By John Gardocki, GOPC Intern
The YouTube video "The Grand Rapids LipDub" inspired me to visit Grand Rapids. I wanted to see what residents of Grand Rapids see in their shrinking city. Citizens of so called “declining cities” often see the potential and character of their cities below the layer of vacancy and abandonment.
The first thing I noticed driving into the city is that it arrives out of nowhere; it literally is enclosed behind a wall of flora. The Grand Rapids region is committed to keeping nature as part of the city. The city is separated into four sections and has a unique topography that makes the downtown visible from the riverfront walkway. Most of the major centers of activity are located along the river, including the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Gerald Ford Presidential Library, the Public Market, and the Davos Auditorium. The charm of Grand Rapids takes form in its architecture and historical neighborhoods. Overall, I was impressed with the city and would like to come back see more.
Grand Rapids is poised to become a destination city if it continues to enhance its quality of life and garner resident support. The video above gives a glimpse into the unique gifts of Grand Rapids. Challenge yourself to think of the great assets of your city. Eventually others in the community will see the potential for their places, just as Grand Rapid’s residents did.