Advocacy Newsletter, October 15, 2020
We have 42 stellar students enrolled in the 2020 Explore Academy, and the first meet up this week was fantastic. We’re looking forward to learning from their perspectives on the community. Big thank you to our underwriter, Traverse Area Association of Realtors, with a national Smart Growth grant and my co-facilitator, Megan Olds of Parallel Solutions.
As fall deepens and winter approaches, I’ve been walking more and more. There’s something about the crispness and colors of fall that draws me to the sidewalks, reconnecting me to parts of the Grand Traverse region I don’t visit as much during the summer hustle.
The pace of a lovely walk – 3 mph – is the perfect speed for checking in on neighbors, exploring my neighborhood’s new sidewalks, and percolating ideas for future infrastructure improvement projects. Three mph is also the ideal speed for catching up with friends and meeting new people. Walking opens up opportunities to interact in intimate ways.
Walks ground us in community, and they’re a political act. With every step, we claim and solidify the area around us as public space. Rebecca Solnit hits the mark in her absorbing book Wanderlust: A History of Walking. “Walking is only the beginning of citizenship, but through it the citizen knows his or her city and fellow citizens and truly inhabits the city rather than a small privatized part thereof.”
Last week, hundreds of children participated in Norte’s Walk to School Day. Walking to school was once the norm for American schoolchildren – now we reserve a special day for it. Starting the day with a walk has excellent physical and emotional health benefits. It also gets to the root of what it means to be part of a community. Perhaps we could do a lot of good by walking more.
For the last three weeks, I’ve been hosting Norte’s new “Let’s Walk Together” weekly meet up. It’s like Norte’s summer slow rolls, just on foot and without bells. So far, we’ve been a small group, but there’s room for more. We meet on Saturdays at 9 am under the Mercury sculpture in Hull Park. We walk at a leisurely pace and go as far as the group desires. Thanks to Kaischa, Steve, Michelle, Sharri, and Suzie, for walking with me. There’s room for more. Our last walk is November 7, so you have four more chances to join.
So join us. Walk with someone, walk with a dog, or walk by yourself, but do take a walk. Today, in our car-dominated world, walking is direct advocacy and a bold political statement.
Over one million Michiganders have already cast their vote for the Nov. 3 election – what’s your plan?
Up and down this fall’s ballot are seats and issues close to our hearts at Norte. This election matters much for things like streets, roads, parks, and recreational facilities.
I encourage everyone to visit the Michigan Secretary of State voter information page to check your registration status. There, you can also see what’s on your ballot, find your polling station, or request an absentee ballot. Suppose you’re one of the million Michiganders who already voted. In that case, you can also double and triple-check that your clerk’s office received your ballot.
•Three Mile Trail Open House–– It’s happening in East Bay Township! East Bay Township’s Planning Department and the Three Mile Trail Coalition invite you to an outdoor open house on Thursday, October 22, at the Grand Traverse Academy. We will meet from 4:30 to 6:00. The time is now to put this vision into place.
• Mountain Biking at the Commons Goes Legit–– A huge thank you to everyone involved in writing letters, talking to legislators, and building the support necessary to allow mountain biking at the Grand Traverse Commons. Thank you, State Senator Wayne Schmidt, for leading the way in Lansing. And thank you to TART Trails and Garfield Township for doing your part to make it happen. If you love biking and hiking at the Commons – Team Orange certainly does – stay tuned for a planning process to improve the trails.
With mask on, hands squeaky clean, and from a minimum six-feet away, onward and upward. Let’s walk together.
P.S. Is your business ready to be certified a Bicycle Friendly Business? Next application deadline is October 20, 2020. Join Norte, Higher Grounds, and Boomerang Catapult as Bicycle Friendly Businesses in Grand Traverse.
Have a friend who is always talking about the streets and traffic? They can sign up below.
Pro Walk/Pro Bike Advocacy