Do Good, Have Fun!
Why is Michigan girl Allie Muchmore building a career here rather than in Chicago, Portland or Washington, D.C.? Our state's tremendous natural resources, vibrant cities and sense of place have a lot to do with it. (photo courtesy Rod Sanford/Lansing State Journal) I'm a Michigan girl and I'm planning to keep it that way.
I could choose to move somewhere else. Lots of my friends have headed to Chicago, Washington, D.C. or other out-of-state destinations. I chose to stay, live and work in Michigan after graduating from college. Michigan has always had my heart, and now it has my dedication.
Have you seen one of those incredible sunsets over Lake Michigan you know you'll never forget? Or dipped your toes into freezing Lake Superior or raced down the side of a sand dune so fast you didn't think you'd ever stop? Tasted a perfectly ripe Michigan peach or a Michigan microbrew beer? Remember the perfect summer night by a bonfire where you laughed till you cried with friends and saw more shooting stars than you thought possible?
These are the experiences we Michiganders have in common-a sense of adventure, discovery and love for the outdoors.
But I'm also a downtown pioneer. I appreciate urban aesthetics and smart design and technological splendor. I think wind turbines along a picturesque background are gorgeous. I have a vested interest in development of renewable energy and the smart planning of cities and local food systems. I like architecture and nature at the same time. Green roofs and bike shares. Hiking and canoeing. I love walking past the State Capitol on my way to work each day. I'm a blonde, high heel–wearing tree-hugger. Call it enviro-chic.
I see the pioneering, adventurous spirit of Michigan's great outdoors transferring directly into our urban areas. In a reemerging Rust Belt city like Lansing, I find kindred spirits. They like places where the lights are bright at night and new ideas are born. There's a passion and panache here. Michigan has a way of connecting beauty and nature with the design and ingenuity needed to live and improve an urban center.
My parents don't get it. They live near Lake Michigan half the year and on Mullet Lake in northern Michigan the other half. They like the quiet parts of Michigan.
Don't get me wrong: Lake Michigan and Mullett Lake are my favorite places in the entire universe. Just being near them gives me a sense of Zen. If I were a cat, I'd be purring. But I need to work someplace metropolitan. Someplace where ingenuity meets culture, fashion and sustainability. A place where the work I do makes a lasting difference. I love it here.
It's not always easy, but part of what attracts me to Michigan-and that will keep me here-is the challenge of bringing the best of Michigan to life.
I studied in Europe for a summer during college. When I returned home I announced to my parents that I would be moving to France or Spain after graduation. Studying Environmental Economics and Policy, I saw how renewable energy and environmental laws were quickly moving forward abroad and I wanted in. I wanted to be part of this new, more sustainable way of thinking.
"Well, if that's where you want to go, do it. But that's the easy thing to do, isn't it?" Dad said. "If you want things to be different here you have to change them." What a teacher-like thing to say. He was right too.
I wanted to work for the Michigan Environmental Council-the state's leading advocate for strong public policies that protect Michigan's air, water, land and public health-since I was in college at Michigan State University. It's an office filled with passionate and high-energy people whose guiding principles are "Do good, have fun" and I am so lucky to live and work in an environment where I can do both.
Like many of my colleagues here in Lansing, I create platforms where ideas spark, discussions develop, and people learn new ways to move Michigan forward. And I love it.
I love being a Michigan girl.
Allie Muchmore is special projects associate with the Michigan Environmental Council.