The Rapidian Home

Equity Drinks to feature two local candidates for office at The Meanwhile

"A Night with Chris Reader and Rachel Hood" will be on September 15, 2016 from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Equity Drinks

Equity Drinks /Courtesy of Equity Drinks

Underwriting support from:

There is no question that “equity” and the disparities that exist, are topics discussed in the public sphere. From the looming presidential election to the countless hashtags of citizens slain due to police brutality, issues of equity, equality and justice are at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness and in the hearts and minds of Grand Rapids residents, organizations and city officials.

After soliciting feedback at various community forums, the Grand Rapids police department is undergoing implicit bias training in order to improve its relationship with the entire community and rebuild the broken trust that exists. LINC Up creates a space every first Friday of the month where art is mixed with networking, empowering members of a community that may otherwise be ignored. There are equity and inclusion centers and offices at both Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University. HQ has begun to tackle youth homelessness, an important unaddressed concern in the city. Recently, the City of Grand Rapids was selected as one of five cities to be involved in “Racial Equity Here”; a program aimed to strengthen racial equity. This, friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. Grand Rapids is a place where change is happening. You can see and hear it happening, and at times, even smell the aroma of a revolution.

Yet, change is a slow, painful, and wonderful creature. Despite all the efforts of business owners, government leadership, stakeholders, and community leaders, inequity is alive. Racial, economic and gender inequity are problems that not only plague Grand Rapids, but our country as well. Often, these problems can cause overwhelming experiences evoking a feeling of hopelessness. How do we get more people of color in government or leadership roles? How do we create affordable housing? How do we increase our graduation rate among high school students in Grand Rapids Public Schools? How do we balance out the income inequality in our city? How do we provide access to physical and mental health to communities that are often forgotten? How do we create networks for those that are overlooked? How do we create an environment where women feel welcomed and safe? What about our LGBT community? Those with disabilities? These questions can lead to conversations around “who’s worse off,” creating a bleak outlook for marginalized citizens. Equity is a right, not a privilege. It’s clear that the history of Grand Rapids has revolved around privilege.

It only takes a moment to see this reality. Income and housing disparities are illustrated by walking just a block south of Wealthy Street.

The problems plaguing our home, our city, cannot be solved by a handful of individuals. It takes a village of people to create a community, and it will be that village, inclusive of everyone, that collaborates, shapes and finds solutions to problems. Equity Drinks is a small part, a minor force of people that advocate for change. The group is focused on creating a space where people interested in advancing equity in Grand Rapids can meet and network. In June, Equity Drinks hosted the “Celebration and Suffering” event at the Pyramid Scheme, where poets, artists and audience members discussed intersectional and disparate moments of celebration and suffering regarding housing, education, health and networks. In March, Equity Drinks invited Mayor Rosalynn Bliss and other community leaders to speak about equity and civic engagement at Billy’s Lounge. At the Rezervoir Lounge in January, Equity Drinks attendees had the opportunity to ask the Police Chief questions regarding the city’s impending assault rifles purchase. This September, Equity Drinks will meet at The Meanwhile to have an intimate evening with Chris Reader and Rachel Hood.

Reader is running for Kent County Clerk (facing Lisa Posthumus Lyons) and Hood is running for Kent County Drain Commissioner (facing Ken Yonker). Both candidates have a detailed history of serving their community, are passionate about the positions they hope to win this November, and have detailed websites that outline their plans of action once elected. They have also both received endorsement from the EquityPac (a political action committee whose aim is to influence local candidates and ballot initiatives towards equitable outcomes), and are attending September’s Equity Drinks for constituents to understand the why. 

Why do these candidates want this position of power? What motivates them? What do they hope to accomplish? Why are Reader and Hood the people they are today? It is relatively easy to understand these candidates as such: candidates. However, by the end of the evening, we hope to understand these candidates as people. What drives them? Why should we trust them? What will they do to ensure that equity is in practice in their work?

The conversation will be moderated by Ken Miguel-Cipriano, accompanied by audience participation. We welcome everyone to come. Open your hearts and minds for an honest, personal and challenging discussion from 5 p.m.- 7 p.m. on September 15, 2016. Be part of the conversation. Join us to advocate for change.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.