As 2017 wraps up, we asked four questions of four West Michigan leaders working with our most vulnerable communities.
[Mariano Avila] Hugo Claudin works at the Red Project helping folks living with HIV. He is also the curator of Mexicains Sans Frontieres—a gallery on South Division that brings jazz and Avant guard shows to Grand Rapids. He’s trim, middle-aged, wears black on most days and is a transplant from Mexico City. First I ask what changed in 2017.
[HC] “Well, we had a lot of struggles in the community as far as relationships with the Grand Rapids Police Department—was a big one. I think that we felt there was going to be some progress and it seems like we’ve gone backwards. There seems to be a rift between the head of police and the police union. And the fact that nothing is being done to address that is a problem in my view.”
[MA]What are you thankful for as far as this year is concerned, 2017?
[HC] “Well, I’m thankful that more people are becoming aware, are becoming active in their communities, there’s people mobilizing in terms of anti-gentrification efforts, in the community. I see people be more aware of diversity issues in their workplace, women’s issues in the workplace.”
[MA] What would you like to see change in 2018?
[HC] “I’d like to see more unification in the community. I think that I’d like to see the city commissioners do something about the problems in the community. That they’re more transparent. I hope that the downtown becomes more enjoyable to visit. That we make efforts to help people that are on the street.”
[MA] What would you like to say to Grand Rapidians in general?
[HC] I would like to say that there’s a lot of grassroots activities going on. There’s a lot of small venues. There’s a lot of mom-and-pop shops that are appearing. And that if you support those small things, we’ll get big results.