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I will be spending this whole day with my friends from Leadership Grand Rapids. This will be our last official day together as we wrap up the season. This has been a very significant experience for me over the last nine months. I feel like I have a deeper understanding of where Grand Rapids is at this point in time. Cities do not stay the same. They are dynamic and constantly changing. Whether they are in a period of decline or new growth, they are always going some where. I know this may seem obvious but the important thing I believe is to know where your city is now and how to go there with it. What is appropriate now? How do we prepare for our future? What is our city wanting to become and how can we help this process along? These are some of the questions I live with. These are questions LGR is helping me to address.
I feel a great respect for my fellow classmates and all the different disciplines and business that they represent for I have learned much from them. I look forward to seeing more artists like myself woven into the fabric of the local corporate culture so that we can make innovation and fresh vision even more a natural part of our local business DNA. These are challenging times we are living through right now. We should not be looking for a "recovery" of our economy. We should be imagining a complete transformation towards an economy that is truly organic and that looks more like the complex diversity you find in a rain forest. We need to learn to embrace risk. We need to get used to doing what is uncomfortable to us. We need to make room for children and women given to weeping in our leadership positions. We need to take more time to lay in the grass and look up through the trees. We need more time staring off into space and not checking our email. Let them get angry, let them be disappointed in us, let them fall off the edge of a cliff if necessary but we must take time to be awake to the sound of the wind in the trees. Our families need this. We need this. Our city needs this.