Building a movement: Michigan Land Bank Leadership Summit

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Dan Kildee, George McCarthy, and Tamar Shapiro at the Michigan Land Bank Leadership Institute“You’re going to be the vanguard for what will become a movement across the nation.”

That was the call to action George McCarthy issued during a keynote address to the nearly 100 attendees at the Michigan Land Bank Leadership Summit (MLBLS), who represented over 30 counties throughout the State of Michigan, primarily as land bank staff and board members.

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee joined McCarthy, director of Metropolitan Opportunity at the Ford Foundation, and soon-to-be president of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, for the Summit’s keynote. The two shared personal stories of leadership and exhorted the summit attendees to be not only leaders in their communities’ blight fighting efforts, but also to act as an innovative model for the whole country to follow as an example.

Over the course of two days in Traverse City, Michigan, MLBLS attendees discussed the myriad challenges in their communities, ranging from creative green reuse projects, to data-driven decision making, to crisis communications. The land bank leaders also deliberated real-world scenarios. For example, given descriptions of seven different properties ranging from $30,000 to $90,000, and told they only had $100,000 to spend, participants defended and discussed hypothetical spending plans.

DSC_0047The land bank leaders not only learned from MLBLS faculty, but also from each other. While the land banks varied in capacity and resources — the number of full-time staff ranged from 0 to 45 — common interests and challenges created ground for productive exchanges. The event was designed to help Michigan land bank leaders build connections that will enable them to effect change in Lansing, Washington, and beyond.

View the MLBLS photo album on Facebook.

We would like to acknowledge our Platinum Sponsors, the Local Initiative Support Support Coalition of Michigan and the Michigan Housing and Development Authority, our Gold Sponsor, the Michigan Association of Land Banks, and the continued support of the Ford Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.