Get Involved: We're Here to Help!
Each week, CivCity's e-newsletter features a variety of ways to get more involved in local civic life. This is a compilation of those suggestions. Some of the info is time-sensitive so when applicable, we indicate deadlines. (Want to receive our newsletters? Click here to sign up!)
WEEK OF JAN. 15, 2018 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Volunteer to serve on a task force for the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission. The task force will develop a charter for a new committee focused on police-community relations. To apply – or to nominate someone else – send your name, contact info and any other relevant material to HRC@a2gov.org. The deadline to apply is Monday, Jan. 29.
2. Learn about the priorities of Ann Arbor's mayor. Christopher Taylor's 2018 annual report, which gives his perspective on issues facing the city, is divided into three installments: Part 1 (finances & growth, roads and public safety), Part 2 (water & waste issues), and Part 3 ("quality of life," including environmental issues, the Library Lot development, and the Ann Arbor train station. Want to give feedback on the mayor's report? You can email him at email@example.com or call his city hall office at 734-794-6165.
3. Meet with a state legislator. Two local state representatives – Donna Lasinski and Adam Zemke – are holding constituent hours on Thursday, Jan. 18: "Drafts with Donna" at 6 p.m. at the Chelsea Alehouse (420 N. Main St., Chelsea) and "Ale with Adam" at 6:30 p.m. at the Blue Tractor, 207 E. Washington in Ann Arbor.
4. Explore an interactive map with county-by-county data on poverty in Michigan. The map was developed by the University of Michigan Poverty Solutions program. Click here to view the map. And check out Washtenaw County's Opportunity Washtenaw site for more detailed information about equity issues in this county.
Suggested reading: This column by Mikki Kendall, published in the Washington Post: "Want to see Oprah be president? Maybe she should start with city council."
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Jan. 15, 2018 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF JAN. 8, 2018 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Learn how to register voters. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters is offering two training sessions this month – on Jan. 9 and Jan. 20 – to help people register voters. The session on Tuesday, Jan. 9 runs from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at the Ann Arbor District Library's Westgate branch. Click here for details.
2. Attend a forum on electric vehicles. The City of Ann Arbor is holding its first Sustainable Ann Arbor Forum of 2018 on Thursday, Jan. 11 focused on electric vehicles. EVs will be on display at the Library Lane parking lot from 5-7 p.m., followed by a panel discussion at the downtown library starting at 7 p.m. Click here for more info.
3. Get updated on the 2018 Ann Arbor deer management plan. Starting today through Jan. 31, over a dozen parks and nature areas will be closed from 3 p.m. until midnight for the city's deer cull. Several University of Michigan and Concordia University properties will be closed as well. Click here for details and more information.
Suggested reading: This article in Bridge Magazine: "Breakthrough Nears on Mass Transit Tax in Southeast Michigan."
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Jan. 8, 2018 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
Note: Our newsletter was on hiatus for Dec. 25, 2017 and Jan. 1, 2018.
WEEK OF DEC. 18, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Check out projects and priorities in the works for 2018. The Ann Arbor City Council recently got a financial overview from city staff, kicking off the 2018-19 budget cycle. Click here to see what's on the horizon, including work toward a new train station and the Treeline Urban Trail.
2. Put the budget process in context with the Ann Arbor Citizen Guide to Budget & Finance. City staff put together an online resource to help explain the budget. Learn about the city's revenues, expenses, debt and other financial issues to better understand how our tax dollars are spent. Click here to view the guide.
3. Just for fun: Michigan's Congressional districts reimagined as GerryMonsters! Mike Thompson, a Detroit Free Press cartoonist, rendered each of Michigan's 14 Congressional districts as contorted creatures, and they're pretty amazing. Click here to see them all.
Suggested reading: This report by Michigan Radio: "Want that FOIA request filled in Michigan? You might have to wait awhile."
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Dec. 18, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF DEC. 11, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Know your Civic Snow Stuff. There's probably a more elegant way to put it, but you get the gist. Learn the rules for shoveling sidewalks and moving your car off the street in a snow emergency, where to get free sand/salt, and how to track city snow plows. Click here for more info.
2. Apply for the Ann Arbor Community Emergency Response Team training program. The CERT program trains participants in basic disaster response skills, with a focus on potential hazards for Washtenaw County. The deadline to apply is noon on Monday, Dec. 18. Click here for details.
3. Volunteer for the Washtenaw County Autonomous Vehicle Consensus Conference. A group of University of Michigan students are organizing a "consensus conference" about the impact of autonomous vehicles – and they're looking for community members to participate. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, Dec. 20. Click here for details.
Suggested listening: This segment of WEMU's Issues Of The Environment, focused on a proposal to create an endowment for Washtenaw County's Natural Areas Preservation Program.
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Dec. 11, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF DEC. 4, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend a solar open house and tour. The city of Ann Arbor's Solar Faithful program is highlighted on Sunday, Dec. 10 with an event at the Campus Chapel, 1236 Washtenaw Court. Learn how the congregation is working to offset 100% of its electricity usage through solar energy. The open house runs from 1:30-3 p.m. Click here for details.
2. Give input on community needs in Washtenaw County. Via an online survey or a Dec. 6 public hearing, you can weigh in on what non-housing services your neighborhood or the broader community needs. (The county collected feedback on housing services earlier this year.) Click here for details.
3. Check out the Michigan Community Financial Dashboard. This site, maintained by the Michigan Dept. of Treasury, lets you find data about your local government, including revenue and expense trends. Click here for more.
Suggested reading: This Harvard Business School report: "Why Competition in the Politics Industry Is Failing America."
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Dec. 4, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF NOV. 27, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Check out the Delonis Center Wish List. Are there items you can donate to our community's homeless shelter? Click here to download the list from the shelter's website.
2. Apply for a seat on the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council. The deadline is Wednesday, Nov. 29. Click here for details.
3. Learn about criminal justice reform in Michigan. On Tuesday, Nov. 28, the local League of Women Voters hosts a speaker from the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency at this month's Brews & Views. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at HOMES Brewery, 2123 Jackson Ave. Click here for more info.
Suggested reading: This Washington Post column: "Yes, kids need more civics education — but they need to be taught civility at least as much."
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Nov. 27, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF NOV. 20, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Apply for the new Ann Arbor Citizens Academy! Interested in how the city works? Learn about parks, planning, public works, police & fire services and more at the inaugural Citizens Academy next spring. The deadline to apply is March 2 – so yeah, you've got time. Click here for more info.
2. Get help weatherizing your home. If you qualify based on income level, you could be eligible for Washtenaw County's weatherization program. It helps lower heating bills by funding insulation, furnace upgrades and other projects. Click here for details.
3. Give feedback on Ann Arbor sign regulations. Ann Arbor is updating its sign ordinance, and is looking for input. As part of that, the city is asking for comments on existing signs via a site called "PictureThis." Click here for more info.
4. Check out volunteer opportunities for the holidays. On VolunteerWashtenaw.org, a site operated by the United Way of Washtenaw County, a special section focuses on holiday giving and volunteering – including ways to help out during Thanksgiving. Click here for more info.
Suggested reading: This Michigan Daily article: "University students build website to better connect citizens to their representatives."
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Nov. 20, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF NOV. 13, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Review recommendations on police-community relations. Consultants hired by the city to survey relations between the Ann Arbor Police Department and residents have submitted their 105-page report. (Click here to read it.) Recommendations, including a proposal to create a "Co-Produced Policing Board," will be the focus of a special working session on Thursday, Nov. 16 with the City Council and Human Rights Commission, held at Community Television Network (CTN) studios starting at 7 p.m. You can watch that meeting online.
2. Check out proposed rules for ground-mounted solar panels. The city is looking for feedback before making changes to the rules that govern ground-mounted solar panels in residential neighborhoods. Public forums are planned for Nov. 16, 28 and 30. Click here for details.
3. Give feedback on art for manhole covers. The Ann Arbor Art Center is managing a project for creating art on "infrastructure hole covers" – or covers for what most people call manholes. They're hosting a town hall on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Art Center, 117 W. Liberty. Click here for details.
4. Drop off your household toxic waste. This Saturday, Nov. 18 is the last day of the year to drop off waste at the Washtenaw County Home Toxics Collection Center without an appointment. The center at 705 N. Zeeb is open from 9 a.m. until noon on the 1st three Saturdays of each month from April through November. It's free!
Suggested reading #1: A report in Politico that highlights issues at the University of Michigan and other public flagship universities: "In Trump country, a university confronts its skeptics."
Suggested reading #2: This article in Governing Magazine: "Cities Have a New Target for Ending Homelessness: Landlords"
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Nov. 13, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF NOV. 6, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. VOTE. Election Day has finally arrived! (FYI that's Tuesday, Nov. 7.) Need some last-minute help? Check out CivCity's AnnArborVotes.org and the League of Women Voters' Vote411.org. Polls are open from 7 a.m. til 8 p.m.
2. Volunteer to serve on the Housing & Human Services Advisory Board. This group makes recommendations to the Ann Arbor City Council and Washtenaw County Office of Community & Economic Development. Click here for details about HHSAB's work, and click here for info about how to apply. And check out these local events in November for Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Month.
3. Check out events for veterans on Nov. 11. On Saturday, Ann Arbor Parks & Rec is offering free admission for veterans at Mack Indoor Pool, Veterans Memorial Indoor Ice Arena, Buhr Park Outdoor Ice Arena, and Huron Hills Golf Course. Click here for details.
Suggested reading #1: This Michigan Daily report about student turnout: "Student voter apathy challenging upcoming elections."
Suggested reading #2: A report about a voting-rights lawsuit that's being heard this week by the U.S. Supreme Court: "He Didn't Vote in a Few Elections. In the Next One, Ohio Said He Couldn't."
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Nov. 6, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF OCT. 30, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Check out local voter resources. CivCity's AnnArborVotes.org and the League of Women Voters' Vote411.org provide myriad ways to get ready to cast your ballot on Nov. 7 – or even sooner, if you're an absentee voter!
2. Give input on South State Street. A forum on Thursday, Nov. 2 focuses on the South State Street Corridor Transportation Study, with ideas for improving this major gateway into the city. It runs from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott, 3205 Boardwalk Dr. Click here for more info.
3. Plan your bus trip to Detroit. Starting Oct. 30, the University of Michigan's Detroit Connector bus begins expanded service – and for the first time, the general public can ride too! Click here for details.
Suggested reading: This report from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network: "Candidates For Governor Stockpiling Cash, Breaking New Ground For Early Fundraising."
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Oct. 30, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF OCT. 23, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Plan your Election Day celebration! Here at CivCity, we believe Election Day is the perfect time to celebrate our democracy. You've got 2 more weeks til Nov. 7 – plenty of time to get ingredients for "I Voted" cupcakes and to get ready to vote!
2. Get updated on local road closings. The orange cone season isn't over just yet. Click here to see what projects are underway in late October and November.
3. Take a Washtenaw Heritage Tour. Your tax dollars help promote tourism that's focused on this area's history. The Heritage Tour website provides info on several driving and "virtual" tours around local historic themes, including food, architecture, German heritage and more. Perfect for an autumn outing!
Suggested reading: This column by Sean McElwee, Brian Schaffner and Jesse Rhodes: "How Oregon Increased Voter Turnout More Than Any Other State"
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Oct. 23, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's David Fair.
WEEK OF OCT. 16, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. See if you qualify to vote absentee! If you do, you might want to sign up to automatically get an application to vote by absentee ballot – conveniently sent to you prior to EACH election cycle by the city clerk's office. Click here for details.
2. Watch the Saline High Debate Team weigh pros and cons of the Nov. 7 tax proposal for public safety and mental health services. These students did the research to help you sort through the proposal before you vote! Click here to watch the debate – and thanks to the local League of Women Voters for organizing the forum. Get more info about what's on the ballot at CivCity's AnnArborVotes.org or the League's Vote411.org!
3. Check out updates to the city's deer management plan. At their Oct. 16 meeting, the Ann Arbor City Council will be voting on a budget increase for the city's deer cull and sterilization program. The $110,000 increase reflects plans to cull more deer this year, plus additional educational programming and staff support. Click here to read the resolution. Click here for more information on the city's website.
Suggested viewing: This video about the Big Ten Voting Challenge, produced by the University of Michigan Central Student Government!
Civic Matters on WEMU 89.1: Click here to listen to the Oct. 16, 2017 discussion with CivCity founder Mary Morgan and WEMU's Patrick Campion.
WEEK OF OCT. 9, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend a public forum on the proposed new train station. On Thurs. Oct. 12, city staff will meet with residents to talk about options for a new train station. The forum starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Justice Center 4th floor jury assembly room (next to city hall), 301 E. Huron. Click here for more info about the project.
2. Apply for a Washtenaw County advisory board. You've got a ton of options, as there are vacancies on 18 advisory groups. Click here for details about what's available and how to apply. The deadline to apply for most of these spots is Nov. 13. The deadline for the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council is Nov. 29.
3. Adopt a stormdrain. Help out our civic infrastructure by joining the Huron River Watershed Council's Adopt-A-Stormdrain project. Or just clear out the stormdrain on your street and be an #H2OHero!
Suggested reading: This article in Digital Trends: "Can democracy be digitized? These vets at Polco say yes."
WEEK OF OCT. 2, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend a forum for The Treeline Urban Trail. A community forum is set for Wednesday, Oct. 4 to get input on the draft master plan for the Treeline Allen Creek Urban Trail, formerly called the Allen Creek Greenway. The meeting runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at city hall, 301 E. Huron. Click here to read the master plan.
2. Check out the Washtenaw County Park Finder. The Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission has launched a new tool to help you easily locate parks and nature preserves throughout the county.
3. Watch candidate forums for Ann Arbor City Council. On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area interviews candidates who are running for city council in Wards 2, 4 & 5. (The races in Wards 1 & 3 aren't contested on Nov. 7.) Watch Community Television Network Channel 19 or online starting at 7 p.m.
Suggested reading: This column by U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Don Beyer: "Introducing An Election Reform Bill To Expand Voter Participation Nationwide"
WEEK OF SEPT. 25, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. What's your burning question for Ann Arbor City Council candidates? The League of Women Voters wants your input for their Oct. 3 candidate forums. Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, Sept. 29.
2. Give input on proposed sites for an Ann Arbor train station. The city wants feedback on a new environmental assessment for two potential locations: On Depot Street and at Fuller Road, near the UM medical complex. Click here for more info.
3. Speaking of transit, check out the In Transit exhibit at the Ann Arbor Art Center! Photographs by Washtenaw Community College students are also in all of The Ride's buses, Ann Arbor City Hall and other locations. Click here for details.
Suggested reading: This column by Andrew Sullivan: "America Wasn't Built for Humans."
WEEK OF SEPT. 18, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Celebrate Constitution Week! Sept. 17-23 is U.S. Constitution Week, commemorating the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed one of our nation's founding documents. Click here to read the Constitution and to find out more about its history. Check out ConstitutionFacts.com and test your knowledge with quizzes, crossword puzzles and more!
2. Prep for the Nov. 7 election. On Constitution Day (Sept. 17), the University of Michigan launched the Big Ten Voting Challenge to increase turnout. While they're looking ahead to 2018, we've got an election here in less than two months! Check out CivCity's AnnArborVotes.org for more info on candidates and ballot proposals.
3. Learn about a proposed development on North Main Street. Called Elroy's Place, this five-story mixed-use building at 321 N. Main (just north of Miller) is coming before the Ann Arbor Design Review Board on Sept. 20. Click here for more info.
Suggested reading: This column by Ganesh Sitaraman, a professor at Vanderbilt Law School: "Our Constitution Wasn't Built for This."
WEEK OF SEPT. 11, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Get briefed on the pros and cons of a city income tax. At the Sept. 11 working session, Ann Arbor City Council will hear from staff and explore the possibility of a city income tax. Click here to view the city's slide presentation. You can watch the session online here starting at 7 p.m.
2. Check out suicide prevention resources from Washtenaw County's Public Health Department. September is Suicide Prevention Month, and the county is working to raise awareness about this issue. Click here to learn more.
3. Learn the basics of statewide ballot petitions. What groups are collecting signatures to get their proposals on the 2018 ballot? Get an overview from Michigan State University Extension's Civic Engagement staff. Click here for details.
Suggested listening: This segment on NPR's Weekend Edition: "When Hollywood Went To Washington: The History Of Politics In Movies"
WEEK OF SEPT. 4, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Give input on the draft Treeline Master Plan. This week, the Ann Arbor City Council will start the formal process of gathering feedback on this 60-page document, which outlines a vision for the Allen Creek greenway. Follow this link to download the draft.
2. Attend the monthly meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board. They meet at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 6. One agenda item: A resolution to build more floors on the Ann Ashley parking structure. They'll also be saying farewell to Al McWilliams, who is not seeking reappointment to the board. Click here for the board packet.
3. Couldn't make it to last week's forum on the 1,4 dioxane plume? Click here to watch a video of the session, thanks to the Washtenaw County Coalition for Action on the Remediation of Dioxane (CARD). The group holds its regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Suggested reading: This New York Times article: “The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars: Democracy vs. Math”
WEEK OF AUGUST 28, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend a town hall on the 1,4 dioxane plume. On Wednesday, Aug. 30, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and other officials will give an update on cleanup efforts for underground water contamination in the Ann Arbor area. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the downtown library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. Click here for details.
2. Take a survey about planning for natural, manmade and technological disasters. The City of Ann Arbor is updating its Hazard Mitigation Plan, and wants your input. Click here to take the survey. The deadline to participate is Sept. 3.
3. Sign up for news from the Ann Arbor Public Schools. School starts next week, so it's a great time to get in the loop with AAPS District News, a news feed produced by staff of our public schools. Click here to subscribe.
Suggested reading: This article in Governing magazine: “Drowning in Data, Cities Turn to 'Citizen Scientists’”
WEEK OF AUGUST 21, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend a town hall focused on opioids in Washtenaw County. Elected officials – including U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell and Tim Walberg and Sheriff Jerry Clayton – will hold a forum on Monday, Aug. 21 to discuss local responses to the opioid crisis. The session runs from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Saline High School, 1300 Campus Parkway. Click here for details.
2. Get updated on a ballot drive to create an independent redistricting commission in Michigan. The Board of State Canvassers approved ballot language last week, so organizers are starting to collect signatures in an effort to put the statewide proposal on the November 2018 ballot. Click here to learn more.
3. Drop by Brews & Views on Tuesday, Aug. 22. This League of Women Voters event features CivCity's Mary Morgan and a discussion on civic engagement – plus beer! It starts at 7:30 p.m. at HOMES Brewery, 2321 Jackson Ave.
Suggested listening: The City Council Chronicles podcast. Each week, host Michael Karlik, who's based in Denver, watches and reviews city council meetings across the country. And it's hilarious.
WEEK OF AUGUST 14, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Check out a results map from the Aug. 8 election. Click here to get a cool visual representation of turnout, votes cast and other data from elections in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and other parts of Washtenaw County.
3. Take a selfie at city hall! Tuesday, Aug. 15 is National City Hall Selfie Day! (Yeah, it's a thing.) Ann Arbor's city hall is photogenic(ish), located at 301 E. Huron. While you're there, check out the building's green roof!
Suggested reading: This article in Governing magazine: "How Driverless Cars Could Be a Big Problem for Cities." (Susan Pollay of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority was interviewed for the piece.)
WEEK OF AUGUST 7, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
2. Weigh in on the future of the Inglis House. A study committee appointed by the Ann Arbor City Council has released a draft report and is seeking public comment on whether to create an historic district for that site. Read the report here.
3. Check out a recent study about declining civic engagement in Michigan. A new survey of local government leaders in Michigan – conducted by the University of Michigan's Center for Local, State & Urban Policy (CLOSUP) – finds that fewer residents are well-informed and engaged in civic life. (Don't get discouraged – we're working to change that!) Read the report here.
Suggested reading: An NBC News report: "Model City: Denver Cleaned Up Its Voter Rolls and Boosted Turnout, Too"
WEEK OF JULY 31, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Finish (start?) prepping for the Aug. 8 election. Saturday, Aug. 5 is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot by mail. Find more info on CivCity's AnnArborVotes.org and the League of Women Voters' Vote411.org. BONUS: Explore AnnArborVotes.org to earn the Vote Ann Arbor badge in the Ann Arbor District Library's Summer Game! Click here for details – and be sure to vote!
2. Understand your tax bill. July 31 is the last day to pay your local tax bill without penalty. Now's a good time to make sure you know what services your tax dollars are supporting. Here's an online tool that can help.
3. Weigh in about Ann Arbor's bike-friendliness. The city of Ann Arbor is applying for the League of American Bicyclists "Bicycle Friendly Community Award." City staff are holding a public forum on Thursday, Aug. 3 to get ideas to support the application. (Or if you think Ann Arbor isn't bike friendly, you should communicate that – and offer solutions, too.)
WEEK OF JULY 24, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Get your absentee ballot for the Aug. 8, 2017 election. (If you qualify, of course.) Click here to request an absentee ballot application. You have two more weeks to prep for your vote. It's a light ballot, and we give you resources at AnnArborVotes.org so there's no excuse not to vote. Seriously!
2. Learn about gerrymandering. Larry Kestenbaum, Washtenaw County's clerk and register of deeds, is giving a talk on Wednesday, July 26 about the history, consequences and potential future of drawing legislative districts to favor a particular political party. Click here for details.
3. Ride the bus! If you have an Ann Arbor library card, every Saturday this summer you can ride the bus for free. How cool is that? You can thank two taxpayer-funded entities for this freebie – the Ann Arbor District Library and The Ride. Click here for more info.
WEEK OF JULY 17, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Take the Washtenaw County Housing & Neighborhood Survey. Help assess our community's housing needs, as part of the county's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing project. Click here to take the survey. The deadline to participate is Aug. 4, 2017.
2. It's Art Fairs Week – a perfect time to learn a bit about Ann Arbor's public art. Learn about works funded by the city of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan by looking at their collections online!
3. Weigh in on the Hudson Mills Metropark master plan. If you own property in Washtenaw County, you pay taxes to support the 13 Huron-Clinton Metroparks. One of those – the Hudson Mills Metropark – is going through a planning process. Specifically, they're looking for feedback on whether to close the Hudson Mills Golf Course. Click here to learn more, or attend a public forum on Wednesday, July 19.
Suggested reading: This column by CivCity founder Mary Morgan:"Paying More for Humane Society Services: Washtenaw County OKs New Contract for Animal Control"
WEEK OF JULY 10, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Watch the League of Women Voters City Council candidate forums. The forums for Wards 1 & 3 took place on July 10, and are now available online. Click here for Ward 1 and here for Ward 3. Forums for Wards 4 & 5 are on Thursday, July 13. Watch Community Television Network (CTN) Channel 19 or online here, starting at 7 p.m.
2. Take a survey to help develop a long-range transportation plan for Southeast Michigan. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) is surveying residents about traffic safety, pavement conditions, travel preferences and other transportation issues. Click here to take the survey in English. It's also available in Spanish and Arabic.
3. Volunteer for a Washtenaw County advisory group. There are openings on the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Commission and Local Emergency Planning Committee. Click here to learn more. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, July 26.
Suggested reading: This column by Phil Power, founder and chairman of The Center for Michigan: "Gerrymandered political districts poison democracy."
WEEK OF JULY 3, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Weigh in directly on city council agenda items via eComment. Starting July 3, this new online Legistar feature lets you submit feedback on the city council agenda's action items. It's activated on the Friday prior to the council's Monday meetings.
3. Head downtown to watch the Ann Arbor July 4th parade! It starts at 10 a.m. and runs along State, Liberty, Main and William streets. Click here for details. CivCity will be there handing out pocket Constitutions and high-fiving democracy! Look for us at the corner of Main & Liberty.
Suggested reading: A column by Eitan D. Hersh, an associate professor of political science at Tufts University: "The Problem with Participatory Democracy Is the Participants."
WEEK OF JUNE 26, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Suggest questions for the League of Women Voters' candidate forums. What do you want to ask city council candidates? Email your queries by July 7 to email@example.com. The League's forums take place on July 10 and 13.
2. Prep for your firework fun! (Or brace for whatever your neighbors might do.) Click here to learn the regulations and have a safe holiday weekend.
3. Idle no more. The city's anti-idling law takes effect on Saturday, July 1. Click here to learn the new rules so you won't get fined.
4. Earn CivCity badges in the AADL's Summer Game! Get the Body Electorate badge by giving commentary at an upcoming public meeting.
WEEK OF JUNE 19, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Check out AnnArborVotes.org! We've updated CivCity's voter info site to help you prep for the Aug. 8 election. And if you're not yet registered, do it now before the July 10 deadline.
2. Be an Orange Cone expert. Bookmark these pages on the city's website and county road commission for info on road closings and detours. FYI: South Main is now closed to southbound traffic between Pauline and Scio Church. Also closing today is the intersection of Nixon, Green and Dhu Varren roads for construction of a new roundabout. Summertime!
3. Sit in a fire truck and eat hot dogs. The Ann Arbor police and fire departments are hosting an open house on Saturday, June 24 from 11 a.m. til 2 p.m. Click here for more info.
4. Earn CivCity badges in the AADL's Summer Game! Get the Down for the Council badge by attending city council meetings.
Suggested reading: "Ann Arbor’s 'Jewel in the Crown' – AADL Board Moves to Reimagine the Downtown Library" by Mary Morgan, CivCity executive director
WEEK OF JUNE 12, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Give feedback on police-community relations. Consultants for the city of Ann Arbor are holding a community forum on Tuesday, June 13 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Bryant Community Center, 3 West Eden Court.
2. Check out the new epark Ann Arbor app. It lets you add more time for your spot remotely, be notified when your parking time is expiring, and get email receipts. The app is free. Click here for more info.
Suggested reading: A New York Times Q&A with Eric Liu about his latest book, "You’re More Powerful Than You Think: A Citizen’s Guide to Making Change Happen."
Suggested viewing: NPR's Going There program "Civics 101 - What Does It Mean To Be A Good Citizen?"
WEEK OF JUNE 5, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Take a survey about Ann Arbor's water & sewer services. Click here to give feedback and let city staff know your priorities – and whether you'd be willing to pay higher rates. The deadline to respond is Friday, June 30.
2. Can you name the Ann Arbor City Council members and the wards that they represent? Take CivCity's quiz and find out!
3. Listen to NPR's 1A podcast on gerrymandering, then take the Gerrymandering Quiz. Can you tell the difference between a Congressional district and a Rorschach inkblot? Click here to listen and learn.
Suggested reading, from the Detroit Free Press: "Lt. Gov. Brian Calley jumps on part-time Legislature bandwagon."
WEEK OF MAY 22, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Test your knowledge about the library trustees! We're using Quizlet to design quizzes and games about local government. Click here to see if you can identify the seven elected library trustees and facts about each of them.
2. Learn where Michigan ranks among states with extreme partisan redistricting – it's not great, according to a new report by New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice.
3. Catch the Memorial Day Parade in Ann Arbor's Glacier Highlands neighborhood. The parade starts at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 29 and is followed by a memorial service, games and food!
Suggested reading, from MLive: "Ann Arbor students make convincing case for raising chickens at school."
WEEK OF MAY 15, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Get up to speed on city road closures. Check out the WAZE app and website that gives real-time traffic information. And sign up to get email alerts from the city of Ann Arbor about upcoming road closings related to construction and special events.
2. Attend (or watch online) a Washtenaw County board meeting. On Wednesday, May 17, our county commissioners will take a final vote on a new policy to support immigrants to this community, among other items. Let them know what you think by speaking at public commentary or contacting them directly before the meeting.
3. Get updated on countywide issues at a Community Town Hall on Tuesday, May 16. It starts at 5:30 at the county's Learning Resource Center, 4135 Washtenaw Ave. Click here for details.
4. Test your knowledge about county commissioners! We're using Quizlet to design quizzes and games about local government. Click here to see if you can identify the nine elected Washtenaw County commissioners.
5. Sign up to attend a state legislative forum on Monday, May 22. The event features state legislators who'll discuss affordable housing, transit, economic development, human services, racial equity and other issues affecting our community. Click here to RSVP.
Suggested reading: From the Houston Chronicle: "Teen's election to Pearland school board turns heads."
WEEK OF MAY 8, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Volunteer at a city park! As Memorial Day approaches, there are several chances to help spruce up parks & rec facilities on Saturday, May 13. Check the city of Ann Arbor's calendar for details.
2. Get an update about Ann Arbor's options to regulate medical marijuana. City council discussed it at their May 8 working session tonight. Click here to read the city attorney's report to council.
3. Read about the latest effort to legalize marijuana through a statewide ballot proposal in 2018. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has filed petition language and is expected to start collecting signatures soon. Ann Arbor resident and former state legislator Jeff Irwin is the group's political director.
WEEK OF MAY 1, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. VOTE on Tuesday, May 2! Polls are open from 7 a.m. til 8 p.m. Check out CivCity's AnnArborVotes.org for information about what's on the ballot.
2. Get an update on the 1,4-dioxane plume directly from state officials. A quarterly meeting between MDEQ staff and the local Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane (CARD) is on Tuesday, May 2 from 1-3 p.m. at 705 N. Zeeb. The meeting is open to the public.
3. Take a tour of the Ann Arbor water treatment plant. (Seriously, it's pretty cool.) The city is hosting a public open house on Saturday, May 6 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The plant is located at 919 Sunset Road.
4. Weigh in on proposals to develop the county's Platt Road property. Washtenaw County commissioners will discuss options at their work session on Thursday, May 4. Click here to see the proposals. And check out a staff summary and recommendations here. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at 220 N. Main in Ann Arbor, and includes one opportunity for public commentary.
WEEK OF APRIL 24, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Give feedback about police-community relations. The city of Ann Arbor is holding a community forum on Wednesday, April 26 – 6-8:30 p.m. at the downtown library, 343 S. Fifth Ave. It's one of several ways they're gathering input from residents, as part of a broader review recommended by the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission.
2. Attend a forum on redistricting reform. The Monday, April 24 event starts at 6 p.m. at the downtown library, 343 S. Fifth Ave., and is hosted by State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (District 53). It features speakers from both sides of the political aisle.
3. Learn about the health and well-being of kids in Washtenaw County. New data from the 2017 Kids Count shows how we compare to other parts of Michigan.
4. Explore USAFacts.org, a new website that allows you to search for information from multiple federal, state and local databases.
Suggested reading: "What Happens When Women Legislate," a column by Brittany Bronson published in the New York Times.
WEEK OF APRIL 17, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
2. Weigh in on state legislation that would allow no-reason absentee voting. Michigan is in a minority of states that don't offer this voting option. Click here to find your State Senator. Click here to find your State Representative.
Suggested viewing: "Thank You, Scott!" – a Saturday Night Live sketch featuring comedian Louis C.K. that pokes a little fun at armchair social media "activism."
Suggested reading: "Despite Activism, Will We Be Lonely At The Polls on May 2?" A column by CivCity founder & executive director Mary Morgan.
WEEK OF APRIL 10, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend an Ann Arbor Public Schools community meeting to learn about the May 2 ballot proposal. The first one is Thursday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at Scarlett Middle School, 3300 Lorraine St.
2. Volunteer at the Saturday, April 15 Trash-a-Thon at Veterans Memorial Park. The event runs from 10-11:30 a.m. and the team that picks up the most trash will win fabulous prizes!
3. Play an online game to learn about how county government works. The game is part of curriculum developed by iCivics and the National Association of Counties, aimed at middle school and high school students.
4. Check out No Labels, a national nonpartisan group with local connections. Ann Arbor resident Griff McDonald is leading efforts in this area. If you're interested in getting involved, reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. No Labels also has a University of Michigan student chapter.
Suggested reading: This Bridge Magazine article: "A conservative and two liberals swapped news feeds. It didn’t end well."
WEEK OF APRIL 3, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Adopt a city park. There are 159 parks in Ann Arbor, and some need a little extra TLC.
4. Take the U.S. Civics Practice Test. It's designed for people studying to become citizens, but is a great way to test anyone's knowledge of our federal government and history.
Suggested viewing: An interview with State Senator Rebekah Warren (District 18). She was interviewed by Jim Blow as part of his Conversations series on Community Television Network (CTN).
WEEK OF MARCH 27, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
2. Sign up for the free Washtenaw Citizens Police Academy. The deadline to register is April 28.
3. Learn about the ballot initiative by the Michigan Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The group hopes to put a statewide proposal on the November 2018 ballot.
Suggested reading: This March 17 article in The Atlantic: "The University of Michigan’s Plan to Increase Diversity."
WEEK OF MARCH 20, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend a March 22 public forum on the proposed commuter rail known as WALLY. If the project moves forward, it would create a commuter train route between Howell and Ann Arbor.
2. Take a brief survey on pedestrian and bicycle safety issues in the Southeast Michigan region.
3. Learn how the city does tax assessments. This week is the chance for property owners to appeal their assessments, if they disagree with the outcome.
4. Find out about refugee resettlement in our community by attending a public forum on Thursday, March 23 sponsored by Jewish Family Services.
Suggested viewing: A Ward Talk interview with Ann Arbor mayor Christopher Taylor.
WEEK OF MARCH 13, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend (or watch) the Ann Arbor city council's special work session on Thursday, March 16 focused on a proposal to develop the downtown Library Lot. It starts at 7 p.m. in city hall's 2nd floor council chambers.
3. Get to know the University of Michigan Regents. Four of them have homes in the Ann Arbor area: Mark Bernstein, Andrea Fischer Newman, Ron Weiser and Kathy White. The board holds its monthly meeting on Thursday, March 16.
4. Take the "Do You Live in a Bubble?" quiz!
WEEK OF MARCH 6, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Weigh in on long-term transportation plans for Washtenaw County. Give feedback online or in person at a public forum on Thursday, March 9.
2. Sign up to get email alerts about actions in state legislative committees, to stay better informed about what's going on in Lansing.
3. Mark your calendar to attend an upcoming neighborhood watch forum with the Ann Arbor Police Department. The first one is on Thursday, March 16.
4. Suggested reading: Bridge Magazine's "Death to Government Mumbo Jumbo."
WEEK OF FEB. 27, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Sign up to get the Washtenaw Housing Alliance newsletter and attend the public debriefing on Tues., Feb. 28, 2017 to hear about the latest Point-In-Time Count, assessing the extent of homelessness in our community.
2. Get to know your Washtenaw County commissioners. They're holding a retreat on Thursday, March 2, 2017. And take a minute to learn about services that Michigan counties provide on the MI County Matters website.
3. Volunteer for the annual Frog & Toad Survey, administered by the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources.
4. Learn the latest push for a statewide ballot proposal in 2018 to create an independent redistricting commission. The effort is spearheaded by Count MI Vote, which will be holding town hall meetings starting in March 2017 and organizing volunteers to collect the required signatures.
5. Suggested reading: Report by Joel Appel-Kraut in the Ann Arbor Community High School publication, The Communicator: "Detained, but not Deported: A Family’s Final Chance to Remain Undivided."
WEEK OF FEB. 20, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Attend the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission's special meeting on Saturday, Feb. 25. Learn what that group does, and about public art in this city.
2. Meet with one of your elected representatives. Coffee hours are coming up in Ann Arbor for State Reps. Yousef Rabhi (10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Roos Roast, 1155 Rosewood) and Adam Zemke (10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Literati Coffee, 204 S. Fourth Ave.) as well as Ann Arbor city councilmember Chuck Warpehoski (9:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 27 at Avalon Cafe, 120 E. Liberty). Mark your calendar.
3. Ask your friends, family & co-workers: Are they registered to vote in the May 2, 2017 special election? Find out more at AnnArborVotes.org.
4. Friday, Feb. 24 is the last day to register for the free Ann Arbor Citizens Police, Fire & Courts Academy. It meets weekly from March 7 through May 9. Click here for more info.
5. Suggested reading: NPR's report with this provocative headline: "Did Betsy DeVos Make You Want To Run For School Board?"
WEEK OF FEB. 13, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Start prepping for the local May 2 election. So, er, what exactly is a sinking fund?
2. Take a look at who's serving on the Ann Arbor District Library board. One of them might be your neighbor! Their next meeting is on Monday, Feb. 20.
4. Play the Redistricting Game, created by the University of Southern California's Game Innovation Lab.
WEEK OF FEB. 6, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Learn about the tax that will be on the May 2, 2017 ballot to raise funds for Ann Arbor Public Schools. And click here to make sure you're registered to vote! The deadline to register is Monday, April 3.
2. Read through the Feb. 6 Ann Arbor City Council agenda then watch at least part of the meeting – maybe at a downtown viewing party!
3. Consider applying for one of the city's advisory boards. There are vacancies on the Recreation Advisory Commission, Cable Communications Commission, and Leslie Science & Nature Center Board, among others. Click here for more information, or fill out this form to apply.
4. Play one of the online games at iCivics, a nonprofit founded by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
5. Suggested reading #1: "Citizens can lead effort to fix district map" – column about Michigan redistricting efforts by Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor for the Detroit Free Press.
6. Suggested reading #2: "Central Student Government continues to seek Ann Arbor election reform" – a Michigan Daily article about UM student government efforts to push for nonpartisan elections in Ann Arbor.
WEEK OF JAN. 30, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Learn which House committees and subcommittees Ann Arbor's state representatives – Yousef Rabhi (District 53), Donna Lasinski (District 52) and Adam Zemke (District 55) – are serving on, and what leadership positions they hold.
2. Get updated on the Ann Arbor deer cull and find out which local parks are closed from Jan. 30 through Feb. 13, 2017.
3. Sign up to get news alerts from the city of Ann Arbor on a variety of topics, including road closures, parks & rec events, construction updates, legal notices & more.
4. Track how U.S. Senators – including Michigan Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters – are voting on each of President Donald Trump's Cabinet nominations at CabinetVotes.org.
5. Read the U.S. Constitution! It's not that long, and is a reminder of the fundamentals on which our democracy is based.
WEEK OF JAN. 23, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. 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. Or check out a separate nonpartisan effort called Count MI Vote that recently launched – they're on Twitter at @CountMIVote.
2. Find out who represents you on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. On the nine-member elected board, three districts – 7, 8 & 9 – cover most of Ann Arbor.
3. Play the Ann Arbor Wards Challenge! This online game is so fun you won't even realize you're learning the structure of city government. Bwahahaha!
WEEK OF JAN. 16, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Sign up for the free Ann Arbor Citizens Police, Fire & Courts Academy. It meets weekly from March 7 through May 9. NOTE: The deadline to apply is Feb. 24, 2017.
2. Give feedback on proposals to develop the Platt Road site that's now owned by Washtenaw County. Click here to look at the proposals, then contact your county commissioner to weigh in before they vote – possibly as soon as February 2017.
3. Be a Citizen Pruner! Sign up with the city by January 17, 2017 for training on Saturday, Jan. 19. (If you've missed the deadline, get info on the next training date by contacting Tina Stephens at email@example.com or 734-794-6627 or Kerry Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-794-6430 x 43703.)
4. Attend a session of the Michigan High School Ethics Bowl, on Jan. 28-29, 2017 at the University of Michigan's Palmer Commons starting at 1 p.m. Watch local high school students discuss ethical conundrums, including some that focus on civic issues.
WEEK OF JAN. 9, 2017 (Click here for full newsletter)
1. Help out with the annual Washtenaw Homeless Count, happening on Thursday, Jan. 26. UPDATE: Due to overwhelming response, the Washtenaw Housing Alliance – which administers this count – no longer needs volunteers. A debriefing will take place on Feb. 28, 2017 from 9-11 a.m. at Washtenaw Community College's Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 Huron River Drive.
2. Learn about available health care via the Washtenaw Health Plan, a nonprofit partnership between Washtenaw County and the University of Michigan and St. Joseph Mercy health systems, along with other local healthcare providers. Their staff is working to make sure residents have health insurance by the Jan. 31, 2017 Marketplace sign-up deadline. (Help is available year-round for Medicaid and for special enrollments.)