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Shaping Narratives is an initiative to build capacity in communities of color by providing leaders with training in decolonizing narratives, media and production skills and community organizing as a distribution strategy. Each participant developed a show, a local affinity group and a social media following to address issues they are passionate about. Content is being used to spark change based conversations. The shows include, Ngiiwe, Color Out Here, Meeting God, The Black Honest Truth and Cultural Ingredients:

SN_Ep15 - Mariano Avila with George Walker III

George Walker III

In this special episode, we wish farewell to George Walker III, host of WGVU's Cultural Ingredients who is moving across the country to Napa Valley, California and becoming the head of operations and brand manager at Wade Cellars. Mariano Avila, producer of WGVU's Shaping Narratives interviews George about his move to West Michigan, his work in cultural education, going through Shaping Narratives to create his own show, Cultural Ingredients, and what awaits him in Napa Valley.

Shaping Narratives is created by WGVU in partnership with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and WGVU's NPR sustaining monthly donors. Become a sustaining monthly donor at wgvu.org/donate to support WGVU NPR's local programs, including Shaping Narratives.

Full Transcript:

Hello, you’re listening to the shaping narratives podcast, a collection of voices from West Michigan's communities of color. I'm Mariano Avila, the executive producer of shaping narratives here at WGVU public media, PBS and NPR in West Michigan. Today's episode features George Walker, the third, host of WGVU’s cultural ingredients. It's a special episode because we bid him farewell from West Michigan as he moves on to the next chapter of his life and career in California. But we do talk through the process that it was for him to be part of shaping narratives here at WGVU, and to develop his own show cultural ingredients. And what's next for him, for his career and for the many enterprises that he has started here in West Michigan. So without further ado, this is my conversation with George Walker the third.

Alright. I'm here at WGVU studios. With George Walker, the third. George, we have known each other now for a while. And this is a bittersweet podcast for me to do because we've been working on trying to create a TV series based on your pilot cultural ingredients for the past two years. And now it looks like that may not happen, but for good reasons, for good reasons.

So. Briefly tell us why, and then we can maybe start our, a more formal part of the podcast,

Right. Yeah. Well, what's up, man? It's good. It's good to see you always. Yeah. Especially in these turbulent time that we're all living in right now, but yes, I am actually moving to Napa California. Um, I got an amazing opportunity, um, as. Most of you all know, um, if you don't know, um, wine is my passion and wine is my love, and I've recently come across the opportunity to be the first official employee of, uh, Wade cellars. Um, and Wade Cellars is owned by, um, Dwayne Wade. Three time NBA champion MVP, um, the homie now, which is kind of crazy, but yeah, so I'm the first official employee, the assistant director of operations, uh, slash um, brand ambassador. So I'm really, really excited about that.

Dude. I mean, that's amazing just for someone coming out of the Midwest to make a jump that huge in general is hard. When we met, you were to my knowledge. At least in West Michigan or the West side of Michigan, I shouldn't say West Michigan, the West side of Michigan. You were the only black somm period. I think this could be my ignorance, but I have not met. And I've asked around, is that true?

at the time? Um, yeah, pretty much. Yeah.

Is that true? It's true for the whole state or just the West side.

Um, the West side for sure. Um, I don't know of any, I didn't know of any others at the time. Um, I'm starting to become more aware as we get more connected or as we have gotten more connected through this season of COVID. But even then there's probably only, I was probably five, definitely under 10, for sure. There is another one now. Um, he is opening, uh, the wine bar GR Nawara. I got a shot. Shout him out. Uh, he's absolutely amazing. Has passion and I'm really excited for what he and his wife naughty are doing in grand Rapids now. Oh, that's awesome.

Okay so we met, uh, I had heard about you, I think initially just kind of as like this, this rising star in, in teaching kids about, um, but you were primarily in Muskegon teaching kids about culture through these crazy events, amazing events that you used to put together. For kids. Can you describe those a little bit and what they were called?

Yeah. Yeah. So that was actually during my time when I was, when I was living in Muskegon, Michigan, um, I moved to Muskegon, Michigan to attend the culinary Institute of Michigan, where I majored in food and beverage management. And it was when, uh, my. After my first year of being there that I took this class, or I had taken this class, um, with who was one of my now mentors, Roslyn Mayberry, and her class was called the history of eating and drinking. Um, and it basically took us through the, the history of the farm to table movement. And Good Food movement within the U S and we focused on people like Alice water and San Francisco, and a bunch of different other culinary icons. And it was then that I saw the need. And also I saw the connection between food and culture and saw the need to be able to bridge that and bring that to the kids who looked like me, particularly in Muskegon Heights. So I developed this class called the history of food and regional culture. Well, I taught kids from the ages of 12 to 17, 18, how to cook food from different regions of the world. And we basically split it up into three different parts. The first part of the class was, um, we kind of went over the, the culinary history, um, the geographical location of the particular region that we were focusing on for that week. And then the second part of that was to actually cook the food from that particular region and apply those, uh, culinary techniques that we had previously talked about. And that first phase, our first part of the class, and then the third part, lastly, was, um, we got to smash and really eat the food. And it was really cool because they were able to, um, partake and the things that they just. They just created from, from nothing. And while they were eating the food, um, what we did was we listened to the music from those particular areas so that we could kind of immerse these kids and this culture and that, even though that they probably. Putting the half traveled to these countries at that particular time, just because of economic reasons. Unfortunately, most of the kids who I was teaching lived in poverty, unfortunately, and that's the story of Muskegon Heights. Amazing, amazing talent, but it's, plighted with, uh, unfortunate circumstances that these kids are raised under. So it was my goal to be able to. Have them and give them the experience of traveling through food. And through this class, around the time we met was when I had moved from Muskegon to grand Rapids.

Tell me a little bit about like, which countries did you do.

Yeah. Yeah. So we did Italy. We did let me, so what I did was I wanted to focus on particular regions. And Italy and not just say, okay, we're going to focus on the entire country as a whole, because there are so many different regions within a country that completely different than from the North, from the South. So we've focused on Florence. Um, we also did new Orleans style, um, and I thought that it was really important. That was probably the most impactful and also most fun. Class to teach for me was New Orleans, just because New Orleans is so diverse and New Orleans cuisine is so diverse and has so much rich history that gives it the makeup to what the food is. You talked about the influence once from the Africans, from the slave trade.

Um, we also talked about the influence from the Spanish when, when the Spaniards controlled that, that territory. And then we also talked about the French influence that New Orleans has and when, when the French had. Control over that, that, that region. And that story is told through the food. That story is told through the music. And also the food is just amazing. Like we made a, we made jambalaya jambalaya, and it was amazing. So good.

So, so you were doing this, you were doing this for kids, which. To be perfectly honest. When I heard about this, this cat, who's doing these amazing things. I just assumed you were like this 30 year old teacher, you know, who was, I mean, that's not old, that's much younger than I am, but, you know, I just assumed you were like way older and very established. And because these are the kinds of things that people do when they look back and they're like, I need to give back, not at the start of their career. Um, So we start asking around and we're saying like, we have this opportunity to do this program shaping narratives, and we can talk about that in a sec. But, um, the, the idea is to take folks who have an amazing, uh, impact on their community, but not a big enough platform, at least as far as what TV and radio would provide. And so we were going to train you guys over the course of about a year and then create a program or, or basically ask you to develop and then create with you a program that was entirely your concept, but, um, made use of our professional resources, uh, cameras, production assistants, directors, writers, everything, which is what we did. And I want to get to your show. But when we, uh, I still remember because this was for me impactful. We interviewed a bunch of people, frankly, a lot. And you were one of, kind of the later people and I think it was Alice, uh, Lynn, who, who we recommended you. And so we had you come in. And you came in and obviously you were like, wow, this guy's amazing. And like, you know, his presence and his appearance. Good looking cat. And, and as you're walking out, I remember I got George Davis who is our events coordinator saying, like, I saw that George came through whatever he's doing for you. You, you gotta put him on. I was like, Oh, okay. That's a good endorsement. I really respect George. And then, uh, You walked past, um.

I think it was Tommy.

Tommy Allen from rapid growth. And he's like, what is George Walker doing with you? And I was like, what do you mean? He's like, I just, I I've been thinking he needs to have his own show for a long time. I hope you're doing something a little bit. So I was like, well, actually, that's kind of what we're thinking. And then a bunch of other people started like just. You kind of hit me up out of the blue people that I don't have contact with. And I was like, wow, all right. I mean, that speaks clearly. That's awesome. That community is behind this guy. He's not even from here, people are behind him. So, so obviously we invited you. And then you were part of a cohort at the time was 10 people, I think, right? Yeah. It got smaller as the program got more intense and your responsibility became clearer. Uh, but what, what did you think you came in? Did, did you know everybody or who did you know?

Oh my gosh. Um, it was, that was an amazing experience. Um, one, because that was actually with, that was my first year, not even a year, I had been in grand Rapids at the time for maybe. Four months fully.


Yeah. Yeah. I had this relationship with Alice, um, and amazing, amazing friend of mine. And I remember meeting up with her and just kind of chopping it up and just talking shop. And she was really ecstatic about this opportunity that she had just got, um, shaping narratives. And she was telling me about how, you know, she, she was basically going to be able to create her own show. And I was just like, Oh my God, this is absolutely amazing. This is crazy. Like what? Like, I'm so excited for you, you know? So, um, she ends up hitting me up, um, maybe like a week later, not even. And she was like, Hey, I actually suggested you for, for this. To be a part of this cohort too. And I was like, yo, what? Like, are you serious? Like, this is crazy. This is dope. Like, I was like really humbled. I mean, cause I didn't expect it at all, not by any means. So that's when we got in contact, um, you and I, and I met you and it was, it was amazing, you know? And, and from the get go, I mean, from the jump after I, after you all accepted me in the cohort, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Um, I, and that was. Basically recreate the history of food and regional culture, but in TV form, which is how cultural ingredients came about. Um, being able to, uh, look at the immigrant story within the Western Michigan and be able to tell their story and their journey through their native country, through food and particularly through one and a one ingredient.

And I think that was the twist that it took. You did come in with the immigrant stories already formed.


That was like, exactly. This dude knows exactly what he wants.

Right. Yeah. But I didn't know. I didn't have the idea for the one particular ingredient because I honestly, I just wanted to focus on that story and I didn't, I that's, that, that was the story that I wanted to tell. And after being in the class and, and expressing, um, expressing what I wanted to do, we were able to find, uh, A solid storyline and a solid, um, idea of what the actual show would be. And that's when we found out that we wanted to do one ingredient.

So tell me about like going through the program for you. It was, uh, three modules that we did, the first one was on decoloniality and basically teaching people how to think of their own story as people of color in the United States, without thinking about it from a majority culture perspective. So whether that is the religious majority. Just, you know, Protestant Christianity or the racial majority, which is, you know, white folks or the ethnic majority, which is European. So that was, you know, 10 weeks of training with Andrea and Melanie and then whoa re professors here at grand Valley. And then we.


Yes. Yeah. They're both in the liberal studies department here at grand Valley

Powerhouses. I mean, like literally. Absolutely brilliant minds. Um, that, that, that first module was particularly impactful for me because I had been going through my own long journey with, with education and learning for so long, I have been so focused on the vocational aspect of learning as opposed to the liberal arts. I mean, I did go to a vocational school. So I had, I had these ideas and these theories of, of what I thought. Uh, life was at the end, the, the history of, of the world I was having in particular conversations, um, with my grandfather, I'm trying to find the history of, uh, of my name, George Washington Carver Walker the third and beyond, and where we came from.

Your middle names are in Carver.

Yeah. Yeah. So my middle, yes.

You're going to have to have like a restaurant, like a, you know, something some point like, Oh man. Named after you. Cause that's too good. A name.

Yeah, it's crazy. I mean, I, quick story sidetracked. I'll get back to, so my full name, George Washington, Carver Walker, the third. Uh, so my great grandfather, my, um, my father, my grandfather, his father, uh, was actually a janitor at. Tuskegee university. And it was while he was a janitor at Tuskegee university that he befriended George Washington Carver and they created this relationship or developed this relationship so much so that when George Washington Carver passed away, uh, my great grandfather decided that he was going to name his son after George Washington Carver. Um, and that's how I got my name.


So, but yeah, so I was having these conversations with my, with my grandfather and both of them. Mom's side. And also my father's side, trying to dig deeper into my history. And it was when we started this class that we started to talk about these terms I had no idea about, but kind of got and kind of understood. I just didn't have words for them. Um, things like, um, or phrases like decolonizing the mind and, and being able to unlearn, um, these things that we have been that we've that we've learned, uh, and, and school and for so long, um, and, and have known things that were right, but we're wrong actually. Um, things like Christopher Columbus, um, he was a terrorist, I mean point blank period. Uh, and, and, and, and understanding that we have to unlearn these things in order for us to be able to know our, from once we came.  But yeah, so that, that module was particularly impactful for me because being in a group, surrounded around people from so many different backgrounds, um, we had people that were from Kenya there, um, people from Mexico, um, we had a person who was Sikh. Um, I mean, it was such a culturally diverse group that were attacking these, um, core issues within our society. And being able to discuss that makeup and how it's related to how we live in Western Michigan was particularly impactful for me and also validating, um, being in that space. I was also the youngest by a couple of years, uh, in the cohort and yeah, and to have these two doctors, um, and then also, um, professionals, uh, and an amazing producer yourself. Um, I have be a part of these conversations was, um, yeah. Amazing, absolutely amazing.

Yeah. I mean, yeah, but you were, you weren't out of place though. I mean, you're definitely in the right crew and everybody, you know, impressed with you because again, I mean, you were 24 when you started.

Yes. Yes. I was 24.

Yeah. I mean that again.

23 I was turning 24.

I thought you were in your thirties. When I heard about what we're doing and then to come to find out you're like 24. I didn't know what I was doing with it, but I wasn't there. I can tell you that much, uh, module two then was all about, um, the techniques of, of, of filming and of audio and all that from a power perspective, like how do you use camera angles and lighting and stuff to show different forms of power, different forms of, uh, I guess, how do you center a particular group, you know, Racially and all that stuff. And then the third module. Was a distribution and, and that was kind of through a, kind of a community organizing lens, the Harvard school of community organizing.


Um, what stood out about those two modules that, you know?

Um, well with moderate module two, it was, it came at a particularly great time for me as well, because that's, I was actually dipping into film for myself and film and photography, um, and, and trying to learn how to do that. Um, Yeah, just from my own. And then also for my particular brand and being able to be a part of that module to where I was actually, or were you all actually taught us how to piece together a storyline and, um, but technically, um, so be able to shoot and have these shots and then have all of these different frames and then piece them together, um, to be able to make, um, to be able to make a story I was, was particularly impactful. Um, and then also. Be able to work with lighting and, and, um, being in the studio and do these interviews or mock interviews that we were doing. But also they weren't necessarily mock because we were actually having real conversations. Um, but yeah, that was particularly impactful. Um, and yeah, it was just, it was amazing. It was something that I had no idea that I was going to be a part of at all. Um, and honestly, when I first signed up, I didn't know exactly what I was signing up for. So to be able to have. These three, those three modules that kind of broke it down. And so many different ways made so much sense. Um, looking back and also looking forward.

And then you got to start writing your show.

Right? Yeah. Oh my goodness. That was, yeah, that was crazy. Um, it's, it's, it's a really big difference. Being able to have these ideas and have these dreams, um, but to be able to take these concepts that are in the clouds, what seems to be for so long and then to actually write it down and put it on paper was absolutely, um, It's empowering if you will. Um, and then also having your help with, um, a lot of the writing, um, uh, it was, was even more impactful. Um, because before that I had no idea how to write a show or write a, write a storyline like that at all.

Now you do.

But now I do, which is just amazing. So I'm extremely thankful for that. And then also, um, And one of the biggest things that I took away from that was the, the conference that I was able to be a part of, um, through, um, shaping narratives. Um, I was able to go to Prague Czech Republic and be a part of the second global food heritage and cultural interdisciplinary conference while that was a mouthful, um, and also it was, it was a really, really fun. Full and rich conference. Um, this conference was made up of doctors from all over the world, um, or professors slash doctors from all over the world who were working, uh, around food and culture and heritage, um, through different mediums, um, and in their own right. And I was able to present our show that we, that we did here, um, through PBS and WGVU cultural ingredients, which was extremely well received. Um, but that, that trip alone was just amazing because I was able to tack on some, some other countries too.

Where’d you go.

Yeah. So I ended up going to Lisbon Portugal. Um, one of the most amazing cities that I've ever been to in my life. Um, and then also on that trip, I was able to go to Africa as well. I went to Morocco and I was able to go to five different cities within Morocco. Um, And that caused some blogs. I drove through Casa Blanca, but I went to Abad Americash chef showering, um, Fez.

And, uh, one more that I can't, uh, did I say Americash already? I okay. Yeah, but yeah, five defenses is there. Um, but. That trip alone, uh, holistically, um, jumping from, uh, Europe, Eastern Europe, really mid central Europe to Western Europe, and then down to Northern Africa, um, to be able to see all of those different cultures and different makeups all within the span of two weeks was absolutely. Mind-boggling. I mean, it was, it was the most culturally impactful trip that I've ever made in my life. Um, and I, I am so thankful for that opportunity because I was able to meet so many different people. Um, not only at the conference, but also while traveling through the Atlas mountains in Morocco. Um, and also seeing the beautiful ocean. Yeah. And in Lisbon Portugal, um, it was, uh, yeah, it was crazy. That was crazy.

I mean, to bring it back to food, how was that trip for food?

Oh my God. I mean, it was unreal, uh, completely unreal, um, from having fresh seafood on the ocean while I was in Lisbon and, and being able to taste the influence of what really the African influence within, um, within Portugal. And, and understanding that makeup of that country, because so many Africans, um, have, have gone through there and also live there and migrated through there. Lisbon has so many black people. And I was so surprised. I was, I was like, yo, what am I in Chicago? Like what's going on?

Which for those of you who don’t know, that’s where you're from right?

Right, right, right, right. Where I claim, I should say.

Oh there’s more there that I don’t know.

Yeah. So born in North Carolina, moved from North Carolina when I was three to Chicago, moved from Chicago to Northwest Indiana when I was about 12. And then when I turned 18, that's when I moved to Michigan. But my father is a pastor and my mom was a teacher, but we traveled that much because my father pastored a lot of different churches, but he's been in Indiana for now. Over 10 years.

Yeah, I know about that. My dad also traveled around a whole lot.


And you're the third to right?

I am also the third.

Yes. Um, yeah, the food was amazing on that trip.

What about Czech I mean, I don't know anything about Czech cuisine. I'm completely ignorant.

I mean, it reminded me a lot of, uh, Michigan or the Midwest, I should say meat and potatoes type ordeal. Um, a bunch of different stews, a lot of meat, really meat centric. It was, yeah, it was amazing. It was, it was really good. The hot chocolate there was, I mean, uh, surreal. I, I thought I had hot chocolate before, but it was nothing like the hot chocolate that I had while in, um, Czech Republic and, and also Barcelona. But. Czeck was the first time that I had really hot chocolate. And I was like, okay, this is, this is serious.

What did they do? That was different.

It was just real cocoa, honestly, in real chocolate, the way that they melted it down. Um, and then adding the cream heavy, really, really heavy dense, uh, not whipped cream, heavy cream, if you will, which can be whipping cream, but yes. Yeah. Um, and it was just so rich and thick that it was the most amazing and decadent hot chocolate that I've ever had in my life. For sure. Because around that time it was, it was still kind of chilly outside. It wasn't, you know, it wasn't fully, I was full on summer,

April. Wasn't it?

It was, yeah, it was exactly, it was like early spring. Um, so it was still kind of chilly and it just, yeah, it was amazing.

Nice. And, uh, so then you come back. Well, actually we didn't talk about Morocco. What was the Morocco's?

Oh my goodness. Morocco was. Amazing. I remember traveling. So there were two food moments that I kind of had this aha moment. One of which was when I was traveling through the Atlas mountains and we were on our way to see these, uh, these ruins, if you will. And I was with a couple, a couple that was from Israel. I was with two young girls that were from. Uh, Switzerland. And then also another couple that was from Portugal. And, and I ended up going to port or Portugal after, um, Morocco ended up actually linking back up with the couple that was on this trip, um, that I met in port or that I met. In Morocco, that was from Portugal, but we were all on this van. Is this caravan traveling through the mountains and the bus like ended up breaking down. Um, but it was fortunate that the bus broke down, like right in front of this market. That was just right on the side of the road and at this market, um, I remember walking out or walking off the bus and getting this like. Crazy aroma, like on my nose, it was like it's. So it was so spice field that I was like, yo, where is this coming from? And then it had like this char grill smell too. And I like follow my nose. I'm just like, like a little dog, like trying to fight, to figure out like where this is coming from. And I see there's this huge slab of lamb really.And not even a slab. It was, it was a, uh, an entire lamb that was like skinned on the side of the road hanging. From the ceiling. Um, and like on a, not like an actual, like glam, like the whole thing, like the whole, yeah, like the whole thing. Yeah. Like serious. So I see the guy in the back, like chopping it up and like chopping off the leg. And on this other side, I see what our skewers that have been like marinated and in these spices, um, I'm assuming, cause I ended up asking him, I was like, yo, what, what, how did you, how did you do this? Right. And he's speaking, like broken English. Um, and I know a little French, um, cause Moroccans, uh, they're I believe their second language is, uh, or the second national language is French. And if not the actual, uh, first with the, um, with the, the language, but I ended up, you know, asking, you know, how did you do this? And he ended up saying, saying, um, Tons of oranges, cumin, um, a bunch of different spices and it was just marinating. And he put it on the grill and, um, while we were waiting for the van to be fixed, I was smashing, um, this marinated lamb on the side of the road in Morocco, overlooking, the Valley. Um, but then there's these mountains. It was crazy experience. Um, Yeah, I bet I, yeah, I have to go back. If you have not been to Morocco, go to Morocco. It's amazing. Um, the second, uh, best experience a while in Morocco was when I was in, uh Mericash and what they call, uh, so they have the Medina and the Medina is the city center. And in the city center, um, the best way that I can describe Morocco is, um, in particularly the old city, um, within the mid Medina, it's usually split into two different parts. You have the old city, and then you have the new city. And I was staying in the old city and in the Medina. And the Medina and the city center, there's tons of different. It's just a market, if you will. So you have a bunch of different vendors, um, which a lot of them are selling a bunch of fresh orange juice, which is amazing. I mean, freshly squeezed, uh, but you have a lot of other different restaurants and cards. If you will, that serve food. And that was the first time that I've had that I had tangene and gene is a, it's a dish, it's a Moroccan dish. And it's also a Moroccan dish, if that makes any sense. So it's, it's the vessel that you cook in. Um, so if you could imagine a clay. Kind of like plate slash bowl and then, uh, also a clay dome, like, um, object that goes over it, that they essentially roast, um, all of the food and or within. Um, so it's typically made up couscous, a bunch of different vegetables and then some sort of meat. And, um, I'm a lamb fiend, so I always get lamb. It's amazing. It's amazing. So I got the lamb and I was just sitting and overlooking, um, it, it, it just became dusk and the sun had just set and I'm listening to this Moroccan music and looking at kids, playing soccer in the streets and just overlooking this amazing city.

Now I got to go.

You have to got to go. You have to go. It's amazing.

You can sell city. Uh, I gotta send you to Mexico city.

That's Oh yeah. Yeah. I love that. I am down for that. I am down for that schedule that, um, so, so you come back.

you've learned these things. You've met with some, you know, Academics of food, uh, in the liberal arts version of academics, you are with the like vocational masters. That's kind of where you, you got, you cut your teeth in and then you come back. You're like, all right, let's make a show.

Yeah, it was like let's rock and roll. It happened so quickly. We ended up, um, so we ended up choosing two different restaurants. Um, one of which is one of my favorites and dear friends and the other, which has become one of my dear friends. Um, the first one is Shea Hogan, a Haitian restaurant. Here in grand Rapids and Ogun is the owner sole owner of, of the, the, uh, the restaurant. And yeah, I've had this and I've had a relationship with Ogun. Um, for now, since, since I've moved to grand Rapids and that, that was the first time or the first time that I experienced Haitian food was, was when I. Came, well, I didn't actually live in grand Rapids. I worked in grand Rapids and would go back and forth from Muskegon to grand Rapids. And I ended up eating at a restaurant and that was the first time that I've had Haitian jerk chicken, which is completely different than Jamaican jerk chicken. When Jamaican jerk is usually like a dry rub and, um, it's under different spices. Um, and it's usually kind of like chard chard group, if you will, and kind of looks at black, um, complete opposite. Of Haitian jerk chicken, which is usually a wet rub and it, and kind of almost, it's almost saucy if you will, um, same amount of spice, but, um, completely, completely different. And the way they do their plants, uh, plantations, if you will, are, are completely different thing. Goodness crazy. The, uh, video the. Oh my gosh. Amazing. If you all don't know what that is. Um, I implore you to watch the episode and I implore you to cook it yourself. Um,

So cultural ingredients.

Yes, Cultural Ingredients.

WGVU just type those in, you'll get one show and there'll be that show with greeo. and we'll talk about the other half of the show, but that was not the only thing she made. She, um,  and then one other thing,

It was a super Jamal. Uh, and that was, and that was her. That was the celebratory soup, um, which was an amazing one and amazing dish. It tastes great. Um, but also just an amazing story. Um, so the story is, is that the Haitians, if you will, were, um, colonized by the French and. While they're being colonized or as they were colonized by the French, they were, um, basically basically slaves some to you to the African American experience, but within their own land. And what they, what the Haitians would do is they would cook this, this, this soup for the, uh, for the French and they would cook it, um, for them. And they, once they, once the Haitians declare their independence, they ended up. Making the soup as a celebratory dish, kind of reclaiming, reclaiming it as their own because they were, um, they were oppressed for so many years. So just an amazing, amazing story behind that, that particular well, and

Haiti being the, the only a slave colony, if you will, that completely emancipated themselves.

Right? Right.

So you have like African slaves who basically were like, Nope. Right now the French government. Exactly. I'm not taking it for their own sake. Exactly. This is amazing, right? Exactly. The date that's I think the only one.

Well, I think that Jamaica has done it as well. If I'm not mistaken, um, they, they, they claimed, I mean, they're all independent now, but they all have their, yeah. They, they did it in very different ways. Um, I would say, um, but yeah, Haiti is the only one that did it and the way that they did and, and rightfully so they have a very, extremely rich, rich history. Um, and if you have not had, uh, authentication food, you are missing out, go cop you some right now you will not be disappointed.

Nope. Yeah, that was, that was really a fun. Shoot and delicious food.

Oh my gosh. Amazing. It was so good.

And then you went to another restaurant. Oh my goodness. My guy, my guy, my guy, my guy, Oscar. He is absolutely brilliant in his own right. He takes food to the ultimate level. Um, and he had already had experience with, um, with taking ingredients and reclaiming them as, as they're own. So his, his dig was working with, uh, different ingredients that were of pre Hispanic times and taking these ingredients that. were used then and making some dope ditches now. Um, so he that's, that's his dig, that's his thing already. So being able to link up with him for the show was an easy, an easy decision. Um, I'm glad that I actually, you Mariano, you introduced us. You did. Yeah. You introduced him all.

I remember I went to dinner there and he came out. I don't remember why he came out, but he came out, it's a Mexican restaurant with a theme being, this is what Mexicans ate before the Spanish arrived.


And he comes on, like, I was wowed by this guy right around the time that we're still deciding how we're going to structure your show. And I was like, I, this is, this is ideal television. Like, we need to get this guy in front of George and see if he likes them. And then I guess, had you met him?

I, we had met before, but it was, it was in passing, you know, so we've never really had a real conversation. And I remember the first time we had, uh, we were able to sit down and I think it was over wine too if I'm not mistaken and, and just have a really real conversation about. Um, about food and around, um, how food has changed throughout history and has been influenced by colonization and what it was before and what it is now and what it means to our individual cells, him being from Mexico. Right. Um, him, uh, he's had such a vast connection with the food that he grew up with there. Um, and then also my connection with food, not being able to get past a certain generation because of slavery and not fully understanding where I come from beyond America. Um, which I've, since then, we, we have been able to find, um, where we have come from. But even then, it's still my point. I'm not growing up with those dishes that I was, uh, that are necessarily mine. Pre, uh, America. So within that week I talked, I was able to talk about the food that I was able to grow. And that was passed down from generation down to my generation, um, which was soul food. You know, I remember sitting in the kitchen, looking at all of my aunts, help my grandmother as she's cleaning the collard greens and, and making, uh, sweet potatoes and carrots. Yeah, sweet potatoes, candy, yams, and macaroni and cheese and dressing and, and with the cranberry sauce and having these conversations and stories that my grandmother would tell my aunts, um, and me just being, you know, a young and a little young and, and sitting there, and like as a fly on the wall, you know, listening to this history and the story telling that happened, I'm surrounded around the kitchen.

And is that what inspired you to go into culinary arts or what, what did it for you?

Um, yeah. Um, yes and no, you know, um, I was always passionate about cooking, but I didn't take it seriously seriously until, uh, I was, I was a sophomore in high school and I'll never forget it. My parents called me into that room. And my mother handed me this pamphlet, this book, and I started looking through it and I was like, what is this? And I started to see cosmetology and carpentry and nursing and, and, um, all of these different programs. And, um, I ended up finding out, you know, it was like, yo, this is a tech center, choose a program. Um, And I was, I was super trashed at school. Like, I mean, I was, like I said, I wasn't really, I wasn't really focused on the liberal arts education or aspect of, of education and, and school and the structured education. Our traditional education was not necessarily didn't best suit me. So I'm very thankful that my parents, um, saw that and wanted to kind of make a resolution, um, so that I would have an opportunity to be successful in life. So I ended up choosing culinary, um, and ended up going to culinary school. And, um, I chose it because I thought, I honestly thought that I was just going to eat the entire time. Like I like, like what High School student wouldn’t choose that. I mean, I got to miss half the half the day of school go cook and eat. And like, it was, it was perfect. Like I had it. And, but ended up falling in love with it and ended up, uh, learning all the, the, um, culinary techniques. The mother sauces all these different knife cuts and ended up getting a job at Giovanni's fine Italian dining. When I was 16 and working. On the grill line, which is like crazy for, at the time, for my age, because usually people in the grill line, especially at fine dining restaurants have to have this X amount of experience. And so in order to, you know, be able to flip steaks and flip swordfish and all these other types of things. So it came time for me to decide what I wanted to do. Um, After high school and ended up choosing. And I knew from working in the kitchen that I didn't necessarily want to be a chef per se, but I want it to be a part of the hospitality industry. Um, so I ended up going to the culinary Institute of Michigan and majoring in food and beverage management. And it was wild. It was there that I ended up volunteering at this wine tasting event and ended up pulling, um, uh, what was a shot nif du pop, right. And I was like a shot nif du popwhat? Like, what'd you just like, hold on a second, like pause. So he ended up explaining that shat nif du pop, literally translates to be the castle of the Pope. And the Pope used to go to this castle in the Southwest region of France and essentially just got lit. He drank a bunch of wine. And liked it so much that he just kept going back to this castle. Yeah. And, um, so much so that the French wanted to turn this, this particular region in France. Um, the Vatican, um, it obviously didn't happen, but what did end up happening was the Pope ended up blessing this land of grapes. Um, and that's how you have shot nif du pop. And that started. Um, my journey and love for, for wine. It was then that I saw the connection and between, uh, history, culture, food, and also a drink and how all of those different things intersect and in so much. And it reminded me so much of. What was lost or what has been lost within the American culture, as it relates to the dining experience after the fifties and sixties, when, um, we were, we were all going in the war and basically it became a quick food society where we were able to quick freeze our food and have it and mass and, and, and, and in mass bulk, Um, so quickly and so readily available that we started to dip away from, um, the experience of dining together and sitting at, sitting at the table and having a meal and having these conversations that were essential or I feel are, are essential to understanding, um, one's culture and understanding just another person. For me, at least it's over a meal and over a nice glass of wine. I really any fermented beverage and to me to be very Frank with you. Um, but yeah, so that was, that was, that was that exposure and experience that aha moment for me, um, was that experience.

And so just a brief question on, on the, the shed need to pop or something.

Yeah. Is that like affordable pricey?

Yeah. No, it's definitely, yeah. It's definitely pricey for sho for sho. So, I mean, I guess it's mid range. I mean, you can get a decent shot enough for like, 65. So it's not like more than I normally spend. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Right, right. But it's not like, yeah. It's not like astronomical.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. It was $400 bottles. Yeah. Yeah. No, none of that. Very, very fancy.

I'll try that one. What does it go with? Um, Oh, Oh my gosh. Something that's also really earthy. So shout nif, pop lamb. I like lamb. Like I keep going. I keep going back to the lab, lamb or goat, like that's mine. Those are my two go tos. I think that's been something like that. That's been stewed. Um, yeah. It's, it's amazing. You get these with, I love shat nif du po, because shutting, if do pop is actually a sub region of the cult around. Um, and it was then when I found out that Shat nif du pop was a sub region and, and Coke, the wrong. Predominantly grew to three different types of three different types of grapes. Uh  um, GSM for short and typically wines from that region have this type of, um, earthiness, um, this barn Yardy kind of feel to it. Um, but still has really nice grip. Um, so you get tons of notes like Blackberry, um, and you get notes of, um, uh, of Stu stude, um, Uh, dark fruit, if you will. Um, but you still get this really nice earthy richness that comes from it, which is why I think lamb or goat that's still has a gamey type of taste to it. It goes perfectly with it.

This actually brings us back to where we are in, in life, outside of podcasts and media, which is you are, um, You're a somm.

Yeah. That's that's that's my gig.

Which means?

Well, yeah, so first level.

That’s one more than I’ve got.

Right on man, but yeah, sommelier is usually a wine steward, a steward of wine, and it's, it's a French term, right. And that's what it literally translates to be. Um, but essentially a wine waiter, um, through time. Um, it's, it's been looked at as, uh, a bunch of different things now, um, as sommelier can be disk or, and be described as a person who is a distributor or per se, a wine maker or, well, anything that has to really do with wine and education, that's kind of what it's developed into, but the classically, if you are not. Serving on the floor and the restaurant, um, and serving wine, you technically are not as sommelier, but there there's, there's some stipulation in the wine world surrounds around that, but that we can say that for a different time.

Okay. Some we were supposed to be, I mean, COVID kind of like. You messed up everything.

This year we were supposed to take your show to like every food and wine thing that we possibly could find straight out and get ourselves into to promote your show. Right. And to get you a full season, right. That didn't happen for you or for anybody else at shaping narratives.We are.


I mean, when we had, we had good leads on every, for everybody, but, uh, For you, it turned into a, I guess the possibility or the. The the search for other opportunities or did they come to you?

Yeah, no, I mean it, well, no, so yeah. I'll tell you how it happened, man. Um, so I have my own business Graped Out where the, the, the motto or the little, yeah, the motto is to take the bougie out of wine. And I've been doing that through two different phases. The first phase of which is. Do popup tastings where intersect live music, live art food. And then of course in wine and all into one experience. And I have these popup dinners that are like five courses at a bunch of different or I had, I should say, cause COVID, but had these pop up dinners at a bus, a bunch of different restaurants here in Grand Rapids.

And they’d sell out in like, a day.

Yeah, I was, yeah, I was, I was surprising. I was, I was like right away.

I don't know why it was surprising to you. It was like, it was just, they show up online and next thing you know, it was done.


You could not get in, man.

I was super thankful for that. That was crazy, honestly, because you know, I have these, I have this idea, um, To kind of bridge all of these things, the arts, and then also, um, well, yeah, there's the arts because food is art wine is art. Um, but also, um, music, um, audio art, and then also visual art. Okay. Being able to, um, have a bunch of different dope local artists, painters come and make a piece on the spot and live auction or a silent auction at, um, to where, you know, The homies were walking away with a bag. Like I remember last pop up that we did Hassan summer cell, who is amazing, amazing artists. He actually a mural here in grand Rapids. That's absolutely gorgeous. I forget where it is, but if you check them out online, but yeah. So his, his last painting that he did. I ended up selling for like $700. You know what I mean? So getting him a bag, but also getting my homie Jordan Hamilton, who is an amazing, amazing musician, classically trained cellist, um, has a master's degree in it. You, he goes from playing Bach to playing chance, the rapper or rapping and chance the rapper. I mean, he does it all. And then if you are intersecting, jazz and hip hop, and classical music all into one experience and absolutely amazing artists. My dog, my homie, I always have to shout them out, but yeah, so develop this. And that was the first phase of graped out. The second phase of grape doubt was to actually make my own wine and make my own juice. So that was, that's what I've always wanted to do. So in order to do that, I had to learn how to make wine. So I ended up. Looking for us. So actually my, my old boss, when I was, uh, I used to be a distributor and I used to sell wine and he ended up hitting me up and was like, Hey, Andrew Jones is looking. Who's a producer out in California is looking for, um, some help for harvest season.

And when yout you say producer? What do you mean?

Oh yeah, I winemaker, yeah. Yeah. So he's out in California and has some amazing, amazing projects, full recordings. Fabless I mean, I could go on, um, and ended up shooting it to one of my homies. And, uh, who was also a winemaker and in California. And she was like, yeah, that's, this is a dope opportunity. Um, but don't think that this is your only opportunity. So she ended up connecting me with another wine maker out in California and ended up having a conversation with them. And, um, they didn't offer any housing for the intern. So harvest internship is essentially what it is is you, you go out to the winery and you make wine, you make their wine for three months or learn how to make their wine for three months, and then you go back home. So the winery that she connected me with didn't offer any housing, but they offered a stipend. So it didn't really make sense for me because Cali is just mad, expensive just to start with. And then also to. Be able to find a house for only three months and then come back. It's just a lot of work. So ended up connecting with another one of my friends who connected me with a winery out in Oregon and ended up talking to them. Um, they offered housing, they offered a decent Saipem and they had a private chef for all the harvest interns. I was like, yo, yeah, this is a no brainer. Like I'm going to Oregon. So ended up getting it. Like something at that day. But two weeks prior to that, I had basically shot a blind email to info at Wade cellars. Um, and it was like, Hey, my, my name's George Walker, I'm 26 years old. I don't know if you guys are accepting any harvest interns this year, but I’d love to work this season. So didn't hear anything back until two weeks later. And after I'd already accepted the position in Oregon, And got an email from the president. My now my now boss, a direct boss. And he was like, Hey, sorry, I'm just getting out. Just now getting back to you, but I've been on vacation for the past two weeks. How about you shoot over your resume and let's hop on a call tomorrow. So I'm like freaking out. I'm just like, yo, what? Like I gotta, I got it. I got a message back. Like, this is wild. Like I didn't even expect anything back. Cause it was just like, yeah, the dark, you know, and it's also Wade cellars. So after, you know, after I. Get down, freaking out and call him everyone, you know, who's important to me. Um, I, you know, I'm sleeping it off and ended up getting on a phone call with him the next day. And he's like, Hey, your resume looks great. Tell him your story. So, you know, I ended up telling my story, um, and he was like, okay, dope. So here's the lowdown, here's the, here's the gig. We're actually not looking for a harvest intern at all. I'm actually looking for a right hand man to the whole operation. Mike dropped runs out the room. What? Like, yo, everything after that, I was just like, I mean, I just kind of blacked out, but all I can remember was saying yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Like whatever let's sign me up, you know, so end up saying, let's hop on a call next week with the managing partner. Um, see what he thinks. I had a great call with him and then the following week ended up hopping on another call with. Dewayne Wade’s team, Wade’s Cellars is owned by Dewayne Wade. So I'm just like, this is wild. So I'm talking to Dewanyne Wade's team over at CAA and the creative arts agency and they're into it. I get the offer the next day or that night, actually that night. I'm writing my counter offer as everyone all should always, always counter, but as I'm writing my counter offer and I'm like chilling with my girl she's she helps me with everything. And she, uh, I, I looked down at my phone and I was like, I look down at my phone. I see that Dwayne Wade, DM me on Instagram. And I'm just like, yo, what, like what is going on? Like, what is life? And I didn't have it in me to like, look at the actual message because I was just like freaking out. I mean, as like pretty much anyone. Yeah. You know? So I look at the message. He's like, Hey bro, I heard it just had a meeting with the D Wade cellars team. How'd that go for you? And I was just like, yo, this is dope. Like, it was amazing. He was like, yeah, we're excited to have you on the team. And I was like, Yeah, this is crazy. So, you know, ended up accepting the position. Um, they accepted my counter offer and yeah, I'm moving to Napa. I leave and two days.

Which is why we're very thankful that you came in to do the, do this.

Cause it's Oh, like, no, thank you. Yeah. No, thank you for the opportunity. This is absolutely amazing. I love it. It's really cool to be able to tell the story and my story and the whole journey that I've been experiencing while in Michigan, because it's, it's a, it's a surreal time, you know, and it's a really surreal moment because I've been in Michigan for now eight years, and this is kind of where I, I, I became a man that kind of came into myself as a, not only, um, a professional, but also just a genuine human being. Um, so it's just entry and also where I met the love of my life. So it's, it's just, uh, an interest and the Brandy shout out to brandy on my boo thing, professor Bay. Um, but yeah, so it's, it's a, it's a, it's a weird time for, for both her and I, because we're moving to California.

Oh, that's amazing. So she is moving out there with you, which is beautiful. And you guys are going to I'm sure. Just kill it out there.

I'm hoping. So she does some, she does really, really great work at WMCAT right now. What's the Michigan center for arts and technology, uh, really surrounded around justice, um, and surrounded around human centered design and thinking and social innovation. Um, basically bridging the gap with private businesses and community and making sure that private businesses are always human centered and equity is always at the forefront. Of every move that they make for not only their business, but more so for the community in which that business is period. And she also, that's the one side of her job, um, which is community like community catalyst and, um, their agency that they have. And then she also has another side of her business. To where she is the program director for God. I hate that. I forget the name of the program, but essentially what - step here, step here's the name of the program and basically what that program is, which I wish I had at that age, but in between the ages of 18 and 24, when there's kind of like that gray area of where you want to be in life. I am between in high school and college, and then maybe not even in college, because most of these kids have these brilliant ideas of what they want to do, but don't necessarily know how to get there. Um, and that program is to be able to create scenarios to where they're exposed to a bunch of different industries and powerhouses within the city, them different ideas of what they could do and connecting them with resources and opportunities that they might not have had without the, the program. So she is amazing in her own. Right. Um, I am thankful for her and I'm thankful for our relationship. Got to shout her out professor. I have to.

So grape doubt, is it going to happen? Is it not going to happen? Are you taking it with you? What's the plan?

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So fortunately I am in a business where it's actually frowned upon. If you don't have a side job, if you will. Um, so even some of my president, my direct boss, Matt. Noman has his own project called newfound mines. And he does amazing, amazing work with his own thing aside from Wade sellers. So yes, graped out will definitely live on it'll probably live on in a different and a different way. Grape that would probably be focused more on the popups and the more cultural site. Whereas the actual wine will become GW three giving helped me to,

You're still going to do your own wine.

Yeah. Yeah, definitely, definitely. Still going to do that. And I think that this will propel that even more, um, as I develop more connections out in California, but yeah, so it will develop into GW three paying homage to my heritage, my grandfather and my great grandfather. And of course my father through my wine, um, I want to focus more on the agricultural side of things as George Washington, Carver did with peanuts, but me doing it through, through wine and grapes.

That's amazing. Are you going to do any more media or can we expect a grape doubt podcast or a DW 3 podcasts?

Yeah. Yeah. I am. I am a hoping to be able to continue cultural ingredients. I am hoping that. I'll be able to connect with some people out in California, Northern California. And hopefully it works out. Cause I really want to continue this and hopefully that you're still my producer. Cause

I'm down get some dope stuff in Northern California, which like, why not? So yeah, no, I mean we're uh, Hopefully going to try to connect it to PBS there. That would be amazing. If PBS could pick up a show that was created for PBS audience. Um, so we're gonna, we're gonna try that, but if not, I'm sure you'll find something to do with it. Cause it's such a good show. I'm really, I'm proud of my part in it. I am very proud of you for coming into this with no real media knowledge. Just turning into a heck of a host. I mean, just like an amazing host, a great producer, good writer. I mean, just like all of the things that go into producing a show, people think you just show up on camera and smile and talk about whatever is being done in front of you.


Not even close. It's not, it's so much more than that. So much more work that you had to put into it too much more thought intentionality, the promotion that you do around the things that you do is always on point. One of the things that. We didn't really talk about, but I want to just mention, which is really, I think, stands out about you and the way that you do it. You're, you're a very knowledgeable guy in your area, which you know, is culinary arts and wine. And in the shows, one of the things that everybody, including the chefs, uh, appreciated about you is your willingness to break it down for people like me, who don't know. About wines and cooking. And so thank you so much. One of the things that I remember you, you insisted on leaving in the show and I was like, dude, but you know, this might kind of credibility. You were like, no, no, no. This is what it's about was, um, there are two or three moments in, in the, in the show. Where it kind of becomes humorous that you, you say like, Oh, I know how to handle my knife skills.

I was like, we'll do a julienne cut and you start doing it wrong. And then, uh, yeah, Oscar corrects you. And he's like, well, this is how you do it. Or whisking? And I mean, these are not things that you don't know how to do. They're just.

Yeah, everybody has their own way that they do it. And there's always an easier and quicker way. And ask chef Oscar had definitely knows the easiest and cook his way. And he was like, yo, I got you. You don't have to work this hard to do it. And he was just like, boom, boom, boom, boom, blah, blah, blah. I was like, wait, what? He was just like, boom, boom, boom, boom. And I was like, okay, I got you.

Yeah. But not only that, I mean, the, the reason you did a lot of these things and because we talked through them, this isn't just me speculating. We talk through these things that you wanted people to be able to learn. To watch you and learn. Cause you, you watch these, these cooking shows by famous chefs. And they don't really break it down for you. They just tell you like, this is how the professionals do it and you watch it. You're like, I can't do that. Or if you're arrogant enough to think you can wind up making some monstrosity that you're probably not going to be able to eat. Right. And you don't, you're like, no, this is how you whisk. Let watch me do it wrong, then watch him do it. Right. Right, right. You will learn how to whisk or you will learn how to do as Julian cut or whatever it is.


That takes humility. It takes knowledge of what people need to know they will probably get wrong. I won't know what it is, and I'm not great with this. Um, but having the presence of mind to know what, uh, what the audience is not going to know and having the humility to do it in such a way that. Even though you don't look super knowledgeable when you're doing it. It makes me learn. That took, I mean, I don't know how you came up with the idea because that one was not in the script. You just did it and it looks that's great. And it sounds great. And it's, uh, it's funny. Which is even better than it was just a, it was just a fun time.

I mean, and, and it came from just genuineness and I mean, we did it, it was like, it was all one, take one shot. I mean, straight through, we didn't repeat anything. So we were, I mean, we were actually just really just. Cooking chopping it up and having real conversations, you know? And that's, I mean, and it was birth from the authenticity of that.

You just said something that I forgot, which I don't know why. I didn't remember that this was both of those shoots were done essentially in one take. Now we have to do beauty shots, slow motion shots and things like that, but the actual events. Right, right. We're one day and one straight shot. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You just, you're a joy to work with.

Thank you. You too.

You’re a talented guy we're going to miss you incredibly here in West Michigan. And I'm not just talking now about like WGVU myself, our crew. I think everybody that knows you. Wow. Worked. Your who's worked with you, your events and we'll miss you. I'm sure the kids in Muskegon missed you too. When you left Muskegon and they'll miss you more now. Cause now you're even further away.

Thank you so much. Seriously.

But we look forward to seeing what you do out there, cause I'm sure we're going to end up hearing about it. Wow. Wow. I know we will. I mean, at 26, all the things you've done, the trajectory that you're planning out for yourself, the fact that you already have plans.


I mean, hats off to you. It's it's incredible to watch you just b. Be George Walker the third.

Oh my thank you so much, man. It's uh, it's incredibly humbling. Um, I, and I feel, I feel the love. I feel the love from the city. Um, and I feel the love from, from family and friends from all over. And, um, it just gives me that drive to continue to strive, to be great and continue to pass the torch and not keep it for myself because that's what it's about. We, we have to. We have to pass it down and especially being people of color. Um, I've been fortunate enough to have so many different mentors. And quite frankly, until recently haven't found a mentors who were people of color. Um, I'm, I'm thankful that I now since COVID the internet has been able to bring us all together and, and. For me to be able to find people like who are going to say D Lynn Proctor and people like Carlton McCoy who are out in Napa, California, Carlton being the first black master sommelier, and then also the youngest person to attain that crazy, crazy goal status and pass the test. And I'm linking up with him as soon as I stepped foot in Napa, you know, he's become one of my mentors. It's also Felipe, Andre, who is out in Chicago. Who's the  national brand ambassador for Charles Heizig one of the oldest, um, champagne houses in the world and being able to have him on my line and to be able to call him up and ask for help whenever, wherever I need it. I want it to be that for people who look like me and to be able to show them like they have showed me that it's possible that the, these things are attainable and that you can do it and be that support.

But George, uh, thank you very much for your time. Not just this podcast, this one event, but over the past two and a half to three years of all, you've given to West Michigan, all you've given to WGVU and. To your show to the people that watched it, the people that participated in making it and the people that were supporters slash beneficiaries raped out events and everything else that you've done here in West Michigan, we will miss you. We will look forward to all the things that you do, and we're very glad to have had you be part of the story of West Michigan for as. Much as eight years and for some of us, unfortunately less than that, but certainly long enough to know now the kind of person that you are and. How outstanding, the work that you do is.

Well, thank you so much Mariano, I really appreciate the love that you're showing me. Um, and, and I am looking forward to seeing you in Napa and seeing you in Northern California. Also. Thank you West Michigan. Um, you all have an amazing deep, deep place in my heart and I'll see y'all soon.

Absolutely. You'll definitely see me I don’t know about all of West Michigan, but you'll see me in Napa for sure.

Heck yeah.

Heck yeah.

Well cheers.

Shaping Narratives a collection of voices from West Michigan's communities of color is brought to you in partnership with the wk Kellogg Foundation, a partner with communities where children come first. Want to hear more Shaping Narratives episodes download and subscribe at WGVU dot org or wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and subscribe if you get a chance, it helps us to know you're listening. Shaping Narratives is produced by WGVU PBS and NPR in West Michigan through the facilities of the Meijer public broadcast center in the service of Grand Valley State University. Matt Gruppen processed all the audio, Joe Bielecki edits each episode, Vance Orr designed our graphics and manages our Web presence, Phil Lanes is our director of content. The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the hosts and their guests and do not necessarily reflect those of WGVU or Grand Valley State University.

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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