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Community updates: Tuesday, Sept. 8

City of Grand Rapids invests $64,000 in resident projects focused on pandemic resiliency, racial equity; Kent County Parks hosting outdoor volunteer events at county parks this fall; Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival going virtual, extended month-long; and more.
South East Market's newly-leased space on Kalamazoo Ave. SE.

South East Market's newly-leased space on Kalamazoo Ave. SE. /South East Market

City of Grand Rapids invests $64,000 in resident projects focused on pandemic resiliency, racial equity

The City of Grand Rapids invested $64,000 in grants to projects by resident leaders that focus on COVID-19 resiliency and advance racial equity, it announced last week.

The nine projects funded are part of the city’s Neighborhood Match Fund (NMF), which regularly awards contracts to residents and community organizations organizing projects that bring neighbors together to learn, build relationships, and celebrate community.

Among those awarded contracts was the South East Market (SEM), a Black-owned grocery store coming to city’s southeast side that sources its products from Black, Indigenous, and women farmers.

SEM's grant covers its multi-part series, MLK Freedom School, for southeast-side residents to learn about past and present social movements, food justice, healthy eating, yoga, mindfulness, and art, and access related books.

3:11 Youth Housing and HQ were awarded a contract for their project to create a youth-led multimedia educational campaign on area youth homelessness. It will highlight youth ages 14 to 24 impacted by housing instability due to COVID-19, and offer resource information to help those with similar experiences.

Other contracts were awarded to: home garden project Grandmas to the Rescue, Black Lives Matter Greater Grand Rapids and Justice for Black Lives, Grand Rapids African-American Community Task Force, Mental Health Clinicians of Color in Grand Rapids, The Growth Center Inc., SECOM Resource Center, and Grand Rapids Area Mutual Aid Network.

“[Their] projects are excellent examples of community coming together to help one another, create positive change, and to lift up resident voices,” said Stacy Stout, Director of the Office of Equity and Engagement, which oversees the NMF. “It is always such an honor to review applications, be inspired by their community spirit, and see the impact of their work.”

Each project is led or co-led by a Grand Rapids resident. All applications were reviewed for completeness and alignment to NMF objectives and current COVID-19 resiliency and racial equity priorities.

Details about each of the funded projects are available on the city’s website.


Kent County Parks hosting outdoor volunteer events at county parks this fall

For Kent Countians looking to enjoy the fall weather over the coming months, there’s opportunities to do so while helping out: five outdoor volunteer events have been planned by the Kent County Parks Department in Sept. and Oct.

The volunteer events take place at various county parks on select Saturdays:

Volunteer spots are limited, with pre-registration required. Residents can register by emailing [email protected].

More details about the volunteer events are available on the Events Calendar on Kent County Parks’ website.


Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival going virtual, extended month-long

The Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival (GRLAFF) will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its annual festival this year in virtual form.

The 2020 festival, postponed in April due to the pandemic, is moving forward as an online celebration spanning an entire month. It will take place Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, which coincides with National Hispanic Heritage Month.

In past years, GRLAFF was held over a weekend-span at the Wealthy Theatre, where hundreds of attendees participated in screenings of critically-acclaimed Latin American cinema, panel discussions with local speakers, Q&A sessions with visiting directions, Latin American-style refreshments, and children’s programming.

This year’s online celebration will enable more people to participate than in previous years, as each featured film will debut online on a specific date and remain available for online viewing until the close of the festival on Oct. 15th.

GRLAFF organizers encourage those interested in participating in this year’s festival to follow its social media, where links to the films will be posted on the day of their debut screenings.

While the COVID-19 pandemic prevents the organizing committee from offering an in-person experience in 2020, the festival slogan, ‘Cinema Without Borders,’ is more relevant than ever,” organizers said in a statement.Now, many of us are turning to online tools to reach across the physical boundaries that are needed to keep us safe during the pandemic.”

More details about the virtual film festival will be available on its website.


St. Cecilia Music Center launching virtual jazz piano, chamber music series

St. Cecilia Music Center (SCMC) is bringing its concerts to laptops and living rooms this fall with two free virtual concert series starting this month.

One is a five-part Jazz Piano Series, featuring Michigan jazz pianists and headlined by pianist and record producer Bob James. The other is a four-part Chamber Music Series, featuring the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

The jazz series will begin Thursday and run most weeks through Nov. 4, streaming on SCMC’s Facebook and YouTube pages. All performances begin at 7pm.

The chamber music series will begin Sept. 17 and run once a month through Dec. 3, streaming on SCMC’s website. These performances also begin at 7pm, and feature works by composers such as Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, and others.

SCMC’s virtual concerts follow the cancellation of its remaining in-person performances this year in light of the pandemic. Many of these have been rescheduled for 2021.

More details about the center's virtual concert series are available on its website.


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