Stories indexed with the term ‘brand’

Column: Ann Arbor’s Brand of Participation

An Ann Arbor city council budget planning session is scheduled to take place on Monday, Dec. 9, starting sometime around 4 p.m.

CAnn Arbor Brand

Illustration by The Chronicle, based on bar chart in a preliminary draft report of a fall 2013 National Citizens Survey conducted among Ann Arbor residents.

Councilmembers have been asked to prepare for the session by thinking about Ann Arbor’s “brand.” Specifically, they’ve been asked to reflect on what “differentiates Ann Arbor from other communities in Michigan” and what “makes Ann Arbor a truly special community to live, work and play.”

Councilmembers will be asked to spend about five minutes each at the start of the session talking about how they see the Ann Arbor “brand.”

The facilitator for the session is Julia Novak of the Novak Consulting Group. In advance of last year’s session, she asked councilmembers to prepare by formulating thoughts that could be summarized as “What I Believe.

Last year’s homework assignment was, I think, easy compared to this year’s. And I do not envy councilmembers this chore. It sounds hard. I wouldn’t know where to begin. Anytime somebody starts talking about “brands” – especially a brand for a city – my first thought is: “Why, you sound like a charlatan standing there talking to me; why don’t you go off and make something useful, then come back and tell me all about that very useful thing you made instead of blathering on about brands.”

And so, because I am human, and every bit as lazy and ill-tempered as the rest of you, I will not get down to the business of completing the chore … before bitterly lamenting the nature of the chore itself (with all due respect to Julia Novak). I do hereby bitterly lament the branding chore. But I’ll take a shot.

That shot includes quoting a five-year-old interview.

But before delving into the dusty archives, I want to have a look at the preliminary results of a survey that was conducted recently among residents. I think it shows that our self-image as a community valuing public participation is not especially well-founded. So that’s not our brand. Not right now, anyway. [Full Story]

Greenbelt Group Briefed on Strategic Plan

Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission meeting (Sept. 6, 2012): Commissioners were briefed on two items at this month’s meeting – the greenbelt program’s strategic plan, and a design for the program’s logo.

Ann Arbor greenbelt logo

The proposed new Ann Arbor greenbelt logo.

It’s been three years since the strategic plan was last updated. In this latest version, no major changes are being made to the program’s existing priorities: protecting large blocks of farmland as well as natural areas in the Huron River watershed, and building partnerships to leverage other funding sources.

In addition to those, a new priority is being added: Educating Ann Arbor residents about the program’s efforts, and reaching out to landowners in the greenbelt to ensure that the flow of applications continues. [.pdf of revised strategic plan]

Commissioners gave additional feedback at their meeting, and the plan will be sent to funding partners for their input too. The greenbelt advisory commission is expected to vote on the final plan at its Oct. 4 meeting.

The group also weighed in on designs for a new logo to help brand Ann Arbor’s greenbelt program. The design is intended to show the connection to the city, as well as images representing both farmland and natural area preservation. There’s space for logos of partner entities, and text that indicates what kind of land is being preserved and whether the land is private or public. The intent is to use this image on signs at the properties that are protected by the greenbelt program, and on brochures and other materials.

In updates to the commission, Ginny Trocchio – who is the program’s support staff – highlighted plans to hold another bus tour of greenbelt properties on Saturday, Sept. 22. The trip will focus on the eastern portion of the greenbelt, and its connection to the Superior Greenway. She also noted plans to participate in the Sept. 8 HomeGrown Festival, an event showcasing local food.

In their main action item, commissioners voted to recommend that the city council partner with Washtenaw County and Webster Township, contributing 25.5% toward the purchase of a parcel identified as application number 2005-08. (The first four numbers signify the year in which the application was made.) Tom Bloomer abstained from the vote. He owns Bur Oaks Farm in Webster Township, and serves on the township’s farmland and open space board. He did not indicate his reason for abstaining.

Two days earlier, the city council had approved two purchase-of-development-rights (PDR) deals that GAC had previously recommended: the 90-acre Alexander farm in Webster Township, and a 136-acre property owned by Robert H. Schultz in Superior Township. Jane Lumm (Ward 2) voted against both deals, citing concern that no local partners contributed to the land preservation efforts. Both deals include federal grants to cover a significant portion of the costs. [Full Story]

E-Park Stations to Replace Parking Meters

Parking space markers

It's not the final design, but something like this will replace parking meters. Parkers will need to remember their space number so that they can enter it at the E-Park station where payment will be made.

On Wednesday morning, the Downtown Development Authority board operations committee got an update on the new parking payment kiosks which will soon begin replacing downtown Ann Arbor parking meters. The plan to install the devices, which will allow flexibility for payment and for rate-setting, has been reported in The Chronicle at least as long ago as last October.

The bases of the existing meters will remain in place, but they’ll be decapitated, with the coin receptacle to be replaced with a sign indicating a number for each parking space. The numbers are needed when parkers pay for their spaces.

On Wednesday, Joe Morehouse, deputy director of the DDA, said that the first of 25 units will be shipped on April 1 for deployment in the State Street and Liberty Street area. The 25 units represent an initial phase of assessment, with the idea that as many as 150-175 of these “smart meters” could eventually be installed. [Full Story]