Macomb Park District initiates several new programming series

MACOMB — Macomb Park District employees are getting a lot busier these days, and not only because it's getting closer to summer.
The district is launching an ambitious initiative of several new free and low-cost programming series that will run throughout this spring and summer. The new offerings run the gamut from evening nature walks, to midday ceramics workshops, to concert series.
Lakeview Naturalist Educator and Ceramics Coordinator Natalie Shelly is heading up several of the ceramics and hands-on art series. She described the numerous and diverse new programs as part of the district's shift into a “new age of programming” that is intended to meet the needs of a range of ages and abilities in the community.
“That was my goal, at least for this year,” she said of the programs she is leading.
She said the district's employees have been brainstorming different ways to meet more of the needs in the community. One consideration included daytime caregivers of young children such as mothers at home with toddlers or grandparents with young grandchildren who don't always have opportunities for nature-themed hikes and affordable hands-on crafts.
“I really wanted to make sure I included programming for younger ages,” she said.
Shelly is leading several different ceramics series, each aimed at different age groups, and a separate series of art workshops using natural materials. She's also leading “photowalks” and accompanying “mini-classes.” In these, participants can learn tips on how to take and edit digital pictures of the nearby prairie environment with their own in-phone camera or a digital camera for their own use and social media. She also plans to highlight the best shots by putting them on display on Instagram as well as in the Lakeview Nature Center so people can “see what (the) prairie looked like throughout the seasons,” she said.
The series are a departure from traditional programming through the district, which has typically included sporadic programming and people renting space for special events. Many changes have occurred within the district over the past year, including the addition of Shelly as ceramics coordinator and the installment of the district's new Executive Director, Rachel Lenz.
More recently, Megan Pierce began with the district on March 27 as superintendent of events, Lenz's former role in the district. Pierce is taking on the district's special events, including the popular Movies in the Park series, the After Glow party at Ball Fore, and the music festival series which includes the recently-introduced Macomb Bluesfest and Flatland Summer Jam, among others. The park district is working in conjunction with Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau on some of the events.
She's also introducing a free new live music series called the Randolph Street Rendezvous, which will take place near the District's office in the Glenwood Park Stone Shelter. Although it is considered a “pop-up” concert series because it is shorter and less elaborate than the Veterans Park festival series, the Randolph Street concerts will include activities for children, hammocks for rent, food vendors and lights strung among the trees to light up the park after dark.
In an earlier interview with the Voice, Lenz and Shelly both expressed hopes that more community members would take advantage of the recreational and educational opportunities the district offers.
For more information on the park district go online to: macombparkdistrict
Reach Michelle Langhout via email at or follow her on Twitter @mlanghout1.