Sept. 12, 2018
“The whisper of the forest tree. The thunder of the inland sea; Unite in one grand symphony. Of Michigan, my Michigan.” So says the unofficial song of the state. And oh, what a grand symphony it is. It’s the only state that’s literally waving its hand at the rest of the world, surrounded by the Great Lakes and offering everything from bustling cities to remote wilderness. Michigan, my Michigan.
Every so often it’s important to see the state through someone else’s eyes. Last week, my daughter and her boyfriend came for a short visit. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and had only been to Michigan once before. In true Mulcrone fashion, we squeezed as much as we could into just a few days. We hit the beach in Saugatuck, the MSU opening football game, kayaked a local lake, toured a brewery in Grand Rapids, visited the Detroit Institute of Arts and other spots in Detroit and hung out in East Lansing.
He said he enjoyed it all but, for me, our visit to Detroit was kind of eye-opening. I had forgotten just how much has opened downtown and how much cooler it is now than even a few years ago. Heck, it’s even more exciting than it was a few months ago. He expressed surprise at the trendy restaurants and coffee shops – rightly noting that’s not the kind of thing that gets national coverage when covering Detroit.
I’m actually currently in Detroit for a conference. I realized that for all my time living in the state, I’ve only stayed overnight in the city once before. I grew up in the Detroit suburbs so I’ve always just gone back home rather than pay for a hotel. But I do love the city and am thrilled at what’s going on here. There’s a spirit and determination to keep fighting, to make things better, to rise up and renew. Detroiters, not unlike Spartans, have grit and gumption and truly just don’t give up.
At MSU, the state that we live in is never taken for granted. As the nation’s pioneer land-grant university, we take our responsibility to the state seriously. We’re not just teaching tens of thousands of students from the state, we’re also partnering with businesses, non-profits, governments and other universities on research and projects to better the state’s economy, environment, health and people. In fact, our partnership with the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, the University Research Corridor, contributed $18.7 billion to the state economy in 2017.
Stephanie Onwenu is a senior majoring in landscape architecture in the School of Planning, Design and Construction who understands the importance of giving back to a community. She recently participated in the City of Detroit’s "Give A Park, Get A Park" design competition. She says, “As a proud native Detroiter, I saw the GAPGAP design competition as a unique opportunity to challenge myself as a student and emerging professional and contribute something positive to my community.” Read her STUDENT VIEW: Contributing to a community, to learn more about this dedicated young Spartan.
April Baker-Bell, a former teacher in Detroit and now an assistant professor of English, understands the importance of culture and community in education. She considers herself not only a teacher and scholar, but also an activist for the Black youth of America. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Cultural context of language, to learn more about this Early Career Scholar Awardees work.
I have lived in three states and traveled around the world, but my heart will always belong to the Mitten State. I will always be a proud Michiganian and will forever use my hand as a map. I love that MSU is so deeply committed to the state and its residents whether they live in Detroit, Flint, East Lansing, Grand Rapids, Marquette, Kalamazoo and even Ann Arbor. There’s literally no county in the state that hasn’t been impacted by the work of Spartans. “I sing a State of all the best—Michigan, my Michigan. I sing a State with riches blessed—Michigan, my Michigan.” #SpartansWill.
Photo of the sun rising over Lake Huron, east of Cheboygan, Michigan, on June 5, 2017 by Kurt Stepnitz.
Photo of the Spirit of Detroit by Kurt Stepnitz