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News & Info from The CivCity Initiative

Your Civic To-Do List!

Looking to get more involved? Here are 4 options!

1. Sign up for the free Ann Arbor Citizens Police, Fire & Courts Academy. It meets weekly from March 7 through May 9. The deadline to apply is Feb. 24.

2. Attend a session of the Michigan High School Ethics Bowl, on Jan. 28-29 at UM's Palmer Commons. Watch local high school students discuss ethical conundrums, including some that focus on civic issues.

3. Give feedback on proposals to develop the Platt Road site that's now owned by Washtenaw County. Take a look at the proposals, then contact your county commissioner to weigh in before they vote – possibly as soon as February.

4. Be a Citizen Pruner! Sign up with the city by Jan. 17 for training on Saturday, Jan. 19. Details here!

Read on for more info about these items – then go forth and be civic!


Platt Road Development:  
What's Your Preference?


Washtenaw County is reviewing six development proposals for property that the county owns at 2270 Platt Road – south of (and adjacent to) County Farm Park.

The proposals are posted on the county's website, and were summarized in this article on MLive.

Staff of the Washtenaw County Office of Community & Economic Development (OCED) are reviewing the proposals this month and will make a recommendation to the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. That elected entity will eventually decide what to do with the property, where the county's juvenile detention facility was formerly located.

Tell the commissioners what you think. Here's a link to their contact information.

One additional note: A group of residents – Citizens for Responsible Planning for Platt Road – has formed to oppose any development on that land. You can find out more on their website.

Ann Arbor Citizens Police, Fire & Courts Academy: Apply Now!

The city of Ann Arbor is accepting applications for its Ann Arbor Citizens Police, Fire and Courts Academy. The deadline to apply is Feb. 24 – click here to fill out an application.

The academy is a free 10-week program held at the Ann Arbor police and fire departments, Washtenaw County Community College and the 15th District Court. Weekly classes are on Tuesdays from 6:30–9:30 p.m. beginning Tues. March 7 and ending May 9. Click here to learn more.

         Michigan High School             Ethics Bowl: Save the Date!

What?! You've never witnessed the awesomeness of the Michigan High School Ethics Bowl? Then this is the year to get inspired as teens from across the state converge to discuss real-world ethical challenges. The event, organized by the nonprofit A2Ethics, takes place on the weekend of Jan. 28-29 at the University of Michigan's Palmer Commons, 100 Washtenaw Ave. 

As added incentive, this year's case studies cover several civic themes, including one written by CivCity founder Mary Morgan about conflict-of-interest issues in local government. (Check out Case Study #10 here.)

Students from Pioneer, Huron, Ypsilanti, Greenhills and Saline high schools, among others, will be participating. Special thanks to A2Ethics and the UM Philosophy Department for holding this annual event!

What We're Reading

A column by Amanda Taub in the New York Times describes how deeply divisive partisan politics is affecting our nation's democracy.

She writes that "the fake-news phenomenon is not the result of personal failings. And it is not limited to one end of the political spectrum. Rather, Americans’ deep bias against the political party they oppose is so strong that it acts as a kind of partisan prism for facts, refracting a different reality to Republicans than to Democrats."

Taub continues: "Partisan refraction has fueled the rise of fake news, according to researchers who study the phenomenon. But the repercussions go far beyond stories shared on Facebook and Reddit, affecting Americans’ faith in government — and the government’s ability to function."
Graphic by Stephen Savage for the New York Times.

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

"America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service. So coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are seen, not just as misguided, but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others." – Barack Obama, in his Jan. 10, 2017 farewell speech in Chicago

Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama

But Wait! One More Thing


As part of their MLK Service Week, students and staff of the UM School of Information's Citizen Interaction Design initiative worked on CivCity's "How Ann Arbor Works" project. CivCity's two interns, Meghan Cuneo and Madeline Nowicki, also participated. We're grateful for the terrific ideas and energy generated during that two-hour session – with more to come!
UMSI's Julie Cruz, Maggie Davidson and Scott TenBrink.

Please share this newsletter with your friends, family & colleagues – we'd appreciate it!

Over the past couple of months, several people have forwarded me a link to My Civic Workout. Setting aside the content (it's definitely left-leaning – and CivCity is definitely nonpartisan), I appreciate the concept and the packaging. It delivers up a variety of ways that you can engage – and makes it easy for you to take action.

So we're trying a similar approach in this newsletter. Today you'll find three options for local actions you can take, with varying levels of effort. (I'm not much of a workout gal, so this takes the form of a To Do list. Perhaps a buffet metaphor would be even better!) Each week, our To Do list will offer up ways to get informed about our community and inspired to get more involved.

Is this kind of list useful? Email me your feedback at

I'll close with some words attributed to Martin Luther King Jr., who is honored with today's federal holiday: "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

Thanks for climbing with us!

– 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. Jan. 16: Most government offices are closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Tues. Jan. 17: 8:15 a.m. Ann Arbor Local Finance Development Authority (LDFA).
City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agenda.

Tues. Jan. 17: 4 p.m. Ann Arbor City Council Administration Committee. City hall 3rd floor conference room, 301 E. Huron. Agenda not posted online.

Tues. Jan. 17: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor City Council. 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. 17: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor District Library Board. Downtown library 4th floor boardroom, 343 S. Fifth Ave. Click here to view the board packet.

Wed. Jan. 18: 7-8:30 a.m. Public forum on Arlington Blvd. street resurfacing project. Tappan Middle School, 2251 E. Stadium Blvd. Click here for more info.

Wed. Jan. 18: 11 a.m.: Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority Capital Improvements Committee. 150 S. Fifth Ave., 3rd floor. Agenda not yet posted online.

Wed. Jan. 18: 3 p.m. Ann Arbor Design Review Board. City hall basement conference room, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agenda.

Wed. Jan. 18: 5:15p.m. Ann Arbor Airport Advisory Committee. Airport terminal, 801 Airport Dr. Click here to view the agenda

Wed. Jan. 18: 6 p.m. Ann Arbor Housing Commission Board. Baker Commons meeting room, 106 Packard Road. Agenda not yet posted online.

Wed. Jan. 18: 6:30 p.m. Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. 220 N. Main St., Ann Arbor. Click here and here to view the agendas. Watch online here.

Wed. Jan. 18: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor Public Schools Board. Forsythe Middle School, 1655 Newport Rd. Click here to view the agenda. Watch CTN Channel 18 or online here.

Wed. Jan. 18: 7 p.m. Ann Arbor Planning 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.

Thurs. Jan. 19: 8:30 a.m. Ann Arbor Employees Retirement System & VEBA Boards. Pension office, 532 S. Maple. Click here and here to view the agendas

Thurs. Jan. 19: 5:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Public Market Advisory Commission. City hall 2nd floor council chambers, 301 E. Huron. Click here to view the agenda. Watch on CTN Channel 16 or online here.

Thurs. Jan. 19: 6:30 p.m. Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Board. Downtown Ann Arbor library 4th floor boardroom, 343 S. Fifth Ave. Click here to view the agenda and board packet.

Thurs. Jan. 19, 6:30 p.m. Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners Working Session. 220 N. Main St., Ann Arbor. Click here to view the agenda. Watch online here.

Sat. Jan. 21: 9 a.m.-noon. Public input session on the master plan for Hudson Mills Metropark. Hudson Mills Metropark Activity Center, 8801 N. Territorial, Dexter. Click here for more info.

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 ©2015 The CivCity Initiative, All rights reserved.

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

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