There are so many directions within placemaking, so this month we're going to focus on the role of farms and food in connecting rural and urban places. Placemaking is both a process and a philosophy, so here's a little philosophical food for thought t0 contemplate during your daily placemaking ventures at work and at the table.
“The concept of country, homeland, dwelling place becomes simplified as “the environment”- that is, what surrounds us. Once we see our place, our part of the world, as surrounding us, we have already made a profound division between it and ourselves. We have given up the understanding... that we and our country create one another, depend on one another...; that our land passes in and out of our bodies just as our bodies pass in and out of our land; that as we and our land are part of one another, so all who are living as neighbors here, human and plant and animal, are part of one another, and so cannot possibly flourish alone; that, therefore, our culture must be our response to our place, our culture and our place are images of each other and inseparable from each other, and so neither can be better than the other.” - Wendell Berry
"We care for only what we love. We love only what we know. We truly know only what we experience." - Steven Bouma-Prediger
We see a possible correlation in the work of our next guest speaker; Anja Mast is going to share with us the work Trillium Haven does in the placemaking process, connecting our people community with the land, through experiences created by CSAs, urban farming and their new farm-to-table restaurant coming soon to Grand Rapids! Invite your friends and co-workers to join us on Tuesday, April 17, for another brown-bag luncheon. It's the best way we know of to use your lunch time!
"If you want to seed a place with activity, put out food. Food attracts people who attract more people." - William H. Whyte
Don't forget our overall goal to create quality places to live, work, learn and play!
Plan for the Future
United Growth would like to support the placemaking approach to rural and urban planning in Kent County. Our Tuesday Series, on the third Tuesday of every month, will be in 3 parts:
1- Local leaders in placemaking will share with us their innovations, vision and success.
2- We will look at exciting efforts going on in comparable regions.
3- Speakers will share their experience with current challenges in Kent County.
Hopefully some aspect of this mission speaks to you and your work, because we want you to join us in this new direction! Together, we can learn more about these issues and how to take action in our political participation, work and communities. Check out the NEWS and Ways to Get Involved below for upcoming events!
In Case You Missed it...
March 20 Annual Meeting- Jeremy Pyne from the Community Research Institute at GVSU presented data on sociability, trends in demographics and housing, to show us the real need for placemaking efforts in Kent County and Grand Rapids. So much information! Here's just few of the interesting things we learned.
- Currently, 1 in 6 Grand Rapidians is Hispanic and 1 in 4 under 18 is Hispanic
- The median age of Kent County's population is increasing, which means the number of elderly is increasing at a faster rate than the number of young people who will eventually replace them
- Michigan is one of the only states whose population has decreased in the last decade
- The number of children in Grand Rapids has significantly decreased since 2000
- At Grand Rapids Public Schools, 86% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches, graduation rate is only 48% and enrollment is down
- Despite the population loss and the number of vacant houses in Kent County, new housing units continue to be built. Are we "building in vacancy"?
- 8.7% of the population feels at least somewhat unsafe in their neighborhood
- In the last year, 27% of the population used public transportation
- The placemaking question for Grand Rapids: how do we keep young people and school aged children in the city?
Links and Events
MSU Land Policy Institute releases study on building propserous places in Michigan: Estimating the value of placemaking features on home values. Click for more information http://www.landpolicy.msu.edu/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=162
Laura Woodbury Joins United Growth Staff
Laura Woodbury is a Calvin College student who has agreed to intern for United Growth this semester. She will finish a BA in Environmental Studies next December. Her emphasis is in Public Policy, and she has a minor in African Studies due to her semester abroad in Ghana, West Africa. Laura’s primary responsibility will be researching placemaking, where Kent County is now, what other places are doing, and where Kent County would like to go in the future. She will also be writing the United Growth e-newsletter and supplying information for the web page.