|Michigan's Young People: To Stay or Not to Stay?|
Michigan Radio has launched a project called Generation Y Michigan, exploring the reasons young people decide to leave or stay in the state.
Most recently in the series, reporter Lauren Silverman, a University of Michigan student, talked to several young people who were "pledging allegiance" to the state, rather than high-tailing it for the coasts after graduating.
Among the reasons cited for staying is that the state is fertile ground for emerging industries, such as renewable energy. Plus, troubled cities such as Detroit are hotbeds for grassroots activism. Also, low rent.
The flip side, obviously, is that a lot of young people are leaving. A previous entry in the series explored why (employment, perception) and another focused on the "brain drain."
Even though things aren't quite as bad on this side of the state, the question of whether to stay is a big one for young people in Grand Rapids.
Prompted by a discussion about the pledge-allegiance story on his Facebook page, George Wietor and fellow Grand Rapidian Kevin Buist formed a group called Michigan by Choice.
Its description: "Michigan by Choice is a group for people who could have fled to the coasts in search of cool jobs and hip scenes, but instead decided to stay in the mitten. Not enough tech jobs? Start a company. Not a cool enough music scene? Start a band. Not enough art? Start making it."
Wietor, a cofounder of the Division Avenue Arts Collective who works as a new media developer for the Grand Rapids Community Media Center, linked to a project launched by another DAAC cofounder, Ben Schaafsma, who conducted surveys with young people who had left Grand Rapids.
Schaafsma, who died a little more than a year ago, collected responses in 2005 and 2006 from dozens of ex-Grand Rapidians about their reasons for leaving, their fondest Grand Rapids memories and hangouts and whether they would consider returning.
The situation in Michigan has worsened in the years since, so the questions are increasingly relevant. Any expatriates out there want to share why they left? Any Michigan pledge-of-allegiance takers care to explain why they're staying?
E-mail Troy Reimink: firstname.lastname@example.org