WestSouthwest Brief

Kalamazoo Defender | David Birkam

On July 1st, things began looking up for Kalamazoo County residents who can't afford an attorney. Now, defendants can turn to a central office of 22 attorneys dedicated exclusively to such cases, and soon two social workers will be on staff to link clients with community resources so they can live healthier in hopes of preventing recidivism. The newly created Kalamazoo Defender is the first ever public defender's office in the county.

South Haven Pier at Lake Michigan - file photo by WMUK

South Haven is celebrating an anniversary. On May 10th, 1869 it was incorporated as a village. Tom Renner, a member of South Haven’s Sesquicentennial Planning Group says the first historical records of the area’s existence date back to 1787 “The Native Americans back then called this land, ‘Ni-No-Kong’ which meant beautiful sunsets.”

A wide view of a tall, heavy, metal circular hatch that has been opened to the left, revealing a room with safe-deposit boxes inside.
Regina Gorham / Hidden Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo has plenty of official historic sites. But the Hidden Kalamazoo tour took a different approach to the story of the city’s downtown. For half a decade, it led curious visitors through unofficial but revealing locations - places like old apartments and long-defunct department stores. Those rooms said something about how life used to be lived. There wasn’t a tour this summer, but as we hear in an interview that first aired in June, the people behind Hidden Kalamazoo are trying another approach.



John Locher / AP Photo

Western Michigan University Assistant Geography Professor Adam Matthews says students may not know what a geographer does. But, he adds, “I’ve seen some students show up and they know about drones and that drones can be used for mapping.”

Construction in downtown Kalamazoo. Photo by Greyson Steele, WMUK
Greyson Steele / WMUK

Upjohn Institute for Employment Research Economist Evan Mast says a proposal for a large new apartment or condominium building could cause debate at a city council or a planning commission meeting. He says one argument from opponents may be “These units aren’t going to do anything for our housing problem, these are expensive.” But Mast says his research on housing shows that developments with above average prices can have “ripple effects” that help make housing affordable.