NAM Conference Coming to Lansing

Neighborhood Associations of Michigan is coming to Lansing for their Annual Conference Friday, September 9th, and Saturday, September 10th. The City of Lansing is excited to host this year,  as we will be able to hear about neighborhoods across the state. We also have the opportunity to take neighborhood leaders on a bus tour of our city, to show some of the things we have going on here. Here are the projects we will be focusing on:

Averill Woods School & Community Garden: Established in 2010, this garden allows a space for neighbors to come together and grow food. The garden partners with Averill Elementary School, and provides an educational experience for students working with their teachers in the garden.

Southwest Lansing Initiative: The SLI is a priority neighborhood planning effort supported by the State of Michigan Economic Development Agency with direct support from the Governor’s office. Focused at the area around Pleasant Grove and Holmes, the initiative is focused on creating a residential and commercial market study to identify new opportunities to help grow the area.

REO Town: REO Town is an historic neighborhood on the Southside, that is undergoing a great number of changes. The tour will focus on the growth and development of the neighborhood, as well as the pocket parks throughout the neighborhood that builds on the strong sense of community Reo Town has.

1112 Prospect Playground: A number of partners, including Sparrow Hospital, the Association for the Bingham Community, the Ingham County Land Bank, and the City of Lansing helped to develop what was previously a empty lot, into a playground for a neighborhood that previously did not have a place for children to play.

Westside/Dunneback Park Trail Project: This project is designed to connect the Westside and Old Oakland Neighborhoods with the rest of the city, by creating a trail that crosses through Westside and Dunneback Parks, and connects to the neighborhood on the other side of Oakland Rd. and Saginaw St. It has been a collaboration of a number of partners.

We are excited to show off some of our exciting projects to leaders across Michigan. This conference and tour will be an opportunity not only to tell everyone about what we’re doing here in Lansing, but to learn about what neighborhood leaders are doing in other cities.

Walking Wednesday: Moores Park Neighborhood

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Moores Park Neighborhood is located at the northern tip of Lansing’s Southside. This week we got to meet with Natalie Molnar, who took us around the neighborhood to see how things were in the community.

One of the projects we got to hear about is a Love Your Block Mini-Grant project that will be completed soon. The Moores Park Neighborhood Association is coordinating the creating of a sign, which will welcome people to the neighborhood. The neighborhood is currently very close-knit, and hosts many events year round. The sign will help strengthen the sense of identity that the neighborhood has.

We toured the neighborhood, starting at the St. Casmir-Moores Park Community Garden. The garden is on a large plot on Barnes Avenue, and supports the whole neighborhood with its vegetables, as well as flowers and other plants.

We were also to check out Moores Park, which the neighborhood is based around. The park is nestled against the Grand River’s south shore, overlooking the GM Assembly Plant. There are several amenities to the park that draw crowds from across the city, including playground equipment, a pavilion, as well as open fields and trees. The park is connected to the rest of the city by the Lansing River Trail.

It was exciting to visit the Moores Park Neighborhood this week. We’re all excited to see the completed project, which will be a great asset to an already great neighborhood.

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St. Casmir-Moores Park Community Garden on West Barnes Avenue
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Some of the many plants growing in the garden.
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Seeing the neighborhood.
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Plants in the median, one of the beautification efforts in the neighborhood.
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Moores Park
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Playground Equipment in Moores Park.

Potter Walsh Neighborhood Cleanup

 

 

This past Saturday, I had the privilege to join the Potter Walsh Neighborhood Clean-up. The goal of a clean-up is to have neighbors bring out the bulk items they have lying around, and have garbage trucks come in and dispose of them. This is a valuable service for a community, as it helps to clean up the neighborhood at no cost to the resident.

We met at 8:00 AM in front of the Eastside Community Action Center. The clean-up started out dry, but the rain started to fall shortly after . This didn’t stop around a dozen volunteers from helping out . The group was led by Willie Davis, a  man who has lived in the Potter Walsh Neighborhood for years, and was thrilled to see so many people eager to help. We split up into teams of three (one for each truck), and drove around the streets, looking for bulk items at the curb. In our team, roughly 10 or 15 houses took advantage of this opportunity, and they made it clear what a service this was. The curbs were piled with items, including old televisions, toys, broken electronics, furniture, and many other items that have piled up for years. Our team was able to knock out our portion of the neighborhood in an hour and a half. By this time we were all thoroughly soaked, but we got through a huge amount of trash, and were able to see how thrilled residents were to see a clean-up in action.

If your neighborhood is interested in hosting a clean-up day, please submit the Clean-up application below or contact the Neighborhood Resource Coordinator, Andi Crawford, at 517-372-5980.

NeighborhoodCleanUpAPP

 

 

Walking Wednesday: Holmes Street School Community

Due to a sudden (and much needed) thunderstorm, we had a shorter and more localized Walking Wednesday this week. However, we still got a chance to meet with MaryBeth Van Horn and Kelly Groll, who was able to give us a tour of the community garden, which also happens to be a Love Your Block project! The garden sits by the corner of Holmes St. and Malcolm X Blvd, and is open to any neighbors who want to use a plot to grow vegetables or flowers.

The garden has gone through several improvements over the past year. They have constructed a wooden walkway made out of donated material, in order to make it easier to get from plot to plot. HSSC, with help from students at Michigan State University, constructed worm pipes, which are designed to encourage worms to fertilize the soil. Perhaps most noticeably is the new Rain Water Collection structure at the back of the property.

Perhaps most exciting, as MaryBeth noted, is that the garden is a Poke Stop for Pokemon Go players, meaning the garden is being seen by a lot more people!

The garden is a definite asset to the Holmes Street School Community.

 

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In spite of the drought and a local groundhog infestation, the garden is looking good!

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The new rainwater collection facility

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Wormhole
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Newly installed lights

 

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A full view of the garden from the back.

For more information:

Holmes Street School Community Association

Holmes Street School Community Facebook Page

 

Walking Wednesday: Urbandale/Frog Holler

This week’s Walking Wednesday took place in the Eastside, specifically Urbandale and Frog Holler. We started our walk at the Allen Neighborhood Center, who was having their weekly farmer’s market. I got to try an Ethiopian Food Sample Platter from Teff-riffic , a strawberry balsamic ice pop from MI Pops, and tried Cascadian Galaxy Beer from the Sleepwalker Spirits and Ale Taproom inside the building.

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Allen Neighborhood Center and Farmer’s Market

After sampling the different types of cuisine, we ventured down Allen Street to the Urbandale and Frog Holler Neighbhorhoods. Despite the heat, it seemed like everyone was outside, on their porches, playing in the street, or walking to Hunter Park. We talked to a few neighbors, who mentioned that they thought there have been many improvements to the neighborhood over the past decade. Here are some of the pictures we captured.

The primarily residential neighborhood has a diverse housing stock, and lots of parkspace.

We also made sure to check out the neighborhood’s several community gardens and urban farms. Urban agriculture is a common use of vacant land in this area, and has given the neighborhood the opportunity to grow their own food.In addition to the smaller garden lots we saw, we went over to visit visited Half Barn Farm and Foster Garden, whose land was almost completely filled with plantings.

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Half Barn Farm on South Clemens
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Plantings at Half Barn Farm
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Foster Garden on Marcus Street
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Greater Lansing Food Bank, across the street from Foster Park

Next week we will be walking a few blocks west to the Holmes Street School Community. We are excited to see more of the Eastside, one of Lansing’s most diverse neighborhoods.

Walking Wednesday: Exploring the Westside

We mixed it up a little this week and decided to travel around our Walking Wednesday site on bicycle. With our bikes, the perfect weather, and the many sites on the West Side, we were able to get a real feel for the neighborhood’s character, assets, and challenges.

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Before we went exploring, we attended the Point West Art and Trail Project Groundbreaking Ceremony. This massive project is a collaboration of organizations, including the Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association, the Old Oakland Neighborhood Association, and the Westside Neighborhood Association. The grassy triangle between Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue sits at the gateway to Lansing, but there is no real welcome to drivers coming from the west. Part of this project will include an art sculpture at this triangle, designed by local artist Fritz Olsen. This will act as a greeting to travelers, but instill a sense of pride for residents who live on the Westside.

Another facet of this project is the construction of a mile-long recreational trail that will allow for pedestrian travel across Saginaw Street and Oakland Avenue. As a result, the Westside and Old Oakland neighborhoods will no longer be cut off, and community ties will become stronger.

It was a great turnout at the ceremony, with project collaborators and supporters talking about the benefits of the project, before officially breaking ground. Below are some of the pictures.

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Mayor Bernero talks about the benefits the project brings to the Westside

 

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The community partners break ground.
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Some of the many collaborators who worked on this project.

After the ceremony, we biked around the west side. We talked about the rich history the neighborhood has, as the former home to the GM Plant. The neighborhood has a mix of big, historical homes, and smaller, newer ones, that gave it a very different feel as we traveled street to street.

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Visiting the historic Old Oakland Neighborhood

 

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The start of the trail project at Dunneback Park
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Flowers from Lansing’s Neighborhoods in Bloom program
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The stylish BWL Forbes Substation
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The expansive garden at the Letts Community Center
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The West Side is filled with historic homes like this one
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The former GM site, as seen from J. W. Sexton High School

We finished our journey at Harry’s Place, a family-owned restaurant and bar established in 1921. I ordered the Greek Burger, which turned out to be enormous, yet delicious. It was a great end to another great Walking Wednesday.

 

Walking Wednesday: REO Town

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For this Walking Wednesday, we headed to REO Town, to see the improvements made by the REO Town Commercial Association, using Love Your Block Grant funds. We met with Ryan Wert, who was able to tell us about the history and changes that the neighborhood has made over the years.

REO Town was originally home to the REO Automobile company and its workers. This vibrant neighborhood has recently seen a increase in interest, in the residential neighborhoods, commercial corridor, and parks.

Our first stop was to see the Love Your Block Improvements. The Riverview Church parking lot has undergone landscaping improvements, as well as new picnic tables. This is now a place that is accessible to anyone attending a festival, or just getting a bite to eat along South Washington Avenue.

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We then walked around the neighborhood for a while, seeing what the residential part of the neighborhood was like. We ended up at Scott Park, which connects to the Lansing River Trail at the point where the Grand River and Red Cedar River converge. There were a lot of people out and about, eating, playing on the playground, and fishing. Its not surprising that people want to live in REO Town.The parkland and water made it surprising that we were so close to the city center. DSCN0390DSCN0392DSCN0391DSCN0394

We looped around and ended our walking tour by getting Saddleback BBQ. This restaurant alone is reason enough to stop by REO Town, with some of the best food I’ve had in Lansing. There are a lot of exciting things to do in REO Town, including walking through the parks, going to the new stores, or checking out the art scene. It was definitely worth the visit!

 

 

Walking Wednesday: Old Everett Neighborhood

For Walking Wednesday this week, we headed south to Everett Park, which has seen a huge amount of improvement. Through a Love Your Block grant, the Lansing Soccer club, has improved the space and its functionality for their large youth soccer program.  The improvements included upgrades to the grass, a newly painted shed, increased greenspace.  They have hosted many workdays to remove trash and overgrown debris.  Many neighbors have expressed their appreciation for the upgrades to the park and the work of the Lansing Soccer Club families.

After checking out the park, we ventured around the rest of the neighborhood. It was a very comfortable walk, especially on a warm summer day. The Old Everett Neighborhood is a cozy neighborhood that seems tucked away, far from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. We got to look at all the unique houses, then ventured down to Poxson Park. All in all, a great time, and a chance to see one of Lansing’s great neighborhoods.

Hello Everyone!

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Hello everyone! My name is Scott Thompson, and I am the newest Americorps Vista for the Love Your Block program here in Lansing. Over the next year, I will be working with Clara to continue the implementation of the Love Your Block projects. Over the past week I have learned all about the great things that has happened here in the community, as well as the exciting opportunities we have over the next year to continue to improve Lansing neighborhoods, and get people involved in their community.

I recently graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo State with a degree in Urban Planning. During my four years there, I developed a passion for improving cities in a way that they can meet their full potential. I learned that community improvement starts with the residents who live there. Local citizens are the ones that see all the assets that a community has, as well as issues that need to be improved upon. This is why I was excited when I heard about this Americorps position here in Lansing. This is a program where the local government is working directly with the community leaders and residents to figure out what the best way is to guide and strengthen our neighborhoods.

There’s a good chance that you will see me sometime in the next year. I will be meeting with the community across all of Lansing’s neighborhoods. Clara and Brittany have created an amazing framework for Love Your Block, and I am excited to work with and add to this as we continue through 2016. I have not been here long, but I can already see that Lansing is a great city with amazing people. I hope you are as excited about our upcoming projects as I am, because I think we are in for a great year!

-Scott