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The original item was published from 6/2/2015 2:23:20 PM to 1/2/2016 12:05:01 AM.

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Posted on: June 2, 2015

[ARCHIVED] Oakwood Neighbors Bring Colorful Welcome to Neighborhood


EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Oakwood Neighborhood recently utilized a $250 Neighborhood Enhancement Minigrant from the City of East Lansing to paint the stairs ascending from Valley Court Park to Oakhill Avenue.

The stairs now feature vibrant rainbow colors, providing a cheerful and unique welcome to the neighborhood and a colorful backdrop for the East Lansing Farmer’s Market. The rainbow stairs project was spearheaded by Oakwood neighbors Terry Scharf (the artist) and Melissa Sortman. Neighbors who joined Scharf and Sortman in painting the stairs included East Lansing City Councilmember Ruth Beier, Ken Sperber, Val Thonger, Beatrice Carr (Melissa’s daughter) and Erin Butler.

“The inspiration for the stairs came from the diversity on all fronts of the East Lansing community,” said Sortman. “It gave us a chance to work together as neighbors over a beautiful holiday weekend to bring new public art to the community.”

“This neighborhood-initiated project is a great example of community building,” said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas. “The neighbors were able to come together and work on a project that beautifies and enhances the character of their neighborhood.”

The Neighborhood Enhancement Minigrants are available to East Lansing neighborhoods that have been assigned a City of East Lansing staff liaison through the Neighborhood Partnerships Initiative, The minigrants provide modest funding to neighborhoods in an effort to support neighborhood enhancement projects – everything from the installation of new signs/planters to beautification efforts, special neighborhood events, community cleanups and more.

Four $250 minigrants are available each fiscal year and are provided to neighborhoods on a first come, first serve basis via an application process. Neighborhoods can apply for the Fiscal Year 2016 minigrants beginning July 1, 2015. The application is available at

The Oakwood Neighborhood’s rainbow stairs were also a part of the City’s official Urban Mural Project (crack art),, which encourages small-scale art installations in unexpected locations throughout the community. All installations must be approved by the East Lansing Arts Commission.

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