I've always been a commitmentphobe when it comes to staying in Michigan. Part of me always thought that I would eventually end up somewhere else - probably closer to family in Virginia or West Virginia. Even after eight years in Michigan I always kind of assumed at some point we'd move. It has been really difficult to wrap my head around staying here for the duration.
Somehow, like that guy in his late 20's who finally decides to propose to his long-term girlfriend, the decision has been made. I'm staying in Michigan. Last year my husband and I looked at a fabulous historic home in downtown Lansing. We dreamed of buying it. This week we made a deal with the owners to do just that. We're moving to downtown Lansing, about a half a mile from our offices (assuming there are no surprises with our inspection...which would break my heart.)
There are a lot of reasons to stay in Michigan - family, friends, jobs we love, the inexpensive cost of living that allows us to travel at will. And then there are the things that make me hesitate - the weather, being so far from my family, not having public transit or the foresight to invest in place for the obvious economic benefits.
The question I've had to ask myself is whether I want to go where it's done or if I want to be part of it. There is so much opportunity for placemaking in Michigan. Let's be honest - this state has done a lot of it wrong in the last quarter century. Now is the opportune time invest in communities in a real and meaningful way. We have the country's largest metropolitan region without a legit public transit system. We have miles and miles of unnecessary road infrastructure (ahem Capital Avenue outside of my office in downtown Lansing). There needs to be a HUGE culture shift in Michigan to invest in communities, and this is a prime opportunity to do it.
We're placing our bets, and we're doubling down on Lansing and Michigan. I can't wait to live downtown, walk to work, live the downtown lifestyle that I think is so important. But I need you to do something for me too, Michigan. Think big. Think outside the box. Let's stop talking about tax cuts and focusing on divisive social issues to the point of distraction. Let's invest in transit, walkable downtowns, public art, and creating entrepreneurial opportunities. I'm going to be here for a while, and there's a lot to do. Don't be safe, Michigan. Go big or go home. I have big standards. Don't disappoint me.