The map doesn’t come even close to representing the true nature of downtown Lansing. The square blocks and pink shapes representing buildings are no more significant than any other in the city limits. Yet the downtown summons you there with its one way streets and beckoning skyline. It homes some of the most visible and visited buildings in the city; the Capitol, Lansing Community College, the Capitol City District Library, Cooley Law School, The Michigan Supreme Court and Michigan Historical Center. If you add in non-profit offices, union offices, art galleries, restaurants, the stadium and the river it becomes obvious why so many find themselves down there. It is also obvious when I walk down there how diverse the population is in this city. There’s the pristine suit wearing state workers but also the well-worn dark clothed homeless men. There’s the middle aged, sure of themselves women fast walking before taking up their office jobs and the overworked, just above poverty, working class girl waiting for the bus. There are students and teachers. There are those building up buildings and those tearing them down. There are those exercising and those exercising their rights to protest on the Capitol lawn. Not only is there diversity in the people but also the structures. Within view of gigantic government buildings sit dilapidated homes, grown over yards and businesses and even blocked off abandoned streets. However even within these less prosperous areas there is diversity. For each handful of rundown homes sits one newly sided one with a sign stating this home is part of a Neighborhood Stabilization Project. Despite quite a few over grown yards there also were a few plots of land flourishing with flowers, vegetables and fruit; an urban community garden set up by The Garden Project.
It’s all proof of the ebb and flow and give and take of a community. The rich and the poor and the many sitting right in the middle. There are the generous givers and the takers. There are the buyers and the sellers. There are the learners and the educators. In it all, you cannot have one without the other.
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