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I have been over to the Emerald City (Ann Arbor) three times now, once to go to an art fair, once to see my friends play at the Ark, and once for my audition.  It truly is the Madison of Michigan.  Commerce and dining and entertainment coexisting peacefully, all within walking distance for many residents.

They see fit to spend money on funky metal sculptures to cover up their parking ramps!

They have bike lockers!

There is an Ethiopian restaurant!

Two residents told me: “I know it’s hard for outsiders to navigate here.  All those one-way streets!” “Well of course they have a lot of vegetarian options, this is Ann Arbor!”

I felt homesick.  I’m usually the one who gets to smugly brag about my knowledge of my quirky city!  What am I going to brag about in East Lansing?

When I talk to residents here (all transplants–native residents may be a different story) they all give me the “hang in there” talk.  This is not a talk in which they gush about  their favorite activities here, and it is not an ‘it gets better” talk.  This is the kind of talk you might give a friend after their car has been totalled.  You can offer a ride or suggest a good body shop, but they’re basically out of luck.

What gives, Spartans?  You seem like cool people.  Is everyone here just temporary residents, passing through for a few years but never investing in their city?  I’m starting to believe that while old, secluded campuses are pretty, our huge campus here does little improve the quality of life for the students or non-university affiliated residents.  It does not encourage going off campus during the day, and certainly does not encourage the public to avail itself of the university’s resources.  Physical separation does nothing to integrate these two communities culturally and economically.

So who wants to loan me the startup capital for my Ethiopian-Indian-Thai Fusion and Various Baked Goods restaurant?

———————

10/1/12   UPDATE:

East Lansing does have an Ethiopian restaurant!  Dave and I ate at Altu’s last week for lunch, and I think we’ll go back.  Please excuse the bad cell phone picture.

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