Archive for December 2008

• Eighth Annual Community Breakfast to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Grand Rapids Urban League

The Grand Rapids Urban League will be holding its Eighth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast on Monday, January 19, 2009.  The breakfast will be held at the Steelcase Town Hall at 7:30 am.

The breakfast brings together civic and business leaders and members of the community to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and his quest for justice and equality. Inspiring speakers will describe how Dr. King affected their lives and we will again present the Drum Major for Justice Award to an individual who has done significant work to keep Dr. King’s legacy alive in our community.

 Warner Norcross & Judd is pleased to be a continuing sponsor of the breakfast.   We have a reserved table with room for 10 people from the firm.  If you would like to attend, please let Rodney know.

• International Film Series Promotes Cultural Diversity

Chiaroscuro Film SeriesChiaroscuro, an international film series in Grand Rapids, is in its fourth season of presenting  excellent films.  (  Chiaroscuro’s mission is to promote cultural diversity and awareness through the presentation of international films and round table discussions for the benefit of students and members of the community.

On six Sunday afternoons beginning in January and continuing through April, Chiaroscuro (pronounced kee-ar-oh-skyur-oh) will show an extraordinary selection of foreign films under the theme “Finding Home.” Each of these films reflects some aspect of the process by which people of various origins and cultures find a new place to call their own, whether by their own choice or by someone else’s.

Each feature film is preceded  by the showing of a locally produced film. Following the main feature film, a panel of experts discusses the film for about 20-minute.  Kathy Hanenburg, who chairs Warner’s Immigration practice, and Homayune Ghaussi, an associate in our Southfield office, will be panelists at the second movie in the series, In This World, on February 8.  Following the panel discussion, wine and snacks are served, giving movie goers the opportunity to chat further and to view the art work at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, where the film series takes place.

Each film begins at 2:30 p.m at the UICA at 41 Sheldon SE, in Grand Rapids.  (Map

Warner Norcross’s Entertainment Law Group is among the sponsors of  the 2009 Chiaroscuro fim series.

Here are the six movies scheduled for 2009:

  • Sunday, January 18 Golden Door (Italy 2007) At the dawn of the 20th century, Sicilian widower Salvatore Mancuso (Vincenzo Amato) leaves behind everything he knows to pursue a better life in America in this elegiac immigrant’s tale. Details and trailer
  • Sunday, February 8 –  In This World  (Great Britain 2002) Two Afghan cousins become refugees and embark on a clandestine overland odyssey that takes them from Pakistan to London in this gripping documentary film from director Michael Winterbottom. Details and trailer.
  • Sunday, February 22 – The Daughter of Keltoum (France/Tunisia 2001) Brought up by an adoptive Swiss family, 19-year-old Rallia experiences culture shock after she returns to her native Algeria. (Netflix) Details and trailer.
  • Sunday, March 8 – Fraulein (Germany 2006) Three women in Zurich have one thing in common: a life they left behind in Yugoslavia. Reza has spent 30 years reinventing herself as a single businesswoman. Mila, her employee, longs to return home. Ana, new to Switzerland, comes to Reza looking for work — and maybe to shake things up at the café Reza runs.  Details and trailer.
  • Sunday, March 22 – Bolivia (Argentina 2001) Freddy, a Bolivian exile who’s left his loved ones behind to try his luck in Argentina, takes a job as a cook in a Buenos Aires restaurant, where he befriends an odd cast of characters who become his surrogate family.  Details.
  • Sunday, April 26 – Code Inconnu (Frand 2000) On a bustling Paris street corner, four separate lives intersect, setting into motion a stunning film by acclaimed filmmaker Michael Haneke. Carefully interweaving the stories of a promising actress, her photojournalist boyfriend, a young teacher of African descent and a Romanian illegal immigrant, Haneke crafts a compelling portrait of life in a fractured, lonely world. (Netflix) Details and trailer.

• Readers Needed for WNJ’s 4th Annual Martin Luther King Essay Contest

Martin Luther King DayIn connection with 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP is sponsoring the Fourth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest. The contest, which is open to all sixth grade students within the Grand Rapids Public School District, encourages students to think about how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.

We need volunteers from the law firm to read and rank the entries between December 22 and January 5.  Each essay will be about 200 words long.  We will divide the essays up so that no one has to spend more than two hours reading essays over the two week period.  Readers will be asked to select the top 5 essays they read.  We will provide you with a rubric supplied by the Grand Rapids Public Schools to help you evaluate the entries.

The essays will be scanned so we can send them to you electronically to print or read online.  This makes it convenient for members of the firm in any office to participate. 

 If you would be willing to help, email Rodney Martin or Robin Keith.

All contest winners, including honorable mentions, and their parents will be acknowledged at the Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Community Peace Program on January 19, 2009, at 12:30 p.m. (following the Community Peace March), and again at the Annual Celebration Program that evening at 6:30 p.m. Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.  The authors of the winning essay will be invited to read their essays his/her essay at both programs.  Warner Norcross & Judd will present the contest winners with prizes and certificates at the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education meeting the evening of Monday, February 2, 2009.

• Chamber Coalition Issues Report on Cultural Competency

A Business Case for Cultural CompetencyIn a follow up to its 2007 report Strategies for a Culturally Competent Region, the West Michigan Chamber Coalition has released a new report A Business Case for Cultural Competency 

 The report, which is part of the Chamber Coalition’s effort to make West Michigan a more welcoming and inclusive place to do business, defines “cultural competency” as using “the awareness, knowledge and understanding of all people as an asset for our region. It implies an ability to work within and among diverse citizens, embracing talents, experiences, and perspectives from various cultures.”

 The report goes on to identify four reasons why cultural competency is important to the business community.  They include:

  • The significant buying power of various racial and ethnic groups;
  • Supplier diversity practices;
  • Ingrained diversity and inclusion practices and policies; and
  • The need to attracting and retain diverse talent.

The report concludes with the results of survey to determine the cultural competence of businesses in West Michigan.  You can read the report by clicking here.

The West Michigan Chamber Coalition is made up of the boards of directors of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce, the Muskegon Area Chamber of Commeerce, and The Chamber – Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg.  Rodney Martin represents the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce on the Chamber Coalition’s Regional Cultural Competency Council.

• Public Museum Publishes Field Guide to West Michigan Ethnic Groups

The most frequently asked question when we toured the Newcomers Exhibit at the Grand Rapids Public Museum earlier this year was, “how can I get a copy of the exhibit’s guide to ethnic groups in West Michigan.”  At the time, the guide was not available for purchase.  That has changed today. As the flier below announces, beginning today, copies of the Ethnic Field Guide to West Michigan will be available for purchase in the Museum’s Curiosity Shop and on  The field guide was written by Christian G. Carron, Director of Research and Interpretation, and Veronica L. Kandl, Curator of History.

Over 50 separate ethnic groups who call West Michigan home are profiled in this field guide-style book.  Each group has two pages devoted to brief descriptions of the group’s country of origin, its homeland geography, its politics and map.  The guide also depicts the reasons groups leave their homeland and come to West Michigan, and their population size and settlement areas here.  The Ethnic Field Guide to West Michigan is a continuous reflection of the Newcomers exhibit.  Both explore, celebrate and question the multifaceted past and present of ethnicity and immigration in West Michigan. 

Warner Norcross & Judd is pleased to be one of the corporate sponsors of the Newcomers Exhibit.

Field Guide to West Michigan Ethnic Groups