Weaving a Tapestry–Building a City One Word at a Time

Weaving a Tapestry

Building a City One Word at a Time

Last October the Arts Council held its first Creative Placemaking Summit, and some amazing things happened. People, Lansingites in particular, came to see their city in a new light–one that was filled with possibility, dreams, opportunity and creativity.

Making a place

The summit brought together more than 150 Lansing residents, business owners and leaders to talk about what makes a city a place–a place where people want to live, work, play and visit. A place that people can talk about with #LoveLansing pride!

Speaking the word

It was day of sessions and keynote speakers, panels and talks, sharing and questioning, and in the end, everybody was ready to take the next step, make a move–make Lansing shine bigger than it already does.

A big piece of that take-away grew out of a feeling–a feeling that was evoked through an emotional, soulful spoken-word performance given by Suban Nur-Cooley, a local writer, poet and performer. Suban was commissioned to attend the day and listen to what folks said about Lansing and place, and then she was to create a spoken-word piece that reflected what she heard.

And that she did.

Taking shape

To commemorate and build on her words, the Arts Council later commissioned artist Deb Cholewicki of E. Lansing’s Grove Gallery to create a woven sculpture that combined elements of the spoken piece. Deb took the challenge, and that sculpture was recently completed and delivered to the Arts Council where it is now on display.

Ever changing

As we prepare for the second Creative Placemaking Summit, we are excited to share this work with the public. It serves as a reminder of what we are trying to do to make greater Lansing, greater yet–it shows us where we are strong, where we are weak and where we have room to grow. It is a tapestry of Lansing that will never be finished and will always be changing and growing.

We hope that you will join us at this year’s Summit on Oct. 6, 2016 as we step off where we left off and build on what we have done so far.

Mirror image

Below is Suban’s spoken word, which she reminds us is meant to “be spoken.” So don’t just read it. Get in front of your mirror, and give yourself a show! Speak your praises to Lansing–Our Lansing.

Our Lansing

Our future is not a facade.

We are not everyone else.

We are not everywhere else.


A community with a backbone strong enough to work lighter, quicker and cheaper.

Threads of space and place, people and possibility.

Soul. Generosity. Grit. Stick with it.

This is Lansing.

Threads – weaving intricate tapestries in separate spaces and places.

This is beyond a facade.

This is a community at work behind the streetscapes and between the greenspaces.

We are a culture. Identities wrapped in identities.

Cultures formed on porches and patios–over popcorn, oysters or sandwiches that meld your favorite meals into a meaty mass–We take naps and dream of making a place.

A place that already exists in our soul. Your soul.

THIS is Lansing.

Threads weaving intricate tapestries


Working towards the same goal–creating the same image from distance.

Do you see yourself now, Lansing? Do you?

Slowly–we are connecting the dots.

You are community. Your soul is your place.

And if people drive place, then don’t give them a reason to drive.  right.  by.

Show them your soul. It truly is a love supreme.

Home is where you creatively connect and communicate.

Don’t ask for permission. Citizens. You have authority.

You are the community.

You are the future. Be unbound and creative.

This is sacred work.

Connect before our collective image unravels behind bridges and sidewalks.

Connect before our collective image becomes a metaphor for our tired backbones–working hard, but working in silos.

Get out of each other’s way and stand side-by-side. Create the ties that build a municipal bind.

PEOPLE. Make. Place.

You are people. You are place.

Let our identities intertwine–complexities are what make a city vibrant.
Move. Get up. Make.

Be the momentum. Link and thread.

Weave and wander around–don’t wonder what could have been.

We don’t have to ask permission to be Lansing. We just do Lansing.