May 28, 2022

Gary Howe | Author

Always Room for Improvement

Feb. 12, 2022


US-31/M-72 — aka Grandview Parkway — is set for a major rebuild in 2023 and again, on another section, in 2024. It's a highway carrying 30–40,000 motor vehicles a day. It serves the region's trucking industry as a state trunkline and is part of the nationa... Read More >>

49 Years, 2 Months, 4 Days ... and Counting

Dec. 18, 2021

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year — we're all going to die. Someday. I hope you find comfort and inspiration in this finite fact. 

At least, that's the motivation behind Tom Urban's Life Calendar. The writer and illustrator introduced the tool in 2014 on his websi... Read More >>

Sidewalks: Something Useful to Argue About

Oct. 23, 2021

"The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is always replete with new improvisations." — Jane Jacobs

There's always something to quarrel about when it comes to town planning. People seem inclined to disagree ... Read More >>

Needles, Blood, and the Wanton Destruction of Infrastructure

Aug. 28, 2021

When I watch movies, I squirm when needles go into skin and when blood oozes all over the place. These seem like pretty common reactions among moviegoers, but I wonder how many other people also have to avert their eyes when bridges, streets, and buildings are destroyed? When Godzilla and... Read More >>

Food Trucks Worth the Road Trip

July 17, 2021

There's nothing quite like the allure of the owner-operated food truck. It provides a personal, visceral link straight from the grill, through the window, and into stomachs and minds. Thankfully, northwest Lower Michigan is bursting with new and established mobile culinary delights. And w... Read More >>

Bike There — Adventure and Empowerment Await

May 8, 2021

I don't remember a time in my life when I didn't have a bicycle. I also don't remember anyone teaching me how to ride. My older brothers and sisters must have taught me, but I suspect their pedagogical method was along the lines of "Keep up or stay behind." In reality, they probably ditch... Read More >>

Turn the City over to the Dogs

March 13, 2021

We'd heard that they were coming, but we didn't know how long they'd stay. The public didn't usually take time to attend our monthly Parks and Recreation Commission meetings. Still, on this particular Thursday evening, 10 long years ago, a controversial project on West Bay was on the agen... Read More >>


Jan. 9, 2021

Recently, I've spent a lot of time alone with Alone, the popular survival series available on several streaming services. Indeed, it's enjoyable TV for a long pandemic winter, and by nature, I prefer nonfiction. But I find Alone compulsively binge-worthy b... Read More >>

Seeking Out Strangers and Disagreements in a Time of Division

Nov. 14, 2020

As a dyed-in-the-wool optimistic-pessimist, I have a suspicion that most of the division we hear about in America is trumped up, both figuratively and literally.

There is simply too much that unites us as humans and as Americans for me to believe that we're really as far apart... Read More >>

Moving Dirt And Stone

Sept. 26, 2020

This year is taking a toll on me. I'm more sluggish. It's harder to get out of bed each morning. I have muscle pain that I didn't have in 2019. My fingers have lost some of their sense of touch. I haven't yet been tested, but I'm sure my ailments aren't COVID-19. Still, I ​feel confident ... Read More >>

Big Changes Are Needed, So Let's Start Small

July 25, 2020

If ever there was a time for reimagining our society, the time is now. The last six months have amply shown the need for addressing a cracked system. We need a massive investment in public health and healthcare, a commitment to justice in our justice system, and a government that — ... Read More >>

Do You Want This in the Middle of Our City?

March 14, 2020

The City of Traverse City and the Boardman River Implementation Team deserve praise for the planned reconstruction of the Union Street Dam. It is the last dam on the docket of a decades-long transformation of the Boardman River. A project dubbed "A River Reborn." And, once replaced, the j... Read More >>

Three Cheers to Ring in the New Year

Jan. 4, 2020

Indelible in the hippocampus was the media onslaught of 2019. Everything was everywhere all the time. Federal hearings were all-consuming. Impeachment was (is) exhausting. Climate change is still dreadful. Traffic deaths, shootings, global cities and forests on fire … . Without the... Read More >>

Who Runs this Town, Anyway?

Aug. 31, 2019

If an alien came to your hometown and said, "Take me to your leader," who would you ring up? On TV and in the movies, the mayor greets important visitors and re-opens beaches after shark attacks. In real life, fewer than one-third of U.S. cities, towns, and villages use this kind of a "st... Read More >>

What’s Your Issue?

April 27, 2019

While spring is renewing everything all over, I wish to ask each reader of this column to define, in a single word, the most important challenge facing our community. Or, you might prefer an alternate framing of the same question: What is the most important opportunity before our communit... Read More >>

Social Media is Dumb

Jan. 26, 2019

FOMO is not what bothers this writer about Facebook. Rather, it’s the lack of breathing room. Facebook is like inviting your friends, family, and acquaintances into your living room and then discovering that they never leave. You get notified every morning that they’re standin... Read More >>

Michigan: A Land of Opportunity in the Uncertain Times Ahead

Dec. 1, 2018

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the White House released the National Climate Assessment, a quadrennial report mandated by Congress to be prepared by 13 government agencies on climate science. This report details the coming risks, costs, and interconnected impacts that will cascade thro... Read More >>

No Shame, No Blame: #GoVote!

Oct. 6, 2018

I cast my first vote in the 1992 election and brazenly wrote in Jerry Brown for president. Three weeks later, I took my 19-year-old self down to the city clerk’s office in search of evidence that my vote had counted. Sure enough, I found exactly one write-in for president in my prec... Read More >>

Save the Doom and Gloom; Embrace the Facts

Aug. 11, 2018

Quite possibly, the world is getting better.

Unfortunately, we aren’t that inclined to accept the promising results. This is because our views are muddled by instincts that distort how we see the world. And it is this distorted understanding that stifles progress and leads t... Read More >>

Community Action Begins with an Invitation

June 9, 2018

Traverse City is known statewide for its citizen participation. I’m proud to be part of that heritage and have spent many years as an engaged citizen. And through that work, I saw results.

But it can be hard work. Sometimes it feels exhausting and difficult to even show up. ... Read More >>