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Looking forward in 2018: Rapid Growth staff spells out their new year's hopes and dreams

A diverse group of writers and dreamers, activists and tech geeks, obsessives and justice seekers, Rapid Growth staff have unique perspectives. In our first edition of the new year, they divulge their hopes, their trepidations, and their goals moving forward. Here's what Rapid Growth is looking forward to in 2018.

For our first edition of 2018, the Rapid Growth staff divulges their hopes, their trepidations, and their goals for the new year. Here's what Rapid Growth is looking forward to in 2018.
Ken Miguel-Cipriano, Innovation and Jobs Editor

In 2018, I am looking forward to a reckoning. One in which walls come down, names are named, people are seen, voices are heard, and words are believed.

Grand Rapids has been the leader in the nation before in other industries, movements, and issues so perhaps we can lead in 2018 in how we lift up people.

We cannot further burden and traumatize marginalized peoples and condescendingly ask them to exist in a system, created in violence, furthermore placing a perversion of faith that it will save them. When it does not serve them, never will, and was constructed for the expressed purpose of profiting from their misery and extinction.

This reckoning mustn’t be seen as an attack, because the goal is not to cause pain. Rather it is to bring justice and in time empathy.

“Don’t it make you get teary.
The world looks dreary.
When you wipe your eyes see it clearly.
There’s no need for you to fear me.
If you take the time to hear me.
Maybe you can learn to cheer me.”
-Tupac Amaru Shakur

These lyrics come from Tupac Shakur, an artist who was fiercely vocal of the violence that black and brown bodies faced, and through that pain he still calls for the power of empathy.

As we continue into what might be a turbulent 2018, I am reminded of the words below. They cut deep to how we might find comfort in the aftermath of pain.

“I adore the poetic ambivalence of a scar, that carries two messages: here there was pain, here there was healing.”
-Louis Madeira translated

In 2018, I am looking forward to Grand Rapidian marginalized voices to be heard and for their work to be seen.
Matthew Russell, UIX Editor

This is the first year I will be starting as a resident of the Boston Square neighborhood. There are a lot of questions and expectations surrounding development in this area, particularly in regards to Amplify.GR. I look forward to taking part in further community meetings and learning more about the people who live here. In my old neighborhood (Midtown), it was so easy to walk around the corner to a coffee shop, the library, even downtown. We're not super close to downtown anymore, but we do have a coffee shop and a library, and I'm looking forward to being able to plant a garden.

2018 also marks the first year that I will control the back end of my own internet connection instead of paying to share with someone else. I'm looking forward to getting fast and loose with some static IP addresses and controlling everything electrical in my new house by means of some custom mobile apps.

We are expecting a new baby in March. I hope to have the snow shoveled by then.

Michelle Jokisch Polo | Editor of On the Ground GR and Defining Division

To be real, this year has been a difficult one for many of us. The beginning of the Trump era followed by the awakening of thousands to the lived realities of institutionally marginalized communities showed up for me as an inescapable present to what it means to be a woman of color in this America. As I am faced by the closing of 2017, I feel a sense of responsibility. Responsibility to continue to ask open-ended questions and to provide a platform for honest and fearless reporting—always prioritizing the individuals who graciously share their experiences and stories with me.

As I continue to report on the various Grand Rapids neighborhoods through our On The Ground GR series, I am looking forward to ensuring our program uplifts communities on the margins with the purpose of highlighting and celebrating their lived experiences and histories in this city while challenging assumptions.

Leandra Nisbet, Making It In GR Editor

As I think about 2018, I am looking forward to seeing the continued development of the community. My neighborhood, Creston, is continuously developing and the revitalization doesn't show signs of slowing down anytime soon. There is ample opportunity for growth within the city as a whole, which is exciting. I am interested to see what advancements are made to further assist underserved members of our community, especially within the entrepreneurial system.

Diversity and inclusion is an on-going topic of conversation and hopefully 2018 will yield some substantial positive movement of the needle. Additionally, I am excited to continue connecting with people and hearing their stories. My personal mission statement is to empower others by leading change and creating authentic, inspiring connections. I am looking forward to continuing to embody this in 2018 and beyond!

Jenna Morton, Rapid Chat Editor

Between blunders, breakups, and broken bones, 2017 yielded a lot of change. Who knew the tattoo I got during a trip out to Washington (symbolizing an “openness to change”) would so appropriately be foreshadowing the events to come.
Being the ceaseless planner that I am, one can only imagine how unaccepting of this I was. Up until this point, I had written my entire life’s script based on how it should be, not how it could be. There was little room for divergence, uncertainty, and hell—there wasn’t a whole lot of room for fun, either.

While 2017 undoubtedly tested my patience and my strength, the spark within me did not fizzle.

As I rang in the new year with two of my dearest friends, I learned about the fiery Ecuadorian tradition of Año Viejo. Año Viejo is personified as a wretched-looking doll, representing the failures, regrets, and anger you’ve had over the past year. You light El Año Viejo on fire and leave the past in ashes.

In 2018, I look forward to embracing change. Change within myself and change within the city of Grand Rapids. Much more recently I’ve noticed the emphasis being placed upon diversity and inclusion within our community. I know we won't become a melting pot of cultures overnight, but it’s exciting to see the incremental steps being taken.

Adam Bird, Managing Photographer

This new year is going to be a big year for our little community. Our leaders are reacting to a wide range of systemic social problems, and while those are going to take time to fix and heal, this is going to be a big year for addressing them. I am looking forward to the progress that we are going to make. This becomes a better place to live every day, even when progress is slow, small and hard. Long distances are covered with small steps.

Tommy Allen, Publisher

After more than three decades of living in Grand Rapids, it is great to witness from my vantage point, being with Rapid Growth since its beginning in 2006 the exciting era of cities beginning to unfold here locally.

Once a sleepy town, Grand Rapids joins this new time period along with other cities around the world—who are also experiencing the century of the city—just as more than 54 percent of the world’s population now are living in the urban environment. (This is up from 38 percent in 1976 and will be at nearly 75% by 2050 according to the United Nations.)

And as we enter the new year with a fresh set of eyes, it is with a sense of wonder and excitement we begin to tell the stories of our region and how we are responding to the challenges before us.

What I expect to see becoming more evident in 2018 (and based on the past years’ activities from our local government sectors, businesses, nonprofits, and of course, our incredible citizens) is a continuation of the growth of our region’s emerging othering and belonging philosophy that is fueling a lot of our positive changes here.

As a healthy by-product of listening to each other through our intentional collaboration and the elevation of community voices, the city is ushering in an era where respect, engagement, and accountability is seated at the table and a huge part of our success.

If we, as a community, can continue to remain committed to the belief that we share this city with one another, then it may be possible very soon in our future to look back and say, we truly became worthy of being called Grand (Rapids).

Lauren Carlson, Managing Editor

The news cycle can be dizzying. Social media missteps and snares, mystifying. The words of our country's leaders can be disappointing, haunting, inspiring, or just never, ever, end. Rapid Growth has the unique opportunity to slow down some of these stories, taking a closer look at the people are making moving forward and together in an era of great change, upheaval, and uplifted voices.

In 2018, I'm looking forward to revealing the untold stories of the people truly making a difference in our community. As a woman, an editor, and first and foremost a writer, these stories need to be told, and this year, more than ever, people are really listening.
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