Often times when I or other League staff discuss our "Center for 21st Century Communities" program, we get the comment that the program seems to be focused on larger communities. Well, a visit to the city of Ludington (population 8500), shows that any community can work the strategies in the program to focus on their assets and celebrate their history and culture.
The city recently unveiled the final piece in their waterfront sculpture park. The park is part of a wonderful public space along the waterfront that includes nine sculptures, each celebrating a part of Ludington's history and culture from farming to lumber to its place on the water. Even today as you drive through the region, this culture is alive and well.
Now it will be further explored through a grant from the League and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to guide a local task force in developing plans for cultural economic development in Mason County and for marketing the county as a cultural destination. The task force will be led by Dr. William Anderson, the former director (actually first and only) of the state Department of History, Arts and Libraries.
I had the opportunity to tour Ludington with Dr. Anderson and along with the wonderful waterfront, the area also has a growing arts community being developed through the Ludington Center for the Arts. A children's museum can be found in the downtown as well as the all important grocery market, a important element in attracting people to live in a walkable, viable downtown area.
My visit to Ludington was one of those that once again showed the great things going on in communities across our state. Cities such as Ludington, Alpena, Sault St. Marie, Ypsilanti, Lapeer, Lathrup Village, Saline, Brighton and a host of others are finding their assets and using the strategies and tools contained in the League's 21c3 program to becoming vibrant communities for the next fifty years. Find out more at: http://www.mml.org/resources/21c3/about.html
Arnold Weinfeld is Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at 517-908-0304 or by e-mail.
One of the sculptures in Ludington.