Why I'm going to Ann Arbor

As many of you know, I have had harsh words for the inter-city visits organized by the Community Leadership Council (an arm of the Chamber of Commerce).  I still believe what I said on July 11th:

I'd be willing to go under certain circumstances, but I would not pay my own money for a junket that promotes someone else's agenda. (Plus I couldn't afford it, even I wanted to pay.) If I did go, it would mostly be as a blogger so that I could get better informed and tell others what actually goes on, what is learned, etc.

It seems like one of the main benefits of these trips is better relations between the participants, who are already the connected power brokers in town from the university, government, business, and nonprofit worlds. They could certainly save money and include more people by having a conference or retreat here in NC and bringing in experts from other places.

Many, many important criticisms and worthy defenses were posted on Jason's blog entry last month, so I won't re-hash them. Some of the organizers strongly encouraged me to go, and I thought long and hard and about whether I would even want to participate in this event if it was logistically possible. Would I feel ethical being a part of something that I have criticized and will continue to scrutinize?  I think it's possible to engage and critique at the same time, but it's a thin tight rope to walk.

I also felt that, given that I can't stop this trip and redirect the extravagant budget - at least not this year, the community would benefit from some reporting on the event that lets them know where all that time and money is going.  I have no doubt that there will be some valuable experiences to be had on the trip, but you can expect me to be just as vocally critical as I am of everything else (it's the only way I know how to be). I hope that my presence will help some of the more hesitant community leaders see that blogging can even be good for the community and their own institutions.

Here's what I wrote on my scholarship application about why my participation would be valuable:

My primary goal would be to observe and blog about the goings on, including observations of Ann Arbor, and existing and emerging connections between the participants. I think the readers of OrangePolitics will be very interested to share in the trip's learnings and it will also be a platform for sharing information with the wider community since the media will not be providing extensive coverage of the trip and it's findings. I hope the participants will also utilize OrangePolitics (or any other blogging platform) to publicly share their own reflections and engage in a dialog so that more of the community can benefit from the trip.

I fully expect some of you to think I've sold out by agreeing to go on this trip. You might be right, but I hope you'll watch my blogging about it and then let me know whether or not it was worthwhile.  For those of you that will be glad to have my loud mouth and quick keyboard on the trip, I need your help.  The Chamber of Commerce has approved my scholarship application, but they only cover %65 of the cost, leaving me owing $430 for the trip.

I already have to take two days of vacation (which I'm lucky to have) and since my spouse is starting a business right now, it's not a very comfortable time for us financially. I'm hoping that some of you readers will see the benefit of OP covering the trip and be willing to help pitch in to cover the cost. If you don't think I should go, then please don't feel obliged to support my travel costs. This is an opportunity to vote with your dollars. I don't expect to raise the entire $430, but every bit helps.

P.S. I haven't seen or spoken to Tom Jensen in about a year, but if he still lives in Chapel Hill, I hope he will participate on this trip since he is from Ann Arbor and will probably be able to add unique insights from a perspective of knowing both communities.



I look forward to getting your reports & comments on this latest incarnation of the CoC-centric junket.
There have been three donations so far, but the thermometer hasn't caught up yet. Should I post donors' names or keep them private?

Ruby, I wouldn't describe your words (July 11) as harsh -- not by a mile.  I'm glad you got the scholarship, even though it's not the whole cost.  Good luck collecting the balance and saving enough pennies for walking-around expenses.  Maybe consider passing the hat at the next informal OP happy hour.

This was obviously a tough decision.  You won't regret it.  - c.   

I was up in Ann Arbor earlier this summer and I described it as "Chapel Hill on steroids". Even in the waning days of summer, the main drag was populated with people out for a stroll/beverage/dinner (and there were restaurants open til midnight or later! shocker!)  Of course it's larger than Chapel Hill/Carrboro is, and seems to have some more room to breathe/develop than CH does. Either way, have a great trip - and check out the Vault of Midnight comic book shop too.
I lived in Ann Arbor for a year -- great town. It is very similar to Chapel Hill, but definitely larger and has a little better vibe to it. If Chapel Hill is looking for an analogous town from which to cull ideas, they picked a good one.

This just FYI, here's the latest list of folks going on the trip. As you'd expect it's heavy on the Chamber members, with a healthy dose of UNC and local government folks, and a few nonprofits and community activists.

Adam Abram President & CEO James River Group, Inc.
Rick Allen Vice-President Inter-Faith Council for Social Service
Anita Badrock Vice-President Smithern & Associates
Delores Bailey Executive Director EmPOWERment, Inc.
Dwight Bassett Economic Development Officer Town of Chapel Hill
Bruce Ballentine President Ballentine Associates, PA
Mary Beck Senior Vice President Univesity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Health Care
Brad Broadwell Director Orange County Economic Development Commission
D.R. Bryan President Bryan Properties, Inc.
Joe Buckner Chief Judge Office of the Chief District Judge
Bill Bunch President William H Bunch, CPA, PA
Mayor Mark Chilton Mayor Town of Carrboro
Bill Christian President William Christian & Associates
Eric Chupp Director of Development CapKov Ventures
Mike Collins Co-Chair
Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth
Greg Connor
Hedrick Murray
Linda Convissor Director, Local Relations
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mark Crowell Associate Vice Chancellor for Economic Development & Technology Transfer
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Matt Czajkowski Council Member Chapel Hill Town Council
Frances Dancy
Town of Hillsborough
Robert Dowling
Executive Director
Orange Community Housing and Land Trust
Andrew Dunn University Editor Daily Tar Heel
Jim Earnhardt Vice President Bryan Properties, Inc.
Pat Evans
Friends of Downtown
Jack Evans Executive Director of Carolina North
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Monica C Evans
Student and Community Member
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Young Fenton Owner/Manager Fenton Enterprises
Helen Figueroa
Coldwell Banker HPW
Tara Fikes Housing/Commuity Development Director Orange County Government
Joanne Fiore
American Institute for Certified Public Accountants
Mariana Fiorentino
Terra Nova Global Properties
Kevin Fitz Gerald
Executive Associate Dean for Finance and Administration
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine Administration
John E Florian
Senior Vice President
Ram Development
Kevin Foy
Town of Chapel Hill
Joe Glasson
Board Member
Chatham County Economic Development Corporation
Desiree Goldman
RE/MAX Winning Edge
Brian Goldstein
Executive Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs & Chief of Staff
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Damien Graham
Government Affairs Manager
Triangle Transit
Rob Greenberg Science Teacher Chapel Hill High School
Glen Greenstreet
Greenstreet Builders, Inc
Josh Gurlitz President
GGA Architects
Ed Harrison
Council Member
Town of Chapel Hill
Margaret Hauth
Planning Director
Town of Hillsborough
Jim Heavner
Pam Hemminger
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board
Garland Hershey Professor of Orthodontics UNC - Chapel Hill
Loren Hintz
Orange-Chatman Sierra Club
Jonathan Howes
Special Assistant to the Chancellor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Barry Jacobs Chair - Board of County Commissioners Orange County Government
Barbara Jessie-Black
Executive Director
PTA Thrift Stop, Inc
Jon Keener
Development Manager
Ram Realty Services and Development
Ken Kernodle
Business Relations Manager
Duke Energy
Laura Kiley
Kiley and Associates LLC
Scott Kovens Principal Kovens Construction
Peter Krawchyk
Assistant Director of Facilities Planning
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lucy Lewis
Associate Director, Campus Y
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cheryl Lin Board Member Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership
Brian Litchfield
Assistant Transit Director
Chapel Hill Transit
Dr. Elmira Mangum
Senior Associate Provost
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dorothy McLaughlin
Community Volunteer
City Resident and Taxpayer
Jonathan Mills
Kidzu Childrens Museum
Diana Minta
Owner/Marketing Manager
A Better Image Printing
Chris Moran
Executive Director
Inter-Faith Council for Social Service
Hugh Morrison
Vice Chair
Mark Nelson
Director of Sales & Marketing
The Carolina Inn
Neil Offen Editor Chapel Hill Herold
Laurie Paolicelli
Executive Director
Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau
Glenn Parks Chair, Member Greenways Commission, Community Design Commission
Chris Payne
Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Roger Perry
East West Partners (and UNC-CH Board of Trustees)
Kim Piracci
Kim Piracci Graduate Gemologist Jewelry Appraiser
Etta Pisano
Vice Dean for Adacemic Affairs
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Scott Radway
Radway Design Associates
Dianne Reid
Chatham County Economic Development Corporation
Carlo Robustelli
Mayoral Aide
Town of Chapel Hill
Lauren Sacks
Associate Executive Director
The ArtsCenter
Bob Saunders Partner Brooks Pierce Law Firm
Jim Schaafsma Senior Vice President of Planning and Development Grubb Properties
Ellen Shannon
Vice President
Chapel Hill Magazine
Cindy P Shea
Director, Sustainability Office
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Ruby Sinreich Founder/Editor/Blogger OrangePolitics
Drew Smith
Development Director
Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA
Roger Stancil
Town Manager
Town of Chapel Hill
Diana Steele
Willow Hill Preschool
Rick Steinbacher
Associate Director of the Department of Athletics
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mayor Tom Stevens
Town of Hillsborough
Bill Strom
Council Member
Town of Chapel Hill
Lisa Stuckey
Vice Chair
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board
Holden Thorp
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tim Toben
Managing Partner
Greenbridge Developments, LLC
Will Tricomi
Associate University Counsel
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Tony Waldrop
Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jim Ward
Mayor Pro Tem
Town of Chapel Hill
Zach Ward
DSI Comedy Theater
Jon Wilner Executive Director The ArtsCenter
Tom Wiltberger
Real Estate Broker Terra Nova Global Properties
Jim Woodall District Attorney Orange County
Mark Zimmerman Broker/Owner
RE/MAX Winning Edge

I'm trying to convince the mister to sign up.  This list is quite persuasive.  Many thanks for posting it.  - c. 
To buy favors for the elected representatives.  Nice.  No conflict there.


It's already benefiting the area and us OP readers that you are going!

Keep em' real.

I'll be in Ann Arbor liveblogging for The Daily Tar Heel. Check out my posts at www.dthannarbor.wordpress.com.

 Andrew Dunn

Get a "grant" to go?

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