GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Revitalizing the Grand River continues to be a major project in Grand Rapids. Before any more progress is made, community partners want to lay down the foundation when it comes to equity.

Black Voices at the River will join with Grand River Voices, Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc., Urban League of West Michigan and other partners to present the Grand River Equity Framework on Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

It will ensure that future programs, policies and plans related to the project include a variety of voices.

“We invite all and would like for people to come see the vision, see what’s missing, share your voice, share your ideas,” Synia Gant-Jordan, organizer of Black Voices at the River, said.

City and county leaders will attend and facilitate conversations with the community while the equity framework is being shared. Residents can also give feedback and concerns. Consultants will also be there to answer any questions.

Rockford Construction and Owen Ames Kimball Company will offer trade education for anyone looking to learn a new skill, become certified or learn about possible opportunities with the project.

Grand Rapids Community Project will also be on-site leading workforce development and Urban League of West Michigan will guide sessions about community development.

“Let’s work together on how do we build this equity and inclusion piece that everybody uses so loosely in the city at every level and how do we build unity together,” Gant-Jordan said.

Black Voices at the River was created to make sure Black residents weren’t left out of the revitalization project planning process and implementation.

Gant-Jordan is a long-time Grand Rapids resident whose family history in the city precedes her existence. She’s a business owner and serves on the Grand River Voices Stakeholder Advisory Board with other 14 people.

The board was created by Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. to collect community input that will guide the revitalization project which will restore the rapids to the river and make the river the center of a revitalized downtown including trails, parks and developments.

“We are a very crafty people so what do those opportunities look like young and old,” Gant-Jordan said. “It’s very important we insert ourselves.”

Becoming immersed in decisions that impact the community was something Gant-Jordan was taught by her mother and grandmother.

While serving with other members on the advisory board, she noticed there wasn’t much diversity included in the project which now spans more than a decade.

“Through that effort, I pointed out that the Black voices haven’t been engaged in what they would like to see, how they would like to be involved and what needs to happen in the Black community,” she said. “I know our people are taxpayers, very well engaged and for us to be omitted out of this process was a problem for me.”

Black Voices at the River held a meeting last fall to get residents more involved. The group planned for 60 people but more than 130 people attended. She hopes for even greater attendance at Wednesday’s event so that the revitalization project can become more inclusive and beneficial for all people.

“How do they get involved and be able to make a generational transition to create a legacy on the river, job opportunities and ownership,” Gant-Jordan said.

You can register for the free event here. Food will be provided.