Michigan is rooted in vehicle manufacturing. How do we break that deep-rooted need for a car that we grew up on & move to pedestrian-first?
I grew up in a community outside Flint with every family member working at The Shop. I moved to GR because it was a livable city.
I am a board member for East Hills Council of Neighbors, Uptown Business Committee and Cherry Hill Historic District. Our meetings many times open with asking the attendees what they love about living in our area. Without question, the #1 thing that everyone states is the walkability of our neighborhood. Every. Single. Time.
But have you ever stopped to think about how fast East Hills area turned into the walkable area everyone wanted it to be? Growing up in mid Michigan, Grand Rapids was never, ever a place that we ever visited. We went to Detroit, Saginaw and Traverse City (and other states) for dance competitions and soccer tournaments. But we never came to GR. The suburban sprawl and evacuation of downtown commercial real estate I guess had an impact farther reaching than just the county Grand Rapids resides in.
But when I came to Grand Valley, we wanted an affordable place to live downtown. We were drawn to the idea of living in crazy old houses with a small market on the corner in a duplex with our best friends and we could hop The Rapid to get to class. You could say we fell in love with the city at that point. But that was 2004 and our neighborhood has changed a lot since then. In good ways for some, but poorly for others (in terms of diversity and gentrification).
All that we all want is safety, stores that ALL can enjoy, and the ability to bike and walk there from home. Why don't we have a bike share yet? ZipCars? Better mass transit like trolleys?