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Columbus Does Good: A New Attitude

It’s March 9th—International Women’s Day—and I have an audience with two girls who rock. Well, and they roll, too. Marlena Bowen and Syd Smith, instructors for Grrrls Rock Columbus, a decade-old summer music and creative arts camp, have decided to celebrate with a day of duckpin bowling at the new Pins Mechanical Co. in Dublin—and [...]
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It’s March 9th—International Women’s Day—and I have an audience with two girls who rock.

Well, and they roll, too.

Marlena Bowen and Syd Smith, instructors for Grrrls Rock Columbus, a decade-old summer music and creative arts camp, have decided to celebrate with a day of duckpin bowling at the new Pins Mechanical Co. in Dublin—and I’m in their camp, under their wing.

It’s not camp, per se, but I do have instructors—and there is a fire pit.

“We were inspired by the Athens Rock Camp for Girls,” says Marlena, noting that Grrrls Rock began in 2007 during the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon. While the summer camp is female-based, Bowen affirms that the program is non-discriminatory. “The basic philosophy is to provide opportunities for teenage girls to express themselves through music. Our camp, for pretty deliberate reasons, has decided to be inclusive of transgender and non-binary campers as well, so it’s not specific to girls.”

Held at the Arts & College Preparatory Academy (ACPA), Grrrls Rock Columbus is held from June 24th-July 1st, for students 12-18 with interest in live musical performing. Both Marlena and Syd stress that the extensive camp is a safe space; that all, from girls, transgender and gender-variant can be a part of.

“They get to meet new people, form a band, create an original song and perform it by the end of the week for all their friends and family,” says Syd, who is also a former student of CCAD.

Students of Grrrls Rock Columbus can look forward to being taught by well-experienced musicians, as Marlena has dabbled in the acoustic guitar and flute, while Syd played bass and guitar while attending high school at Fort Hayes.

“I asked my dad for a guitar because I wanted to get into rock ‘n’ roll, but he bought me an acoustic guitar,” Bowen says. “I overcame my teenage disappointment and taught myself a few chords, but I didn’t really take my playing seriously until after I started organizing with Grrrls Rock. My involvement with camp inspired me to start playing in bands with my friends, which is something I do very casually.”
Participants of Grrrls Rock Columbus waste no time getting acquainted, with Marlena mentioning that one parent commented on their once-shy daughter having “blossomed” into a courageous artist after the program.

“We don’t require any musical experience, so some of our campers are trying out their instruments for the very first time,” Bowen says. “Trying to play a brand new instrument in a band can be a big challenge for a lot of people. We are always impressed with how well our campers are able to work through things together during band practice.”

“We put effort into coordinating that and making sure that our campers are walking into a collaborative environment where they will be heard and respected for their contributions,” Smith added.

While past camp participants have surprised instructors with a pre-existing love for Joan Jett, once becoming a part of Grrrls Rock, many students also experience bouts with stage fright, which fortunately subsides as they become acquainted with their artistry. For Marlena and Syd however, stage fight isn’t an issue, as students become much more valiant with their music.

“I think rock camp is for people who want to learn an instrument but feel too intimidated,” Bowen said. Our focus is to create an environment where campers feel comfortable exploring something new and aren’t afraid to fail. It’s not really about getting really good at your instrument or writing the best song, it’s about identifying your strengths and getting comfortable with putting yourself out there.”

For those who aren’t exactly convinced that their fear of crowds can diminish, Grrrls Rock Columbus provides daily workshops for a week-span, in which campers find self-discovery in performance and musical collaboration.

“They bond so much over the week that at the final performance,” Smith says. “The performing band gets to look out into a sea of support from all of the campers and volunteers sitting in the front rows cheering them on.”

For more, visit grrrlsrockcolumbus.com.

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Arts & Culture

Thinking Big: The Amazing Giants bring circus arts to events across town

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If you have been to a local festival, parade, or corporate event where you’ve seen stilt walkers, fire-eaters, hula-hoopers or lyra artists, there’s a good chance you’ve been in the presence of an Amazing Giant. Founded in 2011 by Jessica Minshall, The Amazing Giants was born out of one woman’s love of stilt walking and her friends’ desire to learn the skill. Now a new challenge is looming for the group—a business expansion to Hawaii.

Working in the service industry, Minshall saw a need in Columbus for a different type of entertainment. She taught herself how to walk on stilts for a festival gig out of state. This new hobby intrigued a group of her friends, and they decided to learn, too. From there, The Amazing Giants were born. “My partner and I bought a lot of stilts and just taught people how to do it,” she said. “We all found each other.”

What began as a few friends learning a new skill and having fun together practicing it evolved into a booming business with 40 employees and contract workers, including magicians, face painters and more. They are hired for events to do everything from wearing full bodysuits covered in tiny mirrors and dancing to wearing and serving champagne from large metal skirts to dazzle a crowd.

“We have evolved with different equipment, too,” Minshall said. The Amazing Giants owns the only sway pole in the Midwest. It allows performers to create a large- scale spectacle with an extreme cirque-style pole acrobatic act without the need for a permanent installation. With hundreds of costumes, 20 pairs of stilts, and entertainment offerings of just about every circus art imaginable, The Amazing Giants truly seek to astound.

Having had great success in the Columbus market, Minshall decided to grow her business, and recently brought The Amazing Giants to Honolulu. “I had family out here that I would visit and realized they don’t have anyone doing what we do. There’s not really a group or team of stilt walkers working together,” she said. So Minshall bought six pairs of stilts, and hosts open gyms where interested performers can show off their skills and possibly train on stilts. “They don’t need to send me a resume, necessarily,” she said. “It’s about personality and talent.”

Importantly, Amazing Giants must have an abundance of confidence without an overabundance of ego. “I tell people we have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. As an entertainer you have to get over your shyness and put yourself out there.” The ability to work as a collaborative team player is also key, she said. “Our team often works in tight quarters, and whether or not it is well-received, you have to put on the show as best you can.”

Although Minshall is keeping the headquarters in Columbus, now headed by Chief of Operations Olivia Ranier, she says she is excited about the expansion and her recent move to Honolulu. “It reminds me a lot of Columbus because it has that small-town, big-city feel with a similar {\(metropolitan area) population of around one million people,” Minshall said. And the environment is ripe for her type of business. “In Honolulu, we have events year-round; in Columbus our business slows down after New Year’s Eve,” she said. “There is also a lot more tourism and a convention center that brings in a ton of people.”

Although her business has expanded, don’t for a second go thinking that Minshall is going to forget where she comes from. “A lot of times people ask me where I am from and they say, ‘Wow, I’ve been hearing a lot about Ohio lately.’ I have nothing but good things to say about Columbus and what kind of platform it’s given me. It’s a massive city with a thriving arts and entertainment culture—and it’s extremely underrated. I will be Columbus-promoting forever.”

For more information visit theamazinggiants.com.

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Sports

Big Macs and Bowl Games: Enter McDonalds sweepstakes for college football getaway

614now Staff

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Now that Ohio State has secured its bid to play in the 2019 College Football Playoffs, every fan across Columbus is vying for tickets to the Bowl Game. Lucky for you, McDonald’s has the answer.

Today, McDonald’s launches their Buckeye Bowl Game Sweepstakes in partnership with Ohio State Athletics, where one lucky winner will win a trip for two to the 2019 Fiesta Bowl Game on Saturday, Dec. 28, including prime tickets to the game, transportation to and from, plus hotel and travel accommodations.

Fans can enter the Buckeye Bowl Game Sweepstakes by purchasing a Quarter Pounder or Quarter Pounder with cheese from any McDonald’s in the greater Columbus area, either in restaurants or through their favorite delivery service. With each order, customers will receive a golden ticket with entry details, leading them to the sweepstakes website.

And the best part is for every submission placed, McDonald’s Owner/Operators of Columbus will donate $1 to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, helping them meet their annual fundraising goal.

“For McDonald’s, and for those of us as local business owners, it’s about more than selling burgers. It’s about creating a lasting impact in our community,” said Mike Telich, Columbus McDonald’s Owner/Operator in a statement. “Supporting RMHC is more than just a donation, its ensuring families with ill or injured children get the emotional and physical support they need, as well an alternative to the financial burden of staying at a hotel and going out for meals."

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Community

Oh Snap! Local photo studio helping bring Columbus’ imagination to life

614now Staff

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SPONSORED

We can only count on our memories to preserve moments so much, and word of mouth can only get us so far. Sometimes, a message needs to be captured with a shutter and presented with an image.

At Zurïe Studio you can bring your imagination to life and preserve special moments in one beautiful place at a reasonable price. The space features a sun-soaked studio and clean aesthetic, allowing the subjects of your photos to command the screen without distraction.

The studio also offers paper backdrops, stools, and minimal props to amplify your project, mini session, or photo shoot. All outside props are welcome, too, with a loading dock to make setup a breeze.

Speaking of mini, (614) Kids Club has teamed up with Zurïe to offer a FREE Family Holiday Mini Photography Session! Join us December 7th from 10am-Noon at Zurïe to have your picture snapped by LA + Co Photography.

This event is open to the public (as long as you get your ticket in advance), but (614) Kids Club members will receive:

  • (614) Kids Club Members get to skip the line
  • Two digital prints of their minis – for FREE

Click here to learn more and reserve your spot!

Whether it's head shots for the office, new products you want to promote, a creative vision that keeps you up at night, or just trying to get one nice picture of your family acting like the love one another, Zurïe is passionate about the people of Columbus, and will work with you to create something beautiful and memorable.

Zurïe Studio is conveniently located at 3477 N High St. in Clintonville, directly behind the new Katalina’s. They are open 8am- 5pm every day by appointment. To learn more and book your rental, visit zurie.co.

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