Letters

Letters 8-18-2014

The Climate Clarified

Climate change isn’t an easy subject. A class I’m taking compared it to medicine in a way that was helpful for me: Climate scientists are like planetary physicians. Our understanding of medicine is incomplete, but what we know is useful...

Beware Non-Locally Grown

The article “Farm Fresh?” couldn’t be any more true than exactly stated. As an avid shopper at the local farm markets I want to know “exactly” what I am buying, from GMO free to organic or not organic, sprayed or not sprayed and with what...

Media Bias Must End

I wish to thank Joel Weberman for his letter “Seeking Balanced Israel Coverage.” The pro-Palestinian bias includes TV news coverage...

Proud of My President

The world is a mess. According to many conservative voices, it would not be in such a mess if Obama was not the president. I am finally understanding that the problem with our president is that he is too thoughtful, too rational, too realistic, too inclined to see things differently and change his mind, too compassionate to be the leader of a free world...

Home · Articles · News · Random Thoughts · Planting a seed
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Planting a seed

Robert Downes - May 19th, 2008
Planting a Seed
Can ordinary citizens take charge of Northern Michigan’s destiny and help shape what our region will look like over the next 20 to 50 years?
That’s the dream of the folks behind the Grand Vision, a series of workshops which has been attracting visionary citizens from six counties over the past few months to share their ideas on the future of Northern Michigan.
Starting in Grand Traverse County, where 1,500 participants shared their ideas on land use and transportation alternatives, the Grand Vision has expanded to Kalkaska, Leelanau, Antrim, Benzie and Wexford counties, with 109 governmental participating.
The two-year Grand Vision study is being funded by the federal government. It is administered locally by TC-TALUS (the Traverse City - Transportation And Land Use Study) for Grand Traverse County and by the Northern Michigan Council of Governments for the outlying counties.
In addition to having the enthusiastic support of local planning and zoning officials, the Grand Vision has signed on some of the region’s major movers-and-shakers. Marsha Smith, the executive director of Rotary Charities, for instance, is chair of the project’s public involvement committee.
Personally, I’d love to see a light rail system in Traverse City, running along the bay and out to the malls and down Airport Road and back. Others would like to see urban growth boundaries, more bike paths, protection of the Boardman River Valley, more parks and greenways, limits on building heights and such. Guess we should go put our two cents in at one of the meetings... Who knows? Our vision of the future could someday come to pass.
One question, however: How do you make those great ideas stick?
When Dick Cheney was reproached on the five-year anniversary of the Iraq war for his disastrous ideas that had wreaked so much death, carnage and expense, his response was, “So?” How do the people behind the Grand Vision plan to avoid the same response from developers who may not respect their ideas?
How will they keep the Grand Vision from being the equivalent of a “non-binding resolution“?
Backers of the project make no guarantees, but they point out that there is $2 million in federal funding to help implement a portion of the Grand Vision when the study is completed. There’s also a “tool kit” to help guide local communities bring the Grand Vision’s recommendations to life. And it’s also felt that this sort of large-scale, collaborative planning will make it easier to obtain state and federal grants.
Land use and transportation specialists on the Mead & Hunt team which is guiding the project also point to successful planning sessions in southern California; Portland, Oregon; and southern Louisiana.
So, think of the Grand Vision as planting a seed and growing our future in a positive direction.
What’s on your wish list for the region? The Grand Vision would like to hear from you, with an invitation to join an upcoming workshop, including those planned for Antrim and Wexford counties (May 27) and Benzie (May 28). You can learn more about the project at www.thegrandvision.org
 
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