Making Connections

In 1992 I moved out of Lansing to Richmond, Virginia. I was twenty two years old, five months married and eight months pregnant with our second child. Thinking back to that day I can’t figure out why I wasn’t more scared. We didn’t know anyone in Richmond. My husband’s job that was taking us there had the potential for a new career path in computer programming but the pay was what he was making as a cable installer in Lansing. Yet on August 3, 1992 I was driving our car while Pat drove the u-haul the 714 miles to our new place of residence. For four years Pat worked crazy hours with an experienced group of southern computer programmers gaining experience in multiple facets of life. I stayed home with the boys feeling isolated and alone until I decided to go back to school and earn my bachelor’s degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 1995 I graduated with a degree in psychology.
The following year Pat was finally burned out. The in-house billing system for Continental Cablevision that Pat had help maintain and build for four years was being outsourced. Pat was politely told he needed to go along with it quietly or get out. He decided to get out. He took his experience and moved us back to Lansing. It was a good time to move back since our oldest was starting school at the end of the summer and settling in back home was something both Pat and I really wanted for the boys. Pat got a programming job working for the state and I found a job at PTD teaching state workers computer classes. We were quickly able to purchase our first home in Colonial Village. Our son, Michael, started at Elmhurts Elementary school that year.
At some point in the move back to Lansing I had the thought that we would be returning to the city Pat and I grew up in and that we might start running into people we knew. We had been living in a city where no one knew us. That was about to change. At first we reconnected with our old circle of friends we had left behind. There were a few friendly sightings at Meijer or our kids’ school. But in general there wasn’t too many run ins. There were the reunions, weddings and even funerals of friends that brought a group together. Usually, however, those were passing niceties and nothing really stuck. Then in 2008 I joined Facebook. My goal was to locate as many 1988 Eastern alumni as I could in hopes of improving our turn out at our next reunion. Most of my early connections were with family and friends of families. There were only about 10 alumni I was able to friend and I eventually created my first group. Within a year that alumni group grew from 10 to over 100. It was a great way to reconnect and find out how my fellow classmates were doing. This also led to invitations to events that were happening in Lansing and around Lansing. We were invited to the Technological Innovation Center’s open house through a classmate that was moving into this new office space. We attended and were quickly introduced to the project manager and other entrepreneurs in this office. A few months later the TIC hosted the first Ignite Lansing. We joined a group from Traction (formerly Vision Creative), with whom Pat had been the in house programmer for. It was a great night to mingle and network. Through our continued connections on line and in business we were able to attend the Addy’s, Ignite Lansing, TEDx Lansing, Studio Crawls, and Launched Parties. I eventually extended my connections even more by volunteering for both of the TEDx Lansings, the last Ignite Lansing, Lunch with a Purpose, and many of the events happening in Old Town. Through all of these interactions I’ve met an incredible group of people who enjoy putting an energetic spin on all the great things in Lansing. I’ve learned through this group that what you put in really is what you get out. It was this diverse group of people that inspired me to start City Saunter. As I continue into my second year on this project I am often amazed at all the people I have had the honor of meeting. And even more amazing to me is all the great adventures they are all a part of; NEO Center, Art Alley, LWP, New World Flood, Mid Michigan Creative Alliance, LansingLive . I could really go on listing for a long time. I’ve become friends with so many strong supporters of Lansing and also supporters of all the things that help make Lansing better. Yesterday I was on the LCC program Connections with Tess King and Mark Stiles. She found out about my project when Brent Knight, the LCC president saw one of my photos online and wanted to purchase it. Through her research she found out about my City Saunter project and asked if I would be a guest on her show. At the studio I finally was able to meet her “in real life” instead of chatting on Facebook and Twitter. At the studio I reconnected with Nichole Szymczak. I had met Nichole last spring while volunteering for the Capital City Film Festival. On my walk to the studio I also ran into a family friend, Mike Messick. Last year Mike was offered an internship at Rizzi Designs, a local design firm that Pat does programming work for. It’s these kind of connections that really make living in Lansing, a relatively small town, so interesting and really exciting. I still laugh at my trepidation of maybe running into someone I might know when I first moved back to Lansing. Now I’m shocked if I’ve been out and about in Lansing and haven’t ran into someone I know!
Here’s the link to my interview

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