Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mushing Up Winter Tourism

Northern Michigan is working hard on bringing more of the silent sports to the area. The latest news is there are some new sled dog racing events in the pipeline.

See MLive: Sled-dog races go from dream to reality; three new events in Michigan for 2010

A related activity is Skijoring, and it has been becoming much more popular in Michigan since the 1990's. See OYB: Skijoring in Michigan!

The wonderful little town of Steamboat Springs is the western capital of skijoring; there is not a skijoring capital in the eastern U.S., which town in northern Michigan will embrace the title?

If you want to get started I have been happy with Black Ice Dog Sledding Equipment

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How ADU's Can Help In Difficult Economic Times

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) can serve as an economic refuge in that it gives families a low-rent way to consolidate living space; and for those people who have an ADU, it represents another income stream when all others dry up.

TheAtlantic: Young Adults Moving In With Parents, Roommates

USNews: Baby Boomers Moving In With Adult Children

Monday, November 30, 2009

These Are Related

R-E: County won't pay for Boardman trail studies

TheAtlantic: The Geography of Obesity

25% of Michiganders are obese and some Grand Traverse County Commissioners voted against studying an expansion of the Boardman Lake trail because "Many of my constituents have never seen this trail and probably never will in their lifetime".

Well, Commissioner, maybe if they did see the trail they wouldn't be so fat.

This reminds me of a comment overheard this past weekend while taking the shuttle from the Detroit airport to the parking lot across the street "My feet are killing me. That [the walk from the terminal to luggage claim] was the farthest I have walked since the last time we were at the airport".

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Napa Valley Of Hard Ciders

Northern Michigan is seeing more production of delicious hard ciders. See MyNorth: Four Hard Ciders to Try and Leelanau Cider-Maker Dan Young Creates Artisan Hard Ciders.

Yet although Michigan wine country gets promoted, and the brewers are becoming well known, it appears northern Michigan may have missed the opportunity to brand itself as a hard cider capital. See NPR: In New England, Hard Cider Stages A Comeback
Wood envisions New England becoming the Napa Valley of fine cider production. It wouldn't be unprecedented. It was the drink of choice of American colonists, and John Adams was said to consume a tankard a day. In that sense, Wood is like a modern-day Johnny Appleseed. Who, by the way, also planted cider apple trees.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How A Place Looks Is As Important As Schools And Social Opportunities

Via Martin Prosperity Research: Beautiful Places: The Role of Perceived Aesthetic Beauty in Community Satisfaction
A community that satisfies its residents, according to our findings,
appears to be one that provides a solid economic foundation, provides abundant opportunities for social interaction, offers good schools, and is also perceived as beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. While a number of other community characteristics were found to be positive and significant, they were not nearly as strongly related to community satisfaction as these key factors.

New Sidewalks

Traverse City has been replacing sidewalks in some of the core neighborhoods this fall. And I have seen where existing trees have been given wide cutouts so they'll have room to grow.

As an alternative to cutours, I recently read about another option at Homegrown Evolution: Rubber Sidewalks Rescue Trees

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Complete Streets Idea Is Gaining Momentum

The basic idea is that streets are to move people, rather than designing streets to move cars.

Traverse City has used Complete Streets ideas for a small section of Woodmere Ave and there is the possibility of doing it on Eighth St and even Division.

Based on the success with Woodmere Ave and the examples in the following article I hope Traverse City pursues more smart transportation strategies like this.

See Wired: Complete Streets Are Great Streets With Room for All

More information at the Complete Streets Coalition.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some Facts To Get In The Way Of Your Traffic Opinions

Here is the presentation The price of anarchy in transportation networks which lays out the math for why closing roads improves traffic flow in a city.

More: The GOOD 100: Fewer Streets

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Note For Commisioner Scrudato

New research indicates corporate headquarters are best at insulating a town from an economic downturn.

See: Cities can't bank on small businesses for stable economic partnerships
Locally owned small businesses don't insulate communities from layoffs and closures in bad economic times. Rather, corporate headquarters do the most to protect cities from employment reductions

So when you oppose the Old Town Parking Deck because:"Scrudato has criticized the project as being built primarily to benefit one company, Hagerty Insurance Agency." you are actually voting against the greater economic interest of everyone in Traverse City.

Traverse City Makes Nat Geo Traveler's Authenticity And Stewardship List

A score of 63 of 133 (higher scores are better which is why Colorado got a 66)

Michigan: Traverse City and Lakeshore
This charming town and nearby National Lakeshore is "a Midwestern secret of beaches, dunes, lighthouses, cherry orchards."... Downtown Traverse City thrives with locally owned businesses.

But all is not rosy for the region:
"In moderate trouble. Trash on the beaches has degraded the environment and high-speed personal-watercraft wake can be destructive. As people move up from Detroit to retire, they may be a boon or bane to the environment depending on whether they embrace a land ethic."

More info: 133 Places Rated: About the Survey

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Making Bicycle Touring A Bigger Draw

The Traverse City area is a great biking area and hosts some well known events such as the Iceman Cometh Challenge; Twin Bays Cyclocross races; the Cherry-Roubaix Old Town Criterium; the Tour de Leelanau (which had to be canceled in 2009 due to the economy).

Races are one thing - what about the big city tourist looking for a weekend ride on quiet roads? Go to the nationally advertised tourist booking first stop,, and search for Traverse City bike tours and you just get a list of places to bike.

The same search at Traverse City's Visitor's and Convention web site gives similar results.

A google search leads you to the Cherry Capital Cycling Club - but it is for locals.

Has no one thought of establishing European style bicycle tours of the northern Michigan wineries? Has no one thought of turning the city owned ski hill Hickory Hills and the surrounding park area into a summer freeriding destination?

Like so many other recreational opportunities, Traverse City can look at a similar Colorado town for guidance. See: Efforts in motion to promote Steamboat as cycling destination
A study by the Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association found that the economic impact of mountain biking in southern British Columbia is substantial. The study found that visitors to Whistler Mountain Bike Park spent nearly $16.5 million in summer 2006 and supported an estimated 384 jobs paying $12.8 million in wages and salaries.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Colorado Town That Grew Around A Whitewater Park

This story is indicative of what Traverse City could do in the Midtown area along the Boardman River.

See GOOD: Urban Pastoral: Taking the city to the suburbs

And doesn't this sound like Traverse City:
Buena Vista gave the go-ahead, to the chagrin of some town old-timers who believed, as Katie used to, that all development was evil. They liked Buena Vista precisely because it never changed, so even smart growth was bad growth in their eyes

The idea of a downtown Traverse City whitewater park is not that crazy. See NorthernExpress: A Whitewater Park for Traverse City?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Traverse City Microbrew And Music Festival Makes Forbes

At the Forbes Life Find of the Day
Known as well for its golf courses as it is for its wineries and ski resorts, Traverse City is one of Michigan's top year-round spots for quickie getaways. This weekend, the city will host its annual festival dedicated to draft beer, world music and the local harvest.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Make The Cities Walkable

If the Grand Vision plan of investment in the cities and town centers is carried out then one benefit is that a more walkable community makes for higher home values.

See: How a Neighborhood’s Walkability Can Increase Property Values
People who love cities have known for years what the rest of the country is just starting to figure out: urban life is a beautiful thing. But even city lovers may be surprised at the premium home buyers place on urban living.

Urban Farm Magazine

Here's a magazine that may appeal to northern Michiganders: Urban Farm
Urban Farm™ magazine’s mission is to promote the benefits of self sustainability and to provide the tools with which to do it on any size property. Urban Farm™ reaches out to those in the city and suburbs, those who are inspired by the local food movement and who want to start raising chickens and growing food for themselves, supporting local agriculture and living more sustainably.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Playa's Are Talking About Traverse City

Traverse City is getting some props from major media outlets, and it has nothing to do with the Film Festival.

CNN: Napa Valley-esque wine tastings
If it's wine you want, find an alternative to Napa Valley in Michigan's Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas.

Here you'll discover more than 850 acres of land and more than 20 wineries for your choosing.

GolfDigest: Michigan, a star-studded state for golf (article not online yet, you'll have to buy the September issue)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Parking For Bicycles

I would love to see more businesses in Traverse City add parking spots for people who travel by bike. And start with the Cherry Capital Airport. Maybe even offer bike rentals there. This would go a long way in making Traverse City a car-free city.

More on bike parking at Slate: What Would Get Americans Biking to Work? Decent parking.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Backyard Chickens Are Not An Economic Issue

I know Mayor Estes likes to tell people how not to spend their money (e.g., his argument against ADU's was basically "how could anyone convert a garage loft into an ADU and make money?") and so may be the kind of official who may be against chickens in the backyard because eggs are cheaper at Meijer. As mentioned in the NYT article Keeping Their Eggs in Their Backyard Nests.

But as the Niman's discuss at The Atlantic: Why Raise Your Own Chickens?
Keeping your own flock of meat chickens or laying hens, on the other hand, has many advantages. It allows you to ensure that your poultry are only eating things you feel comfortable having in your food chain. And it allows you to keep the animals in clean, healthy environments, making it more likely that their meat and eggs will be untainted with food borne illnesses. Perhaps most importantly, it's just good fun. Everyone we know who keep their own poultry flock is passionate and proud about their birds.

It seems that the only thing that could stop chickens now are Traverse City's wacko commissioners as the Planning Commision does not have a problem with it: Commission to consider chicken amendment

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Michigan Is Missing Out

Industrial hemp could be a great boon to Michigan's agriculture based economy. But other states are taking the lead. See TH: Victory For Hemp! Oregon Legalizes Industrial Production

Have A Drink With Other "Greens"

See: Traverse City Green Drinks
What: It's simple: Meet other "eco-conscious" Traverse City community members to share ideas over drinks. This month, the owner of Right Brain Brewery, Russ, will speak a little on what his brewery is doing to be "green" around 7. Happy hour ends at 6p!

And the Green Drinks Code.

Boomers Are Expected To Become Urban Renters

See this post at CalculatedRisk on new demographic research: Research on Homeownership Rate through 2030
This has significant implications for planning and homebuilders. If Nelson is correct, there will be a dramatic shift towards a "new urbanity" and away from suburbs. And also a shift towards more renting.

As an amenity town Traverse City needs to start planning now for 2030 when a flood of retired yet active baby boomers rent condos throughout downtown.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Stay Cool TC

Traditionally, the houses in northern Michigan have not had air conditioning. While eventually we may all need AC as a necessity here are 10 Tips at Treehugger for reducing cooling costs (includes the obvious like plant trees and the less obvious like plant vines): 10 Overlooked Low-Tech Ways of Keeping Your Home Cool

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Facts: Four Cases Of Closing Roads DECREASING Traffic

In what may be inconceivable to many people, there have been many examples of traffic congestion being solved by closing roads. This is discussed in the book 'Traffic'.

For the latest examples see Infrastructurist: 4 Cases Of How Tearing Down A Highway Can Relieve Traffic Jams (And Save Your City)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Cook's House Tries A Guerrilla Garden

[7/2/2009 Update. The garden is allowed: Calling all gardeners!!!]

And gets smacked down for no good reason.

But this is the underlying issue in Traverse City. Residents who want things to stay the way they have been for the last 50 years versus residents who want to bring back the old ideas that worked (e.g., city gardens and chickens, granny flats) and new ideas that will work.

Read the account at Chef Eric's blog 'from behind the stove': Terroist [sic] Gardeners Unite!!! we thought it would be nice to put in a community garden. I tried calling the city a couple times to get the OK but after giving them ample time to call me back, a month or so, I decided to take action on my own and began to build. We put together two 5 foot by 10 foot raised beds and got some good planting dirt donated. It was not more than 30 minutes after the dirt was unloaded that the police showed up. The police!! Apparently someone in our building, someone who's life is so pathetic, so lonely and without meaning, called the police because they wanted to make sure we have all the proper governmental OKs.

...So to that miserable bastard who called the police, f%$k off. We're planting our garden, and we are going to make our part of Traverse City a much nicer place to be, even with you being here. The only thing we'll have to change is to plant more so we can cover up your self righteousness.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How A Colorado County Does Road Planning

Routt County, Colorado, where Steamboat Springs (an amenity town like Traverse City) is located, is planning for future road projects and is taking the right approach.

See the SteamboatPilot: Commissioners signaling new road policies
Commission Chairman Doug Monger said before an audience of more than 50 people Monday night. “From now on, whenever we fix a road, we need to fix it to certain standards so that it will include the things all of us need on those roads.”

Monday night’s meeting was billed as an open discussion on the shared uses of county roads, one that would take into account the needs of pedestrians, people who move livestock on county roads, bicyclists, and to a limited degree, snowmobiles.

Not everyone in the audience was a cyclist, but virtually everyone who stood up to address the commissioners closely identified with a perceived need to make Routt County’s roads more bicycle friendly.

Contrast this with what Grand Traverse County Commissioners are best known for - asinine statements. See: Commissioners slam global warming

Thursday, June 25, 2009

If Traverse City Is To Be An Economic Innovator It Needs More Population Density

Keep the wilderness wild and build up the cities.

Humans have evolved to be innovative. And we are innovative when surrounded by a lot of other people. You can't argue against human nature...

See PhysOrg: High population density triggers cultural explosions
Increasing population density, rather than boosts in human brain power, appears to have catalysed the emergence of modern human behaviour, according to a new study by UCL (University College London) scientists published in the journal Science. High population density leads to greater exchange of ideas and skills and prevents the loss of new innovations. It is this skill maintenance, combined with a greater probability of useful innovations, that led to modern human behaviour appearing at different times in different parts of the world.

The Lure Of Michigan's Trails

Michigan's developing trail network is a great asset for the state, and it is surprising that there are people who still oppose them despite the great economic advantage they bring to the cities served.

MLive has a recent article on the topic: Michigan's trails a great draw for communities

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Boulder's Chicken Group


Boulder is a nice city, this makes it even more so.

Another Reason Chickens Are Good For The Gardener

Via Homegrown Evolution: Chickens and Compost; A Match Made in Heaven

Friday, June 19, 2009

How Lazy?

Via National Park Proposes Tunnel to the Lake Michigan Overlook

A tunnel through the sand dune so people can drive to the view on the other side? Unbelievable. I was recently in Boulder, CO and hiked a trail that was crowded with kids, dogs, and senior citizens; and it was a strenuous hike. No one there was asking for a tunnel through the mountain for a better view.

The document and commenting options are here: Lake Michigan Overlooks Environmental Assessment

I'm surprised to read that the NPS favors Option D, the tunnel, and rejected the idea to close the Outlooks completely.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chickens And The Michigan Right To Farm Act

Just like Ann Arbor, it looks like Traverse City will have to allow chickens.

See R-E: Chickens coming home to roost in TC?
City Attorney Karrie Zeits researched and discovered the Michigan Right to Farm Act prohibits cities from banning commercial farming, including raising chickens, she said.

The Michigan Right To Farm Act, passed in 1981, is the savior here. And it has been cited before by Michiganders who defended their right to live a simpler, traditional life.

-Ann Arbor City Chickens and the Michigan Right to Farm Act
-Michigan Right to Farm Law, what does it mean?
-Kurt Schindler answers 'Is Agriculture Subject to Zoning'
Our best understanding at this time:
To fall under the RTFA [Right To Farm Act] the operation must be (1) an agricultural use (read "agricultural use" in the broadest possible context, e.g., a corn maze, renting horses, are agricultural uses) (2) commercial, even to the smallest extent, as in "sell one egg", and (3) involves "harvesting" (but read "harvesting" in the broadest possible context, e.g., a hunting preserve, where animals are shot for sport, is "harvesting").
If it is agriculture that falls under RTFA, then zoning can not restrict the activity, can not say it is not allowed in a particular zoning district. That means agriculture is allowed in a residential district

Friday, May 22, 2009

Can't Stop Chicken Progress

NPR: Backyard Coops Make Chicks Chic
"When we go to cities, a lot of times we'll ask them, 'Why don't you want your citizens to lead a more self-sustaining lifestyle? Why don't you want your citizens to save some money in this hard economic time by allowing them to raise backyard poultry?'" Schneider says. "And I'm telling you, Animal Control, I'm sure, gets way more calls from barking dogs and dogs running loose and cats than they ever have from backyard poultry."

Bike Friendly

Via TART: Traverse City recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Revisiting Dams And Hydropower

Traverse City is undoubtedly doing the right thing by removing the upper Boardman River dams. Having dams on a blue-ribbon trout stream hurts the river's quality. Yet the world also needs renewable energy sources.

To begin looking at this seeming dichotomy, American Rivers has released a framework document titled Hydropower Dams in an Era of Global Warming. The principles for judging existing dams are:
- Increase efficiency at existing hydropower dams
- Consider adding hydropower capacity to existing dams
- Uphold environmental safeguards
- Hold hydropower developers responsible for dam safety
- Recognize that dams have finite lifespans
- Judge dams on their impacts, not on their size

Ducking The Chicken Issue

The anti-chicken sentiment is still riling me up.

Neighborhood cats eats birds. Dogs are allowed to poop in my yard by their owners. Ducks block traffic on city streets. Yet the Record-Eagle wants to worry about roosting chickens in Traverse City neighborhoods?

More from The Atlantic: Why Backyard Chickens Are a Trend
...chicks are getting hard to come by in Austin. Our local feed store, Callahan's General Store, now sells out of a thousand chicks a week, as there is a "boom" in interest in backyard chicken flocks...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Traverse City Chickens

(5/18/2009 Update - Article in the Washington Post: Hot Chicks: Legal or Not, Chickens Are the Chic New Backyard Addition)

Article in the Record Eagle: Residents want to raise chickens in TC

The Record Eagle then followed up with an uninformed editorial that was too cute by half: Raising chickens or feathers?

Here are their arguments and my responses:

City officials will review the legality of chicken ranching before they turn to the planning commission for review. But expect to see feathers fly if anyone in a position of authority takes Dante's plan seriously.

Elizabeth Whelan, president of Boardman Neighborhood Association, hopes the chicken ranch plan never hatches, and predicts "a lot of potential problems that we don't need" if it flies.

What problems city chickens may cause are not listed or discussed and thus this comes across as people just being afraid of change.

Other residents worry about noise, smell and wayward feathers

An ordinance that only allowed hens would address the noise issue. People who worry about the smell have no idea what they are talking about. Plus, the new city master plan would address this issue because all uses must be confined to the business - so if there were smells noticeable off-site then this would be in violation of zoning.

However, the smell from the wastewater treatment plant is worse and is noticeable on days when the wind is from the east or south.

Ann Arbor is among the cities across the U.S. that allow residents to keep a few fowl, as long as wannabe hen-housers follow the rules. But expect much clucking if a similar ordinance is pitched here. Rightly so, in our book.

And is it any wonder that Ann Arbor makes so many "best city" lists?
-Ann Arbor chosen top Michigan city for small start-up companies
-The 100 best places to raise a family Best Places To Live

Another interesting coincidence is how many of these "best cities" are also places that allow the freedom of backyard poultry.

Some ideas perfectly dovetail with a community's mood and attitude. And Traverse City shouldn't be so rigid that it can't or won't accept alternative notions. But raising chickens, ducks, etc. raises too many unnecessary questions and concerns -- what happens if someone's dog kills a neighbor's chickens? What if a freedom-seeking fowl dashes into the street and a harried motorist swerves to miss the bird? What if the sky really does fall?

What happens now if a dog kills a neighbors cat; if a dog runs into the road? Seriously - this is your anti-chicken argument?

And isn't Traverse City proper known as a progressive community with a love for local foods? What is more local than fresh eggs from your backyard?

Really, there's no good reason to prohibit people from keeping hens in their backyards. It is not as if people are trying to revive the idea of riding their horse around town.

Unfortunately, it seems the only chickens in Traverse City are the Record Eagle and the same old tired neighborhood curmudgeons.

Get the facts, cities from urban Brooklyn to rural Kansas are embracing the idea of urban farming. For more information see:

Newsweek: The New Coop de Ville: The craze for urban poultry farming.
USA Today: Chickens given roosts in urban backyards Backyard chickens find new popularity in suburbia
Christian Science Monitor: Whole lotta clucking going on in cities

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Traffic Flow On Eighth Street Experiment

First the removal of the Boardman River dams, now another good decision.

Via the RE: Part of Eighth Street to go three lanes

I predict this experiment will be successful in improving traffic flow on Eighth St.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Transportation Issue

Many articles here for cities like Traverse City that are thinking about traffic problems and solutions.

GOOD Magazine - The Transportation Issue

Thursday, April 9, 2009

This Would Finish Off Michigan

Update 9 April, 2009: What's Up With the Organic E-Mail Scare?

Sounds like this may be based on fear-mongering.

The automobile industry is already dead. If Michigan's small farmers are killed by this bill then Michigan will have no future.

Cryptogon: Change We Can Believe In: How About the End of Farmers Markets? Say Hello to H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009
What this will do is force anyone who produces food of any kind, and then transports it to a different location for sale, to register with a new federal agency called the “Food Safety Administration.” Even growers who only sell only fruit and/or vegetables at farmers markets would not only have to register, but they would be subject inspections by federal agents of their property and all records related to food production. The frequency of these inspections will be determined by the whim of the Food Safety Administration. Mandatory “safety” records would have to be kept. Anyone who fails to register and comply with all of this nonsense could be facing a fine of up to $1,000,000 per violation.

Innovation Cannot Be Legislated

Things Michigan politicians should know:
CJ: Innovation in Its Place
CC: Crisis Geography
...invest in skills and human capital; “beware industrial policies aimed at keeping America tied to heavy industry;” stop trying to breathe life back into declining regions; and encourage mobility.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tap, Tap, Blink

A clever pedestrian crossing in Seattle.

Via Streetfilms: Seattle Crosswalk: Tap foot, Lights blink, Cross street

Friday, April 3, 2009

Waste Not

This is good news for downtown Traverse City.

RE: Recycling containers headed to downtown TC

And I make use of the ability to recycle all plastic with the containers at Oryana from Bay Area Recycling.

But what I would really like to see in the future is this solar powered trash compaction system from BigBelly Solar.
BigBelly is the world's only solar-powered cordless compaction system. It uses the sun's energy to automatically compact trash at the point of disposal, dramatically increasing capacity by 5 times within the same footprint as ordinary receptacles. Increased capacity reduces collection trips and can cut related fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. The enclosed design keeps pests out and litter in. Safe and easy to use, the BigBelly has proven successful in urban streets, parks, colleges, arenas - and in all weather conditions.

The NYT has an article about the city of Somerville, MA adding text messaging ability to these trash cans so they can tell you when they are full. This would be useful during the Cherry Festival when it seems like all the trash cans are full. If only there were a way for Port-A-Potties to send a message when they were full.

See: Big-Bellied, Text-Messaging Trash Cans?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Michigan's Future

Here are some links to recent news stories that by themselves do not seem like a big deal. But when viewed from the proper perspective it is clear that Michigan's resurgence will be based on agriculture and renewable energy.

R-E: 'Potential is high' for offshore wind power

MLive: Despite poor economy, small family farms are taking root

Reuters: U.S. farmland fetches top dollar despite recession

What Would A Birding Trail Do For Michigan?

We know that northern Michigan is a birder's paradise, but what would the economic impact be if there were people dedicated to promoting birding in Michigan?

The good news is there are some non-profits working on the idea of a 'Michigan Birding and Wildlife Trail'.

See MLive: Got birds? Yes, even if Michigan can't make the list

Monday, March 2, 2009

To Speed Up Traffic New York City Is Closing Broadway Avenue

USAToday: Broadway to kick cars to the curb
To speed traffic and give pedestrians more elbow room, New York City will close five blocks of Broadway around Times Square to traffic. The famed Great White Way between 42nd and 47th streets will become a pedestrian zone with benches, tables and landscaping.

I think Traverse City should close Lake Avenue between 8th and Union as this cut-through is pedestrian un-friendly and causes traffic to back-up.

Making this section of Lake Avenue would greatly benefit the Loading Dock, Midtown, Hagerty, Patisserie Amie, etc. I also think the old cannery and other buildings between the Loading Dock and Patisserie Amie could be like a mini-version of the warehouse district if only traffic volume were decreased and this area became walkable.

A View Of The Bay Is Worth...

R-E: Cherry Capital is second priciest airport

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cities Are For People

Yet another argument for why Traverse City does not need more roads.

Wired: It's Time for Cities to Favor People, Not Cars
"There's this cycle of automobile dependency," he said. "You have to have a place to park at home, a place to park at work, and a place to park at retail establishments." In an absurd "market distortion," cities have become places where "cars have a right to housing and people don't."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Goodbye To A Classic

The Traverse Epicurean Classic is moving to St. Joseph, MI in order to draw more participants from a more populous area and because of an opportunity to partner with KitchenAid.

Traverse City will miss the Epicurean Classic more than the festival organizers will miss Traverse City. This event has been known as the "Traverse Epicurean Classic" after all.

Right at the point when this festival was becoming popular and associated with Traverse City it gets moved in a boneheaded move.

Maybe the Cherry Festival should move to Washington or Oregon?

This is a frustrating development because the original molehill that had to overcome was finding a location other than the Great Lakes Culinary Institute at NMC. That's right, the culinary school didn't want to host a popular culinary festival because it was "too difficult" for the students. Yes, good thing to keep them from the real world. That's real good training.
Now Traverse City is facing a mountain of a battle in establishing itself as a culinarian capital and a destination for foodie tourists when it doesn't even hold onto a premiere culinary event.

This is the kind of ridiculous decision I expect from the luddite City Commissioners, but not NMC.

Via UpNorthFoodies: Epicurean Classic heads to St. Joe’s

Friday, February 6, 2009

Downtown Cross Country Racing Is Back

This is great news!

Via the R-E: Vasa set to bring sprint races back
The sprints, once held on Front Street just before the Vasa, will return Sunday from 2-5 p.m. behind the InsideOut Gallery in the Warehouse District.

Saving Fish With Fish Shares

Community Supported Fishing and City Chickens are the next big things it looks like.

More thoughts on saving fish with fish shares at the NYT: Fish Shares and Sharing Fish

Hoop Houses In Northern Michigan

American Public Media's Marketplace show featured Traverse City's Black Star Farm and Meadowlark Farm and their hoop houses on February 4th.

See: Farmers go low-tech to grow in winter

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Revisiting ADU's

The White House is being used an ADU now. See USAToday: Obama mother-in-law to move into White House
By all accounts, Obama has a good relationship with his mother-in-law. She had put off retirement for years, but finally retired last summer to take care of the granddaughters while their parents campaigned.

"She didn't want anyone else taking care of the kids but her," McCormick Lelyveld said. "She wanted to be the one there."

Barack Obama has called her one of the unsung heroes of his campaign, and spoke of holding her hand on election night.

But when asked by "60 Minutes" if Robinson would move in, he quipped: "Well, I don't tell my mother-in-law what to do. But I'm not stupid. That's why I got elected president, man."

If the White House can be used as a granny-flat then why not my house in Traverse City? The ADU opponents need to admit that their real problem is with renters. Traverse City is not alone in this struggle of locals vs. renters. See Smartmoney: New Battle Affects Home Values: No-Rental Rules. But it is time to revisit this issue as an ADU gives economic flexibility to the homeowner which is needed in these difficult economic times.

Cross Country Skiing has a nice article about all the wonderful skiing opportunities in northern Michigan: Cross-Country Skiing Through Traverse City's Coastal Forests

Monday, January 19, 2009

More Community Supported Fishing

Mentioned this idea last March.

The idea is growing. See: Skipper Otto's Wild BC Salmon CSF
How much does it cost & what will I get?
The cost is $250.00/ year. You will receive approximately 35lbs of the best quality whole, fresh and/ or frozen salmon that is available that season direct from the fisherman. This amounts to roughly 7 fish at around 5lbs each (about $7/lb). Most years, you will receive nothing but sockeye salmon; however, if the sockeye runs are poor, you will receive an equivalent value of other salmon.

Via TreeHugger

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Best Cities - Smart People And Lots Of Fun Things To Do

Update 1/16/2009
And let's not forget great places to live need great places to relax. How the city hurts your brain ...And what you can do about it

Traverse City has a good start in being a great small town. But it is not all the way there yet. Living here "feels" as though we're on the verge of either becoming a great place to live and an economic engine or a touristy follower-town.

What makes a place a nice place to visit usually makes it a nice place to live.

There have been some recent articles regarding what makes some cities always attractive and what a place needs to do to be more than a nice place to visit. What is comes down to is put together a lot of smart people and give them fun things to do.

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released a research paper titled City Beautiful (PDF).
...past studies have provided only indirect evidence of the importance of leisure amenities for urban development. In this paper we propose and validate the number of leisure trips to metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) as a measure of consumers' revealed preferences for local leisure-oriented amenities. Population and employment growth in the 1990s was about 2 percent higher in an MSA with twice as many leisure visits: the third most important predictor of recent population growth in standardized terms. Moreover, this variable does a good job of forecasting out-of-sample growth for the period 2000-2006. “Beautiful cities” disproportionally attracted highly educated individuals and experienced faster housing price appreciation, especially in supply-inelastic markets. Investment by local government in new public recreational areas within an MSA was positively associated with higher subsequent city attractiveness. In contrast to the generally declining trends in the American central city, neighborhoods that were close to “central recreational districts” have experienced economic growth, albeit at the cost of minority displacement.

The researchers studied 15 variables to come to their conclusions:
  • Log Total
  • Employment in Tourism-Related Activities(1990)
  • Log Population
  • Log Number of Colleges
  • Poverty Rate
  • Log January Average Temperature (Average 1941-1970)
  • Log Average Annual Precipitation (1961-1990)
  • Share with Bachelors Degree
  • Share Workers in Manufacturing
  • Share Workers in Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate
  • Average Block-Group Distance to Park
  • Average Block-Group Distance to Recreation Sites
  • Log Historic Places per Capita
  • Coastal Share within a 10 km Radius
  • Mountain Land Share within a 10 km Radius

  • has more on this research: Urban playground: As politicians weigh economic stimulus for cities, research suggests a surprising way to succeed: make it fun
    In their paper, Carlino and Saiz found a statistical correlation between the number of leisure visits to a metropolitan area and the growth of factors like population and housing values. They controlled to determine that the tourism itself wasn't causing the growth, and argue in their paper that people move to the cities for the same reason they visit as tourists. They also demonstrate that investment by local governments in such "recreational capital" - spending on parks, cultural institutions, sports facilities, and other public-private spaces - has succeeded in making cities like Charlotte and San Antonio more attractive to tourists. They compute that a 10 percent boost in such spending yields a 2.3 percent increase in leisure visits, and, if the correlation holds, will also increase growth.
    "If you have things that attract high-skilled, high-income individuals, they are more productive," said Carlino, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. "They are the ones who are likely to start up new companies."

    And in the NYT Exonmix blog an entry on why NYC continues to thrive: New York, New York: America’s Resilient City
    Homo sapiens are a social species; almost all of what we know we learn from each other. Dense cities, like New York, succeed when they take advantage of this fundamental aspect of our humanity. They thrive by enabling us to connect with each other, which then promotes learning and innovation. The current downturn will only increase the returns to being smart, and you get smart by hanging around smart people.

    The formula for a great city seems clear: create a city with a temperate climate near a coastline and with museums, colleges, parks, and downtown magnets -> create dense housing in an urban core -> smart people will come to the city -> human capital will make the city great.

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    How To Get More Out Of Alleys

    Traverse City's core neighborhoods all have alleys with houses near the sidewalks and garages in the back lane. This rear space could be used for much more. If not an ADU then how about an office.Something like this at TH: Back Lane Intensification by Pyatt Studio