Issue 4

Issue 4 | 11.08.2018 | Holland, MI

Driftwood and fishing line art installation at Calder Art Center, GVSU. Photo by Kyle Young.
Driftwood and fishing line art installation at Calder Art Center, GVSU. Photo by Kyle Young.

Last Night

By Kathleen Schenck
Nov. 8, 2018

Last night, while many of us were sleeping, or watching TV, or reading a good book, or working the graveyard shift, or finishing homework, or up with a sick child, or out and about in the cool night air, 13 people were shot dead at a country-western club in Thousand Oaks, California. This number includes the gunman, who shot himself.

We can read about the details in any major news outlet. That the first call went to authorities at 11:22 p.m. PST. That the gunman was 28 years old and had served in Afghanistan as a machine gunner for the US Marine Corps. That he used a .45 caliber Glock handgun, legally purchased, with an extended magazine, not legal to purchase or import in California. That earlier this year a crisis intervention team responded to a disturbance call at the gunman’s home. That a mental health specialist, after speaking with him, cleared him.

We can read impassioned pleas for gun control. We read them after Pittsburgh, Parkland, Orlando, and Las Vegas. Regrettably, this is only a partial list.

We can hold a deep sense of sympathy and compassion for the parents, sisters, brothers, lovers, and everyone who lost a loved one last night.

We can tell ourselves it won’t happen here in Holland and go on with our lives.

But what can we do?

Of course we need stricter gun control laws, but “If mowing down 5-year-olds at Sandy Hook didn’t make an impression, nothing will,” said a mother whose son was killed in Thousand Oaks (as reported by The Washington Post). The usual suspects continue to fight against gun control,  and point fingers at mental health as the real issue.

Several winners of the midterm elections pledge to fight for gun control, and Washington state voters approved a ballot measure for stronger gun control laws. Michigan’s own governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer favors tougher gun laws. How long will any real change take, and can we afford the wait?

We need to find common ground and change what we can. There is speculation that the gunman suffered from PTSD. First, speculation is not fact. Second, this speculation, even if it were true, does not explain violent behavior. We do know this veteran joined all the veterans, 20 per day by the VA’s estimates, who have died by their own hand. Not all VA healthcare benefits are available to all veterans. We can strengthen and fund access to health care, and make it easy to understand how to access care. We can also lower if not eliminate the stigma attached to seeking mental health care.

We can speak out against violence. We can remember, daily, that words matter. Words matter whether we are speaking to strangers, to loved ones, to an audience of many or of one. We can speak with kindness and with the goal of altering the course we have found ourselves on.

We can take a moment to see things from a different perspective. The New York Times compiled comments on the United States’ gun culture from people in other countries in Lela Moore’s piece, “After Thousand Oaks Shooting, International Readers Question America’s Gun Laws and Culture.” Then we can engage in honest dialogue.

These aren’t answers but actions. Thoughts and prayers, sure. But faith without works is dead.

Holland Weekly welcomes your letters to the editor, opinions, and op-eds. Email us at

Two men rehearse lines in the yard. Photo courtesy of Curt Tofteland.
Two men rehearse lines in the yard. Photo courtesy of Curt Tofteland.

To Be Or Not To Be Transformed

By Reka Jellema
Nov. 8, 2018

When the documentary film “Shakespeare Behind Bars” is screened at Herrick District Library as part of The Big Read on Monday evening, November 12, Curt Tofteland says he hopes that Hollanders will meet “who we lock up” and see “what happens behind the razor wire.”

Holland Weekly caught up with Holland resident and theater director Tofteland, who created an educational program for prisoners back in 1995 where he worked to transform the lives of inmates of the Luther Luckett Correctional Facility in Kentucky by casting them in Shakespeare plays. Now he does the same work, but right here in Michigan. He is in his eighth year of bringing the redemptive program to inmates at the Ernest C. Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon.

“Shakespeare Behind Bars” tells the story of prisoners offered the chance to participate in the educational program Tofteland created when he was the artistic director of the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. Tofteland in a phone interview describes why this film is relevant to Hollanders and, well, to everyone: “The question we have to ask as a society is who do we want living next to us? Do we want people coming home who have been transformed, whose behavior has changed because their thinking has changed?”

The film speaks to all, but especially to those who have bought into misconceptions about incarcerated women and men, myths Tofteland says are perpetuated by the media with its dearth of crime shows and podcasts.

More programs like Shakespeare Behind Bars are needed, Tofteland asserts, for a transformation to occur in the lives of humans who find themselves behind bars. Punishment does not offer people a way out of “the life,” explains Tofteland. “You can’t do it through punishment. Punishment doesn’t change behavior, it only solidifies anger and resentment, and who wants angry and resentful prisoners coming home? They’ll do more damage coming home than perhaps they did before they went into prison.”

Tofteland will be on hand for a post-film question and answer period. See Holland Weekly’s Local Tips to learn more. And you can learn more about what Tofteland is doing in Michigan here:

Holland Weekly welcomes your comments, questions, news tips and queries at

Exterior of Graves Hall at Hope College. From
Exterior of Graves Hall at Hope College. From

Holland Weekly’s Top 5 Things To Do

By Reka Jellema
Nov. 8-15, 2018

1. The Big Read
Holland Weekly admits we may have the tiniest bias towards “things to do” in Holland that encourage Hollanders to read books. Currently on our radar is The Big Read community project. The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest along with many local partners in Holland and beyond are this year discussing Emily St. John Mandel’s national bestselling novel, “Station Eleven.” Throughout November and December, many events are scheduled that offer Hollanders the chance to discuss the book and consider it from different angles that apply to life as we know it and life as it could be in a dystopian future. In the book, a flu epidemic has changed the face and population of the world and entertainment is boiled down to a small band of Shakespearean actors. To learn more about The Big Read, stop by Herrick District Library for a brochure of all of the events and exhibitions, visit Facebook or Instagram bigreadlakeshore page, or go to A few upcoming events include the following:

  • Keynote conversation between Hope College’s Stephen Hemenway, PhD, with author Mandel taking place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, November 13 at the Concert Hall, Jack H. Miller Center, Hope College.
  • Holland Hospital Conference Center B will be the location for “Is Survival Enough?” a book discussion led by Dr. James Dumerauf (Holland Hospital Behavioral Health Services). The discussion, occurring at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 14 at the hospital, 602 Michigan Avenue, will focus on what it might be like to live in the world depicted in “Station Eleven,” a world absent of the mobile phone, social media, and—gasp—the internet. Registration is required. To register, phone the hospital at (616) 394-3344.
  • Shakespeare Behind Bars Documentary Film Screening will be held from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. on Monday, November 12 in the Hazel B. Hayes Auditorium at Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave. Per publicity materials, the documentary “follows the year-long process of bringing Shakespeare’s The Tempest alive as inmates cast themselves into roles filled with misdeeds and redemption.” Holland Weekly has seen this film and whether you are interested in prison reform, Shakespeare, theater, redemption, or what it means to be human, this film addresses all of these and more. There will be a Q&A following the film featuring theater director Curt Tofteland, founder of the Shakespeare Behind Bars program for incarcerated men and the director of the production of The Tempest featured in the documentary. Catch Holland Weekly’s article on Tofteland.

2. Outdoor Discovery Center’s Migratory 5K Run
How many of us think about donuts while considering going for a run? Apparently, those at the Outdoor Discovery Center responsible for planning its third annual Migratory 5K Run were hungry when putting the event together. One attraction of the run are the cider donuts provided by Crane’s Pie Pantry, hot chocolate from Biggby’s Coffee and, full disclosure, there will also be fresh fruit on hand from Hamilton Food Center. But still. Donuts, people? At a 5K? Is this a Holland phenomenon? Throw in some tamales, maybe some Hudsonville Ice Cream and the whole city might lace up sneakers and shrug into a jersey! The run takes place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 10. The event begins at the nature center, 4214 56th Street. In keeping with the theme of migration, runners can have their photos taken with the ODC’s “live birds of prey” that reside on the premises. There is a fee to register: or

3. Special Olympics Fundraiser – 70@70 Birthday Run
Hang on, runners, joggers or plain old walkers. There’s another opportunity this week to stretch your legs and open your hearts for a good cause. An unusual event raising money for Special Olympics Michigan Area 12 will take place on Saturday, November 10 when Hollander Larry Erlandson turns 70. To celebrate his birthday, marathon runner Erlandson plans to run 70 miles on Saturday to raise money for Special Olympic athletes including his nephew. He is inviting any and all who would like to join him at any point throughout the day to do so in the spirit of community. Area 12 encompasses all of Allegan, Ottawa, and Muskegon counties. More than 500 Special Olympic athletes are participating. The approximate time of Erlandson’s endeavor is from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. The starting and ending location of the run will be 76 S. River Avenue in Holland. “Everyone who signs up and pays $70 to support Special Olympics will receive a tee-shirt and a medal,” Erlandson reports. For more information on how to join Erlandson on different loops of his run or to sign up, go to

 4. Lunch at Community Kitchen
With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up amid a divisive political atmosphere, why not put away partisan politics and seek genuine community inclusion by breaking bread with neighbors from all walks of life? Share a meal at Community Kitchen, a partnership between Community Action House and Western Theological Seminary, where anybody can enjoy a free meal. Community Action House’s website says the kitchen “provides a place to identify the needs and struggles of our most vulnerable neighbors while providing them with a free meal.” The kitchen, located at 101 E. 13th St. on the seminary’s campus, is almost exclusively volunteer run and serves meals from 11 to 12:30 Monday – Friday and from 9-10:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Contact Community Action House to inquire about volunteering at the kitchen. This is a great activity to do with the whole family. Donations to the kitchen are welcomed. To learn more about what is needed at the kitchen, look here:

5. Visit Day at Hope College
Whether you have a college senior or you are a senior, what a great way to learn more about the gown part of our local town and gown relationship. Holland’s been going steady with Hope since 1862. Visit days are technically for prospective students and their families. But when it comes to free food, Holland Weekly has no shame: there’s breakfast, and lunch, and a tour of campus. The full day’s schedule can be found here: If you wish to attend Friday’s Visit Day, please email Barb Grooters ( Nov. 9, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. Free.

Holland Weekly welcomes your events, news tips, queries, comments, and suggestions at

Homemade fish taco. Photo by KS.
Homemade fish taco. Photo by KS.

Fish Tacos

By Kathleen Schenck
Nov. 8, 2018

Disclaimer: these are not authentic fish tacos the likes of which you can find in California or Baja California. I am merely a Midwesterner who loves fish tacos, so I came up with this healthy recipe and made some this week when cod was on sale.

Prep: 20 minutes (both the slaw and the pico can be made ahead of time)

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 8 tacos

Ingredients for the tacos:

Corn tortillas (typically 3 per hungry adult)

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 sweet onion, sliced

1 pound cod fillet (or other mild fish)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste

Ingredients for the slaw

1/2 small head of red cabbage, shredded

Oil, vinegar, and lime

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the pico de gallo:

1 chopped tomato

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, lightly torn apart

1 anaheim pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño (you may wish to wear plastic gloves for safety)

A squeeze of fresh lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste


Place the fish fillet on a baking sheet that can handle high heat. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and a drizzle of vegetable or olive oil.

Place the sliced bell pepper and onion on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil.

Broil in the oven until you see the tips of the vegetables char, and the fish lose its translucent look (about 10 minutes).

While that is cooking, toss the cabbage with oil and vinegar and a squeeze of lime. I use olive oil, raspberry vinegar, and several squeezes of lime because I love it. Add the sugar, salt, and black pepper. Stir/toss. Let sit for a minute before eating.

Remove fish and veggies from oven and transfer to a serving dish. Place tortillas on the same sheet. Drizzle very lightly with oil. Broil for 5 minutes.

Add all ingredients for the pico in a bowl and stir. Let sit for a minute.

Each person can assemble the tacos as she/he likes. I place the fish in a tortilla, then the broiled bell pepper and onion, then the cabbage slaw, then the pico, then a squeeze of fresh lime on top. Spice lovers can add hot sauce.

Have a recipe to share? Email us at

Madam puppy dog astrologer, Sylvia. Photo by Michael Tuccini.
Madam Sylvia. Photo by Michael Tuccini.

Sylvia Reads The Stars

Nov. 8 – Nov. 15, 2018

Scorpio Oct 23 – Nov 22

No one digs deeper than you, Scorp. Filter out the static so you can address what really matters.

Sagittarius Nov 22 – Dec 23

You’re such a hottie. No, seriously, look at you. Please invite a friend for one of your trademark philosophical trots around town.

Capricorn Dec 23 – Jan 20

Your ability to tell dad jokes is at an all time high this week, Cap. Bonus if you’re actually a dad!

Aquarius Jan 20 – Feb 18

A game of Scrabble over hot cocoa? Yes, please. Strum your six string quietly while your outwitted opponent takes too long for their turn.

Pisces Feb 18 – Mar 20

You know I love you, Pisces. I really do! At the same time you are both shy and strong. Go with the strong this week. Speak up where you usually stay mute.

Aries Mar 20 – Apr 20

Get over yourself, Ram! It’s all gonna be ok. But only with your help and surefire energy to get things going in the right direction.

Taurus Apr 20 – May 21

Taurus, quit stealing the covers. You heard me.

Gemini May 21 – Jun 21

Gem, Gem, Gemini. Why don’t you just ask them out. Ask! Two hearts are better than one.

Cancer Jun 21 – Jul 23

Sweet crabmeat are you, Cancer. Tired of being reminded how sensitive you are? Don the armor of a warrior. Fight someone else’s fight this week. Self-forgetting can be so freeing.

Leo Jul 23 – Aug 23

Leo, I always pet your ego. I think you’re fantastic! Your turn to return the favor to a random in line behind you–literally or figuratively.

Virgo Aug 23 – Sep 23

Feet up, Virgo. Blanket about your shoulders, too. Slippers on. You’ve worked hard, utilizing your vast emotional intelligence at every turn. Time to recharge.

Libra Sep 23 – Oct 23

Somehow your scales have thrown your head off balance when it comes to thinking only the worst. That’s the worst! You are loved, you are adored. Conjure your inner T Swizzle and shake it off.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Submissions? Contact us at