About Our Michigan Ave

The Our Michigan Ave website is a timely space for deliberation as hundreds of millions of dollars of development projects are underway in Greater Lansing. Our connections to planners, developers, government officials, and community organizations positioned the Our Michigan Ave site to be a rich space for public deliberation.

For greater details about our process, read this Smart City Blog Post

Students in my Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities “Power, Culture, and Identity in the Global City” course identified more than 100 ways to improve major urban projects in Greater Lansing and crafted dozens of principles that should shape the future direction of Greater Lansing.

This project situates Greater Lansing within the challenges of a post-industrial economy in an era of globalization. There is a perception that Greater Lansing has been left behind in the move toward creative cities. Over the course of more than five years, I’ve worked with students to identify the profound cultural differences in how various groups in Greater Lansing define the value of a good community, imagine the future, and express collective political voice. We have produced a website that connects the kind of creative class initiatives–authentic sense of place, dense and diverse zoning, green transportation and energy policies–to Greater Lansing’s distinctive experience. We found that profound cultural differences, lack of trust, economic challenges and political differences have resulted in very few creative class initiatives being implemented over the past decade.

Because of our cultural and technical work, my students and I created an opportunity to produce the kind of rhetorical resource vital for a community to successfully adapt to a new economic reality. To fulfill this opportunity, I managed a series of projects to create the Our Michigan Ave website. This new media space supports community conversations, initiatives, and visions for regional cooperation.

Every organization and corporation cares about its relationships with audiences, stakeholders and users. We can build these relationships better only by working across and integrating five important steps: 1) powerful theories of power, culture and identity; 2) sophisticated methods of user research; 3) topical disciplinary knowledge; 4) technical skills for making things; and 5) the ability to circulate things, collect feedback from audience engagement, and iterate across all these steps to reflexively inform theories of power, culture and identity. I’ve worked with students, colleagues, and community stakeholders to craft spaces for community participation in the urban design process to integrate all five of these steps.