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

7 responses to “Discouraged

  1. Cheering on #lovelansing is my job and I love it. Don’t be discouraged, just surround yourself with other cheerleaders and it will be fine. We’ve got a beautiful, resourceful city to be proud of!

  2. I don’t know if this is an encouragement, but – I don’t think the problems you describe are really a Lansing problem so much as a people problem. It is always easier to complain that to create.

    I will, however, share my favor “city” quotation, and from an unlikely source – “Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton:

    “Let us suppose we are confronted with a desperate thing – say Pimlico. If we think what is really best for Pimlico we shall find the thread of thought leads to the throne of the mystic and the arbitrary. It is not enough for a man to disapprove of Pimlico; in that case he will merely cut his throat or move to Chelsea. Nor, certainly, is it enough for a man to approve of Pimlico; for then it will remain Pimlico, which would be awful. The only way out of it seems to be for somebody to love Pimlico; to love it with a transcendental tie and without any earthly reason. If there arose a man who loved Pimlico, then Pimlico would rise into ivory towers and golden pinnacles… If men loved Pimlico as mothers love children, arbitrarily, because it is theirs, Pimlico in a year or two might be fairer than Florence. Some readers will say that this is mere fantasy. I answer that this is the actual history of mankind. This, as a fact, is how cities did grow great. Go back to the darkest roots of civilization and you will find them knotted round some sacred stone or encircling some sacred well. People first paid honour to a spot and afterwards gained glory for it. Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they had loved her.”

  3. Love it! Thank you!

  4. Don’t get discouraged! South Lansing is a different place than other parts of the city. There has been little attention paid attention to it, and we don’t have our revitalization spots yet. That being said, there are some awesome pockets of neighborhoods, people and places that stand out to match any district that are not as nice. REO town will be back, and I’m sure will spread some joy further south as it infects some good activity with the surrounding areas — just like some of the other districts. It will happen, but it takes time.

    Keep your chin up — there is some good there — but it is not worn on their faces — it’s hidden on their sleeves 🙂

    • Well hot damn, that made me smile! I’ve realized, they don’t have the river. It makes all the difference! LOL. So how do we go about splitting the river south of Moores River? 🙂 As I walk I will surely keep my eyes open for some optimism. I know it has to be down there. I heard of a park in that area that all the residents were taking care of when the city let it go. I would love to talk to those people. I’m sure there’s more. I’ve found some amazing places in not so great locations. I’ll keep my eyes open for sure!

  5. Pingback: #lovelansing ftw | David M. Crampton

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