Sunday, November 23, 2008

Silver Bells in the City

Alright, I see your animals theme and raise you a holiday theme. Friday was Lansing's annual Silver Bells in the City event, begining with an electric light parade—

[notice all the people looking out office windows?]

followed by the lighting of the Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn—

and then fireworks. I was wondering who all the lucky Strangers were who got to stand on the balconies of the Capitol, but then again, they wouldn't be able to see any fireworks from where they were.

Many businesses and galleries are open for people to meander through, and the smell of caramel corn fills the air in a deliciously tempting way. It's a huge event, bringing about 120,000 downtown to brave the cold and kick off the holiday season. [I think Christmas before Thanksgiving is too early, but I still love Silver Bells.]

Thursday, November 20, 2008


So we've got an animal theme going now eh? Ok, I can do that. This might also fall into the people that have pets that look like them category since they have similar hair styles.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Strange mating habits...

This Stranger has a pretty darn cool job at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. She get's to ride around the exhibits with goofy visitors (like me) and talk about the mating rituals of giraffes...and how poop+pee turns on rhinos. For cheery Anne, every sentence is potential punch line.

Friday, November 14, 2008


So here's the deal, I had this picture from before the election (is it obvious?). It was during a Halloween parade. And I wanted to put it up showing how this year in particular people were really enthusiastic and gung ho about the whole election process. At the time though I was unsure because there is a candidate being promoted on the signage and I didn't necessarily wanted to send political messages from this blog (I'll do it from my own no problem, but I don't want to speak for everyone on the team here). And then the decision got taken away from me when the Peppermint Jim post went up, because I didn't really want to post over top of that. Then the election came and went. And then I thought, well now it's going to look like we're bragging or something since the candidate being promoted in the photo won. And now I feel like it's been long enough that hopefully no one will care or read anything into it. Whew, that was a long winded explanation. I probably should just post photos and not type anything in the future.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Riding Home from Work

I don't know if this Stranger was actually on her way home from work, but I'm going to imagine that she was heading back to her 1920s-era home in one of the cute little neighborhoods around Lansing's capitol.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Strangers In Need

Following the theme of posed-but-still-kind-of-Strangers pictures...

Before Wednesday I had never heard of "Peppermint Jim" Crosby. He was a vendor at the Allen Street Farmers Market in Lansing, Michigan where I volunteer, and after talking to him a bit I bought some minty essential oils from him as well as some delicious mint-chocolate toffee [sounds weird, but it's not]. And then I went back to work.

A while later, another volunteer was asking people if they'd been to visit "the mint guy," because he was in danger of losing his farm and was trying to sell as much of the oils as possible. Being the food-, farm- and agriculturally-minded student that I am, I immediately went back to talk to him.

Why he didn't tell me the first time what was going on, I'm not sure. I think maybe he could tell that I was going to buy something regardless, and didn't need to guilt me into a purchase. At any rate, I asked and he told me his story of owning a 4th-generation farm, the longest operating mint farm in the United States. From the sounds of it, he and his sister, co-owners since their father passed away, got involved in a bad lending deal and are now in danger of losing the farm because of it.

The thing that made me mad was that the lender, Greenstone Farm Credit, is threatening to confiscate all the bottles of mint oils, effectively disabling them from being able to pay off their debts. Due to all the interest Peppermint Jim's plight has generated, he thinks they could easily pay it all back if only they had the chance. It seems like this is all coming to a head at once, and after all, he's a farmer, not a politician or celebrity or anything else.

The farm in question is in St. Johns, Michigan, about 25 minutes from where I live. I'm sure that, were it to be sold, it would become a subdivision or other such blight on the land. Maybe a Super Walmart or something.

Now that I've made what has got to be the longest post ever in Strangers history, I'll leave you with a link to the Get Mint website as well as an article that just ran in a local newspaper. I'm not trying to guilt anyone into buying anything, but this kind of thing is happening to so many small-scale farmers nowadays that it's important, I think, to be aware not only of the people but of the choices we make when we purchase things, and especially when we purchase things that need to be grown or raised by a farmer.

I talked to Peppermint Jim for probably at least an hour. When I asked him if I could take his picture, he seemed to be genuinely taken aback. I'm sure this isn't at all the kind of life he envisioned for himself, but he may end up doing a lot to further the cause of small-scale farming and local agriculture. So for now, he gets to be a web celebrity— but keep in mind that, without a farm, he won't be able to do what he really loves. And while I don't know if he still qualifies as a Stranger, it was one of those one-minute-he-was-the-next-he-wasn't kind of things. And I know there are a lot of Strangers out there facing similar fates right now.