Artwork highlights a People’s History in Grand Rapids – Print #15: Honoring the First Earth Day Action in Grand Rapids

Last semester, art students in Brett Colley’s GVSU class on printmaking, invited me to come talk about the Grand Rapids People’s History Project. The intent of the class was to have students investigate their own part of a People’s History of Grand Rapids and then make a print based upon an individual social movement or a particular moment in Grand Rapids history.

This print is by Joey Parks and depicts an action taken by students in Grand Rapids in 1970, during the first Earth Day

Students, from the then Grand Rapids Junior College:

“chose to protest at a meat factory, because of the pollution the business was emitting as a result of how the company cured the meat. The factory had been the target of complaints from neighbors for years because of the pollution.

The owner of the business was cited as saying that he was in the process of addressing the air pollution, but didn’t know what kind of timetable there would be to address the issue.”

Like most of the early Earth Day protests across the country, this student action chose to focus on the perpetrators of pollution, cruelty and ecological destruction.

 

 

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