Grand Rapids reacting to adversity

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

Charles Dickens – A Tale of Two Cities opening paragraph (edit)

How do you  react to adversity? Do you adopt  a “victim mentality“, and withdraw to your cave, simmer in self-pity and fight the envy that spills out of your soul and eats away your self-respect? Or do you swallow your ego, pride, preserving your self-image as a worthwhile person living a worthwhile existence – no matter what that existence is?

The United States is currently going through a massive but very uneven recession. In the same way that some jobs, industries, and cultural corners have hardly noticed the economic slump as they power on to pinnacle after pinnacle, some cities, states and regions have not reflected deleterious effects from the recession. But for the cities and regions that are most affected, the recession impacts every avenue of social life. How do people in those cities react? Do they take to the streets in protest? Do they ransack the upmarket sections of town, looting and pillaging those who seem to be prospering in amongst the pain of the many? One of them does not. Enter Grand Rapids, a city in West Michigan. It featured as number 10 of a Newsweek article on America’s dying cities.

How do the people of Grand Rapids react? Do they wallow in self-pity, and ask for handouts and financial support? At least a few thousand folk in Grand Rapids thought their city was better than that. They thought Grand Rapids had a brighter, happier side on offer to its residents. The local Realtors even updated their website to suggest 57 reasons why Grand Rapids is not a story of a city in decline. You can read them here

Best of all is that 3,000 people got together to participate in a single-shot lip-sync of the   song “American Pie”. Components of the clip are a little amateurish, parts don’t flow quite as well as an edited version would, and overall it can seem a bit of a waste. But thousands of locals happily and actively participating in a single celebratory event is a good sign that things may not be as bad as the Newsweek article was suggesting.

Cheesy but a great way to push back at the trevails of despair.


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