The Rapidian

Long-time residents to lead panel discussion on economic growth

Local organizations Equity Drinks, BL2END, OutPro and The Salon are seeking the wisdom and experiences of local residents in their upcoming forum "How We Grow," held at Wealthy Theatre on August 20.
Underwriting support from:

/Courtesy of Jeremy Moore

Racial justice advocates and neighborhood leaders are hosting an event that is meant to spark a hard conversation about whether economic growth in Grand Rapids benefits everyone. The event, titled How We Grow, is being hosted by Equity Drinks, BL2END, OutPro and The Salon and will be held August 20 at 5 p.m. at the Wealthy Theatre.

With the growth in Grand Rapids, many see only certain segments of the population being considered in the growth and benefiting from this resurgence. For many in the community this event will offer an opportunity to look back at the growth of Grand Rapids over the past few years, to see what has worked well while at the same time offering the ability to look into the future at how the community continues to grow in a way that works for all in the city. 

“Grand Rapids is a community that values smart growth and innovation. However, many have rightly claimed that the most marginalized in Grand Rapids do not reap the benefit of our current growth”, says Jeremy Moore of Equity Drinks. “ A great example of this paradox is how Grand Rapids is number one on the Forbes ‘Best Cities For Raising A Family’ list, and yet second to last on a list generated by the same publication for ‘Cities where African-Americans are doing the best economically.’ This paradox best frames why a truly aspiring innovative community must consider how its everyday economic activity marginalizes its future, growing black and brown citizens. We will not be innovative and grow unless we solve this paradox.”

The event which will be emceed by Kyle Lim of the Grand Rapids Urban League, will feature panelists who are long-term residents of some of our inner-city and urban neighborhoods and who have a stake in changes taking place in their neighborhood will discuss their perspectives. In addition the discussion will also feature system-level facilitators who are community leaders and active in their work around equity will ask questions related to education, health, housing and economics/wealth accumulation.

“We see this vital conversation starting with the experience of those who have long lived in neighborhoods and experienced elements of gentrification. We are going to ask people who have lived in these neighborhoods what those changes have been like, what we hope to preserve, what we hope to change and we hope the entire community will take part in this conversation. If the community can master how to have this conversation and apply it when the next opportunity comes along then maybe we become truly one of the best cities for raising a family for everybody- without an asterisk next to it.”

The event will begin at 5 p.m. with a social hour, and the paneled discussion will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy Street, Grand Rapids, MI). Find more information and rsvp on the Facebook event.

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