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Re: SG-W:/ Small Grants



I hope someone will humor me and help me build a discussion from this 
item. See thoughts below. (Barry, see question below.) Thanks for sharing 
it, Jack.

>Immediate Release                                                    
>Contact: Natalia Petraszczuk
>        (517) 487-9539
>
>MICHIGAN ENVIRONMENTAL COUNCIL AND BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE HAVE FUNDS TO
>DISTRIBUTE; SEEKING SMALL-GRANT APPLICANTS
>
>The Michigan Economic and Environmental Roundtable and the Michigan
>Environmental Council (MEC) are funding projects that advance land
>stewardship through collaboration and partnerships working on
>sustainable development/smart growth initiatives at local, regional and
>state levels.  The C.S. Mott, Detroit Edison, and Dow Chemical
>Foundations have provided $22,000 to award as grants to eligible
>organizations working on land use issues.  The small grants will range
>between $1,000-$4,000 and are to emphasize business/environmental
>partnerships.
>
>Businesses and organizations eligible for small grants must:
>a)      have 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax status or be sponsored by a
>501(c)(3)
>organization
>b)      demonstrate a commitment to increasing public and policy maker
>awareness of sustainable land use practices.
>
>The program is intended to help businesses and environmental groups work
>together to reduce the impacts of low density development or
>sprawl--development that consumes important resource land and leads to
>the deterioration of older communities.  Through education and
>cooperation, alternate avenues of sprawl can be created and implemented.

(I assume a word or two is missing from this sentence--perhaps 
"addressing" or "dealing with" in front of "sprawl"?)

As for possibilities for reducing impacts of sprawl, short of stopping 
it, I can think of a few: minimizing pavement, retaining storm water, and 
using native plant landscaping to reduce runoff and pollution from lawn 
maintenance; and provide and promote mass transit opportunities. Beyond 
those, things like providing services locally to reduce driving distance 
simply add to the problem. Come to think of it, who wants to work on a 
program that accomodates or compensates for sprawl rather than tries to 
eliminate it? (Maybe there isn't a word missing from that sentence after 
all.) In particular, if your organization or business is committed "to 
increasing public and policy maker awareness of sustainable land use 
practices", how can you justify devoting resources to simply mitigating 
the impacts of a clearly unsustainable phenomenon (for lack of a better 
word)?

I suppose if your business involves construction of roads, houses, or 
maybe cars, you could justify it. Reminds me once again how much I 
dislike the term "smart growth".

>
>The Roundtable, a nonprofit organization comprised of representatives of
>business and environmental interests, seeks to develop new approaches to
>the challenges facing Michigan's economy and natural resources. MEC, a
>member of the Roundtable, is a nonprofit coalition of 55 environmental
>organizations working to promote a land stewardship ethic throughout the
>state.  MEC and the Roundtable recognize that the state's economic and
>environmental communities have similar concerns relating to land use.

What challenges facing our economy relate to those facing natural 
resources? The only ones that come to my mind are the low prices that 
farmers recieve for their crops and the labor shortage in places like Ann 
Arbor. Affordable housing in the city, especially downtown, would help 
the latter and thereby, perhaps, slightly reduce. The free AATA bus 
passes for downtown employees is a step in the right direction, too. The 
former problem seems much more systemic.

I'm sure others have more examples. I think we would benefit from sharing 
them, so we can have them in mind when discussing possible anti-sprawl 
efforts.

>
>Recipients will be selected on a competitive basis.  Applications must
>be postmarked by December 15, 1999; decisions will be made by January
>15, 2000.  For an application or more information, contact MEC at 119
>Pere Marquette, Ste. 2A, Lansing, MI  48912, or call (517) 487-9539.=20
>Applications can also be found online at:  http//:www.mienv.org/lsi.htm
>
>"This program helps us protect our state's incomparable natural
>resources, which are vital to Michigan's public health, economy and
>quality of life", says Jerry Ring, Chair Person, Michigan Environmental
>and Economic Roundtable

But not as vital as allowing the development of open spaces and farmland, 
apparently.

Sorry to be so critical, but I'd love to see some more details on the 
thinking behind this program. I thought there was ample evidence that 
sprawl is economically damaging to existing communities (residential if 
not business), not to mention the environmental costs. (Barry, could you 
share the info on the AA Township study now?) So, my question is, why 
participate in a program that promises to be ineffective in stopping or 
even slowing sprawl, rather than one that at least attempts to be 
effective?

I don't know anything about MEER, but might this be a greenscamming 
effort from them that the MEC would be better off not being party to? 
(Detroit Edison and Dow...hmmm.)

Steve


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