G-Sync: A Baker's Dozen

At the close of 2011, I wrote, "The beauty of discovery is often made when we step off the path." In the months that would follow, our region would witness plenty of new experiences.   

One of G-Sync's most read stories was about a vegan pinup girl calendar. But there were other stories with hits that were not huge or record-breaking that did help tell the story of who we are, er, were in 2012.

Here is my baker's dozen, my Top 13 stories of 2012 that provided insight into our unique city.

One of the favorite editorials, A City of Salons, was about the tiny group of citizens who began to organize a series of monthly meetings appropriately titled "The Salon." Over 2012, this group would harness the power of dialogue to tackle interesting topics in real time, but also on their Facebook Page. It is inspiring to see this group very much alive and active in our community.

If The Salon was about the conversations, then Mother's Day was April 17 this Year, Voices Carry, and How Long Must They Wait? promoted taking the steps needed to protect voices at risk in our community. 2012 provided many opportunities for people concerned with social justice to step out of the shadows and into the light of day.

The city would experience many accolades and advances in food and beverages: an increase of farm-to-table restaurants, tying for first place with Asheville, NC as Beer City USA, and the opening of the Midwest's first organic brewery in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. But the real food story that captured my imagination was exploring the restaurant as an incubator model that popped up at Bartertown in Burritotown Accomplished & The G. W. Bush's Birthday Party.

Two stories provided hope with two very different endings.

The Big Mind Sky Way Up High
would lose their battle of time (and the right message, wrong building placement), but reveal along the way the struggles of one gallery to present a world-renowned artist’s work on the rooftop of downtown building. It exposed systems and layers that should be simplified in our city.

But, it was the Muskegon Museum of Art's 100-year anniversary show, highlighted in Diversity Matters in Muskegon, that not only provided the best example of diversity in action, but also ensured people often under-represented in museum collections would have a chance to see themselves in their community depository of art. (Heck, Muskegon would also pass LGBT protections in 2012 with such ease and speed that one would hope that Holland's council is still reeling.)

Education of place would factor nicely in many of the works I would tackle in G-Sync, but the one that really stood out was the call to individuals to tell the story of our city in the newly re-launched Grand Rapids Wiki, Viget. This wildly popular editorial, Viget is a Verb, covered the history and current workings of a group of coders with a passion for Grand Rapids history. Viget would go on to become one of the most read and shared editorials of the year.

Rapid Growth continued our exploration of how we could better collaborate with our big city sister, Detroit. We reflected on what we learned from our second bus trip in the editorial To The Powers of Three, where I mused, “When you step up to provide opportunity and the space for education and growth, the path is paved with hope.”

A group in 2012 organized an all things Michigan package and put it on the road in Brands and Bands. In this piece, I explored what it meant for Michigan to be a part of SXSW event culture during this first showcase of our state’s musical talent, food, and spirits at the annual international festival held in Austin, Texas.

With all the exporting of talent, culture, beer, and even national news (some good and some bad), the balance of welcoming others into our region continued as new partnerships with important cultural centers around the world dotted the entertainment map throughout 2012.

St. Cecilia's Music Center's new partnership with the Chamber Music Center of Lincoln Center and The Grand Rapids Art Museum’s alignment with the Whitney Museum of Art were impressive forms of the power of collaboration in action.

However, it was UICA’s Penny Stamp speaker Robert Hammond who was the spark for Riding The High Line To GRR (A New York Love Story). Hammond’s message about showing up for the things you love in your city really moved me. This editorial is about the power of community organizing and the beautiful things that can happen when a group of citizens come together to create together.

The story that proved the most touching and sad at the same time was one that most missed completely. It was a smaller story of a man who lived large in the area of volunteering over the years, giving so much to our arts community.  

The fact is that when Rikk David passed away in the midst of ArtPrize's fourth outing, a hectic time of non-stop arts coverage, it took a few months for me to see the poetic beauty in the lack of coverage.

In I Sing the Body Volunteer (For Rikk), we get to see the man through the lens of a volunteer in our community – often an invisible force that sustains us and our institutions. His contributions remind all of us that while our names might never grace a street sign or be etched in stone on a new building, the contribution of one is still something that matters in our community.

Rikk's passing reminded me that while one's contribution might seem insignificant in the beginning, it is the foundation upon which we, together, create community.  

So, from The Salon's thoughtful discussions, to the power of the individual (and their real impact on our region), 2012 was a breathtaking roller coaster thrill ride. The Mayans got one thing right: it is the end of the world as we know it, but as R.E.M. mused (and I concur), I feel fine.

The Future (Still) Needs All of Us.

Tommy Allen
Lifestyle Editor

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