Monthly Archives: October 2012

What’s the Hub-Bub?


Last week I had the chance to take an inside look at another great project put forth by the Allen Neighborhood Center. I first found out about this amazing group two years ago when Lunch With a Purpose spent the lunch hour folding their newsletter that they hand distribute to the entire east side neighborhood. I remember sitting next to Heather Hymes as she listed off all the programs this facility offered to the neighborhood. It took her a half an hour to complete the list; nonstop, listing one program after the other. I was more than impressed. Since then, I have made sure to stay aware of this area. This is also the same group that runs the Hunter Park Community Garden House, the Allen Street Farmers Market and host World Day every year. Now they are working hard to create the Allen Street Food Hub. The Allen Neighborhood Center took an empty 5500 square foot warehouse located behind the center and decided to up the greatness of this area even more.
They currently are retro-fitting a LEED certified community kitchen area. This space will soon make it possible for the vendors at the market to have access to a facility year round. This is great for the community as they will have access to locally grown, fresh produce throughout the colder months. Quite a few of the urban gardens have hoop-houses that allow them to grow year round.
The Food Hub will also have an incubator community kitchen put in place. This will be used by the local farmers to can or process some of their product. Food entrepreneurs will also have access to use this facility. Finally this kitchen incubator will create the perfect place to teach culinary skills and other educational material relating to food preparation. Other benefits this once obsolete space will provide are food storage for urban growers, a link to connect growers to local buyers and a sense of community that definitely seems to keep growing and growing in this East side neighborhood.

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3rd Time Around

October 1 of this year had a pretty significant meaning to me. This date was the beginning date of my third year working on this project. I had originally thought it would take me about 2 years to finish. If my sole project was walking Lansing to help promote it, I think two years would have not been out of the question. However, as I progressed along the many paths of Lansing I stumbled upon a comparable number of other interesting, fascinating and joinable quests presented by other ambitious Lansingites. There was Lunch With a Purpose originally, then that grew into New World Flood, Village Summit, Nyaka Foundation, 1001 Miles, Ignite, TEDx, Dirty Feat, Capital City Dragon Boat Races, Mid-MEAC’s Walkability Audit, Capital Gains Speaker Series, Capital City Film Festival (as well as a number of other festivals) and finally the creation of Peace of Lansing which held its first event September 21. I love the idea that my project has allowed me the visibility and acceptance into so many other wonderful opportunities to promote the Lansing area. I’ve cherished every moment of it. But those moments add up and sometimes even prevent me from working on this one. So I’m using this time (I am recovering from some sort of ever present sinus-headache-flu bug) to reassess my progress and really push through to the end.
So first question;
1. How much do I have left to walk?
Since participating in the First to 500 activities over the summer I have managed to increase the number of miles I can walk. When I first started in fall of 2010 I could barely walk 3 miles. Now I can easily walk 6 miles in less than 2 hours and even have walked as much as 8. Given that, each of my walks now gets more miles in. This means for each walk I take, assuming I’m out for 2 hours, I get more walking done. Given that, I think I could finish this sometime this spring.

I’ve already walked over 300 miles. I was told there was 410 miles. This should mean I have 110 left. If I walk 6 miles each outing I should have just ever 18 walks left. If I walk 4 times a month that will make my end date in about 4.5 months.

2. Do you have any creative ideas to finish up the areas?
I was asked to create a “Bar Walk”. This may or may not happen. I was thinking of doing a “Zombie Walk” for Halloween that involved a stop at a local place. I am hoping to bring some much needed positive energy to the south side.
I want to do a CATA walk.
I love walking with Heather Sheets for her project 1001 Miles because we walk A LOT!
I would still really enjoy putting together a charity walk.
I want to have City Saunter included in a Pointilism activity.
I want to plan another photo walk.

3. What do you plan to do when you finish?
I was promised a party through LEPFA! I am hoping I will get a chance to celebrate in some way. I also feel there is no way I can back off from improving Lansing. I’ve been enveloped into the city and all of its missions and I would love to stay involved in some capacity. I also have a few ideas I am molding in my head. I hope I can get the opportunity to develop at least one of them.
Thanks to everyone that helps me stay on track with this. I love that I get support almost daily from someone out there. It really has been an incredible journey so far. I look forward to walking the rest of Lansing!

Discouraged

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I don’t like to be discouraged. However the momentum I first felt that propelled me down this path seems to be waning. In the beginning I felt that despite a perception of Lansing falling quickly into the shadows of Flint post GM manufacturing plants closing, I was seeing and feeling a sense of hope. I was participating actively in events and activities that created such a sense of growth and optimism. I was surrounded by these mid Michigan agents of good, who constantly energized a base of people to embrace Lansing, warts and all. A movement emerged, #lovelansing. It was strong. Lansing began getting national recognitions; Old Town with its 2011 Great American Main Street Awards and Lansing getting a nod from Kiplinger article listing it as one of 10 great cities for young adults. I’m not sure when I first noticed the decline in the #lovelansing intensity. I remember thinking to myself that with such a small group cheering on the crowds, we were going to get tired. Maybe that’s all it is. I think what people don’t realize, is how much energy, time and money goes into being a cheerleader for the city. The people who donate time, money and energy to non-profits, events, projects and volunteering for all of these, are not super heroes. They are normal people, with normal lives. They are raising children and caring for sick family members, and running small businesses, or owning small businesses or working for non profits. Some are even doing multiple things from that list. I think we hoped for a trickle down enthusiasm. Or even a constant pay it forward wave. As the recession and life wore us down I saw it getting harder and harder for the people of this group to volunteer. I watched sadly as some chose to move to another city or even state. I noticed the trials of life; divorce, job loss, job gain, child rearing, sickness, play its toll on this altruistic group. I remember during an interview with Michael McCallum I asked him if he ever feels like he’s the lone person, standing in the stands cheering his heart out. He said, yes. I bet I could find about 100 people who would say the same thing. I wonder why that is. Is it hard to be optimistic? Are people afraid of being disappointed? I remember a time when Pat drove our car into a construction area and got it stuck. We had a whole line of people standing out there telling us how bad it was and we were never going to get out and all kinds of negative comments. Only one person got in the dirt and helped us push it out; one. As I walked on the south side of Lansing today, I saw that attitude everywhere. It was overpowering. I walked passed about 20 people while walking. Not one of them smiled back at me. It was almost as if the innocence of that smile was lost on them, it wasn’t good enough (or bad enough). I felt that I needed to represent a roughened countenance. I had to look as beat up as they felt to fit in; furrowed brow, sweaty face, downturn mouth. It was sad. Things that normally cheer me up seemed to make it worse. Normally I love the sun shining down on me. Today however, the sun being there only made me miss it that much more when it went away, leaving me cold and causing gusty winds to whip up, slamming doors of abandoned homes.

ImageSo this is what I’m going to say; if you’ve been a #lovelansing cheerleader, KEEP IT UP!! I’ll support you if you support me. That’s a promise. If you’ve just started being a #lovelansing cheerleader, welcome! If you are supporting a cheerleader, thank you!

Now, if you’re standing on the sidelines, telling everyone how bad it is or washing over all of us with your negativity, I’m going to ask you, what are you getting from that? Do you feel better? Do you like yourself, your house, your neighborhood more? What do you lose by jumping on the campy #lovelansing bandwagon? Nothing! However, you gain the ability to change the place you live. You change the perspective you share with other people in your vicinity. Best of all you change yourself!

Please, Lansing, don’t give up. We need to keep giving our all and fighting our fight. It’s not won yet. Image

Peace Treats


A week and a half ago I hosted an event at the Lansing City Market. It was called Peace of Lansing and it coordinated with an international day of peace and ceasefire by Peace One Day’s creator Jeremy Gilley. When I first decided to put this day of celebration into motion I had created a list of objectives; garden surplus, mayor speaking, river boat rides, reading circles, teacher school supply donations, used book fair, police meet & greet, flash mobs and singing. Not all of these objectives were met. However, a couple went over quite well and I would surely consider them successful. One of these was our teacher school supply collection. Not only did we receive huge donations of pencils, pens, paper, glue, markers and hand sanitizer, we also received an amazing basket full of school supplies and goodies from the vendors at the Lansing City Market. Now my job, post peace event, was to figure out a good and fair way of distributing these treasures. I tried calling the Lansing School District to get an email sent out, but never got a call back. My next thought was to use my most fast and accessible means; Facebook. I posted the photo of the basket and asked my 619 friends to send me names of people who they thought would be interested in the basket and who worked at any of the Lansing Schools. I received 13 names. I hope that when we have our Peace of Lansing event in 2013 I will come up with a much better way of raffling off our donations, but for now this was the best I could do. At this point I had been able to combine all the donated school supplies into 6 additional boxes. I had seven boxes/baskets to give away. So I wrote all the names onto individual sheets of paper and put them into a bag. I didn’t want this to end up being me pulling names out of a hat, so I decided to bring in someone from the community; another #lovelansing person. I had a meeting planned in Old Town at 11:30 a.m. so I planned to bring the donations to Old Town and hunt down someone I know who would be willing to draw names out. After my meeting, I quickly scanned the streets for someone I knew; no one. Then I thought, I could walk to Artie’s Filling Station, someone perfect would be there. And I was right! Although there wasn’t anyone there enjoying a specialty coffee, the owner was there. John Miller saw me walking up and opened his window with a smile. Yes, the recently awarded 10 over the Next 10 recipient would be perfect for the job!
I immediately explained what I would need him to do and he was more than eager to assist. Within minutes he had pulled out 7 names, one at a time. I labeled each slip with its winning box number and gave John a small detail about each person. A couple were names I didn’t know; friends of a friend. One was a well deserving community member from Village Summit. Marcus Brown was also my son’s math teacher while he attended Riddle Middle Magnet a few years ago. A few were friends of mine from high school and I was really happy to see their names. Finally the large Lansing City Market basket went to a good friend of mine who recently experienced an emotionally draining death in the family. Despite some thinking the drawing was rigged (her words, not mine) I was entirely happy with the outcome.
I drove to a non-sauntered road and walked my way to Lansing STEM Academy on the south side. In the office I told the secretaries what I was doing and who I needed. The first one I didn’t know; Brett Stallworth, but I was happy to explain why he had won, how he had won and what he had won. He seemed a little confused but over all very appreciative of the gesture. Then it was time for my friend. “They’re still pasting” I was told. “She’ll be here in a minute”. Soon, I saw a single file row of children pass by the window. They silently stood shoulder to shoulder waiting for the next command. The door opened and in walked almost 20 little people. They eagerly listened as Jody explained that I was Miss Ariniko and that I had brought an award for her and all of them.
They ooed and awwwed over the flavored popcorn and pretzels, but even were more excited about the notebooks, cheering with fist pumps into the air. They thanked me and hugged me. They smiled and laughed. They were happy because their teacher was happy. I hugged Jody and was off to make this magic happen all over again at four more locations. What a great day!

*Thank you again to those that donated so that we can make these moments happen. It does make a difference.