The Rapidian

Celebrating our place in community

Recapping the past 40 years of the Eastown community and looking towards the future.
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/Courtesy of Eastown Community Association

/Courtesy of Eastown Community Association

Written by Shannon Cunningham, ECA board member

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Eastown Community Association (ECA).  The neighborhood has seen much change since its formation in 1973, but our focuses, values and commitment to the Eastown neighborhood remain strong. In the 40 years of our existence, we have dedicated ourselves to improving the quality of life for the residents of Eastown by working to assure the community has a safe, diverse neighborhood in which our residents can connect and engage.

With a physical presence located in the heart of Eastown at 415 Ethel SE, our organization was formed in 1973 by a group of passionate residents who had grown tired of the crime and blight occurring in Eastown at the time. With the aid of Aquinas College and the Kellogg Foundation, the ECA was born.

From a group of concerned, passionate residents and community leaders to an organization with an Executive Director and Board, we’ve worked to make a constructive impact on our community. For 40 years we have worked to educate and facilitate interaction among our residents while working to engage the populace in various neighborhood projects. From the publishing and distributing of the Eastown Access (the neighborhood’s newsletter) and holding block captain trainings to strengthening the residents’ relationship with the Grand Rapids Police Department to organizing events such as Bizarre Bazaar and the staple Eastown Streetfair, we are continuously searching for ways in which we can better connect with residents for the improvement of the neighborhood.

Each year, the ECA celebrates success, but we also take time every year to critically review areas of potential improvement. Through October of this year alone we have worked to organize volunteer work including volunteer committee work, community events, food distribution and park and business district clean-ups; trained block captains to work with residents to increase awareness, crime reporting and safety; resolved issues related to homes and businesses in the neighborhood; provided support services and recommendations to Eastown residents affected by crime; arranged community improvement projects; hosted community events and far more.

While much good has come to the Eastown neighborhood over the 40 years of the ECA’s existence, we recognize that commitment to a better quality of life for our community is an ongoing promise. We feel exceedingly fortunate to have a neighborhood filled with dedicated, passionate residents that are consistently working to back our mission of fostering a safe, diverse and walkable Eastown neighborhood by creating opportunities for neighbors and friends to engage and connect, a leader to guide that mission well in our Executive Director Lindsey Ruffin.

It is this dedication and promise that residents made 40 years ago that created a stronger foundation for the Eastown neighborhood. It is the continuation of this commitment that will carry the mission of the ECA forward for another 40 years. We want to thank the Eastown residents, neighbors, business owners and all of our community partners for their support over the past 40 years. 

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