#LOVE Lansing Celebration Opening remarks

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logo_LOVE

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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cities of Service Lansing/Flint Peer Learning trip

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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

Builders Series: Kristie King, National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

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The Builders Series profiles people hard at work building healthier communities.  Meet Kristie King of the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan http://www.nkfm.org/ Nominate someone for our next builder’s series profile in the comments below or connect with me on Twitter @andicrawford

Kristie King (kneeling L of center) w/ NKFM colleagues at the Enhance®Fitness Statewide Conference

Kristie King (kneeling L of center) w/ NKFM colleagues at the Enhance®Fitness Statewide Conference

Kristie King

National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

Senior Program Manager

I first met Kristie King in 2008 when the Michigan Department of Community Health was investing in Michigan communities to implement a portfolio of evidence based programs to build the health of older adults.  She and I were both working on the delivery of Enhance®Fitness, a community and evidence based exercise program for older adults.

Since that time, the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan has done an amazing job of building relationships with community partner sites and now has 25 locations in Southeast Michigan delivering this program.  Kristie and her team have trained over 100 instructors, many who are community members who came to the program as participants.  As challenging as it is to administer this program (train and manage staff, manage budgets, and recruit participants), Kristie will tell you the most difficult challenge is building relationships and encouraging community members to  participate in this life-changing program.

What does your work at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan entail?

“In addition to overseeing the Enhance®Fitness program I am the lead liaison for the Inkster Partnership for A Healthier Community https://www.facebook.com/InksterPartnershipForAHealthierCommunity.

This coalition of nearly 40 organizations and residents works to support residents of Inkster in adopting and maintaining healthy behaviors.

While I’m not a resident of Inkster, I’ve worked hard to develop trust within the community.  Inkster has a rich history as a community of predominantly African American residents who settled in the area because of work opportunities at the Ford Motor Company.  Policies and practices restricted Dearborn to white employees and Inkster became a home for African Americans.  Inkster is a proud community working to address some critical community challenges, including the closing of their school district in recent years due to budget shortfalls.  Students now travel to four surrounding districts.  There is no grocery store within the community, leading to challenges with healthy food access.  How do you build a community with no school system and no grocery stores?  The coalition is working to develop garden programs, healthy food options, and access to health programs.  However, this is challenging because health is not top of mind for some residents.  Residents are concerned with meeting their basic needs; jobs, housing, education, and food.

My challenge is to use the resources that the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan and put them to the best use directly in the community.  This means working in partnership with community leaders.  People are not interested in my degrees or credentials.  In fact, sometimes those things prevent building trust.  You have to work with people.  As one pastor told me ‘We’re putting our trust in you, Kristie.  We’re not trusting your organization, the state health department, or anyone else.’  This is the key, delivering on what you say you’re going to do for people and communities. It cannot be short-term.”

Besides money, what is your biggest challenge?

Kristie:  “Money is not my biggest challenge.  The biggest barrier is getting to people who need these services the most.  How can we get people focused on taking care of their health when they are worried about rent, food, electricity, childcare, and education?  It takes really focused work to say, ‘let’s look at your resources and see how we can put them to use differently’.  That’s hard.  My approach with partners is to say, ‘This isn’t about an exchange of money, this is an exchange of resources’.  This approach communicates clearly that this isn’t about me helping you with funding I have, it’s us working together to bring about a change with what we all bring to the table; people, resources, space, commitment, and leadership.

What do you need more of?

“I need more staff, more committed people in all levels of the organization & community understanding what we’re trying to do.  The number of people in the community we’ve been able to serve are great, but it’s not enough.  We have to be in it for the long haul to really make a difference in people’s lives.  I make a lot of people mad because I demand that you be committed, to the people and to the program—this is long term change”.

Who’s work inside or outside of your industry or area of focus do you admire?

Kristie:  “There’s an organization on the Eastside called VODI-IMPACT http://voicesofdetroitinitiative.org/?page_id=583 it’s in what Detroiters call the ‘Old Holy Cross Hospital’.  I’ve worked with their Director Gayle Walters, who is actually transitioning away from this program as she’s relocating with her husband.  In the time we’ve worked together, we’re just kindred spirits.  You would think she has an MPH or a MSW, but she actually has a marketing background.  She is a master collaborator with many different partners.  She completely understands the social determinants of health and knows how to bring people together to get all kinds of services working together under one roof for residents.  VODI-Impact’s work needs to be studied and replicated—it’s just amazing”.

#WalkingWednesday features Wexford Montessori School & Davis Park

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Walking Wednesday headed to SW Lansing this week to tour the Wexford Montessori K-8 school and the new paved trail that connects Waverly Rd east to Davis Park.

A huge thank you to Mr. Eric Royston of Wexford for his informative tour of the Montessori program.  Wexford Montessori is one of only approx 150 public Montessori schools in the United States.  The school is partnering with several organizations to enhance its offerings including a relationship with Lansing Parks and Recreation to build an incredible outdoor learning environment for student exploration.  We heard a song from some young students and saw their learning environments which included cool tables like the one pictured that allow for students to spread out and work in teams.  What a treasure in our Lansing School District serving primarily students from the surrounding SW Lansing neighborhoods.

 

WexfordMont.WW.Table

 

WexfordSchool.WW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We toured the neighborhood south of Wexford Elementary and headed to the newly opened paved trail, which is accessible at the south end of Wexford Ave.  Kris Klein of the South Lansing Community Development Association talked about the development of the trail and how it now connects throughout Lansing’s South Side allowing residents to commute downtown.  We headed East past the Harry Hill campus which houses Lansing School District offices, Lansing Police Department personnel and the Schmidt Community Center.  We continued onto Davis Park which has a beautifully paved trail around the perimeter of the park, newly renovated ball parks & restroom facilities, excellent basketball courts & playgrounds.

#WalkingWednesday takes a 2 week break and will resume on 1/7.  Best wishes for a healthy & joyful holiday season.

The park sign says "Fun for All Ages"  This is my mom!!

The park sign says “Fun for All Ages” This is my mom!!

Beautiful playground facilities!

Beautiful playground facilities!

Beautifully paved trails make for easy walking &biking.

Beautifully paved trails make for easy walking &biking.

DanceLansing: A Community Dance Project

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I’m excited to support DanceLansing: A Community Dance Project led by Happendance, Inc in partnership with Lansing Community College.  This project brings together amatuer and professional dancers of all ages to produce public art happenings throughout August around downtown Lansing.  http://www.happendance.org/

A thriving community needs great art!  Support this project at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/171010198/dance-lansing-a-community-dance-project (give $50 and get a shirt!).  Be sure to catch a performance and celebrate art, joy, movement, and economic development–my favorite combination of things!!!!