Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for We Lit Avalon


Kathleen Achtenberg, MEDC
[email protected]

Jackson Koeppel
Director- Soulardarity

Matt Bach
Director of Communications
Michigan Municipal League
734.669.6317; C: 810.874.1073
[email protected];

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 11, 2020

Crowdfunding Campaign Launched for We Lit Avalon

$37,500 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

LANSING, Mich. – Avalon Village in Highland Park will soon gain a network of free community wifi and solar lights through a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Avalon Village, and Soulardarity announced today. The campaign is being offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $37,500 by November 10, 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:

“This project will bring more self-sufficiency to Highland Park residents, make the community safer, and add to the continued revitalization efforts in Highland Park,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “We are pleased to bring this space to life and provide resources for this through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

Local nonprofits Soulardarity and Avalon Village have partnered to fight for a brighter future for Highland Park. With the help of Solartonic, a community-minded Ypsilanti-based business, they will bring solar street-lighting and public mesh wifi to Avalon Village in Highland Park. This campaign will fund the purchase and installation of five new smart streetlights in Avalon Village, which will blanket the block in both light and high-speed public wifi.

This effort will establish a free, public wifi mesh network to children, residents, and visitors that will provide year-round safety, street-lighting, and internet for the Avalon Village community centers and services. The installations will create a safe, walkable, and welcoming environment to host community gatherings and celebrations and elevate Avalon Village as a landmark example of energy democracy and independence, and place-based equitable development for cities across the country.

“This matching grant means that we will have five residential solar streetlights with wifi capabilities. It means that our children will be able to keep up educationally in a safe and secure community,” said Shu Harris of Avalon Village. “It means showing that we can take matters into our own hands and solve our own problems – even while we’re helping our communities through this crisis.”

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

“Creating an environment that is welcoming to all people is key to great placemaking,” said Dan Gilmartin, CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “The We Lit Avalon project will reach that goal with improved public safety – which is always important – and free Internet access – which is increasingly valuable for many of the functions of daily life.”

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 Aug. 31, 2020, MEDC has provided more than $7.7 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 250 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with more than $9 million raised from 44,831 individual donors.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Michigan Municipal League is dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at

©2022 Michigan Municipal League LLC. All rights reserved