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.

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.

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 

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.

Seth Bernard & May Erlewine join Dave Barrons

Outside In, this week, continues the discussion of the Run Across Ethiopia, a fund raising project of On The Ground, a non profit associated with Higher Grounds Trading Company. Seth Bernard and May Erlewine, local musicians and song writers, journeyed to Ethiopia with the On The Ground runners as part of the artistic team recording the event. They begin the show with two of the many songs written about the project and then stick around to share their experiences, connecting with the coffee growing families whose children are benefitting from the 3 schools the project is funding.  Seth and May talk about their art and its roll in telling the story of The Run Across Ethiopia and the importance of this local to local connection.

Chris Treter joins Dave Barrons

This week Outside In begins two discussions on a project conducted by a local, small business, Higher Grounds Trading Company. Higher Grounds is a free-trade coffee company that engages in local-to-local support of the coffee producing regions where its shade grow coffee supplies originate. An earlier project focused on clean water supplies for Mexican villages in Chiapas. Most recently Higher Grounds and its spin-off non-profit, On The Ground, conducted the Run Across Ethiopia a fund raiser for construction of three schools in south central Ethiopia. Chris Treter discusses "why Ethiopia?" Why provide support for a land so far away when there are needs closer to home? Treter explains his business and personal goals and why supporting the people who produce our coffee, thousands of mile away, is really a 'local' project.

Dave is joined, this week, by Bruce Odom

Dave is joined, this week, by Bruce Odom, owner of Odom Reusable Building Materials in Traverse City. The discussion focuses on building local economies. Bruce is active in the local discussion on how to generate more local economic activity that will keep local dollars in the local economy. He has created the web-site to broaden and encourage that discussion. Bruce describes Bay Bucks and that effort to create a local currency; one that circulates exclusively in the local economy. Bruce and Dave also talk about the need for local investment options for the small investor, and speculate on the possibilities of a existing, local entity, such as the city owned electric utility, creating its own currency, fully acceptable in its service area, and thereby creating the capital needed for 'clean' energy investment.

Outside In with Michael Shuman and Stephanie Mills

Stephanie Mills returns with another of her colleagues from the Post Carbon Institute, Michael Shuman. Shuman is author of a number of books on the developing local economies, including the SMALL-MART REVOLUTION, and LOCALISM.  The discussion outlines the new economic era we are entering and why it is likely that local economies will win out over the globalized and fragile world economy. The period of transition will not be easy. Here in Michigan especially we need to learn a new way of investment so that local investors can invest in their local economy. As Shuman points out, little help can be expected from Lansing or Washington as government is still looking to the old economic order for answers.

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