Creating Civic Space in Traverse City

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Someone said if you choose a job you love you’ll never work a day in your life. Google tells me it may attributed to Confucius, but it’s a quote I love. I have one of those jobs, and working with communities and community leaders is inspirational work that continues to keep me challenged and engaged. I love visiting cities, learning about their challenges and opportunities and trying to figure out how we can help implement great projects and improve civic engagement.

To that end I had the hardship trip (insert sarcasm here) of visiting Traverse City a few weeks ago. There are definitely worse places to travel than northern Michigan on the bay in June.

Traverse City was one of our 2015 PlacePlans projects, and we’re continuing to work with the community and partners on ways to implement the project and ways to work on civic engagement in the community. This is a community with a lovely downtown, beautiful bay front parks and beaches and engaged residents and city staff. We’ve discovered though that sometimes even the most engaged communities can use a little help figuring out strategy and direction. Sometimes narrowing the focus is as challenging as getting started.

i had a great few days meeting with city staff and city commissioners as well as Rotary Charities of Traverse City, one of the region’s most passionate and committed philanthropic partners to discuss ways to hone in on civic engagement and community development. The City also hosted an event to highlight what a parking lot could look like as a public square (#mycivicsquare). Despite having a great downtown there isn’t really a committed space for public gathering. It was fun to envision what that space could be and hang out with other people who love communities.

Imagining a civic square! Hanging out with my son and TC Commissioner Gary Howe

As usual I left feeling energized and excited to work on some future projects with our city leaders and community and philanthropic partners. Traverse City is an easy place to love even if you don’t fall in love with every city like I do. I’m looking forward to figuring out the next level of civic engagement and community partnerships in this great community!