Kalamazoo Experiential Learning Center

The Kalamazoo Experiential Learning Center (KELC), together with our college interns, was challenged to find unique ways to gather and create community placemaking while being safe and addressing COVID protocols. Throughout the year, the event team looked at many ways to host events that authentically addressed the activity’s mission while assuring safety in the event execution. Two important programs emerged through this challenge.

First, challenged with how to keep our food truck entrepreneurs sustainable and help our artists find unique and safe venues to perform, we relied on a very strong partnership with the Kalamazoo Health Department and our local municipalities. Together, we identified the needs of the community slowly emerging from a pandemic and protocols that would support the best mix of blending distanced gathering and an authentic feel of community. Unique outdoor spaces provided a fabulous blend where artists could perform in their “pod” and food trucks could offer the unique experience of street food. The funds helped us to host seven Friday Night Food Truck Rallies and 12 Tuesday night rallies with over 5,000 people attending.

Also in 2021, as the neighborhoods slowly emerged from the pandemic, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department understood at their core that kids needed to get out of their apartments to safely engage with others in the community. Working to identify pockets of communities experiencing this challenge, KELC and the team of interns popped up five carnival events where kids and officers played, competed and enjoyed winning prizes. Trust was built and kids simply had fun.

For more information, visit www.experientiallearningcenter.org