The Traverse City Advocate Academy, hosted by TART Trails and Norte, is a community-driven program aimed at empowering grassroots leaders throughout Traverse City to be effective advocates for policies and infrastructure that encourage active transportation. The end result will be a coalition of supporters, composed of engaged citizens who can advance this mission.
The Academy is for Traverse City residents looking to build their skills, confidence, and effectiveness as advocates for change. Applications will be accepted until December 23 and may be submitted online.
The Academy will meet weekly beginning January 25 through March 15 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. at the BATA Hall Street Transfer Station Conference Room. Dinner will be provided and an optional happy hour will follow. The cost to participate is free but participants must meet the following criteria: must be a City of Traverse City resident; agree to attending a minimum of seven of the eight weekly sessions; applicants need not be overly qualified; please only one applicant per household; by the end of the academy, be prepared to lead an effort for positive change in your neighborhood or community.
Highlights of the eight-week curriculum include: developing a personal narrative; understanding policy and planning tools; choosing an issue and setting goals; developing a strategy; creating tactics; communicating through the media and other outlets; refining leadership skills; working as a team. The program will be conducted in an engaging, hands-on setting facilitated by representatives from Norte and TART. Recognizing that many of the skills necessary to be an effective advocate exist within members of our community, we will be hosting guest speakers each week to share their expertise. Participants will be able to learn from the speakers’ past experiences and connect with real efforts occurring throughout the community.
“We’re confident that this program will help to fill a need in our community,” says Chris Hinze, a Norte board member. “We regularly hear from our supporters who have a great idea to make their neighborhood more walkable or bikeable but aren’t sure where to start or who to talk to. One of the main goals of the academy is to empower citizens with the tools and the confidence to bring these ideas to fruition.”
Although presented within the context of safe walking and biking infrastructure, the overall goal of the advocacy academy is to teach people how to be community leaders. These skills are transferable to a wide spectrum of issues, and after the academy, participants will be equipped to address other needs and changes they identify in order to better the world around them.
Norte! is Traverse City’s bike-centric, youth-focused 501 (c)(3) advocacy organization. Our mission is to help build a stronger, better connected and more bike-friendly Traverse City by inspiring the young and young at heart through bicycles.
About TART Trails
TART Trails, Inc. is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization formed in 1998. TART works to enrich the Traverse region by providing a network of trails, bikeways and pedestrian ways; and encouraging their use.
—Press release provided by Norte! and TART Trails