The Rapidian

Silhouettes celebrate community members' vision

Eight paper silhouettes share positive stories in Heartside this fall as an early result of Quality of Life Workgroup recommendations
Proudly displayed on S. Division, Felisa Pratt's silhouette (right) says "I wish everyone could see Heartside the way I see it."

Proudly displayed on S. Division, Felisa Pratt's silhouette (right) says "I wish everyone could see Heartside the way I see it." /Brian M/Dwelling Place

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Attend the final report-out for the Heartside Quality of Life Study!

The event is on October 30th from 11:00-1:00 at 106 S. Division. 

Lunch is provided! RSVP to the Facebook event here.

Work groups met diligently this summer to tackle neighborhood projects in Heartside.

Work groups met diligently this summer to tackle neighborhood projects in Heartside. /Dwelling Place

The silhouette of D. Drent, downtown resident, proclaims the identity of Heartside

The silhouette of D. Drent, downtown resident, proclaims the identity of Heartside /Brian M/Dwelling Place

Up and down the business corridor of Heartside, there are new figures popping up in storefront windows. The eight silhouettes displayed in storefronts along Division represent different resident leaders sharing their hopes for the future of the Heartside Neighborhood. Felisa Pratt, a proud resident leader in the Heartside Neighborhood and Quality of Life workgroup member, was one of the eight people interviewed for the silhouette project. Her love and spirit for the neighborhood is contagious! “I love my Heartside, this community is awesome!”

While she served on the “At Home in Heartside” Quality of Life Workgroup over the summer of 2018, Pratt's journey of community involvement began over a year ago. Her start with the Quality of Life Study was a result of curiosity when she heard about community discussions from a friend. She attended one of the 14 community listening sessions, and her participation grew into a passion.

The Quality of Life study began as a response to a letter drafted by community members and business owners calling for improvements in Heartside. Shortly thereafter, controversy about closing businesses on South Division began to raise more concerns for then-City Manager Greg Sundstrom. After conversations between planning department staff, representatives from Dwelling Place, Downtown Grand Rapids Incorporated and the Heartside Neighborhood Planning Coalition, the Quality of Life study was launched as a process to engage with the needs of the neighborhood as identified by the neighbors themselves.

As the study continued past the listening session, Pratt was invited to speak in a panel about housing in Heartside. She participated in workgroup trainings for resident leaders and several community surveys to share her dreams for the community. Then, finally, the summer work began with joining one of the 7 work groups that met twice monthly. During the summer sessions, over 60 residents and business owners in Heartside identified key concerns and improvements in the neighborhood and drafted lists of recommendations to the City commission and city staff.

This summer's work group meetings saw neighbors committing hundreds of hours of community collaboration and brainstorming. Each Work Group was comprised of six to eight members who helped to organize and generate creative ideas and solutions from the topics presented in the study. There was a lot of energy, hope and positivity regarding the future of the Heartside Neighborhood in each workgroup. The process has resulted in key recommendations and a timeline for solutions. While Pratt’s workgroup theme was “At Home in Heartside," each of the seven work groups had their own focus, resident leaders, and neighbors that helped to envision strategies included in the final report.

On October 30th, almost a year after attending her first listening session, Pratt will be listening as the recommendations from the Work Groups will be shared with City Commission and City Departments. As a way to honor the resident vision, Dwelling Place created the eight resident silhouettes hung in three different storefronts along the South Division corridor, one of which is the site for the report-out event.

Join those eight resident leaders and many more for the Quality of Life Luncheon and Report Out on October 30th! Hear more about the study and the work group recommendations and learn about the process. We encourage all neighbors, businesses, nonprofit representatives and friends to attend! The community luncheon is from 11am-1pm at 106 S Division Avenue.

Pratt wants to continue to spread awareness to others about the resources that are present in the neighborhood and continue to have them flourish. “I am looking forward to all the potential that Heartside has,” Pratt said in regards to the October Report Out and is hopeful that the recommendations will bring forward great change.

With a mission to improve the lives of people by creating quality affordable housing, providing essential support services and serving as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization, Dwelling Place serves families and people in 4 counties across West Michigan. Dwelling Place is powered by volunteers and numerous staff persons, and guest writers create our Rapidian content. Special thanks to Lauren Gerich for her coverage of Dwelling Place's support of the Quality of Life Study. Learn more about the Quality of Life Project and the recommendations by emailing Jen Schaub at [email protected] or Lauren Gerich at [email protected]

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