Archive for the ‘Immigrants’ Category.

• Photos from the Grand Race Road Rally

The Public Museum has provided us with the photos it took during the Grand Race Road Rally on June 14.  I have put them into a photo slideshow for you here.

• Video from the Grand Rapids Race Rally 2008

On Saturday, June 14, eleven enthusiastic teams from the firm competed in the first-ever Grand Race Road Rally staged exclusively for Warner Norcross & Judd by the Public Museum of Grand Rapids.  Each team was issued passports with clues that guided the teams to seven different neighborhoods in Grand Rapids.  In each neighborhood, the teams had to complete a challenge to get their passports stamped. 

• One Book, One Firm Luncheon, May 30

Stealing Buddha’s DinnerThe purpose of our One Book, One Firm initiative is to stimulate conversation and learning about diversity.  To get that conversation started, we will be having a One Book One Firm luncheon at noon on Friday, June 30.  At the luncheon, our guests will be a panel of former refuges whose families were brought to Grand Rapids following the fall of Saigon in 1975.  They will share their experiences and their thoughts on this year’s One Book, One Firm selection, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

One of  the panelists will be Quan Mac, who is married to our own Gaetan Gerville-Reache.  Quan was 10 months old when her family fled Vietnam.  Quan was a contemporary of  the author and went to high school with her.  Quan and the other panelists will have some interesting insights to share with us. 

Please plan on attending whether or not you have read the book.  The luncheon will be broadcast to all of our offices over the Internet. 

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Robin Keith by Tuesday, May 27.

• 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.

• Paul Hillegonds to Address Firm on Michigan’s Future

Paul Hillegonds Former Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives Paul Hillegonds will be addressing the firm at a Diversity Lunch-and-Learn on Monday, May 5.  Mr. Hillegonds, who is currently Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at DTE Energy in Detroit, served on a nonpartisan study group tasked with answering this question: “What really matters in better positioning Michigan for success in a knowledge-driven and entrepreneurial economy?”

The study group, formed under the auspices of Michigan Future Inc., a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization funded primarily by Michigan foundations, concluded that “the places that do the best in attracting talent from anywhere on the planet win.”  And the places that do that best are characterized by “[t]olerant attitudes and great diversity.”  If Michigan is to develop a knowledge-driven, entrepreneurial economy, the report concludes, we need to “develop a culture that unambiguously celebrates diversity and nurtures tolerance.” 

According to the study group’s report, “A New Agenda for a New Michigan,”  the group had not anticipated that their recommendations would begin with an emphasis on the importance of culture.  “It is not where we expected to end up when we began this project,” the report states, “So all of us together will have to learn how communities can change culture.” 

We have invited Mr. Hillegonds to talk to us about the evidence that drove the group to the conclusion that culture and diversity are important drivers of success.  Please save the date by marking your calendar for Monday, May 5.  More details will follow.