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Sharing Ideas; Putting Them Into Action

Well Put

Ideas matter. This country was founded on an idea about individual liberty and popular self-government. Ideas, creativity, and adaptation are genetically encoded in the American psyche. But something else too; an idea is only as good as the other people with whom it is shared. Very seldom does one individual ever see all the pieces of the puzzle in one bright explosion of realization. We need and depend upon others to refine, reframe, and at times reinvigorate our ideas.

~ James Brooks, from Ideas Require A Team To Carry Them Forward

I like this passage, written in the context of two different forms of governance. One, top down and effective to a degree, and another based on collaboration and the building of a community committed to a shared vision.  The latter has proven again and again to be more resilient, inclusive and embraced.


Ideas live to be part of the commons; they beg to be shared. This is part of the work of this blog and the community engagement attached to it are where perspectives are shared and discussions follow. Sometimes those exchanges occur only here; other times they make their way into the greater community and even occasionally into the minds of the ultimate decision makers. This isn’t enough though; more of these exchanges need to turn into positive outcomes.

One of the goals has been to unite people around the embrace of our public spaces, including our streets as critical extensions of our communities, if not our homes. I didn’t realize it, but in effect we’ve built a coalition committed to this idea. What we need now is for this coalition to expand, strengthen and begin to move ideas into achievable tasks. As Brooks writes, “Of course, cities won’t grow or thrive on ideas alone. What’s required is the collaborative team of diverse talents that brings ideas to tangible and achievable actions.

This is where we need to go…

Three items to mention, with specifics hopefully to follow soon, that may interest those of you wanting to work towards “tangible and achievable actions.”:

  1. TC•DIY: This spring, there will be opportunities for all of us to have a hands on, direct impact on our community. In Traverse City, one way for this to occur will be by joining a crew of YIMBYs* hitting our public spaces with ideas, tools and energy to improve the commons with small, harmless actions that improve the quality of life in a neighborhood. Comment with or send me your ideas and willingness to take part.
  2. Complete Streets: If enhancing community connections is something you’re interested in working on, stay tuned for an opportunity in April. The first task will be centered around learning about and building upon the concept and mechanism of Complete Streets. This event will certainly be written about here, but if you want to make sure that you are kept abreast of the opportunities to participate, please send a message saying “I support complete streets” and you’ll be added to an email list. And/or, you could join the TART Trails Complete Streets Group for the latest local Complete Street announcements.
  3. Fill Seats: It’s time to consider sitting on an official committee or running for office. We have a choice who represents us: why shouldn’t you represent? This November’s city commission election has four seats that will be contested. There is only so much DIY we can do, ultimately, we need decision makers who honor people and place as priorities. I’ll soon post about the specifics of the election and in the meantime you can easily submit a request to be considered for appointment to a non-elected City board or commission today. Once you submit a request, you’ll be on file for at least a year or two for any position you’ve flagged. You might also consider becoming engaged with the neighborhood associations. Don’t feel obligated to just go to your own ‘hood’s association; the entire community is your neighborhood.

Happy engagement.

* YIMBY = Yes In My Back Yard.

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