One of the rewarding things about working in local communities is that you get to meet some remarkable people along the way. When you combine innovative thinking with people who are passionate about the places where they live the results can be extraordinary.
Our latest try at the League to illustrate the power of people and place is the book The Economics of Place: The Art of Building Great Communities. The book is a mix of economic strategy, cultural enrichment and human triumph. The stories in the book and the lessons that they provide are inspiring. I am grateful to be part of the team that sees the power in these stories and works to drive the critical concepts of placemaking forward so that everyone can live, work, play and learn in better communities.
As many of you know this book is the second time the League has dipped its toe in the publishing waters. We published our first book in 2011 and lucky for us- you liked it! That book, EoP: The Value of Building Communities Around People, includes essays from yours truly and several of our partners who spearhead important advancements in city building. Authors include Carol Coletta, now with the Knight Foundation, Chris Leinberger from LOCUS and Lou Glazer from Michigan Future Inc. They introduce readers to many new ideas about building competitive cities and affirms some old truths about the importance of communities. The ideas in the first book are as relevant today as they were in 2011. The book continues to provide insight into the place-based policies that we advocate at the League.
Our latest publication is, dare I say, even more ambitious than the first. If the first book answered the question of “why”, the new one sheds light on “how”. We cover over a dozen community placemaking programs in detail.
- If you’re interested in a post-industrial reclamation site then you’ll want to review the piece on Marquette, a mining town on the shores of Lake Superior. The chapter shows how Marquette leaders continue to overhaul huge swaths of abandoned property and create great spaces for everyone in town.
- If you want to learn about how the local food movement can spur economic activity in rural communities then read the chapter “From Great Lakes to Great Grapes”. The chapter details the tremendous growth in agritourism in southwest Michigan, including 18 new businesses and over 100 new jobs for the area.
- If you want know how cultural activity can stimulate growth then check out “Return of the Last Picture Show” to see how the Traverse City Film Festival is shaping change. In 2013 the TCFF sold 119,000 admissions at over 100 screenings and amassed over 1,500 local volunteers. TCFF leaders have pumped millions of dollars in proceeds back into the local economy to support cultural programs in schools, historic theaters and a burgeoning comedy festival.
- For an inspiring story of how a successful local business with a commitment to the community acts as an incubator for entrepreneurs read the chapter on Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor.
I could go on but, after all, I want you to buy the book! (Mom and Dad always told me to be honest with people)
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