Tag Archives: Summer

Scrapping Along

small_IMG_6772The warnings started arriving via phone apps early: Heat Advisory for your area. The warning for extreme heat isn’t new in the Lansing area but we hadn’t had much heat yet this summer. Despite the threat, a purposeful storm system with high winds, heavy rain and lightening pounded the area just before noon reducing the temperatures by 10 more degrees. I’m pretty sure the anticipated high of 90 degrees never arrived. But the damage was done and plans were canceled leaving our family with nothing to do. I suggested, once again, that we could all drive to Old Town for The ScrapFest. Within minutes we were traveling west.small_IMG_6765For the first time The Scrap Fest was venturing out onto its own; it wasn’t paired with the Festival of the Sun and Moon. I didn’t really notice a reduction in foot traffic and it seemed to have a more craft festival feel to it. There were crafter tables around the perimeter of the event as well as hands on activities hosted by REACH Studio Art Center. There was the given musical entertainment area under a large canopy which had kept the crowd dry earlier. At the center was the Scrap Art. Each year participants forage through Friedland’s scrap yard locating the perfect set of recyclable material to create their masterpiece and each year the resulting art is magnificent. This year was not any different. There was a flexible metallic fish that actually had a swimming motion when a wheel was manually turned.small_IMG_6785 There was a giant mosquito that despite being all metal looked horrifyingly real, given this year’s bumper crop of the pest.small_IMG_6770 Crafted in metal there were turtles, dragons, fish, flowers, and even a mosaic Michigan table, including the Upper Peninsula as a high top table.small_IMG_6779small_IMG_6794small_IMG_6792We spent about an hour there looking at the art, enjoying the music and running into quite a few people we knew, which is one of the great things I love about Old Town.

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Celebrating Freedom

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The twins posing in the street in front of the Capitol Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July parade
© Ariniko Artistry

Last year we had family out for the fourth of July and we skipped heading into Lansing for any festivities. To be honest in 2012 when we attended both the parade and fireworks display some freaky things happened that made me not want to come back. Although the parade was fine in 2012 it was hot out making sitting through the parade almost painful. This year it was almost a tad, a smidge, an iota chilly. Luckily my husband led us to the perfect, sunny, photographic location.

Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July parade © Ariniko Artistry

Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July parade
© Ariniko Artistry

We sat directly in front of the closed off parking ramp on Allegan. Every photo I took was back dropped with the Capitol and a gorgeous Mid Michigan blue sky.

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Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July parade © Ariniko Artistry

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Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July parade
© Ariniko Artistry

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Lansing Lugnut’s Car Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July parade © Ariniko Artistry

 

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Zap Zone Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July parade © Ariniko Artistry

In 2012, although there was a good enough attendance, the participants within the parade seemed thin. By that I mean each group had only a few people representing them. There was a huge difference this year where each specific group had a large crowd with them and almost every group interacted with the crowd by handing out candy or some such thing. We came home with flags, coupons, magnetic clips and even packets of orange Kool-Aid with directions to create Kool Aid playdough from Lansing Charter Academy and Windmere Park Charter Academy. The New Citizens Press Community Action Network Inc. and its Stop the Violence campaign which also partnered up with Mike Karl and The Homeless Angels had over 125 in their group. As they passed by it was hard not to join in with their encouragement to “Keep the peace, stop the violence”.  Within their midst was Yvonne LaFave and her Go Green Trikes carrying  the Quality Dairy (Pine St.) water donation to keep the group hydrated. They later donated the remaining water to Livity Inc which is a nonprofit fighting to rid the Capital city of poverty and hunger.  These types of activities are what really make Lansing amazing.

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Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July parade © Ariniko Artistry

In 2012 we came into Lansing late and our normal spot was full. We then decided to park in Old Town and walk to our normal location by the Lansing City Market. I’m not sure if it was the heat or something else but there was a strange feeling to this night. It seemed there were large groups of people who could at any moment cause trouble. Many of the members of the groups were visibly intoxicated.  At one point we thought we even heard a gunshot. Although we were walking quite fast we were unable to fully make it to our desired location. As the first fireworks began to light up the sky we found ourselves stuck under the Shiawassee St. Bridge.  The photography from this location was terrible. We then decided to go onto the bridge.  Again we found ourselves in the middle of two separate groups, sizing each other up. At one point the mayor and Capt. Daryl Green raced to where we were standing, dramatically looked around and then took off in a car. Once we got home to safety it came to our attention that someone had been shot very near to where we were at. The whole situation left me feeling unsure about ever returning to watch fireworks in Lansing.

Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July © Ariniko Artistry

Lansing, Michigan Fourth of July
© Ariniko Artistry

However after a year off I was willing to try again. Our original idea for this year’s Fourth of July was to attend the Lugnuts game. This would provide the safety needed to feel comfortable in the city, enjoy some baseball and be in the perfect spot for fireworks. Then again you can wait too long and not be able to get tickets. The next idea was to just find the perfect photographic location so I can get some good shots. With this in mind we headed to the top of Sparrow Hospital parking ramp. We had parked on the top-level a few months ago and found that the view was phenomenal.  We honestly didn’t even know if we could park there but as we drove in we found ourselves in a small parade heading into the ramp. We parked lower down for a fast get away and began our hike up 5 levels of stairs. At the top we found a very large group of people waiting for the light show. There were numerous security folks keeping the peace and all in all a family friendly environment. And as I had thought, the view was spectacular. We enjoyed watching the panoramic view of the horizon as consumer level explosions shot into the sky. It was great for people/car watching as well. We quickly settled in at a space by the wall so I could take photos and the kids took out the chairs and the bucket of popcorn I’d made just before leaving. Just after 10:00 p.m. the first city display shot off. This was the perfect spot!

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The View from Sparrow Hospital © Ariniko Artistry

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The city of Lansing fireworks © Ariniko Artistry

The show was great. Then we waited patiently for the Lugnuts game to finish, their lights shut off and their fireworks to begin. And we waited. And we waited. I started texting people I knew were at the game and found that at the bottom of the 14th there was still no score.

The cars leaving after the city fireworks  © Ariniko Artistry

The cars leaving after the city fireworks
© Ariniko Artistry

From our eagle eye location we could see the traffic and decided we would wait the game out. Forty minutes later the news came in via Facebook that the Lugnuts had won. The lights went out over the stadium and we sat through a second fireworks display. It was a gorgeous night and even though those fireworks were farther away there was something really memorable about seeing the moon resting to the south of the Lansing downtown skyline and the baseball game fireworks filling the sky to the north.

 © Ariniko Artistry

© Ariniko Artistry

By the end of those fireworks the traffic was flowing smoothly and we had no trouble getting home. As we pulled into our driveway we were greeted by nature’s own fireworks; millions of fireflies flitting and glowing all over the tree line. This was really the perfect ending to a perfect day of celebrating our independence.

 

Touring the Capitol

img_5019ajWhen I started this project almost 3 years ago I took on the physical process of touring every street of the Capitol city. I had no idea where this process would lead me. I had some guesses that I would see parts of the city I had never gone to before. I figured I would meet new people interested in my task. I thought maybe one or two media sources might find this project interesting. Never, ever did I think that I would, through this project, become part of so many exciting groups (Lunch with a Purpose, #lovelansing, MarketLansing, Crazy Geeks with Cameras, CCFF, Ignite, TEDx, DirtyFeat, Lansing Marathon Committee, Lansing Dragon Boat Committee), meet so many exciting people (way too many to name), and be invited to do amazing things. Yesterday, because of my City Saunter project, I was invited to go on a private tour of Michigan’s Capitol. I climbed, with a group of nine other people, every level of the Capitol to the top most windowed area during a two and a half hour exclusive tour.

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I recently read a post called “23 Things Every Woman should Stop Doing”. The second thing on the list was stop saying yes to everything. For whatever reason I had found that normally (pre City Saunter) I would say no to everything. I wanted to stay home and not exert too much energy. I turned down late night drives with my husband (too tired), going out with friends (too much work, too tired, cost money), I wouldn’t hang out without Pat (I feel bad when he can’t come out), or really anything fun. This project has completely changed my perspective. It forced me to go outside of my comfort zone in a way I had never done before. NEVER. I now talk to strangers. I smile at everyone. I say hello/bye to everyone I pass, all the time. I don’t even realize it anymore until I’m walking with someone and I am interrupting our conversation to smile and say hi to people we are passing. I’ve gone on radio stations and television stations. I’ve been on the upper floor of the Boji Tower. I climbed onto the roof of Kathie Dunbar’s van to get a photo of Art Attack and when that wasn’t good enough we went to the roof top of another tall building across the street to get the photo. I’ve been on top of the Knapp’s building at night. I paddled a Dragon Boat. I planned an event inside an airplane hangar. I created a new event for peace. I’ve walked 400 miles of city streets. Now, I’ve climbed to the top of the state Capitol building.

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I don’t feel that I am anything special. Three years ago I was a stay at home mom with twins starting kindergarten and two sons in college. I was dabbling in photography and had a degree in psychology with neither landing me a full time career. I was wallowing in my situation; anticipating the sadness I would have with my kids all gone. Then this project came to me like a gift from God. I didn’t think I could do it but instead of saying no, I said let’s do this! For three years now I’ve walked, smiled, talked, interviewed, photographed, blogged, volunteered and journeyed through this city. Yesterday I was able to view it all from the tippy top of our Capitol building.  What an amazing journey I have been on. And all of it began with a one mile trek around that very same Capitol almost three years ago.

I have more photos on my Flickr Account

And also on my website

Where the Flowers Grow

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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.

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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.

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Some other “flowers”?

The Holmes Street School being converted to Lansing Technology Center

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Three Urban Garden Plots

A very large section of wild grapes growing on the fencing on Aurelius just east of this neighborhood

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Walsh Park

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Land Bank House

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To the South

csIMG_3723For the last three walks I have been trying to finish off the last area north of 496. Today I was able to accomplish that. It took me seven walks to complete. There is a pair of pink (maybe originally red) Converse tennis shoes hanging from the telephone cables. I walked under those 3 different times. And that’s how these walks go, back and forth, back and forth.

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For almost 3 years I’ve walked this way. I have reached a significant goal by completing all the streets north of 496. With maybe 2 more walks I will have everything north of the river walked. Soon it will be everything east or west of Cedar, or Pennsylvania. Or some other preset goal I created for myself. Another goal I got the wheel rolling on is completing the entire project by October 4. As of today I have walked 367.7174 miles. It hasn’t been quite three years yet. I wish I knew how many more miles I had left. That would really help me out. I asked my husband to honestly tell me by looking at my marked off map if he thought I could get it done by then. He said no. I wish it was one of those “so you think I can’t? Why I’ll show you!” moments, but I’m thinking he might have a point. I don’t give up very easily and I really don’t like to tell people that I’d do something and not do it. Do I think people won’t show up to my gallery exhibit if I haven’t gotten all the streets walked? No, but I would feel that I had let everyone down. So, I’m going to walk. I will attempt to walk as many miles as I can every day that I can. Today I got 5.52 done. I would like to do 10 miles every day until I at least feel like it’s possible to finish. However, I am also a mom of 7 year old twins, operate a photography business, and am putting on a peace event called Peace of Lansing on September 21, 2013. I really might need some inspiration (and possibly a shoe sponsor? Can someone get on that?).

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So if you see me out on the south side, give a little wave. I’ll wave back, I always do. I also might be planning some long walks, like eight hour or even longer so if anyone can come up with a way to use it to raise money for charity let me know. I was thinking of something like your business can pay you to walk with me for some time and then you can donate to your charity. Any takers?  Well let me know!

Here’s to finishing the journey!

My walks today: Willow area and South Side

Industrializing the West

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My plan was to walk for 2-3 hours and complete as much of the west side as possible. Yesterday I walked a mile in this Old Oakland Neighborhood. This was my fourth walk in this area. I had really hoped to have all the “north of 496” streets done by now, but that hasn’t been the case. This is my last section though and today was going to get most of it done-except I didn’t. I think today was the first time I really felt I might not get this project done by October 1. When I added up yesterday’s miles to the total I found I was just over 350. If there are a total of 410 miles of streets in Lansing then I should have 60 left. The only problem is that when I walk, I am often re-walking streets I’ve already walked before to get to the places I haven’t walked yet. How many miles of re-walks do I have? I don’t know. Therein lies the problem. I might have only 60 more miles, but I might have more like 80! Even 80, though, are doable. If I walk 6 miles in 2 hours, then I would need to walk 13 times, roughly. We still have 30 days until the gallery opening. That’s less than half. If I walk 6 miles every 2 days I can walk 80 miles! Today’s walk was supposed to be a 6 mile walk. Unfortunately my body didn’t cooperate. I was only able to walk about 2.6 miles before a hunt for a restroom began. I had hoped the West Side Park would be unlocked but it was not.  I would love to say that this hasn’t happened to me before while walking, but I can’t. In fact finding a rest room in Lansing is almost impossible. The Lansing City Market is really the only public restroom on the entire river trail. I’m really hoping that providing awareness for lack of city restrooms doesn’t become the legacy of this project. I suppose I could be known for worse things! 

Decorative Flowers at Padnos

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Unused rail stop on Sunset

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Blocked off open field owned by BWL

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My Walk today

Taking the High Road.

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I realized I was trapped in a learned stereotypical behavior. I don’t recall when the idea was given to me, but at some time in my youth I had been taught to fear High St. I remember the stories as a young person; people die there, you will get stabbed, they hate white people. I have no recollection of who told me such things, but I remember them. As I continue to walk my way through Lansing these memories, these urban legends and falsehoods seep to the top like cooked fat in chicken stock. When things are told to you by someone you trust, you believe them. It’s not until a new experience happens that contradicts that learned behavior that you relearn what you’ve thought to be true all along. If no new experience emerges then the old fabrications remain in place. This is what happened to me and High Street. I didn’t realize I was afraid to walk there until I realized I was creating excuse after excuse to not walk there. I finally took some time to figure out why. Then the memories came back. The stories I was told by the older kids whispered to the surface. The fears of my youth surfaced. Throughout this project when a non supported fear comes over me I try to change my perspective by thinking of positive things. I know that High Street had a street calming revamping. I was interested in seeing what had been done. I also know that Cristo Rey Community Center is located on High St. and they provide amazing services to the community including a health center, clothing and food. With this positivity in mind, I set out to walk High St. and like any person who’s ready to face her fears, I took along a buddy! My first attempt to walk this area I had made plans to walk with my friend Stephanie. We were only able to walk half of it but I remember turning to her on our way back and saying; “that wasn’t scary at all”. She laughed at me like I said the most ridiculous thing ever. She didn’t understand my ingrained fear of this neighborhood. On my second attempt to finish this street, I found myself alone. I parked at the north police precinct and again headed north. I walked the streets I had missed the first few times through this area. It often takes me 3-6 times to complete a neighborhood. I walked straight up High. I saw, much like the other streets I walk, people waving and saying hello, utility people out working on the street, residents working on their homes. Just like almost all of the other walks I have taken so far I found no reason to have any fear, in fact, this walk was quite enjoyable. It took me a very long time, but I have finally found a number of contradictions to those silly lies I was told as a child and I am very thankful I did. 

My Walk

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Multi-Tasking


A recent article flittering its way through Facebook land had the audacity of proclaiming the ineffectualness of multitasking. Even with a quick Google search I found multiple articles claiming the death of multitasking. What once was considered a skill is now looked at as doing multiple things mediocrely.  I’m thinking that this is a media no news story. How many people really do one thing at a time? I don’t even think I could. I have always been a multi-doer. Many days I have a running chat window going with someone while I edit photos or write a blog or work on design projects. I’ve been known to dictate a list to my husband while we drive. With the twins out of school for the summer I often find myself writing blogs on a notebook while watching them swim in the pool. Today was the king of multi-doing. Today I would drive the twins (and their bikes) into town, park at their grandparents, let them ride their bikes on streets I need to cover for City Saunter. We will eventually make our way to the park at the front of Scott’s Woods to play for a bit. Afterwards we will continue on non Sauntered streets until I reach a section that I also need to take notes on for the Lansing Walkability Audit. And in my perfect world the twins will be hydrated, fed and eager to assist me with my measuring and observing. Ahhhh genius! I’ll give you all a moment to get a tissue to wipe the tears of laughter from your eyes.

First off it took an extra hour to hook the car-bike-contraption thing onto the car. It is now noon. We didn’t eat lunch but we did have a late breakfast. I decide to go anyway. Twenty minutes later we arrive in Lansing at Grandma and Grandpa O’Meara’s house. Grandma’s not home, but Grandpa greets us and sends us on our way. The kids on their bikes are the perfect way for them to travel while I walk. We don’t usually get very far if I make them walk. On their bikes they don’t even complain when we go down one block and turn around to head up another street. They easily make their way through the neighborhood listening obediently to instructions to stop and look for cars. Using my map to successfully navigate our way we make it to the park successfully. After a short stay we were off again. I knew at this time it would have been best to make our way straight back to the car. I didn’t. I pushed one last task onto our little group of travelers. Out onto Pennsylvania Ave. I pulled out two clip boards stuffed with papers and instructions.  We began check boxing specific information about intersections and sidewalks. I really had hoped that using the measuring tape to measure the ramps at every intersection on a busy street would have been a blast for the kids. It was not. We completed about 3 intersections and two blocks of sidewalks on the odd side before the twins had their melt down. It’s fine. We were at Pacific and I hadn’t walked that street yet. In a few blocks we were at my in-laws’ street. The twins made the turn and were heading the last three blocks to their house. My dilemma was walking one more block to connect my Pacific walk and complete that section or stay with the twins. I’d watched the twins carefully make their way in this neighborhood for over an hour. Despite not being use to riding bikes in neighborhoods, I trusted that they’d be just fine. They turned left and I quickly continued walking the last block of Pacific. Alone I was able to really enjoy the last length of the walk but my true peace didn’t hit until a saw two bikes, one boy and one girl, parked out in front of grandma and grandpa’s house.