As the coronavirus pandemic became increasingly serious in past weeks and shelter-in-place orders were issued, local governments had to scramble to figure out how to continue doing business for their residents. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-15 which suspended sections of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) requiring meetings be held in a physical place, thereby allowing governments to hold virtual meetings. Traverse Area Community Media at LIAA, under the guidance of Station Manager Matthew Kern, stepped up to provide assistance to participating governments. Working closely with Traverse City Clerk Benjamin Marentette, Kern developed a safe and secure way to manage a public meeting using the Zoom webinar tools, then trained board members how to fully participate in the meetings. All participants arrive with video and audio muted, avoiding some of the problems with virtual public meetings recently reported in the media. Designated meeting facilitators can enable board members to speak during discussion and voting while inviting public comment at appropriate times during the meeting. Meetings are recorded for later playback and cablecast live when possible on GovernmentTV Channel 191 in Northwest Michigan.
Traverse Area Community Media is developing guidelines for holding virtual meetings and invites inquiries from any interested governments or non-profit organizations. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In the latest episode of LIAA's 'Welcome To' podcast, Bob Gibbs discusses his career as a distinguished planner who continues to promote New Urbanist ideas. Gibbs talks about how retail and urban design have had to change in the age of the internet and what communities across the world are doing to remain competitive in an everchanging landscape. Listen to this episode and others from the Welcome To podcast here.
Through its work with the Coastal Zone Management Program, LIAA has created a Community Sustainability Self-Assessment Tool containing over 250 best practices for economic, social, coastal and environmental resilience. Communities can use the tool to guide their public engagement and planning processes and can use the guide in its creation of local goals, objectives and action programs. This self-assessment tool combines best practices from other community audit resources and considers best practices that fit within a Great Lakes regional context. Coastal communities, especially, will find the self-assessment tool a useful starting point in planning for the issues of today and tomorrow.