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  • Great Lakes Urban

Riding For Change

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

The Restoring Our Cities (ROC) bike ride happened on a hot day in August, but what a great day it was! Eleven brave souls came out to ride in 90-degree temperatures to raise funds for Great Lakes Urban.

Susan Van Bronkhorst rode 17 miles that day. Susan is a board member for Godfrey Lee Listeners, a group of concerned neighbors living in the Godfrey-Lee community. This group meets regularly and was brought together to learn what can be done to improve the neighborhood they all live in and love and what assets this neighborhood has to assist in this mission.

Susan has lived in the Godfrey-Lee neighborhood a long time, long before her neighborhood group was organized. She graduated in 1978 from Kuyper College, then known as Reformed Bible College, where she met her husband, Steve. They became missionaries and served in the 1980s in Mexico, and moved back to Michigan in the 90s. In 2003, they did another stint in the mission field in Latin America, this time in Ecuador. They have been living in the Godfrey-Lee neighborhood since 2004.

She believes that the asset-based system of neighborhood improvement, the ABCD method, is a sensible one. Why wouldn’t you determine what the assets are in a community and use those people with their particular talents to improve the places they live? Being bilingual has helped immensely living in a neighborhood with many Spanish speakers. Susan has taught ESL and citizenship classes for her neighbors.

Susan has what she calls a “blurry” dream that in her mixed neighborhood, with all its socioeconomic, cultural and language differences, she and her neighbors will continue to celebrate those differences; lift up the Hispanic businesses in the area, do more to celebrate Hispanic festivals and their heritage. Maybe even create a Little Mexico right there in their own backyard. Using her connection to Great Lakes Urban through Godfrey Lee Listeners and their Community Connector, Doris, this dream can become a reality for Susan and others in her neighborhood.

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