Mariano Avila

Ace Marasigan

 Picture a walkway lined with star-shaped lanterns, made by hand out of bamboo and brightly-colored cellophane, that light the way to church for the nine days leading up to Christmas Eve. That’s a new event in Grand Rapids that the Filipino Cultural Group of Michigan hopes to make a city tradition.

“You know, in the Philippines the symbol of that parol is so meaningful, it symbolizes the star of Bethlehem, but it’s also a tradition because in 1908 this guy named Francisco (he’s the first guy who started this tradition), it was a way to light up a way to church.

Mariano Avila / WGVU

  A group of Hope College students identifying as LGBT and People of Color started a campaign to amplify 95 stories of discrimination and disrespect on campus. 

Joshua Kam is generally well regarded by faculty and peers, when I meet him on Hope’s campus, he exudes politeness as he tells me why he stepped out of the choir formation on Sunday to disrupt his third and final Vespers concert as means to promote of his 95 Stories campaign.

Mariano Avila / WGVU

 This Tuesday, the topic will be Health and Environment. But, in case you missed it, the one at the Kroc center last Tuesday, November 28 was about economic opportunity. The free dinner was chicken and beef tacos, rice and beans, but the real dish was opportunities and barriers for minority business owners. Here’s Jamiel Robinson from GRAAB who says the main barrier is relational.

“If you look at Steelcase, who’s one of their top suppliers or dealers? It’s Custard! And so that’s two families, so it comes down to relational, in addition to access to capital.”

Rapid Silver Line bus

Everything from how gentrification causes displacement, to how trees affect transportation is on the agenda for the city’s six-part community series. Tonight at six the city will put on a dinner that is free and open to the public, at the Kroc Center. The topic will be Commercial development and economic opportunities. But, to give you an idea of the issues, last week it was all about transportation and among the panelists was Josh Naramore, Mobile GR and Parking Manager for the city of Grand Rapids   .

Downtown Grand Rapids

Gentrification and displacement are words that make residents anxious when their neighborhoods are being bought out by folks with more money. Last night, at the Kroc Center, the city of Grand Rapids invited experts to meet with S. Division neighbors and talk about t these terms and how area specific plans come into the process. Inner-City Christian Federation President Ryan Ver Wys.

“Area Specific Plans are a way that we as a community name what’s important or what we would like to see happen in our community in the years to come.”

Mariano Avila / WGVU

Engaging Community. It may sound simple, but it’s the question as development in Grand Rapids continues to boom. Recently, community members who didn’t agree with Amplify GR’s community engagement tactics shut down a meeting. Now, we’ll get to what some community organizations are doing to influence this conversation. But let’s start with the city.

“Tonight we wanted to hear from people who attended—the residents of the neighborhood, business owners, property owners—to get their input on how they want to be engaged in this process.”

Mariano Avila / WGVU

It’s early in the morning and Martel Posey, the new executive director of Spokes Folks, is making arrangements to move an entire bike shop gifted to his organization from a donor in Bay City to Grand Rapids.

“Forty bikes, a bunch of tools, and a bunch of just boxes of parts that have been sitting there for a while now. And they thought it would be the perfect place to continue the story.”

Mariano Avila / WGVU

  LINC UP held a ceremony last night announcing the winners of its annual Community Spirit Awards which also kicked off its Empowered Communities Conference. For WGVU’s Mutually Inclusive, Mariano Avila has the story.

Jeremy DeRoo, executive director of LINC set the tone of the awards and conference saying that all the nominees and presenters whether they work on African American unemployment or children’s lead levels in zip code 49507 have one thing in common.

Mariano Avila / WGVU

Grand Rapids Nonprofit LINC-UP is hosting the second-annual Empowering Communities Conference at DeVos place tonight and tomorrow. For WGVU’s Mutually Inclusive, Mariano Avila has more.

“It really is a chance for us to bring together a lot of people who are doing great work in Grand Rapids and around the country and have a chance to listen to what these things are and get inspired, get renewed, get some new ideas, and improve the quality of work that we all are doing.”

Mariano Avila / WGVU

“Mino Bimaadiziwin is a story about a young, trans-gender Anishnaabe man who has lost all connection to his culture living in the city. Until one day this mysterious Anishnaabe woman, Bungishimogikwe, comes into his life and kind of introduces him back into the culture and the community.”

That’s Shane McSauby, writer and director of the film who calls Grand Rapids home.