CCED-Working to Create a more Sustainable and Equitable Michigan
By Dr. Rex L. LaMore
The MSU Center for Community and Economic Development (CCED) has had a very productive summer in striving to accomplish MSU’s mission of advancing knowledge and transforming lives. Students, faculty, and community partners throughout Michigan worked diligently to find innovative solutions to many of the challenges we face in creating a more sustainable and equitable Michigan. From devising innovative tools to advance economic growth in distressed communities through our REI University Center to imagining a world where structural abandonment is curtailed through adopting a unique Domicological built environment paradigm, CCED and its many collaborating “Thinkers and Doers” pushed the boundaries of scholarship and practice on many fronts.
Community partners helped us learn more about specific actions, like negotiating community benefit agreements, connecting the last mile of rural Michigan to the internet through partnering with rural electric co-ops, and mobilizing community capital for investment in distressed areas. Students at CCED supported the further development of a vibrant social media infrastructure to help disseminate useful skills and knowledge throughout our networks statewide, nationally, and globally and generated cutting edge “white papers” on new frontiers of sustainability. Faculty from multiple disciplines guided research to find value in the high volume/low value structural materials from abandoned buildings, described the effects of the internet on main street, and facilitated social justice and healing events with neighbors experiencing trauma.
These and other examples of accomplishment this past year are largely due to CCED’s on-going commitment to a set of guiding principles that:
- Promotes active and representative citizen participation so that community members can meaningfully influence decisions that affect their situation.
- Engages community members in problem diagnosis so that those affected may adequately understand the causes of their situation.
- Helps community members understand the economic, social, political, environmental, and psychological impact associated with alternative solutions to the problem.
- Assists community members in designing and implementing a plan to solve agreed upon problems by emphasizing shared leadership and active citizen participation.
- Seeks alternatives to any effort that is likely to adversely affect the disadvantaged segments of a community.
- Actively works to increase leadership capacity, skills, confidence, and aspirations in the community development process.
These principles guide our work in creating a more sustainable and equitable Michigan across our project activities. As a member of our broader CCED network, we thank you for your ongoing support in this effort.