Editor’s Note: We are happy to introduce our new summer intern, Zoë McAlear! She’ll be helping out in our communications department, so you’ll be seeing her name pop up often over the next two months. Rather than let us tell you about her, here’s a brief introduction in her own words. Welcome Zoë!
|Zoë McAlear is a rising sophomore at Haverford College outside of Philadelphia.|
My name is Zoë McAlear and I’m a rising sophomore at Haverford College outside of Philadelphia. I’ll be working with MLUI for the next 11 weeks, and I can’t wait to learn more about this organization and Traverse City through various research and writing projects.
MLUI presents the ideal blend of environmental ideas and a connection to community development that I hope to pursue in the future. At Haverford I have plans to major in Growth and Structure of Cities with a minor in Environmental Studies. This combination appeals to me because both programs are interdisciplinary and allow me to pursue many interests that I’ve developed over the past few years.
I’ve spent the past nine years living in Ithaca, a college town in upstate New York that resembles Traverse City and the surrounding area in many ways. Both sit on beautiful lakeshores with a central downtown area that is the focus of the city, and have the benefit of surrounding populations who contribute to the community and the local economy.
My interest in urban development and its connection to the environment stems from living in Ithaca and watching it change over the past decade. I’ve seen the importance of a thriving downtown that supports local businesses, and a strong local economy that supports the surrounding farms. MLUI’s programs concerning local foods, clean energy, and a focus on strong, centralized communities, connect directly back to the issues that I’ve watched my hometown struggle with as they try to develop viable solutions.
Living in Ithaca has allowed me to really connect to where I’m living and develop a deep interest in seeing my community succeed. I’ve been particularly interested in the local foods economy because my family has always been deeply invested in making choices about our food that are health-conscious, environmentally sustainable, and supportive of small farms in our community. Since living in Ithaca, we’ve grown a backyard garden, joined our local co-op, participated in vegetable, raw milk, and meat CSAs, and constantly supported our weekly farmer’s market. I’ve learned the importance of making careful choices about where my food comes from, and I can’t wait to learn more about the particular programs that MLUI has instated to develop a thriving local foods economy.
In addition to local foods, I’ve watched other battles take place in Ithaca that have to do with the expansion of public transportation and bike-friendly programs, supporting local businesses in order to help them survive downtown, and energy debates—particularly with the attempt to spread hydrofracturing processes into the area in order to extract natural gas. Many of these questions and attempts at solutions parallel issues in Traverse City that are being explored by the Michigan Land Use Institute.
My biggest hope for my time at MLUI? I want to develop a relationship with the Traverse City community so that I can leave here at the end of the summer feeling the type of connection and dedication that I do with my own hometown.
Zoë can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.