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Community updates: Wednesday, July 28

Gangnam District in South Korea becomes Grand Rapids’ new sister city; Storytime Grand Rapids adds more Storytime in the Park dates.
Gangnam District officals attending a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting.

Gangnam District officals attending a Grand Rapids City Commission meeting. /City of Grand Rapids

Gangnam District in South Korea becomes Grand Rapids’ new sister city

Grand Rapids city commissioners on Tuesday approved a sister city relationship with Gangnam District in Seoul, South Korea.

The district is one of 25 autonomous districts comprising the capital city of Seoul, with a population of over 560,000 people according to its 2017 census. Its major industries include banking and finance, technology, entertainment, and health care, among others.

Significant growth in Gangnam District, both in population and economic activity, were cited by Grand Rapids city officials as a reason for the newly-approved relationship. Among officials involved in determining a mutually beneficial and desirable relationship were Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, City Manager Mark Washington, and Leonardo Tombelli, President of Grand Rapids Sister Cities International.

"We facilitate opportunities for cultural and economic enhancement through our sister city relationships," said Tombelli. "The bonds of friendship developed through these partnerships have elevated the quality of life for the Grand Rapids community and the communities of our sister municipalities."

Gangnam District, or Gangnam-gu, marks the sixth sister city relationship Grand Rapids now has with cities across the globe. According to a Wednesday statement from the City of Grand Rapids, city officials hope the new connection will draw the communities closer despite 6,500-mile and 13-hour time differences.

Grand Rapids’ sister cities program began in 1986. Sister cities formed in the past are: Omihachiman, Japan; Bielsko-Biala, Poland; Ga District, Ghana; Perugia, Italy; and Zapopan, Mexico.

More details about Grand Rapids’ sister cities program and its mission are available on its Sister Cities International website.


Storytime Grand Rapids adds more Storytime in the Park dates

Storytime in the Park, a series of free book distributions and readings to youth and children 17 and under, has added additional dates to its summer schedule.

Its organizer, Storytime Grand Rapids (SGR), announced Wednesday that the series now runs every Tuesday in August. Previously, dates had only been announced for June and July.

The upcoming events take place at Grand Rapids’ Lincoln Park and Martin Luther King Park on the following dates:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 3 | Lincoln Park
  • Tuesday, Aug. 10 | MLK Park
  • Tuesday, Aug. 17 | Lincoln Park
  • Tuesday, Aug. 24 | MLK Park

All events will run from 6:30-8pm. They will feature a storytime, free books for kids to take home, and various outdoor activities.

"We look forward to continuing to improve literacy in the city by providing books our kids want to read each week, with a diverse array of titles and special guest readers," said SGR Coordinator Becca Walsh-Wolfe. "Join us to celebrate literacy in the city! Get reading, Grand Rapids!"

SGR is a collaboration between the City of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Public Library, Grand Valley State University, Literacy Center of West Michigan, and ReadGR.

More details about SGR, including a full list of locations for its book pantries, are available on its website.


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