Like many people who live in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I feel lucky to call this place my home. I admit, it’s hard to be objective from inside my own fond memories, or maybe it’s just the romance of its exotic name, but since I hear the same opinion from so many others, I think there might be something to it.

With several institutions of higher education and some large locally-based businesses with a history of community involvement, it seems we have more “good stuff” than average for a city of our size (around 80,000 people, with almost 250,000 in the county). This includes a great arts community and a variety of cultural opportunities, a robust non-profit sector, relatively strong economic stability and growth, and several nationally recognized institutions, not to mention a pioneering city-wide college scholarship program. Does every small city like this have so much to be proud of?

Behind all of this good stuff are many active, creative, generous, and successful citizens. For a long time, I’ve enjoyed reading Encore magazine, because it features stories about the exceptional people who make me proud to live here.

And now, some of the most fun I’ve had as a freelance writer has been writing profiles for Encore. I’ve been able to meet a few of the people who help make Kalamazoo such an extraordinary place. I don’t know what’s more fun, listening to their stories or taking them back to my desk to craft a portrait that encapsulates what’s compelling about them. You can find these articles in my portfolio.

I’ve just been reading a guidebook for professional freelancers, in which one writer recounts that when people ask about his job, he tells them he gets paid to learn. I feel the same way, and I feel as lucky to do this work as to live in this community. So while I’m currently working on a couple more profiles for this magazine for this fall, I hope I’ll be doing even more encores!