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Freddy C

Back in Utopia after a weekend visit to GR

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I just returned from visiting my parents in SE Grand Rapids over the weekend. The best term that summarizes my observation is entropy. Entropy is essentially the second law of thermodynamics dealing with the degradation of useful energy in matter. In other words...were talking about decay. Decay is the natural resultant of all matter and energy unless there is a reinvestment of matter and energy into that which would naturally decay.

I live currently in Minneapolis, which provided the contrast which leads to the observation that Grand Rapids infrastructure makes the Twin Cities look like utopia. What I find hypocritical is that the city is forcing all these housing codes and repairs upon home owners, many of whom are poor and elderly and on fixed income, while at the same time the city is not being responsible for maintaining its roads, parks and schools. I know this requires tax dollars, but I find it hard to fathom how the city can force folks into making repairs to their home, while not repairing its infrastructure. I ran over so many potholes, uneven paving and other suspension and alignment hazards that I am sure my car thought I was on a punishment, given the smooth roads of Minnesota.

I took my young daughter to Madison Park Elementary school to play at the playground. I was appalled that the play ground equipment was the exact same equipment that I played on more than 30 years ago. I have not seen such relics existing on ANY playgrounds in the twin cities...not even in the poorest communities. Simply drive by the Schools playground that is visible from Madison Ave. near Delaware street. I also used to spend my evening playing ball on the schools outdoors basket ball courts. When I went to the courts over the weekend, the surface was all cracked up with grass and weeds growing out the cracks. The geometric painting of the court to delineate free line, box and boundaries were all faded and barely visible.

I am sure that this phenomenon of entropy is not endemic to Grand Rapids, and is likely less pronounced in Grand Rapids than other places like Detroit and Flint. I think that this entropy is endemic to Industrial era economies that are now fading in relative and absolute preeminence. upon driving back from Michigan, once we traveled through Eastern Wisconsin; it was like I was in a different country. The roads were smooth, there were no rusted overpasses, and the landscaping was pleasant. Upon hitting the core cities, of Minneapolis-St Paul, things still looked really nice...not as new as on the outskirts, but still much better than in GR and the Industrial region.

Minnesota is considered to be a high tax state. However, what I think many Minnesotans do not realize is how those taxes are put to good use in preventing the type of entropy that turns an area into an eyesore. I certainly would like to see a better downtown, with high rises and such, but the infrastructure, schools jobs and other should be just as important converstation on this URBAN forum as is tall buildings.

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I took my young daughter to Madison Park Elementary school to play at the playground.  I was appalled that the play ground equipment was the exact same equipment that I played on more than 30 years ago. I have not seen such relics existing on ANY playgrounds in the twin cities...not even in the poorest communities. Simply drive by the Schools playground that is visible from Madison Ave. near Delaware street. I also used to spend my evening playing ball on the schools outdoors basket ball courts. When I went to the courts over the weekend, the surface was all cracked up with grass and weeds growing out the cracks. The geometric painting of the court to delineate free line, box and boundaries were all faded and barely visible.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Most of that's due to the fact that the schools hardly have enough budget to stay open and teach kids, let alone fix up ammenities such as playgrounds and basketball courts. Most of the city pools will be closed this summer due to budget problems. Grand Rapids "entropy" as you put it is due in large part to lack of funds/poor budgeting. Some of this can be attributed to the loss of tax base as many people move south and west of the Metro GR area I'm sure. As the city grows, and becomes revitalized I'm sure this will change, it's just going to take a lot of work, and a lot of time.

I like to look at areas like the Weathly Neighborhood. Theres a lot of development in that area (much needed I'll add), that makes the area much more attractive, and will eventually bring more people into that area. Madison Elementary isn't in the greatest areas of the city, I don't see much "pride" taken in the neighborhood around there.

As far as taxes, you can see that by driving down Wealthy into East GR, higher tax rate, nicer schools, nicer roads, nicer neighborhoods.

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Most of that's due to the fact that the schools hardly have enough budget to stay open and teach kids, let alone fix up ammenities such as playgrounds and basketball courts.  Most of the city pools will be closed this summer due to budget problems.  Grand Rapids "entropy" as you put it is due in large part to lack of funds/poor budgeting.  Some of this can be attributed to the loss of tax base as many people move south and west of the Metro GR area I'm sure.  As the city grows, and becomes revitalized I'm sure this will change, it's just going to take a lot of work, and a lot of time.

I like to look at areas like the Weathly Neighborhood.  Theres a lot of development in that area (much needed I'll add), that makes the area much more attractive, and will eventually bring more people into that area.  Madison Elementary isn't in the greatest areas of the city, I don't see much "pride" taken in the neighborhood around there.

As far as taxes, you can see that by driving down Wealthy into East GR, higher tax rate, nicer schools, nicer roads, nicer neighborhoods.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Grand Rapids metro population growth has mirrored that of the twin cities, over the last couple of decades, so I would not attribute a loss of population as the cause. In fact, Metro GR has outpaced the national average in population growth. The Twin Cities also have inner cities. There are also people who are said to not take pride in their community, yet, the areas schools and infrastructure is well maintained relative to Grand Rapids. Did not Jesus say that the way you treat the least among mankind is how one would treat him, paraphrasing? Certainly I am knocking the supposed Christian nature of the area that allows such entropy to take place among the least...decaying schools, roads, parks and the like. Renters generally take less pride in a community than does home owners. The Madison area has a lot of rental properties.

When I used to live in Detroit, coming back to GR made it seem nice in comparison. Now that I live in Minneapolis and have traveled around the country, I realize that GR leaves much to be desired. I would agree with you that wealthy street offers potential, climaxing in a revitalized Reeds Lake/Gas Light Village amenity. There are some breaks in the clouds in an otherwise cloudy current conditions and forecast.

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^Chrisitan nature of the area? All the Christians I know around here are the Holiday Christians and the Showy Chrisitians (If no one saw it , God probably didnt either.)

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Freddy C:

And yet you continue to haunt the doors of this GR forum. Must be lonely in "Utopia" :rofl:

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Freddy C:

And yet you continue to haunt the doors of this GR forum.  Must be lonely in "Utopia" :rofl:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thank you, my thoughts exactly. :D

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I'll stand up for you Freddy. Your comments are always thoughtful and intelligently constructed.

Difference of opinion is, of course, welcome. What better place, than this forum, to bring honest observation about our city, both positive and negative?

Celebrate what GR is doing well and rally the change where the grandess lacks.

-Michael

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I'll stand up for you Freddy.  Your comments are always thoughtful and intelligently constructed. 

Difference of opinion is, of course, welcome.  What better place, than this forum, to bring honest observation about our city, both positive and negative? 

Celebrate what GR is doing well and rally the change where the grandess lacks.

-Michael

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks GRCentro...it is people like you that I believe are truely interested in creating a better GR for everyone and not just symbolic self interest.

Much respect.

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OK-I have to jump into the fray here. Not only am I the Director of Lighthouse Communties, an agency working to develop some of the hardest to develop neighborhoods in GR, I also happen to be president of the Grand Rapids Public School Board.

You see one of the initiatives we have been invovled in here in GR is the Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative. While invloved in this initiative the subject of schools came up over and over and over. My wife and I also moved our kids from the Christian School system into GRPS. My kids both graduated from Ottawa Hlills High School. I saw a lot of problems woth our school system.

Because I do not believe in simply complaining or giving lip service to a problem I decided to run for the board. If you have been following the news around here lately this volunteer position has become practically a full time job.

My point is, that complaining does nothing. Doing nothing, of course, does nothing. Moving away does nothing. The only thing that ever changed any unjust system or environment is action...invovled people. I also have a core value that to be invovled means to make the problem your own. That is why I moved my kids into the system and moved into the neighborhood. I do not ive this way out of a savior mentality, I do so as a participant in the process, just like Jesus did.

I also happen to be a Christian. Much of what I do comes from that motivation.

Oh, by the way...Madison Park Elementary will be torn down in the next 12 months and a new $12 million middle school will be built in its place. The school will be designed as not only a school but as a hub for the neighborhood with complete gym, weight room, and walking track for the community. It is called the Schools as Community Center concept.

There is A LOT more I could write, but I will stop right now.

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OK-I have to jump into the fray here.  Not only am I the Director of Lighthouse Communties, an agency working to develop some of the hardest to develop neighborhoods in GR, I also happen to be president of the Grand Rapids Public School Board.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Dave, I want to thank you for your participation in this message board. You will be an invaluable asset I'm sure.

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Thanks Dave. Well put.

Freddy, while I think some of your points are valid, I deal with a lot of people from outside Grand Rapids that are amazed by the progress of our city, the cleanliness, friendliness, etc. These are not people that are comparing us to Flint or Gary, Indiana. These are people from all around the country who look at Grand Rapids with a sense of awe in what we accomplish.

Having never travelled the great state of Minnesota, I have never witnessed the Utopia you speak of, but I am sure the grass is always greener.

Also, I hate when people throw the whole religion card in our face. Honestly, I am not a religious person but I continually see this thrown at us as a negative. While ultra-conservativism is surely present, I have never witnessed this "religious bubble" one must pass through when coming to Grand Rapids. Give it a rest, it is a weak point at best.

Joe

OK-I have to jump into the fray here.

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Thanks GRCentro...it is people like you that I believe are truely interested in creating a better GR for everyone and not just symbolic self interest.

Much respect.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually, I agree with you often as well, Fred. I would go one step further though and challenge you to follow up your always adept "problem identification" with some solutions we can implement here on your behalf.

To tell the Emperor that he is naked then do nothing to offer up some clothes for him is at least just as bad as being forced out of the Empire after identifying his clothing malfunction wouldn't you concur?

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Interestingly I think Freddy's entropy theme has been disproven in the "small world" of this message board. Slow death or social downfall in Grand Rapids doesn't seem so likely with so many concerned people doing work in the city. I guess "concern" is a value-free word on its own, but I'd go so far as to say most of us - at least here - are concerned about the right stuff.

On that note, Freddy, I agree that a city's infrastructure, its street-level quality of life, its services, are where its true riches are contained. I have only been in Mpls. briefly, but some of my friends live there, and it does sound like a place GR could learn a thing or two from. If Mpls. survived the Mall of America, and lived to tell the tale, most American cities ought to find out how they managed to do it.

Glad you're back at the keyboard Freddy.

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"My point is, that complaining does nothing. Doing nothing, of course, does nothing. Moving away does nothing. The only thing that ever changed any unjust system or environment is action...invovled people. I also have a core value that to be invovled means to make the problem your own. That is why I moved my kids into the system and moved into the neighborhood. I do not ive this way out of a savior mentality, I do so as a participant in the process, just like Jesus did."

^Finally, a Cando attitude!

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I am all for a good rigorous debate. But just pointing out and complaining about the percieved wrongs, and exposing some "naked emporer" accomplishes nothing, and to point to a crack in a basketball court and look for the nearest Christian to blame???? Open a business in your families' area, buy depressed properties and fix them up, volunteer, visit the poor and elderly, help babysit for a single mother, get involved, whatever. We have plenty of people standing around exposing emporers. I think that this forum provides an opportunity to share positive changes taking place, and not just the newest skyscrapers (although some of them are exciting :D )

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I just returned from visiting my parents in SE Grand Rapids over the weekend. The best term that summarizes my observation is entropy. Entropy is essentially the second law of thermodynamics dealing with the degradation of useful energy in matter. In other words...were talking about decay. Decay is the natural resultant of all matter and energy unless there is a reinvestment of matter and energy into that which would naturally decay.

I live currently in Minneapolis, which provided the contrast which leads to the observation that Grand Rapids infrastructure makes the Twin Cities look like utopia. What I find hypocritical is that the city is forcing all these housing codes and repairs upon home owners, many of whom are poor and elderly and on fixed income, while at the same time the city is not being responsible for maintaining its roads, parks and schools. I know this requires tax dollars, but I find it hard to fathom how the city can force folks into making repairs to their home, while not repairing its infrastructure. I ran over so many potholes, uneven paving and other suspension and alignment hazards that I am sure my car thought I was on a punishment, given the smooth roads of Minnesota.

I took my young daughter to Madison Park Elementary school to play at the playground.  I was appalled that the play ground equipment was the exact same equipment that I played on more than 30 years ago. I have not seen such relics existing on ANY playgrounds in the twin cities...not even in the poorest communities. Simply drive by the Schools playground that is visible from Madison Ave. near Delaware street. I also used to spend my evening playing ball on the schools outdoors basket ball courts. When I went to the courts over the weekend, the surface was all cracked up with grass and weeds growing out the cracks. The geometric painting of the court to delineate free line, box and boundaries were all faded and barely visible.

I am sure that this phenomenon of entropy is not endemic to Grand Rapids, and is likely less pronounced in Grand Rapids than other places like Detroit and Flint. I think that this entropy is endemic to Industrial era economies that are now fading in relative and absolute preeminence. upon driving back from Michigan, once we traveled through Eastern Wisconsin; it was like I was in a different country. The roads were smooth, there were no rusted overpasses, and the landscaping was pleasant. Upon hitting the core cities, of Minneapolis-St Paul, things still looked really nice...not as new as on the outskirts, but still much better than in GR and the Industrial region.

Minnesota is considered to be a high tax state. However, what I think many Minnesotans do not realize is how those taxes are put to good use in preventing the type of entropy that turns an area into an eyesore. I certainly would like to see a better downtown, with high rises and such, but the infrastructure, schools jobs and other should be just as important converstation on this URBAN forum as is tall buildings.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I can

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" . . . . the subject completes informing the Emperor of his lack of clothes, agrees to come up with a clothing solution, then just stands there and STILL says nothing . . . . "

. . . . I do want to be constructive in noting what would make GR a more attractive place to live and more competitive in attracting and keeping educated minorities, minorities fueling the preponderance of population growth from here on out...that would be a wise analysis for the region. . . .

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Complete the condensation of a solution, Fred. Any solution. Complete your own pledge to be "constructive in noting what would make GR a more attractive place to live and more competitive in attracting and keeping educated (minorities)". Your Emperor still stands naked and awaiting your action . . . .

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" . . . . the subject completes informing the Emperor of his lack of clothes, agrees to come up with a clothing solution, then just stands there and STILL says nothing . . . . "

Complete the condensation of a solution, Fred.  Any solution.  Complete your own pledge to be "constructive in noting what would make GR a more attractive place to live and more competitive in attracting and keeping educated (minorities)".  Your Emperor stills stands naked and awaiting your action . . . .

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well...given that the free market has led me to the Twin Cities...then then GR would do well to emulate what this area has to offer. For one, it never did a massive disinvestment from the inner city as what transpired in GR and Michigan in general. It is really not the suburban and exurban areas that make the Twin Cities standout....its how well it maintains its central core areas...There are few if any blighted areas in the metropolis of 3 million people. However, my intransigence is likely born from not being in the business of changing peoples attitudes. The people of Minneapolis are simply more tolerant and accepting than are the people of GR. That results in the area not "cutting of their nose to spite their face". They realize that any bad areas of the city is a bad reflection upon the image of the whole area. Hence, they work hard to keep investment flowing into the inner city parks, schools, roads, public housing and the like. Again, the area is less conservative and hence people have less of an aversion to taxes....and the government puts those dollars to good use. You get what you pay for...more or less....and a government cannot create a well maintained city on the cheap.

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It is natural for one to have pride in one's home, It is natural for one to be biased and offended, at anothers criticism of something they love. It is true, that the rustbelt and all it's obscure relics for cities, have fallen into neglect. It is also true that not only does Michigan posess two people for every one person in Minnesota, it possesses three miles of roads/ and infrastructure for every one mile in Minnesota.

It is true, that there are many parts of this area, that could definately use more than just cosmetic maintenance. It is also very true there is a disproportionate lack of funding when it comes to the regions of this state. I've spent numerous amounts of time in Minneapolis, I really enjoyed it. But Freddy have you ever crossed the bridge into St. Paul ? Mppls evil Twin? It ain't that pretty. On the whole, i've seen much nicer places with much newer of an infrastructure, than in Mppls.

But am I the only person that notices, all the DAMN ROAD CONSTRUCTION going on around this town right now? Say what you want, about the dirty southeast side. The truth is for the past ten years, this town has been slowly rebuilding itself, from the core out. There are plans to revitalize even that part of town. But Mr. Freddy, you're concern seems to be less with how ugly it looks at the corner of Division and Burton and more of a Racial thing.

My advice to you, stay gone, Minneapolis is a much better place for YOU to raise a family. There is very truly a Racial divide here in this city. It is the beotch child that noone ever talks about. It really exists thruout this whole state. No matter what the people on this forum say, there is a definate divide, wherein the yes (gasp ) more conservative white calvinist people from the suburbs, do very quickly Judge. Not everyone is like this. But it's definately prevalent. All the same, must of the "African American" people I know, I love very much, they are respectable, and yes successful, and educated people who have " risen above" where they have come from, as have most of the people from my poor "white trash" family.

Instead of focusing on how we can attract up and coming, educated Minorities, I say screw it. I'd rather see us attract, up and coming educated AMERICANS. For which we are all. Lets attract everyone who will help move our region forward. The past is behind us, and I want nothing to do with anyone who want to linger in the past and create martyrs out of themselves. Those people will only help further the racial divide that has held this community back for far to long!

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He is right. However, this is clearly a Michigan issue and not a Grand Rapids issue. I for one believe that there are a few problems...

1. Detroit proper gets waaay too much money and does not return much in terms of value.

2. Michigan has one of the older transportation infrastructures.

3. Michigan gets a horrible deal from the Feds in terms of gas tax and money returned. States that do better are the less populous states such as Minnesota. We get let than 90% returned, some states get 110% to 125% returned. Why? I don't know. It always seems like the ones that are getting the most are those in the South with less in terms of wear and tear to worry about.

4. Our Federal Representatives have traditionally been poor representatives for the state and all too often focused on getting the Detroit area what it needs and wants. Good examples of this are...

The federal money that was stolen by the East side of the state for nearly three decades while the South Belt was planned. Yes, that is right, it was to be paid for and built three decades ago - but East side politicians grabbed the money. The cost to taxpayers in Michigan, $600 million, mainly due to increased land values. The estimated cost back them, adjusted for inflation were around $100 million.

Detroit has recently stole more Federal money under the guise of implementing mass transit in metro Detroit. Well, Grand Rapids aske the government for a grant to help in planning mass transit here - they were awarded $30 million. Good, no, not really. That money - more than half of it was the transfered to Detroit. See, once a grant is given to a State they can do whatever they want with it.

Another recent one. The Feds pledged to pay for 1/2 of the 31 bypass outside of Holland. Granholm decided that we could wait - and miss out on any matching funds, In the meantime she has increased funding for road work in the East side of the state - AGAIN. Detroit highways are rarely busy and on most work days I can loop around Detroit in less than 45 minutes. Do they really need more?

Oh yeah, 96 through downtown was supposed to be expanded almost twenty years ago. Guess where that money has been held up - long after the Feds pledged matching funds they have since revoked - DETROIT. You know, Grand Rapids does have the oldest highway system in the world - yet, it has never really been improved. Never mind the fact that the region has more than three times the people it did back then.

And on and on and on.

That is why Michigan sucks. That was only highway funding. Think of what else the giant urban blackhole eats.

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"1. Detroit proper gets waaay too much money and does not return much in terms of value."

HAHAHA you pulled a 420x :rofl: J/K althought after much debate on the other forums I think your on to something.

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MJLO:

TWO:  You have discounted Fred's most succinct and true point.  Your notion  of attracting "ALL AMERICANS" to GR - yeah, yeah.  That's already happening.  What Fred has been hammering home is that THIS PLACE IS INHOSPITABLE TO PEOPLE OF AFRICAN-DESCENT - POINT BLANK.  Consider that what GR has been - and to a great extent still is - sends the most talented and upwardly-mobile of the African-descended populace running in "escape-mode" to Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis, etc., on the first thing smoking.  If this occurs with them then you can best believe that AMERICANS of other cultures THAT DO NOT THINK OR LIVE IN THE NARROW, LIMITED, OPPRESSIVE AND STIFLING EXAMPLE OF MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY MANY GR-AREA "AMERICANS" will likewise be up out of here on the next things smoking (taking their abilities to enhance GR with them).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I consider the whole notion that Grand Rapids is hostile to people of "African Descent" to be the most absurd argument I have ever heard. Exactly where is the case? Where on earth is GR making such an effort to make life miserable for minorities? Have you seen where most of the new development in GR's neighborhoods is taking place? They are happening in prodominitly "black" neighborhoods. New businesses, Renovated buildings and NEW HOMES! This is money that is pouring into these places when they could easily have gone to some suburban subdivision or strip mall. These talented individuals that are leaving are going to already established major cities like many of my peers of all races. GR has an aura that it is a boring, bland city, and it has been difficult to shake that off. It isn't some racist plot against any group. I strongly believe that as our new bussiness, and new industries grow, and GR gets back on its feet, Many young pros will start to come back. Remember: Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis et al. ALL were in the same position GR is in at some point in their history before they became to

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