What defines a community? It’s the common ground where people gather – from housing, squares, streets and plazas to parks, green spaces and waterfronts.
The Michigan Municipal League believes that by revitalizing communities and rebuilding neighborhoods, we can strengthen the entire state. Together with our many partners, we invest in Michigan communities to enhance the quality of life of our residents – and to attract and retain businesses, entrepreneurs and workers throughout the state.
This approach is commonly described as creating a “sense of place” or just “placemaking.” It’s a simple concept really, based on a single principle – people choose to settle in places that offer the amenities, social and professional networks, resources and opportunities to support thriving lifestyles.
Michigan can attract and retain talent – especially young, knowledge-based talent – by focusing on how best to utilize our regional communities’ unique placemaking assets.Michigan is seen these days as leading the national movement for "placemaking". Downtowns and neighborhoods, cities, and regions see the importance of “place” to attracting talent, inspiring entrepreneurship, and encouraging business.
Recently, the League, along with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), the MSU Land Policy Institute, and other statewide organizations launched the MIPlace Partnership Initiative and a companion ‘Placemaking Curriculum’ with the goal of helping Michigan communities learn more about and implement placemaking as a strategic economic development. The six-module curriculum from the MI-Place Partnership can jump-start your community’s placemaking creativity.
At the League's upcoming Capitol Conference you'll have the chance to more about the curriculum and learn what your community can do to help restore prosperity to Michigan and enhance the quality of life for everyone in your community. For more information about the MiPlace Partnership Initiative and Placemaking Curriculum Training being offered in the spring of 2013 by nonprofit placemaking partners such as Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) and Michigan Recreation and Parks Association (MRPA) visit the MIPlace website at miplace.org.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Detroit Matters" - that’s the straight forward headline on the cover of the Michigan Municipal League’s most recent edition of the Review Magazine. The March/April 2013 magazine, available for free online here, is all about Detroit and why Detroit should matter to the rest of Michigan. The cover story focuses on John George and his Motor City Blight Busters program (pages 24-27).
Other highlights in the issue include:
- A column by League CEO Dan Gilmartin that explains how Detroit is Michigan’s beating heart (page 5);
- Q&A articles with people living in Detroit and why they chose to move there in recent years (pages 8-10);
- The revitalization of Clark Park (pages 12-14);
- A feature article on Recycle Here!, Detroit’s grassroots recycling program (pages 16-18);
- A look at several of Detroit’s social entrepreneurs, including Ponyride.org; GreenGarageDetroit.com; DetroitSoup.com; HatchDetroit.com (pages 19-21);
- A first-hand account of volunteering at Cass Community Social Services (pages 34-35);
"Our Review magazine often has articles related to Detroit, but this is the first time in recent history where an entire issue was devoted to Detroit,” said League CEO Daniel Gilmartin. “Our 2013 Convention is taking place in Detroit in September and we thought now would be a good time to highlight some of the positive people, places and things in our state’s largest city. This issue of the magazine gives our members and the general public a glimpse of what they might see if they come to our Convention in September or simply visit Detroit.”
So why does Detroit Matter? Gilmartin explains it best in his column at the start of the magazine. Here’s a segment: “Imagine your body without your heart. Sure, maybe some fancy life support machine could keep your arms, legs and gut technically alive. But you certainly won’t grow and thrive. … Detroit is the beating heart that’s big enough and strong enough to keep Michigan’s lifeblood flowing. A state’s major metropolitan area is also its calling card to the rest of the world. It is the magnet that draws people and business, the face of our cultural coin. … Help us make Detroit a place that matters, so that Michigan will matter, too."
The League’s March/April Review Magazine was mailed out to subscribers this week. The print version of this magazine goes to more than 8,500 municipal leaders – mayors, city council, city managers, municipal staff – as well as state and federal politicians, numerous state agencies, and others interested in community placemaking efforts. The bimonthly magazine also is posted on the web here.
Matt Bach is the League's director of media relations. He can be reached at (734) 669-6317 and email@example.com.
You may have heard by now that food carts are all the buzz in some cities across the country. The one that probably takes the cake is Portland, OR, with over 500 scattered throughout the city. But a little bit of this craze is coming to Michigan and for good reason.
Mark’s Carts was the first true stationary “food cart pod” (a grouping of food carts) in Michigan, opening two years ago in Ann Arbor. With eight individually owned food carts serving a diverse array of food from early spring to late fall, it has proven to be a magnet for townies, the business community, and students who want to enjoy delicious local food and an informal outdoor communal seating experience.
But it’s not just about the food! Well, okay, it’s mostly about the food -- but it’s so much more. For the guests, it’s the whole experience of trying different foods in a casual outdoor setting with an opportunity for spontaneous social interactions. For the vendors, it is an affordable entry into the food business which can be an incubator to try out new recipes and marketing strategies and to develop a loyal following before they move on to a more permanent establishment.
That is exactly what happened to one very successful food cart called The Lunch Room. They tried out different fares on their vegan menu over the course of two years, ( while occasionally providing some musical offerings and food tasting contests as well). Among the favorites: barbecue tofu sandwiches, Pad Tai and their hard to resist cookies. Building on their success, they plan to open a more permanent restaurant in the Kerrytown area, one of the most vibrant gathering places in Ann Arbor.
It is just this sort of organic entrepreneurial creativity that not only positively impacts the local economy, but contributes to a community's unique identity and vibrancy, and emotionally connects people to their place!
Colleen Layton is Director of Policy Development for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at 734.669.6320 or by firstname.lastname@example.org.
Such has been the League's "tag line" for the past several years. It came about as part of our overall effort to change the conversation about how prosperity occurs in the 21st century. Namely, that the research and facts prove out that investing in "place" is an integral part of any economic development strategy.
The effort is non-stop and proven by the most recent series of articles by League CEO and Executive Director Dan Gilmartin as well as Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero.
The effort is also non-stop in communities across our state. From Alpena to Allegan and Marquette to Monroe, local officials, non-profits, and the private sector are coming together to forge new policies and initiatives that are beginning to pay dividends.
And if you're looking for help in getting started, check out the League's "Center for 21st Century Communities" or the new "MIPlace Partnership Initiative." Both are undertaking projects across the state and gathering research and strategies that will continue to assist local and state policy makers and "doers" in their efforts.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail