Grand Rapids

Part of the Rumsey St. Project, this auto body garage was painted by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Dean Veca

The Next Idea

Collaboration between people of different backgrounds, expertise and points of view is one of the key drivers of innovation.

There’s one entry in this year’s Artprize in Grand Rapids that takes collaboration to another level.

Richard Masoner/Cyclelicious/flickr /

A small but growing number of Michiganders are turning to their bicycles as a means to get from Point A to Point B.

We've seen communities put in bike lanes to accommodate bicyclists, but that doesn't necessarily solve the tensions between cars and bikes sharing the road.

Doug Coombe

Carson Brown wants to make people think critically about what he calls the American landscape, and he’s not talking about mountains and vistas. He’s talking about the American landscape of consumerism.

“I want people to look around the space of a big box store and ask, ‘Is this space necessary? Do I need all these things? Is this a healthy way of living my life?’”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Union negotiators head back to the bargaining table Monday morning, on behalf of more than 300 bus drivers and mechanics in Grand Rapids.

“Obviously, things are hot right now,” Local 836 union president RiChard Jackson told me last week, at a packed board meeting of the Interurban Transit Partnership, also known as The Rapid.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Around 75 people marched in Grand Rapids Saturday afternoon, calling for an end to gun violence.

“We’re trying to get the message out, that anybody can be a victim. We've got the kids in the streets killing each other, we've got people getting killed going into shopping malls, court houses, movie theaters,” Theresa Ward, one of the march's organizers said.

The Founders baby will remain on labels in other states.
Mike Mozart / Flickr -

"You wanna sell beer in this state? You gotta go through me, kid."

While not an exact quote, that's essentially what Michigan's Liquor Control Commission said when it found that the label for Founders Breakfast Stout was in violation of its rules, which say:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

If you think your morning commute is taking longer in Grand Rapids and Detroit, a new report says you’re right.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s annual Urban Mobility Scorecard shows it’s taking longer for many Michigan motorists to get around.

Linda Tellis is known as Lady Ace Boogie in west Michigan’s hip hop scene. She is a community activist and is trying to change what she calls the “broken” world of hip hop.

Tellis turned her life around five years ago. She used to be involved in gangs.

“I didn’t have anybody to look up to. All I had was what was in front of me and unfortunately that was the streets and that’s it," Tellis said.

That’s all behind her now. In her latest album, Feel Good Music, she takes a stab at the hip hop industry and how rappers and artists are focused on fame and material things.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Rosalynn Bliss will be Grand Rapids' new mayor.

Bliss soundly defeated her opponents in today's primary, winning 66% of the vote and negating the need for a run-off election in November.

Downtown Grand Rapids
Grguy2011 / Public Domain

Violent crimes are down in Grand Rapids, but police there say rape investigations are on the rise.

The Grand Rapids Police Department says it's investigated 40 rape cases so far in 2015, compared to 21 this time last year.

Deputy Chief Dave Kiddle says that doesn't necessarily mean more rapes are being committed.

"We've seen better reporting, specifically in juvenile cases,” Kiddle said. “It's not necessarily an indication of an increase, but improved reporting."

Kiddle says in most of the cases reported, the victim knew the suspect.

bitsorf: Thank you 1,500,000 times / Creative Commons

An effort to restore the rapids to the Grand River in Grand Rapids is slowly making progress.

The rapids that gave Michigan’s second-largest city its name are long gone. The plan is to remove a few old dams, add more natural boulders and improve land along the riverfront.

“The exact date of construction is unknown,” said Jay Steffen, an assistant planning director for the city.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

It took almost 30 years and $400 million, but Grand Rapids has finished updating part of its 100-year-old sewer system.

The city’s old system combined stormwater with sewer water, and sent it all to the wastewater treatment plant.

Mayor George Heartwell says it generally worked, until heavy rain hit.

The primary election for Grand Rapids' new mayor will take place next Tuesday
All photos courtesy of candidate Facebook pages

Grand Rapids voters will be electing their first new mayor in more than 10 years, and the primary is a week from tomorrow.

Current Mayor George Heartwell is being term-limited out after serving in office for more than a decade.

Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers
Courtesy of Joe Hertler

Detroit is listening to Peezy, Ann Arbor to Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, and Grand Rapids is sticking to Top 40 country. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

One week after a white gunman killed nine people at a black church in South Carolina, hundreds of people gathered in Grand Rapids to show solidarity.

“I want you to take somebody by the hand,” the Rev. Gerry Moore motioned to the crowd before bowing his head in prayer. “Take somebody by the hand.”

Marijuana citations going unpaid in Grand Rapids

Jun 22, 2015
Michigan voters may see marijuana on the ballot in 2016
user Coleen Whitfield / flickr

The city of Grand Rapids has failed to collect more than $100,000 in fines for marijuana use over the past three years.

In 2012, the city voted to decriminalize the drug. This made possession and use of marijuana a civil infraction, akin to being charged with a speeding ticket or traffic violation.

Yet while collection rates for most civil infractions are high, marijuana tickets are often ignored.

Benjamin Foote


When the Grand Rapids band Ghost Heart plays live, it’s a performance spectacle. They played in-studio at Michigan Radio as part of Songs from Studio East.


Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A federal judge has ruled against a man who was demonstrating his right to openly carry a gun in a Grand Rapids neighborhood.

One Sunday morning last year, Johann Deffert decided to exercise his free speech rights. He put on some camouflage pants, put his tactical pistol in its holster, and started walking around a neighborhood.

Someone called 9-1-1.

Courtesy photo / Dutch Royal House

The king and queen of the Netherlands are planning a visit to Grand Rapids this week.

Back in the 19th century, many Dutch immigrants took off for West Michigan looking for work and religious freedom. There’s still a huge population of Dutch immigrants and their descendants living in Holland, Grand Rapids, Muskegon and Kalamazoo.

Ten years ago, two women from west Michigan started something called the "Best Prom Ever." They were Sparta High School special education teacher Renne Wyman, and a mother of one of her students, Rhonda Carlisle.

Fifteen students came to their first event. In April, 900 people attended the Best Prom Ever.

The basic idea is to give young people with disabilities the chance to socialize and dance in an environment that is safe and fun.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The quality of Michigan’s air continues to improve. 

That’s the finding of a new report out today.

The American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report looks at a variety of issues, from 24-hour to year-long particle pollution to ozone levels.

Michigan company facing $558K fine for worker's death

Apr 24, 2015
user gadgetgirl / Flickr

A  Michigan plastics company is facing $558,000 in fines for safety violations, including those that led to a worker's death.

Last June, Grand Rapids Plastics employee Russel Scharenbroch was crushed to death inside a horizontal injection molding machine he was cleaning.

John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

A new effort led by the private sector in Grand Rapids will try to cut water, energy use and transportation emissions in half over the next 15 years.

More than a dozen businesses, including Spectrum Health, Consumers Energy, Rockford Construction and SMG, which manages DeVos Place and Van Andel Arena, have agreed to the general concept. A new committee will draft details of the plan this year.

Benjamin Foote

The debut album by Grand Rapids indie rock and soul band Vox Vidorra explores race, inequality, love and religion.

Molly Bouwsma-Schultz is Vox Vidorra’s lead singer and lyricist. 

Courtesy of House Democrats

A former state lawmaker is running to become the mayor of Michigan’s second-largest city.

If you pay attention to Grand Rapids politics at all, you’ve probably heard of Robert Dean. He served on the Grand Rapids school board in the 1990s, and then the city commission for years.

Steven Vance / Creative Commons

Right now, skateboarding is banned in downtown Grand Rapids. But advocates say skateboards, longboards, roller skates, and roller blades are just like any other kind of non-motorized transportation. They say they should be allowed on downtown streets just like bicycles.

The Grand Rapids City Commission is considering the proposed change. It will hold a public hearing at city hall Tuesday night.

DisArt festival

A major art show opens in Grand Rapids on Friday.

The DisArt festival features the work of roughly 50 disabled artists, film makers and others. 

“What the whole festival is doing is flipping our expectations of disability on its head,” says festival director Christopher Smit. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The state is offering a million dollars to help clean up the site where Michigan State University is going to build its biomedical research center.

The site is near Grand Rapids’ “medical mile”; where The Grand Rapids Press was housed for decades.

LaughFest image.

Gilda’s LaughFest 2015 kicks off in Grand Rapids this Thursday (March 5).

The 10-day comedic festival will feature stand-up, comedy films, improv, comedy showcases and more all over West Michigan.

The festival was started by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, a survivor support group named after the late comic Gilda Radner.

You can see a full list of the events and venues here.

police officer directing traffic
Flickr user lincolnblues / Flickr

An African-American man is suing the city of Grand Rapids over a police practice his attorney says unfairly targets minorities.

A city attorney wouldn’t comment on the specific case, but says the policy follows the law.