It’s time to grab a shovel and join Norte’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors Campaign, as The Great Northern Michigan Shovel Experiment kicks off year four in Traverse City, Elk Rapids and Northport.

As the snow begins to accumulate in the new year, Norte reminds everyone of our shared responsibility to clear public walkways and help maintain access for all. The non-profit offers support through the fourth year of The Great Northern Michigan Shovel Experiment. The program is one part encouragement and one part facilitator, connecting neighbors who are willing and able to adopt places and people in need of assistance.

“By taking care of the sidewalks and the paths in front of our homes, we make the community accessible for others,” said Abby Havill, Program Coordinator. “These others include our neighbors walking to the store, children playing, health care workers walking to another shift, and delivery champions working overtime.”

Northern Michigan residents are encouraged to visit Norte’s website to take the pledge to keep their sidewalk clear all winter. At the same time, they can also pledge to adopt a spot away from their home, like a crosswalk, bus stop, or neighbor’s walkway.

“All of our communities in Northern Michigan need help clearing curb cuts and crosswalks. These places often become blocked by mounds of snow once the plow passes. These orphaned snow-berms make the intersection difficult for many and practically impassable for people using a wheelchair,” explained Havill. “We also encourage people to help our community partner, BATA (Bay Area Transportation Authority), keep bus stops clear.”

On the website, residents can also request help if they are having trouble keeping up with the snowfall. Norte will attempt to connect them with someone in their neighborhood who can help. “Neighbors helping neighbors is what it is all about,” added Havill. “If you need a shovel, we also have some of those thanks to our Business Champion Northern Building Supply. If you promise to put it to good use, swing by and grab a new shovel.”

The Great Northern Michigan Shovel Experiment is region-wide, with current pledged support in Traverse City, Elk Rapids, and Northport. Anyone interested in kickstarting a snow clearing effort in their community is encouraged to contact Norte as soon as the next snowfall.

Volunteers can take the pledge, and neighbors can request help online at or by contacting Abby Havill at or 231.883.2404.