Charlotte Storytellers 2020


Charlotte Networking for Development and Opportunity (CanDo!) is accepting short video stories for a curated YouTube channel series. Stories should reflect the following theme: Physically Distant but Socially Close: Community in a Time of Pandemic. To be considered, stories must adhere to the following guidelines.

    • Be between two and five minutes in duration;
    • Be positive, uplifting, inspiring and/or humorous;
    • Be based on true events or experiences; and
    • Be non-political.

Videos may be submitted to until June 30, 2020.

Civil Dialogue Subject of CanDo! Conversation

Many observers have commented on the lack of civility that has come to characterize the Internet age. Expressions such as trolling, flame wars, and tweet storms have become a part of the everyday lexicon. Incidents of online bullying are on the rise.

Charlotte Area Networking for Development and Opportunity (CanDo!) will be addressing this important topic in the first of a series of four CanDo! Community Conversations to be held in 2020. This meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 26 in the Spartan Room of the Charlotte Community Library beginning at 7:00 a.m.

CanDo! board member and Charlotte High School Principal Jeff Bohl will be leading the discussion. “Social media has increased friction locally and across the county,” he said, “and made positive dialogue harder to have. During this Community Conversation, attendees will brainstorm ways to use community events to promote more positive communication when we disagree about issues.”

CanDo! Community Conversations is a new initiative in 2020. They are designed to engage a broad cross-section of area residents in thoughtful discussion about pressing problems.

“Charlotte has many positive attributes including a willingness to work together to solve important challenges,” said CanDo! Chairman Leah LaFave. “Setting the standard nationally for civil dialogue is just the kind of remarkable idea that CanDo! was formed to promote.”

The Charlotte Community Library is located at 226 S. Bostwick Street. The public is invited to attend. Coffee and a light breakfast will be provided free of charge.

CanDo! Community Conversations are made possible through the generous support of Eaton Federal Saving Bank and Wells Fargo Advisors.

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.