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Meet Civic Investor Tami VandenBerg: Passionate advocate for access to housing

Tami VandenBerg, co-owner of the Meanwhile and Pyramid Scheme and part-time director of Well House, said The Rapidian is another great outlet to get people talking about the issues.
Tami VandenBerg at That Early Bird on March 13, 2017.

Tami VandenBerg at That Early Bird on March 13, 2017. /Kiran Sood Patel

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Tami VandenBerg is co-owner of the Meanwhile and Pyramid Scheme and part-time director of Well House. Well House is a nonprofit that provides low-cost rooms for rent and places a priority on people that cannot access other housing for people that are homeless.

She is also a candidate for 2nd Ward City Commissioner. She is running against 2nd Ward City Commissioner Joe Jones.

VandenBerg said she is spending time listening and finding out from residents what they love and what they would like to see changed about their community.

As she has been actively listening, VandenBerg said housing is a primary concern for many residents.

“There’s a feeling where we’re not necessarily taking care of everybody, and we’re not considering all of the unintended consequences of the boom, which is costs are rising for everybody, and not everybody’s getting big raises and wages aren’t necessarily going up as quickly as housing costs for everybody,” she said.

People are also concerned about their neighborhoods changing, VandenBerg said. “Some people want more people in the neighborhood; some people don’t.”

VandenBerg grew up in Wyoming and lived there for 18 years before moving to Grand Rapids. To date, she has lived in the community for 23 years. She serves on the Board of Art and Museum Commission which oversees the assets of the Public Museum.

She is a passion advocate for housing reform.

The Meanwhile and Pyramid Scheme have supported nonprofits across the community, including The Rapidian and Spoke Folks. VandenBerg is also a supporter of Grand Rapids Red Project, which focuses on improving health, preventing HIV and reducing risk. She is a former chairperson of the organization.

To VandenBerg, community means spending time together. “It means talking about what we care about together,” she said. “It means supporting each other’s ventures. It means showing up.”

Community also means “taking care of each other and looking out for each other.”

As journalism has changed, the community has lost a lot of local and investigative reporting, VandenBerg said.  

“It’s more challenging to get the word out through some of the usual channels,” she said. “Where I’ve seen The Rapidian step in and step up is shining a light on some important issues.”

She noted the importance of Rapidian stories on housing and racial equity. She also noted investigations done by Rapidian community journalists on homelessness in the Heartside neighborhood.

VandenBerg also wrote a piece on her work as a drug policy reformer that was published in April 2015.

VandenBerg said The Rapidian is “another great outlet for us to get people talking about the issues.”

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