Grand Rapids residents attend neighborhood summit centered on ‘resident voice and racial equity’

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — “Racism literally makes us sick,” said Marijata C. Daniel-Echols, keynote speaker at the annual Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit at Grand Valley State University, on Saturday.

Daniel-Echols, program officer for the WK Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, spoke during a multimedia presentation on the social and political determinants of health to kick off the eighth annual event held at GVSU’s Pew campus at the center. -city of Grand Rapids.

“When people hear about health equity or public health, they think of our bodies,” Daniel-Echols said. “Is our body physically strong and healthy? Yes, that’s part of it, but it’s also a mental health issue because we know that, especially in communities of color, there’s trauma and violence that is done to us.

She said on Saturday May 21 that when she talks about health, she is referring to ourselves: heart, body and spirit.

The City of Grand Rapids described the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. event as a one-day transformational learning experience centered on the “core values ​​of the Resident Voice Summit and racial equity.”

The theme for the 2022 free summit was “Building Equitable and Healthy Communities”.

“An equitable community is a healthy community where everyone can thrive,” Stacy Stout, director of equity and engagement, said in a statement ahead of the event.

“Racism, in all its forms, is a threat to the health of all of us. Our theme this year is based on the social and political determinants of health and was inspired in part by recent resolutions declaring racism a public health crisis in Grand Rapids and Michigan, and our community’s desire to undo racism and to heal the damage it causes.”

It is a call to educate ourselves and take action in our spheres of influence, Stout said, to advance policies, practices and efforts that promote equity, justice and belonging in our neighborhoods, our social and family circles, our organizations and our city.

Residents heard from Daniel-Echols before attending various workshops throughout the day.

A workshop that drew residents from across the city on how to get involved in the city’s participatory budgeting process titled “Participatory Budgeting GR (PBGR): How Will You Spend $2 Million?” »

“‘PBGR puts real money in the hands of real people to make real choices about how it’s invested in our neighborhoods,’ PBGR committee chair Michael Scholten told MLive in February about residents. submitting their ideas to the city by May 31 on the use of American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

Related: Any idea how Grand Rapids should spend $2 million? Here’s how to submit it

“In my neighborhood, neighborhood three, there has been such a change, you know, I see a lot of gentrification going on, and I really appreciate that this is the first step in allowing us to have our say. say, a voice, on where that money is going to be spent,” said resident Sarah Hampton, after attending the workshop.

“I’m a baby boomer, so this is so exciting for me. This generational richness, transmitting this knowledge and this excitement, I love it.

“The Neighborhood Summit brings residents and stakeholders of Grand Rapids together to learn, strategize and connect. The connections created at the Summit strengthen neighborhoods and community belonging and help make Grand Rapids a more equitable place to live, work and play,” according to a city press release.

A summit workshop, “DASH-ing to the Future,” was held in a Grand Rapids DASH shuttle that drove through downtown. Ken Miguel-Cipriano, Mobility Analyst for the City of Grand Rapids, facilitated the workshop.

Miguel-Cipriano explained how to find solutions that could help the city improve public transit. He said he thought it would be better if people had more options.

“Personally, my choice is not to use a car, but I think that option would be more appealing to people if that option was brighter and brighter,” he said. “It comes with possibly protected bike lanes, subsidized micro-mobility like the city has done with the Spin Community Pass.”

Nationally, he said we’ve seen an increase in speed among motorists, so finding ways to let people know it’s really important to share the road should be a priority.

Financial literacy was highlighted at the summit with resource booths set up outside the workshops. One of the groups championing this message was Young Money Finances, which has a mission to empower young adults through money management and runs financial literacy summer camps for children aged 11-17. .

Dondreá Brown, founder of Young Money Finances, said the organization grew out of his personal experiences. He said he was in the foster care system and was a first generation student.

“I recognized that financial education was vital for our communities,” he said. “One of the things we try to focus on is culturally appropriate financial literacy education, and what we mean by that is education that truly values ​​the individual, the community and the values ​​within those communities.”

People could attend the summit in person or virtually.

In addition to Saturday’s event, a Summit Marketplace Park Party is also scheduled for Saturday, July 16 at Garfield Park, 250 Burton St SE, Grand Rapids.

The event will feature multiple community resource tables, Summit Marketplace showcasing Black, Indigenous and People of Color owned businesses, entertainment, activities for children and opportunities to learn and participate in numerous community initiatives. the city and the community, according to a city press release.

Summit officials are still looking for volunteers to help with the event, in which an hour has not been scheduled. To volunteer or for more information on the upcoming event, CLICK HERE.

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