Bob's blog

Education Still Needed

Jim Crowfoot, Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan, is this weeks guest. The discussion begins with a description of the freshman/sophomore seminar Jim designed for students entering the U of M., a multi-disciplinary, look at The Environment, Religions, Spirituality and Sustainability. Crowfoot is greatly concerned that even high achieving students gaining acceptance at the U of M come that far with little understanding of the environmental foundations of our human societies or the threats to that foundation. Religions and spirituality come into play because Crowfoot found over years of teaching that students so often set their own values aside when entering the classroom leaving them with little connection to the material being taught. Without sensing and understanding ones own spiritual connection to the natural world, or the place of nature and the environment in one's religious beliefs, the contemporary threats to our environment and to our communities can not be grasped. Understanding the social-ecological community  and coming to grips with ones own place in it, is a powerful and absolutely neccessary tool, Crowfoot believes, as we face the multitude of changes and challenges in the near future.

The Disabled Are Not Invisible

This week it is a four way discussion as Dave is joined by three directors of the Disability Network, Northern Michigan: Jim Moore, Executive Director; Jessie Bachmann, Director of Independent Learning Programs and Annie Campbell, Director of Development and Volunteer programs.  Much of the discussion concerns the place that we create for the disabled residents in our communities. Do we treat the disabled as invisible or do we treat them as full members of society, providing for their access, mobility, and social supports just as we plan for ourselves.  How we accept the disabled and provide for their extra needs is a measure of the strength of our social capital.  The group also highlighted the installation of Mobi-Mats at local beach access sites.  Mobi-Mats are plastic, roll-up, mobile walkways providing safe walking or wheel chair access over soft beach sand. There is a Mobi-Mat Open House/Installation Day at the Traverse City State Park, Saturday, June 25th beginning at 10:am with free parking at the State Park all day long.

Birds, And The Business Of Birding In Our Community

The first ever Leelanau Peninsula bird watching festival, BirdFest, took place the first weekend of June. It is the latest entry onto a list of local festivals growing steadily. Bird watching festivals  are substantial economic engines in other parts of the country and with our local birding resource and expansive public lands bird watching should be added to our tourism brand. BirdFest organized multiple guided field trips, offered over several days, plus presentations each night of the event. The keynote address was by Paul Baicich, noted bird consultant and conservationist and author or editor of numerous books and journal articles. Baicich joins Dave on the front porch of historic Fountain Point Resort for this discussion of why birds matter, where they fit in our social-ecological community, and why bird festivals are a good idea.

Public Health and the Traverse Health Clinic

This weeks conversation continues our talk about the general topic of public health. Dave is joined by Arlene Brennan, long time administrative director of the Traverse Health Clinic, and Dr. Lynn Swan the new Medical Director. The Traverse Health Clinic provides free medical care to the underserved of Grand Traverse, Benzie, and Leelanau counties. Like many free clinics this one sees patients are usually in serious and timely need. Residents needing free services often wait until their medical needs are acute or critical and while much of the clinic's work is focused on these short term needs, the clinic does more than just "bandage-up" its clients. It acts as an entry point for their patients into the full scope of the medical system. Brennan explains this clinic is highly networked with a wide variety of medical services, institutions, and practitioners who all plug into the clinics free work. The network is critical to expanding the clinics impact and has been a long work in progress over several decades.  Networked leadership is critical to a community's resilience and the networked partnerships that are part of Traverse Health Clinic make this a broad community effort to provide for our underserved neighbors

Midwives Build Social Capital and Community Resilience

Off on a book signing tour, Geradine Simkins, joins us for a discussion of midwives and the importance of midwifery to local communities. Child birth constitutes the largest single profit sector for the American medical industry and judging from statistics our nation is failing to get its money's worth. The US ranks 30th in infant mortality, worldwide, and 49th in maternal mortality. Midwives offer the very real choice to counter the failures of medical the industry, provide optimal care and outcome for child and mother, cost far less and keeping that money circulating in the local economy, and  building social capital as public health, the health and care of new borns and mothers is improved.

Building A Local Economy: 101

This is our first full discussion of economics, specifically what is needed to build a truly local economy. Zach Liggett from Goldeneye Asset Management joins Dave for a first round talk about just how a community goes about building its economic security. Liggett suggests that individual citizens and residents must first secure their own personal economy, beginning with all the steps we can take to reduce our energy consumption.   But much more is needed in terms of financial structures which focus locally rather than in the larger national or global marketplace. The lack of mechanisms for personal, small scale, localized investing is a primary hurdle. Liggett foresees the growth of social-media-type web platforms that will bring like minded investors together into 'investment clubs' that focus their funds into local economic efforts

Good Food, Fair Food, and Resilience

Our discussion welcomes Dr. Oran Hesterman, founder and CEO of the Fair Food Network which focuses, nationally, on developing the mechanisms to bring local food, healthy food, and food that is fair to producer and buyer to the operating marketplace. Hesterman was instrumental in development of Michigan's Good Food Charter and the emerging Double Up Food Bucks program where Michigan leads the way, and Northwest Michigan joins the move this summer. A number of farmer's markets will be accepting Bridge cards for healthy local food purchases of locally grown foods, keeping local dollars local. Hesterman emphasizes that the local food movement must be developing at the bottom, like Double Up Food Bucks but their must be constant effort to update and modernize public policy effecting food. Look for Dr. Hesterman's latest book Fair Food 

Local Food Effort Starts New Programs

Diane Conners rejoins Outside In for further updates on the local food movement in NW Michigan. She is joined by her colleague from the Michigan Land Use Institute, Janice Benson. Both work in leadership positions developing our local food economy and each talks about new programs being launched this spring season.  Double Up Food Bucks and the Spend Ten Campaign have multiple goals: to increase local food consumption and to increase consumption of healthier foods by those with more limited resources who often get locked into buying cheaper less healthy food.  Both women emphasized the integration and networking of multiple public agencies and organizations in developing these programs and their local, 'grassroots' origins, building resilience through increased diversity of food choices and increased social capital.

Tom Kelly from Island Seas Education Association joins Dave

More Threats To The Great Lakes -- Several weeks ago it was the 'ownership' threat to the Great Lakes, with Jim Olson; this week it is the invasive species threat. Tom Kelly, executive Director of the Inland Seas Education Association joins Dave to update the status of foreign mussels in our Great Lakes water. Quagga mussels are now replacing zebra mussel as the worst threat. Quaggas filter a much deeper water column robbing native species of vital food at the bottom of the native food chain. Our water may clearer these days, but that doesn't always mean it's healthier.  Tom updates the state of the fight against Asian Carp and suggests that unless the barrier to the fish is pushed much farther downstream, farther from Lake Michigan, it is only a matter of time before that nightmare unfolds on the Great Lakes.

Sarah Lucas joins Dave about affordable housing

This week's conversation turns to the topic of affordable housing. Dave is joined by Sarah Lucas, Regional Planner for the Northwest Michigan Council Of Governments and head of the Grand Vision Housing Task Force.  Affordable housing is an issue for the entire community, especially as energy costs continue upward. The long standing trend pattern, where rural housing is cheaper than city housing, is about to crash. The costs of transportation and home heating will soon make rural living untenable for those who must travel some distance to get to work and living on marginal incomes to start. Sarah and Dave outline the many economic connections that center on the living quarters and ponder the coming crisis in affordable housing as even greater numbers of working people can't afford where they live.

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