Jess and Ryan Knott are Michigan natives. Ryan grew up in Stockbridge, and Jess, in Plainwell … but they now live and breathe all things Lansing. Michigan State University brought them both to the heart of the Capital region and neither one has left since. “I've lived in and around Lansing for 20 years,” says Ryan. “However, the town where I grew up is just about 35 minutes southeast of here, so I've been a part of the greater Lansing community my whole life.”
Fifteen years ago, Ryan bought a house on Lansing's eastside, falling in love with the now popular neighborhood. “I love the diversity and the proximity to the rest of the Lansing area. And now, with the resurgence of the downtown area, it's even better that we're so close to that as well.”
Jess also loves the eastside because of its proximity and centrality. “It's so close to everything you could want! Right near downtown and just a hop away from Frandor... we never have to go more than like 15 minutes to get to what we want to do within Lansing.”
So what exactly do the Knotts enjoy doing? Well, it’s a bit of a laundry list, so bear with me. For the Lansing Derby Vixens, Ryan is the coach and director of communications and Jess is Addie Mortem #93; they both helped to plan and execute TEDxLansing; Ryan is one of the original organizers of Lansing Happy Hour Club; Jess writes for the Lansing Collective and helps with Michigan Girl Geek Dinners, and they are both also involved with Mid-Michigan TweetUp and Young, Smart & Global (YSG).
Yes, they’re a busy duo! And of course, they both have rockin’ day jobs. Ryan is “The Jammer” for Motion, Marketing and Media and Jess is an Instructional Designer at TechSmith. Oh, and did I mention she’s currently getting her PhD for Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education at MSU? Yep. That’s how they roll.
Bottom line: Jess and Ryan are involved because they want to be, and have a definitive vision for what they see in the Capital region’s future. “I love the potential here. Lansing is on the cusp of becoming a true Midwestern gem,” says Ryan. “The more we can convince young professionals to stay in the area, the more we're all going to love the result. Every day I feel like there's something new to be excited about here. I can't say that in all the time I've been in Lansing I haven't flirted with the idea of living somewhere else, but now I can't imagine living anywhere but right here.”
Love for MSU
Ryan and Jess have many reasons to bleed green and white. Beyond their affinity for the school they were both educated at, it’s the reason they are in Lansing today. “Challenge is the best motivator ever,” says Jess. “MSU provided a safe environment for me to figure it all out, and an amazing support system - from my current PhD advisor, Steve Weiland, who challenges me to think outside the way things "should be," to Dr. Cathleen McGreal and Dr. Stephen Thomas, who love their students and learning more than I can express in this article - I am honored and truly lucky to have such an exceptional education, and MSU is to thank for it.”
Education aside, they also love to support MSU as alumni. After all, Ryan says, “Of course, nothing beats a Spartan football Saturday.”
As diverse as their involvement is in Lansing, they are both deeply in love with derby. “More than anything, I love what we're building with the Lansing Derby Vixens,” says Ryan. “We're not just a sports league, we're a wonderful diverse group of women (and a few men like me) who are really working toward making Lansing a better place to live. I love all of the volunteer opportunities we've had and how we've been able to give back by donating a substantial amount of revenue from each of our bouts to local charities.”
“I love skating and volunteering with the Vixens,” Jess adds. “[But I also love] hitting the Lansing City Market, playing on the river trail, skating at Hawk Island park and the Lansing Lugnuts own my heart and soul. That's big, because I'm a converted West Michigan Whitecaps fan,” she laughs. In fact, Jess believes the most unique thing in Lansing is “the Humungoid Lugnut,” which sits atop a smokestack in downtown Lansing. I’m not sure if she knows this, but I’m sure Jess would be happy to hear it’s famed for being the “World’s Largest Lugnut” in Weird Michigan.
Ryan and Jess truly love being in Lansing not only because of all they’re involved in, but also because of the unique and diverse group of people they meet doing what they do. “Lansing is a nice-sized city, but with a small-town feel. It's amazing to me how just about no matter where I go, I almost always run into someone I know,” which isn’t hard for a Knott to do, mind you. “Obviously a lot of that has to do with our close-knit social media community, but it also has a lot to do with the fact that we have a large and active group of young and even not so young (like me) professionals who are very active in the community.”
When the Knotts do have true downtime, they can be found frequenting some of the “outstanding” restaurants and bars in downtown Lansing with friends, riding bikes on the river trail or hanging at home with their family, consisting of Guthrie - a 14-year-old golden retriever; Dimitri – a 13-year-old Samoyed; Doc - a six-year-old basset hound and Obi Wan - their 19-year-old Hermann's tortoise. You might just catch Ryan in the kitchen cooking up a storm while Jess crochet’s something whimsical, like a unicorn.
No matter which way you look at it, Lansing is lucky to have this dynamic duo stickin’ around.