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News & Info from The CivCity Initiative

Searching for Local Civic Action? Start Here!

We're making it easy for you to find ways to get involved. Here are this week's action items:

1. Mark your calendar to attend an upcoming neighborhood watch forum with the Ann Arbor Police Department. The first one is on Thursday, March 16.

2. Weigh in on long-term transportation plans for Washtenaw County. Give feedback online or in person at a public forum on Thursday, March 9.

3. Sign up to get email alerts about actions in state legislative committees, to stay better informed about what's going on in Lansing.

Read on for info about these items and more, then go forth and be civic! (And if you missed previous Civic To-Do Lists, catch up on the "Get Involved" section of CivCity's website.)

REMINDER: Monday, April 3 is the deadline to register to vote in the May 2 special election. Click here for details on how to register. And check out CivCity's for info about the ballot proposal to fund school infrastructure.


Neighborhood Watch:     Meet the AAPD

The Ann Arbor Police Department is holding three public meetings to talk about its Neighborhood Watch program. The first one is on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Scarlett Middle School's Media Center, 3300 Lorraine St. 

The forums will provide information about police department programs, area-specific crime statistics, prevention tips and ways to stay informed and get involved.

Other upcoming forums are:
  • Thursday, April 20: 6:30 p.m. at Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Road.                                                               
  • Thursday, May 18: 6:30 p.m. at Clague Middle School, 2616 Nixon Road.
Click here for more details. And learn more about the AAPD on its website.

One more thing: In February, the city council authorized hiring a consultant to conduct an independent analysis of the police department's community engagement practices. The move was suggested by the city's Human Rights Commission, which issued a report with recommendations to strengthen police-community relations. Read that report here.

Transportation Plan for Washtenaw County

Did you know that Washtenaw County has a long-range transportation plan? It sets goals for infrastructure through 2040, and complements a regional transportation plan for southeast Michigan.

The current plan is being updated, with public input. You can give input in person at a forum on Thursday, March 9 from 5-7 p.m. at the library's Traverwood branch, 3333 Traverwood Dr.
Chart in Washtenaw County's long-range transportation plan.

The updates focus on several proposed new sections, including driverless and connected vehicles, Washtenaw County equity initiatives, and environmental justice review.

This work is done by the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, known as WATS. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, it's a governmental agency responsible for long-range transportation planning in our county. Learn more about WATS on its website.

What's Up in Lansing? 

One way to track pending state laws is to sign up for alerts from committees in the Michigan House and Senate. Proposed legislation must go through the committee process before being brought for a vote.

You can get email notices from any or all of the committees in the House and Senate. Click here to sign up.

Michigan's State Capitol building in Lansing. 

If you need a refresher about how a bill becomes law in Michigan, read this short-ish column from the Michigan State University Extension. (They've got free newsletters you can sign up for too, on topics like government and civic engagement.)

What We're Reading

"Death to Government Mumbo Jumbo" from Bridge Magazine. It explains how the Michigan Dept. of Health & Human Services is working with Detroit-based Civilla to simplify the language and shrink the length of government forms.

Civilla staff are working to simplify Michigan's public benefits form. 

As an example, Michigan’s current application for public benefits is 42 pages with more than 18,000 words and over one thousand questions.

According to the article, plain-language advocates say it "can prune bureaucracy and help ordinary residents better understand the workings of government. The effort, while only a pilot for now, follows the lead of other states which report more efficiency and significant cost savings after adopting a government-wide, plain-language program."

Read the full Bridge article here, and click here to subscribe – it's free!

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.

Final Thoughts

[In honor of one of CivCity's interns, who binge-watched all 7 seasons of Parks & Recreation last week during UM's spring break!]

Leslie Knope, a lovable wonk portrayed by Amy Poehler.

Of course, we have our own real-life Parks & Rec – one for Ann Arbor and another for Washtenaw County. The county parks & rec commission meets on Tuesday, March 7. Check out their agenda here.

Please share this newsletter with your friends, family & colleagues – we'd appreciate it!
Last week, author Timothy Egan wrote a column in the New York Times with the headline "A Great New Accidental Renaissance."

He describes a "great awakening" that's been spurred by the current political climate – in response to Donald Trump's presidency – and notes that our country had become complacent in many ways. Here's an excerpt:

"Face it: We have become a lazy, aging, fairly ignorant democracy. Even in the most turbulent election in modern history, about 90 million eligible voters didn’t bother to cast a ballot — the basic task of citizenship." 

Egan seems optimistic that this awakening will stick. I hope it lasts beyond the current sense of crisis and storm-the-barricades response. 

A health democracy demands ongoing involvement, regardless of your political leanings. And it demands that we take responsibility for the seemingly mundane – going to public forums like the ones highlighted in this newsletter, weighing in on issues even when it's not something that makes you angry, staying informed about what your elected officials are doing, even when things are going smoothly.

Without the motivators of fear and rage, that's a much harder commitment to sustain. 

– 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.

Mon. March 6: 5:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Brownfield Plan Review Committee. City hall 3rd floor conference room, 301 E. Huron. No agenda posted online.

Mon. March 6: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor City CouncilCity hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agendaWatch on CTN Channel 16 or online here.

Tues. March 7: 2 p.m. Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission. 2230 Platt Road, Ann Arbor. Click here to view the agenda.

Tues. March 7: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor Planning Commission. City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agendaWatch on CTN Channel 16 or online here.

Wed. March 8: 9 a.m. Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Partnerships Committee. 150 S. Fifth Ave., 3rd floor. Agenda not yet posted online.

Wed. March 8: 9 a.m. Ann Arbor Public Schools Board Planning Committee. Balas Administration Building, 2555 S. State St. Agenda not yet posted online.

Wed. March 8: 5:15 p.m. Ann Arbor Commission on Disability Issues' Partners in Access Subcommittee. City hall 2nd floor council workroom, 301 E. Huron. No agenda posted online.

Wed. March 8: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission. City hall basement conference room, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agenda

Thurs. March 9: 3 p.m. Washtenaw County Local Emergency Planning Committee. Sheriff's office, 2201 Hogback Road, Ann Arbor. No agenda posted online. Click here for more info.

Thurs. March 9: 6:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Housing & Human Services Advisory Board. Washtenaw County administration building, 200 N. Main, lower level. Agenda not yet posted online. 

Thurs. March 9: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor Historic District Commission. City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agendaWatch on CTN Channel 16 or online here.


More Civic Events

Tues. March 7: 6:45-7:45 p.m. Coffee hour with Ann Arbor Public Schools trustee Jeff Gaynor. Songbird Cafe, 2707 Plymouth Rd.

Thurs. March 9: 5-7 p.m. Public Forum for Washtenaw County Long-Range Transportation Plan. Traverwood library branch, 3333 Traverwood Dr. Click here for more info.

Thurs. March 9: 6:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Sustainability Forum – for Kids! Downtown library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. Click here for more info.

Thurs. March 9: 7 p.m. Public Forum on Argo Canoe Livery Parking. Northside Community Center, 809 Taylor St. Click here for more info.

Fri. March 10: 9-10 a.m. Coffee hour with Ann Arbor city councilmember Chip Smith (Ward 5). Mighty Good Coffee, 217 N. Main St.

Sat. March 11: Noon-2 p.m. Salamander survey kick-off & training. Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Road. Register by March 9! Click here for more info.

Sat. March 11: 2:30-5 p.m. Frog & toad survey kick-off & training. Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N. Dixboro Road. Register by March 9! Click here for more info.

Sun. March 12: 1:30-3:30 p.m. Engaged Citizen: Who, What and How? First United Methodist Church, 120 S. State St. Meet state and local elected officials, learn what issues they're working on, and how you can stay informed. Click here for details.

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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