Communal Threads: Weaving a Smart Growth Coalition in Rural, Resort Town Michigan
Wolff, Elizabeth Jean
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The fieldwork for this thesis was conducted during my three-month internship with the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) at their Traverse City office, where I learned about environmental and land use policy. A strong focus of my internship was assisting grassroots citizen groups with Smart Growth issues that their communities face. I worked primarily on the creation of the Leelanau Smart Growth Coalition (LSGC). Through observations, conversations, meetings, and interviews I gathered data from Leelanau area residents and leaders, regarding the challenges that this coalition will bring and how they should be met. Complimenting my field-based research, my library research led me to many valuable reflections on Smart Growth and the land use challenges that urban, suburban, and rural communities encounter. In an attempt to grasp the challenges inherent in organizing an effective Smart Growth coalition, I explored literature on various models of leadership and coalition building, as well as recommendations for leadership and coalition building particular to Smart Growth. In this thesis, tying together the results of my fieldwork, with the theoretical framework of my literature review, I outline the fundamental challenges that I foresee this coalition will face and how an organization like Michigan Land Use Institute should build, lead, support, maintain, and evaluate their efforts in a coalition such as LSGC.