Stories indexed with the term ‘communication’

AADL Highlights UM Partnerships

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (Feb. 18, 2013): Communications was a common theme throughout this month’s AADL board meeting.

Barbara Murphy, Ann Arbor District Library, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Barbara Murphy, a trustee of the Ann Arbor District Library, reviews a brochure for AADL’s upcoming “America’s Music” series. The materials were shared at the board’s Feb. 18, 2013 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

The meeting’s main presentation focused on AADL’s partnerships with the University of Michigan, primarily with the Proyecto Avance: Latino Mentoring Association (PALMA), a UM student group. The program, which meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in AADL’s downtown building, includes 100 participants of all ages who work with about 75 tutors to improve their English language communication skills.

Terry Soave, AADL’s manager of outreach and neighborhood services, encouraged board members to drop by the library when the tutoring is in session, saying, “it’s a pretty spectacular thing to see.”

The Feb. 18 meeting also included a report from the board’s new communications committee, chaired by Nancy Kaplan, which recommended adding a second opportunity for public commentary at the end of each monthly meeting. There was no formal vote on this recommendation, but board members indicated agreement. In fact, a second slot for public commentary had already been included on the agenda when it was posted the previous week.

Speaking at the first opportunity for public commentary on Monday, Kathy Griswold – an organizer of the Protect Our Libraries group – urged the board to allow its committee meetings to be open to the public. She noted that committee meetings are open for most other local governing entities – including the Ann Arbor city council, Ann Arbor Public Schools board, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board, and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board. There was no subsequent discussion of this suggestion among board members during the meeting. [Full Story]

DDA Updated: Parking, Panhandling, Parcels

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Oct. 5, 2011): At its regular monthly meeting, the DDA board had no voting items on its agenda, but received the usual set of reports from its committees and the public.

Bob Guenzel chair of DDA board

Bob Guenzel chaired his first meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board on Wednesday. (Photos by the writer.)

Those included the monthly parking report, which showed use of the city’s public parking trending upward compared to last year, as well as an annual report on the structure-by-structure breakdown of the parking system.

The reports presented to the DDA board at their meeting – together with a recent report delivered to the city’s environmental commission about parking trends dating back to the mid-2000s – provide reason for some cautious optimism. The number of people getting access to downtown Ann Arbor by driving there and parking suggests an overall slight upward trend, despite a reduced number of number of hourly patrons earlier this year.

Also related to parking, the board received a presentation on a communications plan that the DDA is developing, targeted at downtown evening employees. That communications plan is meant to make sure those employees are aware of low cost alternatives to using on-street parking spaces. The communications strategy would be part of a possible plan to extend enforcement hours for on-street parking meetings past 6 p.m. The DDA will present its tentative proposal for revisions to parking policies to the city council at a joint working session of the board and the council to be held on Nov. 14.

In response to some of the individual success stories that were presented in connection with parking alternatives, DDA board member Russ Collins said, “I wonder how this positive message will play in the media.”

Collins’ remark could have applied to much of the rest of the meeting as well. The board took the report on the basic current financial health of the parking system as an occasion to talk about the overall economic strength of the downtown. Despite the recent closing of some smaller stores, board members gave reports of strong performances by other businesses.

That positive report contrasted with public commentary about ongoing problems with aggressive panhandling and drug dealing and other fringe behavior exhibited downtown. Mayor John Hieftje, who sits on the DDA board, described how some response is being developed by the Ann Arbor police department.

The construction updates on the Fifth and Division streetscape improvement project and the underground parking garage on Fifth Avenue converged on the Ann Arbor District Library. The projects will result in modifying the downtown library building’s front porch, to facilitate access from the new east-west mid-block street – Library Lane – into the library.

As the underground parking garage nears expected completion in the spring of 2012, brief discussion unfolded among DDA board members on the near-term use of the top of that garage. Also related to potential development in the “midtown area” was a report from the partnerships committee. A steering committee comprising DDA board members and community members will be leading the effort to explore alternative uses of specific city-owned parcels downtown, including the top of the underground parking structure (aka the Library Lot).

It was the first board meeting chaired by Bob Guenzel, who was elected to that position at the DDA’s last meeting, which he was unable to attend. [Full Story]

Column: This Empty Nester Loves Skype

Sometime between counting the days before she left for her freshman year of college and predicting she’d not return til Thanksgiving, my daughter apparently decided she just might miss me a little bit. Or maybe she feared my reaction to the empty nest after 28 years of full-time motherhood.

Jo Mathis using Skype, a video chat application.

Jo Mathis using Skype, a video chat application.

In any case, Tori installed a webcam and Skype on my computer so that we can have regular video chats.

This wouldn’t have occurred to me. Though Skype has been around for seven years, my experience with it was mostly spotty audio conference calls that were more irritating than anything.

“Trust me,” Tori said as she clipped the webcam to my monitor. “You’ll love this.” [Full Story]