League’s New Book to Highlight Local Placemaking Successes, People Behind Them

As a follow-up to the successful Economics of Place: The Importance of Building Communities Around People, the Michigan Municipal League will release a new book in September detailing some incredible placemaking projects in the state. The book highlights individual successes and places emphasis on lessons learned so that other communities can use the stories for motivation and guidance. The continued reinvention of cities and villages in the state provides the perfect backdrop for gathering meaningful knowledge.

Economics of Place

The League’s will make this book look boring!

Be ready for surprise contributions from some “accidental” placemakers and urbanists, too.

Stay tuned to this blog for news about the release.

Posted in Cultural Economic Development, Education, Entrepreneurship, Green Initiatives, Messaging & Technology, Multiculturalism, Physical Design & Walkability, Prosperity Agenda, Transit | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Filmmaker Debuts Positive Documentary on Detroit, Invites You to View

Below is an invitation from new filmmaker Anthony Brogdon for you to check out his documentary titled “The Great Detroit”.  The film depicts the positive aspects of the community with over 40 interviews and lots of little known facts. The DVD is only $9.99. You can order it here or at Amazon.

The Great Detroit documentary

Anthony at work

“I am a first time filmmaker, my background includes operating Multi-Business Concepts. The last venture for MBC was as an importer of various imprinted merchandise everything from ink pens, to brief cases, to note pads, to clocks etc. I grew the company from a one man shop working as a distributor for US based wholesalers to two offices one in Detroit and another in Atlanta with over 8 employees. I grew tired of that line of business and decided that writing was my passion. So after years of procrastination I finished my first play “Foot Soldiers”. And, with the confidence that came with the years of being in business, I produced the play and staged it in two local smaller theaters. After that I decided to alter the script into a screen play and shoot for bigger opportunities as a feature length move. But with limited experience I felt that producing a documentary would be a better place to start such an endeavor. Now in search of a topic and after talking with some people who I myself were unhappy with how Detroit was portrayed in the media I felt that a documentary that examined Detroit in a positive light would be my subject. I was introduced to the Michigan Film Office website which had a listing of people who offered various services. I found a camera man who agreed to work with me. I began to write an outline of what topics I wanted to cover, search for people who worked in those areas, invited them to participate and off I went. Well, I had a little capital to work with, marginal success in a crowd funding campaign, plus bigger success with my personal appeal for people to purchase patron ads via my website and 3 years of effort I completed The Great Detroit, It was-It is-It will be. What I hope that people get by watching my film is that Detroit has a rich history, that there’s plenty of great things happening and people who are making it happen and that our future is very bright. I interviewed 55 people to cover a little of everything from how and why the Detroit was founded to how Detroit became a manufacturing powerhouse and not just in automotive, to the history of Motown, Techno and more to our flourishing arts, medical, educational communities to how people are donating time and money to make a difference and more. Couple that with some breathtaking photos of Detroit’s landscape highlighting our riverfront, parks, neighborhoods, and business districts. Plus, noting many little know facts and you have a 74 commercial about Detroit. Now, to give the film some balance there are three comments that site some less than flattering aspects of Detroit. So if at the end a viewer says that Detroit can’t be that great then I’ve done my job because I overpowered them to good material. My plans for the film include theater screenings for which I have had 5 since the film’s release in April but more are scheduled in the fall and not just in the metro Detroit area but statewide, nationally and even internationally, to have meet and greets, etc, to have convenience stores in the downtown and midtown area and museum gifts shops carry the dvd, and a hopefully telecast on PBS and online news sites. I hope that people say ‘this is the finest film ever made about Detroit’.”

You can read more about the film here.

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The Prosperity Agenda: What We Can Do to Make Michigan More Immigrant-Friendly

prosperity-agenda-thumbThere’s been a lot of news lately out of Washington D.C. regarding immigrants, but did you know in Michigan there’s an aggressive effort underway to make Michigan an immigrant-friendly state? On this month’s Prosperity Agenda Radio show on News/Talk 760 WJR we discuss what Michigan is doing to become one of the nation’s most immigrant-friendly states and how new state policies have the potential to bring new jobs and opportunity to the Great Lakes State. My co-host for this month is Mary Kramer, publisher of Crain’s Detroit Business, and our guests are Bing Goei, a Grand Rapids community leader, entrepreneur and immigrant who was appointed director of Gov. Rick Snyder’s Office for New Americans in January 2014; Scott Woosley, executive director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA); and Steve Tobocman, a leader of the Global Detroit effort. 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 show airs 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, 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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New $500,000 Grant Program Kicks-Off for Placemaking Projects in Michigan

Attention Placemakers and Crowdfunders in Michigan!

crowdfunding1A new Public Spaces, Community Places grant program, funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), is now available at www.crowdfundingMI.com. The funds will be used to match funds up to 50% that are raised via the State’s new crowdfunding legislation. Check it out and get rolling on a project in your city or village. It’s easy to start.

Posted in Cultural Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Green Initiatives, Physical Design & Walkability, Prosperity Agenda | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Blue Economy Opportunities for Michigan Cities and Villages

Lake St. Clair, Placemaking, Blue EconomyIt’s time for Michigan to make some waves.

Maybe more than any other state, Michigan is literally shaped by the water around it. Culturally, economically, historically, and of course, physically. The Great Lakes define our 3,000 miles of coastline. More than 11,000 inland lakes and hundreds of rivers and wetlands nourish everything in between. Our water resources have always been at the top of Michigan’s most valuable natural assets, the lifeblood for our farming, fishing, shipping, manufacturing, recreation, and tourism.

None of that is new. What’s new is this concept called the Blue Economy—and by understanding what it means, and acting on it, we are in a unique position to become national and even global leaders in the emerging technologies, research, and economic development based on innovative and sustainable uses of our freshwater resources.

Not surprisingly, some of the countries with the least of this valuable resource are the ones making the biggest strides in “smart water,” from conservation and management innovations to water technology business development. Some of our Great Lakes cousins—Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Ontario—are also realizing their freshwater riches provide a unique advantage to get ahead of the pack in technology, research, education, and business development.

But no one—repeat, no one—is in a better position to do that than Michigan, the Great Lakes State itself. So what are we waiting for? The Blue Economy can drive a new round of job and wealth creation in Michigan. Michigan can provide the perfect home for research into smart and sustainable technologies to help solve global water problems. Our water assets can be a powerful placemaking strategy for economic and community development.

Sure, innovation is hard. It’s always simpler to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them. To ride the waves behind us, not make the ones ahead.

Famous surfer Bethany Hamilton, who was 13 years old when she lost her arm in a shark attack, had this to say about her sport: “I don’t need easy. I just need possible.”

There are plenty of people working on “possible” right now. Michigan Sea Grant is part of a national network of more than 30 university-based Sea Grant programs in coastal states across the country, administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) is a groundbreaking task force of 11 federal agencies working on the lakes’ most urgent environmental issues. Michigan has already leveraged state and local funds into $163 million in GLRI funds. Off the coast of Alpena lies the nation’s only freshwater National Marine Sanctuary, protecting 4,300 square miles of Great Lakes shipping history. In 2012, the state hired John Austin, director of the Michigan Economic Center at the East Lansing-based Prima Civitas Foundation, to guide our ship forward into the Blue Economy. According to Austin’s white paper commissioned by the governor’s office of the Great Lakes, water is already responsible for nearly a million jobs and $60 billion in the Michigan economy.

It’s time to quit dipping our toe in the water and jump in with both feet. We can be among those innovators out front making the waves that the whole world can ride into a prosperous and sustainable Blue future. It’s time to quit looking back, and start sailing ahead.

Like Christopher Columbus said: “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

* This blog is adapted from my column in The Review.


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