Bob's blog

Outside In - Great Lakes Bioneers

This weeks discussion is a free ranging talk about the state of the governance process in Northwest Michigan with two young leaders, Sarna Salzman and Mike Powers of the non-profit, SEEDS.  Salman and Powers relate their recent experiences in developing public policy emphasizing the need for broad stakeholder participation and the need for civility in the political process. The discussion also heavily promotes the 10th Anniversary of the Great Lakes BIONEERS  Conference coming up Thursday October 14th -Sunday, Oct. -16th. This year's theme is RECLAIMING THE COMMONS, with major presentations from Jay Walljasper, Lori Cirivello, and Bob Russell

Outside In - Exciting Energy Progress in NW Michigan

Outside In moves to a discussion of local energy programs with Mike Powers from the SEEDS organization and Brian Beauchamp of Michigan Land Use Institute. Mike reviews a program just wrapping up, advising multiple levels of government in a ten county region in NW Michigan, on energy conservation and efficiency planning. Brian discusses a brand new program just starting in a targeted neighborhood in Traverse City whereby more than 1000 home owners can get both planning and financial assistance for making their homes more energy efficient. The discussion turns to governance issues as both Brian and Mike share their experience working on these programs. Energy issues, often because they can be equated to dollar savings, offer a working example of local and regional developments where many stake holders, network, respond and engage to solve definable problems in the public sphere

Re-claiming The Media For Local Governance

Jocob WheelerJacob Wheeler first created the GLEN ARBOR SUN right out of high school. He continues in a wide ranging career of independent journalist including continuation of the Sun and major contributions to  Jacob joins Dave for a discussion of the role of media in a democracy and how especially critical it is today in development of effective local governance. Jacob tells of his experiences as an independent journalist especially the work of in keeping the last Minnesota Senatorial election and the long court battle that followed highly visible to every citizen and therefore transparent. Likewise, their coverage of the Wisconsin battle to protect bargaining rights for public employees help launch that effort into a national campaign.

Duke Elsner talks about bugs and pests

Duke Elsner, Grand Traverse County extension agent, updates the local experience with bugs, both pests and otherwise, this hot summer. Importantly, Duke and Dave talk about the funding threats to the Extension Service and the vital role that agency plays in our communities' social capital.

Outside In - presentation by Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Home Nature

Dr. Doug TallamyIn this edition of Outside In Dave shares an excerpt of a recent presentation by Dr. Doug Tallamy, author of BRINGING NATURE HOME. Tallamy is an entomologist who argues that we have so decimated natural living spaces in our country that only fragmented natural habitats remain. Most 'wild' country is covered in non-native, invasive plants that fail to harbor native bugs. Without native plants and the native bugs they support, whole food webs begin to decline. With fragmented habitat lacking in native food supply throughout our country, Tallamy argues it is the gardeners and landscapers of America who must lead the way in re-establishing our native food webs. If half of all of the space committed to grass lawn in country were shifted to native plants we would increase critical habitat by over 20 million acres, an area greater that the top 12 national parks combined. Without such action the eco-system will begin to fail to supply critical eco services to our communities.

Investigating Community Resilence with Bob and Dave - Part 2

In this second of a two part discussion Bob and Dave begin by recognizing how widespread talk of resilience is becoming. In the effort prevent the concept from becoming hackneyed, the two zero in on two key points of distinction:  resilience is not the same as sustainability nor is resilience the same as efficiency. In fact resilience is the opposite of single outcome efficiencies. Resilient eco-social communities will not be completely completely or fully efficient. Pockets of inefficiencies and unused resources often become the locus of resilience when changes in the environment (natural and man-made environments) demand adaption.

Investigating Community Resilence with Bob and Dave

With this program Bob and Dave dive into a two part discussion of the basic concepts and thinking points involved in the idea of 'community resilience'.They begin with a discussion of the premise of resilience as applied to eco-social communities. Quickly they share the Richard Heinberg narrated video, The Ultimate Roller Coaster Ride: Four Hundred Years of Fossil Fuel History. Eco-Social Resilience matters because the drive of history is changing. Energy constraint and expense, along with climate change, are already causing changes, even shocks, to our globalized system of doing things. Severe stresses to our way of life are likely in the near term future.


We wrap up our current discussion of placemaking and related issues with Harry Burkholder and Heather Seyfarth. Both are planners with Lands Information Access Association and involve in numerous community planning projects.  Economic development surveys reveal that "an attractive place with lots to do" is the prime reason the key, youthful demographic age grades communities need to attract to strengthen local social capital. Designing a place for people, making a place that is attractive to live in, is critical to small communities as well as large. All communities in a region need to attend to their design for people for the whole region's benefit. Burkholder and Seyfarth report on their experiences trying to develop a future vision amongst local leaders.

Steel wheels on steel rails

No other form of transportation is as energy efficient as "steel wheels on steel rails". Saving the few railroad tracks that serve northern Michigan is a must for our future resilience.  Bruckbauer points out that Michigan is really just getting a handle on it's rail needs with the current level of planning, and much more public support is needed to insure that the north gets the connections  and rail development it needs.  Just a few years ago the state was not looking at future rail plans at all, and only strong public showings at public comment sessions has kept the northern part of the state in the discussion at all. July 14 brings a panel discussion to the Traverse Area Public Library where current work on downstate rail improvements will be outline and discussed.  But, our rails connect downstate so what happens there matters here, and public interest and support  is critical to keeping the whole effort going.

Bark for the Park

This week's talk covers two topics, really. Gary Howe returns to outline Traverse City's application for a private grant from the PetSafe Company for the construction of a dog park at one of several possible locations in town. The grant application goes well as Traverse City is in the final group of 25 applicants. Voting for the winner begins July 13th on Check out that site to vote, and go to www.tcdogpark to connect with the local effort. Dog parks can be an effective example of 'placemaking'. Gary and Dave will fill out the discussion with a bigger picture look at 'placemaking' with a dog park being but one specific example.

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