If you were to drive through downtown Lansing after 5pm, you may not know the many happenings taking place or see the community that is being built behind it’s many doors.
April 13th, 2011 was just the day this city needed to wake from it’s winter slump and remind us all what mid-Michigan has to offer. That afternoon brought sun shining on residents from all over the state gathering together to make their voices heard on the capitol lawn. In the evening, the sun set to yogi’s practicing together at an art gallery to a local DJ surrounded by art made affordable for working people.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day and a more solid validation to why I have been able to find home in Lansing.
The “We the People” rally was being held to provide a forum for residents to speak out against recent bills being proposed in the legislature. Even though I was saddened and angry about what has been happening to low to moderate-income residents in Michigan, from the proposed elimination of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the proposed time limits to the Family Independence Program (cash assistance), the upcoming 6-week reduction in unemployment benefits (Michigan was the first state to enact), and the attack on collective bargaining rights, I was really grateful to see the thousands of people that came to defend their rights.
I left the rally feeling inspired and determined to move forward in our collective attempt to preserve the rights of workers and the poor. With this new determination flowing through me, I hopped on my bike and pedaled down Washington Square to REO Town, my neighborhood, and where the Just B Yoga studio was holding it’s first fundraiser. I wouldn’t normally have the energy after a full day working at a rally to be ready to embark on a 2-hour yoga session, but the sun was shining after being dormant for four months and the city was crawling with advocates, both things that fill me with positive energy.
Community yoga in Lansing started in the basement gym of the Shabazz Academy, a charter school in the Moore’s Park neighborhood. In order to give back, and thank the Shabazz academy for helping Just B Yoga be what it is today, Yoga Solstice in the Alley was being held in their honor.
Yogi’s with various skill levels gathered into the beautiful Art Alley studio space to practice to the beats of DJ Rachael, surrounded by art from local resident Juanita Kennedy, and be rewarded with catered food from the local gluten free company, Feed Your Karma, and quench their thirst with beer from the Michigan Brewing Company.
The fundraiser was closed out by some inspiring words from local artist, Juanita Kennedy. She said that she takes pride in creating art for the hardworking people in Lansing and that if she has to work three jobs, she is here to stay.
Let this day be a reminder to us all that even in such tough times, when working families in Michigan continue to struggle, and our voices don’t feel heard, that we have each other and our communities.