A dying city? We think not

I’m late to this party, and many of you may already have seen it, but for those of you who didn’t…

In January of this year, Newsweek included Grand Rapids, Michigan on its list of “America’s Dying Cities.” In an economy where such a high-profile knockdown can result in real world losses of employment opportunity and civic vitality (what company wants to move or expand to a “dying city”?), this was a potentially devastating assessment. Many cities faced with such a slam would respond with statements from politicians, letters to the publication, press releases from the chamber of commerce, and other fairly ineffective countermeasures.

Not Grand Rapids. They made a video. Specifically, a lip dub which almost immediately went viral. NPR reported:

…Even for a large-scale lip dub, Grand Rapids, working with a live version of Don McLean’s “American Pie,” went all out, with thousands of people involved…There’s a procession of fire trucks and police cars. People wave handkerchiefs from balconies. There’s a pillow fight and a concert; there’s a wedding and a couple gently grinning from the back of a pickup. There are news vans. There are too many guitars to count. There’s a ukulele. There are cheerleaders and football players and a mascot, and yes, at the words “marching band,” you can probably guess what happens.

It’s an entire city turning out to refute the opinion of a national magazine, in the most joyous and vivid manner possible. Grand Rapids a dying city? Anyone who watches this video won’t believe that assessment. It looks like a vibrant place to me.

The best part — and to my geeky self, the most amazing part — is that this entire nine-minute video was done in one continuous shot. Yes, even the footage from the helicopter.

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About oregon expat

Socialist heathen and Mac-using writer who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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9 Responses to A dying city? We think not

  1. Inge says:

    Interesting.. dying cities? a list of them?? I’m amazed.. Most cities today are build on remains of the previous settlements. Even though countries and powers came, conquered and went again, cities kind of remained. Natural selection by way of disasters have a much louder voice in which cities remained. So i’m pretty amazed that centuries of natural evolution is being swept aside by a list of dying cities.

    Do they actually mean economically less well or so? But not actually dying? Or..?

    • oregon expat says:

      The Newsweek link takes you to an explanation of their criteria, which was cities with the greatest loss of overall population, and the greatest loss of the under-18 demographic.

      This is America. Economics and demographics come before history. (Especially since, in many places, there just isn’t that much history!)

      • Inge says:

        All rightie.. then how did whomever decide to put a city somewhere? Just pure luck? (sounding incredulous)

        I mean history plays a part because it selected places where there was water (drinking) and preferably just one day’s walk away from the next city (at least in europe). Hence the selection of settlements and why they survived throughout wars, economical downfall and such.

        I still can’t wrap my head around a city that dies.. -shakes head-

  2. meiadeleite says:

    this is beautiful, almost brought tears to my eyes :)

  3. Alma says:

    That was just amazing! I kept thinking about the choreographing/timing that obviously went onto all those individual appearances, and wondering on what the constantly rolling camera was mounted. Wow. What a brilliant initiative, and so well carried out!

    At the end of your sentence about what other cities might respond with, I expected you to write something like “and other fairly boring countermeasures”. In this case, boring would most definitely also have been more ineffective…

  4. MJ Valente says:

    Amazing video and attitude. And — I would be SO pissed with Newsweek comment on how they actually do not endorse the “America’s Dying Cities” list that was published… in their own magazine!

    Good quality journalist, indeed. (Now… they could redeem themselves by writing a real thing about Grand Rapids.)

  5. Astrid says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing videos. I have to confess that I had tears in my eyes. What an amazing idea and what great people.

  6. CathyW says:

    this was brilliant, vibrant, and good fun. What’s more I knew all the words!

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