Friday, December 19, 2008

All For Nothing

One million dollars later and the decision on what happens to the Boardman River Dams is being left to the City of Traverse City and Grand Traverse County.

R-E: No consensus on Boardman River dams

IPR: Dam Decision

Below is an abridged version of the letter I submitted to the Boardman River Dams Project:

My Boardman River Vision

...the most important things for me are to return the River to as natural a state as possible; create additional recreational opportunities; and maintain water level impoundments as best as possible in order to minimize private landowner impacts.

I'll address my vision by working from upstream to downstream.

Brown Bridge Dam
I know that the impoundment behind this dam is a large draw for many people and therefore a complete removal of this dam is not likely. However, since there is space available I would love to see a structure that allows overflowing water but without the dangers of a low-head dam. My vision is reminiscent of the limestone bedrock in southwestern Ohio. There the rivers flow over large limestone "steps" and the effect can be quite stunning. I would love to see this natural feature replicated by a series of wide concrete steps where Brown Bridge Dam currently sits; structures that would retain a pond of some size behind it yet allow water to flow downstream and the migration of fish.

Boardman Dam
Remove or breach Boardman Dam but throw in boulders or a "rock" dam in order to allow fish migration, fast water habitat, rapids for canoeing/kayaking, yet maintain elevated water levels behind the structure to lessen the impact on waterfront property owners. Build a high two-lane bridge for Cass Rd. so that hikers may pass underneath it and along the river.

Sabin Dam
Remove it completely; let this area return to a natural state. Make the reclamation a feature of the GTCD Nature Center.

Union St
At the very least modify the structure to allow salmon and sturgeon to migrate upstream while keeping out lampreys. As a pie-in-the-sky dream, create a whitewater park between Cass Rd and Union St. This would likely become a regional destination as many U.S. cities are recognizing (e.g., Spokane, Des Moines, Flint, Reno, etc) and I've read about the enthusiasm the surf park in downtown Munich, Germany has created. It could also serve as the hub for TART's regional trail network.

Boardman Lake
I think consideration for Boardman Lake should also be part of any dams decision.

It almost seems sad that a river as recognized as the Boardman is forced through undignified steel tunnels under S. Airport Rd. Not only are they ugly but these tunnels make it very difficult to put-in downtown and paddle up the lake to points further upstream. In my case, when canoeing with my dog he refuses to go through the tunnels! Plus, the steel tunnels just are not inviting for paddlers.

I propose to replace the single eastern Boardman River tunnel with a larger and more natural-looking tunnel-like structure. Something that is big enough to allow two paddlers through at a time but low enough to keep out motorboats, And wide enough to allow a spur of TART's Boardman Lake trail to safely pass underneath S. Airport Rd. so that it could eventually connect to the GTCD Nature Preserve.

And to compensate for the slight reduction in nesting areas due to lower water levels further upstream create a no-wake zone along Boardman Lake's western shore area from in front of the Boardman Lake Condominiums south to S. Airport Rd. in the hope that this will allow loons and other waterfowl to find nesting areas.

To conclude, theses are exciting times for the Traverse City area. There is a great opportunity to link the decision on the Boardman River dams with the new Traverse City master plan and the Grand Vision initiative. I hope my ideas are useful.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Urban Farming In Detroit

What would make a good term to describe the establishment of farms in once urban areas? Re-ruralization?

Detroit is trying it.

See BB: GM's Bust Turns Detroit Into Urban Prairie of Vacant-Lot Farms
The city has more than 500 gardens and ``we plan to triple that every year,'' said Michael Travis, deputy director of Urban Farming, a Detroit-based nonprofit corporation that helps clear land and provides topsoil and fertilizer.

Helping Wildlife And Saving People

Via the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition
In Michigan in 2007, there were 61,907 reported vehicle-deer crashes with 11 motorist killed. About 80 percent of all car-deer crashes take place on two-lane roads between dusk and dawn. Vehicle-deer crashes are costly. In Michigan, vehicle-deer crashes cost at least $130 million per year; the average insurance claim is about $2,100 in damage, usually to the front of the vehicle, which often leaves it undriveable.

Other states have similar issues with wildlife crossing roads and then causing accidents. In response New Mexico has successfully tested an underpass on a busy highway for $750,000. That seems like a bargain price.

See: In New Mexico canyon, a novel way to prevent roadkill

Friday, December 5, 2008

Traverse City's Ski Area

Hickory Hills is one of those special things that many people in Traverse City may take for granted, like Boardman Lake, but it is a great amenity for residents and something to be thankful for.

R-E: Success snowballs at Hickory Hills

Official site: Hickory Hills Ski Area

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Michigan Christmas Tree Association

The MCTA has a new web site:

It includes a guide on 'Choose and Cut' farms like those found in northern Michigan.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Another Example Of More Roads Creating More Traffic

See: The Big Dig's Unintended Consequence: More Traffic
In fact, the time it takes to travel certain routes has actually doubled as a result of the project. What's perhaps more surprising than these findings is the fact that no one saw it coming.

Water Trails

Many communities across America are considering and organizing water trails for canoers and kayakers. American Rivers calls them "Blue Trails" and have launched a web site to help communities get started.

See: Blue Trails Guide
Welcome to The Blue Trails Guide

The Blue Trails Guide by American Rivers provides step-by-step instructions for developing thriving blue trails, the water equivalent to hiking trails, in your community.

To have a successful blue trail you need to have a healthy river, which is why this guide focuses on river conservation. You will find practical advice on planning, building, and managing for conservation and case studies from experts across the country.

This guide will help your community protect and restore your rivers and landscapes through recreation.

What Makes For The Best Streets?

World Class Streets Have More Pedestrians, Fewer Cars

Or in other words, it is time to look at streets as multi-use avenues rather than a means of getting cars from point A to point B.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Granny Flats In Traverse City Are Inevitable

In the first half of the 20th Century boarding houses were common in the United States as many people struggled economically. Today recent college graduates move back in with their parents, and parents move in with adult children. So to the Traverse City Commission I ask; why should it be illegal to rent an ADU to your parents or kids?

See: USNews: Baby Boomers Moving In With Adult Children

Classical Farming

Seems obvious but people still have to write articles to encourage farmers to attempt to work with wildlife.

See: Farming with the Wild

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Removing A Dam In Fort Covington, NY

A dam is being removed in Fort Covington, NY in order to restore the connectivity of the Salmon River to the St. Lawrence River. And the anglers there are very excited about it.

See: NY officials hope removing dam will revive fishing

The Sound Of Inevitability

Wind energy is coming, it'll just be a matter of where and when. The importance to northern Michigan is that offering green and reliable electricity will attract the type of businesses which attract skilled and high-tech workers.

Why Michigan offshore wind farms are inevitable
Windmill economics are better if the weather is colder, the propeller is bigger, but most importantly if the wind blows faster.

Study: Offshore Wind Turbines Could Pack Punch
If Michigan allowed close to 100,000 wind turbines to be plopped along the shore of the Great Lakes, it would produce enough energy to power the entire Upper Midwest, according to a Michigan State University Land Policy Institute study set to be released today, according to the MIRS News Service.

While acknowledging that such a scenario is absurd, the study "Michigan's Offshore Wind Potential" produced the calculations to show the state what is possible if wind turbines were moved next to and into the Great Lakes.

For example, to use offshore wind energy to satisfy all of Michigan's power demands, the state would need to plop 11,469 wind turbines 10 kilometers offshore at a depth of 60 meters, according to the study, authored by Charles McKeown and Soji Adelaja.

Traverse City Water Festival

DECEMBER 12 - 14,2008

The Water Festival seeks to attract, entertain, educate and activate individuals and communities.The first Traverse City Water Festival will take place at the City Opera House on Friday and Saturday, December 12th and 13th, and at the Grand Traverse Commons on Sunday, December 14th.

The full schedule. However, as I rule I do not attend events featuring group drumming.

Preservation In The Midst Of 1000 Cuts

We're lucky enough in northern Michigan to have large stretches of wilderness. Yet, in urban areas too, a new study indicates preserving patches of green can help mobile species.

See ScienceBlog: Networks of small habitat patches can preserve urban biodiversity

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A League Of Young Farmers

One of the best things about northern Michigan is the number of farmers, particularly new, young farmers. There is no more noble profession.

There are programs in place to encourage young people to get into farming:
Get Farming! from MLUI

Now there's also this community getting started to help young farmer's across the country:
Serve Your Country Food

Chicks In The City

The Traverse City Commissioners are pretty good at avoiding innovation so this will probably not happen for a few more years, but backyard poultry is a growing trend. Here are some recent stories:

Does My City Allow Me to Raise Chickens?

Whole lotta clucking going on in cities
The communities of Fort Collins, Colo.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Wake Forest, N.C.; have passed laws allowing residents to keep a limited number of backyard birds. Other chicken-friendly cities include New York; Oakland, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Salt Lake City.

Fresh eggs for breakfast aren't the only benefit of raising chickens, say hobbyists. The birds provide organic fertilizer, and their appetite for pesky weeds and bugs helps gardens thrive.

"If our economy continues on the downward spiral," says Ms. Shell, a third-generation poultry hobbyist, "you're going to see a lot more people raising their own chickens in their backyards and starting up vegetable gardens."

A mostly complete list of chicken laws by city: Chicken Laws

Open Spaces Matter

I am happy to see that Traverse City's Peninsula Township residents approved funding for the Center Road Natural Area Park.

It is well established that housing next to preserved land appreciates more quickly than houses elsewhere in the community.

Now an interesting British study demonstrates that access to green spaces and parks improves people's health and also "counteracts the effects of poverty on deprivation".

See TH: Urban Parks Help Defeat Inequality

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Good For Michigan

I'm happy to see that Michigan passed Proposals 1 and 2. Proposal 1 will help keep the Creative Class in the state and Proposal 2 will keep scientists in the state.

See: Scientists, doctors, patients stand to benefit as Proposals 1, 2 pass

And just this week new research is coming out: Research into medicinal marijuana grows up

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Parking Basement

This is an amazing project: Downtown Houston Rediscovers Green with New Eco-Centric Park
What was a large downtown parking lot in Houston just a year ago, is now Discovery Green, downtown Houston’s new urban park. Underneath the park, an underground parking garage now accommodates the same number of cars as before…no more, no less. An above ground portal, designed by Austin artist, Margo Sawyer, takes drivers from their cars below the Earth up to almost a dozen acres of new centrally located parkspace.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Cherry Marketing Institute Gets Good News

Research identifies new link between tart cherries and risk factors for heart disease
New research continues to link tart cherries, one of today's hottest "Super Fruits," to lowering risk factors for heart disease. In addition to lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation, the study being presented by University of Michigan researchers at next week's American Dietetic Association annual meeting, found that a cherry-enriched diet lowered body weight and fat – major risk factors for heart disease.

And most of the United States' tart cherries come from Traverse City, MI. Hopefully more research will make cherries more valuable and farmers better able to stay viable.

See: Cherry Marketing Institute

Boardman River Dams Get Media Attention

Via The Environment Report: To Dam Or Not To Dam

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bill Clous, Mission Accomplished

A story of stumps, crops and zoning
Bill Clous says he's a farmer who wants to raise crops on 360 acres of damp, rolling fields in East Bay Township.

But Clous also is one of the region's biggest residential developers, and a recent township zoning overhaul could allow him to build 2,000 homes and an industrial park on land where authorities allege he willfully damaged wetlands and violated numerous environmental laws.

The collection of family farms Clous assembled over the past 20 years north of Hammond Road and between Townline and Three Mile roads will stay in farming, he said.
"My honest intention is to farm it for at least 10 years," Clous recently told the Record-Eagle. "(But) nothing's etched in stone."

Clous to build on land he pledged to farm
Clous plans to build hundreds of subsidized senior citizen apartments, as well as a commercial development, on property he cleared and scoured and pledged to farm for a decade.

The project on a 54-acre parcel will include 360 apartments in three, three-story buildings and 120 rooms in an assisted-living facility bordered by about 10 acres of commercial development off Three Mile Road.

In 2004, Clous agreed to a consent judgment with Grand Traverse County and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to settle a lawsuit over allegations he illegally bulldozed wetlands on 360 acres there. Clous said the land was being prepared for farming.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Understanding Traffic With Braess' Paradox And The Nash Equilibrium

Science proves more roads lead to more traffic.

See Wired: Study Says Closing Roads Might Cut Congestion. Huh?
In a counterintuitive study released last month, three scientists have discovered that drivers choosing between multiple routes to reach their destination the fastest can actually end up slowing everyone down. Limiting their options by closing off certain streets could actually reduce congestion.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

America's Best Farmer's Markets

The top five according to Good Magazine: Farmers in the City

Closest one to Traverse City is Madison, WI.

But I bet one day the Traverse City Farmer's Market will be recognized nationally. It seems that one thing these five have in common is an abundance of local meat.

Trail Contributes More Than $8 million To Local Virginia Economy

The Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail is much larger than Traverse City's TART system, but the lesson I see is that by encouraging more trails we can have a tremendous economic impact.

See: Assessment of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail

Friday, September 26, 2008

Industrial Hemp Is Saving Farmers In The U.K.

So why can't it be grown in Michigan?

UK's answer to olive oil? Crop catches eye of Jamie Oliver - and the police

The production of hemp in Britain has a long and glorious history. Until the industrial revolution it was widely grown to make cloth, rope, paper and lamp oil. Cotton and synthetic materials caused it to fall out of fashion but it has a habit of coming back when times are hard: in the second world war farmers in the US were told to grow hemp to ease shortages of textiles and rope. But cotton, synthetic fabrics and the association with cannabis prompted many farmers to stop growing the crop and its production was prohibited in the US.


But the report emphasises the environmental benefits: hemp grows quickly and easily, so it does not need to be heavily sprayed with pesticides, and it provides habitats for wildlife. The tough fibre is used in a variety of products, from car door panels, concrete, insulation blocks and resin to teabags and banknotes. The report suggests hemp is an "attractive crop from an environmental viewpoint" and adds that there is "some justification" for encouraging its wider production.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another Conference In Traverse City

The Michigan Museums Association has their conference in Traverse City this year too. See the Record-Eagle: Museum conference held in Traverse City

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Urban Parking

Via MSNBC - Cities rethinking '50s-era parking standards
D.C. is now considering scrapping those [parking space] requirements — part of a growing national trend. Officials hope that offering the freedom to forgo parking will lead to denser, more walkable, transit-friendly development...

Parking requirements — known to planners as "parking minimums" — have been around since the 1950s. The theory is that if buildings don't provide their own parking, too many drivers will try to park on neighborhood streets.

In practice, critics say, the requirements create an excess supply of parking, making it artificially cheap. That, the argument goes, encourages unnecessary driving and makes congestion worse. The standards also encourage people to build unsightly surface lots and garages instead of inviting storefronts and residential facades, they say. Walkers must dodge cars pulling in and out of driveways, and curb cuts eat up space that could otherwise be used for trees.

Reading this article reminded me of a study by my old grad school committee member Bryan Pijanowski that found communities had more parking spaces than vehicles.

Parking Spaces Outnumber Drivers 3 To 1, Drive Pollution And Warming

The hidden costs of free parking – one space at a time

The Lilly Teaching and Learning Conference?

This is new to me even though I live in downtown Traverse City - Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching in Traverse City.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Old Town Criterium

This will be great for Traverse City - the Cherry-Roubaix.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Trails Bring Goodness

Via American Trails is a link-page featuring many studies correlating non-motorized trails to economic growth. See: Economic impacts of trails and greenways.

Friday, August 22, 2008

An Attempt To Thoughtfully Affect Your Way Of Thinking

Hey Traverse City, there are other ways to deal with traffic other than more roads.

See the WQ: The Traffic Guru [via BoingBoing]

At the town center, in a crowded four- way intersection called the Lawei plein, Monderman removed not only the traffic lights but virtually every other traffic control. Instead of a space cluttered with poles, lights, “traffic islands,” and restrictive arrows, Monderman installed a radical kind of roundabout (a “squareabout,” in his words, because it really seemed more a town square than a traditional roundabout), marked only by a raised circle of grass in the middle, several fountains, and some very discreet indicators of the direction of traffic, which were required by law.

As I watched the intricate social ballet that occurred as cars and bikes slowed to enter the circle (pedestrians were meant to cross at crosswalks placed a bit before the intersection), Monderman performed a favorite trick. He walked, backward and with eyes closed, into the Laweiplein. The traffic made its way around him. No one honked, he wasn’t struck. Instead of a binary, mechanistic process—stop, go—the movement of traffic and pedestrians in the circle felt human and organic.

A year after the change, the results of this “extreme makeover” were striking: Not only had congestion decreased in the intersection— buses spent less time waiting to get through, for ­example— but there were half as many accidents, even though total car traffic was up by a third. Students from a local engineering college who studied the intersection reported that both drivers and, unusually, cyclists were using signals— of the electronic or hand variety— more often. They also found, in surveys, that residents, despite the measurable increase in safety, perceived the place to be more dangerous. This was music to Monderman’s ears. If they had not felt less secure, he said, he “would have changed it immediately.”

The CV-9

131-foot yacht docks at Clinch Park

Motor Yacht - CV9 - Delta Marine (specs)

Motor Yacht CV-9 - Sparkman & Stephens: Charter Prices & Seasons: US$85000.00-98000.00/wk

The Best View In Lower Michigan

It is the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy's proposed 'Elberta Dunes South'.

See the RE: View from Elberta Dunes

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Flagstaff Is A Bigger Version Of Traverse City's Problem

*Disclosure* the reporter for these NPR stories is an old college friend of mine

'Amenity Migrants' Alter Life In Resort Towns
Newcomers like Stone have been flocking to Flagstaff and other picturesque resort and college towns since the 1970s. But in the past decade, their numbers have exploded.

Kenneth Johnson, a senior demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute, has a name for people like the Stones: "amenity migrants."

"Like many of us, they would say, 'Boy, when I can, I would really like to live in one of these beautiful, scenic areas,'" Johnson said. "And as they get close to retirement, they can fulfill those wishes" — either in full retirement or by working a more flexible schedule...

While other small towns are struggling, these communities are booming. They're growing two to three times faster than other rural areas, even faster than many metro areas. And as the baby boomers retire, Johnson says, the migration will accelerate.

Around Resorts, Boomlet Towns Thrive, Too
Around the country, more Americans are living where they want to, not where they have to. They're making new lives for themselves by the beach, in the mountains, in college towns.

Inevitably, these new residents are changing their new hometowns, making them more expensive places to live. And it can be hard for the original residents to keep up...

"Flagstaff's beautiful," Thomas said. "It's where I wanted to raise my children, it's safe — and ever since I've been back home, it's been very difficult to find a place to live."

That's partly because Flagstaff has been discovered by wealthy second homeowners. And partly because so many of the area's jobs are in tourism and retail, which don't pay very well.

Home prices have more than doubled this decade. Now only about one out of every five families can afford the median price for a house: $350,000.

So Ruth Thomas has done something three of her four siblings did: She and her children moved back in with her parents...

All over the country, newcomers are moving to scenic communities like Flagstaff, helping to drive up housing costs. Many of the towns are trying desperately to create more affordable housing. For instance, Aspen, Colo., now requires developers to make 60 percent of new homes affordable to lower-income buyers.

But these efforts simply can't keep up with the demand. And it's not just day care workers, teachers and firefighters who are squeezed out of the housing market in Flagstaff — medical professionals and college professors can't afford it, either.

Direct link to the Carsey Institute report: Demographic Trends in National Forest Counties (PDF)

Traverse City Make Some More 'Best Places' Lists

See the RE: Traverse City makes list of 'Adventure Towns'

These are the latest lists:
National Geographic's 50 Best Places to Live: The Next Great Adventure Towns
So this year we selected 50 innovative towns that aren’t just prime relocation spots right now, but smart choices for the future. Not only do they have the action. They’ve got a plan. Now we’re giving you a plan too. Inside, you’ll find hometown picks that range from adventure 24/7 hubs loaded with outdoor options to urban players that offer a variety of jobs and cultural activities without sacrificing green space.

Mother Earth News' 9 Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of, 2008 Edition
[this is the first list I've ever seen where I agree with all the cities listed, based on my limited experience]
A great town or city is like a bowl of savory minestrone soup, served at a fine, family-owned restaurant. Though it may be difficult to identify the exact ingredients, the bottom line is flavor: Remarkable communities combine classic elements such as climate, architecture, natural assets and civic energy in a way that makes places healthy, safe and lively. By investing in the local economy, communities build self-reliance to handle sudden challenges such as surging energy prices or natural disasters.

The under-the-radar towns on the third Mother Earth News Great Places list blend qualities like these into rich, energetic cultures. We invite you to get to know these great places with us, and apply some of their innovative approaches and lessons-learned in your own towns and cities.

* Ames, Iowa
* Bethel, Maine
* Bisbee, Arizona
* Berea, Kentucky
* Viroqua, Wisconsin
* Moscow, Idaho
* Greenbelt, Maryland
* San Luis Obispo, California
* Traverse City, Michigan

Progress At The Barns

Via the Record-Eagle: Groups collaborate on GT Commons barns

In April, 2007 I submitted these comments to the 'Brainstorming The Barns' group:

Any solution should have the following goals:

- limit any increase in traffic to keep the area pedestrian friendly.
For example, even though there is not an official use for the Barns area
at this time the road around the property can be dangerous for joggers
and dog walkers.
- do not increase the amount of impenetrable surfaces Use the grassy
areas for parking)
- do not fragment the Farmer's Market
- respect the passed ballot language

As a near-term solution I would like to see the Barns and surrounding land ("The Barns") used as a Park on a fee based as-is basis for organizations looking to rent space. Also grandfather in the current community garden plots. This park would be available for rent ($35/hr; 5 hr minimum) by any group that met certain guidelines (e.g., company picnics, wedding receptions, class reunions, etc).

I once worked for a metro park district that had a large barn which was made available to parties for rent. It was generally used for wedding receptions and family reunions and was rented out almost every weekend. It was a very popular spot in the summer and to get it ready all I had to do was unlock a padlock in the morning.

And I visited Itahca, NY once and saw structures similar to "The Barns". While I was in Ithaca these were used for a wedding reception, a small bluegrass show, and a Scottish Heritage festival. I could easily see similar events at the Traverse City Barns.

Making the barns available for group rental will enhance Traverse City's reputation as a tourist destination as there will three unique venues for groups small to large to use: The Open Space by the Bay (maybe this will change though); The City Opera House; and The Barns area.

The advantage of this proposal is because of its minimal impact it can be implemented immediately without precluding any future long term solution.

Regarding The Barns as a Botanical garden

It appears to me that there is an organized effort underway to lobby for a Botanical Garden at The Barns property by the Botanical Garden Society of Northwest Michigan. I am very excited about the possibility of a Botanical Garden in Traverse City but I do not think The Barns is the best location for it. First of all, constructing a garden will mean something currently on the site will have to go - is that the meadow, wetlands, woods, food plots, or buildings? And would that violate the ballot language? Is there enough space, even with construction, to make a garden as good and large as Traverse City deserves? Secondly, the site is in close proximity woods, meadows, and wetlands and these habitats support many different plants.

Can a botanical garden improve upon nature?

The Barns will be a terrific site for the Botanical society to offer guided walks and point out the native plants to groups.

However, there are more appropriate sites for a botanical garden. I would encourage the Botanical Garden Society of Northwest Michigan to undergo an effort similar to "Brainstorming The Barns" to get community input for where a Botanical Garden should be built.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Car Free Streets

Traverse City does a great job with street events in the summer (e.g., Friday Night Live, Cherry Festival parades, and summer street fairs), but there are large cities that are doing even more.

See this CS Monitor story: Traffic Stoppers

Imagine if Traverse City turned Lake Ave between Seventh and Eight Streets into a pedestrian only path? I think that could be a real winner.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thinking About The Traverse City Farmer's Market

As the number of farmers at a market grows the more need there is for a dedicated manager.

See: PhysOrg - As Farmers' Markets Grow, So Should Management

Traverse City is obviously outgrowing the downtown farmer's market as there are cars looking for parking and people packed in the aisle. It is a good place to see people and be seen but for many folks it is too crowded. Setting up alternative, competing markets is not a fair solution to anyone. Where can Traverse City move the farmer's market? You need a place downtown to support the core businesses. Ithaca, NY has their farmer's market right on Cayuga Lake. It is a large covered structure and has its own dock. Could Traverse City use the old zoo space next to the marina as a sprawling farmer's market?

Other cities (e.g., Baton Rouge, Chapel Hill) have their farmer's markets in parking decks. Traverse City has a parking deck downtown too. The farmer's market could potentially be moved to the top level on nice days and an interior level on rainy/snowy days. Offer free parking until 5 PM and all of a sudden Traverse City has a farmer's market larger than the current one, with plenty of parking, and still within walking distance to downtown.

Looking Backwards And Forwards

Much thanks to Traverse City and Ray Minervini for preserving and renovating the Grand Traverse Commons. It is part of what makes Traverse City so remarkable and servers as a demonstration to the rest of the country.

See - Old asylums decay, but some eye pricey restoration
Kirkbride Buildings

Friday, July 25, 2008

Traverse City Does Not Need More Roads

Why build more roads when in the future fewer cars will be on the road? Why not use the money you're supposed to for non-motorized trails and transport?

See: Report Projects 4% Shrinkage of US Vehicle Fleet in Face of $7/Gallon Gas by 2012
CIBC World Markets Managing Director/Chief Economist and Chief Strategist Jeff Rubin is projecting a shrinkage in the US vehicle fleet of 10 million vehicles in light of projected $7/gallon gasoline by 2012.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thanks Traverse City Commissioners

Thanks to you I do not have to worry about the possibility of taking in boarders in my ADU. See:More U.S. homeowners consider taking in boarders

Friday, July 11, 2008

Food Festivals

MSNBC - America's best food and wine festivals

IHT - Food-themed festivals thrive as growing declines

There's a lesson here for the Cherry Festival. Be careful about focusing more on the idea of the festival than what it is supposed to promote. Just look at Gilroy for an example. It was once the garlic capital, now there are only 500 acres left of garlic farms. If cherry orchards keep getting turned into subdivisions all that'll be left in northern Michigan will be street names such as "Cherry View Orchard Lane" - but there won't be any view there.

Another Food And Lifestyle Magazine For Northern Michigan?

Right on the heels of Edible Grande Traverse, a new magazine from Village Press, The 45th!.

Boardman Lake Is A Jewel

I am always surprised by how little activity Boardman Lake gets. But I have had tourist compliment me on how nice the east Boardman Lake trail is (as if I had anything to do with it) but they also lament that the trail does not circle the lake. I tell them, "not yet, but it will". And when Traverse City does get a complete Boardman Lake trail it is going to see a lot of use and love.

And when TACS finishes building a boathouse, boardwalk and a dock at the north end I wouldn't be surprised to see the combination of library, children's garden, boathouse, and urban trail get statewide and even national attention.

See the RE: Sailing group breaks ground

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What Makes This Place Great

Traverse Magazine's web site on what makes life in northern Michigan great. MyNorth - 25 Reasons to Love Life Up North

Square Foot Gardening

Wired - Build a Square Foot Garden

Seattle's Example

Seattle Tilth
Seattle Tilth inspires and educates people to garden organically, conserve natural resources and support local food systems in order to cultivate a healthy urban environment and community.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bus-Train Love Child

Japan is testing a bus that can transition to light rail. See - It's a Bus. It's a Train. It's Both!

We know Senator Jason Allen is a fan of rail so perhaps, like other Japanese ideas, this is an idea that could actually work in Northern Michigan.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Making A Cool City

Via CoolTools - TechShop
Wouldn't it be great to have a full machine shop at your disposal, with dozens of industrial tools also at your disposal, and all you have to do is contribute to the upkeep?

I think much of what makes a Cool City is what you can do there with others who are like minded. Traverse City has the Broke Spoke bicycle repair cooperative which is an amazing idea.

I imagine having an industrial machine toy shop would further encourage the movement of the creative class to Traverse City.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Giving Businesses Credit

Via MLive - Business Tax Break Proposed For Land Donations

It would be a real boon to Michigan and especially northern Michigan if Senator Allen can get this through.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Finding Balance

The Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy is drawing criticism for this - Tv 7&4 - Controversy over Arcadia Dunes land.

The Conservancy is in a difficult position. How to preserve large tracts of land and preserve the agrarian tradition of the area? In the long view, woods and farms can be exchanged but streets and parking lots are (usually) forever so what they've done seems like a decent compromise. Yet perhaps more can be done with future conservation easements so that natural features of historical importance get special mention?

Recent news articles also show this dilema - do you make money with farms or preserving forests?

USAToday - Savvy farmers open the gate to agritourism

NYT - Leafonomics

Below is a map of Arcadia Dunes.

View Larger Map

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

U of M Studies Northern Michigan Tart Cherries

PhysOrg - Tart cherries may reduce factors associated with heart disease and diabetes
Rats that received whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet didn’t gain as much weight or build up as much body fat as rats that didn’t receive cherries. And their blood showed much lower levels of molecules that indicate the kind of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease and diabetes. In addition, they had significantly lower blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than the other rats.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Could Amber Be The New Green For Farmers?

The CS Monitor reports maple sugarers are having a great year - Economic sweet spot: making maple syrup

Mr. Marsh says sugarmakers won't meet demand for the product, which has skyrocketed domestically and internationally, especially in Asia and Russia. "We're growing the market. Now we just need to grow production," he says.

Partly because of maple syrup's low-fat content and partly because of organic food's popularity, sugarmakers have been able to find new outlets beyond the familiar gallon jugs and plastic squeeze bottles found on store shelves. Dufresne sells syrup to several granola companies, a brewery, and breadmakers, all organizations that weren't interested in his crop five years ago.

"It's part of the interest in sustainable projects and it's good for carbon sequestering" because the trees are not cut down, says Marcia Maynard, a Cabot, Vt., organic sugarmaker, adding that her production is down this year but she believes it can rebound.

I love maple syrup on oatmeal in the morning and on vanilla ice cream in the evening. Want to produce your own maple syrup? (in Traverse City some people tap the maple trees along the sidewalk). MSU Extension has a guide: Homemade Maple Syrup

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Industrial Hemp Farming

The United States is now the only developed nation in which hemp is not an
established crop.

-Skaidra Smith-Heisters, "Illegally Green:Environmental Costs Of Hemp Prohibition", Reason Foundation

(*Note: hemp is not marijuana!) It is quite remarkable that farmers are not allowed to grow hemp; a plant that can be used for everything from sails to biofuels.

North Dakota farmers are leading the charge to be allowed to grow this native miracle.

NY Times: Sober North Dakotans Hope to Legalize Hemp

Allowing hemp agriculture in Michigan would be a tremendous boost to Michigan's economy.

The Northern Michigan DogMan Legend

The song was supposed to just be an April Fool's prank.

Official site for the song:
The Legend of Michigan's Dogman

Listen to 49 seconds of the tune at YouTube.

It became much more...

These lyrics are from

It starts out with what sounds like a flute playing and a man recorded saying “So the officer and I went out there to..take a look at it…… know he just tried to chew in around the doors…..and you could see a dog-print, you know, alongside the window there and…, it was, you know, obviously a dog…(drums add to the flute and the tune gets a little more creepy….keyboard chimes in….and a new voice story-tells the song):

A cool summer morning in early June, is when the legend began, at a nameless logging camp in Wexford County, where the Manistee River ran..eleven lumberjacks near the Garland swamp found an animal they thought was a a playful mood they chased it around till it ran inside a hollow log…a logger named Johnson grabbed him a stick and poked around inside..then the thing let out an unearthly scream and came out……and stood..upright….None of those men ever said very much, ‘bout what ever happened then…they just packed up their belongings and left that night, were never heard from again….it was ten years later in ’97, when a farmer near Buckley was found..slumped over his plow, his heart had stopped, there were dog tracks all around…seven years passed with the turn of the century, they say a crazy old widow had a dream, of dogs that circled her house at night, that walked like men and screamed…….in 1917, a sheriff who was out walking..found a driverless wagon and tracks in the dust, like wolves had been a stalkin’ ..near the roadside a four-horse team lay dead with their eyes open wide..when the vet finished up his examination, he said it looked like they died of fright…In ’37 a schooner captain said, several crewmembers had reported…. a pack of wild dogs roaming Bowers (?) Harbor….his story was never reported……….In ’57 a man of the cloth found claw marks on an old church door..the newspaper said they’d been made by a dog….he’d a had to stood 7’4”…..In ’67 a van-load of hippies, told a park-ranger named Quinlinn, they’d been awakened in the night by a scratch at the window……there was a dogman looking in …and grinning….In ’77 there were screams in the night, near the village of ..Bel Aire..could’ve been a bobcat, could’ve been the wind, nobody looked up there..then in the summer of ’87, near Luther, it happened again…at a cabin in the woods it looked like maybe, someone had tried to break in…there were cuts around the doors that could only been made by very sharp teeth and claws…he didn’t wear shoes cuz he didn’t have feet, he walked on just two paws……so far this year…no stories have appeared…have the dogmen gone away..have they disappeared……soon enough..I guess we’ll know, cuz this is the time to fear..for another ten years has come around…..the seventh year…is here….and somewhere in the north-woods darkness..a creature walks upright….and the best advice you may ever get…… never to go out….at night……..(howl)….

Friday, March 28, 2008

Farming In The New Economy

Farming is becoming much more popular. See Leaving Behind the Trucker Hat

And farming is more than just cool, some people are finding new ways to actually make money while they work.
Farmers cashing in on carbon credits

More farmers see wind as a cash crop

Program pays for planting pollinators

Northwest Michigan and Traverse City seem poised to become a force in these future farming methods, but will it take the path?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Community Supported Fishing

A new take on Community Supported Agriculture - Community Supported Fisheries. From the CS Monitor - Small fishermen borrow a page from small farmers

Perhaps this could be a model for preserving the Great Lakes commercial fishery?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More Flight Options

Good news for Traverse City as a micropolis - United Express offers Denver-Traverse City flights

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Truly You Have A Dizzying Intellect

Interlochen Public Radio had a clip this morning from Senator Michelle McManus (R-Lelanau County). In it she called Michigan's stellar waste of time and money primary vote a success (the Senator sponsored the original bill that moved Michigan's primary elections to January).

Yessiree - Mission Accomplished! No, not the mission to make Michigan voters meaningfulmeaningless, but the mission to require all Michigan voters to declare a party affiliation. (Major parties contemptful of public)

Sen. McManus is the same genius who also brought Michiganders the ability to have 10 year olds go hunting without any hunter safety training.

I wouldn't want to be part of any club that would have Senator McManus as a member.