For every good thing that comes out of Muskegon on the news, you can bet your last dollar that there are 5 bad things waiting to come out. We've made it very clear by our name that "We Have a New Story To Tell" and while perfection for any corner of the county is simply a myth, there are parts of our area that are just never endingly slammed with nothing but finger pointing, questions and the same old thought that "nothing is ever going to change." Like anything else, bad news seems to travel further and faster and while it rapidly "goes viral".... the people in those neighborhoods stand in dismay time and time again at how they are portrayed. It's unfair. It's inaccurate and it's the imaginary lines that we make up in our heads that keep us a part. Simply from an editorial view point, I am worn out from it. I am sick to death of speaking in schools and asking kids when they hear something about "Muskegon" on the news, what is it?" The answer without fail for over 15 years is "Someone got killed". I am genuinely tired of it. No matter the area of town, we're one in the minds eye of the rest of the world and with all due respect to our neighborhoods and municipalities in this county, we stand or fall together as one.
Is there an overnight fix? Is there one "right way"? Is there magic pixie dust that can be sprinkled around to make generations of what we've been through change? Nope, but there are those who don't stop. There are those who see and hear the problems on a deeper level and they are able to articulate them in a way that can bring people together, make needs known to those in power and they can help build confidence in a community by simply being there for them when it comes to matters of feeling that they have been minimized or are no longer being listened to. Marquis Childers Jr. is one of those incredible ambassadors for Muskegon Heights and the City of Muskegon when it comes to sharing the message of where the kinks are in the way things are being done and what is needed to help facilitate the change that is needed to see all that is talked about in any community start to take root and move ahead.
Muskegon Heights Strong is an initiative Marquis is working on to bring together the City of Friendly People, block by block, neighborhood association by neighborhood association and person by person so that all the voices can be heard together. The needs and desires are really not much different than elsewhere. The feeling of being heard and not discounted, ways to explain what is needed beyond the next handout and how people can become more involved in the future of what their community holds for them. In our video you'll have a chance to listen to below, Marquis brings up "more affordable housing" and replies "well, how about a job where I don't need subsidized housing, I'd like a piece of the dream too." Is that too much to ask? Before you begin to think it's a race issue, that's the last thing on either of our minds...it's a human issue and until someone sees what they can accomplish if given the chance, they won't be able to see their miracle happen. It takes tools, skills, willingness to grow and yes, some risk. There are far too many people out there working 2 or 3 jobs to try and make ends meet and poverty is the major culprit here. Helping lift all of our area up is a key to the future and Marquis is doing that by bringing people together to find what they need to begin.
This isn't all just off the cuff either. Marquis has been part of the Livability Lab that's been going on in Muskegon County for a few years now and research, data and good old fashion door to door asking of people what will make the difference here has all been factored in. It's an ongoing process and it's a way for everyone to get a better understanding of feelings everywhere. Where some healing needs to happen and where things that are working may be able to help. It's a large community effort called the Muskegon Heights Neighborhood Association Council. Take a listen to Marquis and I talking in the beautiful Johnny O'Harris Park in Muskegon Heights.
Home ownership. A voice in the decisions and future of the neighborhood. Dignity and respect. A chance to leave a better future for the next generation. They are the fundamentals of any area. We've been here in the past sharing the story of the Liveability Lab in the past, and it's pretty clear to see that the future is bright with minds like that of Marquis in the mix to help protect the heritage of "The Heights" while the new standard is worked toward. It might all sound like just lip service, but I have truly grown to want to be part of the good and the future of this great community and no matter where life takes me, I will always remember the people of Muskegon Heights and how they won't just give up. I may have grown up 30 miles away in a small town, but I am very fortunate to have been given some Tiger Blood by those who I have met along the way and I think with people like Marquis now stepping in to the roles of the communities future, things have never looked better. We're in good hands, listen. To learn more about the Muskegon Heights Neighborhood Association Council, click on their logo below.