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Why place matters

What is this new section called "Place Matters" and why does it matter to those of us in this place?
Underwriting support from:

Humans hunger for community. We yearn to be connected. We want to feel good about the spaces where we live, work and play together.

Today, attention to remaking our places to better serve collective needs has many names: placemaking, city-building and commoning. These are all movements aimed at improving the ability to gather in the places we share, and enhancing them far into the future.

The Rapidian is an example of a project first created in response to these needs. Whether making a tiny park or garden, enhancing a public venue, claiming a public place to rest, eat lunch or play a game, placemaking requires people to care and get involved. It welcomes innovation in all shapes and sizes.

Most of all, while inviting of government and institutional participation, placemaking does not mean waiting for someone official to do it for us.

In this spirit, this new section “Place Matters” marks a different type of gathering place- a place where we can create new intersections, gather input and share ideas about enhancing life in this place we call home.

Place Matters is designed as an interactive platform to find out what’s happening, where the resources exist and how to get involved. The section's content coordinator Elizabeth Rogers Drouillard will be working to bring news of placemaking efforts around the city, sharing projects and ideas and hosting conversation meant to connect us and engage us with each other and the spaces we share.

Thanks to our initial underwriters- including the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Amway and the Downtown Alliance & DDA- we are delighted to present “Place Matters” on The Rapidian.

Enjoy and join in. It’s your place, too!

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

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If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

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Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.


What a great new feature!

By the way, are you using the same names for the GR areas / neighborhoods as ArtPrize does? 

Using the ArtPrize designations consistently will strengthen the GR brand in the local and national media – and it will also make sense to inhabitants and visitors. Do note that many of these GR neighborhoods already have signage in place.


Hi Cathy, thanks for the suggestion! We are using the traditionally recognized neighborhoods of Grand Rapids. (You can find a comprehensive list of them here:

These are mostly self-identified by the residents and have established actual neighborhood associations. While the status of our neighborhoods are always in flux (they are living things after all), we find it most useful to use naming conventions that residents already recognize and identify with rather than overlays from other sources.

To a degree, ArtPrize actually uses traditional neighborhood designations as well - but their footprint is so small and specific that they are mostly using sub section names of the heartside-downtown neighborhood as well as extra ones that suit their purpose. It seems to work well for them, but doesn't neccessarily reflect the true nature of our city's neighborhoods as a whole.

Perhaps some day we will drill down to the sub neighborhoods (did you know that Midtown has SEVEN sub-neighborhoods? - we just aren't there yet. Thanks Again!