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News & Info from The CivCity Initiative

One-Two-Three...Go Civic!

Looking to get more involved? Here are 3 things you can do this week!

1. What did the Ann Arbor City Council do this month? Take time to learn about at least one action they took. (More below!)

2. Find out who represents you on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners

3. Sign up for the Michigan Redistricting Collaborative e-newsletter. You'll get updates on this nonpartisan effort to eliminate gerrymandering when drawing lines for legislative districts.

Read on for more info about these items – then go forth and be civic! (And if you missed last week's Civic To-Do List, here's a link.)

BONUS: Play the Ann Arbor Wards Challenge

MI Redistricting Collaborative:  
Eliminate Gerrymandering


Gerrymander – the word itself conveys disfunction, right? The term refers to drawing the boundaries of legislative districts specifically to favor one political party or group.

The Michigan Redistricting Collaborative is a nonpartisan effort to reform how districts are drawn in this state. The group includes the League of Women Voters, Common Cause Michigan and the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

Learn more on their website, where you can also sign up for their e-newsletter to stay informed. 

One more thing: There's also a separate nonpartisan effort called Count MI Vote that recently launched. Check out their website to see how you can get involved, or follow them on Twitter at @CountMIVote.

         Washtenaw County:                      Know Your Commissioner           

There are nine districts for Washtenaw County government, with each district represented by an elected county commissioner. Ann Arbor is represented on the county board of commissioners by three main districts – Districts 7, 8 & 9 – as well as a small part of District 2, which includes a piece of northwest Ann Arbor. 

District 7 (east, northeast and southeast Ann Arbor) is represented by Andy LaBarre.

District 8 (central and south-central Ann Arbor) is represented by Jason Morgan.

District 9 (west, northwest and southwest Ann Arbor) is represented by Conan Smith. (Smith's county bio page is currently blank. Here's a link to his bio on Ann Arbor Votes.)

The nine Washtenaw County commissioners with county administrator Greg Dill (standing, left).

County government doesn't have a high profile, but the staff and elected officials are responsible for a wide range of services, including public health, community mental health, economic development, public safety (including the sheriff's office, prosecuting attorney and courts), parks & recreation, roads, elections and more.

Click here to see a list of all county commissioners. They meet on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month at 220 N. Main in downtown Ann Arbor. The board's agendas are posted here prior to their meetings. They meet next on Feb. 1.

One more thing: The county administrator, who is appointed by the county board, is Greg Dill. Click here to read his January 2017 newsletter.

Ann Arbor City Council:     January Action Items

First, some background. Two news outlets typically cover the Ann Arbor City Council: MLive and The Michigan Daily. That said, those publications only report on a small percentage of actions that the council takes.

So what happened at the council's January meetings? Here's what the local press reported:

Want more? Make popcorn and watch videos of the Jan. 3 (agenda) and Jan. 17 (agenda) meetings. Better than Netflix!

Looking ahead, the council usually meets at city hall on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month, starting at 7 p.m. (The next meeting is Monday, Feb. 6.) You can watch live on Community Television Network (CTN) Channel 16 or online here. Or follow the action with local Twitterati using the hashtag #a2council.

What We're Watching

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the Michigan Theater is screening the documentary "I Voted." The filmmaker, Jason Smith, explores the integrity and security of our nation's elections.

The film includes an interview with J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan professor of computer science and engineering. At the Jan. 25 screening, Halderman – who also serves as director of UM's Center for Computer Security and Society – will give a brief presentation on the topic.

The Jan. 25 screening starts at 7 p.m. and is sponsored by Greenhills School. Click here to watch the trailer.

Support CivCity's Work!

We work hard to inform, educate and inspire participation in local civic life. But we can only do it with your support. Please consider making a one-time or monthly online donation. It's tax deductible and feels great! 
Or you can send a check to:
The CivCity Initiative
118 S. Main St.
Ann Arbor MI 48104

CivCity also accepts stock donations! Contact Mary Morgan at for details.

Ann Arbor Wards Challenge!

The Ann Arbor Wards Challenge is an online game that springs from the creative brains of two awesome Ann Arbor dudes – Chris Salzman and Stephen Kemsley, of Scope Creep Studios. It's totally addictive. Try it now!

So fun you won't even realize you're learning about the structure of city government. Bwahahaha!!

Final Thoughts

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.
Malala Yousafzai

Please share this newsletter with your friends, family & colleagues – we'd appreciate it!
When people take to the streets, it's powerful.

We saw that this weekend with the Women's March – in DC, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and hundreds of communities worldwide.

I'm glad to see that many people who marched are also asking "What now?" 

Because while this kind of political activism can be energizing, the work of governance is often tedious – meetings, budgets, contracts and decisions like whether the city needs a new garbage truck.

Riveting stuff.

But unless we take responsibility for the work of governance, someone else will take it on our behalf, and we might not like the outcome. That doesn't mean we all need to run for office. It does mean that we should stay aware, informed and engaged – at the local, state and national levels.

At CivCity, we're providing resources for you to do just that, focused locally – where you can have the most impact, but where it's often hard to find information you need to get involved.

So for all of you who marched in person or in spirit, I hope you've carried the power of your passion home to do the crucial, mundane, stabilizing work of living in a democracy. We're here to help!

– Mary Morgan, CivCity Founder & Executive Director


Upcoming Public Meetings

NOTE: Meetings are sometimes canceled at the last minute, so be sure to check the links for updated information.

Tues. Jan. 24: 1 p.m. Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority Finance Committee. 150 S. Fifth Ave, 3rd floor. Click here to view the agenda.

Tues. Jan. 24: 4 p.m. Ann Arbor City Council Policy Agenda Committee. City hall 3rd floor conference room, 301 E. Huron. Agenda not posted online.

Tues. Jan. 24: 4 p.m. Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission. City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the full agenda. Watch on CTN Channel 16 or online here.

Tues. Jan. 24: 6 p.m. Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees. Morris Lawrence Building Room 150, 4800 E. Huron River Dr. Click here to view the agenda.

Tues. Jan. 24: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor Planning Commission Ordinance Revisions Committee. City hall basement conference room, 301 E. Huron. Click here for more information.

Wed. Jan. 25: 11 a.m.: Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority Operations Committee. 150 S. Fifth Ave., 3rd floor. Click here to view the agenda.

Wed. Jan. 25: 3:15 p.m. Ann Arbor Commission on Disability Issues. City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agendaWatch on CTN Channel 16 or online here.

Wed. Jan. 25: 6 p.m. Ann Arbor Zoning Board of Appeals. City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agendaWatch on CTN Channel 16 or online here.

Wed. Jan. 25: 5:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Public Schools Board Study Session & Regular Meeting. Huron High School, 2727 Fuller Rd. Click here to view the agenda. Watch CTN Channel 18 or online here.
Thurs. Jan. 26: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor Environmental Commission. City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agenda. Watch on CTN Channel 16 or online here.

Fri. Jan. 27: Noon.
City Council Liquor License Review Committee. City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Agenda not yet posted online.

More Civic Events

Wed. Jan. 25: 7 p.m. Screening of "I Voted." Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor. This documentary explores the integrity of U.S. elections. The screening will be followed by a brief presentation by J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan professor who's interviewed in the film. More details here.

Thurs. Jan. 26: 7 p.m. Taxes: Is the State Legislature Playing Fair With Local Governments? Representatives from county, city and township government will discuss how the Michigan Legislature's revenue-sharing policies and budgets have affected local governments and how local governments are meeting these challenges. Hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area at the downtown library, 343 S. Fifth Ave.

Sat.-Sun. Jan. 28-29: 1 p.m. Michigan High School Ethics Bowl. UM Palmer Commons, 100 Washtenaw Ave. Watch teens from across the state discuss real-world ethical challenges, including several situations with civic themes. The event is organized by the nonprofit A2Ethics. Details here.

Know of a nonpartisan civic-related event you'd like to publicize? Email Mary Morgan at

Support CivCity

CivCity is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit focused on increasing awareness of how local government works and motivating residents to get involved in civic life. Please support our work by sending donations to: 
The CivCity Initiative
118 S. Main St.
Ann Arbor MI 48104

You can also donate online by clicking this link – it's easy!

You'll get our heartfelt thanks written by hand (let's hear it for old school!) on a notecard featuring local public art or civic infrastructure. How cool is that?

This image is a detail from the mosaics at the Fourth & Washington parking structure.
CivCity Board of Directors
Devon Akmon
Paul Courant
Mary Morgan
Ingrid Sheldon

Special thanks for generous support from the James A. & Faith Knight Foundation, the Buhr Foundation, United Way of Washtenaw County, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation, the Mosaic Foundation of Rita and Peter Heydon, and the Ann Arbor Area Spirit of Woodstock Fund!

CivCity Online

Find more information – including CivCity's five-year strategic plan – on our website at
Be sure to join CivCity on Facebook, where we regularly post items of community interest. Ann Arbor Votes is also on Facebook!
On Twitter, you can follow us at @A2CivCity and get details about local public meetings and other civic-related info. Get election Tweets by following @AnnArborVotes!

You can also find us on Instagram @A2CivCity!


Copyright ©2017 The CivCity Initiative, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
118 S. Main St. Ann Arbor MI 48104

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