Throughout the streets, as I weaved up and down and back and forth, the constant I found was the flowers. Almost every house has flowers. Some had really elaborate gardens and landscaping including the most gorgeous rose garden walkway. Some only had a plant here or there. Then there’s the time that a flower just pops up out of the most unexpected place. It has come to me that this is the analogy of Lansing. I go to a neighborhood expecting a possible bad situation and even though I do witness poverty, uncleanliness, income disparities, and other “negative” aspects, I almost always find a flower growing. Sometimes literally, other times figuratively. Like today, as I walked, I saw many run down homes, but for each of those there were three that were being worked on. I also found quite a few empty houses either through foreclosure or vacancy. For each of those there were also a set of houses that had relaxation areas, play areas and other signs of use. Then when I made my way to an area that might cause me trepidation I see the most amazing thing. Straight ahead of me is a group of men wearing baby blue t-shirts. They are moving around in a yard. I’m too far away to see what’s really going on but there they are. This is good because it means a safe space. There are people there that I can feel safe being around. That’s not always the case. To the credit of this neighborhood I only felt unsafe once and I think they were more wary of me than I was of them. I get closer to the soft, blue shirted men and see that they are working construction type things.
The signs say Tuesday Toolmen. They are bustling around cutting wood, measuring and working really well together. I pass by, but their presence made me want to see what they were all about. So I went back and asked what their sign meant. “We’re Tuesday Toolmen”, the one closest to me announces very jovially. He’s an older man, possibly retired; very charming and grandfatherly. I like this group. He goes on to explain that they are a group of volunteers that use funds from the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition to help repair homes for low income residents. Then he goes on to say, “And we work on Tuesday and today is Tuesday!!” I ask if I can take their photos and I get the typical, “get our good side”, “don’t forget that guy”, and quite a few other retorts. They laugh and wave me off with a “have a great day”. I love seeing flowers grow in the most unexpected places.
Some other “flowers”?
The Holmes Street School being converted to Lansing Technology Center
Three Urban Garden Plots
A very large section of wild grapes growing on the fencing on Aurelius just east of this neighborhood
Land Bank House