This is my first blog post and I must admit that I feel a little bit like someone who has been thrown out onto the stage and doesn't know their lines. But I hope that if I tell a good story, perhaps you will come back and visit my blog time and time again.
So let me start by saying that a few years ago I moved into the Grand Rapids Neighborhoods. In fact, I live right by the Wealthy Theatre. Some family members, who shall remain nameless, think that I live in the hood. But what they don't know is that I walk out my door and I know my neighbors. They also don't know that I walk out my door sometimes and I meet new people. This is something I didn't have or experience in my last home and it makes my life interesting. it's like a have a river of life right out my front door every day. And here's the best part of it, I love the Grand Rapids Neighborhoods!
Prior to a river of life flowing by my door, I lived out by the little village located in Alaska, Michigan. Only I had a real river flowing by my door everyday-the Thornapple River. You see, like so many people I know, I had, for the last 10 years or so, I kept buying or building a bigger and bigger home. Life was great.
My last refuge was a beautiful contemporary lodge-style home which I built with my partner. It was a santuary, a retreat. It was away from the hustle and bustle, nestled into the woods, overlooking the Thornapple, on a street where our motto was: Live Free or Die. Who could ask for anything more?
Then, my Mom had a stroke and in an instant my life changed. Soon, most of my time was spent driving back and forth into town to take my Mom to doctors appointments, physical rehab, cardiac rehab, etc. There were surgeries. More rehab. More and more care required. Before I knew it, I felt disconnected from my life and from my home. So, I changed...
My partner and I split. We sold the big home on the river. I took up residency in the neighborhoods and to my delight and surprise, I discovered my life again.
Now, I live 2 minutes from my Mom's house. I am 2 minutes from my downtown RE/MAX SunQuest office. I am 2 minutes from so many activities that I love: Yoga from the Heart, Wealthy Theatre, EGR Library, Grand Rapids Dogpark, Fulton Street Farmer's Market, Marie Catribs, Schnitz Deli, Reed's Lake, and on and on and on.
So, in the next few weeks, I am going to introduce a Series called Grand Rapids Neighborhood Places...A Great Place to Be Somebody.
The Series will feature some neighborhood art, and will feature the work of some local artists. My hope is that this Grand Rapids Neighborhood Places Series will spark some delightful conversations about your favorite neighborhood places. I hope it will inspire you to share your stories of why those places are so special with you. I hope that I will get to know you better and that you will come to consider moving to the neighborhoods if you don't live here already.
Here's a little excerpt.
Grand Rapids Neighborhood Places – A Great Place to Be Somebody!
So what, exactly, makes a place a favorite "neighborhood place", you may wonder?
Well, usually it's a place that holds special memories for us. Maybe the place tugs at our heartstrings because of a shared beverage, or a meal, or an ice cream cone. Or, it has become a cool, interesting place to just hang out. Or the place has been there so long it offers a comforting visual reference in a constantly changing landscape. Or, maybe the place has unique architectural features that speak to our sense of beauty and art. And then there is history - oh, if only these walls could talk!
Favorite neighborhood places can contribute to our sense of security, our stability as a community, and our growth as a cool city. These special places let visitors know what our values are, and perhaps most importantly, give us a deep sense of place on this vast planet.
We believe, however, there is something more fundamentally human at the heart of what makes a favorite neighborhood place. Simply stated, everybody wants to be "somebody”. From the moment we are born, we are coddled, coaxed, and called to answer the question— “who do we want to be when we grow up?” We are raised to BE “somebodies”!
So, if we are anonymous, as we are in a big box store, or the mall, or a franchise. And try as they might to make us feel different—we are merely a number. A nameless face, whose information is captured at the checkout counter. Even when we return time and again, we’re still just a number—a nobody.
But when we walk into a place like The Kopper Top located in the Stockbridge Neighborhood, and sit under the unique canopy of lights commemorating whatever holiday is imminent...to be continued.
Copyright 2008 Amy Miller and Neighborhood Places All Rights Reserved
Theatre Masks courtesy of Janice Yuvallos Flickr.com
Trees and Moon photo courtesy of Ctd 2005's Photostream Flick.com