Economic, Social, and Resource Development in Kalamazoo County
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During the summer of 1998 from June 18th through September 3rd I was employed part-time as an intern with the Forum for Kalamazoo County and the River Partners Program. While at the Forum I worked on a variety of projects. However, the majority of my work was on the Kalamazoo River Valley .I railway, a proposed non-motorized trailway linking the Kal-Haven Trail with Battle Creek's Linear Parkway. My duties as "Trail way Coordinator" were broad and dealt with handling of mail, creation of documents, information transfers, attending meetings, taking minutes, organizing, some trail clearing, and participating in discussions with trailway groups and then reporting back to my boss Patricia Adams. In addition to my involvement with the KR VT I also participated in other programs that the "Forum" was involved in such as their annual community Fun Fest, Citywide non-motorized transportation meetings, local government meetings, and the Kindleberger Summer Festival. During this time, I was fortunate in several areas. Foremost, I learned a great deal about the economic and social benefits of sound, sustainable, urban and community development. Specifically through materials I have read and meetings I have attended I learned a great deal about the economic benefits of Green ways and conservation/recreation projects. For example, the American Rails-to-Trails conservancy is an excellent example of how economic, environmental, and social benefits can be incorporated with each other through sound urban and rural development projects. I also became informed on much of the state and national laws, by-laws, and funding that has been developed to promote such projects. Likewise, I also acquired a better understanding of my own community of Kalamazoo and some of its satellite community's such as Parchment, Comstock, and Augusta. I was fortunate to be able to meet many people from these communities, with many different backgrounds. I met local government officials, people involved with conservation agencies, farmers, homemakers, consultants, business owners ... etc. These contacts and this sort of grass roots involvement was very important to me, and was something I have not experienced since I left high-school and the community I grew up in. These two complimentary areas were very key in helping me gain a better perspective on the direction I want to take in my future career.