Egypt, John & Eowyn Krohn
By Ryan Roehler

In recent years, urban farming has taken off in the greater Lansing area, especially on the Eastside. One couple, Egypt and John Krohn, have been active contributors in the urban farming movement. About a year ago they moved into their Urbandale Neighborhood home to take advantage of the affordable land opportunities there. “We chose to live in Urbandale because there’s space to grow food here and a supportive community around food,” Egypt said. They own and lease several plots of land equaling about two acres, which they use to grow mushrooms, fruit trees, and a variety of vegetables and herbs, such as sweet corn and okra. They grow primarily for their own consumption but they also sell to close friends, farm markets, and several Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) networks, individuals who have pledged their support to the farm and receive fresh produce in return. In addition they raise chickens in their backyard and have two dogs, Cooper and Oakley.

There are some challenges as well as opportunities to living in the neighborhood. “A really big thing with our neighborhood is that it’s primarily a flood plain. That is leading to a lot of abandoned homes,” Egypt explained. This is actually a major reason why they chose to settle in Urbandale. Many abandoned properties are deteriorating and being torn down, leading to urban farming opportunities. “It’s an unfortunate reality that these houses cannot feasibly be redeveloped,” she described. “But what is happening is this land is being turned into farms which helps to revitalize the neighborhood and benefit the community.” 

Six months ago they gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Éowyn, who has become the main focus for the couple, complicating their farming work. “It has been an interesting balance with taking care of her and playing with her and engaging with her, and trying to get work done,” Egypt said. “It’s a challenge but it’s working out— we’re finding that balance.” But the added challenges are more than worth it for the two. “We got lucky. She is the chillest, easiest baby possible,” they said with pride. “We’re doing pretty well, and we’re grateful.” And as their daughter grows up in this urban farming atmosphere they hope to emphasize certain values to her. “We just want to instill a good work ethic in Éowyn and teach her to be strong and independent,” John said. 

The community atmosphere of Urbandale is another big reason they chose to start a family in the neighborhood. “We want Éowyn to value community and contribute her time and energy into being an active part of the community,” John explained. Specifically they love the closeness of the neighborhood and the outdoor involvement of its residents that has helped them to build relationships. Aside from farming, the family enjoys their time outdoors by renovating their yard, taking their dogs on walks down the street, or walking to nearby natural areas and shops. “We know many of the people on our street simply because we are always outside,” the couple remarked.

Diane Newman
By Natasha Blakely

Diane Newman sees dance as necessary, as a form of therapy, healing, art and education for people. That is why it was important for her to give the opportunity to experience dance to people who don’t get as much access to the arts. The main Happendance studio in Okemos is not on any bus route, so the organization jumped at the chance to rent studio space in the Eastside Neighborhood.
“I saw a need for children to experience the joy of movement as an aesthetic pursuit and created programs to teach dance in the public schools. I created Happendance School to serve students of all ages who wanted to pursue dance as serious fun,” she said.
Diane Newman has lived on the Eastside for nearly 40 years. It was 1979 when she officially became part of the community and 1984 when she got married to fellow Eastside resident Jesse. Students and refugees populated the area, and Diane felt a connection to the Eastside that she didn’t feel anywhere else. Diane was drawn to the diversity and personality of the neighborhood. 
“When I first moved off the MSU campus in 1969, it was to the Eastside. Later, I met Joan Nelson and marveled at her vision for community development on the Eastside and slowly saw positive changes occurring. When it came to purchasing a home in 1979, I was happy to find appealing and affordable property in my neighborhood.”
Her connection to the Eastside goes further than living there and bringing Happendance to the center. Diane’s family also owned DanceLoft, a dancewear shop on Michigan Ave. for 20 years. She also often used to spend time at eateries along Michigan Ave. like Emil’s and The Green Door with her friends.
Diane has been conducting dance classes since 1972. She put herself through college by teaching dance at Lansing Community College. In 1974, when she was offered a studio of her own, she created Newman Dance Theater, where she taught her own dance classes. Diane realized that though she found teaching great, performing was where her heart lay. With no non-MSU outlets in the area for graduates to dance in, Diane started her own, named Happendance. 
Their first performance as a dance company was on the banks of the Red Cedar. She named it Happendance after the way people would happen upon their performances. Newman Dance Theater was absorbed into it, and Happendance began to run dance classes alongside performing. Happendance went on to become the longest running professional dance company in Michigan. It is about to celebrate its fortieth birthday in June. 
Diane’s original degree is in zoology, and though she did not pursue a career in that path, she continues to explore her love for animals. Nicknamed her bird sanctuary, she has many bird feeders set up in her backyard. Diane regularly goes bird-watching. Her cats Mickey and Diego also keep her company.

Rev. Stan Parker
By Jake Summers-Berger

Rev. Stan Parker is pastor at the Faith Fellowship Baptist Church in the Eastside’s Potter-Walsh neighborhood. He is 61 years old and has dedicated over half his life to serving his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His Reverend, Charles Tolbert, brought Parker into the ministry in 1983 at the Galilee Baptist Church in his hometown where he worked for 18 years, and became pastor at Faith Fellowship 16 years ago.
Pastor Parker maintains that he preaches for people to be faithful rather than perfect because he, himself, is not perfect and that only God is perfection. Rather, in his sermons, he implores people to actualize in their own lives with Jesus Christ as their guide. In a recent sermon, he broke down the difference between saying you want something and actualizing upon personal goals while staying humble and grateful for the things you have around you. He spoke of love as the ultimate guide for human behavior and has created a very warm and inclusive community at his church.
Part of what makes his church a great place for the community is that it feeds the community both spiritually and literally. Throughout the week, Pastor Parker is responsible for helping run the church’s food bank making sure families in the area can eat, and helping serve post-sermon meals every Sunday. He also helps direct an after school program at the church. The efforts made by Pastor Parker and other active members of the church make Faith Fellowship an inviting space to be. When prayers are said, there is an overwhelming sense of unity amongst those praying because they are all praying for the same things: for the health of their friends and family as well as the prosperity of their community.
Rev. Parker has a great sense of pride in the Eastside community and how close-knit the group that attends his church is. Sitting in on one of his sermons, it feel as if the group of people listening to him are one cohesive unit rather than a group of strangers gathered strictly for a religious gathering on a Sunday morning. And the message they are listening to holds some pretty valuable knowledge if you really listen to what he is saying.
At one sermon, he emphasized the difference between simply saying that one lives their life for the lord and actually making the daily sacrifice leading a religious life entails. It was an attempt on his part to spread the idea that words are nice but that they hold no value unless you back up the things you tell people with actions. His level and humble approach to being a religious leader on the Eastside of Lansing is one that presents his followers with an opportunity to lead a fulfilling and rewarding life.

Jen Sygit
By D.J. Shafer

Jen Sygit, originally from Marysville, Michigan, is a singer-songwriter who moved to the Lansing area in 1999. She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in English, and soon after realized her desire for a career in music. In 2001, Jen moved to the Eastside of Lansing, where she surrounded herself with local musicians and artists. The Eastside community constantly inspired Jen and her music, allowing her love for music to thrive. 

While living on Hayford Street, Jen discovered another reason to love the Eastside community. In an interview with Jen, she expressed her appreciation for the amount of diversity throughout the neighborhood. “Every single house is a different race, or is a student, or is a home owner, or is 90 years old, or is 18 years old, and I really like that, especially as an artist,” she said. “I would never like living in a place that was “cookie cutter” and the Eastside is definitely not that.” Jen also talked about her appreciation for the neighborhood’s need and want for social activism. 

Currently, Jen works as a musician, constantly traveling and playing gigs anywhere she can. Jen has also been hosting a popular open mic night (currently located at Moriarty’s Pub), for about 13 years, and hosts a radio show through Lansing Community College called “Eclecticana” that creates a platform for local artists.

Joann Neuroth &
Carolyn Lejuste

By Maddy Wheelock

On any given day on Lansing’s Eastside, Joann Neuroth and Carolyn Lejuste can be seen walking their dog, Dalva, around Hunter Park and the Allen Neighborhood Center. From a trip around town to a trip to New Mexico, they rarely go anywhere without her. “She just thinks the world revolves around her,” Carolyn said. “She’s a good traveler.”

Joann and Carolyn have been living on the Eastside since the 1970s, when they were both separately drawn to the town’s bustling lesbian community. They met here, when they were both dating somebody else, and ended up together. It has been 26 years since they began dating, and six since they were married by their Quaker church in town. This was before the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage, but their congregation made it clear that they would recognize their union. After 20 years of being together without feeling the need to get married, their friends and family wondered why they suddenly wanted to tie the knot. According to Joann, their decision was sparked by an experience she had with her queer nephew. “It was pretty amazing to invite all the various family and work worlds we know, [to invite] 200 of our closest friends to come witness it,” Joann said.

When Joann and Carolyn moved to the Eastside, they were both searching for an environment where they could be themselves and be a part of an active queer community. They were thankful for this opportunity, and as the years have passed, they have remained impressed by the welcoming atmosphere of the Eastside. Over time, they have also developed interest in other activities in the area, such as their Quaker church, Joann’s community of professional educators, and Carolyn’s community of disability rights activists. As the United States grows to be more accepting, they feel they do not have to be in a segregated subculture of LGBT+ people, which allows them to expand their social groups. “We have overlapping circles of people who take our time and attention and energy,” Joann said.

A current project they are spending their time on involves making plans for assisted living as they age. Every month, they meet with a group of women to chat about the possibility of creating a cooperative space, where they will help each other and hire assistance together. Though the details are not yet set, they plan to create an environment where they can remain independent but still get the help they need. Currently, the project is just in its initial stages, but they hope that it will eventually become something sustainable and they will have a community to rely on in coming years.
In addition to the supportive environment, Joann and Carolyn also love the freedom they have to travel as a result of lower costs of living on the Eastside. Last year, they purchased a Roadtrek RV and have spent lots of time traveling all across the United States and Canada. When they leave, they know they can trust their neighborhood to watch their house and let them know if something is wrong. For them, living on the Eastside is comfortable and happy.

“[Since] we have retired, we leave a lot, and we know everyone on this block,” Carolyn said. “We know that people are looking out for us all the time, and we are for them.”

Paloma Rosales
By Daz'Janic Johnson

Paloma Reagen Rosales moved to Lansing in 1988 and now lives in a 64-year-old home in the Eastside neighborhood. Paloma loves the welcoming, warm environment of the Eastside. She knows all her neighbors around the block and enjoys their random pot lucks.

Paloma is also a prolific visual artist and musician. “As far as visual art goes I just love to do it, I love being creative, painting, and drawing,” she said. Paloma knew she wanted to be a visual artist as soon as she had crayons in her hand. She felt the love for drawing and painting people, animals, and all aspects of nature. Paloma’s home is filled with her amazing drawings and paintings of women of the Mexican Revolution created from models and historical photos.
She is also interested in musical art. Paloma’s artistic drive to the music of drums gives her a high energy and inspires her to get involved. “When I first saw that drum circle the energy was just so amazing the air was electric,” she said. Her journey into drumming started in 1978 at a music festival. She saved her money to buy her first drum, named Venus, and now has a collection of hand drums, Latin drums, and African drums.

Paloma has many talents. She’s not just a visual artist and a drum player, she also works as a designer for Slick Shirts, a t-shirt company in the Eastside. Paloma loves working with the t-shirt business because she’s able to use her creativity in her everyday life.

The Jasons: Matt, Corie, 
Isaac, Grant & Henry
By Kousa David Yamaoka

From skateboarding around the neighborhood with their dog, Molly, to serving beer at Sleepwalker Brewery or performing in local plays, the Jasons embody the activity and connectivity that make the Eastside thrive. Matt and Corie Jason, are raising three boys here: Grant, Henry and Isaac (not pictured because he’s studying abroad). They moved to Lansing’s Eastside neighborhood after a year of living in Japan and were unsatisfied with the size of their yard, due to their mutual interest in gardening and agriculture. Since Japanese culture is very community oriented and agricultural, this interest was further emphasized.

The first step they took in expansion was to purchase the empty space directly next to their property, since it was unused and being put to waste. Merging the new property with their own, they were able to start growing vegetables of many variations. They know they can’t sustain themselves fully, but they said it’s nice to have a part of their meals delivered right from their own property.

After creating their own garden, they purchased another lot to create a community garden where the neighbors could help year round and help themselves to the harvest at the end of each year. This aspect of the community garden carried over to the founding of the Allen Market Place, which became the cornerstone of their community in the years to come. As a board member of the Allen Neighborhood Center, Corie was one of the many people who helped create the AMP.

The two also found chickens to be a tempting idea for their back yard, and so went to the mayor personally to ask if having chickens in the area they live in was legal, since its an urban environment. Now, they’ve had cycles of chickens for 6 years now, with access to fresh eggs daily. This idea of urban sustainability helped lead to the AMP and has inspired neighbors throughout the community to start gardens and raise chickens themselves.

Abdalla Mukoma
By Tahjah Belcher

Abdalla Mukoma moved to the Lansing area in 2004, he is the President of the Lansing Somali Bantu Organization. The Association, located on Michigan Ave. in Lansing’s Eastside neighborhood, is a gathering place for twenty-seven families of Somali Bantu refugees who live across the Lansing area. The organization was established in 2008 due to the amount of kids who were dropping out of school. Abdalla worried that, because their parents hadn’t gone to school in Somalia, they didn’t understand the importance of getting an education. So, when he and a few others brought the issue to the attention of other refugee parents in the community, they discovered that the children would have homework assigned in their classes but lacked motivation to do the work. Abdalla and his community decided to help the children with their homework by creating after school programs, and the LSBO developed from there.

The non-profit organization now also focuses on English as a Second Language classes for adults, so parents can better communicate with their children about school. They provide transportation to the center, offer workshops in job training skills like resume writing and computer skills, and host a women’s health education group. They have career placement and life skills classes to support the community members on their journey to thriving in America. Abdulla is very active in his community and believes that the Eastside neighborhood is “a safe area” and overall “a nice place to live,” a welcome respite from the civil war and refugee camps he left behind in Africa.

Beth Monteith & Gary Novak
By Kelci Henson-Forslund

Beth Monteith and Gary Novak, longtime Lansing residents married thirty-two years, have lived on the Eastside for over thirty years. Beth, now retired, studied special education and political science before working as a middle and high school teacher. She has also worked with the Lansing teacher’s union and served as a minister. She lived in downtown Lansing when she met Gary thirty-seven years ago. Gary studied landscape architecture at MSU. He now works with Omnitec building “cool stuff” and designing trade-show exhibits.

Aside from raising their son in Lansing, the couple has been very involved in their Eastfield neighborhood. Beth worked with Model Cities in the 1970s, and was president of a Lansing area teacher’s union. She helped organize Allen Neighborhood’s Eastside Home and Community tours which drew large crowds to experience a variety of homes and Eastside neighborhoods.

Currently, Beth is involved with the Michigan Peace Team, an activist group that sends peaceful protesters to international locations such as Central America and Palestine. Gary has designed different pieces of art for the community, such as the welcome sign that greets drivers to the Eastside.

The couple lives on Vine Street, or as they like to call it, ‘Divine’ street, in their 132-year-old home. The Eastside is known for its sense of community. Some of Beth and Gary’s neighbors have lived on Vine Street for over thirty years, and raised their children in their homes. Now, their children have moved back to the neighborhood and started families of their own.

Aside from getting involved in their community, Beth and Gary enjoy gardening, too. They have a beautiful yard and gardens behind their home. “Beth grows vegetables and flowers, and her side is really sunny and bright,” Gary said. I call my side the dark side. It’s all ornamental plants.” He went on to describe his gardening style: “It’s sort of like an orchestra, not like the top 40 radio station that comes on like annuals that blast away all summer long. Sort of like a symphony, where something will come in and fade, then something else will come in....”

Beth and Gary have become a fixture on Lansing’s Eastside. They don’t just live in their community, they have helped form it through caring relationships and their activism.

Julie Powers
By Abigail Schmid

Julie Powers is a proud Eastside woman who is also an active member of the community. Having grown up in East Lansing, she likes living on the Eastside because she wanted to live in a walkable neighborhood that also had some funk. Julie rents one of the only single-story houses on her block and says that she always has to remind everyone that “Renters are people too.” She enjoys the sense of community that comes with the Eastside, from the children who play baseball in the street, using parts of her front lawn for the bases, to the elderly who will tell you if you drive too fast. To phrase it neatly, she likes living in an architecturally homogenous neighborhood that is also socioeconomically diverse. 

Julie is the executive director of the Greater Lansing Housing Coalition (GLHC). The multi-million-dollar non-profit organization manages housing needs in the greater Lansing area, helps with down payments for houses, and works with municipalities and other communities to translate their goals into housing plans. The organization runs with the help of many volunteers and grants, many of which Julie writes herself. When she is not at work Julie is a self-proclaimed ‘loud-mouth’ advocate for housing equality and goes to city council meetings frequently.

Something that is new for Julie this year is that she is hosting an exchange student from Spain. When Julie first heard that host families were needed she was interested because she had been on an exchange to France when she was in high school. However, she wasn’t sure that she would qualify since she does not have any children of her own. Once she learned that she could host a student she signed up to be a host for three weeks. However, after meeting and connecting with Javi, she ended up hosting him for the entire year. She said she knew they were a good match as an exchange family when he started to be affectionate with her dog, Maggie.

By hosting Javi, Julie has transformed into a soccer mom. She said she enjoyed going to Javi’s games and recalled a time on the field when the players were communicating the plays to each other in more than a dozen languages that made her truly appreciate the diversity among the students at Eastern High School. Julie says she plans to visit Javi and his family in Spain and maybe even head over to France to reconnect with the family that hosted her when she was in high school.

Jennie Grau
By Jessica Steinort

Jennie Grau’s favorite part of Lansing’s Eastside is the connectivity of the neighborhood, both within itself and to other communities. This is the very reason that prompted Grau and her husband, John Ruge, to request that their realtor show them houses on the Eastside. She  recalled a memory of when one of her two sons was much younger. One morning he looked at her and said “Mommy, we live in the best neighborhood ever.” When asked why, he said “Because you can get everywhere!”

Some of her son’s favorite locations included the candy shop, and six different parks. Ms. Grau loves the fact that the East Side is extremely accessible from many different locations, including Michigan State University and the Capitol, mentioning that almost everywhere is bike-accessible. She also believes that this provides greater independence for children in the neighborhood. However, the neighborhood is also extremely connected within itself. Ms. Grau expressed that she just loves how well connected all of her neighbors were, and how kind the community is as a whole.

A resident of Lansing’s Eastside for 27 years, Jennie Grau’s most current project is the Love Your Block campaign, an effort to improve the Eastside community through a variety of beautification efforts. Along with eleven neighbors, Grau applied for and won a $5000 grant. Now, Grau and her colleagues are spearheading a campaign to canvass the neighborhood to discover how the community thinks the grant money should be best spent. The money may be used to remove tree stumps in the area, bring historic-style lampposts into the community, improve and add gardens in the neighborhood, and many other projects. Grau is most excited that the community is making its own decisions in regards to the grant it was awarded.


Grau mentioned that everyone on the Eastside looks out for one another, and that the community is full of people who care about one another. I even witnessed her return a container to one of her neighbors, brimming over with cookies, because her mother had taught her “never to return a container empty.” Jennie would like to extend open arms to anyone even potentially considering becoming a part of the Eastside community, and sincerely hopes that they join.

Paul Grescowle
By Jessica Black

A legacy is a person, place or thing that has a lasting affect on its surrounding community. It’s remembered and respected long after the physical manifestation has gone away with time. Opened in 1921, Emil’s Restaurant has a rich and dynamic history. Emil DeMarco first opened a fruit stand near the corner of Michigan Avenue and South Clemens Ave. After great success with the fruit stand, Emil then moved the business inside and transformed it into a sundry store. After Prohibition, he received the first beer and wine license in the city of Lansing and turned the fruit stand into a bar. Emil DeMarco’s two sons then took over the family business in the late 1960’s and turned the bar into a full restaurant and expanded the size of the location. Today, third generation owner and Eastside frequent, Paul Grescowle holds the reigns for Emil’s Restaurant and is carrying forward this great Lansing legacy.

In October of 2015, the restaurant closed its doors. However, this was not the end for the family business. Paul did what each generation in his family had done before him, he “took Emil’s to the next level.” Working exclusively out of the kitchen in the Allen Market Place he has started a new venture, Emil’s Too, producing “soups, sauces, and ready to eat meals.” Paul also has hopes of packaging and selling the famous sauces “in smaller grocery stores… and then later larger stores.” In the community kitchen he is sticking to the classic favorites to be bought to order: marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, lasagna, cannelloni, and manicotti. Taking the Emil’s brand this route is what Paul always wanted to do. All of these recipes are the same ones that kept people coming into Emil’s for almost 100 years, Paul is just cooking them in a new location.

Things are going nowhere but up for the Emil’s Too, and the community can’t wait to see what happens next. “The wheels are turning and I am very pleased,” said Paul on the future of Emil’s Too. In the meantime, the Eastside will enjoy their Italian food with pride knowing that this amazing Lansing legacy will live on right in the Allen Market Place.