Monthly Archives: May 2012

Seek and you Shall Find

Ask and you shall receive. I knew I was planning to pass out Be A Tourist in Your Own Town booklets. Last year I bought 4 out of my own pocket and hid them around town, Ninja style. This year I was thinking that four was nice, but what if I could double that. So I sent off an email to my friend Lori Lanspeary who is the Leisure Marketing Manager at Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau and asked if they could in any way match my donation. Not only did they match it but they doubled it. This morning I had in my possession 12 BATYOT books. First thing I did was stop in and pick up my books. I also purchased my promised 4 and another 4 for my family. I grabbed another AAA Lansing map too since mine is about worn through (that makes 4 maps that I’ve worked my way through). With pass books in hand I started hunting out places to hide them! So here are the clues to the locations to find your free passes. Some areas have 2 books per bag and some have a single book. Good Luck and see you this Saturday!!














This one is a little hard to see. It’s in the foreground of the photo on the right.








Thank you all for having some fun with me! I hope you enjoy searching for these booklets. If you need more here is a list of places you can get them!

Greater Lansing Visitor Center

AAA Mchigan

Art Council of Greater Lansing

CATA Transportation Center

Celebration Cinema

Impression 5

Lansing Art Gallery

NCG Cinema

You’ve got to move it, move it.

I went on a very long walk today and it wasn’t for my City Saunter project. In fact I didn’t even walk in Lansing. I walked in my neighborhood. It was a long walk, totaling almost 6.5 miles. That ranks up there with some of my longest saunters so far. Why the long walk? Well this morning I woke up, got dressed and found the pants I normally wear quite well were taut; uncomfortably taut. I’ve been struggling with this type of situation since around Christmas. Up until Thanksgiving I had actually dropped 15 pounds. I was ecstatic. I was almost to a new low since having the twins. If I could hit that weight I knew there would be rainbows everywhere and skittles raining down from the sky. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Right after Thanksgiving we rolled right into Christmas, then New Year, Valentine’s, Groundhog’s Day, Fat Tuesday, 20th Anniversary celebration, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. Now, I’m not a huge over eater but I do like a nice treat on occasion. What seems to really be the issue is that as I’ve begun my fourth decade on earth even the slightest amount of going off track makes my weight creep up. That’s never happened to me before. I’m the type that once I gain the weight (always the result of a pregnancy) I stay there, no ups or downs. It takes a lot of energy to lose the extra weight and I usually do. However, after having the twins in 2005 I’ve had an almost impossible time getting back to my pre pregnancy weight. This extra weight, whether fair or not, puts me in the overweight to almost obese club. I don’t want to be in this club anymore.
For just over a year and a half I have been walking Lansing. When I first started this journey I was only able to walk for about 20 minutes before I got winded. As time went by my walks grew in length and duration. I found myself regularly walking two hours and mapping a walk length close to six miles. My runner friends were often posting exercise regimens half this distance. I realized that I had truly made walking my thing. My objectives for this project had been finding the intricacies of Lansing, photographing them and then writing a meaningful blog about each walk. Never did it cross my mind that I would be “the walker”. I started getting welcomed into walking and biking groups. I was asked to join committees that promote the walkability of mid Michigan. I’ve measured almost 250 miles on my journey throughout Lansing in 1.5 years. That’s not counting any walking I did on my own, like today’s 6.45 mile walk. So here are my pointers and ideas so you might want to become a “walker” too.

Start out slowly. Like me, you might have the urge to really push your first walks. I used to do this when I was a runner and I would get so burned out. I’ve found while doing these walks that smaller walks are nicer. Start at a comfortable distance and do it a few times before you push it farther.

Always take water. One of my hardest learned lessons was not taking water. I tend to work up a sweat pretty quickly, even in cold temps. It is always wise to take water and even a small snack with you. I like an apple.

Try to have a goal. With my walks my goal is to hit as many streets as I can without re walking any and then making it back to my parked car. Your goal might be to walk around the block, or to a friend’s house. When you’re out driving look for places you might like to see on a walk (just remember it might be farther than it seems from the drive).

Map it out. Sometimes it’s nice to map a few walks out to see exactly how far it really is. My pace, which is quite fast I think, takes me about 3 miles in 1 hour. That’s a 20 minute mile including stopping to take photos. Use your pace to calculate your distances.

Create your own photo walk. Are you interested in photography? Walking around a neighborhood or park is a great chance to pull out the camera and take some shots. It changes your perspective about your surroundings when you inspect it for photographic purposes.

Take a friend. There is nothing better than walking with a friend or family member. <My Saunter Buddies>

Use Facebook for finding activities and not just to play games. It seems counterintuitive to use something that makes you sit in front of a computer as a way to get out and walk. However, I’ve found that keeping track of events, festivals and friends’ activities on Facebook has allowed me many more opportunities to get out and walk.

Once you find something to do on Facebook or a website, go do it! We have Be a Tourist in Your Own Town coming up June 2. This is a great chance to check out places in town. The books are only $1 and it is loaded with a great list of places to go. You can park in Old Town and check out a few things there (Chalk of the Town, Pruess Pets). Then walk The Lansing River Trail to the Lansing City Market, Impression 5 or the Capitol.

Join a race. Signing yourself up for a 5k is the perfect way to get you scheduled to walk. If this is too much of a push, then sign up as a volunteer for a race. This will allow you to be involved without actually running/walking it. You might even be inspired by the participants.

Volunteer. There are so many great volunteering opportunities here in Lansing. Right now Mid-MEAC is looking for volunteers for their walkability audit. I’ve found that every time I volunteer I get a lot of exercise in. Old Town is also looking for volunteers for their upcoming festivals.

Keep track of your walks. I have a map hanging in my house and as I walk I mark it off the map in pink highlighter. Every time I look at that map and all the pink, I know I’ve been really exercising. If you keep a diary mark it in that. I like to keep track on a calendar too. It’s easy to just mark on the day you walked, how far you went. It’s a nice reminder when you’re not having a good day. You can also use online trackers. I use Daily Mile.

Use the walk for exploring. Walking really allows you to slow down the pace. I’ve been amazed at walking an area that I normally just drive through. It goes by in such a blur in the car, but walking allows me to really look at things. It also allows you to just stop and really take a moment to appreciate it.

Like that you are walking. I use to feel that if I wasn’t running then I wasn’t really exercising. I’ve found that with walking I get just as much of a work out. Plus the ease of it makes it easier for me to continue for longer walks. The low impact also doesn’t create the aches and pains that I use to have from running. It’s a great way to stay in shape.

Help a friend. If you are already really into walking but you might have a friend or family member that is struggling, maybe you can share this blog with them or use some of these ideas to help motivate them. In the end walking is good for everyone; it saves gas, it improves health and it allows you to get out and talk to the neighbors or other Lansing residents.

Good Luck and happy walking!

Perfect Place

While walking through Lansing I’ve learned to appreciate a good area. I’ve created my Personal Neighborhood Assessment guidelines. Some of these “rules” are things like the cleanliness of the sidewalk and homes, the types of cars in the driveways, whether or not there are lawn ornaments (it would seem that fear of burglary or vandalism would prohibit their presence in troubled neighborhoods) and landscaping. I like to walk into neighborhoods and see folks watering plants, mowing their lawns or relaxing on the porch. On the other hand folks arguing on the front lawn, yelling at their kids or secretly talking by running cars tend to cause a bit of trepidation. So far on my journey I have not in any location found myself in a precarious situation. I haven’t had to call for help, or seek out assistance or fight off an attacker. I am not saying it’s not possible, I’m just saying it hasn’t happened in the year and a half that I’ve been venturing throughout Lansing. I realize the possibility is there. I often keep track of my surroundings, checking whose walking nearby. I memorize which houses have security systems and I always carry my phone. Using pepper spray is not entirely out of the question either. Given all this, I really enjoy a walk that takes me into an area where I feel completely safe; the perfect neighborhood. I know that there really isn’t such a thing; bad things can happen anywhere. But there are places that the chance of those bad things happening is severely reduced. Today I walked one of those places. This was my fourth time walking in Groesbeck. I had started it last year around Easter when I hid plastic eggs throughout the neighborhood and posted picture clues to their location. It was fun!

I liked that this place was a place I felt comfortable doing that in. My second time was a drop off. My husband had a business meeting in the area so the twins and I went along to take our walk. It was a great summer day. We ran into friends and family alike while walking. The third time was a family walk. My brother in law lives in Groesbeck and his family and my family all went for an afternoon walk. We weren’t the only ones.

On this last walk I completed all the streets I had missed before in this neighborhood. I am a little sad that I will no longer “need” to walk this beautiful neighborhood. I can only hope that as I continue to move into areas I am not as familiar with I will find a new “Groesbeck”; a place where homes are well kept, the lawns are pristine and the lawn gardens are breathtaking.

Making it Grow

I don’t know if it’s our agricultural roots or just our perfect climate but it seems that here in Lansing just about every home I’ve passed has something growing. Some homes are much more extravagant with their landscaping, creating works of living art throughout their property. Some have a much lighter shade of green thumb and keep only their lawn and maybe one plant. I’ve seen tomatoes growing on the roof. I’ve seen intricate gardens with copious agriculture precisely planted in rows or loops. I’ve seen perfectly placed flower pots of brilliant colors filled with equally colorful growing adornments. I also have had to care for a lawn and usually a garden for most of my adult life and know how much work goes into making things grow. Most yards if left alone will quickly become unruly. It takes energy to prune and weed and trim and water and weed again. When I put my gardens in every year the process usually amazes me. I turn the soil, add fertilizer and plant either seeds or small plants. From there with normal daily sunrises and sunsets; thunderstorms and soft rainfall, the plants begin to grow. They grow until flowers come out which then attract the bees and butterflies that fertilize the plants. Weeks later from that initial planting, if all goes as planned, an edible product begins to grow. A few weeks more and you might be enjoying the literal fruits of your labor, if the kids or deer don’t get it. That’s a lot of work and a lot of discipline to reach that final goal. Yet it is one of the most rewarding activities I do. Today with Lunch with a Purpose we started the gardening process with a handful of students at Riddle Elementary School. They eagerly joined us first picking up trash and raking last fall’s leaves. Many didn’t know which plants were weeds or how to even rid the ground of those plants but with a few instructions and the proper tools our small group of gardeners really started to dig in and get dirty. We began turning the dark soil and pulling up weeds that had grown deeper underground. Within a couple of hours we had prepared a large section for their future flower and vegetable garden. There is nothing better than planting a seed and watching it grow.
TJ Duckett works with the students of Riddle Elementary School to plant a garden

Riddle student digging in

Isn’t it Grand?

Where My grandparents’ used to live on Cooper Ave in Lansing

Grandparents. They’re the people who step in when your parents are exhausted or in need of a break. They’re the ones that let you eat ice cream when you know you’re not supposed to. They read you a bed time story then gently rock you to sleep. Mine also took my brother and me on a train from Lansing to Chicago, let us pick new school clothes or a day at Cedar Point and returned us home one summer vacation from Mackinac Island to Lansing via a boat. They took us to all the Michigan hot spots; Duck Lake, Sleeping Bear Dunes and Boblo Island. I’ve tooted the horn on a train that my grandfather engineered. I still remember when my grandma carefully iced up my ears and then punctured each with a needle, delicately placing my birthstone earrings in that she bought me for my 11th birthday. We’ve experienced all the highs together; holidays, birthdays, summer picnics, vacations, slumber parties. They had a way and a home that created the most inviting environment. In the summer we came out to their home in Dimondale and swam or boated in the canals. We relaxed on the deck and grilled out. In the winter we enjoyed ice skating out on the river and a warm fire to drink homemade hot cocoa by inside. The love permeated everything they did and everything they shared with their family. They have definitely earned their “grand” to go along with their “ma” and “pa”.

All the grandkids

Great Grandpa Smith, Grandpa Smith, my mom and me.

Walter and me on my grandpa’s train

You Gotta Have Friends

Lansing is lovely. It has an amazing river trail that meanders alongside two river edges. It has a picturesque skyline with breathtaking architecture. It has festivals and events to make anyone happy. It has historic areas and government monuments. Lansing has its own Chili Festival, music festival, film festival and a dragon boat festival. However, I’ve come to realize that despite all these incredible places and events there is something even better that makes Lansing stand out. It’s the people. I’ve heard, on many occasions, Lansing newbies proclaim just how nice the people in Lansing are. In the last few years I’ve witnessed the kindness and generosity of Lansing residents over and over. With the versatility of social media, a call to arms takes seconds. This was the case a few years back when a family’s home in Old Town burned to the ground along with all their baby shower gifts for their soon to arrive baby boy. Within days, with just a Facebook post from Erin Slayter of Sweaty Mouse, a warehouse was filled with donated items. Another incident that I am aware of happened last year. My friend Justin Caine of Good Fruit Video posted that an elderly woman had been evicted from her apartment for lack of payment. She sat on the street corner surrounded by her meager belongings which were being picked off by passersby. Within an hour Tashmica Torok of Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project had offered up her basement for storage, Two Men and a Truck had donated a truck and their services to pick this woman’s possessions up and Sara Griffin from Lunch with a Purpose had arranged temporary living services. These are only two examples. I have more; a lot more. I find the more I get to know the people of Lansing the more impressed I am by our giving mentality; our courage to stand up for the underdog. I like that when a friend gets a discouraging message that another group of people rewrite the note into a new message of hope and love. Don’t you have a friend that is real with you? Who is willing to love you no matter how imperfect you are? A friend who cheers you on when you might be discouraged or have suffered a setback? I would have to say that the behavior of all these people I’ve mentioned and those I’ve mentioned by implication are true friends; true friends of Lansing and its people and I’m happy to be part of that group. #lovelansing

It’s my Island

One of my favorite movies of all time is Braveheart. There are multiple lines and scenes that I consider my favorite but one seems to stand out often to me. It could be that the actor looks entirely too much like my uncle, and in fact my uncle does an identical reenactment of the scene. It’s also what this actor says. The character’s name is Stephen, The Mad Irishman and this is what he says:

“I’m the most wanted man on my island. But I’m not on my island”
“Your island? You mean Ireland?”
“Yeah, It’s MINE!”

Lansing. It’s mine. I feel like that sometimes. And looking at all the people who came out today for 2012 Adopt a River, I would guess that a lot of other people feel the exact same way. Why shouldn’t we? I’ve been thinking a lot about this need to take care of Lansing; to promote its businesses, to complete its streets, to organize rallies against crime, to organize it, to clean it and to protect it. I feel a duty to it. Not in a way like I owe it, but rather like it’s my family and when it needs help I’ll be there. This idea is similar to a family member asking me to help them. Of course I’d be there to help. So when I hear about river clean up or festival hosting or complete street forms to be filled, I’m there ready and eager to help. I’m really glad so many others in the area feel the same way.

Planting new life into the island

Board of Water and Light’s recycled art

Erik Larson-Executive Director of Impression 5

Pat and Rob Killips Senior doing their jobs for the event