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Latino Community Coalition in search of a Latina woman to name downtown GR alleyway after

Black and white photos of four Latinx women with the title "HERencia share your story" written above them.
Latino Community Coalition
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HERencia project aims to celebrate Latinx heritage and women

The Latino Community Coalition (LCC) is seeking nominations for a Latina women to name a downtown Grand Rapids alleyway after in the fall. The project, called HERencia, is part of the Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. alleyway activation initiative, aimed at creating permanent physical representation for communities in public spaces.

Eleanor Moreno , one of the LCC’s steering committee members, said the goal is to continue the practice of placemaking for the Latinx community.

“I think historically as a city, we’ve done a really great job to host events like the Mexican Festival or the Hispanic festival but we’ve had a little bit of trouble of you know, ‘How does the Latinx community really hold space downtown?’” Moreno said.

Moreno adds the coalition would like to name the alley, which sits on the corner of Oakes Street and Grandville Avenue, after a Latina who has passed, who lived in Grand Rapids and had a strong influence among family and neighbors by sharing values, culture and traditions.

“Herencia stands for heritage. Women often are the backbones of our society and are underrecognized, so we’re wanting to be really intentional that we’re looking at our heritage, but also looking at the women that are kind of the backbone of our culture and our community,” Moreno said.

The coalition isn’t relying on accomplishments, awards and other merits when choosing their representative, a protocol Moreno says is often practiced in dominate culture. Instead, it’s asking the Latinx community to celebrate women who were the first in their family to set roots in Grand Rapids, who brought stability to their homes and anchored their families.

Financial incentives are available for nominees. The families of the first 50 nominees will receive $100, the family of the five finalists will receive $1,000 and the family of the chosen representative will receive $5,000.

The stories of all nominees will be archived at the Cook Library Center, for future generations to remember. Moreno said LCC hopes to build an archive of past and present-time narratives of local Latinx communities over the next few years.

“If we can eventually archive our own history I think it’s just a different narrative than if someone else did it for us. I think that’s the most exciting piece of it all,” Moreno said.

The nomination window for the HERencia project closes on August 13. For more information, click here.

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