Archive for the ‘Newcomers’ Category.

• The 2008 One Book, One Firm Selection: Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

Modeled after the “one book one community” programs around the country, Warner Norcross & Judd has selected a single book that we want to encourage the entire firm to read during the summer of 2008.  We call the program “One Book, One Firm.”  Our One Book, One Firm Selection Committee reviewed a number of books relating to diversity – both fiction and nonfiction – that were recommended by the firm’s attorneys and staff.


The 2008 One Book, One Firm Selection is Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, a memoir by Bich Minh Nguyen (pronounced “bit min new-`win”), whose family settled in Grand Rapids after fleeing Vietnam in 1975, as Saigon fell to the Communist north.  Nguyen’s memoir tells the story of her growing up in Grand Rapids and of her longing to fit in to American culture.  In a postscript, the author describes the book as “an homage to childhood, suburbia, and all the bad food, fashion, music, and hair of the deep 1980s.  It is also about an immigrant’s dilemma to blend in or remain apart.” 

Nguyen develops a passion for American food, preferring Pringles and Tollhouse cookies to the traditional spring rolls and fried shrimp cakes of her Vietnamese grandmother.   She explains on her homepage:

As a girl, my favorite books were the ones that had good food scenes —The Boxcar Children, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Little House on the Prairie books. Here, food meant prosperity and possibility, longing and escape. Wanting to eat what these characters ate meant wanting to live in their worlds — and I wanted to be anywhere else, pretty much, besides where I was, which was Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the heart of the 1980s.

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner stood out to our One Book, One Firm Selection Committee for a couple of reasons.  First, it takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the 1980s, which will help many of us connect to the experiences that Nguyen recounts.  Nguyen’s descriptions of an immigrant family seeking to find its way in West Michigan also speaks to the themes of the Newcomers exhibit that was the subject of an earlier presentation to the firm and tour.

We hope that you will finish the book by August 1.  We hope to have a culminating event for One Book, One Firm during the first full week of August.  Along the way, we will plan some other opportunities to discuss the book.  Details will follow later.

• Details on the Grand Race Road Rally – June 14



On Saturday, June 14 from noon to 5:00 p.m.  the Grand Rapids Public Museum, along with local merchants and community organizations, will be staging The Rally exclusively for Warner Norcross & Judd.

Similar to CBS’s The Amazing Race, participants in the Rally will use clues to discover the diversity within our Grand Rapids community. Teams of two or four people will traverse through our local community via car. (Depending upon the level of participation, we may have to combine two person teams into teams of four.)

Each team will begin at the Public Museum, where teams will receive a parking pass (one per team), map and first clue. Clues will direct teams around Grand Rapids to seven or eight local destinations. At each stop, the teams will have to complete a challenge or activity, such as learning to count to ten in Chinese or trying a new ethnic food. Upon completion of the task, teams will be given the clue to their next destination.  

Teams will come full circle and meet again at the Public Museum at the end of the race where there will be refreshments and an awards ceremony.

Because there are many logistics and community businesses and organizations involved in this event, it is important that you RSVP to Robin Keith by Friday, May 22 if you want to participate. 

The event is limited  to 100 people and 25 teams on a first-come first-served basis. We encourage you to sign up as a team, but you may sign up as an individual and we will assign you to a team. You may include family members and/or your significant other as part of your four-person team.

• Tour the Newcomers Exhibit, February 29


If you who attended the Diversity Lunch-and-Learn on January 11, you heard Chris Carron, Director of Research and Interpretation with the Public Museum of Grand Rapids, introduce the new permanent Museum exhibition entitled: “Newcomers: The People of This Place.”

Now is your chance to get a guided tour of the new exhibit.  The firm is offering attorneys and staff the opportunity to enjoy a free, guided tour of this wonderful exhibition. The tours will be conducted by Museum staff serving as docents, including:

  • Chris Carron, who has spent the last several years researching and developing this exhibition,
  • Veronica Kandl, Newcomers curator,
  • Debra Muller, Norton Mounds Project Manager and Native American programs coordinator, and
  • Gina Bivins, public program coordinator and educator on the Newcomers team.

This means that you will have a very special and unique chance to learn from professionals who are truly as knowledgeable as possible about this very special exhibition.

The tour will be held on Friday, February 29 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at the Public Museum.  A box lunch will be available at noon in the 7th floor coffee room for each tour participant. You are responsible for your own transportation to the Museum (or walking!). The firm will pay the cost of the guided tour, parking and your lunch.

Support staff who attend the tour should indicate a one hour lunch on their timesheets. Time spent on the tour in excess of the normal one hour lunch period will be paid as time worked.

The tour is open to all attorneys and staff.  (You do not have to have been at the Lunch-and-Learn to attend.)  Due to space and docent limitations, this tour is open on a first-come, first-served basis to a maximum of thirty five people. To be one of the select few to enjoy this opportunity, please RSVP to Robin Keith no later than Friday, February 22.

If you are unfamiliar with the Newcomers Exhibit, learn more by clicking here and here.

• Recommended Reading: A Baker’s Odyssey

A Baker’s OdysseyHere’s a book that fits right in with the Newcomer’s exhibit. Greg Parent has collected recipes from America’s rich immigrant heritage in “A Baker’s Odyssey.” 

Parent was born in Shanghai, China.  His mother was from Iraq and his father from Russia.  They immigrated to the United States in 1950.  Parent earned a PhD from Berkeley and became a professor of zoology at the University of Montana.  He eventually left academia to pursue a career in cooking. 

For “A Baker’s Odyssey,” Parent collected recipes from others who had immigrated to the U.S.  He traveled the country, and visited the kitchens of over 60 immigrants from 30 countries to sample and record recipes from the old country.  He explains his reason for doing this as follows:

Food is like language.  You grow up learning to speak your mother tongue, and at the same time you develop tastes for specific foods.  If you move to a new country, you yearn for connection to the place you left, and food is the magical link.  My parents were no different from other immigrants in wanting to connect with familiar foods in a foreign land.  

Parent’s publisher describes the book as follows:

A Baker’s Odyssey is a rich collection of recipes and culinary history, all gleaned from Patent’s exhaustive research in the American home kitchens of immigrants from around the world. Through his travels across the country, Patent learned the secrets to traditional baked goods originating from thirty-two different nations. From Scotland and Austria to India and Thailand to Mexico, Norway, and West Africa, the recipes represent the best of each culture’s beloved culinary traditions. Chapters are organized by categories of baked goods, and include Fried Pastries and Doughs, Flatbreads and More, Savory Pastries, Sweet Pastries, Savory Yeast Breads and Pies, Sweet Yeast Breads, Cookies and Cookie-Like Pastries, and Dessert Cakes, Tortes, and Pies. Patent provides detailed information on the origin of each recipe and its ingredients, and gives a real sense of the cultural heritage behind each dish. Recipes are easy enough for home cooks of any level to master, and include everything from Jewish Matzoh, Eastern European Rugelach, and Sweet Irish Soda Bread to Russian Meat Piroshki, Italian Pignoli Cookies, and Chinese-Style Almond Sponge Cake.

You can listen to an interview with Greg Parent on NPR’s Sunday Morning by clicking here.

Please share your family recipes with others at the firm by posting them on A Warner Tapestry by clicking here.

• Schedule of Events at the Ethnic Heritage Festival

Ethnic Heritage Festival

The Grand Rapids Public Museum has published a list of times of the various events that will be taking place at the Ethnic Heritage Festival, on Saturday, January 19.   The festival runs from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Admission is free.

Among the events is the opening of the new exhibition, “Newcomers: People of This Place,” which was sponsored in part with a gift from Warner Norcross & Judd.  The exhibit opens with a ceremony that begins at 11:45 p.m.

Here is the schedule of events for the entire day:

9:00 • Museum Opens – Free Admission!
10:30 • Irish Step Dance performance by Heinzman School of Irish Dance
10:45 • Origami Demonstration by Hito Akehi
11:00 • Choir Performance by Edelweiss Choir • Planetarium Show – Everybody’s Sky
11:30 • Concert by Alpentraum Alphorngruppe
11:45 • Opening Event • One Book One County Announcement
12:30 • Choir Performance by Sudanese Choir
 1:00 • Showcase of Ethnic Fashion – Narrated by Eva Aguirre Cooper • Planetarium Show – Everybody’s Sky • Beer Tasting – 400 beers from around the world (through 4:00)
 1:30 • Performance by the Pacific Island Dancers
 2:00 • Performance by India Folk Dance • Performance by Grace Wolbrink & The Muffin Dancers • Planetarium Show – Everybody’s Sky
 2:30 • Performance by Bag Pipe Group • Lithuanian Straw Weaving Demonstration by Don Atras
 3:00 • Concert by Bottom Line Blues Band • Planetarium Show – Everybody’s Sky
 4:00 • Performance by Grupo Wepa • Henna Art Demonstration by Vanessa Clarey • Planetarium Show – Everybody’s Sky
 5:00 • Concert by Shir Shalom choir
 5:30 • Performance by Baducada Club Drum Group

• More Information on Newcomers Exhibit

Here is some additional information about the new exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum that will be the subject of our next Lunch-and-Learn on Friday, January 11. 

The exhibit, Newcomers: The People of This Place, which opens on January 19, is a 4,000 sq. ft. exhibition that explores, celebrates, and questions the multifaceted past and present of ethnicity and immigration in West Michigan. It will include more than 600 artifacts and images drawn from the Museum’s and other community collections.  A companion exhibit to Anishinabek: The People of This Place which examines the cultural identities of Native Americans in our region, Newcomers looks at the cumulative effect on the community created by the migration and immigration of people from multiple backgrounds over time, from the founding of Grand Rapids to the present.  Newcomers builds upon the Museum’s ties to ethnic communities in a way that is relevant to today’s society. 

Newcomers has been developed with the support and encouragement of the National Endowment for the Humanities in hopes that it can serve as a national model for exhibitions dealing with issues of cultural identity and ethnic diversity in urban communities.  Themes for Newcomers were developed by a team of museum staff, nationally recognized scholars and designers, and local community stakeholders. The list of scholars includes the president of the Immigration Society, the curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, and the editor of the 50-volume Ethnic Michigan series.   Newcomers Advisory Committees included representatives from ethnic heritage societies, local and state diversity curriculum planners, and social agencies devoted to healing racism.   

The Newcomers exhibit presents the stories of individuals and families from many backgrounds according to a series of themes that most have shared on their journey from aliens to Americans. These include Leaving the Homeland, Coming to Grand Rapids, Settling In, Making a Living, Building a Family, Creating Community, Realizing Identity, and finally Creating A New Place.   The exhibit will provide interactive experiences for families and school groups, and corresponding classroom materials will be a part of diversity curriculums used in numerous districts throughout West Michigan.

The exhibition will also be used for corporate diversity training, and serve as a safe meeting place for important community discussions about race, ethnic identity and life in a multi-cultural society.  The Museum has asked Warner Norcross & Judd to work with it in developing the corporate diversity training program.

Admission to the Newcomers exhibit is free during the Museum’s Ethnic Heritage Festival on Saturday, January 19.