Michigan's Second City

Another fantastic guest blogger submission - this one by Eric Kehoe of Grand Rapids MI.

I moved to Michigan's West Coast about four years ago when I began attending Grand Valley State University.  Ever since then, I have grown to love Michigan's Second City; Grand Rapids.

I relocated to downtown Grand Rapids last summer, moving into a 100-year-old house on Heritage Hill with my four roommates.  This house was like nothing I have lived in before -- well, the entire neighborhood was of nothing I had been surrounded by before.

I grew up in Any Suburb, USA, where all that surrounded my neighborhood was corporate strip malls and a lack of personality.  Living in a city like that, it is hard to not get sucked into the rat race of a material world, easily forgetting the things that make this country, and, in particular, Michigan, so great; family businesses, community, fellowship, and local pride.

These are all brilliant qualities I see every time I step out of my Colonial Revival on the Hill and ride myNighttime in Grand Rapids bike through Midtown, down Wealthy Street, and into the heart of Grand Rapids.  Every time I grab lunch at Marie Catrib's or a beer at Founders Brewing Co., I see the community--the sense of pride--in action.  I love being able to head to The Winchester, and read, almost defiantly written on their menu, that they "strongly support local business." You can taste it in the food they offer, serving up local produce.

Speaking of produce, it is worth mentioning that I can walk two or three blocks down the road and get farm-fresh goods in the middle of the city at the Fulton Street Farmers Market.

Downtown at Rosa Parks Circle, or at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the community comes together. Whether it be for Pillow Fights or Blues Music, you can always find a great collection of Michiganders meeting up.  If the summer is getting too hot, my roommates and I pile into the car and head to Lake Michigan, where, if you are looking for it, you notice a collective unity between all beach goers.  We do not need to say anything; a smile and nod between two folks carries with it the quiet sense of appreciation for a coast we have grown to love.  And when autumn comes, and the leaves turn to that familiar Michigan hue, I look around and remind myself how lucky I am to live in a city that offers everything I can wish for.

I am proud to call Grand Rapids, and Michigan, my home.  If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.

Eric Kehoe is a twenty-two year veteran of Michigan and plays in the band Valentiger.  You can read more about him at www.erickehoe.com.  If you have any questions about his post, feel free to leave a comment, or contact Eric via Twitter (@erickehoe)