What is our policy team excited about as they look ahead to 2019? Here’s a snapshot of what’s glowing bright on the radar. (Also, in case you missed it, check out the impressive list of 2018 Groundwork highlights the team recently shared.)
HANS VOSS, Executive Director: In 2019 I am hopeful that, after five years of Michigan citizen insistence, state officials will finally and permanently shut down the flow of oil through Line 5. And, as we approach our 25th year as an organization (which will happen in 2020) I am excited about launching some organizational strategic planning for the future with the Board, Staff, and Advisory Council and focusing on longterm financial strategy to keep our momentum strong.
JIM BRUCKBAUER, Deputy Director: I’m excited about about taking a deep dive into what other communities are doing to give more people options for getting around and sharing those strategies with northern Michigan. Let’s make biking, walking and transit the most important priorities in our community in 2019!
DIANE CONNERS, Senior Policy Specialist: I am excited in 2019 to create a statewide coalition of people who want to make investing in local food for kids in schools a part of Michigan’s identity. It all centers around Michigan’s innovative 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms program, which is being hailed nationally as a model for catalyzing healthy school lunches and a vibrant economy with matching funds for schools to buy locally grown food. We’ll be inviting schools, farms, educators, businesses, health and economy advocates and other citizens to sign up to endorse Michigan’s program as we enter a new year with a massive number of new legislators. They need to hear about the excitement, and people around the state want to share the information more widely within their communities as well. Watch for news and join us!
RIC EVANS, Clean Energy Policy Specialist: I’m very excited to work to increase locally installed solar power. Our new SolaRISE crowdfunding platform for nonprofits, churches, and schools is a potentially powerful tool for achieving that. Also we are encouraging municipally owned utilities to install more solar here. Renewable energy is one of the few technology sectors that has rural jobs as part of the formula, and local energy also keeps energy dollars in the local economy, helping keep our towns strong.
JIM LIVELY, Program Director: With a new governor and attorney general starting in January, I look forward to new leadership in Lansing that will be working aggressively to decommission the Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The Great Lakes Business Network will provide support on Line 5 as needed, but will be transitioning to put more focus on clean energy and concerns around climate change. I look forward to shifting the strong public support we built to protect the Great Lakes to these other important issues.
PAULA MARTIN, Food & Farming Policy Specialist: In 2019, I’m looking forward to learning from the food and farming community and creating more opportunities for healthcare providers and our community members to get back in touch with the simple pleasures and many benefits—health, economic, and community—of enjoying Michigan-grown or produced foods at our conferences in March and September.
MEGHAN MCDERMOTT, Food & Farming Program Director: I am looking forward to another year of champion-building, watching our projects grow and thrive, and seeing the difference our work makes in the community, state and beyond.
JEN SCHAAP, Local Food Policy Specialist: After looking back over the last five years at the list of priorities set forth back in 2013 by the Petoskey–Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation and various community members within the food and farming community, I’m looking forward to diving into the new priorities that attendees came up with in the breakout sessions at the Local Food Alliance’s Around the Table conference in November 2018. People identified issues around Health and Access, Farm Business, and Education. We are so fortunate in northwest Lower Michigan to have such a strong network of food champions and organizations committed to a healthy community. Can’t wait to collaborate on this new set of community priorities with so many good people on board!
JEFF SMITH, Communications Director: I’m looking forward to expanding the ways in which we share the story of Groundwork’s broad scope of work. More video, more photography, more info-graphics … even a storytelling event. But along the way, always keeping the spirit of our work and our people at the heart of our message.
DAN WORTH, Clean Energy Program Director: I am excited to work with northern Michigan towns that are moving toward making the 100% clean energy commitment. This year, Traverse City showed courage and leadership by becoming the first city in Michigan to make that pledge, and their decision has inspired many others! Stay tuned!
Glen Lake Community Schools became the first organization to use SolaRISE, Groundwork’s new crowd-funding site that helps schools, nonprofits, churches, and the like raise money for clean energy projects. Glen Lakes Envirothon students (8 state championships in the last 15 years! Go coach Karen Richard!) decided to install a solar panel and set about raising money. Read the backstory here!
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