PROSPEROUS FARMS MLUI/Johanna Miller
Sprouting Those Seeds
Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth Director David Hollister addresses the Seeds of Prosperity conference.
Patty is already on to her next Big Idea: Building a step-by-step program to transform the Seeds of Prosperity vision into an economic reality in northwestern Michigan. She’s investigating ways to help food producers reach local markets in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties: Local food guides, farm-to-school food program trials, list-serves, Web sites, and more. Patty is tracking down foundation support for the idea, as well as for enabling the Institute to help grassroots food and farm voices strengthen their voice in Lansing. She also is seeking funding to connect the country’s best writers on entrepreneurial agriculture with a national audience via the Institute’s mean communications machine.
Little Finger, Big Handful
|Jody Treter and Scuba pause at the overcrowded Leelanau Courthouse. Debate is intense over where to build its replacement|
One of Kelly Thayer’s first gigs as director of the Institute’s northwest Michigan land use and transportation projects is almost across the street from our Beulah office: Crystal Lake. A state Department of Natural Resources plan to build a large boat launch on the lake has anglers, lakefront property owners, and some Benzie County residents buzzing with concern. Kelly and Jim Lively led many community meetings about the controversies involved and then authored a three-part proposal: Downsize the DNR’s plan, upgrade Beulah’s beachfront facilities, and better manage lake recreation. Their ideas became a striking brochure that helped attract an amazing 250 people to a hearing in February. To download the brochure, 3 Steps to Improve Public Access, or catch up on the issue, visit www.mlui.org.
The Dynamic Duo
|Youngsters at Grand Rapids’ Franklin Elementary School, one of the school building restoration success stories featured in the Institute’s recent report, Hard Lessons.|
Neighborhood Schools Project Director Mac McClelland proposed a list of resolutions to the State Board of Education in March that are based on Hard Lessons, the Institute’s report about public school location decisions and sprawl. Mac is also working with state Representative Phil LaJoy on companion legislation. The Institute’s next step: Technical fact sheets that help school boards better understand what their communities want for and from their schools, and how renovating old schools rather than building new ones out of town produces savings and better facilities.
Charlene and Mac are also working with the Michigan Municipal League, the Michigan Environmental Council, and state Representative Jason Allen (R-Traverse City) on one of the Institute’s Top 10 picks from the land use council’s 160 recommendations: Commerce centers. All of our picks are at www.mlui.org; just click that snazzy “10 Ways” banner. While you’re there, check out Charlene’s Lansing Lowdown, interviews with capital leaders. She kicked it off in style — a Q&A with Governor Granholm.
Beyond the Summit
Kelly Thayer launched the Institute’s statewide transportation project in 1999; now he’s shifting focus from Lansing to Grand Traverse and Benzie counties, where he’s helping communities link public transportation to sound land use and leading the battle against the proposed bridge across the Boardman River valley. His latest gift as one of our transportation experts: People and Pavement, a primer on “context-sensitive design” — a new approach to making sure highways and other transportation systems respect communities. It could soon be the norm in Michigan. His report so impressed the Federal Highway Administration and Planetizen.com that both posted links to it on their Web sites. Download or read it at ours: www.mlui.org.