a letter from FGRP Executive Director Stephanie
Dear Friends of FGRP,
I am so excited to be a part of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. I grew up in Alger Heights, playing at and swimming at the Garfield Park pool. As a teenager I lived for a short time on the west side of GR and frequented John Ball and Richmond Parks.
As a child I spent almost every summer on my grandparents’ 40-acre wooden property in Northern Michigan. I learned to love and respect nature from them. Now all of my favorite activities involve being active and outside. I am a cyclist, a runner, a kayaker, a gardener, a snowshoer, and even a very amateur bird watcher. I have 5 children and, as a parent, I know how important it is to make sure our children get outside. They must, now more than ever, have access to parks, green spaces, and nature.
Children should not have to take an hour trip north to discover nature. Because there will always be children, we will always need parks and green spaces. As our city expands we need to ensure that parks and green spaces are accessible, equitable, and available for all of our community.
Friends is here to be that voice for our diverse community on issues of quality of life. Parks add to the business landscape and enhance the economic prosperity. Our role is to advocate for, and engage, our community in the green spaces and parks in our community. We will continue to partner with the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department. It is an exciting time in our great city!
The Parks & Recreation Master Plan is almost complete, the Mayor’s Greening Initiative Arbor Day planting is on April 28, and our Parks Alive and Urban Forest Project are flourishing with attendees. But Friends is more than planting trees. It is about unifying neighborhoods in their diverse identities and traditions to strengthen our access to nature, activity, exercise, and safe spaces for our entire community. Friends is about being the voice of advocacy, raising funds, and building up volunteers and opportunities to make our city even greater!
So what is the future of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks? This is a question I am eager to answer through meetings with key stakeholders and our community to create a common vision of what Friends can do for our community.
We will seek to strengthen community partnerships and we look forward to being a part of the collaborative that will add to conversations about racial equity, bringing back our rapids, enhancing the riverfront, and continuing to engage neighborhoods through parks and green spaces.
If I have not yet had the chance, I look forward to meeting you soon! I can’t wait to share our vision of how we believe that great cities, such as ours, have great parks, public spaces, and urban forests!
Friends of Grand Rapids Parks