Kalamazoo recording artist, producer, and songwriter Sherridan Harris returns to Keep Your Voice Down to chat with Doug and Alek ahead of Saturday’s Watershed Voice Artist Showcase. The trio discuss Sherridan a.k.a. Sherdizzil’s sophomore record “The Vine Album,” his growth as an artist and as a performer, rap and hip-hop nerdom, and how this year’s showcase will be different from last year’s show.

At the top of this week’s episode Alek and Doug address Monday’s troubling news that teachers within the Three Rivers Community Schools system were asked to remove Pride flags in their classrooms in response to an “external challenge” by an unidentified party.   

The hosts of Keep Your Voice Down are also joined by Sarah Lee, Director of Marketing Communications at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. The trio discusses Sarah’s role at KZCF, her upbringing in Malaysia and how she became deeply rooted in Kalamazoo, the importance of being “equity-minded” when addressing matters of social and racial injustice, the foundation’s efforts to support local journalism, and the story behind the formation of the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative.

Rick Haglund writes, “[…] At a time when most new jobs paying a living wage require a certificate or degree beyond high school, Michigan is falling far short of needed support for higher education. The result is a state economy that lacks enough skilled and highly educated workers needed to attract technology and other knowledge-based employers.”

Watershed Voice set out to find how this pandemic is affecting young people in southwest Michigan, speaking to local mental health experts and teens alike. Throughout the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered lives across the world; people have lost their jobs, lost loved ones, and had to put their lives on hold. That feeling of going on pause has especially affected young people, who feel removed from some of the most formative years of their lives. It’s no wonder these feelings of isolation and helplessness have taken a toll on child and adolescent mental health.

In March 2020, the pandemic hit Michigan, bringing upheaval to schools. When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed schools buildings that month due to the climbing number of COVID-19 cases, districts across the state scrambled to craft a plan to meet students’ needs virtually. Over the last year, the pandemic has highlighted the inequities the struggling, underfunded Partnership schools face while they work to make ends meet during this current school year.

The Kalamazoo City Commission voted unanimously Monday to withdraw from Southwest Michigan First’s “Council of 100” partnership, before City Commissioner Erin Knott passed a motion to also withdraw $10,000 in annual funding to the agency over former state House Speaker Lee Chatfield’s anti-LGBTQ views. Chatfield was recently named CEO of the Kalamazoo-based economic development agency.