OCTOBER 24, 2006 5:00 PM

Here is an article I submitted to the SPOON, a local newsletter for and by the homeless in Heartside... except i'm not homeless.

Moving to and Living in Heartside
By Stephanie Richards

I moved to Heartside in May 2006. I had been living in Easthills with 6 other women and a small child. I have learned that community is an essential part of life. So, when I thought I was moving to one of my favorite parts of Grand Rapids and into a really cool apartment, I didn’t know that I was also moving into a fulfilling art community and a unique and thriving neighborhood. I am pleasantly surprised with the neighborliness and strong sense of community that makes Heartside so unique.

What it’s like to live in the Art Community
The most fun aspect of living in an art community is the amount of collaboration that goes on. In my building people are always doing collaboration pieces, sharing resources, and thinking about ways to improve life and art in Heartside. I can trust my neighbors and can share with them everything from flour to dreams. We meet regularly to plan arts events for our buildings, discuss how to contribute to plans for Avenue for the Arts events, as well as to talk about our concerns and ideas.

What I like about living in Heartside
I can walk to almost everything I need (or run down Division to catch a bus to where I need to go). Every week I can share a meal with my neighbors at Hard Times Café. When I walk down the street I feel safe because I know many of my neighbors. I can garden in a community garden where I can ask questions and learn along with other gardeners. I can live, work, and play in Heartside. (If only Calvin were downtown, then I could say I go to school in Heartside, too.) I feel welcomed into the community of Heartside, especially at Heartside Ministries, where everyone knows everyone’s names. I feel empowered and included as a resident of Heartside.

The future of Heartside
I hope to see the garden successfully transition to the Heartside Park. Heartside has a unique opportunity to manage a community garden with a very diverse group of people. I hope to see a community garden that is embraced, supported, and utilized by long time residents, residents in transition, people who are homeless, and businesses and organizations in Heartside.
I hope to see the Heartside/Downtown Neighborhood Association become a strong and respected organization that works to serve our neighborhood and becomes an agent of change and a channel for bringing neighbors together.
I hope to see the new art developments and projects building bridges instead of barriers between long time residents and organizations and new residents.

♥ stephanie
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