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How exciting it is to see the wonderful things happening when a community is united. I’ve always said that whenever we encounter a negative experience, there are lessons to be learned and move on. This was the case for the Southwest neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. The Grandville Avenue Corridor is featured in the new “Our Future is Bright” video by the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association and the Grandville Avenue Business Association.
The negative experience happened when a marketing video released earlier this year omitted this whole community from their showcase of the city of Grand Rapids; which also raised some negative comments by other residents since the video lacked diversity as a whole. The result, a new exciting video created by the community for the community!
Due to the conversations about the Experience GR video at the beginning of the year, teens attending programs at the Cook Arts Center talked about the idea of having their own video. Of course this idea would take time and money, so they left it at there. However, with the support of the Grandville Avenue Business Association, the video became a reality!
The process was a valuable experience for many Latin American teens; including their participation in planning the video, writing the script and staring in the film, something that adds value to this minute-and-a-half clip of the Southwest neighborhood. According to Ben Johnson, Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator at Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, “The video was possible thanks to a grant from Lowe’s for several youth programs this year.”
Steffanie Rosalez, Program Director for Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities also shared that “Organizers saw this as an opportunity to unite and send a positive response to the omission.” The purpose of this video is to share how residents perceive their neighborhood, and also to make sure the rest of the city is aware of the unique culture, businesses and community that make Roosevelt Park a great place to live and to visit.
Even though I don’t live in this neighborhood, I feel close to this vibrant and ever-improving community and enjoy getting involved. Back in 2012, I attended a community clean-up along all Grandville Avenue organized by partners of the Believe to Become Initiative. I remember I brought my baby in a stroller to be able to help with Rosie del Valle and Hugo Claudin. Another great memory of this neighborhood is from 2014 when the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association hosted the first Family Fiesta where families enjoy activities to learn about resources available for different needs such as health, education, and well-being. Just in May of last year, members of Roosevelt Park Advocates, such as Julio Cano from Spectrum Health-Healthier Communities, received the Charles Garfield Award for Civic and Community Leadership by the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks at their Annual Spring Event.
Without doubt, this community shares unity and progress. The theme of this video enhances the new opportunities coming to this side of town as well as the collaboration between neighbors and the many associations that support and work hard to provide a better lifestyle for families. While residents get to enjoy it, the whole city should acknowledge their success. After all, we all can experience the bright path for a more united community. I truly enjoyed the video and say congratulations to everyone involved!