Every other Wednesday from 8:00am – 10:00am, the “River Project Team” meets for a checkup on the whitewater project. This talented and committed group of people include folks from the City, Grand Rapids Whitewater, McAlvey Merchant & Associates, and Grand Valley Metro Council. Jay Steffen (and in his absence Juan Torres) capably facilitates the group’s discussion of all facets of the project. The notion is to assure that everyone has current information as they go about performing their distinctive role within the project.
The whole group attempts to keep an eye on equity issues as we contemplate this transformational project. Equity is important in this project, in contracting and construction as well as in the need to make the resulting amenities welcoming to all. Further, there is a sense that Grand Rapids is turning a corner and must consider equity issues in all things, especially efforts like whitewater that will help define Grand Rapids of the future.
But the eye on equity is not just left to the group conscience, it is embodied in the presence of Ciarra C. Adkins. Ciarra, who is an Equity Analyst for the City of Grand Rapids, is an integral part of the RPT. While focused on assuring that there is a voice for equity in the project, Ciarra participates in every discussion, whether it is river engineering design, legal strategy, communications approach, or any of the myriad other issues the group contemplates. Her presence and contributions are effective and positive. She helps make the meetings productive, enriching, and inspiring.
Her talents have not been unnoticed by the community. Recently, the Grand Rapids Chamber awarded the 2022 ATHENA Young Professional Award Recipient to CIARRA C. ADKINS, JD. They said, “As Founder & President of AQUME Foundation, Ciarra C. Adkins is a change agent working to effect equitable systems transformation in West Michigan. Ciarra is committed to racial justice, economic equity, inclusive higher education, civic engagement and voting rights, and legal accessibility for low-income communities. Ciarra strives to live by the quote from Angela Davis: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Congratulations to Ciarra!