportunity to meet some of Charlotte Public Schools Administration as well as an opportunity to understand Safe Routes to School and provide feedback for the project.

Safe Routes to School focuses on the safety and education for children to get to and from school.  The team coordinating Safe Routes to School consists of Charlotte Public Schools, St. Mary’s, City of Charlotte, Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital, Barry-Eaton Heath District Health Department, Eaton County Road Commission, and CanDo! Step-by-Step.  This project has taken nearly 3 years to get to the point of grand submission. The City of Charlotte has an opportunity to receive up to 1.2 million in financial support for the 6

“Safe Routes to School promotes walking and bicycling to school through infrastructure improvements, enforcement, tools, safety education, and incentives to encourage walking and bicycling to school and will benefit the entire community.” Ridge said.

The September 25, 2019 CanDo! session will be held at the Board Room at the Charlotte Public Schools Administrative Offices, 378 State Street, beginning at 5:30 p.m.  Come meet many of Charlotte Public School Administration, view the plans for Safe Routes to School and join in the discussion. Coffee and cookies will be provided free of charge.

CanDo! Celebrates Agriculture In July

Each month, Charlotte Networking for Development and Opportunity (CanDo!) explores one of the 7 Elements of a Healthy Community.  CanDo will focus on the environment for its July 24 gathering.  A panel of community speakers will focus on what local agriculture contributes to the local economy of our community.

The July program with include presenter Diane Thompson. Diane coordinated Thornapple CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for eight years. The CSA grew veggies on Jane Bush’s ( AppleSchram Orchard) farm. Diane and her husband have belonged to a CSA for 19 years in Indiana and here in Michigan.

Diane has also assisted in starting a school garden program at her neighborhood school in Lansing. The program has a school garden with a hoop house, in-class nutrition lessons and food sampling, and an after school garden club.

For many years, Diane was involved with farmers markets in Lansing. Currently, Diane manages her family’s 600-acre centennial farm in South Georgia.

Joining Diane will be presenter Duane Smuts. Duane is a grain producing farmer from Charlotte. He is the Owner of S F Grain Inc. and Smuts Farms LLC. The farm produces corn, soybeans and wheat on owned and rented farmland throughout Eaton County.  The grains produced are sold for use in food, animal feed, and fuel among other uses.

In addition, Jane Bush will be presenting at the meeting. Jane came to farming in the classic tradition of the family farm – her aunt and uncle’s apple orchard in Charlotte, Michigan – where she worked and played as a child. When the farm came up for sale, Jane bought it and expanded her passion to include free-range eggs and farm raised pork. Now working with over 20 local farms, Jane and her team have grown Grazing Fields into a local market leader, delivering to customers within a 100-mile radius.

Also, presenting will be Angie Setzer who has been in the grain industry for over 14 years. After beginning her career as a cash grain broker, she transitioned into a position as Vice President of Grain for Citizens Elevator in Charlotte, MI. At Citizens, she manages five elevator locations as well as a state of the art on-farm program bringing the company’s overall yearly handling to over 12 mbu. In addition to her “Cash is King” column with Pro Farmer, she has been seen on AgDay, U.S. Farm Report, Market to Market and the Weather Channel, as well as regular appearances on Market Rally Radio, Benzinga’s Pre-Market Prep show, and The Bubba Show with Todd Horwitz and Agritalk.

“We are excited to hear from this panel of speakers and hope this program will give residents an understanding of local agriculture and how agriculture contributes to the local economy.” Ridge said.

The July 24, 2019 CanDo! session will be held at the Charlotte Community Library, 226 S Bostwick Street, beginning at 7:00 a.m. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.  Coffee and a light breakfast will be provided free of charge.

Ivan Iler Joins Storytellers Line-Up

Ivan Iler joins the cast of Storytellers at CanDo!’s Storytellers event on Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30 at Windwalker Underground Gallery.  Ivan will appear third year storyteller Ben Phlegar, retired Charlotte High School teacher and baseball coach, the Man from the Hand Mike Cox, Lansing Poet laureate and Michigan State University associate professor Laura Apol, and Jennifer Pahl Otto, a published author of four books for children.

Ivan Iler is a Michigan based artist who specializes in metal fabrication, he is particularly interested in outdoor public art. The idea that people will see and interact with his work long after he gone inspires him more than anything else does.

Ivan currently has many irons in the fire in terms of the mediums he uses; sometimes literally iron in the fire. Sculpting, carving, engraving, metal fabrication, (including blacksmith) painting, leather smith, drafting and mechanical design to name a few, as well as motorcycle engineering and fabrication at his shop in St Johns Michigan, Hammer In Hand Custom Cycles & Ivan Iler Studios.

Ivan’s story is a fictional story of a child that watched a horrible accident and how it ties to the emotions of being alive.

Additional information about the other storyteller’s is available here.

Join CanDo! on Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30 p.m. at Windwalker Underground Gallery, 125 S. Cochran Avenue.  You are sure to be entertained and inspired.

Summer Storytellers Returns June 26

Two years ago, Charlotte Area Networking for Development and Opportunity (CanDo!) inaugurated Summer Storytellers, an evening of personal stories by and about area residents. The enthusiastic response from the standing-room only audience inspired the CanDo! board of directors to make Summer Storytellers an annual event.

On June 26, beginning at 5:30 p.m., storytellers will take the stage of Windwalker Underground Gallery, 125 S. Cochran Avenue. Each will have 15 minutes to entertain, inform and inspire attendees.

One of 2017 and 2018 Summer Storytellers, Ben Phlegar, will be returning this year.  His remembrance of his time as a high school baseball coach motivated him to champion the new Charlotte High School Athletic Hall of Fame, which he serves as chairman. Ben retired in 2010 from teaching after 36 years of public service, the last 31 at Charlotte High School. He also coached high school baseball for 35 years in the State of Michigan with 33 of those years at Charlotte. He was varsity coach for 14 of those years. He lives in Charlotte with his wife Barb and has two adult sons.  Unlike the past two year’s Ben will not be telling a story about baseball.  His story is about pop culture involving his father and a group everyone knows about when he was in 8th grade from 1964.

Joining Ben this year will be the “The Man from the Land of the Hand”, Mike Cox. Mike has performed at the Alaska Folk Festival, the Duwamish Tribe’s Longhouse in Seattle, Washington and numerous classrooms in Michigan and Alaska.  He recently moved to Charlotte to be closer to his grandkids.  Mike’s story starts out as a Native American story about a monster living in the Grand River.  It has morphed into a fish tale, a whopper of tale, Jingle Bells on the Grand.

Laura Apol’s story is titled “Poems are Stories, too”.  Laura is an associate professor at Michigan State University and Lansing-area poet laureate. Her poetry has been published in four full-length collections. Her most recent book, Nothing but the Blood, is the winner of the Oklahoma Book Award for Poetry.

Another exciting addition to the Summer Story Tellers event is Jennifer Pahl Otto.  Jennifer creates and tells original stories for adults and for children.  They range from totally true to totally not true.  Her stories always have a unique point of view and a distinctive voice, quirky and kind.  She tells her stories at schools, nature centers, storytelling festivals and conferences, and other public events.  She has four books for children in print based on stories she tells, including her latest, Princess Hippopotamus.  They are available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and are published by Mead-Hill.  Jennifer will be telling a story about a cat that starts in the true personal story realm and moves into the world of the tall tale. The story is titled “Red the Cat.”

This is just a peak at what is in store for you on Wednesday, June 26 at 5:30 pm. at Windwalker. Be sure to look next week for additional Storytellers who will join the event to entertain, inform and inspire.