A Love Letter to Michigan

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Joe Zettelmaier's Childhood Farm

Michigan is my home. I was born in Ann Arbor, and raised in a wee 800-person farming town called Gobles. I’ve moved around, lived in a few different states, worked in several more, but I always come back to Michigan. Why? Because Michigan is freaking beautiful.

Maybe it was growing up on a farm, who knows why, but I love nature. A lifetime ago, I was a park ranger with the Department of Natural Resources. It was absolutely fantastic. Sure, there were some…interesting discoveries in the woods from time to time. Sure, I learned that the phrase “happy camper” is often an oxymoron. But the forests of Michigan…the lakes…the land itself is just beyond gorgeous. I couldn’t begin to guess how much time I’ve spent hiking the various woods of the Mitten. And man oh man, is there anything more breathtaking than Michigan in autumn, when suddenly all the trees turn into a blaze of colors? And I lived in several places that don’t have a true autumn. I tell ya, you really miss it!

Know what else I learned living on a farm? Michigan can grow damn near anything! I’ve not tested it, but I’m pretty sure if I planted a shoe in the soil here, there’d be Nikes in the trees come summer. And in a way, that’s what’s Roustabout has done; we’ve set our roots into this state. Oh, we may drift like tumbleweeds from town to town, but our roots are here and they are deep. Corn, cherries, apples, soybeans, sugar beets, wheat…we grow lots and lots of stuff here. Including art. There are no fewer than TEN Equity theatres in this state, plus twice as many paying non-equity theatres. If I were to count the number of visual artists and musicians that live or got started here, my head would likely explode.

I guess that’s how I’ve always thought of the Great Lakes State…verdant and lush for both nature and arts. It’s an honor to be part of the Michigan arts community, and I can’t think of a better place for us to grow!

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