By Daniel P. Gilmartin
Now that we’ve reached the third quarter of an incredibly volatile and newsworthy year, we decided The Review’s fall issue was a perfect place to celebrate the wide range of legislative victories we’ve had so far, from Public Act 312 reforms to negotiating the best deal possible in the governor’s plan for local government funding. In fact, when we look back at the entire legislative landscape behind us, it’s pretty impressive what our Lansing team has been able to accomplish in the months since Governor Snyder and the 96th Michigan Legislature came into office in January, 2011.
But none of it could have happened without the support of League members like each and every one of you. The biggest reason our lobbyists carry clout in Lansing is because lawmakers know we are the gatekeepers for virtually every local unit of government in the state of Michigan. We fight to protect the interests of our cities, villages, and urban townships because we know they form the foundation for Michigan’s future.
The League also knows that all those communities are made up of individual people—and people want to live in places that promote and protect their quality of life, from public safety and a clean environment, to good education and culturally rich diversity. The future of our communities—and therefore Michigan’s future—depends on our ability to attract and keep the kind of residents who can provide the energy, knowledge, and talent to keep those home-fires burning for generations to come. That’s what placemaking is all about.
But it’s a self-sustaining cycle that must begin right here, right now. That’s why we’re planning to incorporate our 21st Century Communities (21c3) philosophy directly into our core legislative principles. State and federal investment must target the eight key 21c3 assets that research has shown are absolutely vital to the placemaking process. Physical design and walkability. Transportation infrastructure. Environmental sustainability. Cultural economic development. Entrepreneurship. Multiculturalism. Telecommunications infrastructure. K-16 education. They aren’t just catchy buzzwords. They are among the main goals to keep in mind as we plan our legislative strategies. They should be familiar guiding lights that help steer our way along the complex, challenging course laid out by our mission.
But don’t take our word for it. Come to the League’s Annual Convention Oct. 4-7 in Grand Rapids, where you’ll see many of those 21c3 assets in action throughout our outstanding lineup of educational sessions and dynamic speakers. To keep it all fun and upbeat, we’ve put a festival atmosphere on the entire event, Taking it to the Streets with a powerful message on Why Place Matters to build better communities for people.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect: we’ll be in the heart of Grand Rapids during the final week of ArtPrize 2011, an internationally renowned competition that has helped transform the city’s image on a worldwide scale since its creation in 2009. During the host city tour and while you’re out and about on your own free time, you’ll see firsthand what cultural economic development can accomplish in an amazingly short span of time.
You’ll also see equally inspiring examples of placemaking, community engagement, entrepreneurship, and innovation from our seven regional finalists for the 2011 Community Excellence Award Cup. Remember, it’s your only opportunity to cast your vote for the highest honor the League can bestow on a member community.
We’re also celebrating the ArtPrize atmosphere by adding some artsy flair of our own to the Convention’s festival feel. Be prepared to be dazzled by some pretty amazing creations on display throughout the Convention space, from the stage and banquet tables to the MML Foundation Silent Auction. We’ve even got a special surprise music video planned that just might put YOU and your community in the spotlight for everyone to applaud.
Intrigued yet? Check out the action at tour.mml.org, where we’ll keep adding new details almost daily, right up to Convention.
Daniel P. Gilmartin is executive director and CEO of the League. You may contact him at 734-669-6302 or [email protected].