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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Reports of my Hometown's Death have been Greatly Exaggerated

Wonder if a major news magazine---let's just say, Newsweek---announced to the entire world that the very city in which you live, love, work and enjoy was "dying". Death throes. Stagnant. No pulse. Hopeless. Drained of life. Flatlined.  How would you react? Would you feel sad?  Worried?  Accepting? Upset?  Stick a for-sale sign in your yard and start packing? If you live in Detroit or Florida or several other sections of the United might heave a forlorn sigh, shed copious tears and let the bank take your house because you know first-hand that the article bore some truth.

But if you live in Grand Rapids, Michigan and some lousy magazine published an asinine, baseless, demeaning article about your'd shout WTF and break into a song and dance video! On YouTube, no less. Of course, you'd question what on earth the magazine based their erroneous calculations on. You'd feel insulted and offended by their egregious misrepresentations. You might even be embarrassed and humiliated that people around the world would read their derogatory obituary about your beloved town. You'd be worried that people would never visit you again. You'd be concerned that jobs would be lost. Tourists would never vacation here. You'd be disappointed and angry because...your city is not dying. The magazine's coup de grace for Grand Rapids is absolutely, positively untrue. False. Lies. Wretchedly wrong conclusions and misleading inconsistencies. Not exactly something to sing about. But more about that later.

Back in January, 2011, Newsweek Magazine listed Grand Rapids as one of ten dying U.S. cities. If you have ever been to Grand Rapids in recent years, you would know for certain that the city is alive and well and exploding with energy, enthusiasm, art, culture, new job growth, optimism and excitement. Grand Rapids is a beautiful, mid-size city on a grand and scenic river with many tree-shaded neighborhoods that evoke a Norman Rockwellish small town charm. Yet you can feel the sizzling pulse of a bustling, big city every time you go downtown. Every year in the fall for two full weeks, Grand Rapids celebrates art with an amazing ART PRIZE, art exhibit extravaganza---with artists from all over the world displaying their monumental creations around the entire downtown area...inside and out.  If you've haven't been to Art Prize, Google it. And make a point to visit. Even if you're not an art fan, you'll be astounded at Art Prize. Not only is art abundant here, it turns out Hollywood has discovered our town. A-list actors, directors and producers have been closing down city streets and pumping out movies for over five years now...bringing new vitality, income and jobs to the city. Add to that, world class museums, acclaimed hospitals, colleges and universities, 5 star hotels, parks and green spaces, stunning scenery (we're not far from 4 of the 5 Great Lakes) and even a lunkhead can see that Grand Rapids is reaching for the stars; not digging its own grave.

But I digress. Grand Rapids is not without it's problems. Like nearly every single town in the United States...businesses have closed, people have lost jobs and the public school system sucks big time. But unlike many other communities...the residents of Grand Rapids have revived their city with astounding philanthropical generosity and community spirit.

Now finally, here's the song and dance part. Thanks to the brilliant, social-networking genius of a twenty-something local resident and event promoter with the cheerful real name of Bliss...Rob Bliss....Grand Rapids was able to smack back at Newsweek in a friendly, fun way and promote the city around the world at the same time. Bliss orchestrated an epic lip-dub video to the song, Bye Bye Miss America Pie. (Not exactly sure why he chose that tune but it works.) Nearly 5000 residents participated. The video has gone viral on YouTube. News channels around the world have picked up on it. Newsweek, itself, backed down on the "dying city" thing and their editors are now claiming they're big fans of our town. In the process, the people of Grand Rapids have again come together to show the world their civic pride and to let everyone know we are indeed alive and kickin' and just plain awesome!  Come and visit my home town and see for yourself.

And now, sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of this way-cool video that made the world take notice of my hometown.

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Susan Anderson said...

Hurray for Grand Rapids! I like its spirit!!


Kathy said...

That is terrific!!

Coffeypot said...

Very cool video and the only time I've ever enjoyed that song. Glad y'all are alive and well.

ChrisJ said...

That was brilliant! Let's hear it for Grand Rapids! Someone put a lot of time, effort, skill and talent into the making of that video.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Wow, it looks to me like this was all done in one continuous shot. Cue the boats, cue the fireworks, cue the chopper..... Fabulous. Hooray for Grand Rapids, Michigan!

Malu Silverman said...

Hurray for this entry, Hurray for Grand Rapids! We should spread this information all over the world. I remember what the news said about New Orleans them after Katrina. Mississippi actually was worse hit!
Will share this in Facebook!

J.P. Travis said...

So, my wife and I are flying home to G.R. this Friday, and I happen to visit Boomer Pie and find this! Awesome! I've been gone a few years, so I watched intensely, and I have to admit I had tears in my eyes. Thanks.

Jeanne Estridge said...

Great video--and great city spirit to respond so positively and creatively!

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