Campaign reflections from an operator

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As I continue to work through this week’s election results, thought I’d sit down with Lucy, age 6, who successfully ran her mother Missy Lilje’s bid for the Lansing School District.

Since most political business in this town gets done at The Soup Spoon, I thought we’d meet up there for brunch.  Not surprisingly, it was at least a thirty minute wait for a seat at the bar, which was not going to work for Lucy’s schedule or patience.  So, we headed down to my new favorite Eastside gem, the new Sparrow Hospital cafe–seriously a great addition to the neighborhood.

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We had a great talk over some snacks and hot chocolate.  Lucy, a 1st grader at Post Oak Elementary School in the Chinese Immersion program, frequently answered my questions in Chinese.  Once we clarified that I was unable to handle that, we got down to business.  Here’s an excerpt of what we learned:

Me:  Lucy, are you excited about your Mom’s win?

Lucy:  Yes, and it’s all thanks to me.

Me:  That’s what I heard.  School board elections are tough.  There are many candidates and multiple spots.  That can create confusion.  How did you cut through the noise?  Tell me about your strategy.

Lucy:  Well, I talked to a lot of people.  I handed out many postcards.  I also made a video of my mom saying “Vote for Me” and I put it online for everyone to see.

Me:  I see, so a mix of retail politics and a solid online campaign?

Lucy:  Exactly

Me:  Are you looking forward to your mom serving on the School Board?

Lucy:  Yes, I’ll be watching her on TV.

Editor’s Note:  Um, Lucy do you realize that means watching School Board meetings on TV?  Help. You’re a better citizen than me.

Me:  Lots of people who ran for the Lansing School Board and many other positions didn’t win.  What would you say to them?

Lucy:  Do it again.  You might win next time.lucy-2-3

Clearly time was up, so we headed back down the Avenue with a requisite stop at Fabiano’s for some handmade chocolates and a sucker.

You’re killin the game Lu

 

5 Friday Reflections this Veteran’s Day 2017

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Its a solemn day to reflect on the sacrifices of veteran’s at the end of this tumultuous week in the United States.  This is an important time to pause in humble gratitude.  DF-SC-84-11899

I’ve been working through what this election means and what happens next.  So, now that I’ve over-consumed on simple carbohydrates and taken many thinking walks — my thoughts this Veteran’s Day:

  1. On military service…  Who makes up our current armed services and is it representative of our nation?  Check out this great series of slides. The Air Force has the highest female enlistment and this of course made me think of you, Leann Rawlins, and you choosing service in the Air Force because they weren’t going to make you chop off your hair.  You’re a badass and thank you for your service.  What about Congress and the Presidency?  Well, what a story out of Illinois and Senator-Elect Duckworth  What a humbling bio. Of course, she cannot ascend to the Presidency as she was born in Thailand, talk about the immigrant contribution… tammy-duckworth How about the rest of Congress — here’s a breakdown of  Veteran’s in Congress  As Congress is responsible for declaring war, this is a critical demographic and worthy of consideration and investigation.  What about the Presidency? Well, take a look through this history of service.  Of course we have to go back to George H.W. Bush to find a combat veteran. A Commander in Chief better surround him or herself with exceptional military personnel to effectively lead.

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    Sparks, NV Iron Horse Battalion ROTC Editor’s Note:  I took this photo last month during the presentation of the colors at the Nevada Municipal League Conference.

  2. On Protests… Authors of the Bill of Rights, service members who defend those rights in conflict and peace keeping, and citizens who have fought to preserve and expand those rights to all in this country, know that protests are key to our democracy. I remember sitting in Dr. Gloria Cox’s political science class talking about how wonderful our country is when the United States National Park Service produces a brochure on how to stage a protest in Washington, D.C.  Think about that if you’re fortunate enough to be an American… Our system of  government values your freedoms of assembly and speech so much that it offers guidance on how to express these rights and issues permits to stage the protest against that very same government.  Let that marinate in your mind for a moment… Have something to say?  Great — here’s how to do it effectively  It is your right and your government will help you do it.
  3. On civic engagement… Just a little refresher, as citizens we have both rights and responsibilities.  Here’s a sample:   

    Rights

    Responsibilities

    • Freedom to express yourself.
    • Freedom to worship as you wish.
    • Right to a prompt, fair trial by jury.
    • Right to vote in elections for public officials.
    • Right to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship.
    • Right to run for elected office.
    • Freedom to pursue “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
    • Support and defend the Constitution.
    • Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.
    • Participate in the democratic process.
    • Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.
    • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.
    • Participate in your local community.
    • Pay income and other taxes honestly, and on time, to federal, state, and local authorities.
    • Serve on a jury when called upon.
    • Defend the country if the need should arise.

    These rights and responsibilities are available to all citizens.  How these get executed by the 322 + Million people in the United States will obviously vary.  But one thing I know for sure, civic engagement is not sitting in your Lazy Boy recliner, watching people scream at each other on television about something you already agree with, while typing nasty remarks to people on line who all think the same things you already do.  Slacktivism and snark are the cheap tools of the lazy citizen.  Sitting through an hours long budget meeting and hashing through line-by -line how the overwhelming needs of a nation, state, city, village, or school are going to be met through limited resources is citizenship.  Serving an unpaid 6 year term on a local school board facing multiple complex challenges is citizenship (I see you Missy Lilje and thank you in advance for the work and time you’re about to take on in service to our children and community).  Yes, the outcome of the Presidential election has a monumental impact on our nation and the world.  However, the needs of the local community are always present and there are boards, committees, councils, and organizations in need of our time, talent, and treasure.  This type of work is hard, mundane, and unglamorous.  It is also deeply personal, highly-contentious, and sometimes just bat-shit crazy.  The decisions made at the local and state level impact the daily quality of our lives.  There is work to do — turn off the TV and plug in somewhere for real.

  4. On complexity…  I would like to ban any reference to “both sides”.  The idea that there are two sides to every issue is absolutely absurd.  There are an infinite number of sides to even the simplest of issues.  The hallmark of an educated person is the ability to see the multiple, and possibly conflicting, sides of an issue. The hallmark of a person with emotional intelligence, or EQ, and which is often cited as more important than IQ, is the ability to empathize with another or see another’s perspective.  That requires the ability to connect, listen, switch perspective, and criticize one’s own vantage point.  In other words, complexity.   We are facing incredible challenges locally, nationally, and globally. Beware the simple answer and the shortcut to understanding.  The best we can do is study, learn, debate, listen, implement, tweak, and advance. Then evaluate, review, revise, and advance again.  If you’re not willing to consider that it’s hard, confusing, and complex then please, by all means, stay in that Lazy Boy while those willing to do the work sit at the table.
  5. On immigrants…Between 2% and 3% of the United States population are Native Americans, or between 644,000 and 966,000.  The rest of us 322 Million + people have ancestors that came from somewhere else at sometime along the way.  Maybe your ancestors came here 500 years ago on the Mayflower.  Or maybe 300 years ago in chains and sold into slavery.  Some of our ancestors came fleeing religious persecution in their homeland.  Some of our ancestors came seeking fortune.  Some for jobs, for education, for safety.  Some were hungry for food, for freedom, for love.  We came and became Americans.  I’m, of course, married to an immigrant, by which I mean naturalized citizen.  swearing-in(Editor’s Note:  I first met my husband in that same class referenced above which happened to be Women in Politics, which he enrolled in to meet women. He’s clearly a genius.  In fact, Crawford women have a bit of a track record here — looking at you Kim & Matt McGinness and Rachel & Diego Silva–serious value-adds to this country with those two pickups.  You’re welcome, America).  Want a good cry, watch a few swearing in ceremonies of new American citizens.   I guarantee that whenever your people came here they were hated/feared as well. And if you’re lucky enough to have been born in this country, well–that’s just it, you’re lucky.  Don’t think because you were born on third base you hit a triple.  Point being, none of us are more American than any other American. We’re just flawed, striving people organized under an amazing, complicated, frustrating, infuriating, and beautiful system.              Pause, reflect, then work…..

 

 

 

 

#LOVE Lansing Celebration Opening remarks

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Thank you to everyone (nearly 400 of you!) neighbors who attended the LOVE Lansing Celebration last night.  Congratulations to all of the honorees and thank you for your work to build strong neighborhoods in Lansing.  By request, below are my opening remarks from the event:

In Lansing, we believe that “neighbor” is a verb.  To neighbor is to build the social infrastructure of our community.  It is to do what needs doing.  While it may be to have the meetings and hash out the bylaws and organizational policies of your neighborhood group.  It is most importantly cleaning the park, organizing the potluck, arranging the garage sale, cleaning up the litter, planting the flowers in the snow like we did last weekend, mowing or shoveling for those who cannot, and keeping a watchful eye out for each other’s safety.  It is taking the extra moment in the driveway to talk with one another before heading inside, it is the cup of coffee at each other’s kitchen table.  When we move the lawn chairs from the back deck to the front porch and talk with those around us, we are neighboring and are building our critical social and civic infrastructure. 

 

And moving from the block level to the city level, we are citizens, another great verb.  Residents simply live in a place.  To Citizen is to take responsibility for and ownership of a place.  Citizens see something needing done and don’t think “who can I call to complain about this?”  They think, “how can I get some neighbors together to change and improve this”?  To Citizen is to commit, to engage, and to be responsible for the well-being of a place.  In this work it is not the old adage “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, rather, it is the “organized and collaborative find the resources to get things done.”

 

When we connect with each other, when we neighbor, when we citizen, we are engaging in public health, crime prevention, and economic development.  When we start with building a social infrastructure, we can then build everything else. 

 

Tonight we recognize and thank those of you who embody these principles and take action to neighbor and to citizen in Lansing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Born Movers® Mother’s Day Edition

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Lois on the road

Out shopping for a Mother’s Day card this week, I realized that I found the selection somewhat disappointing.  All seemed to be along the lines of the Martyrdom of Motherhood variety — you know the themes, thanks for giving everything to us and nothing to yourself, pastels and flowers, etc.  I was looking for one more like, “Hey Mom, I think it’s neat you’re a bad ass“.  Of course my mom did all the traditional things you associate with motherhood for us. We don’t call her the MacGyver of Motherhood for nothing– she can cook, knit, build, sew, repair, finagle or haggle for anything you need. She is not, however, a booboo kisser (thanks Dad for picking up the slack in that area). Her many talents would require an additional post.

Here at Move It Media, we celebrate Natural Born Movers®, so I thought it would be a good time to check in with Mom about her athletic endeavors.  I had to schedule an interview as she has a full day of college courses on the day I tried to connect.  She typically takes a few courses each semester and loves to joke that her GPA is so high because she was “sleeping with the Dean” (that’s my Dad by the way, now retired–and he will be mortified that I wrote that, but it’s Mother’s Day, not Father’s Day, and she will love it).

What’s your course load this semester?:

6 credits — Yoga, Pilates, Water exercise, and Ceramics.  (editor’s note:  what are you doing talking to me–isn’t this finals week?  Get studying!)

H and Gma bike ride

Heading out with Grandson to ride the length of the Erie Canal #Grandparentlikeaboss

Tell us about your upcoming cycling trip:

This summer I’ll be riding a self-contained bicycle trip with my sister, Janie.  We’ll be some senior ladies out on the road.  We plan to leave from Lansing then head west to Ludington.  We’ll take the ferry across Lake Michigan, turn north and head up through Wisconsin. Head east across the UP, cross the Mackinac Bridge and head back down the state to Lansing–about 1500 miles.  We are planning to travel for 5 weeks, camping along the way. We could do it in a much shorter time, but there are several breweries we want to hit.  Who knows, we may never get out of Michigan.

Lois & Janie High Ropes

Lois & Janie on High Ropes course

Since this is a Mother’s Day post, what do you think your mom would think of that?:

I think she would be excited about it.  She wouldn’t do something like that, but she’d support us doing it.  She would be absolutely excited to see us doing it together.  She wanted to live long enough to see us getting along, which she did.

What’s your favorite cycling trip you’ve done?:

My favorite was from Baytown, TX to Sault Ste. Marie Michigan.  Turned out to be 2400 miles.  Along the way we saw great stuff Natchez Trace Mississippi — loved the great roads and history in that area.  We rode to Owosso, MI for my 50th high school class reunion along the way. Then we hooked up with the DALMAC ride to get from Lansing to Sault Ste. Marie.  I’d been planning to do a cross country ride from East to West (of the U.S) and it got cancelled, so we made this one up.  (editor’s note:  read about that trip here).

mom and dad bridge

 

What made you get into cycling:

I’ve always had a bicycle.  One time your Dad thought that I should be riding and he bought me a bike and we just did casual rides.  I was out riding my bike and I was challenged by Dr. Tom Seabourne at Northeast Texas College to do the Texas Chain Ring Challenge.  That was my first organized ride.  I started tour cycling at age 53.  I went on the ride and loved it.  I’m 73 now.  I plan to ride as long as I can.

Does it bother you that one of your sons-in-law (the Swede, not the Aussie) calls you the L Train?:

Haha, no.  Only the people that care about you give you nicknames.  I don’t like it when he calls me LoLo, but it’s still polite, just don’t care for it.

Peter & the L Train

The Swede and the L Train

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.  It’s neat that you’re a bad ass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Ways to send a message to the Lansing School District

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On May 3rd, Lansing voters will be asked to vote on the Pathway Promise, the school bond to improve Lansing Schools across the district.  The Pathway Promise Yes effort has been hard at work promoting this proposal through many community presentations.   As part of this effort, one of the concerns I often hear is that residents don’t trust the administration to spend the money as indicated in the proposal and some would like to “send a message” of lack of trust to the administration.  Many times this sentiment is reflective of decades old concerns, one’s own experience in the district presently or a generation ago, or a more recent event where promises weren’t kept to the community.

As a parent in the district and resident of the city, I understand these frustrations completely.  However, our students and educators need this investment to make our district facilities functional and safe.  Our neighborhoods and city need this investment to thrive.  This massive structural overhaul of the district facilities would cost the average homeowner an additional $3/month.  I totally understand the frustration, and would ask that you vote  Yes! on May 3rd, and consider expressing that frustration in other ways.  I’ve compiled 10 ways you might consider doing so, I’m sure you can think of many more…

  1. Attend PCAC meetings.  Because the Lansing School District is a Title I District , it is required to support a Parent Community Advisory Council.  This means that the district must support and attend a meeting with parents and community members every month.  PCAC is an amazing opportunity for parents and community members to speak directly with district officials about the district.  In April, we’ll be taking a deep-dive into the school district budget, seeking to understand how the district is funded, what choices are being made with that funding and who gets to make those choices.  How exciting is that?!?  Join us on Tuesday April 26th at 6:30 pm at Elmhurst Elementary (2400 Pattengill Avenue Lansing, Michigan).  Dinner and childcare is provided–what a deal!
  2. PTA — this is an obvious one folks, join the PTA of your local school.  Don’t have time?  That’s ok, join so you’re counted and make a donation to support their efforts.  Send a message that parent involvement is the key to school success.
  3. Become the Superintendent.  Looks to me like becoming a Superintendent is as simple as spending 30 years progressively building a career in public education and obtaining your doctorate degree.  With the nation’s number one School of Education down the road at Michigan State University, access shouldn’t be an issue.  Get moving!
  4. Make a donation to the Lansing Educational Advancement Foundation and earmark the donation for a specific project that you care deeply about ensuring that the funds go right where you see fit.
  5. School funding in the state of Michigan is interesting (I’ll leave it at that) and the state level decisions significantly impact the choices we have at the local level.  Talk to your State Representatives and Senators about how the State of Michigan funds schools.  Organize for change if you’re not satisfied with what you learn.
  6. Once the bond passes, attend every Lansing School Board meeting.  Provide input over the life of the bond funding and ask for explanation on how each dollar is spent in service to the district.  Don’t like how they’re handling it?  Then run against them in the next election and get your ideas out there.
  7. Attend a high school play, buy everything up at an elementary school bake sale, go to Lansing School District sporting events, volunteer to read on literacy days, become one of those awesome crossing guards that waves to everyone passing by, volunteer to help high school juniors and seniors fill out their FAFSA forms, give a bunch of school supplies to teachers — so many ways to send a message to the district that you’re engaged.
  8. Have a business?  Hire a bunch of high school students in internships and apprenticeships –send the message that the Lansing economy depends on how well we prepare students for career and college.
  9. Donate to the Lansing Promise Scholarship fund, ensuring that every graduate in Lansing can attend college and career training.  No other district in Mid-Michigan provides this benefit.  Continuing to build and expand the Promise will attract families to Lansing schools and neighborhoods increasing home values and quality of life.  That will certainly show ’em.
  10. Ask how you can help.  Inside every school building there are a bunch of humans whose development and future success depends on our community’s investment in education.  I’m sure you have time, talent, or treasure that could benefit that development.  Send a message indeed.

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Fairgard gets fancy

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Fairgard

Move it Media lives on the third floor of Fairgard.  With a more direct shot, you’d probably see me through the top window at my stand up desk.

Our Viking-occupied, German beer hall lovingly known as Fairgard (aka our home) is getting ready for a big internal overhaul.  Walls are coming down, the long-ago demoed kitchen will be re-built, basement supported, flooring going in, scary downstairs bathroom spruced up, and wiring and plumbing updated.

We’re on a multi-year plan preparing him for his Centennial in 2019.  (Note: since it’s basically a fraternity house, it’s a “he”).  This year-long celebration will correspond with our son’s graduation from Lansing Eastern in 2020 and the required graduation open house blowout (a #puremichigan phenomenon that people actually schedule major home improvement projects to accomodate).

The Crawford Jones Board of Directors has had the required number of fights and stalling tactic impasses over design, builder, budget, funding strategies–we’ve been through this before on a few other homes and have come to trust this infuriating process…

We’ve selected RJ Kloak, LLC as our builder.  We interviewed many as we continued to refine our ideas.  I found this builder on Thumbtack  after an exhausting number of meetings with referrals from neighbors and individuals didn’t warrant results.  We went with Ryan and his company because he’s clearly a craftsman.  He’s into deconstruction and custom work.  His crew is full of his childhood buddies and he seems to get what we’re going for.  We are contract signed, deposits in, ready to go sometime this week.IMG_3123

My handiwork is displayed in the photos above — I know how to swing a sledgehammer.  When you expose the knob and tube wiring and the sagging floor is shaking every time your smallish son dunks on his Nerf hoop a floor up, it’s time to find some experts!

In the old saying “you can pick two of Quality, Cost, and Speed”, we always choose speed to eliminate.  (Or the less eloquent version of “you can pick two: cheap, fast, or good”).

We’re excited to get started and in a month we look forward to getting back to what we do best, aggressive games of modified wall ball and the raging house party.  Dance floor dimensions have been expanded and a sweet karaoke system has been added to our impressive disco light/smoke machine setup in our party arsenal.  Fairgard will be ready to entertain for his next hundred years.