Monday, December 20, 2010

Bitch please, we're from Michigan! And hey, whaddya know, we lead the nation in rail trails!

There’s a Facebook group called ”Bitch please, I’m from Michigan.” It has 72,000 members.

Unemployment in your state nearing double digits? Bitch please, I’m from Michigan! Potholes on your commute? Two inches of snow shutting your Washington D.C. roads? Please!  

We love that Facebook page. We’re tough. And we aren’t afraid to tell the rest of the world to kiss our backsides when we need to.

But, today, we put a moratorium on complaints and celebrate a huge Michigan success story. As the Grand Rapids Press’ Howard Meyerson reported here last week, Michigan now leads the nation in the number of miles of abandoned railroad converted to public trails! It almost makes you want to ask, “Bitch seriously. In Michigan?”

We have almost 2,500 miles of trails that are a huge draw for walkers, joggers, cyclists, families, skiers, dog walkers and outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. And it has all happened since 1991 when the Hart-Montague Trail became the first one in Michigan. The Michigan trails success is the product of a lot of hard work in local communities, forward-looking planning and financial backing from individuals, governments and foundations. And leadership from groups like the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

Perhaps the most telling passage in Meyerson’s column is the observation that the trails plans were initially regarded with skepticism, confusion, and hostility: “The early public hearings were loud with fear about muggings and vandalism, livestock harassment and other suspected problems. Few realized that the trails would raise property values, stimulate small business growth, add vitality to small communities and become regional tourist attractions.”

Twenty years from now, I wonder which of our new initiatives we will be saying similar things about: Passenger railroad service? Renewable energy systems? Limits on climate pollution? The designing of walkable downtowns aimed to please people rather than cars?

Each of those issues has detractors who say it will never work. Too expensive. Too disruptive. Too…..different. Surely not every new idea will work out. But we can not be afraid to try. And what do we have to lose? Our status as the nation’s most miserable state economy? I mean, bitch, please!

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. Way to make it impossible for the other states to claim they can't do it! Congratulations citizens of Michigan for reclaiming the beauty of your state. The natural gem of the nation as far as I'm concerned. And sassy, too, which is a helluva bonus.