09 August 2010

Where I'm From

One of my favorite blogs, Yes and Yes, recently posted an ode to the Twin Cities, her hometown, and asked the question, "What do you love about your hometown?" I've done stints in Ann Arbor and New York City, but I've lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan longer than anywhere else in my adult life. You know what, it's pretty cool and getting cooler every day. Here are some reasons why I love Grand Rapids, it's Where I'm From:

Wednesday Evening Bike Rides. Riders of fixies, mountain bikes, regular road bikes or cruisers are all welcome to join up with fellow bikers on most Wednesday evenings for a ride around our fair city. It's an awesome feeling to ride on a warm summer evening with 100 or so other bikers. It's also a great way to meet new friends, see some sights and get some exercise.

Wednesday Evening Bikers Gather

ArtPrize. I wasn't sure what to expect last year when the world's large$t (the top prize in 2009 was $250,000 and it went to Brooklyn painter Ran Ortner for Open Water no.24) art competition determined by public vote was announced. What ensued though, was an amazing event that literally had art blooming all over Grand Rapids, discussions about art amongst friends and strangers, and this truly infectious, captivatingly cool vibe swirling about. I can't wait for ArtPrize 2010, which begins September 22, 2010 and runs through October 10, 2010.

New Century Dance Company, ArtPrize Award Ceremony Performers

"Nessie on the Grand", Top 10 Finisher

"Salt & Earth" Installation by Young Kim, winner of UICA Curator's Choice Award

Ample opportunities to get physical. Biking? Check. Hiking? Check. Running? Check. Grand Rapids is home to the country's largest 25k road race and a host of other races throughout the year. Sailing? Check. Whether you want to sail a small boat on a lake in the city or go big, Lake Michigan is just over 30 miles away. Rowing? Check. Rugby? Check. Roller Derby? Check. Dancing en masse outside to Electronic Music? Check. The Y? Check. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Hiking at Townsend Park (one of my favorites!)

Dancing Crowd at 2009 Grand Rapids Electronic Music Night (I was out of town for 2010 GREMN!)

Farmers Market. Saturday mornings in Grand Rapids mean a trip to Fulton Street Farmers Market. Grab a cup of coffee, some cash and your market bag or basket to scoop up all the locally grown fruit, veggies and other assorted goods you can handle in a market where you're just as likely to run into an old friend, (if you're from here) as you are to make a new one.

Affordable Housing. According to a May 2010 study by the National Association of Home Builders, Grand Rapids ranks near the top of the list of the most affordable major metro housing markets. I'm well into my mortgage and am paying less per month than I would if I tried to rent a home of similar size near my neighborhood.

Balance. This town has more churches than the average town, yet we are also the proud home to a troupe of performers called Super Happy Fun Time Burlesque. How's that for balance? Kent County traditionally votes red, but Grand Rapids itself tends to elect Democrats. Everyone can do their own thing and some how for the most part it all works out for good.

If you're also proud to call Grand Rapids your home, what do you love about it? If you're living somewhere else, tell me about how cool your city is!

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