"Giving A Voice" To Help "Find An Identity" In Battle Creek

Jan 9, 2019

Jane Simons and Jeff Cotton
Credit Erik McCloud of Cloudy Productions / Southwest Michigan's Second Wave

Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave is now “On the Ground” in Battle Creek. Like their project in Kalamazoo, On the Ground Battle Creek seeks stories in neighborhoods. Starting with Washington Heights and now Urbandale.


On the Ground Battle Creek Project Editor Jane Simons says they are “really focusing in on the people there, the residents, the untold stories, and also giving them a voice that they don’t ordinarily have.”

Engagement Editor Jeff Cotton established a non-profit group called Big Homies. He works with other organizations in Battle Creek to help at-risk youth. Cotton says he had a “tumultuous” time in his youth. That included involvement in gangs and a stint in prison after high school. A couple of the On the Ground stories highlight the efforts of Big Homies and other organizations trying help young people find the right path.

Hear Simons and Cotton in the extended interview for WMUK's WestSouthwest podcast. 

Simons says the On the Ground stories show that Battle Creek and Kalamazoo have some things in common. That includes people working to make their community better. But she says the stories show that the communities are different. Simons says both Battle Creek and Kalamazoo are highlighting the qualities that make their community unique. Cotton says Battle Creek is still searching for its identity. He says the stories in the On the Ground series are helping that effort.