Monthly Archives: April 2012

Call for Peace

There’s a call that too many get. It’s the call that changes your world forever. My call came in at 11:36pm July 18, 1989. It was my grandma on the other end of the line. I could hear her tear hoarse voice softly speak into my ear; “Walter was killed in a car accident”. My 17 year old brother was dead. Even at 19 I knew my world would never be the same.

Today I stood among a crowd filled with moms, sisters, brothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends who either received that life changing call or had to make that call. Their call, like mine, told them that someone they loved had been taken from them too early; ripped from their lives forever. Unlike my loss, theirs was from an act of violence committed by another person. Whatever reasoning or lack thereof, that had led to its commencing, this one singular act of violence doesn’t stop there. It ripples out over and through those affected, sometimes in tidal waves and sometimes in slow rhythmic pulses, but always there; forever. Today’s walk was designed to rally people behind the idea of peace. People present spoke of respecting each other. They spoke of education. They spoke about loving each other. They professed that it’s the civil group’s actions that carry the most weight; working with law enforcement and speaking up when something seems amiss. Mostly they spoke of the aching hole left in their hearts. Yet I also witnessed a strength in these people who seemed stronger than humanly possible. I saw two moms each holding the other as if letting go would result in falling over. They appear fragile and one, in fact, when faced with speaking of her daughter’s murder buries her face into her friend’s shoulder. This only strengthens the words flowing out of the other mother’s mouth whose son was murdered as well. She confidently speaks for both families.

I saw John Edmond, the father of Amaia Edmond stand beside the humble man whose body now holds the liver of his deceased daughter; both so thankful that the little girl blessed so many people in her short time on earth.

I heard the new police captain, Daryl Green speak of his loss of a close uncle, a brother really, he tells us, after he was shot in New York. Later I witnessed him wiping away tears while listening to the tragedies experienced by others present. I listened as Council woman Jody Washington, she herself a victim of violence, name the 20 people in her ward that were homicide victims in the last four years.

I heard the angelic, solo voice of a young girl sing The Star Spangled Banner for all those gathered in the parking lot of Resurrection Church.

This crowd of over 100 turned out on a cold Saturday afternoon because they felt strongly that something should be done about the violence in the Lansing community. They represent a wave, that slow and steady wave that will wash over the city with hope and peace.

Keep the Peace, Stop the Violence.

Spring in my Step

Momentum can often be taken for granted when a project commences. Sometimes even a great idea can get to a point in its life cycle where it needs a push, maybe just a gentle nudging to recommit to it. After having about a month off I knew that getting back on that slow walking horse might be a bit intimidating. For many days last month I’ve created hurdles for myself; gas is too expensive, I’m too busy, and I miss the kids are some of the excuses I gave. Some of it was legitimate. For those two weeks that I was involved with TEDxLansing and Capital City Film Festival I was driving into Lansing sometimes twice a day and staying for most of that day. But now it’s really time to get moving again, literally. I was able to move yesterday walking over 5.44 miles in Lansing’s south side. It was refreshing to get out and exercise, taking in all the scents of multiple flowers permeating the breezy spring air. Again this was a neighborhood that completely surprised me with its perfection. Evenly spaced, midsized, majestic homes kept pace with me throughout the entire walk. Lawns were adorned with intricate landscaping, whimsical garden characters and pristine pruning. The early arrival of “summer” back in March surely enhanced the flower growth that we are enjoying now in our near normal spring. It was a great day for a walk. It was a great place to rejuvenate my desire to complete this project, no backing down for me. At this point I have walked a very large majority of 496 North. It’s true. So, Southside, here I come!

Did You Miss it?

I haven’t walked much lately. Have you noticed the empty calendar? I would apologize, but I’m not really sorry. I might not have been walking Lansing but I was deeply entrenched in Lansing. I was asked to be the photographic coordinator for the TEDx Lansing conference and The Capital City Film Festival. Together these events started April 12 and ran through April 15. I usually hate reading about something in the media that has already happened, but I’m afraid that’s what I’m going to do here. I only do this so people will understand the hugeness of these two events and be more compelled to not miss it next year. A unique group of volunteers converged to create these events. They range from business owners to dedicated entrepreneurs to work from home house wives. They communicated through emails, texts, tweets, meetings and posts. They encouraged each other, promoted each other and supported each other. None of them were paid for the time they took, away from their normal lives, to put together these events. Now don’t get me wrong, they were not unrewarded for their labor; many received food, t-shirts, pins, event passes, kudos, high fives, high tens, photo credits, blog traffic, advertisements, fun times, and experiences. We all felt enriched by these events.
And this was the final product:

A Red Carpet event (free to the public) with a true red carpet walk, stop and pose area, where multiple photographers, myself included, captured gorgeously dressed attendees. The setting was Troppo who graciously donated their space and superb delicacies. Those gathered enjoyed networking, quality appetizers and discounted drink specials including a delightful red raspberry martini for $4, of which I rewarded myself with after hours of photographing.

Feature Films:. The Capital City Film festival hosted 10 feature films at three locations; Temple Club, Lansing Public Media Center and The Lansing Center. All locations were decorated with flowing black curtains encapsulating the viewing areas, moody, blue lighting and appropriate food ranging from popcorn and candy bars to wine and beer.
Movie Shorts:: There were 46 short films presented. These intense movie bites included professional, student, long form comedy and AFI directing women showcase.
Documentary:: There were 2 documentaries including one covering the Bath School Disaster, one of the most deadliest acts of terrorism on US soil.
Feature Bands: Not only was CCFF about film but it was so much more. Lansing isn’t new to music concerts and having an incredible music line up as part of the Film Festival just seems natural. This year’s talents included 4 headliners; Greensky Bluegrass, Murder by Death, William Elliott Whitmore and Lights. All had incredible turnouts and Lights was officially sold out.
Musical Guests: Not only was there incredible featured bands, but each feature had their own guest musicians. There were 10 guest musical performances throughout the event.
TEDxLansing: This year’s TEDx (Technology,Entertainment, Design) was Lansing’s third. The location was changed to the Lansing Public Media Center and rolled into the CCFF festivities. In fact, if you bought your $50 CCFF ticket, you automatically gained entrance into TEDxLansing, which included (a $10 value) lunch from either Purple Carrot or King of the Grill. Due to an extra 50 attendees at TEDxLansing there was a delay in volunteers being able to get their lunches. Each time I walked through the doors out into the newly created outdoor dining area with black and white linen covered tables, the smells from the food trucks almost made me cry. When I was told I could collect my meal ticket and choose my lunch, I raced to my chosen truck and was overjoyed by the meal.
Presentations: TEDxLansing featured 11 presenters with topics encompassing creating potable water supplies to villages in Ecuador, teaching how to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, comic books and life, combating the obstacles for poverty stricken Uganda, technology and creativity, using technology in storytelling, and team work. These all highlighted the idea that ideas are worth spreading. After lunch the show continued right into the Media Sandbox Series, a CCFF and MSU collaboration to “explore visual communication through the lens of design, business and technology”.





Performers: On top of having extraordinary presenters, there were also three extraordinary performers. First was Kinetic Affect, a Kalamazoo twosome who use their traumatic life experiences to create heartfelt, inspirational responses to their spoken word art. Their performance of “The Michigan Poem” left me desperately needing a tissue.





The next was the mosaically adorned, diversely populated band Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle. If the name sounds familiar they also played at the very mysterious Vacant Lansing. This, however, was my first experience with this band and I sat mesmerized by the style, the rhythm, the unique kazoo style instrument and the outfits. The last band to perform was Othello and the Pocket Change Band. With the lights dimmed low and bright colored spot lights casting brilliant lighting around them, they created the mood for the lunching TEDxLansing crowd and an upbeat anticipation for those attending the Media Sandbox Series.
Fortnight Film Contest: On Sunday afternoon the Lansing Public Media Center sat brimming with movie goers watching the 19 entries for this year’s first Mid Michigan 14 day contest. Each team was given four elements; an umbrella, the question “Where are we going?” or “Where are you going?”, a body of water, a dancer or dancing, to put into their less than 10 minute creation. The grand prize winner received $1500, second place was given $1000, and third was given $500. Due to the creativity level, the organizers decided to add two more winners to the pile. Finally the audience, through the use of a decibel meter, determined who the winner of audience choice (another $500 winner) was. It was an exciting chance for creative film makers, actors, directors and producers to have some fun, invite their family and friends out to watch their movie on the big screen.
It was four days of inspiration, creativity, art, music, photography, dedication, participation, education and community. Lansing needs everyone to be involved, whether you’re one of many volunteers, or a cheerleader helping promote or even the one who buys the ticket. These type of events can only make Lansing a better place. I hope to see you there next year.

If you’d like to see the photos from these events they are on my website and my flickr page here.