Mariano Avila

Larry Nassar, the sports doctor who was convicted for molesting 190 girls and women earlier this month has been making headlines nationally. Katie Strang is the managing editor of The Athletic, a sports news publication in Michigan. Her coverage of the Nassar’s trial stood out in that it centered the stories of the women who spoke out and stood up to the doctor who abused so many. WGVU’s Mariano Avila talked to Katie Strang about her coverage.  A warning, accounts of abuse described here may be disturbing. 


“When you read that there were 190 women sexually abused, that’s a number. It is something entirely different to see a young girl with bangs and braces, and someone that fiddles with their necklace and has tears rolling down her cheeks, and is shaking reading her letter.”

Katie Strang is the managing editor at the sports news site “The” She tells me that when Larry Nassar’s trial began, she dropped everything to tell the story from the survivor’s point of view, starting with Rachael DenHollander, the first woman to come forward.

Zach Linewski / WGVU

As part of GVSU’s MLK Day celebration, twitter maven and racial inclusion advocate April Reign came to west Michigan. 

April Reign is best known for her hashtags #OscarSoWhite and #NoConfederate—which trended globally and yielded real Hollywood results. We sit down for an interview and she offers some tips, some insights, and even issues a calling. First, I ask why she chooses Twitter over other platforms.

“You are the lowest form of human life that I have been able to observe and see. You are a monster, and quite frankly, you are evil. What you did was sickening and disgusting. You should never be allowed out of prison.”

Judge Mark Trusock of the 17th District Court issued these harsh words to 25-year-old Elis Nelson Ortiz-Nieves of Gaines Township as he handed him a life sentence for the murder of 4-year-old Giovanni Mejias. 

Medical marijuana shop in Denver.
O'dea via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 3.0 /

Marijuana in Michigan is poised to be a big story for 2018. But what its legalization means to different communities is a complex question. 

Let’s start with the legal story. The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act passed back in 2008. But who could sell, grow, or transport, it was not clearly outlined. Bob Hendricks is a legal expert with Wrigley, Hoffman and Hendricks, a firm with an established medical marijuana business practice. Hendricks says after the act passed, dispensaries started popping up everywhere.

As 2017 wraps up, WGVU’s Mariano Avila asked four questions of four West Michigan leaders working with our most vulnerable communities. As part of WGVU’s Mutually Inclusive, here is his interview with Tami VandenBerg.

[Mariano Avila] Tami Vandenberg owns The Pyramid Scheme and the Meanwhile, two popular Grand Rapids bars. Somehow, she also finds time to direct Well House, a housing-first nonprofit addressing homelessness. At a downtown coffee shop I ask what changed for her in 2017.

Mariano Avila

As 2017 wraps up, we asked four questions of four West Michigan leaders working with our most vulnerable communities.

[Mariano Avila] Hugo Claudin works at the Red Project helping folks living with HIV. He is also the curator of Mexicains Sans Frontieres—a gallery on South Division that brings jazz and Avant guard shows to Grand Rapids. He’s trim, middle-aged, wears black on most days and is a transplant from Mexico City. First I ask what changed in 2017.

Ace Marasigan

 Picture a walkway lined with star-shaped lanterns, made by hand out of bamboo and brightly-colored cellophane, that light the way to church for the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve. That’s a new event in Grand Rapids that the Filipino Cultural Group of Michigan hopes to make a city tradition.

“You know, in the Philippines the symbol of that parol is so meaningful, it symbolizes the star of Bethlehem, but it’s also a tradition because in 1908 this guy named Francisco (he’s the first guy who started this tradition), it was a way to light up a way to church.

Mariano Avila / WGVU

  A group of Hope College students identifying as LGBT and People of Color started a campaign to amplify 95 stories of discrimination and disrespect on campus. 

Joshua Kam is generally well regarded by faculty and peers, when I meet him on Hope’s campus, he exudes politeness as he tells me why he stepped out of the choir formation on Sunday to disrupt his third and final Vespers concert as means to promote of his 95 Stories campaign.

Mariano Avila / WGVU

 This Tuesday, the topic will be Health and Environment. But, in case you missed it, the one at the Kroc center last Tuesday, November 28 was about economic opportunity. The free dinner was chicken and beef tacos, rice and beans, but the real dish was opportunities and barriers for minority business owners. Here’s Jamiel Robinson from GRAAB who says the main barrier is relational.

“If you look at Steelcase, who’s one of their top suppliers or dealers? It’s Custard! And so that’s two families, so it comes down to relational, in addition to access to capital.”