Tag Archives: Grand Rapids Whitewater

Grand Rapids Whitewater

grww

Grand Rapids Whitewater.

Of all the great initiatives and organizations (ArtPrize, Downtown Farmers Market, West Michigan Sports Commission, AimWest, Momentum-MI, just to name a few) that are happening in Grand Rapids,  I am absolutely, positively convinced that the Grand Rapids Whitewater project will have as big of an impact over time as all the “big ideas” that are under development.

Transforming a section of the Grand River into a recreational whitewater park (while still maintaining the fishery) will have benefits far beyond the enjoyment of water enthusiasts.

  • Transforming the Grand River banks and boardwalks into a destination for families to hang out and enjoy the water scene
  • The possibility of attracting competitive water sports events
  • The business of hungry and thirsty kayaking and rafting families spending their money downtown after a day on the rapids
  • Ancillary opportunities for entrepreneurs like rentals, concessions, tours, and  lessons
  • Adding another “intangible” benefit for individuals and families to live and work downtown
  • Focusing more attention on the care of the Grand River, water quality, sustainability, fisheries
  • Creating a safer river experience by eliminating the dangerous low-head dams
  • An overall enhancement to the quality of life.

glenwood-kayaker3

Of course there is a lot to be done.  This project needs both public and private collaboration.  The City of Grand Rapids, downtown business owners, commercial real estate developers, taxpayers, special interest groups (like the Steelheaders) and many other groups are all important stakeholders in this discussion. But let’s keep moving forward.

If interested in volunteering or for more information contact Chip Richards from Grand Rapids Whitewater. You can also join their Facebook page for regular updates; GRWW.

“Help put Rapids back in the Grand! Make the Grand River the deserved focus of your city. This is a non-profit group of individuals, paddling clubs and businesses dedicated to helping Green Grand Rapids achieve the dream of landscaping our river and it’s banks with large rocks, boulders and whitewater features. It is our goal to partner with the city to restore the Grand to a safer, more natural, healthy and aesthetic waterway.”

Snapshot 2009-07-09 07-36-13

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My Giant Little Town

The joys of second guessing!

The Grand Rapids Press article by Troy Reimink about the new promotional video to promote our city (actually west Michigan….unless Grand Rapid’s urban sprawl has made it’s way to the lakeshore) is copied below.  But first, a little conversation among friends.

The video is OK.   It was commissioned by the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.  Obviously it is meant to promote Grand Rapids and the lakeshore as a place to visit, spend some money and have a little fun.   As you can read in both the article and the comments (from the Mlive peanut gallery) it’s open to debate if this video really captures the soul of this area.

I know when I visit somewhere, it typically is because of a great, natural setting (Leelanau Peninsula), specific events (Memphis in May), specific attraction (Great Wolf Lodge, Cedar Point, Detroit Tiger game)  or world class attractions and restaurants (Chicago).

Which leads me to a question, is Grand Rapids at the tourist destination level yet?  It is a great place to live, work, raise a family, and play.  The quality of life is outstanding!  However, unless you are here on convention business, I don’t know if it is vacation-worthy.   Certainly, expanding Grand Rapids to include the lakeshore region, especially Saugatuck, Holland and Grand Haven changes the picture…those cities and surrounding areas are certainly vacation-worthy but I don’t really consider Grand Rapids to be lakeshore. (I know, it’s about marketing)

For what it’s worth, if I was responsible for promoting Grand Rapids as a tourist destination I would do whatever it takes to create, develop, promote “buzz-worthy, memorable, big idea” events and attractions.  As an example, here are couple of ideas in the pipeline:

ArtPrize. Love it, hate it, don’t care about it….it doesn’t matter.  If it can live up to it’s vision, and attract world-class artists (and hopefully thousands of subversives) to the city for a two-week period, this really will be something memorable and unique.  It will certainly generate a buzz.  It will be talked about.

Another project that could change the landscape is the Grand Rapids Whitewater initiative.  If you haven’t followed this very closely you should.    Without damaging the existing fishing experience, this project would create a stretch of whitewater that would attract recreational rafters, kayakers, and other water-loving enthusiasts to downtown Grand Rapids.  Although we might not realize lengthy stays in area hotels, it would bolster the experience of those who are staying here all ready plus attract the “day-trippers” who would probably be hungry and thirsty after a day on the river.

Back to the video. Call it second guessing or back seat driving. Call it whatever you like, but it is a great debate for anyone who feels that enhancing our city, for both residents and tourists is critical to the quality of life we enjoy in Grand Rapids.   What do you think of My Giant Little Town?

Does the ‘My Giant Little Town’ campaign with Brian Vander Ark capture the best of Grand Rapids?

by Troy Reimink | The Grand Rapids Press

A scene from the tourism video "My Giant Little Town" by Brain Vander Ark.

A scene from the tourism video "My Giant Little Town" by Brain Vander Ark.

My Giant Little Town ( < click on this link to view the video)

We’ll have a story up on this soon, but we wanted to share some video from a campaign to promote Grand Rapids, which features a song called “My Giant Little Town” by former Verve Pipe singer Brian Vander Ark.

As one of the city’s better-known musicians (assuming Anthony Kiedis was unavailable), Vander Ark is a natural choice for the clip, put together by the Grand Rapids Convention and Visitors Bureau as part of its “Michigan’s West Coast” campaign.

His track reflects the “big city but not” reputation Grand Rapids has managed to develop. Take a look/listen:

Brian VanderArk performs ‘My Giant Little Town’

Vander Ark last year provided vocals for a song titled “This Time,” which was part of a feel-good marketing campaign for Detroit (understandably a tougher undertaking) and for the Detroit News and Free Press newspapers:

But getting back to the Grand Rapids promotion, a lot of the images are obvious — city skyline, Meijer Gardens, art museum, etc. — and fairly generic. One (and by “one,” I mean “I”) can’t help wondering if the producers missed a chance to include some of our city’s more idiosyncratic elements.

I would have suggested some of the following:

• The fluoride monument

• Rob Bliss Urban Experiments (zombie walk, pillow fight, chalk flood), etc. On second thought, maybe portraying the city as overrun with zombies might not have the desired promotional effect.

• Adults playing kickball

Yesterdog

• Outdoor events such as Festival of the Arts, Eastown Street Fair, the Local First Street Party, Avenue of the Arts, Founders Fest, etc.

• The thriving culture of bikes, scooters, mopeds and the like

• The weather ball

Any other suggestions for how to sell our city?

E-mail Troy Reimink: treimink@grpress.com

Comments:

  • Well Michigan is into cars. Get a race going like St Pete, Florida does. GR would have way bigger crowds.
  • Sell GR as the home of the two most successful con artists in history; DeVoss & VanAndel
  • This ad portrays Grand Rapids as a quaint, quirky, wannabe metropolis.
  • How about the visitors bureau makes an ad that portrays Grand Rapids for what it is truly: the most successful city in Michigan, the fastest growing in Michigan (in the country?), and the future of a state looking for its footing.
  • We are always going to be a “giant little town” unless we act like what we are trying, and want to be.
  • our Giant little Town, home of the Keebler elves.
  • The CVB should stop selling to the world that Grand Rapids has a CVB. Get rid of the logo and and CVB precense. Sell the city, not the CVB. It’s as if Meijer’s hired an ad agency to do a commercial and the agency put in their watermark at the trailing end. Now wouldn’t that be hysterical?
  • Walkable? Wow! Walkable… I want to go there!
  • Grand Rapids is also known for being a college town. I think if I was VanderArk I’d have dug into that culture a little more… and maybe the coffee shop culture a little bit, too. But then, I’m a recent college grad and current coffee lover, so I guess that makes me biased. 🙂

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