The new year brought with it a number of new funding and technical assistance opportunities for communities looking to strengthen their 21st Century assets and/or take strides in the Green Communities Challenge. Information about each opportunity is linked below. Contact Luke Forrest, MML Project Coordinator, for more information or support at email@example.com or 734-669-6323.
The Environmental Protection Agency created the Sustainable Building Blocks Program to provide targeted technical assistance to communities looking to "implement development approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity and improve overall quality of life." Tools used as part of this program will include "zoning code reviews, walkability assessments, parking policy analysis, climate action planning, commuter benefits, complete streets and fiscal and economic tools." Submit a letter of interest by FEBRUARY 23 to enter a competition to receive technical assistance through this program.
For communities in metro Detroit only, the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office is soliciting proposals for municipal energy efficiency or renewable energy projects. The deadline for these grants has been extended to FEBRUARY 24. Communities chosen for funding will be required to join the Energy Office through a formal participation agreement and contribute to the organization's endowment fund once the project is complete. See the application form for more details.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is offering grants of up to three million dollars for acquisition or stewardship of sensitive coastal land through the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. Proposals are due MARCH 4, see the RFP for more information.
Food company Green Giant will be awarding $25,000 each to four people in recognition of their efforts to make their community greener and to help expand on existing initiatives. Eligible applicants include elected or appointed officials, business owners and community organizers. Applications are due MARCH 6 at www.thegreenawards.com.
Finally, the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth is offering low-interest loans of up to $2,500,000 for energy projects through September 2011. A previous blog entry contains more details.
The second annual Transportation Bonanza will be held December 8 and 9 in Lansing. This two-day event will feature national speakers and in-depth workshops on how to create healthy, walkable, connected, sustainable communities based on complete streets principles.
The Bonanza is a project of the Michigan Association of Planning, in partnership with the League, Michigan Safe Routes to Schools, Michigan Department of Community Health, and Michigan Chapter of the Congress for New Urbanism.
Local elected officials as well as planners, engineers and others are encouraged to attend. The second day of the conference will focus specifically on the CNU/ITE Recommended Practice Guidebook for designing walkable communities.
Save the date, registration will be open soon.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail.
This past week was an exciting one in Sault Ste. Marie. The Chippewa County 'Building a Healthier Community Coalition' and the Strategic Alliance for Health Project on behalf of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians have spent two years partnering with the City on a Complete Streets resolution. After intensive hard work, presenting in front of the Planning Commission and the City Commission, all parties involved have adopted the Complete Streets resoultion as defined by the National Complete Streets Coalition.
This article, which made front page headlines in the Soo on Friday, discusses the incredible partnership that helped bring this about. The community is excited about the initiative. Having a walkable and bike friendly city is important to placemaking and quality of life. Sault Ste. Marie is now the first city north of the Mackinaw Bridge to adopt a Complete Streets resolution!
Colby Spencer is an intern and Project Coordinator for 21c3 at MML. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The League of American Bicyclists thinks Lansing, Marquette and Portage are rolling along towards becoming three of the country's most bicycle-friendly communities. The three cities have been designated as "Bicycle Friendly Communities," and each city received Bronze-level awards from the Spring 2010 Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) program - the League of American Bicyclists' way of "honoring municipalities that actively support bicycling and provide safe bike accommodations for recreation and transportation," according to Walk and Bike Lansing! and The City of Lansing's press announcement.
In February, I wrote on article for www.letssavemichigan.com - a site supported by the Michigan Municipal League - that reports how Lansing successfully adopted a non-motorized transportation ordinance and drafted a plan, how they are "completing streets," and how grassroots support and action helped spur these initiatives.
Click on the League of American Bicyclists' Map of "Bicycle Friendly Communities" to find examples of walker-friendly, bicycle-friendly communities and businesses across the country. Other communities in Michigan have gotten props from the League of American Bicyclists for being bike-able. Ann Arbor, greater Grand Rapids, and Traverse City received the designation and award in the past. Midland received an Honorable Mention this spring.