State of the Arts: Cultural Collaboration and Opportunity in Tough Times

The June general membership meeting of Can Do! will explore the current economic, social, political and cultural conditions that form the field upon which Charlotte’s civic organizations attempt to create a vibrant, culturally active community. Can Do! vice chairman Curtis Scott will discuss modes of collaboration and support necessary to attract individuals and families to use our facilities and consider relocation. As resources dwindle, the arts in all forms face, in some cases, insurmountable odds. Detroit, for instance, is pressed to sell off the most valuable art in the DIA – perhaps the most precious cultural asset in the state – to cover the debts of the city. Similarly, public school arts programs in neighboring school districts and our own are falling victim to budget axes to save diminishing school resources. The feeder programs for future musicians, artists and actors are in peril nearly everywhere.

The arts are in distress for lack of funding throughout most of Michigan and the United States, yet Charlotte has the infrastructure, organization and perhaps unique opportunity to create a cultural haven for individuals and families drawn to places that still support the arts. It will, however, require expansive collaboration between local and regional individuals, organizations and businesses to make this happen. With Charlotte Performing Arts Center, Alive, Windwalker, the Senior Center, the Courthouse and a potential outdoor venue as anchors, Charlotte has the assets to become a cultural island for the entire region.

At June’s Can Do! meeting, Mr. Scott will discuss untapped opportunities for collaboration and the benefits of being perhaps the last community standing when it comes to adequately supporting local arts programs. He will paint a vision of people throughout the region perceiving Charlotte as their destination place to be entertained, informed and enlightened, as well as how and why we need to prime the pump, so to speak, and the steps we as an organization and as a community need to take to make it happen.

The June general membership meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 26 at 7:00 p.m. in the Spartan Room of the Charlotte Community Library. Coffee and a light breakfast will be provided free of charge. The public is welcome to attend.

Lou Glazer To Address Can Do! Membership About Michigan’s Future

Many of us can recall a time when a young man could drop out of high school his junior year then get a job in the shop, any one of dozens of GM, Ford or Chrysler plants around the state.  Soon that young man would be driving up to his old high school showing off his new Camaro.  That era began collapsing in 1980. Michigan has been struggling ever since.

Agriculture aside, Michigan has been attempting what amounts to CPR on its manufacturing-based economy for 33 years.  All the while sons and daughters leave for jobs elsewhere; wages remain stagnant or have fallen, and unemployment remains high.  For many in Michigan, pondering the future is still a source of anxiety.

At Charlotte Area Network for Development and Opportunity, CanDo!, we think a lot about the future—our future as a town, our social, cultural, and economic condition as well as the health of the region.  We stoke creativity, relish new ideas, like Alive, and appreciate foundational investments in our future, like the Charlotte Performing Arts Center.  We are in the business of Charlotte’s and Michigan’s future.

Our guest for March is also in the business of Michigan’s future.

Lou Glazer
Michigan Future President Lou Glazer

He is Lou Glazer, president and co-founder of Michigan Future Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization intent on being “a catalyst for prosperity.”  Mr. Glazer is going to tell us, among other things, that we should stop trying to resuscitate the 1975 manufacturing economy.  Instead, he argues, we should shift to a knowledge-based economy, and bring our educational processes into sync with our social and economic needs.

At this moment when there is still so much anxiety about the future of this great state, perhaps the best thing to do is listen to someone with a good idea and an action plan to implement it.  Join us on March 27 at 7am in the Charlotte Public Library for Mr. Glazer’s expert analysis, great discussion and, because it is so early, hot coffee from Faye’s.

Can Do! Announces February General Membership Program

Can Do is very pleased to have Nancy Nyquist of the Michigan Department of Agriculture visit our next general meeting on February 27th.  She will be presenting a program entitled “Michigan Food and Agriculture Industry: Part of Reinventing Michigan”.  Topics of the presentation will include: industry goals, future opportunities for growth, MDARD’s rural development strategy, Regional Food Systems and the MI Place Initiative.

Nancy has worked for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) since March, 2006.  Nancy currently is the Market Development Specialist in the Office of Agriculture Development.  Her primary responsibilities include management of USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and MDARD’s Value Added/Regional Food System Grant Program. Additionally, she works on a number of rural and economic development issues on behalf of the department.  She has served in several additional capacities with the department including positions in both the Executive Office and the Food and Dairy Division.  While in the Executive Office, Nancy served as MDARD’s Legislative Liaison acting as the department’s primary point of contact with members of the Legislature. Prior to accepting the Legislative Liaison position, she had responsibilities in the Food and Dairy Division responsible for updating the Michigan Food Law and Grade A and Manufacturing Milk rewrites.

Prior to joining the Department, Nancy worked for the Michigan Legislature.  She served in a variety of capacities with the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate.  Nancy holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree from Northwood University.

Please join us on the 27th at 7:00 AM at the Charlotte Community Library for what promises to a very informative meeting and contribute to work being done making Charlotte an even  greater place to live and work.

Bill Ballenger Speaks to Can Do!

The man the Detroit News called “Michigan’s undisputed Crown Prince of Pundits” provided those in attendance at Can Do!’s October General Membership meeting a comprehensive overview of the offices and issues that will be found on the November 6 ballot.

Bill Ballenger has a long history of government service that makes him an unrivaled source of general information and trivia about the Michigan political scene. In the 1970s, he represented the Charlotte area in the State Senate.

Mr. Ballenger stated that Michigan’s ballot is the longest in the country due to the combination of state offices, local offices and proposals that must be decided. Michigan is unique among the states in electing all the members of the governing boards of three state universities and the state board of education. New to this year’s November ballot are the school board seats to be filled.

Mr. Ballenger’s informative and entertaining overview of the current political scene insured that attendees left better able to make the important decisions facing them at the polls.