Robert's Articles

My first published article, in January 1995, was actually half of an article. A friend, DJ Christianson, wrote a weekly column on women’s issues for Michigan Women’s Times, a now-defunct women’s tabloid. One night, DJ and I visited one of her sacred places, a savanna with a huge oak tree that stood tall, its massive branches spread wide as if to embrace and protect the dozens of little oaks that had sprouted in the fertile, leaf-composted soil within its realm.

DJ and I climbed to lower branches and contemplated the place and the energy from our diverse gender perspectives. I wrote and she wrote. Then she blended our writings into a single article—one half hers and one half mine—titled “Sacred Spaces.” When the article about this grandmother/grandfather tree was published, the thrill I felt of seeing my words in print was divine.

My second article—or the first one that I crafted totally on my own—was accepted in 1995 by Michigan Out-of-Doors (MOOD), a high quality magazine that has been entertaining outdoor enthusiasts since 1947. The article, published in 1997—the magazine’s 50th anniversary year—was titled “The Lake Is a Lady” and was about my first sailing adventure across Lake Michigan from Holland, Michigan, to Port Washington, Wisconsin, and back.

It was a beautiful, poesy article, elevated in style to some extent from the magazine’s typical, more fundamental articles about hunting and fishing. It was also the first sailing article that MOOD had published in 25 years, an amazing fact considering that our peninsular state lies in the middle of the Great Lakes. “The Lake Is a Lady” has since been republished in Sticks & Rags magazine in Seattle, Washington, and in The Great Lakes Book Project here in Michigan.

When Encore magazine of Kalamazoo, Michigan, published my third article in October 1996, I felt like I was running—running with the wind. The subject was Marc Kelemen, a portrait photographer in Kalamazoo. So this article, “From Poster Child to Photographer: Marc Kelemen Overcomes the Odds,” was my first article about a person, and I discovered that I really like writing about people. I especially liked presenting the stories of “lesser lights,” folks who are making some significant contribution to society in a small, generally unnoticeable way.

That was Marc: professional portrait and wedding photographer; paraplegic whose image had once graced a muscular dystrophy poster during the heyday of Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day MD telethons; a person mobile only in a motorized wheelchair who lived with a service dog, Odie, and needed an assistant to mount his camera on a specially constructed platform on his wheelchair.

But, oh, he had a knack of thoroughly engaging his subject in conversation, posing questions to elicit a serious or a laughing expression, and then pressing the shutter button at the precise moment to capture the optimal image. I met Marc through my daughter, Mandie, who had selected him to shoot her high school graduation portraits—and I was totally impressed with his personality, professionalism, and aptitude.

I also wrote a sidebar, titled “Odie, the Golden Retriever, Tells His Story,” about life with Marc from Odie’s point of view. Penny Briscoe, who was editor of Encore at that time, still says it was one of the best and most touching pieces the magazine had ever published. Is it no wonder that I felt like I was running with the wind?

Since then, I’ve had over 150 articles published. Most of them have been in Encore, a few more in Michigan Out-of-Doors, many in the Southwest Michigan Wellness Directory, and others in various local, national, and international publications and on the Internet.

In the fall of 2003, I was privileged to write an article about my family’s history in the Village of Emmett, Michigan, where my grandfather started a gas station, country store, and farm implement business in the 1930s. This was the business, Fred Weir & Son, in which I was raised—with Fred being my grandfather and my dad, Martin, being the son. The article appeared in the annual Goodfellows fundraiser newspaper, published by the Emmett Lions Club and dedicated to my dad, who had been the last living founding member of the club and who had died the previous spring.

By the time that article appeared, I had written about 75 published articles, including opinion columns in a local newspaper, and had crafted Cobble Creek, my first book of short stories and poetry. People knew me as a writer. The Lions Club asked me to write that tribute article. To say I was honored would be an understatement. Their request was an affirmation: I was on my journey!

But the message here is not just about one person’s accomplishments; the message is one of universal inspiration—for you!

Whether you desire to create a poem, a short story, a book, or a business report, simply begin. Write your first word, your first line, your first paragraph, your first draft. Take your first step. Begin your journey.

I also coach other writers and edit book and article manuscripts. If you want my assistance, contact me.

blockquoteYour journey of a thousand articles begins with your first draft.


Remembering the Struggle
Encore magazine, February 2017
Photos by Robert Weir et al

More than a half century after the Civil Rights Movement, the march toward human rights, equality and justice continues.
Read article.


The Right Retreat
Encore magazine, November 2016
Photo by Brian Powers

With more than a dozen retreat centers in Southwest Michigan, you don’t have to go far to get away from it all.
Read article.


The Fresh Food Fairy
Encore magazine, August 2016
Photo by Brian Powers

frayer-fresh-food-fairy-2016-08 Bedecked in rainbow clothing, Hether Frayer, the Fresh Food Fairy, flits about Southwest Michigan proclaiming, “Fresh food is fun!”
Read article.


Kalamazoo’s Got the Blues
Encore magazine, June 2016
Photo by Brian Powers

kalamazoo-blues-2016-06-a Kalamazoo is a bona fide “home of the blues” — and home of the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association (KVBA) and the annual Kalamazoo Blues.
Read article.


A Force for Friendship
Encore magazine, January 2016
Photo provided by Western Michigan Friendship Force

FriendshipForce_Group
Through “exchange” visits with domestic and foreign travelers, members of the Western Michigan Friendship Force practice “kitchen diplomacy” to attain world peace one friend at a time.
Read article.


The Bridge of Friendship
Encore magazine, November 2015
Photo by Robert Weir

Russian_parade copy
Beginning with humanitarian contributions in 1991, the Kalamazoo Russian Cultural Association continues to foster a close cultural and economic relationship with Pushkin, Russia.
Read article.


Pathways for Paddlers
Encore magazine, August 2015
Photo by Brian Powers

kayak
Long before Michigan was ribboned with roads, the state’s waterways were paddled by indigenous tribes in birchbark canoes. Today, Michigan honors those early traditions with programs for modern aquatic recreationists.
Read article.


blockquoteBegin your journey now. For coaching on how to write, contact me.


The Allure of Antique Tools
Encore magazine, February 2017
Photo of an extremely rare three-arm plow plane, made of ebony and ivory, that sold for a record $114,400 provided by Brown Tool Auctions

Brown Tool Auctions sells antique tools that are special, rare and still usable.
Read article.


A Guiding Light
Encore magazine, December 2016
Photo by Brian Powers

With an illuminating mission, the Fetzer Institute is working toward a more loving world.
Read article.


75 Years of Song
Encore magazine, September 2016
Photo provided by Mall City Harmonizers

mall-city-harmonizers-2016-09
The Mall City Harmonizers, a male barbershop choir, celebrate their diamond anniversary.
Read article.


Building Adventures
Encore magazine, August 2016
Photo by Brian Powers

bill-nichols-2016-08
When Sheila McGrew married Bill Nichols in 1971, she sensed his adventurous spirit but didn’t anticipate the magnitude of his exploits (sailing across the Atlantic) or his artistry (from toy trains to a spiral staircase to trimarans).
Read article.


Kalamazoo Safari Company
Encore magazine, April 2016
Photo by Yasmine Pirbhai

Lioncubsandmom2
Erfan Pirbhai, who was born in Tanzania, and his family own and operate the Kalamazoo Safari Company, which provides safari tours to his homeland. Inspired by seeing lions in the wild, Erfan’s eldest daughter, Yasmine, has raised an amazing amount of money for a lions habitat project at a local zoo.
Read article.


Salty Lakes
Encore magazine, November 2015
Photo by Brian Powers


Is road salt ruining Kalamazoo’s lakes? And urban lakes in other cities? Could be, according to environmental sampling by students at Western Michigan University.
Read article.


The Organic Gypsy
Encore magazine, June 2015
Photo by Junfu Han

organic-gypsy-truck
When in culinary school, Bridgett Blough, The Organic Gypsy, had the idea that, “Instead of owning a restaurant, I could have a food truck and drive where I wanted to provide people with healthy food.”
Read article.





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