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SG-W:/ AA Parks - it's up to us



Friends:

The Ann Arbor Parkland Acquisition Millage petition drive to get a
proposal on the November ballot to raise funds for buying parkland is in
trouble.  We are running short of our signature target, and we run out of
time on August 3rd. We don't have the votes on City Council to get it on
the ballot any way but through citizen petitions.

However, we are close enough that if 50 people who have not yet worked on
the campaign each collect 50 signatures in the next 7 days, we can win.

If you haven't yet gotten started, you, (yes you!), can be a hero in the
struggle to protect the best of what is left of Ann Arbor's open space and
natural features. We can win this thing if everyone steps up, but every
circulator will count. You must be a registered voter in the City of Ann
Arbor to circulate or sign a petition. For those who've been busy getting
signatures, keep at it.  And don't forget we need the petitions back at
the Ecology Center office BY NEXT MONDAY. (117 N. Division St, Ann Arbor,
MI 48104.  Drop them off, mail them, ask us to pick them up from your
house, whatever works.)

For those who haven't started, please call us to get involved.  Our
phone numbers are below and at the end of this message. Here's a quick
primer/troubleshooting guide to answer your questions get you going.

PROBLEM #1: I DON'T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN.

SOLUTION: Contact Doug Cowherd (662-5205, email:
aheise@orchard.wccnet.org) or Mary Beth Doyle (663-2400 ext 108) and we'll
answer any questions.

PROBLEM #2: I DON'T KNOW HOW TO TALK TO STRANGERS.  IT SOUNDS INTIMIDATING
AND MAYBE EVEN ILLEGAL.

SOLUTION: It's legal (the essence of democracy) and easy once you get in
the groove. I just stand in one of the many places where Ann Arborites
tend to gather, (SEE SOLUTION #4) look at each passer-by, smile and ask
"Have you signed the petition for the parks?" Some people will look right
past you; no big deal. I ask those who respond if they are registered
voters in the city, and say "This is to put a millage before the voters to
raise money to buy more land to complete the parks system by acquiring
natural areas, open space and connectors between parks." For the very rare
person with more detailed questions, point out the phone number on the
fact sheet. Petition circulators report that 90 to 99% of registered
voters will sign with no discussion. People support this.

PROBLEM #3: I DON'T LIKE TO BUG PEOPLE.

SOLUTION:  Watching natural areas get eaten up by development is bugging
people. All you are doing is giving them the chance to participate in the
public process and vote on something that really matters.  You're asking
for nothing more than a moment of their time and their John Hancock. If
they don't want to sign the petition they will just walk on by.  But many
people are glad to have the opportunity to sign the petition for the
parks. They respect the commitment to our community shown by petition
circulators.  Some even ask for blank petitions so they can help.

PROBLEM #4: I DON'T KNOW WHERE TO FIND PEOPLE. SHOULD I GO DOOR-TO-DOOR?

SOLUTION: Some people have found door-to-door effective, especially if
they are somewhere where the housing is dense, like tightly-packed
neighborhoods, townhouses or apartments. It is entirely legal to petition
in housing complexes, unless specifically asked not to by management. In
the rare case where they do this, we should simply leave.

Great places to be include the Farmer's Market on Wednesday and Saturday
morning, West Park on Wednesday night from 7:15 to 8 (before the civic
band concert), public pools, the sidewalk outside the public library or
outside the People's Food Co-op. These places tend to yield more
signatures per hour than door-to-door.  At 20 to 25 signatures an hour,
just a couple of good hours will result in 50 signatures. Feel free to
come up with some spots of your own, or give us a call to discuss possible
places. We'll discuss this at greater length below.

PROBLEM #5: I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME.

SOLUTION: While we can't put more hours in the day, we should all be
aware that this is the last week and our last chance to get this on the
ballot by citizen initiative. If you can find any time at all, please do.
Arrive at your kid's day camp 20 minutes early and ask the other parents as
they drop the kids off. Take the peition with you to the pool. You can work
on your tan while you ask the sunbathers to sign. (We are allowed to
petition at the public pools.)  Every signature counts.

SOME GREAT PLACES TO GO WITH PETITIONS:

* 20 minutes before and after a movie, especially at the Michigan Theater.
  (Treat yourself to the movie in-between.) The newest cult hit "The Blair
  Witch Project" will be showing this week.
* The Food Co-op. We can't canvass inside, but it's great to hit people up
  as they enter and leave. We're welcome to use their alcove if it rains.
* Softball games. A quick trip around Vet's Park worked great.
* Public pools. Have fun and do good work too!
* Outside your kid's day care.
* Outside the public library and its branches.
* This Wednesday from 7:15 to 8 pm before the civic band concerts at
  West Park between 7th and Chapin. (We'd really like 8-10 people to show
  up for this.)
* Parks: Gallup, Delhi, Hudson Mills, etc.
* The AATA bus station, especially 4-6pm. People are waiting for
  buses, so it's a great time to approach them.
* The Farmer's Market.  Wednesdays and Saturdays.
* Wherever you happen to be standing.  Take a quick look around you and
  ask if everyone from Ann Arbor has had a chance to sign the petition for
  the parks.

The general rule of thumb is that we can approach people anywhere on
public property--sidewalks, public parks, etc.. If we're not on public
property (like at a grocery store, aptartment complex or on someone's
porch) we can be there until we're asked to leave (which is very rare).  
Simple enough!

Feel free to call us from 9am to 9pm at the numbers below with any
questions, concerns or suggestions. Tell us what you want to do, and we'll
give you what it takes to circulate petitions.

Great Cities Have Great Parks. And great citizens willing to work to
preserve the best of what is left in our community. Thanks for your help.

Mary Beth			Doug



Mary Beth Doyle, MPH		Doug Cowherd
Ecology Center of Ann Arbor	Co-Chair, Sierra Club-Huron Valley Group
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor MI 48104

734-663-2400 ext 108		662-5205






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