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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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Jazzing down our carbon footprint

The DTE Energy Foundation, after years of supporting Michigan festivals, has expanded its reach into Grand Rapids by sponsoring the GRandJazzFest this year.

“One of the things with the GRandJazzFest is we are greening it up,” said Scott Simmons, DTE Energy Foundation representative.

Founded in 2012 by jazz enthusiast Audrey Sundstrom and a team of fellow music lovers, the festival is now an annual two-day event. This year marks the third, not to mention greenest, gathering, which will be held on Aug. 16 and 17 at Rosa Parks Circle.

The festival will feature headliners Rick Braun on Aug. 16 and Alexander Zonjic on Aug. 17. Other artists on the lineup include Copper Hay Van Lente, Grupo Aye, The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra with Edye Evans Hyde, Matt Marshak, In the Tradition, Evidence Jazz Group, Demetrius “Krayon” Nabors and The Robert Hurst Quintet.

“The diversity of the acts is fantastic,” Klimas said. “Just like America – our country has diversity, so does jazz.”

And just as the festival looks to bring together a bevy of musicians, it’s also helping to reunite two entities that are interested in the well-being of this state’s environment.

DTE Energy reinstated their partnership with Michigan's largest recycling firm, Schupan & Sons located in Kalamazoo, to sponsor these two events. The foundation is a philanthropy project to continue the companies’ mission to promote sustainable living and take care of the environment. It also helps fund various programs such as the DTE Energy Foundation Youth Employment Program, the DTE Energy Foundation/American Red Cross Fire Safety Initiative and the DTE Energy Foundation Holiday Meals on Wheels Partnership.

Over the past three years, the companies have been able to recycle over 10 tons of waste. In a press release from DTE Energy, Faye Nelson, DTE Energy vice president, public affairs and foundation president stated that the overall goal of working the different festivals is to, “reduce the carbon footprint” and, “to preserve, protect and sustain our state's natural resources.”

It seems that DTE has chosen an effective method of promoting such ideologies, as most festivals of this nature tend to generate copious amounts of waste.

“(DTE Energy) is our biggest sponsor,” said Molly Klimas, a public relations representative for GRandJazzFest. “They make it free for our entire community and beyond.”

Of course, it should be noted that the GRandJazzFest doesn't supply free food or drinks, but the location makes it so that the festival promotes local businesses.

“What is neat about our festival…is people can hop to a local restaurant or bar or museum,” Klimas said.

For those who haven't attended the jazz festival, Klimas said it is an experience for the audience.

“In terms of a concert experience, it is much more personal,” she said. “The performers really get into the zone and they improvise and it really gets the audience involved.”

The GRandJazzFest is just one of four festivals that DTE Energy and Schupan & Sons will be greening. The companies will sponsor the Detroit Jazz Festival and the Traverse City National Cherry Festival again this year. They will sponsor Muskegon's Lakeshore Arts Festival for the first time. Not only will Schupan & Sons recycle at the Lakershore Arts Festival, but also they will also use organic material to do so.

For more information on the GRandJazzFest visit http://www.grandjazzfest.org, and for more information on the DTE Energy Foundation visit http://www.dteenergy.com/foundation.

spendowski@lanthorn.com



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