About StreetFest

StreetFest is a one-time service-learning opportunity that occurs during our first-year student orientation program called Quest. During StreetFest, we partner with over 60 community organizations to join them in their work in the city of Grand Rapids. This year, StreetFest will be on Monday, August 31, 2020.

StreetFest 2020 | Follow Enriching Roots

“Follow enriching roots” is our challenge to an understanding of college as a highly individualistic experience. Yes, we hope that students will make lifelong friends, will grow in new ways, and will make joy-filled memories of their adventures; but that they will know that they do so as a part of something larger than themselves. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we are not individual islands, leading cleanly independent and uncomplicated lives. Rather, we are all bound up together, our lives and our choices interconnected. We chose the metaphor of roots in our theme to reflect this reality, and to celebrate the richness that accompanies such an understanding. To see oneself as a small part of a grand root system is to recognize that the well-being of others is not separate from one’s own well-being or that of the entire community. To be in community, which we inherently are, is to have a sense of obligation to one another. This necessarily prompts us to address past and present wrongs, but it also reminds us that we are not alone in our lives -- the lifelong friends we make, the adventures that we have, the challenges we face that prompt us to grow, are made all the more precious by recognizing our inherent interconnectedness with our community.

We hope that incoming students will grow deep roots in this place and recognize the interplay of these roots with others -- not just others on dorm floors, or in classrooms, but throughout Grand Rapids as a whole. Just as no person is an island, neither is Calvin University. As students begin to venture off-campus, or even to dive more deeply into Calvin, they will eventually see something that doesn’t sit quite right with them. When they do so, we hope that they will remember our dream for them: that they will follow enriching roots. Seeing injustice in its full darkness may be new to a student, but it is far from novel in our city; the interconnectedness we’ve previously celebrated may demand painful confrontations with one’s own complicity, yet it also means that many others see what we do, or live it themselves, and have felt their own calls towards action.

When a student encounters injustice, then, we hope that they will first respond with an orientation of listening and learning, particularly to those who live the reality that one has recently come to see. Again we challenge the inward, self-oriented approach through which we might laud ourselves for our vision and assume an attitude of fixing these newly-revealed problems through our own merit, or creativity, or selflessness. To truly do good, to seek to emulate Christ, is not to assume one’s own ability to fix others’ realities, but to listen to the voices of those affected, to ask questions and to truly seek to learn. Those who best understand the needs of a community are those who make up said community. As a result, we want to encourage students to follow the example of those already seeking change within their communities -- to take this time to seek first to be helpers before they hope to be leaders, to shift away from an inward orientation and lift up others before themselves.

We hope, then, that students will push themselves to be well-rooted listeners, amplifying the good work they witness around them -- that they will follow enriching roots.

Visit the StreetFest history page to read about other themes

Basic StreetFest schedule

  • Check-in
  • 8:15 a.m.
  • Opening chapel (watch live)
  • 9:30 a.m.
  • Introduction to Grand Rapids
  • 10:20 a.m.
  • Transportation to work site
  • 11 a.m.
  • Arrive at work site
  • 11:30 a.m.
  • Lunch and agency orientation
  • 11:35 a.m.
  • Serve and learn together
  • 12 p.m.
  • Time of reflection
  • 3 p.m.
  • Return to Calvin
  • 3:30 p.m.
  • Arrive at Calvin
  • 4 p.m.