What does this look like in practice? Since 2009, the Michigan Municipal League has been a partner in the Michigan Green Communities (MGC) network. MGC is a statewide network of nonprofits, state and local governments, and university staff that collaborate through peer learning and information sharing, to promote innovative sustainability solutions at the local, regional, and state level. Over the last decade, MGC network communities have learned about and implemented hundreds of green projects and policy changes in areas such as land use, natural resources protection, energy, waste management, water quality, green building, and transportation. The annual MGC Challenge is a key part of the program and allows participants to track and benchmark their sustainability progress. It includes resources and action items that communities can take to improve their sustainability and allows them to track key sustainability metrics such as tons of materials recycled or reduction of electricity kilowatt hours over time. As of 2019, over 30 communities were certified as either bronze, silver, or gold level sustainable through the MGC challenge. MGC partners are in the process of updating the Challenge to provide more relevant resources and action items and we expect to re-launch the Challenge in early 2022. Until then, communities can register on the website ( and access resources and case studies that will help as you consider your recovery funding investment options. Whether that is implementing a tree canopy preservation program like Petoskey or an organics recycling program like Delhi Charter Township, there are numerous strategies Michigan municipalities have already adopted that provide examples and models for all our communities. Preparing for and adapting to changes in our climate and natural systems can seem daunting. But there are many straightforward solutions and strategies that communities can adopt that not only help mitigate risk but improve the lives of residents and help grow our local economies.

We have learned to be more adaptable and resilient during COVID—now we need to carry those lessons into our ongoing and future community development work! Shanna Draheim is the director of policy research labs for the League. You may contact her at 517.908.0307 or

“They’re always available to provide advice on most planning or zoning issues and their advice is based on 35 years of experience in numerous communities throughout Michigan.” R. Brent Savidant, planning director, City of Troy 63 Michigan communities have a 22-person planning department. You can, too.

Carlisle | Wortman A S S O C I AT E S, I N C.


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