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Pilsners & Politics: Jeff Mayes

15 Jan

What’s better than an evening of drinks with fellow young professionals? Throwing politics into the mix! At the year’s first Pilsners & Politics event, hosted at the Midland Center for the Arts’ Saints and Sinners lounge, a group of 18 young (or young at heart) professionals gathered to enjoy a brew and talk about the political climate in Michigan at the start of an important election year.

Our guest was Jeff Mayes, who got into politics at age 12 by helping a friend’s dad run for office. Jeff himself was elected from Bay City to the Michigan House of Representatives at age 33. After six years in the House, Jeff moved on to his current position as the Director of Economic Development Strategy for Consumers Energy. At the event, he took some time to reflect back on his past life in politics, and how there are a lot of positives we don’t always see.

Jeff Mayes

Jeff Mayes (MLive photo)

This was a great evening for several reasons:

  1. We got to ask a lot of questions. With the Internet, the pace of life and the general political climate, it can seem like all politicians do is give speeches. Pilsners & Politics events are small enough to put the focus on what the attendees want to know, and they’re relaxed enough to let the speaker be candid with his or her responses… even if one of the attendees is taking notes for a blog post.
  2. It wasn’t a typical political discussion. As in, we didn’t focus on people or specific issues as much as the overall political process: What do we do about polarization between the political parties? What’s it like getting into office? What’s it like getting out of office? How do you work across the aisle? These are the kinds of things you don’t always have time to ask in a crowded room – but when you’re sitting in a small circle with a drink, you can get answers.
  3. Things are actually pretty good out there. Jeff mentioned that politicians quickly find it’s in their own best interest to compromise. “Government is very much an interactive sport,” he said. “New people hit first and then they’re shocked and appalled when others hit back.” He said politicians quickly find they have leeway to compromise on any issue, and the best part of politics was “really working with others to get to solutions.” Even though cooperation doesn’t often get reported (“because it doesn’t sell papers”), it’s happening every day.
  4. We learned everyone can be politically active. Anybody can run for office, Jeff assured us, as long as they’re willing to commit the time it takes. “You have to say, ‘Until Election Day, I’m suspending my life to some degree,’” he said. But the rewards are great, not least because political involvement opens people’s eyes to new and different sides of their community and local issues.
  5. Beer. Actually, I had a mixed drink. But that was good too.

If relaxing, having a drink and getting real political answers sounds like a good time (and it is), keep an eye out for upcoming Pilsners & Politics events later this year. In the meantime, comment on this post and let us know what other politically themed events or gatherings you’d like to see! With almost every single Michigan office up for reelection this year, 2014 is a crucial time for us to be involved in shaping our state’s political future.

MYPros in 2013: We Didn’t Take This Year Lying Down!

15 Jan

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I was going to start off this blog post by saying something like “wow 2013 has come and gone, and… Can you believe it’s already 2014!” But that seems so generic and I tend to try to do things a little differently! So I am going to start by saying that I can’t wait to see what 2014 holds for MYPros. In 2013 we accomplished so much and added a few more layers to this program. If you’re someone who likes to go by the numbers, here’s a breakdown of the 2013 MYPros program.

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  • There were 14 total young professional events.
  • MYPros hosted 10 total events for the year and we were hosted by Saginaw and Bay City YPs for four events, two per city.
  • MYPros held four luncheons, four social events (two were regional) and two Pilsners & Politics.
  • There were 527 total young professionals that attended at least one MYPros event.  I have to say that again…that’s 527 individuals!
  • We raised $2,300 to pay for MYPros t-shirts to be given out to YP’s. We raised this money by hosting the “Fury at Currie” golf outing.
  • We started a new giving circle in Midland specifically for young professionals, the 100 Young Professionals Club. The 100 YP Club’s goal is to obtain 100 members; in our first year we have 46 members.
  • The 100 YP Club held two meetings and donated a total of $3,900 in 2013; $1,600 to Midland Area Homes and $2,300 to Creative 360.
  • In 2013, the MYPros Communications Subcommittee created 12 newsletters, one every month.
  • The Communications Subcommittee also unveiled the new MYPros blog in July of 2013. To date we have had 2,146 hits in just six months.
  • The MYPros Marquee was created in 2013 as a resource for young professionals to find out what’s going on in the community and all the fun events happening.
  • 2013 was the last year our wonderful, fearless leader, Karl Ieuter of Ieuter Insurance Group, was Chair of the MYPros Steering Committee.  A special thank you goes out to Karl; he has devoted much of his time to this program and has been a dedicated Chair for the past three years. Thank you Karl!

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So after all this you might be asking, what’s next in 2014? Well here’s a peek into the upcoming year…

  • Ben Morlock of The Dow Chemical Company  will be Chair of the MYPros Steering Committee, and Trish Ross of Members First Credit Union will be Chair-Elect.
  • New this year, MYPros will host two orientation sessions for new members of MYPros. This will help new YP’s learn more about the program and how they can get involved. These sessions will be sponsored by Northwood University’s DeVos Graduate School.
  • We will continue with our events, hosting four luncheons, social events and Pilsners & Politics.
  • The 100 YP Club will meet twice this year again and we hope by the end of 2014 we will reach our goal of 100 members!
  • We will continue to grow the MYPros blog and newsletter, as well as the MYPros Marquee.

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This is just a sample of what’s to come in 2014! Thank you to all of you who help to make the MYPros program what it is today, either by volunteering on a committee or attending events. Without all of your participation we wouldn’t have this program. So thank you again for making 2013 a success! If you have any comments or suggestions for programming in 2014, please feel free to email me your thoughts at jmaki@macc.org.  I always love to hear new ideas!

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RECAP: A Wild Gourmet Experience

19 Nov

Gourmet Gone Wild logo

Our society enjoys plenty of meats and foods that come from animals, but a surprising number of individuals would tell you they have never tasted wild game. By wild game, I’m talking about food from deer, elk, grouse, pheasant or even local fish, among many others animal species, that aren’t your typical grocery store commodity.

Several weeks ago, regional young professional groups, including your very own MYPros, teamed up to bring Gourmet Gone Wild to Saginaw, and I had the pleasure of attending.

Gourmet Gone Wild is a Michigan-specific traveling event that aims to introduce young people to wild game, conservation and outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing. Backed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan United Conservation Club and Pheasants Forever, among other organizations, these events not only prove that wild game can be delicious, but also that eating wild game is a healthy and sustainable practice for local communities around the state.

Pour the wine! Gourmet Gone Wild staff serve Michigan beers and wines while regional young professionals enjoy food in the background. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood

Pour the wine! Gourmet Gone Wild staff serve Michigan beers and wines while regional young professionals enjoy food and socializing in the background. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

The menu for our event included:

– Mozzarella-stuffed venison (deer meat) meatballs
– Spicy curried pheasant wontons
– Salmon cakes
– Paw paw fruit panna cotta

One neat thing about this event was in knowing that all the food was harvested locally to our region or state. This idea of eating locally-produced food is known as the ‘locavore movement,’ which Gourmet Gone Wild exemplifies. The deer and pheasants were harvested locally, the salmon was fresh caught from Lake Michigan and I know nothing about paw paw fruit other than it is native to Michigan (and that it was pretty tasty in a panna cotta dessert). I’m no food critic, so I won’t try and explain how each food “interacted with my palate.” I will say that I went back for seconds on all the items…and maybe thirds.

Tasty tasty! The menu was a delicious combination of Michigan-harvested wild game and fish. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Tasty tasty! The menu was a delicious combination of Michigan-harvested wild game, fish and fruit. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

In addition, the wild game menu is paired with Michigan beers and wines. Most of the area’s young professionals can already attest to the deliciousness of Michigan-made adult refreshments, so I won’t go into details here either, other than to say they were tasty, of course.

To top off the night, wild game chef Dan Nelsen gave a quick presentation on how to prepare the venison meat ball recipe, including some tips/tricks for cooking venison, since the meat is leaner and dries out quicker than normal beef.

Wild game chef Dan Nelson gives a presentation on how to prepare venison meatballs. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Wild game chef Dan Nelson gives a presentation on how to prepare venison meatballs. Photo credit: Vanessa Thurgood.

Being a hunter and fisherman myself, I appreciate Gourmet Gone Wild and their mission to introduce individuals to the outdoors and the eating of wild game. One thing about harvesting food myself, whether from Michigan’s woods, lakes or rivers, is that I have a greater appreciation about the food I eat and where it comes from. No, hunting isn’t for everyone. But I do believe that seeing the process through, from the woods to the dinner plate, is a rewarding experience and I encourage everyone to try it.

Are there any hunters or fisherman in MYPros that will be enjoying the woods or water this year? If you don’t hunt or fish, would you be willing to try it? Comment below!

If you are interested in Gourmet Gone Wild or the introductory hunting programs they offer to harvest food for their events, visit www.gourmetgonewild.org.

Small Project – HUGE Impact!

15 Oct

100 Young Professional Club

Once again the 100 Young Professionals Club was able to make a significant contribution to a local organization. Creative 360 was the chosen nonprofit to donate our pooled monies to at the meeting on October 3.

Karl Ieuter, who is a board member at Creative 360, had his name chosen out of the bowl to be one of the three presenters. He informed the group that Creative  360 has been trying to fundraise for new carpet. According to Karl, they have been struggling with it because it’s not an exciting project and not many people      were willing to give. Creative 360 had already raised $6,000 on their own and only needed a little more to complete their fundraising.

100 Young Professionals Club

With the 100 YP Club’s $2,300, we completed the fundraising so that Creative 360 can purchase new carpet. Even though this is a small project, we really made a    HUGE impact! Without our support, Creative 360 may not have been able to finish this crucial upgrade.

The other presenters at this meeting talked about projects with the Mid-Michigan Royal Family Kids and the Midland Area Partnership for Drug-Free Youth.    People can nominate the same organization and project at each meeting so these organizations could be chosen again at future meetings.

Not only was the donation a success and very heartwarming, but we increased the number of our Club’s members! In April, we had 32 members, and after the October meeting, we are up to 46 members! Our goal is to get to 100 members though, so if anyone would like to join, or knows of someone who would like to join, please contact Jennelle Maki at the Chamber and let her know! She can get you all the necessary information. You can also learn more about the Club in general at the Chamber’s website.

The next 100 YP Club meeting is TBD so check back for more information and stay tuned! At the next MYPros luncheon, the check for $2,300 will be presented to a representative from Creative 360 and all members of the Club will be recognized.

Fury at Currie Recap

23 Jul

“I went to a party…and par 3 golf broke out” certainly was right! Last Friday, July 19, MYPros were golfing at Currie Municipal Golf Course, but having lots of fun too! I’m not a regular golfer and a lot of the other MYPros out there weren’t either. You didn’t have to be good at golf to enjoy this event! It was just relaxing to be outside enjoying the time with friends. And it never hurts to get out of work a little early on a Friday! 🙂 We hope you didn’t miss out, but if you did, hopefully these photos will entice you to come next year! For even more photos, visit the MYPros Facebook Page.

Beautiful weather + friends + fun = A perfect day

Perfect weather + friends + fun = A beautiful day

There were a lot of fun challenges, including putting with a pool cue!

There were a lot of fun challenges, including putting with a pool cue!

Fury at Currie 3

Another challenge! Not only did you have to tee off a milk jug, it was right next to water! I bet that equaled trouble for some golfers!

Another challenge! Not only did you have to tee off a milk jug, it was right next to water! I bet that equaled trouble for some golfers!

Including these matching ladies! :)

We had some really fun golf outfits at the event!

We had some really "unique" golf outfits too!

Talk about bright!

Teeing off with oven mitts felt weird!

Teeing off with oven mitts felt weird!

Fore? Or admiring her shot?

Fore? Or admiring her shot?

After golf was over, we all sat down for food, drinks and LOTS of prizes!

After golf was over, we all sat down for food, drinks and LOTS of prizes!

Fury at Currie 6 Fury at Currie 5