This Awesome State Makes Me Awesome

Meet Joanna Dueweke, feature writer here at The Awesome Mitten.

1.) You’ve lived a few places in the mitten (TC, Lansing, Detroit) – where’s your favorite? Why?

Initially, this is an easy answer–Traverse City.  It’s more complicated than that, though.

Traverse City is my home.  There is so much going on there,  from the Film Festival to countless breweries and wineries, fantastic restaurants and endless outdoor activities, I love visiting.  I can’t wait for the summers with expanses of clear, blue water, beach bonfires, golf, and that cool breeze you can’t find anywhere in the middle of the state.  Actually, every season is pretty fantastic up north because they are so pronounced that the variety is tangible.

I must admit, however, that the Metro Detroit area is really growing on me.  There is a ton of variety, everything moves so fast , and there’s a lot of innovative stuff going on at every turn.

2.) Favorite Michigan beer/wine:

Ahhhh! Quick answer? Bell’s Two Hearted. Long answer? IPAs, or fruity beers, or gruit, or porters, or… I really appreciate the quality and variety of Michigan beers.

Here’s my top 5 this month (because they change with the seasons):

  1. Bell’s Two Hearted
  2. Mt. Pleasant Brewing Company Gruit Ale
  3. Founder’s Centennial IPA
  4. New Holland Brewing Company Ichabod Pumpkin Ale
  5. Atwater Brewing Purple Gang Pilsner

3.) Favorite place to eat in each city you’ve lived?

I really think I should protest this question for its sheer difficulty, but I will try to play along.

Traverse City: North Peak (It never fails me, but admittedly this is an almost impossible decision to make.)

Lansing: Coin toss? Meat. Southern BBQ and Carnivore Cuisine (fantabulous mac ‘n cheese) or Fork in the Road (Ballin’ Ass Tacos… literally)

Detroit Metro: Slow’s Bar BQ (still pretty new to the area, I have a feeling I won’t be able to choose soon)

4.) Favorite place to drink in each city you’re lived?

Drink what kind of beverage? Gracious.

Traverse City: I really like the new set up for Right Brain Brewery, Brew is really fun, and Seven Monks is pretty unique.

Lansing: Taps 25 is new and introduces lots of delicious beers each week, The Green Door is fun for dancing because they have really cool bands, and I really like just hanging out at Corey’s–the people are a cross section of Lansing’s finest.

Detroit: I have to be honest here–I haven’t really drank anywhere yet aside from with dinner. Any awesome suggestions?

5.) Why have you stayed in Michigan?

Family. Love. Variety.  Sunshine. Water. Snow. Intense feelings of happiness.

Michigan is most assuredly my home, but don’t get me wrong, I may go on some grandiose adventure at some point in my life.  Right now though, I’m having a great time having an adventure in my own backyard.

For a long time I was stubbornly opposed to ever living in Metro Detroit, and now that I’m here?  I couldn’t be happier.  I’m still close enough to frequently visit my family in Traverse City, watch my nephews grow up, enjoy the seasons, and really be a part of an AWESOME state.

6.) What Michigan bands are you listening to these days/or what’s the last great Michigan band you saw live?

Seth and May are starting to find a frequent spot on my playlists, they have such a comfortable, Michigan sound.  Also, North Shore was playing all the time when I was living in Traverse City.  They are an awesome group of guys and definitely talented.  I had such a fun time writing my Awesome Mitten article about them.  They deserve the success they are having locally.  I love Steppin’ In It, and they always are a good time.  I guess to round it out, I always have a soft spot in my heart for Breathe Owl Breathe.  Who doesn’t though? They are so fantastical and fun.

Michigan music is an experience, the mere act of seeing Michigan bands live should make a person proud to be from, or living in, the Mitten.

7.) What’s your favorite story you’ve written for the Awesome Mitten (favorite place, event, whatever):

Really? Every single one. I can’t choose, I literally can not.  Writing for Awesome Mitten has been a life altering experience.  I get to meet amazing people and be a part of something really invested in the prosperity of my home that I love so dearly.  I count myself lucky to be able to interact with and experience everything Awesome Mitten has to offer.

8.) Where is one place in Michigan that you’ve never been, but would like to go?

I really want to visit and experience Marquette. I’d make sure to stop by and explore Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on my way. I have not spent nearly enough time in the UP, and want to rectify that pronto.

9.) Advice to people who have recently moved to Michigan?

Open your door. Seriously, you should go outside and explore, meet people, play, involve yourself.  Michigan is an amazing place to call home.  We are lucky to have so many creative and inspiring people taking up space in the same state.  You are part of this now, so revel in it and explore!

The Awesome Mitten was born when I moved back to Michigan from Nashville, TN in September 2010. Almost immediately, I became frustrated. I couldn’t figure out why there weren’t more Michigan residents singing our states praises! I was so irritated, I wrote a Letter to the Editor. Three weeks later, I had started a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a landing page for the website, determined to do something to make Michigan residents aware of all the cool things going on in their own state. Email me: