Michigan Avenue Thinkers and Doers

Past Events

Community Benefit Planning (Spring 2024)

The “Thinkers and Doers” event brings together key stakeholders and community members from the MSU Eastside Lansing communities. The Spring 2024 event will discuss and explore what community benefit plans are, what are the elements of good community benefit planning, and how might the community participate effectively in this process as it unfolds.

Community benefit plans (CBPs) are agreements negotiated between a neighborhood and a developer that is seeking public financial support for their development. CBPs are designed to identify a community’s needs and priorities for a proposed development and are one method to incorporate equitable development outcomes. CBPs can create a way for a community to be more engaged with developers which can influence the development process and result in specific benefits to a targeted community (Draklellis & Richardson, 2023).

Three expert panelists from a range of disciplines were arranged to participate in this event. This event aims to harness the collective wisdom and passion of local community members to shape a brighter future for the Capital Region.

The Thinkers and Doers recording first features Sam Butler, the executive director of Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit (D4), a nonprofit dedicated to promoting equitable development through planning, policy research, and technical assistance. Sam has helped numerous communities negotiate community benefit agreements, yielding better outcomes such as more affordable housing, local hiring provisions, and environmental protections.

The second panelist is Sarah Reckhow, Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. Her research and teaching interests include urban politics, education policy, nonprofits and philanthropy, and racial and ethnic politics. She has recently published articles in the Political Behavior, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Urban Affairs Review, and Policy Studies Journal.

The final panelist is Jeff Smith who is currently on the Redevelopment and Ready Community Advisory Board and Director of the University Corporate Research Park (UCRP) at MSU Foundation. Smith has previously served the Capital Area IT Council, Prima Civitas Foundation, Entrepreneur Institute of Mid-Michigan, and the Capitol Collective, and Lansing Regional Chamber.


"Bikes and Cars and Limes, Oh, My" (April 4, 2019) 

The MSU Center for Community and Economic Development is hosting the semi-annual Michigan Avenue Thinkers and Doers forum on April 4th at 6:00pm, entitled “Bikes and Cars and Limes, Oh My!”. The topic of this season’s forum is transportation in the city and on campus and the panel features: Nick Probst, Lime Director of Midwest Government Relations, Andrew Kilpatrick, City of Lansing Public Services, Wolfgang Bauer, MSU Associate Vice President for Administrative Services and Andrew Brieschke, Deputy CEO CATA. The discussion will focus on the recent changes to transportation in the area including motorized scooters, new moped rules on campus, and free on-campus busing. In addition, the attendees will have the opportunity to ask the panel members about the future of transportation in the region and hear the panelists speak on what they see as the most pressing issues in the region’s transportation. Co-sponsors include Allen Neighborhood Center, MSU School of Planning, Construction and Design, Lansing Bike Co-Op, and the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council.

Urban Agriculture: Cultivating Community Connections (November 15, 2018)

It is time for the MSU Center for Community and Economic Development’s Thinkers and Doers Forum! This year’s Thinkers and Doers is entitled “Urban Agriculture: Cultivating Community Connections.” The forum will focus on how urban agriculture can help create and strengthen connections within the community. Our panel features people heavily involved in Lansing’s urban agriculture community including Lacey Ingrao, Bee Wise farm manager; John Krohn, Ingham county land bank manager; and Laura DeLind, Urbandale farm board member and former MSU professor. Each panel member will have an informal presentation on the topic to be followed by a question and answer session with the entire panel. The forum is November 15th at 5:30pm at the Center for Community and Economic Development on Michigan Avenue.

Neighborhood & Commercial Corridor Development in 2018 (April 17, 2018)

The MSU Center for Community and Economic Development is hosting a Thinkers and Doers forum. This forum seeks to bring together Lansing’s East side’s innovative and creative minds who offer unique insights in community challenges and spark further actions that further the social capital of the community. This year’s Thinkers and Doers is entitled “Neighborhood and Commercial Corridor Development in 2018” and features Andrea Crawford and Brian McGrain from Lansing City Hall, as well as Dr. John Monberg, a professor in the MSU College of Arts and letters who has done research on community development and engagement on the East side of Lansing. Each guest will give an informal presentation on their area of expertise in neighborhood development to be followed by a question and answer session with the entire panel. The forum is April 17th at 5:30pm at the Center for Community and Economic Development on Michigan Avenue.

Creativity, Action, & Service at Eastern High School (May 18, 2015)

The MSU Center for Community and Economic Development partnered with Lansing's Eastern High School to host a conversation with Eastern High School International Baccalaureate Magnet students. These past and present students discussed their community service actions and public service experiences.

Lansing for Hire (April 24, 2014)

Fund this Town (December 4, 2013)

Math, Science, and God (July 21, 2011)

An event that brings together Lansing’s east side composed of innovative and creative minds who offer unique insights regarding community challenges and presenters. They have put their vision into action to contribute to the community's vitality, uniqueness, and betterment, and to spark further actions that promote the social capital of the community.

Paul Schweitzer, SJ, recently retired Professor of Mathematics, talks about the beauty and order of life pointing to the likely existence of God.