Neighborhood summit allows residents to connect, advance equity

Studio Park Courtesy Studio C

The Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit returns in a new format next week to optimize access in neighborhoods.

The 2021 Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit is a weeklong experience for Grand Rapids residents, business owners and stakeholders to learn with and from each other about strategies, resources and opportunities to strengthen neighborhoods and advance equity.

Instead of the traditional one-day format, the summit will spread out over five days, Tuesday through June 5, utilizing local parks and outdoor spaces to bring the community together while adhering to COVID-19 precautions such as physical distancing and mask wearing.

Pre-registration is not required this year, although on-site sign-in at each summit location is required to capture contact information, optional demographics and to sign standard event waiver and release forms.

Jordoun Eatman, neighborhood connector in the Grand Rapids Office of Equity and Engagement, said this year’s theme, Moving Beyond Diversity, reflects the power of the social justice events of 2020.

“It is much more than a hashtag,” Eatman said, “Personal and community stories around Moving Beyond Diversity will be shared to recognize and honor unique lived experience communities have around justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in a variety of settings. Many experience tokenism and other harm in these spaces. Summit hopes to create spaces for residents to discuss and strategize on actions to take collectively and as individuals to interrupt harmful systems, speak their truths and foster a community that is truly inclusive and just.”

The week will start and end at Studio Park before traveling to Richmond, Riverside and McKay Jaycee parks during the week. The opening session includes an Anishinaabe drum and welcome, opening remarks by Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, keynote presentation and announcements surrounding the week events. At the park locations, there will be community and college resource tables, community panel conversation, workshops and interactive activities.

The kids summit will look a little different this year. Instead of a separate experience for youth, parents and guardians will enjoy family and youth activities together.

Teens are invited to participate in various activities ranging from a paint and talk workshop with a certified therapist, to exploring colleges and post-secondary opportunities in the To College Through College (T2C) area. The T2C team will have question cards for young people to use to get the conversation started with college students and other representatives in attendance.

The closing session includes recognition of residents who led Neighborhood Match Fund-supported projects this past year, closing remarks, appreciations, and an honor and travel song by the Anishinaabe drum and dancers. The community celebration is a thank you to all summit attendees, sponsors and supporters for their contributions. It features live music entertainment and the new summit marketplace, featuring diverse vendors where attendees and the public can support local businesses.

Summit schedule

  • Opening Session – noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, Studio Park, 123 Ionia Ave. SW
  • First Ward – 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, Richmond Park, 1101 Richmond St. NW
  • Second Ward –  6-9 p.m. Thursday, Riverside Park, 2001 Monroe Ave. NW
  • Third Ward – 6-9 p.m. June 4, McKay Jaycee Park, 2531 Kalamazoo Ave. SE
  • Closing Session – 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. June 5, Studio Park
  • Community Celebration – noon-5 p.m. June 5, Studio Park C

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