A tough decision made easy
Guest post: Considering a move
~ Guest Post by Stuart Campbell. Stuart is originally from Whitehall, MI. A graduate of University of Michigan, he lives with his wife Molly and daughter Jane in Baltimore.
When my wife and I recently began considering a critical return to Michigan with our 8 month old daughter, an uprooting of our 5 year-old sapling of a residence in Baltimore, Traverse City immediately jumped out. A simple search of non-profits, events and recent developments in Traverse City made us very eager to begin another job search for a new homestead just a short drive from other family members in West Michigan.
What to look for in a community
Important to us is a sense of community. I am now working for an environmental non-profit in Baltimore, and the sheer number of similar groups in TC was a bit of a surprise and a wonderful sign. Foremost among the serendipitous findings was the area’s own local currency, the Bay Buck.
Baltimore’s own local currency, the BNote, is starting to find traction among the city’s small businesses and new collaborations continue to come out of its use. That Traverse City has the Bay Buck suggests similar community goals.
The directory also led me to this blog, where we with much excitement I learned about the Little Libraries sprouting up around the City. With support from the public library, these are the perfect example of community anchors, neat features in a neighborhood that can keep children interested in reading while acting as an exciting conversation starter.
The Little Libraries, TART Trails, the Village at Grand Traverse Commons and other shared places are what make the prospect of moving a pleasure rather than a cross-country hassle. We love knowing we could choose on a given summer day to join a famous festival or walk a quiet, tree-lined sidewalk with our daughter just a few blocks away.
Introduction to: The bay is half your pay
I doubt there will many surprised to say that I have not found a job in Traverse City despite the multitude of generous responses from groups such as ISLAND, SEEDS, the Grand Traverse Conservation District, Edible Grand Traverse, and, of course, My WHaT. In my desperation, I wrote emails to staff inquiring about jobs. I was initially surprised by the numerous and pleasant replies I received, given that none of the people to whom I wrote knew me at all. Not only that, but many went out of their way to be helpful, pointing me toward other groups, individuals and upcoming projects to research and contact. I have realized that the candid and caring responses were not flukes but part of a community willing to accept new members. These are folks who share the ideals of sustainability and want to foster a cooperative spirit within their city.
Two of the topics I’ve been fortunate to discuss with these local groups continue to very important to me and I would love to help implement them in the northern Michigan.
One is to create a shared common space for events, teachings and exchange of goods. While physical locations like this exist, such as libraries and parks, the mental and emotional network can be expanded to include Free Schools or a roaming Free Store. These are opportunities to enrich others with your knowledge or simply help each other while reducing the waste stream. These could help foster the community in which we seek to raise our children and which we could potentially turn to in hard times (or merely hard winters!).
The other idea is to further engage residents while also serving an ecological purpose by planting native edible plants. This may seem esoteric to some, but can simply entail landscaping areas with native berries. Myriad benefits arise from this when one considers the impact on wildlife and dependent pollinators, storm water reduction with their deeper roots, and community enhancement through shared experience and local food.
How often have you biked, run or fished near a stranger and given the requisite head nod, or even commented “Weather looks good today, huh?” Imagine rows of blueberry bushes along Boardman Lake. In your morning walk, you stop to see what’s ripe and are greeted by a stranger with her own empty container who yells “Big bunches over here!”.
While plants like Wild Allspice, Highbush Cranberry and others cannot replace one’s current diet, what they can do is connect us and our youth to the outdoors while connecting each other, further growing the already flourishing community that is Traverse City.
My wife and I, and our daughter, haven’t given up on being part of it.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Got a job lead for Stuart? Email him at email@example.com