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Again, history and people are ignored in yet another MLive story about Wealthy/Division area

December 4, 2012

Ok, so how hard is it to talk to people who have actually lived south of Wealthy near Division Street? They are not unapproachable or frightening despite the unfounded stereotypes.

Everyone in that neighborhood, once called the Forgotten Corners, has a story and a history. Some of the residents have lived there since the 1950s and have seen numerous changes, both good and bad. So, I ask you, why are they and their perspectives not included in the coverage of the Wealthy/Division “development” projects?Sign_Class-War-300x212

Instead of residents, however, MLive readers hear from the entity in charge of the “development” project, ICCF. ICCF’s director assures readers that the, “neighborhood’s low income residents don’t get pushed out in the rush.” However, there is nothing in the article that actually explains how low income neighbors will not be pushed out.

The article does says that ICCF and the Baker Lofts project is setting aside rental units for low income people, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the existing residents.

Such a statement from the director of ICCF also ignores the fact that all the people living in houses on the 400 block of Sheldon had to move, since those houses were torn down or are in the process of being torn down. Most of those houses were rental units, but they had individuals and families who were living there and now do not live in that neighborhood.

According to a 2002 ICCF document that was the product of neighborhood planning meetings, they state, “All current home owners will be able to continue to enjoy their homes, including some form of protection against tax increases that could threaten their ownership in the future.” If this was the case, why were those living on the 400 block of Sheldon asked to leave? And why are other neighbors being asked to sell their property & homes for the purpose of tearing them down to build new properties, as I have been told by several neighbors on the 500 block of Sheldon and LaGrave?

Again, why are these voices not included in this narrative? Why does someone else always speak on behalf of the “poor” or “low income residents?” Because, they don’t matter and never have in the 28 years I lived in that neighborhood.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Christian permalink
    December 6, 2012 4:35 pm

    Jeff: I appreciate your continued writing on this. Will GRIID be putting up an article that includes those voices? I, for one, would be interested in hearing from the other side firsthand. Care to do an interview with and profile piece on your neighbors?

  2. December 6, 2012 4:47 pm

    Christian, I have already been in conversation with some of them, but their responses have been as follows: what I outlined in the first article on the history was complete, in terms of what the residents had resisted over the years; some of them don’t see the point of me doing a story since this blog has very limited reach; some of them do not want to be identified for fear of being harassed. I can continue to ask people if they want to tell their stories directly, but that decision lies with them. I will say again, this is the responsibilities of the commercial media, which pays people to do journalism.

  3. Christian permalink
    December 7, 2012 2:21 pm

    Believe me that I agree with you that this should be the responsibility of commercial media, but in their absence, this is a great opportunity for GRIID to make other voices heard (and they could be anonymous, if generally identified, e.g. “a resident of LaGrave who declined to be named, fearing retribution”).

    For what it’s worth, I think GRIID has decent reach; county commissioner Jim Talen, for example, linked to you MLive response piece from Sunday in his weekly newsletter.

  4. December 7, 2012 2:38 pm

    Christian, I will keep asking neighbors, those that haven’t been displaced yet, if they want to tell their side of the story.

  5. Christian permalink
    December 10, 2012 8:51 pm

    Thanks, Jeff. For what it’s worth, I highlighted these posts in comments on the Press editorial board’s statement yesterday (and erroneously typed “Heartside editor” instead of “Heartside resident”): http://www.mlive.com/opinion/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2012/12/low-income_residents_shouldnt.html

    Unsurprisingly, no response from Press ed. board members.

  6. December 10, 2012 10:32 pm

    Christian, thanks for taking that action, but I am not surprised by the lack of response. Hope you are well.

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