Street Talk: Shining light on After Dark

Breaking the silence.
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The city of Grand Rapids again will host the public art initiative After Dark with the help of a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and nonprofit Lions and Rabbits Center for the Arts (LRCFA).

The campaign is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $50,000 by June 28, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. Project details are at patronicity.com/AD2022.

“Public arts initiatives are a clear driver of economic development in our communities. These kinds of creative adaptations for community engagement are paving the way for new kinds of placemaking,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “We are pleased to bring this program to life and provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

LRCFA is raising funds for the most comprehensive After Dark program yet. For 2022, LRCFA will be completing 10 public art projects in the Creston, South Division/Grandville and West Side districts. Each project involves a neighborhood activation as they bring in local artists, businesses and community members to take part in the projects. In addition, the program will include five market space events and a block party. For the public art projects, funding will go toward making sure LRCFA is fully equipped to support each artist with high-quality materials and supplies, training and professional development. The funds also supply the market spaces and block party events with live entertainment, activities for all ages and live art installments.

This is the fourth After Dark project LRCFA has conducted around different Grand Rapids neighborhoods. The previous three all received support through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program.

“Living in a state that 100% believes in public placemaking gives artists a platform to showcase their contribution to their city, while creating clear pathways for economic development centered around the community,” said Hannah Berry, LRCFA executive director.

Father time

Consumer spending this Father’s Day is expected to total $20 billion, nearly on par with last year’s record-setting figure of $20.1 billion, according to the annual consumer survey released this month by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Approximately 76% of U.S. adults are expected to celebrate Father’s Day.

“Despite growing concerns about inflation, consumers plan to spend approximately the same amount as last year in celebration of Father’s Day,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Spending patterns also reflect the sentimental nature of the holiday, as consumers are prioritizing unique and meaningful gifts.”

Consumers plan to spend an average of $171.79 to honor their fathers and other important men in their lives, nearly mirroring last year’s expected average spending of $174.10, according to NRF.

The most important factors influencing Father’s Day purchases are “finding a gift that is unique or different” (44%) and “finding a gift that creates a special memory” (37%).

One-quarter of consumers (25%) plan to give “gifts of experience,” such as tickets to a concert or sporting event. Another 37% are interested in extending the longevity of the celebration by gifting a subscription box service.

“Spending in the most popular gift categories closely mirrors last year’s projections despite inflation woes,” Prosper Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said.

Almost two-thirds of consumers (64%) report having seen higher prices when shopping for Father’s Day gifts.

Above all other gift categories, consumers plan to spend the most ($32.29) on a special outing, such as a Father’s Day dinner or brunch, very similar to last year’s $29.37.

Shoppers also are planning to spend nearly the same as last year in the popular gift categories of clothing ($26.62) and gift cards ($23.02).

Forty percent of consumers plan to shop for Father’s Day gifts online, while 34% plan to shop at department stores. Specialty stores (greeting card/gift stores, electronics stores) and discount stores are tied at 22%, according to the report.

Speaking out

In the wake of the continued increase of violent crime in greater Grand Rapids — most notably homicides, shootings and armed robberies — Silent Observer is increasing its reward amounts.

“The lasting harm this violence has on the quality of life for our residents is unacceptable,” said Chris Cameron, executive director. “To support ending the shocking violence, we have made the decision to offer rewards that are the highest amount in Silent Observer’s 50‐year history.”

The organization’s mission is to stop, solve and prevent crime from occurring. Increasing reward amounts and raising awareness of the importance of anonymous venues to report crime tips is one way Silent Observer can help, Cameron said.

She said tip information is critical to help public safety agencies solve crimes so perpetrators can no longer kill and/or destroy the lives of their victims and loved ones.

“We understand there is fear of retaliation from those involved in these crimes, so Silent Observer wants to remind our residents that Silent Observer provides a safe and anonymous way to support our community by speaking out against crime,” she said. “To those who know who is involved in the violence, you can stop it now by contacting Silent Observer and reporting those involved in making life dangerous for our residents. Speak up now for your families, your neighborhoods and your schools.”

State law protects Silent Observer records and tips, so those contacting the organization by phone at (616) 774‐2345, by web at silentobserver.org or by using the mobile app can be assured they will be completely anonymous.

Cameron said the increase in reward amounts is across the board and reflect the increase in violent and other serious crimes such as car thefts. The new reward amounts for tips that bring perpetrators to justice are $3,200 for murder (28% increase in reward); $2,000 for shooting with serious injury (33% increase); and $750 for shooting with property damage (50% increase).

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