Some partnerships just make sense

Some partnerships just make sense

Norte and TART Trails go together like peanut butter and jelly, says TART Chief Executive Officer Julie Clark.

“We’re just good together, and we’re not as good alone,” says Clark. “Norte is an incredible inspiration to get kids excited about active lifestyles — and that allows TART to focus on building partnerships that can get us the infrastructure we need. Norte shines a big, bright shining spotlight on why that infrastructure is so important.”
TART has had a lot of success in helping communities build new trails. For example, Clark will cut the ribbon on the Boardman Lake Loop this year. It’s a project years — if not decades — in the making.  “I am so proud of this project,” says Clark.

“I’m proud of the partnership with the City of Traverse City, NMC, and the county and the township. But mostly, I’m proud of everybody who came out and really informed the design. They shared their values and their vision.”

And that’s the third piece of the puzzle, says Clark — strong citizen advocacy. Something TART and Norte both value and foster. Citizen advocates always play a significant role in community trail projects, says Clark. She points to the Three Mile Trail as another example where the community, including Norte’s Liderato Youth Council members, influenced local political leaders. The Three Mile Trail will connect businesses, residents, and more than 2,000 students from nearby schools. It is currently in the engineering phase, with construction possible in 2024.

Clark is also excited about the possibilities for the TART Trail when a reconstruction of Grandview Parkway begins next year. “We pushed the Michigan Department of Transportation to really rethink how they view traffic in that area,” she says.

“And that’s why we partnered with Norte. Many of the things that Gary suggested long ago — like double-crosswalks and a double intersection at Park Street — are now in MDOT’s plan.” Gary Howe serves as Norte’s Advocacy Director. In that role, he works with community advocates and partners to advance policy and investments to improve walking and rolling.

TART and Norte are both reliant on an engaged, active community. There’s perhaps no better example than the Advocate Academy. First, TART and Norte pioneered the program in a partnership in 2018. Then, for several years Groundwork Center and Norte collaborated on it. Finally, in the fifth year, all three organizations are teaming together.

“Advocate Academy is important because where change really happens is at the community level,” says Clark. “TART doesn’t build trails. Norte doesn’t just put on programming. Communities build trails. And communities come together and participate.”


There are still a few spots left in the 2022 Advocate Academy. The six-week course begins this Thursday.  Learn more and register ➡️ 2022 Advocate Academy


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