Excuse me, are you Listening? 8-7
Sunday, April 26, 2009

Dear Readers,

As you know, I am running for City Council At Large.  There are two seats, which are currently occupied by incumbents.  There is also a seat for 4th Ward that is open.

I own a newspaper that is published and distributed in Lansing.  I have been volunteering in Lansing at all levels for nine years.  I volunteer for different ages, cultures and schools.  The entire city of Lansing has been a part of my life, not just the 4th Ward.  I actually live on the border of the 4th Ward and very close to the 1st Ward.  I do more within the walls of the 1st Ward than the 4th.    I know my neighborhood very well after being involved with it for over  20 years but after driving around and delivering in the entire city,  I know it well too.

I have performed poetry in many venues, parks and festivals.  Over the years, I have been actively involved in may social projects with  EVE's House, Ingham County Court programs, teaching in poetry workshops at Shabazz Academy, Whitehills Elementary and most recently 
Averill.  I have given speaking engagements in front of hundreds of people all over the city, state and out of the state.

When I am announced at any venue, I am from Lansing, MI.  In retrospect, I have represented all of Lansing for a very long time.   I was raised in New York, which gives me different insight into what changes can be made to make Lansing a better place.  My husband is a born- and-raised-proud local, who attends almost every Sexton High School basketball game or track meet. There are many of us who are transplants living here and all bring something unique to this community.  The point is that we are all HERE now and in this economic battle to keep this city vibrant and viable. We need councilpersons that put the needs of the people first.  I can only imagine what fresh new ideas could do for this city.  We need people in office who will listen.  Please don't be discouraged.

As a candidate, I am visiting churches.  I visit alone because I  either deliver to the church or have fellowshipped with them in one way or another.  Some of the pastors, I have known for years and have silently assisted them with scholarship projects, health and  education outreach and a whole host of other events, including those  involving music.

My church St. Paul's Episcopal hardly sees me because I am always visiting another church.  I am Episcopalian and have been my whole life but I enjoy the diversity that churches have to offer.  I have even worshipped with the Sikh Indians, Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, Christian Science, Pentecostal, Baptist, CME, AME, Non Denominational, COGIC and yes, there are many more.  I have been with you to pray before I was running for office.

As a mother, wife, community activist, urban missionary and poet, I have fed many people in my neighborhood, handed out aluminum cans to the homeless from my front porch, helped my neighbors when they had school or personal problems.  I have provided food, shelter and clothing to those who have needed it from my front porch.  I even have been a laundrymat at times for those who couldn't afford to wash their own clothes.  Sometimes we even offered our Granger for those who did not have money to purchase city trash bags.  It did not matter who they were or what color they were.  There are some who just need people to care about who they are.

If you log on to www.tncp.net and look at most of the “Excuse me, are you listening?” columns, you will find that my giving to the community has not just begun.  I have always been dedicated to this entire city, not just portions of it.

I have been concerned about people all my life.  I am no stranger to struggles for those who have heard me speak about domestic violence and teen issues, you know that life has been an uphill battle.

Lansing is becoming a place that needs some fresh new ideas to be implemented.  No longer can we stand by and not consider ideas and programs that will make this city a much better place.

I love Lansing and after almost living here for twenty years, I have seen the dynamics of the city change.  We are growing a population and losing a population.  Extra income is down to a minimum.  People are not really sure who is in foreclosure and who is not.

Four years ago, the idea of being homeless was not on most Lansing (or our regional partners:  East Lansing, Delta Township and the other surrounding areas) residents minds.  Now it is.  If you look at the foreclosure records at Ingham County there are people you know who have lost homes.    Some of the people are in business.  Some are friends, family or acquaintances.  Some are not in foreclosure but can't sell their homes to move or have two mortgages.

Homelessness is sleeping in the living room of your mother with your entire family until you can get enough money to get your own apartment.  Homelessness is staying at a friend's house until your  divorce is final because you have a protection order against your wife or husband.   Homelessness is being in a shelter because your parents kicked you out. I could go on and on.  This new economic crisis is changing definitions and a new type of optimism will help us through this.

I still support Oliver Towers.  Of all of the projects to be built, it would have probably been the only housing project that there was an actually need and that would have filled quickly.

If we have leaders representing the city who don't believe in '“warehousing” then we should not have housing for the disabled/seniors or Lansing Housing Commission for those who make a certain income.   What is that?  I was homeless and I was neither a drug addict or a menace to society.  I was trying to survive and I learned a whole lot.

Now that homelessness and foreclosures are spreading like the "crack" epidemic of the 1980's and 1990's and your 401k is now a 201k, please note that you can be affected to by this epidemic too.  It did not start now, it started more than four years ago.  We could have been 
ahead of the curve instead of behind it.

So for those who wonder why I am running At- Large, ask the person who brought it up to you to log on to www.tncp.net , sign up on my  Facebook page “Rina Risper for City Council” or check out


Rina Risper


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