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BIPOC community voices equity concerns in Grand River restoration project

Grand River, downtown Grand Rapids
Grand Rapids WhiteWater
Grand River, downtown Grand Rapids

Restoration plans for the Grand River have been underway for several years. Has it been an equitable process? Local Black, Indigenous, and people of color gathered with project leaders Wednesday evening at the Grand Rapids Public Museum ensuring their vision is included in the endeavor

Restoring the Grand River to its natural state improving habitat and river flow is designed to revitalize downtown Grand Rapids. From fishing, to kayaking and canoeing, riverbank beaches and pedestrian greenspace providing flood control, the goal to drive economic growth. Dubbed as the “River for All” project, Synia Gant-Jordan questions that notion.

“We’re behind in this project. We should have been engaging from the very beginning.”

Gant-Jordan organized Black Voices @ the River. It, along with the Urban League of West Michigan, Grand Rapids Black Renaissance and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. hosted local elected officials and project developers. The BIPOC organizations presenting their Grand River Equity Framework.

“To be able to help close the generational gap that we have consistently been in as a black community. So, this project has moved along without our input, our concerns. And the ideal is to engage in a way with the black community around this project that hasn’t happened previously.”

Gant-Jordan sees this as an opportunity for the entire community.

“Help build unity, equity, diversity, and inclusion needs to happen. I mean, this is a long-term gain for a lot of people. What is it going to look like for our black community? Are we going to be pushed out?”

Moving forward, Black Voices @ the River and its partners are asking that their input be included in Grand River restoration planning.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.
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