Lansing is often referred to as a Little Big City. I think if you asked 5 people what that really means you probably would get 5 different answers. For me, it means there are enough big city activities such as museums, theater, and festivals to entertain the locals and make us feel we have a variety similar to any larger city on one hand. Then on the other you still feel your voice matters, you can get involved in a more intricate way and if you are out and about you run into people you know. This Saturday was a blaring example of this point. Since completing City Saunter and taking on the management of a creative space in REO Town, I have increased my presence down there, including hosting local events, helping with the festivals hosted by REO Town and being voted in as a board member of the REO Town Commercial Association. This means when something is going on down there I am usually present. Yesterday was the 5th year of REO Town’s Art Attack event. It’s an amazing day spent creating art, listening to art, tasting art, buying art and watching art being created. The smell of spray paint and the sounds of local bands is a given. This year one of the bands playing was Bastards of Young. I wasn’t familiar with the name but one of the band members was someone I was familiar with, Scott Owens. Some of you might know Scott from the band 19 Wheels. But I know Scott from many years earlier when I entered Lansing Eastern High School for the first time as a freshman in 1984. I had signed up to play flute for the Lansing Eastern High School band and band camp was a month before school even started. I clearly remember my dad dropping me off in the high school parking lot that summer. I had no idea what I was doing. I found one of my middle school friends; Jennifer Foster (no relation) and she led me around, helping me load my bags into the buses and giving out instructions. She’d been through all of this with her siblings. I unfortunately was a first born and all of this was new to me. When it was time to get on a bus, I just picked one. I didn’t really know anyone so it didn’t matter to me much. This bus only had seats in the back available and I somehow picked a row very near Scott and the senior drum major, Rip Kinne. They sang loud and proud to every song on Prince’s Purple Rain cd and by the time we arrived at the Ebersole Center I was well versed in all the band chants, Quaker cheers and “Let’s Go Crazy” was my new favorite song. This was the very beginning of turning into a band geek. These Quakers became family as I spent more time with them through four years of camps, practices, games, class time, parades, and trips out of state than my actual family. It was probably because of how much time we spent together that these years still mean a great deal to me. Some of my closest friendships formed through the band. So when I found out that not only was my old drum major playing at Art Attack but three other fellow Quakers (two of which were in the band with us), I immediately sent out a social media post that some Quakers were in the house. Soon we had collected six other Quakers (3 of which were in the band together) to rock out to our friends performing on stage. To add to the fun, we ran into our band director, Jack Mike, who had come out to watch the guys play. Some 30 years after we were all in the band together we had met up again to enjoy a wonderful #lovelansing event on a gorgeous Michigan day. To me that’s what makes Lansing so great. I can head out to enjoy an exciting festival and still find a handful of old friends and memories, overlapping, year after year, event after event. The weaving of these encounters; remembering who we were, embracing where we are and anticipating who we will become, only reinforces my love for this little big city I call home.
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