Today I walked a “bad” neighborhood. The only problem is; it wasn’t. Yes, it was in one of the areas of town considered a bit rough and tumble but it didn’t seem that bad to me. Maybe it was because I was walking through this area on a very sunny, early December, Wednesday morning. I suppose living here might be different. Maybe there are stories that I could be told by residents. However, the more I continue on this walking project through Lansing the more I learn that there really isn’t a typical “Bad” neighborhood. Many times what I find is that there are a few “bad” houses that may or may not affect the area. On this walk, I passed residents and they smiled and said “hi” when I smiled and said “hi” to them. Yes, my pace might have been a bit quicker, I kept my camera discreetly hidden away and I perfected my nod and smile routine. I’ll admit that when I walked up a quaint dead end street that nestled up to the edge of the highway with only the one way in, I was a bit relieved by its isolation. But I also noticed some of the signature signs of a “safe” neighborhood: lawn ornaments, cars in good working order, cleanliness, flags, landscaping and nice people. These houses were just as ornate and positive as any “good” neighborhood. Despite all the negativity about Lansing, it seems that it doesn’t really have this heavy level of destitute and poverty that might be found in other hard hit recession Michigan cities. In fact, the more I walk the more I find quite the opposite. I find community centers that help provide services to the neighborhoods. I find non profits encouraging good and healthy behavior. I find neighborhood groups building urban gardens and promoting good habits. I also learn of family and friends buying houses in these “bad” neighborhoods and liking it there.
Now, I know it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. I did notice the abandoned belongings of homelessness under the overpasses. I know many people are without good paying jobs. I know drugs are a big issue on the streets. Maybe it is dangerous out there. Maybe my being out there is playing with fire. I was warned excessively when I first went public with this project that I was being too risky; walking in areas that are known for trouble. I trusted that I would be safe out there. I trusted that the crime issues wouldn’t really get me while I purposely walked from street to street without causing any trouble. So far Lansing hasn’t let me down. I don’t necessarily like walking in these rougher parts of town, but so far these nefarious parts haven’t lived up to their negative reputation. I hope it stays that way.
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