My name is Ben Thompson and I’m so excited to be the newest AmeriCorps VISTA member of the Neighborhood Resource Team. I am a recent graduate at Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work. At my time at MSU, I was given the opportunity to intern at the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement. This position helped to shine a light on how important volunteering and community engagement is for people of all ages. I am so excited to begin my work with the Lansing Love Your Block and the Mayor’s Block by Block initiative to foster civic engagement in Lansing!
This week, I shadowed the outgoing VISTA, Scott Thompson through his grantee cohort (South Side Community Coalition, Southwest Action Group, and the Lansing Soccer Club). I loved talking to these groups about what they envision for their communities. I tried to take as many pictures as possible at these sites. I’m so excited to continue the work already that Scott has completed and help these three community groups move forward.
Hello everyone! So the Love Lansing Celebration occurred just yesterday evening. As a newcomer to the communities of Lansing, it was overwhelming to see all the individuals I’m just starting to get to know. While I didn’t mingle as much, it was interesting what I observed of the communities. With the Lansing officials and neighborhood associations present, there was a general feeling of camaraderie.
It showed itself especially with the understanding of the accomplishments of the individuals recognized during the awards. There were specific stories shared connected to paint an overall picture of the city of Lansing. Diversity in the awards, particularly in terms of generations, was nice to see since age can be a great divide with social impact. This sense of camaraderie across different lived experiences makes me wonder about my parents’ own experience in cities as immigrants.
I grew up in the much smaller city of Midland, MI, which was maybe the fifth or so city my parents lived in. Despite being a smaller city, most of the connection my parents made were through sporadic social activities like sports or connections to parents of my fellow classmates. I wonder if there had been these kind of communities in Midland, if they might have had an easier time connecting with people.
It would have been especially helpful considering the cultural barriers they experienced as immigrants. It makes me wonder about the experience of immigrants in connection to local neighborhood associations. That will be something for me to explore as I get to know the communities better.
For so many people coming from different parts of Lansing, I could still feel a sense of community because regardless of any difference in goals, the goal of making a better city through collaboration tied everyone together as noted during the awards ceremony. It only makes me eager further to get to know the communities better especially in regards to the neighborhoods who could not physically be there last night. I hope to better understand some of the stories celebrated yesterday evening.
Hello everyone! My name is Gaby Abalo. I am the new Urban Fellow with the Neighborhood Resource Team. I am a Michigan State University fifth year student studying Social Relations and Policy with a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. Through my studies, I have come to understand how much local citizens work with their leaders to affect neighborhood and thus city dynamics. My studies especially examined the disparity that occurs when there’s a discrepancy in voicing the different needs of locals to their leaders.
This understanding motivated my interest to join the Neighborhood Resource Team. Over the next few months you’ll probably see me around the neighborhoods and city learning how to help engage Lansing’s communities. I will be at the Love Lansing Celebration next Tuesday, May 30 to start this process. I am excited to further familiarize myself with the communities of Lansing to help develop and strengthen the community resources needed, see some of you around!
Today is my last blog post as a member of the Neighborhood Resource Team. On Thursday I will finish up my time as an Urban Fellow, and can’t express enough my gratitude for the past seven months.
During my time as an Urban Fellow, I have learned so much about our beautiful city, and about all of you- dedicated people who work to improve your neighborhoods. It has been inspiring to attend LiNCS meetings and hear about your struggles and victories in community organizing, fun to partake in events such as community clean-ups and Walking Wednesdays
,and enlightening to learn about all the initiatives our city has to offer (who knew you could get your taxes done by the Financial Empowerment Center?!).
I’m excited to move on in my professional career, and to take all that I have learned to cities throughout my life.
Thank you for being such an awesome group to serve, and (as always) HAPPY NEIGHBORING!
This Saturday, as part of MSU’s Global Day of service, 35 volunteers came from Michigan State to the Southwest Lansing neighborhood. The students came eager to work, and along with community partners, started on two cleanup project.
The first project was a Southwest Action Group (SWAG)-partnered cleanup of the Pleasant Grove/Holmes intersection. Volunteers swept the dirt off of the sidewalk, collected trash, and raked leaves away from the storm drains.
The second project was led by the South Side Community Coalition (SSCC), and involved clearing brush from the vacant lot behind the SSCC building, in preparation for future lot activation.
There are a few events coming up in the next few days and weeks that are interesting opportunities to think about the development of other neighborhoods, and how your own neighborhood can expand.
Wednesday, April 12th: Walking Wednesday 1:30 pm Churchill Downs (meet at Wainwright)
Come see a Walking Wednesday in action! If you haven’t already, contact Erika Campbell (ECampbell@lansingmi.gov) to schedule one for your neighborhood
Tuesday, April 18th: Four Corners Housing Summit (only for residents of the Four Corners Neighborhoods)
We are hoping to replicate this type of Summit in other neighborhoods, and if you’d like to hear a recap of what happens, and to see if this would be right for your neighborhood, please attend April LiNCS
Thursday, April 27th: LiNCS 6:00pm at the Neighborhood Empowerment Center (600 W. Maple)
Friday, April 28th: LiNCS 8:00am and 12:00-noon at the Neighborhood Empowerment Center (600 W. Maple)
During LiNCS, we will be joined by Four Corners neighbors to recap the Housing Summit, and to discuss opportunity for this event in other neighborhoods.
As always, feel free to contact anyone on the Neighborhood Resource Team for assistance, and Happy Neighboring!
One of the biggest challenges that neighborhood organizations have is what to do when the president or other integral member leaves. Organizations that are not prepared for a leadership shift run the risk of falling apart. It is important to start planning beforehand, by preparing your organization for whatever happens in the future.
1. Note potential leadership within your organization.
Get to know your organization members, and keep them involved. If members are given responsibility (managing events, keeping contact lists, etc.) you may notice potential leadership skills in them. They may also be more willing to step into a larger position in the future.
2. Continuously recruit new members.
An organization works best when it has a mix of old and new members working together. An organization that recruits new members and gives them a voice has a better chance of finding new leaders than one that closes itself off from new people or opinions.
3. Stay Organized
Make sure that you have clear documentation of finances, events, and contacts, to make sure nothing important slips through the cracks during a leadership change. Being organized will make it easier for a new leader to continue work that was administered by their predecessor.
4. Address underlying conflicts
Oftentimes conflicts can erupt amidst a leadership change, which puts the organization at risk. Make sure you address conflicts among members when they first come up, instead of letting them simmer under the surface. Be sure that all sides of an argument are being heard.
5. Define a role
If you know a member will be leaving the organization in the near future, make sure they leave clear guidelines for the next person to follow. This could be a summary of their role, lessons learned, or even a number to reach if they have any questions.