The story

Grand Rapids PF-31 - History

Grand Rapids

(PF-31: dp. 1430. 1. 303'11''. b. 37'6", dr. 13'8";
s 20 k.; cpi. 190; a. 3 3", 2 40mm.; cl. Tacoma)

Grand Rapids ( PF-31), formerly designated PG-139, was launched by Walter Butler Shipbuilders, Inc., Superior, Wis., 10 September 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Ted Booth; and commissioned 10 October 1944, Lt Comdr. T. E'. Knoll, USCG, in command. The ship had been taken down the Mississippi River and outfitted at Plaquemine, LA., before being commissioned at New Orleans.

Outfitted as a weather ship, Grand Rapids sailed 17 October for Bermuda and her shakedown cruise, but was damaged at sea by a hurricane and returned to Algiers, LA. for repairs. She proceeded toward Bermuda again 27 October, and after her shakedown training put in at Boston, 4 December 1944. Grand Rapids steamed out of Boston 6 January 1945 for duty as a weather picket ship off Newfoundland.

Grand Rapids operated as a weather ship out of Argentia until returning to Boston 6 June 1945. The ship soon sailed for her station 7 July, and continued sending vital weather reports for the north Atlantic area until finally
returning to Boston 15 January 1946. Grand Rapids decommissioned at Boston 10 April 1946, was sold to Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock CO., Chester, PA., 14 April 1947 and subsequently scrapped.

For thousands of years, succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples occupied the area. Over 2000 years ago, people associated with the Hopewell culture occupied the Grand River Valley. [1] Later, a tribe from the Ottawa River traveled to the Grand River valley, fighting three battles with the Prairie Indians who were established in the area. [2] The tribe later split, with the Chippewas settling in the northern lower peninsula, the Pottawatomies staying south of the Kalamazoo River and the Ottawa staying in central Michigan. [2]

By the late 1600s, the Ottawa, who occupied territory around the Great Lakes and spoke one of the numerous Algonquian languages, moved into the Grand Rapids area and founded several villages along the Grand River. [1] [3] The Ottawa established on the river, which they called O-wash-ta-nong, or far-away-water due to the river's length, where they "raised corn, melons, pumpkins and beans, to which they added game of the woods and the fish from the streams". [2]

In 1740, an Ottawa man who would later be known as Chief Noonday and become the future chief of the Ottawa, was born. [4] Between 1761 and 1763, Chief Pontiac visited the area annually, gathering over 3,000 natives and asking them to volunteer to lay siege to the British fort in Detroit, which would culminate into Pontiac's War. [2] The Potawatomi attacked the Ottawa in 1765, attempting to take the Grand River territory but were defeated. [2] By the end of the 1700s, there were an estimated 1,000 Ottawa in the Kent County area. [2]

After the French established territories in Michigan, Jesuit missionaries and traders traveled down Lake Michigan and its tributaries. [2] At the start of the 19th century, European fur traders (mostly French Canadian and Métis) and missionaries established posts in the area among the Ottawa. They generally lived in peace, trading European metal and textile goods for fur pelts.

In 1806, Joseph and his wife Madeline La Framboise, who was Métis, traveled by canoe from Mackinac and established the first trading post in West Michigan in present-day Grand Rapids on the banks of the Grand River, near what is now Ada Township. They were French-speaking and Roman Catholic. They likely both spoke Ottawa, Madeline's maternal ancestral language. After the murder of her husband in 1809 while en route to Grand Rapids, Madeline La Framboise carried on the trade business, expanding fur trading posts to the west and north, creating a good reputation among the American Fur Company. La Framboise, whose mother was Ottawa and father French, later merged her successful operations with the American Fur Company. [2] By 1810, Chief Noonday established a village on the west side of the river with about 500 Ottawa. [4]

Madeline La Framboise retired the trading post to Rix Robinson in 1821 and returned to Mackinac. [2] That year, Grand Rapids was described as being the home of an Ottawa village of about 50 to 60 huts on the west side of the river near the 5th Ward, with Kewkishkam being the village chief and Chief Noonday being the chief of the Ottawa. [5]

The first permanent European-American settler in the Grand Rapids area was Isaac McCoy, a Baptist minister. General Lewis Cass, who commissioned Charles Christopher Trowbridge to establish missions for Native Americans in Michigan, ordered McCoy to establish a mission in Grand Rapids for the Ottawa. [5] In 1823, McCoy, as well as Paget, a Frenchman who brought along a Native American pupil, traveled to Grand Rapids to arrange a mission, though negotiations fell through with the group returning to the Carey mission for the Potawatomi on the St. Joseph River. [5]

In 1824, Baptist missionary Rev. L. Slater traveled with two settlers to Grand Rapids to perform work. [5] The winter of 1824 proved to be difficult, with Slater's group having to resupply and return before the spring. [5] Slater then erected the first settler structures in Grand Rapids, a log cabin for himself and a log schoolhouse. [5] In 1825, McCoy returned and established a missionary station. [6] He represented the settlers who began arriving from Ohio, New York and New England, the Yankee states of the Northern Tier.

Shortly after, Detroit-born Louis Campau, known as the official founder of Grand Rapids, was convinced by fur trader William Brewster, who was in a rivalry with the American Fur Company, to travel to Grand Rapids and establish trade there. [5] In 1826, Campau built his cabin, trading post, and blacksmith shop on the east bank of the Grand River near the rapids, stating that the Native Americans in the area were "friendly and peaceable". [5] Campau returned to Detroit, then returned a year later with his wife and $5,000 of trade goods to trade with the Ottawa and Ojibwa, with the only currency being fur. [5] Campau's younger brother Touissant would often assist him with trade and other tasks at hand. [5]

In 1831 the federal survey of the Northwest Territory reached the Grand River it set the boundaries for Kent County, named after prominent New York jurist James Kent. In 1833, a land office was established in White Pigeon, Michigan, with Campau and fellow settler Luther Lincoln seeking land in the Grand River valley. [5] Lincoln purchased land in what is now known as Grandville, while Campau became perhaps the most important settler when he bought 72 acres (291,000 m²) from the federal government for $90 and named his tract Grand Rapids. Over time, it developed as today's main downtown business district. [1] In the spring of 1833, Campau sold Joel Guild, who traveled from New York, a plot of land for $25.00, with Guild building the first frame structure in Grand Rapids, which is now where McKay Tower stands. [5] [7] Guild later became the postmaster, with mail at the time being delivered monthly from the Gull Lake, Michigan to Grand Rapids. [5] Grand Rapids in 1833 was only a few acres of land cleared on each side of the Grand River, with oak trees planted in light, sandy soil standing between what is now Lyon Street and Fulton Street. [5]

By 1834, the settlement had become more organized. Rev. Turner had established a school on the east side of the river, with children on the west side of the river being brought to school every morning by a Native American on a canoe who would shuttle them across the river. Multiple events happened at Guild's frame structure, including the first marriage in the city, one that involved his daughter Harriet Guild and Barney Burton, as well as the first town meeting that had nine voters. It was also this year Campau began constructing his own frame building—the largest at the time—near where present-day Rosa Parks Circle. [5]

In 1835, many settlers arrived in the area with the population growing to about 50 people, including its first doctor, Dr. Wilson, who was supplied with equipment from Campau. [5] Lucius Lyon, a Yankee Protestant who would later become a rival to Campau arrived in Grand Rapids who purchased the rest of the prime land and called his plot the Village of Kent. When Lyon and his partner N. O. Sergeant returned after their purchase, they arrived along with a posse of men carrying shovels and picks, with the goal of building a mill race. The posse arrived to the music of a bugle, startling the settlement with Chief Noonday offering Campau assistance to drive back Lyon's posse believing they were invaders. Also that year, Rev. Andrew Vizoisky, a Hungarian native educated in Catholic institutions in Austria, arrived, presiding over the Catholic mission in the area until his death in 1852. [5]

That year, Campau, Rix Robinson, Rev. Slater and the husband of Chief Noonday's daughter, Meccissininni, traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak about the purchase of Ottawa land on the west side of the river with President Andrew Jackson. [4] Jackson was originally unimpressed with Meccissininni, though Meccissininni, who often acquired white customs, asked Jackson for a similar suit to the one the president was wearing. While later wearing his suit that was made similar to Jackson's, Meccissininni also unknowingly imitated Jackson's hat, placing a piece of weed in it, which impressed Jackson since it symbolized mourning the death of his wife. [4]

John Ball, representing a group of New York land speculators, bypassed Detroit for a better deal in Grand Rapids traveling to the settlement in 1836. Ball declared the Grand River valley "the promised land, or at least the most promising one for my operations". [8] That year, the first steam boat was constructed on the Grand River named the Gov. Mason, though the ship wrecked two years later in Muskegon. [5] Yankee migrants (primarily English-speaking settlers) and others began migrating from New York and New England through the 1830s. Ancestors of these people included not only English colonists but people of mixed ethnic Dutch, Mohawk, French Canadian, and French Huguenot descent from the colonial period in New York. However, after 1837, the area saw poor times, with many of the French returning to their places of origin, with poverty hitting the area for the next few years. [5]

The first Grand Rapids newspaper, The Grand River Times, was printed on April 18, 1837, describing the village's attributes, stating: [5]

Though young in its improvements, the site of this village has long been known, and esteemed for its natural advantages. It was here that the Indian traders long since made their great depot.

The Grand River Times continued, saying the village had grown quickly from a few French families to about 1,200 residents, the Grand River was "one of the most important and delightful to be found in the country", and described the changing Native American culture in the area. [5]

The Latest Items

The city may be able to claim the world&rsquos oldest selfie. Take a look and let us know via our Contact Page if you've seen one that is older.

We've Moved the Furniture!

Take a tour of Furniture City History. Find out more about Grand Rapids. A lot more. Made possible through a generous grant by the Furniture Manufacturers&rsquo Heritage Advised Fund, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Furniture City History is a brand new Grand Rapids Historical Commission sister-site that will continue to evolve as a local history resource. Moving always creates surprises. We've tried our best to make a smooth transition, but if you spot missing links or other blunders please let us know via our Contact Page. the Furniture City History flag on the right.

Furniture City History

Click the Furniture City History flag at the left to visit our sister-site where Grand Rapids furniture history resides.

Father Morrow Collection

It is a pleasure to work with Father Dennis Morrow and to present some of the many historical pieces he has created. Don&rsquot miss the Historic Theater Listing, the History of Streets, and check on some of his other interesting items in Collections.

Rivers of Oil, episode 2: The largest inland spill

Rivers of Oil is a podcast produced by MPR News in 2018. It’s a look at how the pipelines beneath our feet, from Keystone XL to Dakota Access to Line 3, have come to the forefront of an epic tug of war between reliance and risk — and how we all have a role to play in this story.

Below is an excerpt from the podcast’s second episode, with begins at the site of the 1991 Grand Rapids oil spill. Listen to the full episode, and find related reading, here.

Harry Hutchins had grand hopes for a 16-acre patch of land near a community college in Grand Rapids, Minn.

It was the late 1980s, and Hutchins was a teacher at the school. He wanted to return the plot from farmland back to its natural wetland state. The idea was to use the marsh as a sort of living laboratory for his students.

It took two years of work, but Hutchins finally got approval to make the plot a wetland again.

Then, on March 3, 1991: A phone call. "A friend of mine, he called me up and said, 'Harry you won't believe this, but your wetland is filled with oil,'" Hutchins recalled this year.

A pipeline rupture had gushed 1.7 million gallons of crude oil across the landscape, filling Hutchins' wetland with the black mess.

"It just covered these aspen trees, because it went up 30, 40 feet," he recalled. "It was quite a geyser."

It remains the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

The pipe that ruptured was Enbridge Energy's Line 3, which carries crude oil across northern Minnesota. Today, Enbridge is building a new Line 3 along a different route across the state, and its plan is prompting vigorous debate — partly focused on the fear of spills.

Perspective is everything: The energy industry points out that nearly all the oil transported in pipelines reaches its destination safely. From the industry's point of view, 99.999 percent of the oil they transport is transported safely.

But that leaves the other .001 percent. And that's the percentage that people in areas where pipes have leaked care about.

This story isn't just about the risks of transporting huge amounts of oil through pipelines. It's also about the reward that oil provides. Because cheap, easy access to oil powers our society in ways we don't even think about. It's not just in our gas tanks — it's in the roads we drive on, our kids' plastic toys, our makeup.

In this episode of Rivers of Oil, we examine the fear of spills from oil pipelines, through the lens of the fight over Line 3, the plan that has the potential to be the next place where we see mass protests over pipelines.

As people who are fighting Line 3 like to point out, oil, and water — they don't mix. Listen to the full episode.

Food and Drink


Shelley’s Kitchen’s Western Burger Photo by Johnny Quirin

From the cool blue and tans on the wall to the classic faded diner stools, Shelley’s Kitchen is cozy and welcoming. Shelley’s has been loved by the Wyoming-area community for over 13 years. It has been said to be the city’s biggest hidden diner. In addition, Shelley’s may go down in history as having the world’s friendliest staff.

The kitchen serves homemade specials, desserts and soups. Known for its killer omelets and diverse atmosphere, stop by Shelley’s, 1140 Burton St. SW, and experience the small, homegrown diner for breakfast or lunch. Take-out orders also are welcome.

Cheshire Kitchen has a retro vibe. Photo by Michael Buck

Cheshire Kitchen, 2162 Plainfield Ave NE, is a multicuisine diner that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The kitchen makes mostly everything from scratch and has a wide variety of classic items and modern dishes. Every night, you can look forward to a dinner special.
This diner is celebrated for its stylish, ’50s style interior. From the black-and-white-checkered flooring to the classic red and white retro diner chairs, Cheshire takes you back to the time of glass Coke bottles and full swing dresses. Stop in and try its unique Monte Cristo Hot Dog and various milkshake options.

If you are craving a delicious malt, the Choo Choo Grill, 1209 Plainfield Ave. NE, is the place to go. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Malt paired with one of Choo Choo’s highly acclaimed burgers is a meal that will not disappoint. However, The Choo Choo Grill is more than just a diner it is historic to the Grand Rapids area. The building dates back to 1928 when it housed Shipman Coal Co. While the diner’s interior is small, it is well worth a visit.

Charlie’s Bar and Grille, 3519 Plainfield Ave. NE, is celebrating 24 years of business. Charlie’s opened in March 1996 as a family-owned business and has been the hangout spot for locals ever since. Famous for its homemade chicken pot pie, prime rib French dip, and corned beef and cabbage, Charlie’s is known for a good time. Whether that be live music, delicious beer or friendly people, this bar is always rocking.

Bud & Stanley’s Pub & Grub, 1701 4 Mile Road NE, opened on Dec. 8, 1999. Bud & Stanley’s is named after the previous owner’s two golden retrievers. This pub serves all sorts of dishes, including burgers, pasta and Mexican items. The best time to visit is from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. for the $5.75 lunch with various meal options, such as goulash and hot beef sandwiches.

Check out the daily specials and head in on Mondays for the $5.95 burger and beer. If entertainment is on your radar, visit on a Saturday night for karaoke and impress the audience with your skills.

Ethnic restaurants

Olga Benoit in the Chez Olga dining room. Photo by Michael Buck

Chez Olga, 1441 Wealthy St. SE, is an easily missed hot spot located along the Wealthy Street corridor due to its nontraditional façade. Though, once you know where it is, it stands out because it is housed in one of the most unique storefronts in the Eastown neighborhood.

Operated by Olga Benoit, Chez Olga serves Caribbean cuisine — particularly from Haiti, where Benoit was born. Benoit knows how to bring the heat. With a heat scale from 1 to 10, Chez Olga will set your mouth ablaze if you so desire.

It’s not just the flavors that will have you dreaming of a Caribbean escape the dining room of Chez Olga is brightly lit with a tropical mural spanning the restaurant, and easily transports diners to a more tropical environment — even if it’s only in their mind.

Benoit opened Chez Olga in Grand Rapids in 2010.

Looking for the best Indian food in town? Try Curry Leaf, 2222 44th St. SE, where you’ll find an extensive menu filled with popular Indian dishes. You’ll find a variety of uthappam (a thick pancake served with sambar and chutney), dosa (a crepe), paneers and more. You also can find many vegetarian options here.

Finger food takes on a whole new meaning at Go Jo Ethiopian Cuisine, 421 Norwood Ave. SE. All of the dishes are served with injera — an Ethiopian flatbread meant to be used in lieu of utensils. The menu at Go Jo is filled with different types of watt, stew-like dishes that can be heaped onto the injera. It also has vegetarian options.

This hands-on dining experience can be leveled up with the request for a traditional coffee ceremony. According to Go Jo’s website, “During the coffee ceremony, green coffee beans are roasted over a fire and then ground by hand. The beans are then placed in a traditional ceramic pot and boiled with water. Once the coffee is ready, it is poured into coffee cups that have been arranged on a wooden tray. The coffee beans may be boiled as many as three times. Often, the coffee ceremony includes the burning of incense during the process.”

You must call ahead to request the coffee ceremony, which will then be performed while you wait for your meal.

Family-owned Bosna Express, 128 28th St. SW, serves Bosnian cuisine in a comfortable atmosphere of dark woods and warm lighting. You can enjoy a gyro and a European beer while watching the game — the restaurant offers multiple TVs airing different sports games live.

The restaurant celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, too. Damir Duratovic opened the restaurant in 2000. He also co-owns Zivio Modern European Tavern and Grill, 724 Wealthy St. SE, with his sons, Dino and Denis Duratovic.


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History of Grand Rapids

was first settled over 2,000 years ago when the Hopewell Indians, known for their large burial mounds, occupied the Grand River Valley. About 300 years ago, the Ottawa Indians moved into the area and lived in several villages along the river. The Chippewa were just to the north and the Pottowattomie were just south. They made up a group called The People of the Three Fires. When the British and French arrived, the Ottawa traded fur pelts for European metal and textile goods.

One French trader named Louis Campau established a trading post here in 1826. Although he was not the first permanent settler (that distinction falls to a Baptist minister named Isaac McCoy who arrived in 1825), Campau became perhaps the most important settler when, in 1831, he bought what is now the entire downtown business district of Grand Rapids from the federal government for $90. Dutch and German immigrants followed soon after. Eastern and Southern Europeans came at the end of the 19th century.

When Grand Rapids was incorporated on April 2, 1850, it already had one furniture factory and several small private shops that created various furniture pieces. The Grand River was used to generate power for the factory and provide transportation for the logs from the hard and soft wood forests upstream. After an international exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, Grand Rapids became recognized worldwide as a leader in the production of fine furniture. Even today, Grand Rapids is considered the world leader in the production of office furniture.

Through the years, the residents of Grand Rapids have adapted to changing times with innovative solutions. When residents voted to abolish the old aldermanic system of city government in 1916, they replaced it with the Commission-Manager form of government that is still in place today. Another example came during the Great Depression when the City started a jobs program that preceded the federal employment effort. Grand Rapids once again led the nation in 1945 when it became the first city in the United States to add fluoride to its drinking water.

Grand Rapids Organizations Impacted by Lowest Refugee Cap in US History

&ldquoMy name is Moo Kler. I came as a refugee. I was born in Burma and moved to Thailand when I was little, maybe two or three years old. We fled from the government and had to move to a refugee camp we then became refugees. I lived in a refugee camp for about 16 years. In 2008, I applied in a U.S. refugee resettlement program. It took me almost two years to get approved, and in Nov. 10, 2009 I arrived in Michigan.&rdquo

Kler&rsquos story is among the many stories of people who, due to necessity, flee from their home countries seeking a new beginning where famine, war and political instability will no longer be part of their life. On March 17, The Refugee Act of 1980 was signed and this year, we celebrate its 40th anniversary.

Michigan has played a big part in the story of refugee resettlement. Over the past decade, it has been ranked fourth on the list of states that receive the highest number of refugees in the country. In addition, Michigan&rsquos population declined by 112,000 from 2006 to 2016. In that window, more than 35,000 refugees were resettled in Michigan, which helped mitigate the decline. Hundreds of those refugees have been resettled in Grand Rapids where, in 2017, along with the number of immigrants, consisted of about 10.5 percent of the total population (City of Grand Rapids).

Annually, refugees are estimated to contribute up to $295 million to Michigan economy. This is the result of the work of various local organizations, such as Bethany Christian Services, that have been key in providing direct services for incoming refugees.

&ldquoI came as a refugee and had a case worker from Bethany Christian Services," Kler recalls. &ldquoThey helped me in almost everything from setting up my apartment, to finding a job and getting my documents. I started working through Bethany Christian Services after a week. I started as an entrepreneur and six months later I got hired as a case aide.

Now my role in Bethany Christian Services is as an employment specialist we serve refugees for five years. In those five years, we help them find a job, help with transportation, documentation, interpreters, everything&hellip and then we follow up and keep contact.&rdquo

Yet, in 2019, the number of refugees allowed into the country fell to 30,000 &ndash the second lowest after 2002, when the ceiling number of refugees was 27,000, after 9/11. In 2020, this number has dropped to 18,000, beating the record. Now, a proposal for a new historic low has been announced for the fiscal year of 2021 the Trump administration intends to admit a maximum of 15,000 refugees to the United States.

In the past decade, Michigan has been the fourth largest location for refugee resettlement - called a &ldquoHaven&rdquo by the New York Times - with Grand Rapids being an important site. Due to the growing demand for refugee settlement services, different organizations dedicate themselves to providing assistance to newcomers seeking a new life. Now, the number of refugees being relocated to Grand Rapids has dropped, and organizations like Bethany Christian Services suffer from the turndown in numbers.

Despite the huge drop in numbers, Bethany Christian Services was expecting 70 arrivals this past March which is the biggest number they would ever have in the organization in a single month. Sadly, Bethany only had 27 new arrivals in March due to a temporary shutdown of refugee resettlement caused by COVID-19. This year, the organization has only resettled 140 refugees which is far lower than what they expected.

Stacey Vos, Supervisor of their Matching Grant Program, states, "It&rsquos not something we expected to continue but we were super excited because most of these refugees are rejoining their family members here in the United States. They are related to refugees that have already been resettled by Bethany Christian Services. It&rsquos really awesome to go to the airport and see them reconnect with their families. Moo Kler was doing that.&rdquo

Kler is wearing a black suit with a light button-down shirt, and loafer shoes with clean lines. He sits straight and opens a nostalgic child-like smile as he recalls new arrivals the organization had. &ldquoI meet them at the airport, take them to their apartment and show them their new place. We provide them with classes on the culture of the country and racial diversity as well as job trainings. We provide almost everything this is our job here.&rdquo

And yet, this year has hindered these services in more than one way.

This year&rsquos U.S. Annual Refugee Resettlement Ceiling has dropped in response to the surge of asylum seekers crossing the border from Mexico. In September of 2019, the White House imposed new caps on incoming refugees, as part of a full-court press to lock down borders and generally reduce the number of foreign nationals, authorized or not, living in the country. Adding to that, COVID-19 caused a temporary shutdown of refugee resettlement, resulting in a total number of less than 9,200 resettled refugees in the U.S. as of August 31, according to the Refugee Processing Center.

The number of refugees allowed into the United States has not been this low in over a decade: 18,000 which contrasts with at least 1.4 million refugees that, in 2019, were predicted to be in urgent need to be resettled in the year of 2020. The United States was first on the list of countries that receive refugees until 2019. For this reason, several local organizations dedicate themselves to providing refugee resettlement services and they receive funding from the government to do so.

Organizations like Bethany Christian Services are among the most affected by the decrease in numbers, as their funding is based on the number of people that are enrolled in their resettlement program.

&ldquoWhen our arrivals decrease, then our funding is also decreased," Vos explains. "So that&rsquos when we go out into the community and try to get support from them as well. Because even though our arrivals are slow, we are still supporting a huge number of clients and we serve them for up to five years. We still have an abundance of clients that still need our services.&rdquo

The refugee ceiling for the 2020 fiscal year was set to 18,000. This expired on Wednesday, October 1, when the Trump administration proposed a reduction of the refugee cap for the 2021 fiscal year to 15,000 which is the lowest in U.S. history.

This fluctuation in numbers does not cause a unilateral impact. The change in the presidential policy affects different parties, including employers. Many employers in Grand Rapids refer to Bethany Christian Services and want this number to be increased. &ldquoThey say that they cannot survive without refugees&rdquo, Kler stated. &ldquoRefugees are not picky because they need money and have to pay their bills. Many have kept their job for over 10 years now.&rdquo

According to the New American Economy, &ldquoRefugees earned more than $77 billion in household income and paid almost $21 billion in taxes in 2015&rdquo with a disposable income of $56 billion to contribute to the U.S. economy.

Both Vos and Kler have been working with the refugee resettlement program for 10 years. When asked how the program has impacted their lives, a series of words came to mind: Tenacity, inner strength, diversity, joy. &ldquoIf I&rsquom having a bad day, I come to work" said Vos. "The refugee experience is one of such tenacity. I don&rsquot think people actually realize how difficult it is to actually get into that process. My clients here are so motivated and have so much inner strength.&rdquo

Bethany Christian Services is also present in their Thanksgiving tables, where stories of refugees who have succeeded in their new lives echo in pride. &ldquoAfter one year, they buy a new car, after four or five years they buy a house" Kler said. "I know stories of people who have been in Michigan for less than seven years and have already paid out their mortgage.&rdquo

And yet, the future is uncertain. Things change year to year but they may change in a matter of days. On October 1, the State department announced a proposal that the refugee resettlement ceiling for the Fiscal Year of 2021 be set at 15,000. Chris Palusky, Bethany's President and CEO, responded to this proposal on a statement released on Bethany's website. Representing Bethany Christian Services, he advocates for "a refugee ceiling of at least 95,000" and emphasizes the need to prioritize families. In his words,"With the planned refugee allocations, we urge the Trump administration to prioritize family reunification. We have the ability to reunify families, protect people from persecution, and alleviate suffering for so many lives."

Bethany Christian Services is currently funded through the Office of Refugee Resettlement and that funding comes both through the state of Michigan and their affiliate, Churchwood Service. The State funding is based on the number of people that are assisted through their resettlement program. It decreases as the number of people decreases. The refugee resettlement program is on hold until the President, authorized by Congress, signs the Presidential Determination for the fiscal year of 2021. Bethany Christian Services also relies on private donors and the contribution of fundraising.

Given the diversity of their programs, their response to this new policy - in addition to advocating for higher refugee resettlement ceilings - is to support this fluctuation through their other programs. Their employment program, healing center for survivors of torture and trauma, and intensive medical case management program are examples of activities that balance the low arrivals.

Kler still has questions. &ldquoI don&rsquot know why they decreased the number of refugees. We came here as refugees to support the Constitution, to make America great again.&rdquo

Even with fewer people coming in, their work does not stop current clients still need their services.

They create a chain of support. As Kler points out, &ldquoThis is our job&rdquo.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.


The art of ballet has been loved for centuries, taking on various forms as the decades pass. What started as a dance for the nobles, ballet would eventually become an art for audiences all over the world to see and be entertained by. The history of ballet spans several centuries, so let’s take a look and see how ballet first began, its huge growth, and what it looks like today.

The Very Beginnings of Ballet

When you ask most people, “Where did ballet begin?” The usual reply is “France, of course.” However, that’s not entirely true. Ballet actually first began in the Italian Renaissance courts during the 1400s. It was first a type of dance, with its “classical” style and reserved and dignified approach, performed for noblemen and noblewomen at large celebrations, often times weddings.During its early years, ballet looks nothing like it does today. There were no tutus or pointe shoes yet, and the dancers would wear regular, fashionable clothing as a “costume.” The ballets were very similar to court dances, even encouraging audience members joining in toward the end.

Ballet Introduced to France

Sometime during the 1500s, an Italian noblewoman and patron of the arts by the name Catherine de Medici married King Henry II and arranged for ballet to be performed in the French court. This is when ballet really started to become recognized, so we all may have Catherine de Medici and her influence as a royal to thank! She would throw festivals, called ballet de cour, that became very popular and included not just ballet, but also costumes, song, music, and even poetry. Another huge leap for ballet was a century after it’s introduction to France, by King Louis XIV. Having grown up seeing ballet, King Louis XIV was a passionate dancer himself and is responsible for both popularizing and creating a standard form of ballet. This is why most people think ballet was created by the King of France, but as you’ve just read, ballet began in Italy and was standardized in France. Thanks to his passion for ballet, a technique and syllabus was formed which soon made ballet a dance that was performed by just about anyone to an art requiring disciplined training by professionals. When it comes to ballet, its hard to imagine it as a type of step done by amateurs at parties. Imagine the dances of today at clubs… this was ballet a one point. Thanks to an Italian noblewoman’s love for ballet, King Louis was able to grow up around ballet and pursue it himself, allowing him to later fund and popularize it into the technique and art that we see performed on stages today.

First Academy of Ballet

The very first academy of ballet was opened in 1661 in France, thanks to King Louis XIV, and was called the Académie Royale de Danse. Pierre Beauchamp, the king’s dance teacher, created the five basic positions of ballet for the feet and arms. If you’re taking or have seen a ballet, you’ll likely know these same positions are used today still and are the basis for many ballet’s more advanced steps. Beauchamp would later become the director of first academy of ballet in the world, a position held from 1680-1687.

Popularity of Ballet Growing in Europe

During the 1600s, the French Court was often seen as the most fashionable and trend-setting of all the European courts. This became very important for the expansion of ballet, because as the popularity of ballet grew in the French Courts, it trickled out to the courts in Germany, Spain, Portugal, Poland, and many others. The first professional ballet companies and troupes began forming and touring Europe to perform ballets for royalty and aristocratic audiences.

Ballet History in the 19th Century

The history of ballet gets very interesting during the 1800s due to significant change and growth from new ideas. The focus became mostly on the ballerina, even having females portray male roles. As the 19th century was a period of significant social change, the themes of new ballets changed too, moving away from the royal and aristocratic and into romantic ballets.

Pointe Shoes

Several ballerinas also began experimenting with dancing en pointe, bringing pointe shoes to ballet in the early 1820s. In 1832, La Sylphide was created to showcase Marie Taglioni’s talents dancing en pointe. This was significant because up until then, pointe shoes were seen as a type of ungraceful stunt. Taglioni’s performance proved that a ballerina could combine graceful arm movements while maintaining poise and masking the difficulty of pointe work. This undoubtedly brought a new sense of allure and excitement to ballet, fostering admiration for the obvious difficulty of dancing on your toes. The pointe shoe would soon become an icon of both graceful movement and technical skill.

The Classical Ballets

While both Italy and France were very important in ballet’s early years, it truly blossomed in Russia and Denmark during the mid to late 1800s. During this time, famous choreographers such as Marius Petipa, Enrico Cecchetti, August Bournonville, and Jules Perrot, were creating what would eventually be known as the great story classical ballets. Petipa, arguably the most famous of classical ballet choreographers, created La Bayadère (1877), The Sleeping Beauty (1890), the revival of Swan Lake (1895) and The Nutcracker (1892), among others.

The Tutu

Another icon of ballet today, the classical ballet tutu, was also created during the 19th century from the desire to highlight and bring more appreciation to a ballerina’s difficult leg and foot work. Much like today, the classical tutu looked like a short skirt, made to stick out by using layers of tulle and crinoline (a stiff fabric made originally to give volume for petticoats). Jules Perrot created Giselle alongside Jean Coralli, with the ballet’s premiere in Paris, France in 1841.

Ballet Companies

The idea for ballet companies in Europe also grew in popularity, with a new generation of dancers and teachers forming companies that are still performing today. These include the Vienna State Ballet, the National Theatre Ballet in Prague, the Kiev Ballet, and the Hungarian National Ballet. Collaboration between companies, operas and acting theatres was also very common, allowing composers and choreographers to create works with huge casts.

20th Century Ballet History

Ballet again saw great change in the 1900s, mostly with the advent of abstract and contemporary ballets. The 20th century is also credited with the spread of ballet into more countries, including the United States, which until then, had very little exposure.

Mexican Grand Rapids

Mexican Americans have been in Grand Rapids, MI since the mid-1920s, but there history in the city is not well known. This is an attempt to start digitally recording the historical presence of Mexican Americans in West Michigan. The slides that follow show some of the most common geographical and local places that Mexican Americans frequented in Grand Rapids the issues they faced when settling in Grand Rapids and highlight some of the city’s earliest Mexican American leaders. After a brief explanation of Mexican Americans’ racial positionality, the topics we cover include labor, migration, gender, class, policing, night life, and discrimination.

Students in History of Mexicans in the United States at Michigan State University compiled this data on the following pages under the guidance of Professor Delia Fernández. Some of the information in this project can be found in Dr. Fernández’s forthcoming book and publications:

“Rethinking the Urban and Rural Divide in Latino Labor, Recreation, and Activism in West Michigan, 1940s-1970s” Labor History 57, no 4. (2016): 482-503.

“Becoming Latino: Mexican and Puerto Rican Community Formation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1926-1964,” Michigan Historical Review 39, no.1 (2013): 71-100.

List of site sources >>>

Watch the video: Norton Indian Mounds, Grand Rapids, Michigan (January 2022).