Rebuilding Lansing

While driving through and walking around Lansing one thing is apparent; Lansing is ever-changing. Sometimes the changes are simple, like a new paint color on a building or redrawing the lanes on the road to add a biking lane. Sometimes the changes happen quickly like raising the speed limit on the freeways from 55 to 70. Then there are the changes that start in a fit then fizzle and then drag on and on. On my walk today I ran into one of those. I started my walk at the wonderful Rizzi Design’s Old Town Manor on the edge of Old Town. It and the newly established Neighborhood Empowerment Center sit as beacons of hope for the many discarded buildings of the former Michigan School for the Blind campus. From there I walked south, slowly making my way onto streets I hadn’t walked before. Since the twins are now expert two-wheel bike riders, they rode along with me. I cautioned them as we grew closer to the four-lane speedway known as Oakland Ave. However when I reached that intersection of Walnut and Oakland I was shocked at what I saw. There was barely anything moving. The road was blocked a half block east of where I came out. Looking west the road was littered with construction materials, some looking like they hadn’t been moved all summer. None of the construction vehicles were occupied. Some of the homes were boarded up and abandoned. One or two cars slowly made their way along dirt trails from cross streets. I thought it looked like a war zone, do you?

It seemed so strange that such a direct route cutting straight across Lansing could languish in this state this long. As I continued my walk I did notice a lot had been accomplished as there were many new sidewalks and even new side roads in place. Hopefully, sometime in the future, a long time after the construction has been completed and the roads all reopen, we will only think about how great it looks. These are the three stages of change: a place or building that sits vacant, deteriorating yet hopefully waiting for some resources to come in a recreate its glory.

Then there’s the stage when a vision is shared and the funding comes in and then there’s the unseemly chaos of construction. Finally, the ultimate goal, to have the land clean and renewed, the buildings constructed or renovated and someone there to enjoy its renewal.

Check out all the photos from this walk on my Facebook Page!

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