Friday, September 25, 2009

PARK(ing) Day 2009

This is the first year our S-LC office joined PARK(ing) Day, along with the Off-Campus Programs Office. Our transportation coordinator, Tina Bolt, who was one of the people in charge of making this happen, has put together a nice short blog to express what she has learned during this day. Check it out and learn more about what PARK(ing) Day is all about and what as Calvin College staffs and students did in this event. 

PARK(ing) Day originated in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design collective. Rebar wanted to raise awareness on the lack of park space in the city. By putting change in the meter of a parking space allowed Rebar to lease this real estate for a temporary amount of time. Rebar chose to lease a single parking space for the day and instead of parking a car chose to creatively transform this space into a small park. PARK(ing) Day is now an annual global event where any citizen can participate. The event has taken place in more than 50 cities including Chicago, New York, Toronto, London, Barcelona, and Grand Rapids!

This is the second year Grand Rapids participated in the PARK(ing) Day event. Calvin has participated in the event for both years. In 2008 Calvin’s Social Justice Coalition took part in the event, and this year the Service-Learning Center and Off Campus programs partnered with the Creston Neighborhood Association to participate in the festivities of PARK(ing) Day 2009. Recently the Creston Neighborhood Association received a Kaboom grant. The intent of this grant is to use playgrounds as a rallying point to initiate more community development and crime prevention. There is a hope that the neighborhood would come together to fix up a playground and this would result in more communication with one another. For further information visit

“Our park” was located on Louis, just east of Monroe right on Rosa Park Circle. The theme of “our park” this year was the importance of play in our lives. People were invited into “our park” to play a game, share a favorite play memory or to just hang out. The theme of the importance of play in our lives incorporated the Creston Neighborhood Association very well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Streetfest '09: Serving and Learning About Grand Rapids in an Attitude of Humility

From Thursday, September 3rd to Saturday, September 5th, over a thousand new students participated in Streetfest 09, serving the community of Grand Rapids. Some of them have lived in this city their whole lives, some have not even got their heads around the Calvin College circle, let alone the greater community. However, we, (the staff in the Service-Learning Center) have received immensely positive feedback and reflections from the new students, the student leaders and the participating agencies regarding their service and learning process during StreetFest.

Amazed by the things we heard, we are reminded of what it means to be humble in our service to the community. These various jobs that these students accomplished may only have a short-term effect to the different communities, but they surely showed the students the needs of the different communities within Grand Rapids, and what they can do in small ways to address these needs. One thing that surprised me was that even the students on the biking tour of the city, who didn’t provide any hands-on service with the agencies, came to appreciate the city in many ways (my colleague and I ourselves learned a lot about what has happened to Grand Rapids downtown recently driving along and getting lost at times). Though more than half of the new students on the bike tour were from the Grand Rapids area, they all learned a lot about the city by riding through many parts of the city that they had never been to and speaking with people that they normally would not have spoken with. There was one guy that approached us as we stopped near the Calvin Art studio at 106 S. Division. At first, most of us thought he was going to ask for money, but he actually just wanted to talk to us and to wish us well as we continued the tour. As Professor De Graaf , the bike tour leader, expressed in the reflection afterwards, we do not know how such a high point of our day can come from the least expected situations. Such experience also reminds us as students to be humble toward the people whom we serve, and encourages us to get involved with the greater Grand Rapids community.

As we say good-bye to StreetFest and begin our new academic school year, the challenge of “walking humbly” remains. Our hope is that the students will take away that humble attitude as they serve and explore the city of Grand Rapids.

One great thing that is happening this Friday September 18th from 8:00am to 5:00pm is Park(ing) Day. The Service-Learning Center is joining the Off-Campus Programs office in reserving two parking spots downtown to raise awareness about transportation options in the city and to encourage students to continue to get involved with the city.
Check out the links below to learn more about Park(ing) Day and don’t forget to visit us this Friday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Streetfest '09 is Finally Coming Together

The last two weeks have been a busy but very exciting period for the S-LC staff. Prepping for Streetfest has been the biggest task at hand in our office. We were pumped to work with the Streetfest Leaders and Orientation Leaders as we experienced our MockStreetfest together serving the Creston Neighborhood.

Putting the last pieces of information together today for the big event in the next three days, we are thrilled to be parts of the upcoming Streetfest. We are looking forward to hearing the conversations of the new students, the leaders and the mentors as they experience serving the greater community of Grand Rapids in an attitude of humility.