Lansing Residents Giving Back with Pictures

As we approach the holiday season, there is a sudden hum of anticipation amongst shoppers getting presents for gift exchanges, people planning visits to see their families and friends, and right about now we start anticipating the embrace of a new year. Breaking form the norm, this upcoming weekend,  65 Lansing residents will spend most of their Saturday volunteering their time to give back to the community. A few incredible community volunteers have come together to organize one of my favorite Lansing events; HELP Portrait.

Help Portrait was founded by Jeremy Cowart, a revolutionary Nashville photographer. The project is based on the idea that pictures are for giving. Even with the omnipresence of the digital camera in our day-to-day lives, many people never get the opportunity to have professional photographs of themselves and their families.

These portraits are not for your portfolio, website, or for sale. Money isn’t involved here. This holiday season, you have the chance to give a family something they may have never had before—a portrait together.  -Jeremy Cowart

Help Portrait transcends the question, “May I take your picture?” to  “May I take your picture in a studio, edit it, print it, frame it, and give it to you for free?”. This idea has created a worldwide community of photographers and volunteers working towards a goal to give people free high-quality pictures.

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Home Sweet Friendship

We’ve all had that moment. You know what we’re talking about…that moment where you suddenly come to the realization that Lansing is your “home sweet home.” We here at the Lansing Collective want to know what makes our capitol city your “home sweet home” and when you realized it- so we are embarking upon a series where Lansingites share their aha moment with us! Submit your stories to and we may just publish it on the blog! Read on to learn about this week’s featured story.

I grew up in Kalamazoo. I went to Plainwell High School, had good friends, and did silly things. Until a few years ago, saying “I’m headed home” meant I was going to Kalamazoo. My transition to Lansingite was a slow one. Lansing didn’t become my home because of time spent here, or buying a house. I knew Lansing was home when I met Betsy Weber and Robin Miner-Swartz.

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The Lansing Collective is One Year Old!

It seems like it was just yesterday, we were sitting on my living room floor composing the introductory post about the Lansing Collective (LC). This past year has flown by and in retrospect the LC has come a long way. I think I can speak for everyone at LC when I say that we had no idea how much joy this blog would bring us. The LC has given us a whole new perspective on our city.  In addition, this blog has brought us so much closer to each other.

During this last year we have been joined by incredible writers like Anika Fassia,  Ken Kingery and the famous Jess Knott; each of them bring a unique voice and unrivaled sass. I can’t go on without mentioning John Buckler; he is an *incredible* personality and an even better writer. I have learned a lot from each of the contributors. As I spend more time with them, I feel fortunate to be living in this city. Look forward to posts with Anika, John, Ken and Jess’s signatures.

To celebrate our one year anniversary we are having a celebration at the Waterfront Bar and Grill‘s patio in Downtown Lansing. DJ Rachel and Jake Petchel; two of Lansing’s best DJ’s will be spinning hoppin’ tunes. I am resisting a digression about how much I love DJ Rachel with Herculean strength . . . Gah! I freakin’ LOVE this woman! She can read the dance floor like no other and spins the most perfect tunes. She also has an amazingly loving and giving personality. If you haven’t met her yet, you should.

The Purple Carrot Truck and Bake ‘N Cakes have generously donated gourmet cake pops and cupcakes for the event and Waterfront Bar and Grill has given us the warmest welcome. We really hope you can join us for this celebration.

What: The Lansing Collective Birthday Bash

When: August 24th, 2011 (WEDNESDAY) at 7pm

Where: Waterfront Bar and Grill

325 City Market Drive| Lansing, MI 48933 (Map)

Much Love,

The Lansing Collective


Robin Miner-Swartz: Lansing’s Biggest Cheerleader

Robin Miner-Swartz, photo courtesy of Becky Johns Photography

Early last fall, the Open Door Ministry welcomed a new volunteer who stayed to help out for the entire day. She watched as Lansing’s homeless and working poor relaxed in a mishmash of donated recliners lining part of the Central United Methodist Church’s basement. Her quick smile, infectious personality and big brown eyes helped comfort people who want little more than a friendly face to chat with them. When lunch rolled around, she rolled up her sleeves and helped dole out 85 meals.

But there was something different about the new volunteer that set her apart from the rest of helping hands keeping track of the washer and dryer schedule, watching the shower facilities and making sure the locked storage space stayed secure.

She was being paid.
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