Wednesday, August 09, 2006

GRAND RAPIDS: Dispatches From West Michigan

There's me, rearranging the various pieces of the donor wall at Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., last week Friday. My mom put me to work on her creation, shifting different pieces of the mosaiced grid around.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- As a professional blogger, it’s awfully strange not to blog. But I’m on vacation. Sort of … I was chatting online with Kyle Gustafson of Information Leafblower on Monday who scolded me for being on the Internet while on my “vacation.” But yet, western Michigan is not normally a destination for most in search of rest and relaxation. Although my father’s side of the family has deep roots in the District of Columbia, I grew up in East Grand Rapids, an inner suburb of Michigan’s second-largest city, the home of former President Gerald R. Ford.

I returned to the city of my birth last week for a friend’s funeral, a friend who was too young to die, a victim of very unfortunate, tragic circumstances. Out of respect for the family, which I have known for two decades, I’m not going to discuss what is a very private and painful matter.

But this trip home does provide me an opportunity to write about Grand Rapids. Each time I return, this place becomes a nicer and nicer place to return to. But I don’t really have any friends left here as all of my friends who are from here live elsewhere, and left for more interesting places and opportunities Grand Rapids could never provide. I’ve found that Grand Rapids isn’t such a bad place as it once was. In fact, it has a lot going for it, unlike the rest of the state. On the surface at least, Grand Rapids -- which has never been heavily invested in the auto industry -- is a stable, relatively prosperous city in an economically lackluster pocket of the country.

When I examine the site meter of The Washington Oculus, I've found that many of the people who come across this blog do so by doing searches for Grand Rapids-specific terms. So I will continue doing what I can to harness the power of Google and the like to give Grand Rapidians and others what they need. If you’re based in Washington, and don’t care about my hometown, then I suggest you follow my Grand Rapids series, which I start today. In my opinion, this city is woefully underserved by its media outlets and there are very few online platforms to discuss the city how it should be discussed. Most people look at this place as a conservative Christian stronghold where the saying goes “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.” Well, there’s quite a lot more than that. If only I had some spare venture capital and a crew of bloggers, what I could do with this place …

Part I: Two Blocks South of Wealthy, Me … A Targeted Crime Victim
Part II: In My Weekend of Death, the Latvians Celebrate Their Dead
Part III: Condos With a View of Jerry Ford’s Grave
Part IV: Unhealthy Eating: A Guide to G.R.’s Best of the Worst
Part V: Cheap Ballpark Beer, Sandy Dunes and a Reeds Lake Trek
Part VI: Junk Drawer: A Grand Rapids Sampler


At 10:54 AM, Blogger demanda said...

i'm also from g-rap! kentwood, to be exact. looking forward to the series. :)

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Isn't it a small world ...

At 12:28 PM, Blogger dcjuice said...

My high school graduation was at Fountain St they couldn't get away w/ that these days. Did you mention Yesterdog is featured in American Pie movies?

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