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GoSite provides space for conversation, interaction

GoSite first opened its doors a little more than a year ago in the front corner of the Grand Rapids Art Museum to welcome visitors and provide a unique way of curating an experience of Grand Rapids that gives visitors a local's perspective.
Samil Molina from GOSite helps a visitor

Samil Molina from GOSite helps a visitor

Underwriting support from:
GOSite out and about

GOSite out and about

GoSite map

GoSite map

A little more than a year ago, the GoSite opened its doors to welcome visitors and provide a unique way of curating an experience of Grand Rapids that gives visitors a local's perspective. At the same time the GoSite provides a platform for Grand Rapids' locals to share their favorite things to do and discover new things about the city in which they live, work and play.

"GoSite, especially with the interactive map table, highlights the diversity of visitors to GR," said Susan Coombes, retail manager of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. "We have had people from around the world stop into GoSite and GRAM. Without GoSite I don't think this geographic spread of visitors would be evident."

Curious passersby continually stop in to ask, "What is this place?" or, "Isn't this where TV 8 broadcasts during ArtPrize?" The GoSite staff are very familiar with fielding these sort of questions and welcome them with the opportunity to engage the public about what is offered and how they have the opportunity to collaborate with community partners such as WOOD TV 8, LaughFest, Experience GR, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI), and of course GRAM.

Last fall during ArtPrize Seven was the first time that GoSite made their services mobile and moved out of their space temporarily while TV 8 did remote broadcast during the two-and-a-half-week duration of the international art competition. The mobility allowed GoSite Guides to engage with the public as they waited to see the artwork featured at the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) or to check out The Museum Store.

The ability to take the GoSite concept mobile has helped the guides to promote and solidify relationships among collaborative partners, businesses, residents and visitors. These relationships help to strengthen our community and provide the opportunity to exchange ideas and information. This exchange is extremely important to the GoSite as it is their goal to have the most up to date information readily available for anyone who is looking for an insightful city resource.

"I really enjoy the opportunity to enhance someone's experience of the city and help them find something that will be memorable and enjoyable," said Samil Molina, a GoSite Guide since last June. 

Programming in the space itself has connected people with some great organizations that have recently learned about the space, such as The Well Being LLC, The Collaborative Wellness Center and GR Center for Healing Yoga.

May was mental health awareness month and these organizations were eager for the opportunity to come together in the space to provide an evening Q & A session for the public about the holistic approach to mental wellness.  

One couple happened to stop into the space after viewing the exhibition at GRAM and decided to stay for the discussion after learning about the program. The GoSite continues to grow as a space that not only provides insightful information regarding city events and activities, but has also transformed into a gathering space for discussions and information sharing.

The GoSite has started to create a buzz in the community and build relationships with coalition partners and downtown businesses, such as Vault of Midnight, who recently hosted Free Comic Book day on May 7th. This event attracted hundreds of comic book and graphic novels fans downtown, and GoSite was invited to participate at this event to offer advice on where to eat or what to do after shopping at the store.  

"I think GoSite is awesome!" said Kaitlin Diemer, assistant manager at Vault of Midnight and organizer of the Free Comic Book day event. "We get people in the store from the area hotels asking about restaurants and things to do and we are able to send them down to the GoSite for all of that information."

These kind of community relationships complement one another in bringing repeat visitors to the downtown area. Having knowledgeable staff that are ready and willing to help visitors and local businesses focused on helping customers with their needs beyond what they can offer them.

Jill Devan, owner of Apothecary Off Main in the MoDiv shops located on Monroe Center, said "being customer service driven, I like that there is a place close to send people for up to date information that is readily available. People remember good service and will always come back."

One of the GoSite's goals is to have updated information and insight about a little of everything that goes on downtown, and sometimes this comes from businesses and organizations promoting their events or sometimes from the community.

Emily Stephen, a recent addition to the GoSite staff, described her excitement at the opportunity to work in a position that allows for the continual sharing of knowledge. As a GoSite Guide, gaining information from residents and visitors is incredibly valuable in the process of developing innovative ways to curate experiences and create an open area for discussion and collaboration.

"My favorite part about working here is not only to provide others with helpful and interesting information, but to also be on the receiving end as well," Stephen said. "I am learning so much from working here at the GoSite."

Building great relationships with the community and local business is only one aspect of what GoSite has accomplished this past year. GRAM is one of several coalition partners supporting the GoSite mission and welcomes the opportunity to highlight the museum as a cultural beacon.  

Neil Bremer, GRAM Chief Operations Officer, is new to the position this past year and has said that this concept was one of the things that attracted him to make the career move from the Kalamazoo Arts Council.

"GRAM is particularly proud of GoSite and its intent to reach a wide audience. While it excels at being a downtown visitor center, it pays serious attention to all Grand Rapids neighborhoods and communities and works for inclusion with all opportunities. Our Mobile GoSite enhances our ability to combine outreach with connection building and it’s just getting started!"

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