Monthly Archives: March 2012

Hopping Down the River Trail!

Hippity, hoppity Easter’s on its way!!! Making our way just off the trail we found our first Easter activity. It was an egg drop at the Baker-Donora Community Center. Baker Street. The Baker Street. The only neighborhood I was specifically warned about not walking. I can’t NOT walk a neighborhood. That’s not how City Saunter works. So I get creative and take advantage of every opportunity I can. Today’s event would allow my family and me to safely explore this area, meet some of the neighbors and walk a few streets with the other families.

Not only did I feel safe here, we greatly enjoyed the activities. This is a neighborhood with families who don’t have much. There was a free area for people to take things they needed. The eggs were all stuffed with great items. There were even stuffed animals scattered around the park as well as the typical candy and stickers. After every child politely went out and collected every item placed throughout the large park, there were other adults walking around handing out more free things. Not one child left without pockets full of goodies. The police officer present introduced himself and gave out police stickers as well. All the families gathered were polite, humble and friendly. After emptying out the contents of all the eggs the twins collected we then traveled around a few of the streets, following behind a few folks heading back home. They addressed us politely and waved as we passed.

Our next stop along the river’s edge was The Lansing City Market Bunny Hop.

The eggs filled with goodies were scattered across the lawns, separated by age group. Inside activities of face painting and a balloon art clown were available for those willing to wait in the lines. All of the vendors were open as well, filling the air with luscious smells. At about 20 minutes before 2pm all the kids began lining the roped off areas, anxiously waiting for the hunt to begin. There was the added excitement of finding the Golden Eggs which had special gifts from the likes of Preuss Pets, Jumping Jax, Lugnuts and Celebration Cinema. As Tim Baron began counting down in his booming voice we all knew the adventure would finally be over within minutes. And it was. What a great day to travel the trails and find some fun family activities as well.

Lights, Camera, Action

It’s spring here in Lansing. The flowers are blooming, the birds are flitting through the air chasing after each other; passion is in the air. Today I found some of that passion. However, it wasn’t the type that involves red roses and boxes of candy. It’s the type of passion found in a person who has determined that he is incomplete unless he is doing the thing he loves. In this instance I found a whole group of them working together, creating a dream out of their collaborative passion. As I made me way up Grand River in Old Town I could see the group, neatly staged in the outer lane of Artie’s Filling Station. Today they are shooting their 5th day out of a nine day schedule. After shooting they will edit their work to create an 80 minute feature. It will take roughly 2 to 2 1/2 years to have this film ready for the public. This is the fourth feature that Michael McCallum of Rebel Pictures, A.E. Griffin of UnSAFE Film Office and Jonathon Worful of Vernacular Films have created together. After all this time (Michael and A.E. have created over 30 films together), they work well together, like a choreographed Fred and Ginger number. They move together in a synchronized motion, finish each other’s sentences and create award winning movies together. In 2010 A.E. was named “Michigan Filmmaker of the Year” by Muskegon Film Festival and this year Michael was named “Michigan Independent Film Maker of the Year” at the 3rd annual Michigan Film Awards. That’s just the beginning of the awards won. Their process is simple: fast shoots, small group of dedicated workers, including family if need be and they’re really good, fundraisers and day jobs to fund it and a small town that eagerly hosts their projects. Yesterday the crew was set up at Golden Harvest, another locally owned and admired hole in the wall. Today it was Artie’s Filling Station. When John Miller, owner of Artie’s, was first approached he admittedly wasn’t sure, since he recently opened seven weeks earlier and didn’t want to deter customers. Then Michael came out and the two chatted. Sometimes ideas just seem to meld together. John not only wishes to serve up the best coffee in town but he also wants to expand the Artie’s experience with a live music show. Jazz & Joe would commence every Saturday in the very spot Michael’s crew was set up. It was the perfect test drive.

The thick clouds begin to part and the gusty wind starts to die down. “Sun”, someone casually states. Then another, more urgent this time, “Sun!” Quickly the reflector is grabbed, the light meter is positioned, and Michael’s father, William C. McCallum, star of this feature, is put into his position. Everyone is in position. It’s a moody scene with some swearing. The gruff, bearded actor is not happy about something. But the warm, not used to such a long, itchy bearded father of the director/producer has a coffee from Artie’s and a love for what he is doing. The theme of this feature, Buffalo, is regret and redemption. After talking with this small group of entrepreneurial artists, I can confidently state that regret is something these guys will not have. They’ve all struggled to make their dreams come true. They all love what they do, from making movies to opening a drive up coffee shop, and it shows.
Spring in Lansing begins the active festival season. In the next two weeks we get to experience the second Capital Area Film Festival. It is being paired up with the third TEDx Lansing. As the photographic coordinator of both I feel obligated to bring attention to these exciting events. Each on their own offers a great opportunity for individuals to experience a talk or movie that they might not get to without the event. This year A.E. Griffin’s The Girl with Blue Eyes will be shown at the CCFF. It stars Michael and A.E. won best editing at the Uptown Film Festival for it. April 13 is TEDx Lansing and the beginning day of the Capital City Film Festival which runs until April 15. Be a part of Lansing’s first significant events of the year. You won’t regret it.

A leg Up

I was barely into my walk and my skin began to glisten under the streaming sun rays. I could feel my face getting warmer and I knew it wouldn’t be long before it was really hot out. Whether you believe in global warming or only feel that there are natural cycles in Earth’s temperatures, there is no denying that Lansing has had some extremely rare weather activities this year. In fact, today’s high will result in two more records broken; which we’ve had almost every day for a week now. The first will be the daily high and then we also will beat the record high temperature in the month of March EVER. All in all there wasn’t much of a winter here in mid Michigan and as we reach over 40 degrees warmer than our normal high, I’ve taken in how this is definitely to our advantage. Back in January I started noticing some activity that I usually don’t see during that time of year; house repair. Homeowners were replacing roofs and adding on additions in January. The lack of snow has also allowed road repair to commence much earlier than normal. As I walked today the number of people out landscaping, repairing, rebuilding and improving was amazing. There was a news segment recently about the new bridge construction on Saginaw and I heard these never before used words for this type of activity: “we are on schedule”!!!! No way! If it’s only March and roads are repaired and construction is on schedule what ever will we be doing in August!!!?? It’s an amazing concept, that all these winters we’ve been forced into hibernation, unable to get things done. Now we have a chance, maybe our one and only chance, to get out early and fix and grow and improve. I just hope we all don’t get burned out!

Other Photos Here–>
Archived Photos

Do Good

Life is hard and it definitely isn’t fair. The longer I live the more injustices I witness. I see crimes committed against innocent people. I have seen diseases strike for no apparent reason. It seems that many struggle with just the basics in life. It can make anyone become tough skinned and resilient. For some these struggles begin early in life and creates a hardness to their thinking; a hardness to their heart. I think it can create a sense of taking as much as they can because no one will give it. It creates a sense of territorial self reliance. It can also create hostility towards others. It saddens me to see people living like this. Even worse, it’s devastating when this temperament is emanating out of a young child’s eyes.
The movie The Blind Side was cheered for its idea of saving someone that everyone else tossed aside. It was a great idea, honorable even. For some reason it bothered me. It wasn’t Sandra Bullock’s accent; I think she’s incredible; it was that it was only one child! One! There are millions out there that need this attention; need to feel that someone really loves them, without conditions. Well that’s a biggie, isn’t it? But I know we can do better. It’s not all that hard to change the tide; make good ripples; pass it forward. I saw examples of that last winter when people went to stores and paid for someone else’s layaway. I have a friend who doesn’t have children. She and her wife and a couple of friends requested donations for Christmas. They took that money and went around town doing good things. They paid off a few layaways and then went to Meijer and helped a few shoppers buy their food. All of the recipients had a need. All of them were overly appreciative. And all of them had not ever expected that someone, a stranger, would be that generous.
Here in Lansing we have a secret group of do gooders called the Lansing Ninjas (coincidently they came up on a chat window as I was writing this!!). Their acts are simple yet positive. They agilely move through our town with unprovoked acts of goodness. They swiftly locate a community member and leave behind a needed gift and a note. Later they produce an informative and often moving blog post about their ventures. It’s simple, it’s fun and it’s good. It’s a much needed balance for the negative news permeating the media.
Another group I participate in is Lunch With a Purpose. They willingly and even eagerly meet at a place of need, usually a charity, to help that group for an hour. We’ve put price tags on hand beaded sandals from Tanzania for the Shining A Light group, saving them 20 hours of work (20 volunteers*1 hour=20 hours). We’ve helped pull weeds to ready an urban garden. We’ve organized books at the East Lansing Library for their fundraisers. We’ve wrapped white pine saplings in burlap for Earth Day Lansing. We’ve addressed envelopes for the Nyaka Aids Orphan project. I could go on, and maybe I should. It’s easy to be the do gooder. Really. Try it. Smile at a stranger and feel their stress level go down. Give someone a genuine compliment and watch their eyes light up. The next time you speak with a child squat down to their level and watch their respect and admiration for you increase. Hug someone you love.
It really is true; Give and you shall receive. But even more importantly, when you give, someone else receives.
Here are a few other groups that are working to make life better for others (The Lunch With a Purpose Website lists many groups serving the community as well):
New World Flood
Village Summit
Allen Neighborhood Center
City Rescue Mission
The Greater Lansing Food Bank

Celebrate Good Times

I celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. I know some don’t. Experiencing my parents’ divorce and the death of a sibling, I learned early on to not take life for granted. At any moment the way things are and the people you share it with can change. So to me a birthday or anniversary is like a year’s long accumulations of high fives, or high tens (two hands high fiving, up high) as I heard it called today. I like to think back and reflect on the year’s accomplishments or heart aches; the advancements and the setbacks; the exciting experiences and the days of relaxation. To me, it’s a day to sit back and ask myself, “What was that year all about and what have I learned from it”. Today I am celebrating my 20 year marriage to my husband Patrick. We were married at Immaculate Heart of Mary church on March 7, 1992. It’s hard to believe we’ve been through 20 years, but when I think back over it all it seems like quite an achievement. I know a few years back Lansing celebrated a 150 year anniversary: the sesquicentennial anniversary! How amazing! There was a yearlong celebration starting with an ice festival in February and ending with a special event at the conclusion of the Silver Bells Celebration. There were also parades, concerts, special festivals and a theme song. My friends at Traction even created a special branding for the year’s events.

The beginning of Lansing’s cityhood, as stated on the history sites, claims that two men from Lansing, New York came here and bought a bunch of swamp land and went back to their hometown and sold it to unsuspecting frontiersmen. Lucky for us, many, seeing hope and opportunity, stayed and began to form a city. In 1847 when the bid for a new Capitol city was sought, Lansing only had 20 residents. Yet, due to its location, it was chosen to become the Capitol city of the state of Michigan. The city continued to ebb and flow to where it is today. An anniversary, whether it is 1 year, 10 years, 20 years or 150 years, allows those celebrating a chance to stop and think about all they’ve been through and all the growth they’ve experienced. It doesn’t really matter if the celebration is with parades and city-wide festivals or beer and pizza at a local diner, it offers the chance to look around to the attendees and say, “Hey, look how far we’ve come, together,” and then joyously offer up the first of many high fives. Or tens.

More Photos from my walk are here ——>
Check out my walk!

Take the Leap

photo by Ariniko O’Meara with Ariniko Artistry

Why is it that everyone gets so excited about something out of the ordinary? This year we added another day to the month of February; Leap Day, February 29. It seems the Gregorian calendar actually has 365.25 days a year. To remedy this, almost every four years an extra day is added to February, which keeps the vernal equinox on or close to March 21. I said almost. Did you catch it? It seems that every 4th year is a Leap Year, except every 100th year but if that 100th year is divisible by 400 then it’s not a Leap Year. So the year 2000 was supposed to NOT be a leap year but it was divisible by 400 so it was! So confusing!
I think people are trying to find extra fun in just about anything lately. They like the idea of having an extra day, a free day to use any way they want to. It seems that more people were interested in this created “holiday” more than I’ve ever remembered before. On the tv show 30 Rock a completely fictitious holiday was created. Some of the more interesting ideas explored were Leap Day William who rose up out of the Mariana trench every four years to trade children’s tears for candy. The color theme is a mysterious satiny blue and yellow mashed up with “The Christmas Carole” style garb. Those that didn’t wear the proper attire were accosted by those that were with this little ditty:

“Poke your eye out, pull your hair. You forgot what clothes to wear”

Other memorable phrases were, “what happens on Leap Day, stays on Leap Day”, “Magical Extra Day”, “Day of Leap”, and “Life Begins in March”.
I almost got married on leap day in 1992. My thinking was we would never forget our anniversary because it was unique. As true as that is, I’ve never forgotten my anniversary, because it was unique. Those born on a leap day, like my brother in law, get two birthday years; his real year and his leap year. It makes it fun and interesting. I think everyone likes the idea that you can get an extra day to work harder, or relax more or try something new and exciting. It’s the idea that one extra day allows you to take a leap. But do we really need the impetus of an extra day to do something out of the ordinary?