Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for “Cosmos in the Creek” in Swartz Creek

Kathleen Achtenberg,
[email protected]

Samantha Fountain
Development Director, city of Swartz Creek
[email protected]


$25,000 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

LANSING, Mich. – The Cosmos in the Creek project will complete and activate the Genesee County Trail Extension with a scale solar system model and wayfinding through the anticipated success of a crowdfunding campaign. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the City of Swartz Creek announced the campaign today, which is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $25,000 by March 8, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit:

“Trails are spaces for recreation and the promotion of public health, and adding in an interesting, exciting educational component will set this trail apart and elevate the communal space,” said MEDC Regional Prosperity Managing Director Paula Holtz. “We are pleased to support and provide resources for this project through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

The city of Swartz Creek has been working on the idea of Cosmos in the Creek since 2020. Now that the construction of the Genesee Valley Trail Extension is done, the goal is to fully complete the space with the interactive installations and wayfinding/signage. This campaign will allow the city to fully complete the trail project and install the scale model, signage, trailheads, and a sign for Nelson New Zealand to be connected to the Cosmos in the Creek project.

Cosmos in the Creek is a scale model of the solar system, starting with the sun on the trail at Elms Park, moving through the planets all the way to Neptune at Otterburn Disc Golf Park. On this scale, the closest star, Proxima Centauri, will be located all the way across the globe in Nelson, New Zealand at the Cawthron Atkinson Observatory. The scale model will bring a fun and educational aspect to this accessible trail that will make it unique and set it apart from other places in the county.

“Cosmos in the Creek is a unique project for the community and the region because of its ability to combine space exploration with the great outdoors, a feat that the Public Spaces Community Places program is helping us accomplish,” said Swartz Creek City Manager Adam Zettel. “The journey of a mile will take families to the outer reaches of the solar system as they explore the scaled distances and solar body sizes of the sun and all planets through interpretive sign stations, truly appreciating the vastness of the void of space. The final station, representing the closest star, is to be placed in Nelson, New Zealand, affirming our place in the world…and beyond.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at

“This is a placemaking project on a stellar scale—literally—and showcases many ways that placemaking can create connections within and into a community,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League. “Swartz Creek has a lot to be proud of in this project, and the League hopes to see more activation and community engagement like this across our state.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of Jan. 4, 2024, MEDC has provided more than $12.3 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 367 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with more than $14 million raised from 68,257 individual donors. Communities have a 97 percent success rate in achieving their goals and earning matching funds.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
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