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Wednesday, July 18,2012

Selling secrecy

Vacant 2 event mixes revitalization with recreation

by Tracy Key

Vacant properties often become an eyesore, a reminder of what happens when a space is neglected and falls into ruin. It can be easy to forget the potential such properties hold. Vacant 2 will put a new spin on one empty space in Lansing — but the organizers won’t tell you how just yet.

“Expect nothing” is the catch phrase for Vacant, a project that is centered on “taking something empty and filling it,” according to Suban Nur Cooley, founder of the Vacant Lansing events.

“Why not give people the opportunity to see what happens in a space that doesn’t have anything in it the rest of the time?” asked Nur Cooley, as she described her inspiration for creating Vacant. “It puts ideas in other people’s minds about what the space could be.”

While most charitable endeavors collect money for a cause, Vacant 2 takes a more active approach.

“The whole idea behind the Vacant events is to take a vacant piece of property and showcase the possibilities of what it could be, and to show people a new and different way to have fun,” explained Jamie Schriner-Hooper, a former director of the Old Town Commercial Association and one of the organizers of Vacant 2. 

In turn, this is meant to capture the interest of people potentially interested in purchasing the property. Vacant 2 will donate proceeds from tickets sales to support the South Lansing Community Development Association.

But Vacant 2 is more than just a showcase of the hidden potential in vacant properties — it is also a top-secret party event. The theme won’t be announced ahead of time; neither will the exact location, or even precisely what sort of activities will happen. In fact, almost all of the details will remain a mystery.

“People like to discover things for themselves sometimes,” Nur Cooley explained. “There’s something adventurous about not knowing and taking the risk to buy the ticket.”

Although no major details will be given away in order to preserve the mystery of the event, ticket holders will receive several clues via email that provide hints about the festivities to come.

“The sooner you buy tickets, the more hints you’ll get through email,” Schriner-Hooper said.

Despite the secretive nature of Vacant 2, Nur Cooley was able to give a couple of early clues to anyone interested in buying tickets.

“There are four different color options when you go to buy tickets: red, yellow, blue and green. If you’re going with your friends, I would encourage you to buy different colors than your friends — it will be more fun,” she said, emphatically. “I can’t say why, but trust me: It will be fun.”

It is also suggested that guests wear the color of their ticket on their clothing in some way, although, of course, the reason will be a surprise.

The first Vacant event was held this year on Leap Year Day. It followed the same theme of secrecy and the revitalization of an abandoned space, but it was geared toward adults, recreating a speakeasy from the Prohibition era.

This time, however, Vacant 2 is intended as a family-friendly event.

“Impression 5 and Reach Children’s Art Studio will be at this event for a kid-friendly aspect,” said Schriner-Hooper, although she was unable to elaborate on any further details.

“We promise it will be just as exciting to people without children as well,” Nur Cooley added.

Until then, guests are left with one final cryptic hint about what might be in store for them at Vacant 2: “In West Philadelphia, born and raised ...”

Vacant 2

6-9 p.m. Saturday, July 21

Location is to be announced

$20 adults; $10 children

www.vacantlansing.com

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