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.

Glazer talks Michigan’s Future

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Lou Glazer speaks to Can Do! members at their monthly meeting on March 27. Mr. Glazer, from Michigan Future, Inc., spoke about the effects of globalization and technology on the Michigan economy. He talked about the need for greater educational attainment among Michigan residents, saying the new economy is based on the mind, not on muscles. He also spoke about the need for stronger, more cohesive metropolitan areas in the state that can attract knowledge workers. He said that on the personal and local level, we need to make sure our children are prepared for lifelong education; and that on the state level, Michigan citizens need to mobilize politically to ensure that college is a priority for our legislative leaders.

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.

Nancy Nyquist talks agriculture with Can Do! membership

Nancy Nyquist from the Michigan Department of Agriculture addressed the Can Do! organization at its February general membership meeting. Nyquist spoke about the diversity of Michigan agriculture and its importance to the statewide economy, as well as the department’s efforts to support placemaking initiatives in rural Michigan communities.

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Nyquist said that Michigan is the second-most diverse state when it comes to the variety of agricultural products produced. She said the Department of Agriculture hopes to harness this diversity by working toward greater export volume, more agricultural jobs, better access to healthy foods and the creation of more sustainable food and agriculture systems. She said the department is also working in support of other land-based industries, such as forestry and mining.

Nyquist also said the department was using similar tools for agriculture-related economic development to other departments – tools such as economic gardening strategies, incubators, and other programming that can be brought to bear in support of young or inexperienced entrepreneurs in rural communities.

She said the state hopes to champion regional-based approaches that will help improve local markets, local distribution networks and local processors.

Nyquist said that placemaking is especially important, because rural communities especially need help attracting and retaining young talent. She said each community needs to work toward becoming a place that people seek out and want to live in. She also said that agri-tourism benefits from placemaking strategies. For more information, she directed members to miplace.org.

Can Do! wins Chamber of Commerce President’s Award

Can Do! received the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce’s highest honor as recipient of the 2012 Chamber of Commerce President’s Award.

Can Do! Chair John Bailey accepted the award from Chamber President Bryan Myrkle at the Chamber’s Annual Dinner held in January.

1-IMG_1058Myrkle had this to say in making the presentation: 

“The Presidents Award is given annually to an outstanding business or organization that has had a sustained, positive impact on the community. The names of previous winners read like a who’s who of the Charlotte business community, and their combined efforts over the years have made Charlotte the great hometown that it is.”

     “In fact, the businesses and organizations that have earned this honor over the years have such stature in the community that it becomes difficult to continue finding honorees who can live up to the standards set by past winners. However, as I considered who should receive this special recognition in 2012, a worthy recipient ended-up being very close at hand.”

     “This organization, now in its 15th year, has carried the banner for Charlotte, spreading the word, both inside the community and outside to the wider region, about the great things happening here.”

     “While it has avoided credit-seeking over the years, and instead worked to promote the success of the community as a whole; its list of accomplishments is now too long to avoid getting the recognition it deserves.”

     “Perhaps its most visible accomplishment is the creation and ongoing broadcast of the well-known and popular ‘Celebrate Charlotte!’ community marketing effort. What started simply as a logo and a positive message to our own residents has grown to become an annual summer festival, and a long-running television advertising campaign and commercial jingle celebrating our community’s successes.”

     “Another long-standing hallmark of the organization is its popular monthly general membership meetings. These morning sessions often feature a special educational program or guest from outside Charlotte. However, they are also used to update the members on organizational projects, and are a great place for networking.”

     “Can DO! serves as a community clearing house of ideas, and an incubator for local initiatives. Its current projects include the creation of a master plan for non-motorized transportation, an ongoing series of classes and seminars for entrepreneurs, a leadership development program, and local artist networking and showcase through Experience Art. Can Do! is consistently focused on Charlotte’s quality of life, and how it can be improved.”

     “Many other communities have a local or county economic development agency whose services they subscribe to, but no other community I know of has developed and sustained a self-organizing, volunteer organization focused on community improvements they way that Can Do! is.”

     “As Can Do!, Charlotte Area Networking for Development and Opportunity, enters its 15th year, I am happy to recognize its efforts and success with this year’s Charlotte Chamber of Commerce President’s Award.”