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Community updates: Wednesday, May 27

State of Michigan launches online MI Safe Start Map to inform reopening plans, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. extends Placemaking Grant application deadline, and Avenue for the Arts seeks local artist input.
The Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids on May 24, 2020.

The Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids on May 24, 2020. /B. L. Townsend

Shared in this May 27 update are civic, economic, and public health developments impacting Grand Rapids residents from the State of Michigan, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., and Avenue for the Arts.


State of Michigan launches MI Safe Start Map website to inform reopening plans

A new website has been launched by the State of Michigan and the University of Michigan to provide Michiganders with data about pandemic risk levels and trends where they live.

The MI Safe Start Map, launched May 26, shares visualized data divided into Michigan Economic Recovery Committee (MERC) regions. The eight regions are the same ones used in Gov. Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan to reopen the state’s economy. Regions are based on the major areas where residents live and travel to work, based on U.S. Department of Labor data.

Publicly available case, death, and test data is used on the website to visualize level of risk and key trends. Risk levels were developed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the U-M School of Public Health.

The risk levels tell us whether there is high, medium, or low risk of COVID-19 spread in a community and can help highlight areas where more social distancing may be needed, or where vulnerable individuals should be particularly careful,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the MDHHS' Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for Health.

Details about Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan, which lists the criteria the state’s using to reopen Michigan by region, are available on the State of Michigan’s website.


Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. extends Placemaking Grant application deadline through July 1

The deadline for Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s (DGRI) Placemaking Grant has been extended through July 1, DGRI announced on May 22.

Part of DGRI’s Activate This Place grant program, the Placemaking Grant provides funding for temporary and semi-permanent installations outdoors on public and private property that helps activate underutilized spaces in downtown Grand Rapids. Funding is available up to $5,000.

Said Kim Van Driel, DGRI's Director of Public Space Management: "With this grant program we aim to provide a platform for creativity that supports citizens and business owners who aspire to contribute to Downtown's placemaking movement.”

More details about DGRI’s Placemaking Grant are available in a statement on its website.


Avenue for the Arts seeks local artist input

Avenue for the Arts, a local organization supporting Grand Rapids artists, is looking to learn more about the artists calling Grand Rapids home.

Shared on its Facebook and Instagram pages May 26, Avenue for the Arts is asking the local art community to complete its “Six Inch Survey,” which asks six questions on a six-inch piece of paper. Among the questions are “when are you at your most creative?” and “what would you do if you didn’t have a career in the arts and skills, education, and money weren’t a factor?”

They're a light-hearted way to learn about the artists of our community,” Avenue for the Arts said in its related Facebook post. Interested residents can message the organization through social media or at [email protected].

Avenue for the Arts is financially supported by Dwelling Place, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit focusing on affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization.


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