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 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.
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.)