Is walkability important to you?

February 26, 2015

How walkable is the area that you live in? Is walkability important to you in your choice of a new home? How do you find out how walkable a location is? I can’t answer the middle question, but I can help you find the answer to the first and last questions. There is a great site called walkscore.com that rates neighborhoods all across the country. If you go there you can put in an address – either where you live now or where you are thinking about moving to – and find out its Walkscore.

walking manThe Walkscore web site gives grades on a scale of 1 to 100 for the walkability of the area surrounding the address that you provide. The site looks at a lot of different factors, but it all boils down to evaluating what you can walk to within a reasonable distance. Things that the site looks for are stores, restaurants, libraries or other cultural venues within walking distance and what that walk might involve. The Walkscore will be higher is there are sidewalks and a good layout, such as the grid structure that is found in most large cities vs. the lack of sidewalks and  winding streets with lots of cul de sacs that are found in  most modern subdivisions. You can go to the Walkscore site for a more complete explanation of the factors that they evaluate to come up with a Walkscore for any given area.

In the past (through the 1950’s at east) most cities and towns were laid out in grid patterns and had sidewalks. The advent of the suburban subdivision in the 1950’s changed all of that.  Many of the early subs still had sidewalks, but those eventually went away, too. People moved further out and became much more dependent upon getting into their cars and riving to get to anything. Subdivisions quickly evolved from any sibilance of a grid structure into free flowing curves and cul de sacs. The term “bedroom communities” was coined to refer to these developments where the only thing that one could do there was sleep; anything else meant getting into the car.

There are still great walkable cities like New York, Boston or Chicago available; wherecity street with people living quarters are interspersed with businesses, stores and amenities and where one can still walk to a great many things. Newer cities tended to be built mainly for business and seem to empty out at night, leaving little to walk to for those who might live there. It’s actually kind of eerie at night or on weekend in many of those cities – like being in a ghost town.

So, why is all of this of any importance? I suppose one could start by pointing out the obvious health benefits of getting out and walking to things; but there is also an environmental benefit – you’re not driving and creating pollution or using up fuel. There is also usually a social a side benefit. When you are out walking you will likely encounter others in the neighborhood doing the same and, because you are walking, it is easier to stop and say “hi” to them and maybe even have a conversation. Try that while driving your car.

You may be much more likely to make use of local libraries, museums or other cultural amenities if it’s a short walk, rather than a drive, to get to them. Walkable areas usually also have lots of neat little restaurants and locally owned shops. You may find that you don’t have to jump in the car and drive to the mall to get what you need. A side benefit is mostly psychological –  you don’t feel trapped in walkable areas, because you know that, even if you’re without a car, you can just walk to most things if you want to.

Skippy and Sadie for calendarI moved from one of those “bedroom communities” in the suburbs that had a Walkscore of 15 into Milford, Michigan, a small village where I’m just 2 blocks from downtown; and I see a Walkscore of 62 when I check it. I can literally walk to most that I need, with a few exceptions where I would have to get in the car and go to a mall or superstore. It’s great and we love it. Plugging in downtown addresses in neighborhoods in Boston, New York or Chicago might turn up Walkscores that are
Front of Palatemuch higher than that. Try it and see what the Walkscore is for your current home’s location.

So, if you’re in the market for a new home, how important is the walkability of an area to you? If you have 3-4 areas that you are considering for a new home location, plug them in to the Walkscore.com site and see what their Walkscores come out to be. You don’t necessarily have to move back into an urban setting to get into a walkable, but it is more likely that small towns offer more walkable environments than most suburban subdivisions. If you happen to be looking in Southeastern Michigan, call me and I’ll help you find a great walkable area to live in.

 


Final push day for voting…

January 23, 2015

I promise that this will be the last post about voting for the Huron Valley Historyvote graphic Initiative grant. You can go to the Clarke Library web site and Tweet from there or just Tweet or re-Tweet something from my earlier posts or from your own account.The Tweets need to have the hashtag #DigMilford in them to count as a vote. We are doing OK onthe Tweet voting, but Alpena has been right on our heals all along, so keep voting.

You can also vote by sending in a Michigan-themed postcard to – Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859. Remember that each postcard counts as 100 votes, so they are really helpful. Postcards need to sent so that they arrive before Jan. 30; so, they probably need to be mailed by Wednesday the 28th. The postcards also need to have the hashtag #DigMilford on them somewhere, to identify the grants finalist that you are voting for. The cards can pictures of anything to do with Michigan or just a map of the state. Some children have made homemade maps buy drawing mitten shapes around their left hands with crayons and labeling it “Michigan.”

You Tweets and cards will help us win a grant from Clark Library to digitize the back issues of the Milford Times that we currently have on microfilm, the earliest gong back to 1871. We plan to index and make the resulting database available on-line for research. Help us make that happen through your support. Thanks.

Tweet, re-Tweet and Tweet again; then, have a great weekend!

 


Day two of voting – keep on Tweeting

January 20, 2015

It is day two of the week-long voting for the finalists in the running for a grant from the Clark History Library of Central Michigan University.  Clarke Library has established a site where people can go to vote – Clarke Library Voting Site. The site has all five grant finalist shown, so remember to vote for the Milford project – hashtag #DigMilford. You can also just Tweet using that hashtag (#DigMilford) within your Tweet or re-Tweet a Tweet that contains the hashtag #DigMilford.

Your Tweets, using the hashtag #DigMilford, can help the Huron Valley History Initiative win a grant from the Clarke History Library at Central Michigan University. That grant will allow the groups that have united behind an effort to share the history of the Huron Valley. A key part of that effort is a project to digitize the back issue of The Milford Times that currently exist only on microfilm.

The Milford Times is a local, weekly newspaper that began publishing in 1871. The Milford Times has chronicled important events ever since in the Huron Valley area, which is made up of the Townships of Milford, Highland, Commerce and White Lake and the Village of Milford. Every issue that has been published since the beginning in 1871 is available on microfilm and the Milford Historical Museum and the Milford Library. The proposed project will digitize the entire microfilm library, index it and make it available on-line at all of the participating libraries and historical societies of the four Townships.

A key to making this digitization project  happen is a grant from the Clarke History Library, which is associated with Central Michigan University. Each year Clarke solicits grant applications for worthy projects concerning history. The Clarke staff narrows things down to five finalists and those five projects compete for the grant by proving that they support for their project from the local communities and elsewhere. That vote graphicproof comes on the form of post cards and Tweets. I want to focus upon the Tweets here, because I believe that there is great power in the Tweet, once unleashed. So, keep on Tweeting!

And if you can’t or just don’t Tweet or want to go to the Clarke Library web site to vote, remember that you can send a Michigan-themed postcard (a postcard with a picture of something or someplace  in Michigan or a map of Michigan on it)  to Clark Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859 and those postcards will each count as 100 votes.  The post card should have the hashtag #DigMilford written on it somewhere to be counted.

 


The polls are open – Tweet, re-Tweet and Tweet again…

January 19, 2015

We have all witnessed the power of a 144-character Tweet to change the course of vote graphichistory in recent events in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe. Now a Tweet has the power, not to change, but, to preserve history. Your Tweets, using the hashtag #DigMilford, can help the Huron Valley History Initiative win a grant from the Clarke History Library at Central Michigan University. That grant will allow the groups that have united behind this project to begin a project to digitize the back issue of The Milford Times that currently exist only on microfilm.

The Milford Times is a local, weekly newspaper that began publishing in 1871. The Milford Times has chronicled important events ever since in the Huron Valley area, which is made up of the Townships of Milford, Highland, Commerce and White Lake and the Village of Milford. Every issue that has been published since the beginning in 1871 is available on microfilm and the Milford Historical Museum and the Milford Library. That’s great, but the microfilm technology is very long in the tooth and does not allow sharing of the information, unless one is sitting in front of the microfilm reader. microfilm readerThe proposed project will digitize the entire microfilm library, index it and make it available on-line at all of the participating libraries and historical societies of the four Townships. Eventually it will be widely available on-line, along with other materials houses in each of the museums runs by the four Township historical societies.

A key to making this happen is a grant from the Clarke History Library, which is associated with Central Michigan University. Each year Clarke solicits grant applications for worthy projects concerning history. The Clarke staff narrows things down to five finalists and those five projects compete for the grant by proving that they support for their project from the local communities and elsewhere. That proof comes on the form of post cards and Tweets. I want to focus upon the Tweets here, because I believe that there is great power in the Tweet, once unleashed.

The voting will take place from Jan 19 until Jan 25. Clarke Library has established a site where people can go to vote – Clarke Library Voting Site. The site has all five grant finalist shown, so remember to vote for the Milford project – hashtag #DigMilford. You can also just Tweet using that hashtag (#DigMilford) within your Tweet or re-Tweet a Tweet that contains the hashtag #DigMilford. Did I mention that our hashtag is #DigMilford? I’ll be sending out a Tweet on Monday, Jan 19 with that hashtag in it, so that you can re-Tweet it, if you’d like.

Is this as important as a revolution playing out in Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring or the loyalist forces who are using Tweets to communicate about Russian troop movements in the Ukraine? Of course not; but it can demonstrate again the power of the Internet and of Twitter to influence history. We will be able to track the number of Tweet votes that come in for each of the finalists. Using the simple power of my Twitter followers list and then asking them to pass this on to their followers’ lists, I believe that we can get 10,000 or more Tweets during that week for our project. Together, let’s demonstrate the power of the Tweet. You can Tweet as many times as you wish during the voting period, just remember to use the hashtag #DigMilford. Let’s rock the world this week! I Dig Milford, do you?

postcardAnd if you can’t or just don’t Tweet or want to go to the Clarke Library web site to vote, remember that you can send a Michigan-themed postcard (a postcard with a picture of something or someplace  in Michigan or a map of Michigan on it)  to Clark Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859 and those postcards will each count as 100 votes.  The post card should have the hashtag #DigMilford written on it somewhere to be counted.


Unfinished business…the MLK Day March down Main Street

January 18, 2015

Even though Monday is the official Martin Luther King, Jr, holiday, the organizers of the recognition event in the Huron Valley area have chosen today for the annual MLK March down Main Street. The marchers will begin gathering at the MLK image over DOwntown MIlfordProspect Hill Shopping Center at 516 Highland Ave., Milford, MI 48357. (where Kroger is located) beginning at 12:15. The march is scheduled to step off at 1 PM. The march will begin with a brief speech and National Anthem. 2015’s March on Main Street is from Prospect Hill to the Susan Haskew Art Center (SHAC) on S. Main Street (instead of to Central Park as in the past).

The Huron Valley Dr. Martin Luther King Day Committee is an all-volunteer group made up of adults and students in Huron Valley schools. The committee has added several ancillary events, such as a writing contest and an art contest to allow local students and residents to express what this day and the work that Dr. King did mean to them. The committee also has a web site – www.hvmlkday.org , which offers the following:

Reasons to March – Adapted from Raleigh, Carolina’s 26th consecutive year Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.

  • You should march on the King Holiday if you understand and appreciate the sacrifice and contributions of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • You should march if you too have a vision and desire that one day the King Dream will become fulfilled.
  • You should march if you have benefited by the economic, educational and social remedy which resulted from King’s life.
  • You should march if you have a sense of obligation to help others understand, by your presence, that the King Holiday is important to the Triangle, North Carolina and America (Ed. – Add here that it is important to the Huron Valley area, too).
  • You should march if you acknowledge that the King Memorial March is not a protest march, but rather, an assembly of citizens, from across racial & denominational lines, in a confirmation of solidarity with others who recognize the challenges still facing society.
  • You should march if you wish to set a positive example for young people, of all creeds and races, by participating in a civic event which helps reinforce your values of economic justice, peace and respect for all cultures.
  • You should especially march if you’ve never marched before.
  • You should march if you know…..deep down inside…. that you could/should do more to help inspire and provide a sense of aspiration for our youth.
  • You too should march on the King Holiday if you and your family, civic or church group come to grips with the realization that it is not “uncool” to show support publicly for a message which is still shaping the moral fabric and future of our nation.
  • You should march on the King Holiday because it is an appropriate and honorable response to today’s realities and opportunities.

I would add to the list that you should march because this represents unfinished business about diversity that we still need to work on. I’ll see you there!


Get ready to vote…

January 17, 2015

The polls open at 8 AM Monday morning, Jan 19, for voting on the grants that the Huron Valley History Initiative is vying for against four other communities. Voting continues until 5 PM on Jan 25th. As they like to say in Chicago politics “vote early and vote often”, only in this case it is perfectly OK to vote and many times as you wish.

There will be multiple ways to vote. One way is by clicking on the graphic below, which will take you to the Clarke History Library web site and the voting station that they have set up.

vote graphic

The second way to vote on-line is to post a Tweet or to Re-Tween a post that has the hashtag #DigMilford in it. That’s our unique hashtag for this competition. I’ll be posting a tweet Monday morning with a link to another blog post about this contest and with the hashtag embedded; so, you could just Re-Tweet that post.

postcardThe third way to vote is to send a postcard in to the Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, MI  48859. Postcards don’t necessarily have to come from within Michigan, but they do need to have a Michigan theme or picture on them and they should also have the hashtag #DigMilford written on them somewhere.  If you can’t find a Michigan-themed postcard, get a blank one and draw a left handed mitten on it and label it “Michigan”. That should work. Postcards count as 100 votes, so we’d love to get lots of them sent to Clarke Library.

As I’ve mentioned here before, the Huron Valley History Initiative is made up of about 8-9 museums, libraries and historical societies and groups. The goal is this group is to digitize and make available on–line the various collections of historic memorabilia that the historical societies and museums have collected. The project that will kick this off is the conversion of the microfilm libraries that the Milford Historical Museum and the Milford Library have of back issues of the Milford Times weekly newspaper. Those back issues go back to the beginning of the paper in 1871. The Clarke Library grant that we are vying for will facilitate that conversion from microfilm into a digital format and allow the indexing of the issues to create a searchable database.

Look for my kick-off post on Monday, but get ready to vote next week. Dig through your old boxes of pictures and stuff to see if you have an old postcard off something from Michigan that you could send; otherwise stand by to Tweet. Have a great weekend.


Voting for Huron Valley history…

January 13, 2015

I’ve mentioned this here before and your will see it again before next Monday. I’m the President of the Board of the Milford Historical Society (MHS). We run a small museum in Milford that is open 8 months of the year. The Milford Historical Museum, like many small town museums across America focuses upon local history, in our case the history of the area surrounding Milford – The Huron Valley area. The museum houses memorabilia of various sorts that have been contributed by local residents. It also houses a unique collection of microfilmed copies of the local weekly paper – The Milford Times – going back to its beginning in 1871. The Milford Times like many small town weekly papers, is a great source for historical material on the life and times of Milford and the surrounding area. The ads alone would make a great graduate degree study in the changing tastes of mid-America.

microfilm readerWhen this archive was conceived and created back in the 1970’s the most logical medium to use was microfilm, which is what it is recorded upon to this day. Microfilm has a very long life, but the technology has been supplanted by newer, faster and certainly more useful technologies. The microfilm library that we have is not indexed (other than by start and stop dates on the film reels) and cannot be searched. It is a tedious process to find a specific issue and an impossible task to find all mentions of a specific subject. We hope to change that and make the files searchable, while at the same time moving to a newer technology that will last long into the future.

Our Museum and the Milford Historical Society has joined forces with the Milford Library, the Highland Township Library, the White Lake Township Library, the Commerce Township Library and Historical Societies from Highland, White Lake (and Fisk Farm), and Commerce Township (and Byers Farm) in a project that has been named the Huron Valley History Initiative. This group has joined together to facilitate the project to convert the copies of the Milford times that exist on microfilm in the Milford Historical Museum and at the Milford Library into a searchable database that will be house on a server that will be accessible to the group members. The resulting database will be indexed and searchable. The groups have also committed to the digitization and addition of other of their records and memorabilia, such as old photos, cemetery records, tax records and such. Once done the resulting database will allow a very rich search environment for historians and genealogy researchers.

The tasks that must be completed to realize the vision of having all of this history on line are formidable, but they start with getting the current microfilm library scanned in and converted to digital format. To that end, the group has applied for a grant from the Clarke Library, which is associated with Central Michigan University. Clarke accepts annual grant requests for history-oriented projects from around the state of Michigan and then chooses one request to fund. The choice involves letting the communities that will be impacted by the grant work vote on the importance to the community of the proposed work. The Huron Valley History Initiative is one of the five finalists for this year’s Clarke Library grant. The voting is done within a one week window, from Jan 19 until Jan 25.

vote graphicBeginning Jan 19, members of the community (or anyone for that matter)  may “vote” for the project of their choice by using Twitter to post a Tweet with a unique hashtag (in our case the hashtag is #DigMilford) or they may send in a post card with some Michigan theme or content (a picture of something in Michigan) addressed to Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Clemens, MI  48859. The postcard should contain the hashtag DigMilford on it to identify it as a vote for our project. You can click here to view the poster that we’ve created and which will be in store window in Milford and in the libraries mentioned. The Huron Valley History Initiative has also created a Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/huronvalleyhistory ,which you can visit for more information. The Clarke Library also has a web page that will allow you to vote, just remember that our hashtag is #DigMilford.

I encourage all of my readers to Tweet or re-Tweet during the voting window using the hashtag #DigMilford. Admittedly, this is a “cause” that doesn’t pull at the heartstrings like most of the health and welfare causes that we are all bombarded with all of the time. The needs in those areas are great all around the world and I encourage you to do what you can for them and give what you can. In this case, we aren’t asking you for any money, just a few moments to Tweet or re-Tweet something with the hashtag #DigMilford to support our project. Of course, if you do happen to have a Michigan-themed postcard and want to send it in to vote for us, that would be great. Postcards count as 100 votes, so that counts as a lot of Tweeting. Send your cards to – Clarke Library, Central Michigan University, Mount Clemens, MI  48859. For my international followers, perhaps a postcard from your country to the library with something historic in your area would be counted – just make sure to put the hashtag #DigMilford on it.

I’ll post a reminder on Monday, Jan 19 when the polls open. Thanks for your support.


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