Campaign reflections from an operator



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.


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


#LOVE Lansing Celebration Opening remarks



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

mom on bike

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.







Fairgard gets fancy


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.




A park in the center of the city: Sycamore Park #WalkingWednesday


Despite being only 2 miles from the center of downtown Lansing, this WalkingWednesday through Sycamore Park felt like a trip up north.  The neighborhood is filled with old growth trees, piney woods, and open green space.  It’s within easy walking and biking distance from many other beautiful parks, like Fenner Nature Center, Sycamore Golf Course, and Potter Park Zoo.  Hop on the River Trail and you can quickly access Ingham County Parks, downtown, and MSU.

It’s bordered on the north and the east by water (lots of it right now as the Red Cedar River and Sycamore Creek are very high due to heavy rain).

Looking north towards Potter Park Zoo

Looking north towards Potter Park Zoo

River High Water

Looking east along the Red Cedar








The green space assets of the neighborhood are stunning and on this beautiful June evening, the beauty of the area was on full display.  This area is known for its bird wildlife and is home to a heron rookery and a bald eagle’s nest.  Learn more in this Nature Discovery article.

Sycamore Park Neighborhood Association president Paul Wozniak provided a walking map (my first neighborhood to hand out maps for #WalkingWednesday!) Find our more about the Sycamore Park Neighborhood Association on Facebook.

Sycamore Park walking tour covering a part of every street in the neighborhood.

Sycamore Park walking tour covering a part of every street in the neighborhood.

The neighborhood has many long term residents.  Our tour was a mix of newer and longer term neighbors. Top reasons I heard for choosing Sycamore Park (in no order) were:

  • Proximity to downtown and MSU & convenience to everything
  • Access to the River Trail without crossing any major streets
  • Neighborhood friendliness

Houses are a mix of 1920s – 1940s single family homes with interesting architecture and tons of charm.

Mt. Hope Elementary

Mt. Hope Elementary School

Mt. Hope 4-6 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) School sits on the neighborhood’s southern border.  The school playground, basketball courts, and green space add to the recreational opportunities & beauty of the neighborhood.  School leaders and the PTA partner with the neighborhood organization on many events.

Neighbors at one of the welcome signs.  Neighbors care for the planting/weeding of these entryways.

Neighbors at one of the welcome signs. Neighbors care for the planting/weeding of these entryways.

Bordered by both Pennsylvania Ave and Mt. Hope, commercial corridors have an impact on the neighborhood.  Neighbors are happy with the increased commercial activity at the Mt. Hope/Penn intersection with the addition of Central Pharmacy Vacancies still exist on the south side of Mt. Hope and neighbors are hoping for new tenants in those spaces.

Heading south along Pennsylvania Ave.

Heading south along Pennsylvania Ave.


Long time local businesses such as Smith Floral continue to provide commercial activity in the area

Looking south across Mt. Hope to Smith Floral

Looking south across Mt. Hope to Smith Floral







We waved to many neighbors enjoying the beautiful weather on their front porch and took a peek into the Little Free Library:

A little house of books

A little house of books








We headed back to the park for a summer time treat and were all really impressed with the watermelon slicer!

Paul introduces us to the wonders of the watermelon slicer

Paul introduces us to the wonders of the watermelon slicer












Thank you for your hospitality and the chance to meet many neighbors and see your beautiful homes. Enjoy the summer in your park in the city!

This #WalkingWednesday was the first attended by our AmeriCorps VISTA members in our Cities of Service Love Your Block program.  Learn more about their work and see their blog post about the Sycamore Park tour at Lansing Love Your Block



Cities of Service Lansing/Flint Peer Learning trip


I have the great fortune of working with Cities of Service a dynamic organization working to revitalize cities across the world through citizen engagement, impact volunteerism, and innovative approaches to municipal leadership.  Read about our recent trip to Flint for some peer learning with our Mayors & neighborhood leaders and see some of the innovative ways Flint residents are rebuilding their city:


Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero with Cities of Service staff

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero with Cities of Service staff

#Walking Wednesday Greater Lansing Food Bank Resource Center


This week’s Walking Wednesday took us to the Garden Resource Center with Julie Lehman, Garden Program Coordinator of the Greater Lansing Food Bank.

The Garden Project is one of its programs and the Resource Center is its hub.  When we visited on Wednesday it was full of neighbors picking up seeds, gardening information, starter plants, and food.  There were volunteers everywhere running the operation and working in the gardens.



2401 Marcus St. Lansing, MI 48912

2401 Marcus St. Lansing, MI 48912

The facility is tucked into the south end of Foster Park Foster Park map(C on the map below–A is the Foster Community Center).




From the Resource Center you can see the traffic on both 127 to the East and 496 to the South, yet you are surrounded by green space and large community garden/urban farm projects.

Community gardens and home gardeners can register with the garden program and find a community of growers and support for their efforts.







Just southwest of the Resource Center is the UrbandaleFarm.    Urbandale

Amazing the difference a sign makes!

Amazing the difference a sign makes!








If you’re interested in home gardening, urban gardening, food access, healthy living/eating, or just meeting people who are thinking about these things are creating them in your community, stop in at the Resource Center and learn more.  Of course, donate to the Greater Lansing Food Bank to continue their support of these programs and services as we work together to eliminate hunger in our community.  Thank you Julie for your hospitality and we look forward to seeing the bounty of these gardens all summer long!