quality of life in Grand Rapids? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 06-21-2009, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all,
My family and I are considering relocating to Grand Rapids from the Chicago area. We're just getting started with our research and two big questions I have are 1) How are the public elementary, middle and high schools? Could anyone make recommendations about really good ones? 2) Is the general flavor of the area friendly to natural living-types? Can you find organic produce? veggie restaurants? environmental activism? etc..

Thanks in advance! I really appreciate any and all input.
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#2 of 9 Old 06-22-2009, 09:01 AM
 
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1) Last I knew GRPS had a theme school program, when we were there my girls attended a free public montessori school that was great. There were many other cool theme schools as well. Most of the kids my dds were in school with are now at City middle/hs, which I'm pretty sure is merit based. I know the district has undergone some changes recently with dropping enrollment. The general administration on franklin was where we started

2) I would say the most green-friendly areas would be downtown and eastown, both have great little pocket neighborhoods. I've lived downtown, NE side by the farmer's market and the outer NW side. Many areas have great neighborhood associations too. There are organized CSAs and last I knew there is a great veg restaurant (I think ?Gia?) in East Hills
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#3 of 9 Old 06-22-2009, 02:56 PM
 
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I live right outside of Grand Rapids...Wyoming, MI...but I have lived in GR for a while too. GR is very hit or miss IMO. Some of the schools are good and others are horrible. I pulled my DS from that montessori school in GR that the PP is talking about. I took my kiddos to one of the many excellent charter schools in the area. (now we attend public school, but it isn't part of the GRPS)

Eastown and Easthills are the funky, natural, hippie neighborhoods. There is a natural baby store, coffee shop, art shops, great park, veggie cuisine etc. You will run into a lot of babywearers and cloth diapered babies at Wilcox park. Even though I live 15 minutes away from Eastown, I go there regularly because I love it. It's also close to the fulton street farmers market which has a lot of organic produce. The down side is that this wonderful neighborhood is on the border with sketchy neighborhoods....neighborhoods that I wouldn't walk through after dark.
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#4 of 9 Old 06-22-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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I thought I'd add this too

Things I love about GR:
Fredrick Meijer gardens- get an annual pass and go all the time
The public museum
The library system is fantastic!
The park system is great
Millennium Park (this one is worth mentioning all by itself)
Downtown festivals and music
Farmers markets
The fish ladder
Pocket neighborhood flair
The fact that it is big, but small at the same time - It has everything you need, but isn't huge like Chicago
The fact that you can be in the middle of GR and drive for less than 10 minutes in any direction and hit farmland!
Berry picking at a farm less than 10 minutes away
Family owned farms and organic produce less than 10 minutes away
In the fall - going to one of the many many pumpkin and or apple farms for a hayride and a carmel apple
In the winter - Iceskating downtown at Rosa Parks circle for free, sledding at almost any park in GR
If you are into sports - Griffins games and Whitecaps games
The Blandford Nature center, Mixed Greens organization
hiking trails
Lake Michigan beaches
This is a link to that natural baby store in Easthills. They also have links for local natural groups http://www.hopscotchstore.com/




I have lived in many many places in the US (military brat) and GR is really starting to grow on me....other than the snow. I hate snow!
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#5 of 9 Old 06-22-2009, 06:21 PM
 
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#6 of 9 Old 06-22-2009, 09:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all the input!
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#7 of 9 Old 06-23-2009, 04:17 PM
 
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We drive our kids from a suburb INTO grand rapids to go to one of the GRPS Montessori schools. Here is info about the school ds goes to. It's the smaller Montessori school. We would like to sell our house and move into the city to be closer to school.

http://www.northparkschools.org/

There are also a lot of public charter school options. Plus, Michigan has school of choice, where you can send your kids to a district you don't live in (if they have openings and your child makes the lottery). There are private Christain and religious schools of every variety and flavor. There is a pretty active homeschooling community.

And we have a very large and active natural parenting group/community, the link to our website was helpfully supplied by a pp. There's also a Michigan Natural Parenting forum with a lot of active GR members. We have formal meetings, but also playgroups, meet-ups, family picnics/barbecues, and many moms-night-out (nursing babies always included, of course).

There are a lot of buying clubs, CSAs, farmers' markets, etc. We belong to a CSA and also are part of the West Michigan On-line Co-Op. I love ordering my locally-raised groceries online and then just picking them up.

http://www.westmichigancoop.com/

A pp mentioned sports. We also have a professional Ballet Company, a professional Symphony Orchestra, and several different Theaters in the area. Grand Rapids is a pretty city, full of ravines and trees.

There are local parks with beaches (lakes). Many GR city parks have pools or splash pads (sprinkler parks). Lake Michigan is only 45 minutes away for a day at the beach.

It's a nice place to live.

Melissa crochetsmilie.gif, wife to Tom geek.gif, mom to The Baron modifiedartist.gif, the Bean superhero.gif, Little Bear diaper.gif, and Baby Beaver babyboy.gif
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#8 of 9 Old 06-25-2009, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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honeybee - Thanks for your reply. Would you be open to answering a few questions about GR if I PM you?
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#9 of 9 Old 06-27-2009, 08:30 PM
 
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HB, thanks for linking, it was so great to watch the video and see Jen & Ms Kathy and the kids on the hill <3 we miss them a lot.
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