The Wege Mission Carries On

Let there be no doubt that Peter M. Wege’s has legacy bearers who continue to do “all the good” they can.  Two of them said it best themselves.

The September issue of Grand Rapids Magazine featured an article about Erin Wilson (pictured left), director of Wealthy Theatre, an historic landmark saved by Peter M. Wege and the family foundation.  Boarded up for 14 years in 1989, the former vaudeville showhouse was about to be demolished when neighbors came to Wege for help. As usual, Peter had a bigger idea. Let’s restore the theatre, clean up surrounding buildings, and rejuvenate the once thriving Wealthy Business District.

Now it’s a bustling street of businesses and homes anchored by the theatre Peter rescued. Erin told the Magazine Peter is an “iconic figure,” for the “direction our neighborhood has taken.”

Eric continued: Mr. Wege did some chess-like things on the block that transcend the theater support when he paid an inflated price to buy and then shut down a store that served as a drug ring in the 1990s. He made this neighborhood livable by doing proactive things in a surgical manner with his resources.

The second mission carriers are Christian and Kathryn Birky who attended Healing Our Waters conferences as teenagers.  Kathryn graduated from Brown with a Masters of Environmental Science and now runs a non-profit in Gambia, the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust.

Here is Christian’s recent note to Dear Mr. Wege,

I am a West Michigan native and avid environmentalist. I attended the first few HOW conferences while in high school, and remember meeting you at breakfast at the Amway with my sister Kathryn before the very first one. Since then, I have gone on to study politics and environmental studies at Princeton, where I just graduated. I am moving back to Michigan, and recently I have come across your influence in several places, from innovative business practices at Steelcase to great work by the Wege Foundation. I wanted to express my gratitude for your leadership on environmental issues. There is still much work to be done, but please know that you have inspired another generation of environmental leaders. We will benefit from the example you set, and we appreciate it!

Peter’s mission thus carries on in these two bright and passionate young people. How thoughtful of them to tell him so.

Erin Wilson, theatre Director, born in Muskegon Heights, he now lives within five blocks of Wealthy Theatre, where he’s raising a family with his partner, Amy, who is a ballet dancer and instructor.
At the May 2004 meeting that created the Healing Our Waters movement to save the Great Lakes, Peter M.Wege, organizer of the conference, is pictured welcoming the 70 assembled environmental scientists. Wege told his audience that HOW “is the most important single project of my life as an environmental activist since starting the Wege Foundation in 1967.”