West Side Story

When I started this project last October I greatly anticipated the opportunity to walk certain neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are the ones known for their beautiful homes, full of active residents participating in community efforts. They are the neighborhoods full of history and uniqueness is style. One of these is the Lansing’s West Side. Growing up we referred to it as the Jenison neighborhood. Looking at Lansing’s Westside map I found that it’s a much greater area than that; separated out into multiple sections. The handful of times I found myself driving through or visiting my brother-in-law I have marveled at the home style, street layout and mature tree cover. This was, of course, the off times that I wasn’t frustrated because I was lost! This gorgeous turn of the twentieth century neighborhood is best appreciate while walking through it; when the perfect amount of lingering and observation can be done. Fortunately I had the perfect tour guide leading me through this historic neighborhood, eight year West Side home owner Robin Miner-Swartz. Much like centuries past where the residents within this neighborhood produced a unique cross culture of Lansing’s working class, I found I was sauntering through a present day who’s who. With familiar names like, Betsy Miner-Swartz (Robin’s wife and Communications Specialist at Gift of Life Michigan), Tom Stewart (founder of Common Wealth Enterprises and New Enterprise Opportunity), Kent Love (Director of Communications at the Wharton Center, Chris Swope (Lansing’s City Clerk) and even Robin’s sister, being mentioned with each new street, I knew this neighborhood was special. Not only was it full of phenomenal architectural masterpieces but it was full of phenomenal Lansing people. It’s these types of neighborhoods each filled with vibrant and diverse residents that improve the quality of the entire city. They do so by first establishing a safe and stable home environment and then by spreading that energy throughout the city. The whole of Lansing is only greater by having these kind of parts.

ps I found that because of the fabulous walk and talk, I neglected to take as many photos as I would have liked. This neighborhood definitely holds a great opportunity for fantastic photos.

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