Community Events 2.0

Best wishes to anyone trying to coral a community around bake sales, bingo tournaments,
scavenger hunts and silent auctions. Urbanites don’t want sticky bingo cards and scented
gift baskets. They want innovation and entertainment, which is why cities and non-
profits all over the country are embracing new events they hope will reinvigorate the
community, support local causes and grab national attention.

This shift has communities sending people over skyscrapers (safely, of course),
festooning trash into art and shooting objects from trebuchets. Hustling through mud and
geocaching are also favorites.

East Lansing/Lansing, Mich. is one region that’s been particularly aggressive in pursing
this new generation of community involvement. As a result, new audiences and new
dollars are slowly infiltrating the region.

Before defaulting to grandma’s block sale, consider jumping down a building, playing
with trash, or building medieval artillery. These sundry events engage the community,
attract dollars and introduce long-time residents to forgotten community assets.

Go ahead, steel a little something from the Lansing region playbook and reinvigorate
your community.

Over the Edge

http://www.overtheedgeusa.com/

When a rope and belt are the only things protecting community leaders from a road kill
afterlife, people pay attention. On June 5, 2010, nearly 100 people in the greater Lansing
region participated in the Over the Edge fundraiser by voluntarily repelling down the Boji
Tower. Standing at 23-stories, the Boji Tower is the region’s tallest building.

“A lot of people saw Lansing doing something different and unique and that really
just draws attention to our community in a new way,” says Julie Pingston, senior vice
president of the Team Lansing Foundation, the organization that benefited from the
proceeds. “It’s one more great opportunity of something to do here.”

The event took about two years and $22,000 to get off the ground, but netted $38,000 for
the Team Lansing Foundation and grabbed the attention of more than 20 media outlets.
Each participant had a hand in the fundraising, raising at least $500 before taking the
plunge.

Communities lacking repelling professionals can still go Over the Edge. Over the Edge is
actually a national company that works with non-profits to make adventurous fundraisers
more accessible to smaller crowds and yes, they do train participants before they go over.

Dirty Feat

“Ball ‘n’ Chain,” “Slower Than We Look,” “Trust Us, We’re Lawyers” and “It’s Called
a Satchel,” finished the East Lansing/Lansing Dirty Feat Adventure race in less than six
hours. So did team “Where’s the Beer,” though the time sheet doesn’t indicate whether
they found what they were looking for.

http://www.dirtyfeat.org/about.html

The inaugural June 12, 2010 Dirty Feat urban adventure race included 80 two-person
teams. The teams were required to canoe, bike orienteer, and navigate their way to the
finish line while circumventing trees, stairs and mud. Yes, this is as crazy as it sounds.
Rather than following the mindless ebb and flow of traditional race routes, participants
had to find their own way, relying on their own sense of adventure and direction to get
from point a to b to c.

Dirty Feat certainly encouraged physical activity and creativity, but it also forced
participants to navigate through unfamiliar areas, introducing them to new areas of the
cities, parks and businesses.

“I saw people in and out of every place that sold food and drink in Lansing all day,”
says Tim Schmitt, City of East Lansing Community Development analyst and race
organizer. “I don’t know the specifics in terms of economic impact (of the race), but the
bigger issue for us is that we got to take these people to at least three places that most of
them didn’t know existed.”

The City of East Lansing is still crunching race numbers, but Schmitt says organizers
worked within an $8,000 budget and all proceeds will go to the Team Lansing
Foundation.

VIDEO:

Trebuchet Day
Physics from a textbook — boring. Physics from an eight-foot catapult — awesome!

In May, Michigan State University (MSU) and Impression 5 Science Center, among
others, hosted the city’s first Trebuchet Day, a public event showcasing the trajectory
efforts of area 7th-12th graders.

www.msu.edu

www.impression5.org/

Eight weeks before the launch date, the students divided into seven teams and attended
workshops about the history, math, physics and engineering behind the medieval artillery.

On May 8, 2010, they unveiled their trebuchets to the community by launching water-
filled milk jugs into a field, measuring the landing points and making small adjustments
in hopes of pushing those points back with every shot.

Trebuchet Day definitely fostered community involvement, but more importantly, it
spotlighted STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, math) projects. Launching
anything from an eight-foot trebuchet gets community attention, but this event elevated
local efforts to get kids interested in STEM activities.

Chalk of the Town
Chalk of the Town involves a lot of creativity and bending. For the second consecutive
year, the Lansing Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA) opened its sidewalks to all
artists. Stick figure to professional.

During Chalk of the Town, the OTCA gives artists six hours and a pack of chalk to
transform a piece of sidewalk into a masterpiece. The winners receive gifts and services
from Old Town businesses, which boosts the visibility of OTCA businesses. It also
attracts residents from all over the region and beautifies OTCA streets — for free.

“We will absolutely continue doing this,” says OTCA Executive Director Brittney
Hoszkiw. “This really has a high level of visibility.”

Scrapfest
Pretty is easy but what about dirty? The OTCA does pretty with chalk, but it’s also the
first neighborhood organization (that we know of) to unite a community around trash.

http://www.iloveoldtown.org/

“Not a lot of urban boutiquey downtowns would build off the fact that they have a scrap
yard in the middle of downtown, which is why it took a while to launch Scrapfest,” says
OTCA Executive Director Brittney Hoszkiw.

http://www.oldtownscrapfest.com/Old_Town_Scrap_fest/Old_Town_Scrapfest.html

Scrapfest is a two-week competition in which artists repurpose thousands of pounds
of scrap from Friedland Industries into art. At the start of the competition, teams have
an hour to collect up to 500 pounds of scrap. When they’re done, they start designing,
welding and fabricating.

At the end of the two weeks, a judges panel awards cash prizes to the top artists. The

pieces are then auctioned at annual summer festival with proceeds going to both the
artists and the OTCA. This year, sales from the second annual Scrapfest produced more
than $4,000 for OTCA public art programs.

“The most immediate gratification we have from Chalk of the Town and Scrapfest is
having new faces coming to Old Town and realizing the aesthetics of the area,” she
says. “We’re really an art-based community and we like to reinforce that with art based
events that are pretty out of the box.

http://www.oldtownscrapfest.com/Old_Town_Scrap_fest/Old_Town_Scrapfest.html

Best wishes to anyone trying to corral a community around bake sales, bingo tournaments, scavenger hunts and silent auctions. Urbanites don’t want sticky bingo cards and scented gift baskets. They want innovation and entertainment, which is why cities and non-profits all over the country are embracing new events they hope will reinvigorate the community, support local causes and grab national attention.

This shift has communities sending people over skyscrapers (safely, of course), festooning trash into art and shooting objects from trebuchets. Hustling through mud and geocaching are also favorites.

East Lansing/Lansing, Mich. is one region that’s been particularly aggressive in pursing this new generation of community involvement. As a result, new audiences and new dollars are slowly infiltrating the region.

Before defaulting to grandma’s block sale, consider jumping down a building, playing with trash, or building medieval artillery. These sundry events engage the community, attract dollars and introduce long-time residents to forgotten community assets.

Over the Edge

When a rope and belt are the only things protecting community leaders from a road kill afterlife, people pay attention. On June 5, 2010, nearly 100 people in the greater Lansing region participated in the Over the Edge fundraiser by voluntarily rappelling down the Boji Tower. Standing at 23-stories, the Boji Tower is the region’s tallest building.

“A lot of people saw Lansing doing something different and unique and that really just draws attention to our community in a new way,” says Julie Pingston, senior vice president of the Team Lansing Foundation, the organization that benefited from the proceeds. “It’s one more great opportunity of something to do here.”

The event took about two years and $22,000 to get off the ground, but netted $38,000 for the Team Lansing Foundation and grabbed the attention of more than 20 media outlets. Each participant had a hand in the fundraising, raising at least $500 before taking the plunge.

Dirty Feat

“Ball ‘n’ Chain,” “Slower Than We Look,” “Trust Us, We’re Lawyers” and “It’s Called a Satchel,” finished the East Lansing/Lansing Dirty Feat Adventure race in less than six hours. So did team “Where’s the Beer,” though the time sheet doesn’t indicate whether they found what they were looking for.

The inaugural June 12, 2010 Dirty Feat urban adventure race included 80 two-person teams. The teams were required to canoe, bike orienteer, and navigate their way to the finish line while circumventing trees, stairs and mud. Yes, this is as crazy as it sounds. Rather than following the mindless ebb and flow of traditional race routes, participants had to find their own way, relying on their own sense of adventure and direction to get from point a to b to c.

Dirty Feat certainly encouraged physical activity and creativity, but it also forced participants to navigate through unfamiliar areas, introducing them to new areas of the cities, parks and businesses.

“I saw people in and out of every place that sold food and drink in Lansing all day,” says Tim Schmitt, City of East Lansing Community Development analyst and race organizer. “I don’t know the specifics in terms of economic impact (of the race), but the bigger issue for us is that we got to take these people to at least three places that most of them didn’t know existed.”

The City of East Lansing is still crunching race numbers, but Schmitt says organizers worked within an $8,000 budget and all proceeds will go to the Team Lansing Foundation.

Trebuchet Day

In May, Michigan State University (MSU) and Impression 5 Science Center, among others, hosted the city’s first Trebuchet Day, a public event showcasing the trajectory efforts of area 7th-12th graders.

Eight weeks before the launch date, the students divided into seven teams and attended workshops about the history, math, physics and engineering behind the medieval artillery.

On May 8, 2010, they unveiled their trebuchets to the community by launching water-filled milk jugs into a field, measuring the landing points and making small adjustments in hopes of pushing those points back with every shot.

Trebuchet Day definitely fostered community involvement, but more importantly, it spotlighted STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, math) projects. Launching anything from an eight-foot trebuchet gets community attention, but this event elevated local efforts to get kids interested in STEM activities.

Chalk of the Town

Chalk of the Town involves a lot of creativity and bending. For the second consecutive year, the Lansing Old Town Commercial Association (OTCA) opened its sidewalks to all artists. Stick figure to professional.

During Chalk of the Town, the OTCA gives artists six hours and a pack of chalk to transform a piece of sidewalk into a masterpiece. The winners receive gifts and services from Old Town businesses, which boosts the visibility of OTCA businesses. It also attracts residents from all over the region and beautifies OTCA streets — for free.

“We will absolutely continue doing this,” says OTCA Executive Director Brittney Hoszkiw. “This really has a high level of visibility.”

Scrapfest

Pretty is easy but what about dirty? The OTCA does pretty with chalk, but it’s also the first neighborhood organization (that we know of) to unite a community around trash.

“Not a lot of urban boutiquey downtowns would build off the fact that they have a scrap yard in the middle of downtown, which is why it took a while to launch Scrapfest,” says OTCA Executive Director Brittney Hoszkiw.

Scrapfest is a two-week competition in which artists repurpose thousands of pounds of scrap from Friedland Industries into art. At the start of the competition, teams have an hour to collect up to 500 pounds of scrap. When they’re done, they start designing, welding and fabricating.

At the end of the two weeks, a judges panel awards cash prizes to the top artists. The pieces are then auctioned at annual summer festival with proceeds going to both the artists and the OTCA. This year, sales from the second annual Scrapfest produced more than $4,000 for OTCA public art programs.

“The most immediate gratification we have from Chalk of the Town and Scrapfest is having new faces coming to Old Town and realizing the aesthetics of the area,” she says. “We’re really an art-based community and we like to reinforce that with art based events that are pretty out of the box.

-Ivy Hughes

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Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Good Ideas, The Media

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