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Community updates: Thursday, Oct. 7

Grand Rapids' first outdoor 'gear library' opening this weekend; City of Grand Rapids seeking public input in search for new police chief; and ArtPrize 2021 winners revealed.
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Thrive Outside team member showing off Gear Library equipment at Roosevelt Park.

Thrive Outside team member showing off Gear Library equipment at Roosevelt Park. /Thrive Outside Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids' first outdoor 'gear library' opening this weekend

Grand Rapids' first ever community library for outdoor gear is opening on Oct. 11, aiming to provide equitable access to outdoor adventure opportunities for local youth.

Located at the Roosevelt Park gym on the city’s southwest side, rentals at the “Gear Library” will be free and open to all Grand Rapids residents. Available gear will include equipment relating to camping, hiking, hammocking, yard games, and more.

The Gear Library is made possible through the Thrive Outside Grand Rapids (TOGR) initiative, led by local nonprofit Our Community’s Children, the city’s Parks and Recreation department, and other community partners. Grant support for the initiative was awarded in 2019 by the Outdoor Foundation.

“We feel very strongly at [TOGR] that time spent outside, however you choose to spend it, is a part of a happy and healthy life,” said Sam Truby, Gear Library Supervisor. “We are launching this Gear Library because we also understand that the outdoors, and its many activities and benefits, are not currently accessible to everyone.”

Gear inventory at the library will continue to grow, according to TOGR, with hiking backpacks, compasses, and grilling kits among the over thirty types of equipment already available.

“Our hope is that this program will open up possibilities for many young people in Grand Rapids, and we are thrilled to be able to share in their outdoor adventures during the process,” Truby continued.

TOGR also acknowledges its aim to increase access to outdoor equipment particularly for people of color and in neighborhoods with a lack of green space. It additionally aims to empower youth-serving organizations with equipment and outdoor skills so they can take their programs outside in new ways.

Regular hours at the Gear Library will be Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-7pm and Saturdays from 10am to noon. Residents visiting the library will be able to sign up for a free Gear Library membership, receive a short orientation, and borrow gear for up to one week at a time.

A ribbon cutting event will take place at the Gear Library for its Oct. 11 grand opening. Community members are invited to tour the library, view available gear, meet with the staff, and learn about how to start renting equipment.

More information about the Gear Library, including a list of available gear, is available on TOGR’s website.


City of Grand Rapids seeking public input in search for new police chief

The City of Grand Rapids is seeking input from the community in its search for Grand Rapids’ next police chief.

Four virtual forums will take place this month, it announced Monday, giving residents opportunities to share their thoughts on the personal characteristics and professional experience that are most important for the role.

Input gathered from the community forums will be condensed into a profile used in the recruiting process, according to the City of Grand Rapids. A link to the forums is available through its website.

Dates for the forums are:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 13 | 6-7:30pm
  • Saturday, Oct. 16 | 10-11:30am
  • Saturday, Oct. 16 | 3-4:30pm
  • Tuesday, Oct. 19 | 6-7:30p

“It is important we have the right leader to ensure the safety and trust of our community,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “That is why we’re encouraging our residents and other community members to participate in these engagement sessions and have their voices heard.”

“Input from our neighborhoods and the community is critical to helping us select the right person,” he added.

Chief Eric Payne, current leader of the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD), announced his retirement in Aug. of this year. His retirement comes after more than three decades at the GRPD and assuming his current role in 2019. Payne has committed to remaining in his role through the appointment of the new leader, according to Washington.

Following the public input process for the police chief search, the city will post the position, then gather and screen applications. Successive phases include candidates being interviewed by city panels and public meet and greets with finalists later this year. Washington will ultimately make the appointment, expected early next year.

The search for Grand Rapids’ new police chief is being aided by executive search firm Public Sector Search & Consulting Inc. More details about the search are available on the City of Grand Rapids’ website.


ArtPrize 2021 winners revealed

Award winners for ArtPrize 2021 were announced on Oct. 1, including a $50,000 grand prize for the piece with most visitor engagements.

Before You Go,” an audio installation by mother and son team Monica Pritchard and Christian Relchie, took home the grand prize. The installation worked as a vintage phone booth where spectators could hear excerpts from interviews about life, death, and other existential topics. It aimed to highlight similarities in the human experience.

Pritchard and Relchie’s installation was also one of two public vote winners for this year’s Asian Art awards within the competition, earning an additional $2,000.

This year’s ArtPrize was its first run since 2018, after the Grand Rapids-based international art competition switched to a biannual schedule. Set to happen in 2020, it was delayed one year by the pandemic.

ArtPrize awarded an additional $50,000 in juried award winners and $12,000 in independent award winners, determined by public vote as well as jurors. Juried awards included 2D, 3D, Installation, and Time-Based categories. Independent awards included Contemporary Black Art, Asian Art, and Artista Latino categories.

This year’s ArtPrize took place from Sept. 16 through Oct. 3, featuring 955 artists and 142 venues. A full list of its winners is available on ArtPrize’s website.


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