Rally for the Alleys to raise funds for placemaking

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Oct. 7 Rally For the Alleys Kickoff Crowdfunding Event in Ann Street Plaza.

Lizzy Lafave

Oct. 7 Rally For the Alleys Kickoff Crowdfunding Event in Ann Street Plaza.

The City of East Lansing launched “Rally for the Alleys” campaign to communicate a new placemaking opportunity.

The founder and president of Project for Public Spaces, Fred Kent, says placemaking in Michigan has been moving toward a level of excellence within communities over the past five years.

“Place-making is taking empty spaces quickly, taking them to another level quickly, and moving onto the next space quickly,” says Kent. “In the end, you’ll find that you get something in a few years that you could never have imagined.”

Matt Robertson speaking at the event with Fred Kent on deck.

Lizzy Lafave

Matt Robertson speaking at the event with Fred Kent on deck.

Kent spoke at the Rally for the Alleys kickoff crowd funding campaign on Oct. 7, on his new style of placemaking, “lighter, quicker, cheaper” as a way to get out of regulations that restrict expression in city spaces.

“We don’t do big plans, big designs stuff that take a lot of time and ends up sitting on the shelf for awhile,” says Kent. “We do something called activation plans so that people can start seeing how they work – they’re experiments that get people out on the street.”

Matt Robertson, owner and principal broker for Century 21 Looking Glass, also spoke at the kickoff crowdfunding campaign as a sponsor and supporter of placemaking in East Lansing.

Matt Robertson standing next to his poster reading, "Realtors help build communities."

Lizzy Lafave

Matt Robertson standing next to his poster reading, “Realtors help build communities.”

Robertson says he see’s this even as an incredible opportunity for residents, because it has the ability to benefit every age group and demographic instead of pigeonholing one specific group of people.

“Anytime we can have placemaking opportunities to help build locations in communities it makes the community stronger, and it makes the community more desirable,” says Robertson.

East Lansing Community Development Specialist II Amy Schlusler says this idea is also great on a community engagement level, since one of the paintings on the plan is an intergenerational mural involving combined artwork from seniors and middle schoolers in the city.

City plan for the Division street alley.

Lizzy Lafave

City plan for the Division street alley.

Art teacher at MacDonald Middle School Lauren Engler says she is excited to take part in such a big project for the community.

“Our community is so creative,” says Engler. “I love the opportunity to have that creativity expressed through our buildings and our places.’

Engler beams as she talks about the intergenerational piece, a glass mosaic created with the Prime Time Senior Program and her middle school art students. The mosaic incorporates glow glass, which Engler says is simply captivating.

“It is going to shift from day to night time,” said Engler. “So when the sun goes down the lamp posts, windows in the buildings, stars and moon will all glow.”

City Plan for the Grove street alley.

Lizzy Lafave

City Plan for the Grove street alley.

“I think that it is essential to have people come downtown and enjoy themselves, and see the space recreated just so they know what it could be,” said Schlusler.

The city is accepting donations through 11:59 p.m. Nov. 12 via Patronicity. The plan will only launch if the $45,000 fund goal is reached.

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