A View from the Street: The Homeless in Lansing

By Asha Dawsey
Listen Up, Lansing

“Homeless — Anything Helps” is what Jeremy Scott Emric’s sign says when he’s getting the attention of drivers but even when he gets nothing he flips the signIMG_0001 over as it reads “Even a Smile.”

Emric has been homeless for four months now after losing his job at a body shop when it burned down. After that his wife  left him and he has been on making his living on the streets of Michigan Avenue. 

“I have a couple people, I give them a little bit of money and they let me sleep on their couch … and so I hold my sign and I get enough money together for some food and to pay somebody to crash in their house,” said Emric.IMG_0005

Depending on the weather Emric stays out on Michigan Avenue for about six to seven hours along with a friend he met through his homelessness, Gary Whitney.

“I haven’t got off my butt and done anything about it,” said Whitney when asked why he is homeless.

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Proposal 1 looks to fix roads by raising taxes


By Ray Wilbur
Listen Up, Lansing

Today, voters across the state will be asked to increase the sales tax that customers pay at the register, this time as a part of funding package for maintenance of the state’s roads known as Proposal 1.

Voters in Michigan passed a similar ballot question over 15 years ago, in 1994, in order to pay for a school-funding reform package. The two ballot proposals differ greatly though, because of another contrasting detail, aside from what the money was being used for. In 1994, the ballot didn’t really raise taxes, according to Lansing public relations executive John Truscott.

Truscott said the 1994 proposal, known as Proposal A, came after lawmakers reduced property taxes and voted to replace the lost revenue with an income tax increase. Proposal A in 1994 gave voters the ability to decide if they wanted to replace the income tax increase, with an increase in sales tax.

That is not the case in this year’s proposal to raise taxes for a roads package. The current proposal would raise the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, and also includes changes to the fuel tax, which are expected to add a few cents for every gallon of gas, Truscott said. Continue reading

A Piece of Underground History in Lansing

By Asha Dawsey
Listen Up, Lansing

Ransom Eli Olds, the founder of Olds Mobile Works, later to be called Oldsmobile, is remembered for the contributions he made to the automotive industry in Lansing by the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum at 240 Museum Drive. But how effective is the museum — so full of Lansing history — when not many know it is there?

Photo Journal: R.E. Olds Transportation Museum 


Lansing on Legalization: Is Marijuana the Next Big Thing?

By Asha Dawsey and Micah Davis
Listen Up, Lansing

Mayor Virg Bernero was spotted at Hash Bash on April 4, 2015. Hash Bash is an annual event in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a main goal to motivate the legalization of marijuana. Bernero was a speaker at the event and a support of the legalization of marijuana. Listen to Bernero’s take on marijuana legalization in the video below:


Community Funding for Community Work: How $500 Helps a Lansing Charity

By Ian Wendrow
Listen Up, Lansing

LANSING — Andrew Brewer Jr. didn’t expect his modest barbecue outing with neighbors to be anything more than a fun get together. Starting out with only 20 men hanging out at Hawk Island County Park, Brewer now captains the Men Making A Difference (MMAD) charity, an organization that has existed for about four years now with about 200 active members.

“It started with just a group of us out barbecuing one day when I said, ‘We should do more to give back.’ Everyone else seemed to agree and that’s really how this organization got started,” Brewer said.

Hawk Island County Park was the site of Andrew Brewer Jr.'s first community cookout. It would later grow into the MMAD organization.

Hawk Island County Park was the site of Andrew Brewer Jr.’s first community cookout. It would later grow into the MMAD organization.

MMAD has been busy in its short four years as a legally-recognized charity. Working alongside the local church groups and neighborhood blocs, MMAD has helped paint woodchips, clean up overgrown shrubbery, and plant flowers in some of Lansing’s more run-down areas.

Aside from neighborhood clean-ups and beautification, MMAD also hosts a number of family events throughout the year. Thanksgiving dinners, community cookouts, Cinco de Mayo celebrations and Battlefield Brawl (a fundraising event for cancer research) are just some of the many programs MMAD runs throughout the year. Continue reading

REO Town community garden to open this May

REO TOWN, LANSING, Mich.- The community of REO Town is slated to open its first community garden in May on land leased from the Ingham County Land Bank.

According to the American Community Gardening Association there are about 18,000 community gardens in the United States and Canada.

IMG_2560_2The property the garden will sit on in REO Town Lansing is at 1111 and 1117 S. Grand Ave. The property is owned by the Ingham County Land Bank but is leased to the Riverview Church. The church is lending the land to the project.

REO Town residents by Megan Wert and Hillary Walilko are planning the garden. They are aiming for a May opening they said.

They held an organizational meeting on April 12 for residents in the area to look at the garden and learn about what they could sign up for.

Walilko said the size of the plots have not been drawn up yet but they would be based on how many people they have signed up when they section the plot off.

Based on how many people sign up for a plot there will be a fee to pay. The money will go towards the upkeep of the garden as a whole. It will help buy supplies such as fertilizer for the garden, the women said.

“The garden project recommends having a fee just so people feel more committed to it,” Walilko said.

People would plant their own vegetables in their own plots but some might want to give more back to their community.

“It sounded like there were a few people that wanted to do donation plots where they plant things to donate to a food bank or organization.” Wert said.

The Greater Lansing Food Bank accepts food donations to help those that need it. As long as the food is freshly grown and not prepared they can accept it according to their website.

The women said the watering system they’ll use is still up in the air. They will either talk to the residents on either side of the plot to install running water to the garden or simply have troughs of water people can use to water their plants.
The two women said they personally neither are exceptional gardeners nor are they going to try to be. They just thought the garden project would be a great way to make the community look nice and have the residents come together in their free time.

Walilko said that one of their main goals is to have people in the community meet new people. They also hope participants of the garden make friends with community members and neighbors that they might not otherwise meet.

Both women said that they have had and still have challenges in the process. They said that not knowing the exact steps they should be taking makes the process slow.

“Not knowing what we’re doing. I don’t think we have a real clear idea of what our steps need to be,” said Wert.

The women said they would consider the garden a success if it comes back next year and if people make new relationships with their neighbors.


By Kristen Alberti
Listen Up, Lansing

Jessica Rehling, creator of the Lansing Geocachers Meetup poses in a tree while she geocaches at the Woldumar Nature Center. Photo provided by http://www.meetup.com/Lansing-Geocachers-Meetup/

Jessica Rehling, creator of the Lansing Geocachers Meetup poses in a tree while she geocaches at the Woldumar Nature Center.
Photo provided by http://www.meetup.com/Lansing-Geocachers-Meetup/

You’re sitting in a park enjoying a lovely afternoon with some friends. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and a group of people are running around behind you searching through trees and bushes. Your curiosity is piqued when you see them whip out GPS systems, but you never get the guts to ask them what they’re doing.

Meanwhile, Jessica Rehling, a student behavior and conflict resolution administrator at Michigan State University, is leading a group of her friends on a trip through the forest to find a geocache, or as she would say, a hidden treasure.

Geocaching is like a scavenger hunt made by anyone around you, said Rehling. Someone hides a physical thing, like a Tupperware container, and in that box they put a piece of paper, like a logbook, with the expectation that people who find it will write down their name and the date they found it. Continue reading