Muskegon residents work to "give a damn" | News
MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) - Muskegon residents met Tuesday to discuss ways to improve some of the city's problems and its struggling image. This was the first of what will be several "Give a Damn" meetings. It's the community's way to rally and let it be known they are committed to making Muskegon safer and better.
"I moved downtown three years ago and I've worked in the city for over 14 years. But, living downtown and working downtown opened my eyes to some of the issues we face down here and tonight is just a way for all of us who do give a damn to come down here and bring up the issues and start trying to find some solutions," said Chris Drake.
Kellen Reid, a Muskegon resident said "we are being dissembled at an amazing and alarming rate. Our local school buildings are being closed. The Heights is nationally known for the struggle it is facing with the emergency manger and the struggle with its education system. Our educational system has been dissembled with the loss of those local facilities. We have lost our social hubs where we used to have a lot of services for our children and a lot of our needs met. That was where we came together as a community. Without that we are incredibly fragmented at this time."
Residents and business owners hope the grassroots effort will address issues such as crime, blight, drugs and poverty that have plagued the city for many years. Several dozen people turned out for the brain storming session. They say they are convinced if things are going to improve it has to begin with those who have the biggest investment in the city.
"It is going to be at a grass roots level like this. It is not going to be from an organization or anyone else it is going to take the people who actually live downtown to make that happen," said Drake.
Resident, Debra Griffin says "when you are not engaged or involved you have other people come up with an agenda for you. They speak for you and people have the ability to say you don't care. So in order for that to change then people from the grassroots up have to get involved in every aspect of the community. We can go back and forth about the problems but the issue has to be that until people come out and start engaging and feeling empowered then we can make a change in the communities, at the city government side and everywhere."
This movement is born out of the "Love Muskegon" campaign. Those in attendance say in addition to working on the city's social and governmental issues, they plan to tackle ways to promote business development.