The Spirit of Grand Rapids - What's the Future - from 1989 to 2008!
July 28th, 2008It has been much too long since I wrote a blog entry. It has been a busy, busy month of July! So much for the summer being slower. Buying and renovating a building can certainly sparkle up these summer months!
As I have been cleaning out files once again, which is now a weekly activity, I literally came upon an article I wrote nearly 20 years ago published in the Grand Rapids Magazine in the May 1989 issue. The title of the article was "The Spirit of Grand Rapids, What's the Future". In this article I asked the question about our preparedness for the choices for our community's future as our community's population was predicted to eclipse the city of Detroit's by the 21st century.
Here's an excerpt:
"How are we prepared? Are we indeed prepared? Are we frozen in a state of disbelief or charging ahead to welcome the challenges?
It has been my observation [back in 1989] that we are on the brink of something indescribable yet positive. We are essentially in gear with our foot still on the clutch. The cars around us are zooming by but are slowing to gaze at our uniqueness and special qualities."
Not bad for a young woman who had just 18 months under her belt leading this Foundation! This was before we launched Perspective 21! which has led to a phenomenal cadre of prevention services for children and families coordinated through the Kent County Family and Children's Coordinating Council. This was before we took hold of our community leadership role, our role in offering a variety of donor services to our community and before GRCF was far more visible in the area!
I offered that we have choices to make as a community as to how we could proceed in looking at what the year 2025 would hold for us. I noted, "This is not about clinging to an arrogant civic pride which proves to be divisive in nature. It is a description of choices we have a community moving forward to the year 2000."
I laid out two scenarios for the year 2025. One scenario described a vibrant city. "The skyline is distinctive - high-rise office buildings, condominiums and apartments abound in concert with architecture of another century. Getting around seems effortless - streets are in good repair and technology has given us sophisticated transportation systems. Residential areas are pleasant - the central city is bustling.
Headlines connote a caring and compassionate community with reaffirmation in an attitude which was articulated in the 1980s on social responsibility. Social problems, while still in the fore, seemingly are more solvable thanks to a citizenry which places value in involvement and building effective coalitions. Cooperation in 2025 is not just an idealistic concept; it became a straight forward necessity in the 1990s as the financial base for essential services was eroding."
Wow! We've actually come a long way since 1989 looking at the community today in 2008 but do have to be diligent go to reach the lofty hopes described in the positive scenario for 2025. (Note that road repair is an issue that the city, county and state along with the feds are trying to remedy!)
Philanthropy is integral for strengthening this community and we've seen it time and time again as capital efforts have led to the development of the Van Andel Museum Center, the new Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Van Andel Arena and the expanded convention center now known as DeVos Place. Not to mention the Medical Mile and other health service locations through the emergence of the Van Andel Institute, the MSU School of Medicine and all the hospitals throughout the area providing the capacity for world class health care making GR a regional health care destination!
In my next entry I'll comment on the "negative" scenario for 2025 and how we can all make sure that this does not come to pass! I'll keep cleaning my files - you never know what gems I'll find!