Yesterday, the Center for American Progress, in anticipation of the coming anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, released a report highlighting the work of 50 "Storm-Ready Cities" across the country. Storm-Ready Cities are those that have taken steps to plan for and adapt to increasingly frequent extreme weather. At the League, we were pleased to see that the Center recognized two of our member communities, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, for their leadership and vision. Congratulations to the leaders of those two cities!
However, the list of communities in Michigan that are tackling this important issue does not start and end there. A growing number of other local governments are taking the steps necessary to become Storm-Ready. For example, the City of Marquette and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission have each recently developed climate adaptation plans with the assistance of MSU Extension and the UM Graham Sustainability Institute. The City of Monroe is working with its neighboring townships and LIAA to integrate resilience into its master plan. And the City of Flint is tackling climate adaptation as part of its new Imagine Flint process.
The League is cosponsoring a conference February 25 & 26 at the University of Michigan-Flint that will showcase the work of these communities and others. To be notified when registration is open for that conference and to learn more about the resources available on this topic, join the Michigan Green Communities network.
Luke Forrest is a member of the Michigan Green Communities Steering Committee. Contact him at email@example.com or @l4est.
The 2013 Michigan Green Communities Challenge has officially launched as an opportunity for communities to measure their progress toward sustainability! The Challenge encourages friendly and productive competition between Michigan communities by providing a framework for peer-to-peer benchmarking. Participation will also provide your community with recognition for its accomplishments and a manageable to-do list for getting even better. Challenge participants earn a logo to display on their website and in print materials, will be publicized at the annual conference in early 2014 and on the MGC website, and will be included in a press release. Participation is free to any local government in Michigan.
Here is how your community can take part:
1. Register online at http://www.mml.org/green/registration.php
2. Fill out the checklist (to view the checklist before registering, click http://mml.org/green/pdf/MGC_Challenge_Checklist4.pdf); after registering, you will have access to an online form to complete the checklist. There are Action Guides that provide a how-to template for getting started with each project in your community.
3. Submit the final checklist - the deadline for recognition this year is November 22, 2013. You may make changes to your checklist anytime up to this date. Changes made after this date will count towards next year's Challenge.
Awards for the 2013 Challenge will be given out in January 2014. For more information on how achievement levels are determined, please visit http://www.mml.org/green/mgc.php.
In 2009, the League partnered with the Michigan Energy Office (MEO), Michigan Townships Association (MTA) and Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) to launch the Green Communities Challenge, which measured local government progress towards energy efficiency. In the ensuing years, the program has seen a number of significant changes, including a move to a web-based checklist format, the addition of new partner organizations and an expansion of topics covered beyond energy efficiency. After a series of successful statewide conferences and other educational events, which included participation from more than 130 local governments, the supporting organizations started to view the Challenge as one component of a broader program, the Michigan Green Communities network, designed to connect leaders from around the state and help them learn from one another.
Until now, this network has been largely an informal and unofficial entity, held together by verbal agreements and the common vision of a number of individuals. Today Michigan Green Communities is supported by six statewide organizations that have signed a formal memorandum of understanding: MML, MEO, MTA, MAC, the Department of Environmental Quality and the MML Foundation. Those organizations have agreed to commit staff time and other resources to the program, which will be led by a steering committee of local government leaders. The MML Foundation has agreed to serve as the fiduciary for Michigan Green Communities.
The Michigan Green Communities network continues to grow, so visit http://mml.org/green/ to get your community or organization involved and to keep up on the latest program updates. Thank you to all the communities and organizations that have supported this initiative from 2009 to today.
Luke Forrest is a Program Coordinator for Michigan Green Communities. Contact him via email or Twitter.
On Thursday, July 11 the Great Lakes Commission with MML and several other groups as co-sponsors will be hosting a workshop in Muskegon to discuss place based strategies for waterfront areas.
This workshop will focus on placemaking opportunities in coastal communities and illustrate examples of how leaders are leveraging Michigan's bountiful water resources to advance economic growth and build a higher quality of life in their communities.
This is an introductory workshop to the principles of placemaking and is intended for those involved in economic development, tourism, waterfront development, watershed management and coastal restoration.
On-line registration is now open.
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail