Here is My Nominee for Best Art in an Alley. What’s Yours?

The Belt in downtown Detroit.Belt 5

Bedrock Detroit

Belt 3

Detroit Alley

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Creative Place-Based Projects in Michigan Compete for Excellence Award

While state government officials in Michigan are drawing criticism for their strange course of actions, local communities continue to do impressive work.

Jackson Armory Arts Village

The city of Jackson won in 2008 for turning a 19th Century prison into a thriving live/work arts village

Twenty communities in Michigan are vying for recognition in the Michigan Municipal League’s Community Excellence Awards (CEA). The CEAs represent some of the best place-based work going on in the Mitten State. The group of 2015 entries highlight amazing local partnerships and the civic leaders who are making them all happen.

Are you looking for a model to retrofit aging big-box retail establishments? We’ve got one. How about a multi-city transportation plan? Well, we’ve got one of those. A model for a citizen led community mural project? Yep, that one too!

Check out this link to see all of the innovative projects from big cities and small towns in transportation, green initiatives, economic development and cultural celebration. And, for the first time ever, you get to vote on your favorite projects! The public gets one online vote per day for each of the four categories.

The awards are highly sought after in Michigan and represent the best the state has to offer. Previous winners represent a wide array of true community excellence.

To find out more about the transformational place-based work in Michigan buy our latest book. It is an easy read and chalk full of ideas and models that anybody can take home to their own special place.

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Great Places, Great Spaces

Campus Martius from my seat on the south lawn

Campus Martius from my seat on the southern edge

I’m spending the day in downtown Detroit. The temperature is 75 degrees and the skies are blue. I’ll save you the written lecture about community resiliency. (You’ll find plenty of that in my past blogs on the site)

Ten years ago Campus Martius was a complete mess and Capitol Park was a deserted urban wasteland. The truth be told, I have lived in and around Detroit for most of my life and I didn’t even know Capitol Park was a thing until a decade or so ago.

The third floor residents common space in the newly renovated Albert on Capitol Park

The third floor residents common space in the newly renovated ‘Albert’ on Capitol Park

Today Campus Martius is an award winning space and the unofficial gathering place for Detroiters of all walks. It is a world class space smack dab in the middle of downtown that any city would love to have within its borders.

Stevens T. Mason

The statue of Michigan’s ‘Boy Governor’ in Capitol Park

Capitol Park is still a few years away from its own 2.0 life, but the energy in the area is palpable and construction teams are working on restoring buildings in every corner of the park. It is truly remarkable and proves that doesn’t take forever to turn a place around.

In the months ahead I’m looking forward to seeing what Capitol Park has in store for Detroit. It has everything that one could ask for: history, location, beautiful architecture and, now, a boundless future.

Speramus meliora; resurget cineribus



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The Prosperity Agenda: Farmers Markets Helping Michigan’s Communities, Economy

prosperity-agenda-thumbFarmers markets have existed in Michigan for more than a 100 years, but are now experiencing a resurgence by more than doubling in numbers in the last decade. They are great places to buy fresh produce and meet-up with friends and family. But they can also provide an economic boost to a community and offer healthy-food options for those in need. On this month’s Prosperity Agenda radio show on News/Talk 760 WJR we talk about the importance of farmers markets to our state’s economy and our local communities.  My co-host for this month’s show is Detroit Free Press reporter Matt Helms and our guests are Dru Montri, director of the Michigan Farmers Market; Jennifer Holton, director of communications for the Michigan Agriculture and Rural Development, and Karianne Martus, market manager of the Flint Farmers Market. The Michigan Prosperity Agenda is a monthly radio show that challenges listeners to help make Michigan a better place to live, work and play by creating vibrant and prosperous local communities. It has aired on News/Talk 760 WJR since 2010. The hour-long radio program is hosted by me, Dan Gilmartin, CEO of the Michigan Municipal League (the League). The show is sponsored by the League and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The League’s next show airs 7 p.m., May 27, 2015 on News/Talk 760 WJR, but you can listen anytime at the League’s website or by subscribing to the FREE iTunes podcast. Learn more about the placemaking concept here as well as on this blog.

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Lean Urbanism- Can it Improve Cities?

Lean Urbanism


Lean Urbanism is a hot topic in city circles these days. Billed as everything form a savior of failing cities to an economic stimulant for small business, the focus of lean urbanism is to rid cities, districts and neighborhoods of as much red tape as possible in order to provide a more evolved environment for city dwellers.

There are influential champions for lean urbanism across the globe and a new website chronicles work underway to implement the concepts. The site is chalk full of articles, reports and case studies on the subject. The concepts are solid. It is worth a look.

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