Change Is Good

June 9, 2003
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Once every 100 years or so, some West Michigan organizations decide to really go out on a limb and embrace change.

Such is the case with the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. The venerable Y opted recently to make a change to Articles of Incorporation, which were adopted on Aug. 21, 1899.

In addition to inserting “Greater” into the formal title of the organization, which is now The Young Men’s Christian Association of Greater Grand Rapids, the board also agreed to make a change in the length of service for board members.

No longer will “term limits” of three, three-year stretches prevail in this conservative society. Now, it’s service for life if everyone so chooses.

So let’s welcome new board chair JimWilliams, of Williams Kitchen and Bath, to the best position he won’t have to give up for another century or so.

  • There are spin doctors, and then there are those who are comfortable operating in twister conditions.

Take the case of the new Barnes & Thornburg law offices coming to Grand Rapids.

The PR-meisters would have us believe that a huge firm is coming to Grand Rapids, touting it as the “largest law firm with an office in Grand Rapids.”

And, while that may be technically true, it must be remembered that one floor in the Campau Square Plaza Building does not rival what Warner Norcross and Judd and Varnum Riddering Schmidt and Howlett have done in — and for — West Michigan.

So while the law community should welcome Tracy T. Larsen and Kimberly L. Thomas as Barnes & Thornburg’s new partner and associate, respectively, in Grand Rapids, the PR machine might want to tone it down a notch or two. Yes, Barnes & Thornburg has more than 350 attorneys, but 348 of them are elsewhere in the Midwest.

  • Kent County’s decision to stay put on Calder Plaza will force Gallium Group to look at its downtown hotel concept in a different light. While the developers say they are taking the decision in stride and still hoping to convince the city to move, such a plan would create a curious “neighborhood.”

Let’s say the city accepts an offer to have a new City Hall built and moves off Calder Plaza. If that happens, according to Kent County Administrator DarylDelabbio, the county would still stay where it is.

“The city can do whatever it wants,” added Kent Commissioner RogerMorgan. “What’s best for the county is to stay here.”

So if the hotel went up on the City Hall site and, basically, abutted the county administration building, would JackBuchanan and friends install the “Delabbio Suite?”

You know, it would be the suite where a hotel guest could open a window and look right in on Daryl opening his mail, drinking his coffee, making phone calls … and generally just working.

Maybe it could be billed as a “reality experience” in Grand Rapids and the developers could charge more for the accommodations.

  • For businesses dealing with the headache of road construction right outside their front door, let it be known that city commissioners feel your pain.

“I know it’s really tough for businesses to have to deal with road improvement projects, but believe me, they’re necessary,” First Ward Commissioner JamesJendrasiak told members the city’s 20 business districts gathered last week for the Neighborhood Business Alliance’s annual meeting. “You’re going to struggle, but look at the big picture and what it will do in the long run. We as a city are committed to working with business districts to try to alleviate that pain during this period of growth.”

  • One item in our Focus section this week notes that a lot of people in the local health care industry are entering a time of personal struggle. Their employers — Grand Rapids’ acute care hospitals — have announced, “No smoking on hospital property. Not anywhere! Period!”

Now, being hospitals, these big corporations feel compassion for what the edict means to smokers. They’re going to help: classes, nicotine gum, replacement therapy, shared tears and laughter and who knows what else? Nonetheless, kicking the habit is no breeze. The older generation in the journalism business knows all about that. Many who entered this trade in the ’60s and ’70s find it necessary every 30 or 40 minutes to go out to the sidewalk to light up — and return to the office smelling like your basic ashtray.

Assistant Managing Editor ScottPayne says he can sympathize, having smoked for two decades while quitting endless times. Among those many attempts was the time of Nicoban — a chocolate-like tablet with an acrid aftertaste that was supposed to make smoking intolerable. One could insert a Nicoban twixt cheek and gum and then forgetfully smoke three or four Winstons with no discernable unpleasantness.

One thing’s clear: the day of smoke-filled medical society lectures and dinner-meetings is dead and gone. The new generation of doctors doesn’t smoke and has gone wayyyyy beyond politely admonishing patients to quit. But one long-time smoker who succeeded in doing just that offers assurances that it is possible to quit. Smoking withdrawal happens in distinct stages.

— First you’re afraid you’ll die if you don’t have a cigarette.

— Then you’re terrified that you won’t die.

— Then, after roughly two weeks, comes the happy discovery that the craving is gone. Poof! All that remains is a residual, easily resisted impulse pick up a cigarette.

Coming with this are some wild adjustments in the sinuses and the nose as they rediscover the thrill of clean air.

And then comes the “Intolerable Stage” when the smell of smoke becomes utterly repulsive and one starts pedantically lecturing others about how easy it is to quit.

Well, it isn’t easy.

But it’s certainly worth it in terms of financial savings … and the longevity in which to enjoy those savings.

  • Uh, did Cher forget she’s already been here for her farewell tour? This thing is lasting longer than a televised Academy Awards presentation.           

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