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for it planted here and there all over the city seeds which now are sprouting, which we who came later are cultivating with the prospect of making them spread into an abundant harvest.

I mention this because there is in all of us a tendency to ignore the painful and apparently fruitless, but absolutely necessary, preliminary work when at last large results begin to appear.

About two years ago we struck the combination which now is giving results. Only this fall, yes only within these past few

days, have we seen the effects of our work beEffects Begin

so evident that we appear before you to Show

to-day confident that our method is right, that the future of our city is safe. There probably will be setbacks, human progress has never been without them, but we have reason for faith that barring some unforeseen and uncalculable disaster we are on the way to making of Grand Rapids a true and an efficient democracy, one in the operation of which nearly every citizen will take a live, constructive, far-seeing interest. We have taken our citizens and our officials as we found them, we began our work at a time when reformers were discredited and disliked as mere faultfinders, however worthy their motives; when our people had indeed freed themselves in large measure from thralldom to national parties in their municipal elections but when they still thought of the city in terms of politics and when, consequently, they were, as it seemed, incurably pessimistic of any good thing being done by the city as a city. This, may I say parenthetically, seems to be an unfortunate effect of the work of the old-fashioned reformer who sought to accomplish good by devoting his energies to exposing evil.

But to begin on the story. Grand Rapids has long been, from the point of view of the party machine politician, a stiff-necked

community. It has paid the penalty by being A Stiff-Necked

passed over when there were plums in the shape Community

of state institutions to be distributed. But such penalties may be well afforded when in the opposite scale are thrown the rewards of independence. When men are needed the party turns to us. Among our citizens are a United States senator and an ambassador, while the congressman of the district has opened an office within our boundaries in order that he may come within the charmed circle of our fellowship. These are tacit acknowledgments of the leadership which Grand Rapids has now in the state. For years the city led the direct primary fight. The first victory was won when the legislature enacted a law giving only to us the privilege of choosing candidates by direct vote. So successful was this measure that the law has recently been made state-wide. Then we began to demand a

a non-partisan direct primary. This, of course, was met with bitter opposition at Lansing, and not only was the demand refused but through “a clerical error"

a clerical error" our old primary law was so changed as to become inoperative. So for a season we were thrown back on the old caucus method of choosing candidates. This seeming set-back had one great advantage. During the time the direct primary law was in operation its opponents had denounced it as not having brought forward so good a class of candidates as had the old caucus system. That it brought out the voters and made them take a part in selecting office-holders such as they had never done before was too patent for argument. When, therefore, the caucus was unexpectedly restored much interest was shown as to the men who would be nominated for office. The advocates of the caucus were put on their mettle. And as a result they renominated for the principal offices the very men who had been nominated under the direct primary the time before. So that point was settled. Even when trying to make a record the caucus could not improve on the work of the direct primary.

But before all this, in 1904-5, we had secured through a fortunate combination of circumstances, a non-partisan mayor. Nominated by the Democrats after a bitter factional wrangle

that cost him the support of a considerable secA Non-Partisan Mayor

tion of his party, he was elected largely by

Republican votes. Taking this as a mandate to disregard party lines, he tried to guide himself by only one consideration, the good of the city. To that administration we look back as to the beginning of most of what is encouraging in our government. Then was started the great work of flood protection, two concrete walls four miles long beside the river which divides the city, a new charter which abolished many unnecessary

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offices, began the work of consolidating power and responsibility, established the principle of choosing administrative officers regardless of politics and retaining them so long as they show ability and industry, and a remodeled school board. Before the school board had been an unwieldy, patronage-bestowing body of twenty-four men elected by wards. Now it is a compact publicspirited body of nine men elected at large.

All these changes were born of much discussion, for the nonpartisan mayor was one who talked in public instead of in the seclusion of his private office. The charter as finally adopted was far from perfect, this was the beginning of such public discussion of big matters and some of the suggestions coming in late were incorporated hurriedly. But this charter was a great improvement on the old. And more important still, the discussions which it started have continued until to-day the mass of people in Grand Rapids know fairly well what they want in the way of government.

It was as a result of all this discussion that the Municipal Affairs Committee of the Board of Trade found its work. We

were at that time still of the belief that a good The Municipal system of government should work itself withAffairs Com

out more than sporadic help from the people. mittee Finds Its Work

But a few men saw the fallacy of this belief.

The Board of Trade had taken considerable interest in the framing of the new charter and after that instrument was finally completed its Municipal Affairs Committee took upon itself the task of continuing to work for the city. In this committee was gathered a considerable part of that small group of militant citizens above referred to. Outside of their organization were many associations designed to secure better government by selecting candidates for office, by bringing pressure to bear upon candidates already selected or by uncovering the misdeeds of officials. There is no need of reciting their names for every city contains similar associations. The Municipal Affairs Committee therefore set itself a different task, that of securing betterment by calling attention to measures rather than men. It began along lines familiar to all of you, the abatement of the smoke and bill-board nuisances, an Arbor Day distribution of trees and plants. Then it conceived the audacious project of putting before the people a city plan, a scheme showing the city's possibilities and indicating the way it should develop. The committee's purpose was to put before the people a vision of their city as it may be, trusting that once that vision had penetrated into their consciousness they would select as their representatives men capable of making the vision real. That was about three years ago.

Since then the history of the city plan has been the history of Grand Rapids.

Of course, so sweeping a statement as this needs explanation. During those three years many things not only important in them

selves, but significant of the future, have taken City Plan

place. The new school board has proved itself Report

worthy of the people's confidence by making a transformation in our system of education. The Public Library has grown into an institution which through its branches and depots and its free lectures reaches every neighborhood, the Municipal Affairs Committee has expanded both in membership and in purpose until it covers a field it did not dream of three years ago. And all over the city there have sprung up neighborhood improvement associations, the object of which is to bring people together for the common good.

But remembering all this it still seems to me that the past three years the history of the city plan has been the history of Grand Rapids, for the great purpose of the plan was not to show us how we could best bring about certain material improvements. It was to put before us a vision of the city as we may make it, and by the power of that vision draw us all together in one great fellowship.

When it first broached the subject the committee was greeted with jeers and mockery. That anyone should dream of putting through a great altruistic project in a practical, individualistic community seemed to the man on the street the height of the ridiculous. It was bound to run counter to selfish interests which would block it. Futile attempts to secure little improvements, such as rounding off the corners of a street jog, were recalled. If it was impossible to carry through these small projects because selfish interests stood in the way, one must be crack-brained who seriously proposed to extend the chief business street of the city through a built-up district, or to create a new civic center several blocks away from the existing public buildings.

Many of the leading men of the town took this attitude-judges, manufacturers and merchants. But here and there among them we found, sometimes when we had least expected it, one who had a larger vision, one who realized that the large project may succeed where the small one fails, because the large project seems worth while and because it fires the imagination.

In spite of jeers and ridicule the committee took its work seriously. This, it must be remembered, was before town planning had become what it is to-day, almost a common-place in America. A report showing the waste in money and duplications due to lack of planning in the past was prepared and submitted to the directors of the Board of Trade. They indorsed it and even recommended that the Board raise the money with which to secure a town plan. This recommendation was, however, disregarded on the ground that as the plan must needs be carried out by the city government, that government should be responsible for its preparation.

This entailed more cost in time, but a cost well afforded. The aldermen, needless to say, could not understand what we were driving at. Finally, however, a committee of three was appointed by the council and after months of argument and persuasion they were induced to recommend the appointment of a commission of nine citizens to take up the matter. But no money was given these citizens. They spent a winter at the task and then found it too big for them unless they could get expert advice. But expert advice costs money and that the council was in no mood to give, for to the aldermanic mind the whole scheme was folly without a single practical feature in it. So the Municipal Affairs Committee came to the commission's aid by giving the first civic revival. Charles Zueblin, then connected with the University of Chi

cago, was engaged as the revivalist. Requests The First

for formal endorsement were sent to every soCivic Revival

ciety and lodge in the city. Literature was distributed broadcast.

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