Big Mo for Small Farms
Small farms are on the comeback trail. In January, for example, the Northern Michigan Small Farms Conference in Gaylord attracted about 650 people, 200 more than the previous, record-setting year. Farmers met with consumers seeking better and safer food and easier ways to buy it from family farms. Next up: The Michigan Family Farms Conference, on March 26 and 27 in Lansing. It will survey the latest developments in small-farm production, marketing, and financing, with a keynote address from John Ikerd, professor emeritus in agricultural economics at the University of Missouri. More information is at http://www.miffs.org/.
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MLUI/ Pat Owen
| ||Bill McMaster of Bill’s Farm Market, Petoskey|
A spin-off of mid-Michigan’s Tri-City Cyclists — Safe Trails and Roads for Pedestrians and Cyclists (STARPAC) — is peddling safer nonmotorized transportation in Midland. The group is urging local agencies and governments to establish safer routes for those who’d rather not be driving. Spokesperson Jim Crissman said STARPAC formed because getting around Midland by foot or bike is, thanks to sprawl, “increasingly dangerous” via area roads. The group hopes to gather public and private dollars to fix the problem and encourage people to leave their cars at home for around-town errands. Read all about it at www.tricitycyclists.org/.
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MLUI/ Pat Owen
| ||Downtown Jackson’s Blake Building|
Ever since Consumers Energy transformed Jackson’s abandoned downtown post office into the grand entrance to the company’s new headquarters, the town has been on a revitalization roll. The renamed 14-story Blake Building has a first-floor restaurant and will soon have 13 floors of refurbished office space and spacious apartments. The vacant American Ladies Corset Factory is going upscale as the 14-unit City View Lofts. Other projects involving either the city or private developers include extending the new River Walk, completing the Armory Arts Project’s artists’ studios and apartments, adding affordable housing above several retail buildings downtown, restoring city hall, and refurbishing homes in several old neighborhoods.
Resistance to Railroading
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| ||Detroit’s Ambassador Bridge|
Officials are trying to hustle southwest Detroit residents into accepting a super-sizing of Junction Yard, an intermodal freight transfer station. Expansion to 895 acres would flatten 72 businesses and 81 homes in the lively community and shake and choke it with commotion and emissions from 8,000 more truck trips a day by 2025. Wayne County is already an air quality nonattainment area; that corner of the city is particularly challenged by its local industry and truck traffic across the nearby Ambassador Bridge. There’s more: Truck traffic across the Detroit River could double if a proposed new bridge or tunnel is built. So southwest Detroiters and their Dearborn neighbors decided that enough is enough and formed Communities for Better Rail Alternatives to halt the railroading. To get involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org