All Roads Lead to Common Ground

It’s July in Lansing and the orange traffic barrels have once again made their way onto the city streets. Some are put out for the typical road construction projects. However, another set in downtown have been strategically placed to funnel streaming festival goers to their destination. From Shiawasee St. to Grand Ave. to Saginaw St. to Cedar St. a full city block becomes the epicenter for the summer entertainment; Common Ground. The Adado River Front Park, with its usual activity being exercisers and nesting ducks, transforms into a bustling arena consisting of two full sized stages, adult beverage tents, and an array of food vendors. Each night starting around five thirty, just as dusk descends on the city, droves of eager residents enter the gated community.
This year I found myself, not as one of the eager gate waiters like years past, but rather staff; LSJ staff even. A good friend of mine needed help and I was happy to assist. She recently landed the job of manager for Gannett’s Lansing based I was so excited to see her with an online presence again that if she had asked for people to jump off the Boji Tower with her I would have agreed. Luckily for me she only needed helping hands to collect email addresses at the most popular music festival in Lansing. Now, if she had mentioned that the shirt I needed to wear was the brightest yellow possible with a picture of an egg with legs on it? Well, how tall is the Boji Tower?

For two evenings, attired in my fashionable yellow shirt and a clip board, I stood at a dedicated LSJ table asking visitors if they would be interested in signing up for Deal Chicken a local daily deal email service. Some signed up on the spot. Many people politely declined. Some were interested, wanted more information, and then signed up. A specific group type, not trained in proper etiquette, stuck their nose in the air and ignored me. And one told me; “Sorry, I’m allergic to chicken”. I was fascinated by the array of personalities that passed by. It was a kaleidoscope of Lansing’s population. I was overjoyed when I recognized someone in the crowd, confidently shouting their name. As they walked over to my table I would smile and ask if they’d like to sign up for Deal Chicken. My son’s diving coach from Haslett High School, the founder of Lunch with a Purpose, family members and a few friends from my old neighborhood all signed up. I had a friendly exchange with Lance Enderle, a former Eastern alum and contender for congress. He called me sweetheart. So did Evan Pinsonnault as he gave me a hug asking if I walked here for my project. How sweet that he remembered me.
One of the other volunteers there who was passing out booklets said to me that this was really helping her get over her shyness; being able to walk up to people and talk to them. I would have to agree that my City Saunter project has also done that for me. It has given me a sense of confidence I never had before. I’ve been able to see how easy it is to make a difference, to meet others who are trying to make a difference and really enjoy being a part of that commitment. Now that’s a deal I’m not chicken to try out.

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