Renovate Me

The Chapel at Building 50, GT Village Commons

Definition of RENOVATE 

transitive verb

1: to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding)

2: to restore to life, vigor, or activity


Friday night Joe and I had the rare opportunity for a behind the scenes look at the renovations happening at the historic State Hospital, now The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.  The tour was part of a course offered by NMC and led by Ray Minervini, president of the group renovating it.  Looking at the complex today, it’s unthinkable that the city commission was sold on tearing it down.  For shame!  Ray, with unbridled enthusiasm and passion, was committed (no pun intended) to renovation.  I’m glad for people like Ray who stare hard into the heart of the broken, the deteriorated, the unused and say, “What a beautiful thing you are!”  Granted this is no small task.  While in1885 it took only 2 years to build the massive 1 million + square foot structure, it has taken over 10 years to renovate just a fraction.

The building is slowly evolving (with love, patience, hard-work and of course, capital) into a multi-use facility of shops, galleries, restaurants, condos and apartments.   But if that were all that was to it, this would simply be another collection of dry bones.  Take a pulse.  You’ll find a vibrant, steady pace called community.  In fact, Watershed, an authentic faith community which I am a part of meets here. (Attention all Watershedders… we SAW the chapel and it IS in renovation!)

I have another connection to this place.  Back in the day and prior to renovations, my friend Ola and I did a photo shoot here for my 1st album, “A Restful Sense of Urgency”.  (Breaking all sorts of laws in the process, I’m sure.)  We survived to tell the tale and now have a place in the history of the story.

Angela Josephine and Bryan Ulbrich

Tasting at Left Foot Charley

The next half of our class took us across the street to the old laundry facility, which now houses Left Foot Charley.   Northern Michigan produces some of the best white wine in the world (not just saying that – there are awards to prove it) and most of it comes from this winery.   Bryan Ulbrich, owner and vintner already rocks in my book.  He played mandolin on that 1st CD (the song Nothing Is Worth More Than Today) when LFC was just a twinkle in his eye.  Bryan joked that he started out wanting to be a college professor and got a job at a winery.  Now he’s a vintner and teaching a college class, which makes him a professor.

This is life in renovation.

Ray’s story meeting Bryan’s story meeting my story meeting all the other people whose lives intersect.   It’s not something that happens as you necessarily plan -it’s something that unfolds when you invest in living authentically.

Now for a little assignment.  Turn to the person on your left and say, “What a beautiful thing you are!”