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Line of people volunteer to move UICA block by block

Grand Rapids Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts is moving into a new location. Its new home is only 2 blocks away from where it is now, so today volunteers lined up to help them move. More than 60 people created a human chain, passing one box along from one person to the next.

“You know we depend on volunteers,” UICA Executive Director Jeff Meeuwsen said, “We’re very community-oriented and we said right away, how can we involve people in our move?”

Volunteer Teresa Zbiciak manned a very busy corner to get the boxes across Division Street.

“We started off we were going ‘oh, is it just going to be us?’ There was kind of about 20 of us and then about 5 minutes in there was just this huge rush of people; people who didn’t even know what was happening. They started getting in the line, moving boxes, it was really great.”

The line of people pass boxes full of oil paint, canvas, weird looking stuffed animals, orange streamers, and more ordinary office supplies. In all, the human chain moved more than 200 boxes in about 30 minutes – plenty cheaper than professional movers.

“We are a contemporary arts organization in Michigan,” Meeuwsen smiles, “We have to watch every penny.”

It only took around a half an hour to move more than 200 boxes. The new UICA is set to open in late July.

Once it’s settled in the new location the organization will be one of largest in the country in terms of programs and square footage. The UICA is more than 30 years old.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.