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.