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Old 12-09-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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Isn't all this just more demonstrative of rural areas in general?

Without having to reassess one's worldview in the face of other worldviews, people in rural / homogenous areas tend to hide within a specific religion or political view more easily. When there is a strong religious history to an area on top of all that, such as in western Michigan or the South, seems like this behavior should be expected.

 
Old 12-09-2008, 02:30 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefly View Post
Isn't all this just more demonstrative of rural areas in general?

Without having to reassess one's worldview in the face of other worldviews, people in rural / homogenous areas tend to hide within a specific religion or political view more easily. When there is a strong religious history to an area on top of all that, such as in western Michigan or the South, seems like this behavior should be expected.
Rural? Grand Rapids isn't rural. It has an urban core, historic districts, post WWII neighborhoods, suburbs and exurbs just like basically every other (mid-sized) city in the country.

Does it have the culture of a smaller city? Sure.

In some ways, it's great that people from the coasts and from larger cities are being lured here by employment opportunities. But in other ways, people's expectations are misplaced that it's going to resemble anything like the larger city or coast from where they came.

It's also unfortunate that people here judge others based on their religion.

I have found that your most likely to make friends here through one of a few channels: friends of your kids (if you have kids), people you work with, or people who are active in a club or group to which you belong. Just making random friends on the street corner ain't gonna happen.
 
Old 12-09-2008, 07:34 PM
 
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^
Just based on this conversation, I was under the impression that GR and to a lesser degree K-zoo were being excluded. My mistake.
 
Old 12-09-2008, 07:55 PM
 
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Interesting conversation. And I think there are some valid points here.

I'm married to a native of Kalamazoo. He and I left for jobs in Texas in 1981, and eventually wound up in Madison, Wisconsin. We went back to Kzo for his 30th high school reunion several years ago, and I was simply astonished by the insularity of his former classmates. An amazing number of them had settled within five miles of the high school they attended, and had never been farther away from Kalamazoo than Grand Rapids in all their lives. When we described living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, a few miles from the Mexican border, you'd have thought we were talking about living on the moon. It was quite an eye-opening experience, and made us realize that the Kalamazoo of our memories was perhaps not quite entirely based in reality.

We both still like the city, I should add. Not sure I can ever imagine living there again. But it's interesting to visit once a decade or so, just for old time's sake.
 
Old 12-10-2008, 08:06 AM
 
Location: Grand Rapids Metro
8,872 posts, read 17,741,219 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefly View Post
^
Just based on this conversation, I was under the impression that GR and to a lesser degree K-zoo were being excluded. My mistake.
No, my apologies.
 
Old 12-27-2008, 04:16 AM
 
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It is interesting to see people comment on the "lack of diversity" in West Michigan. Just say what you mean: Lack of diversity = white Republicans. We know that's what you mean, so just say it already. Interestingly enough, by definition, the least "diverse" part of Michigan is the city of Detroit itself. The population is about 90% black Democrats, a very homogenius population. Is that still considered diverse though because it is not 90% white? An interesting question, I think.

Please don't try and read too much into this post. All I am getting at is that we should say what we mean and do away with the euphemisms.
 
Old 12-27-2008, 11:58 AM
 
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That isn't what I mean when I say lack of diversity, but perhaps it is from other people. I mean that the way people talk, interact, think, dress, and judge is what makes it a less diverse place. I'd say neither is very diverse as far as Detroit or southwestern Michigan go. The east side seems to be less sheltered from the rest of the world though, imho.
 
Old 12-28-2008, 11:43 PM
 
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deslok View Post
That isn't what I mean when I say lack of diversity, but perhaps it is from other people. I mean that the way people talk, interact, think, dress, and judge is what makes it a less diverse place. I'd say neither is very diverse as far as Detroit or southwestern Michigan go. The east side seems to be less sheltered from the rest of the world though, imho.
This is kind of what I mean.

I don't think of Grand Rapids as diverse because the majority of the people that I see look, act, and seem to think the same.
If Detroit were 90% black Democrats I wouldn't think of that as diverse either.
 
Old 12-29-2008, 06:41 AM
 
Location: East Grand Rapids, MI
845 posts, read 3,018,325 times
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This is the same old discussion... I never "get it."

Grand Rapids is super diverse. We have a burgeoning Mexican middle class, the city proper is as multi-racial as they come (much more diverse than Detroit City which is pretty homogeneous).

Forest Hills is mostly white....but guess what? So is Birmingham, Bloomfield, etc and those are the places Forest Hills compares with. Most of the time, when I hear about how homogeneous Grand Rapids is (or Detroit, or ____fill in a mid-sized city____) it's because someone visited.... went down 28th Street, stayed in Cascade, visited the Meijer in Cascade, went to dinner in Ada village, and then drove home saying "wow... that's one heck of a white city."

You could easily come to the same conclusion in Detroit if you stayed in Rochester Hills the entire weekend.
 
Old 12-29-2008, 09:17 AM
 
Location: St. Joseph Area
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Quote:
I grew up in Eastern Michigan, specifically the Flint, MI area and for all the downside of the Flint area, I generally felt that most people had that "blue-collar" almost southern niceness about them.

After moving to Kalamazoo and visiting with a lot of people throughout Grand Rapids, Holland, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo I have observed that people are not generally very openly nice or probably a better term would be "unapproachable." Battle Creek and Kalamazoo have some exceptions to this.

My theory as to why is the reformed-Dutch underpinnings of the culture. Although there are a lot of liberals for example in Kalamazoo, I believe native Western Michiganders have a weird underlying judgementalism about them and thus do not socialize well with new individuals. Of course there are exceptions to this. However, I often find that coincidentally the people I meet who aren't of the persuasion to act like this are often from somewhere else and have transplanted to Western Michigan. Most native Western Michiganders are quite offish in their manner and personality.

I would posit that this is somewhat due to a lack of diversity culturally and from the Reformed elements of the Dutch Christians.

This has been further backed up in my opinion by my travels and from working in Chicago. In Chicago I have noticed much more openness to talking with people and people are more likely to "meet you half-way" in a conversation. People in areas like Detroit, Flint, Chicago, etc. are more likely to wave, say hi, etc.

In closing, I believe this makes Western Michigan somewhat challenging for new people moving to the area to meet people, etc.
Very interesting thread, and near to my heart As a West Michigan native, I love it here, but sometimes it does feel more like it's own little universe compared to most places. Most people here have had family in the region for generations. I've even met some people who are still 100% Dutch Many who move away eventually come back, and several more simply stay.

But sometimes I wonder what it would be like for a newcomer to the area. I don't think they'd feel unwelcome, but there's definitely some cultural adjustment. West Michigan is it's own unique, Dutch, Reformed, conservative, Mexican culture. I would think it similar to moving to, say, Utah.
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