RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS: Valley Court Steps Turning Rainbow

Sunday, October 19, 2014, 8:39 am
Melissa Sortman, Terry Scharf, and Alice Dreger

Note: ELi is instituting new weekly features! Today is our second installment of our new Sunday feature, “Random Acts of Kindness.” This weekly column will share news of just some of the wonderful philanthropic activities happening all around East Lansing. If you have a "Random Act" to share, use our contact form

Next spring, the steps that run from the Farmers’ Market area in Valley Court up to Oakhill Avenue will be painted in a rainbow color scheme. In taking this step, East Lansing joins a number of cities that have created “rainbow steps” as a way to signal the value of diversity. The project is funded as part of the Urban Mural Project and has been approved by the Arts Commission and the Historic District Commission.

The project is led by Melissa Sortman and Terry Scharf, and began when Sortman asked Scharf to paint the steps in her house that lead from her main floor to her daughters’ bedrooms. Sortman wanted a rainbow color scheme, and from there the idea emerged to paint the Valley Court steps in a similar fashion. Sortman lives in the Glencairn neighborhood, and Scharf in the Oakwood neighborhood.

Valley Court is part of the original Oakwood plat and the Oakwood Neighborhood Association has been extremely supportive of the plan. Glencairn residents Nancy and Jim Robertson have called the project “a great visual and inclusive expression of the neighborhood, its people and its park.” A number of neighbors have volunteered to help paint.

Sortman and Scharf are now seeking more volunteers who are available to help clear the area around the steps and to paint the steps next spring. Volunteers should contact Council member Ruth Beier at rbeier@cityofeastlansing.com.


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