A citizen organization with a vision and a plan for
sustainable, transit-oriented development in and beyond Washtenaw County, Michigan.
Our Online Resources
A Note from Larry Krieg, Principal - November 21, 2016
Has Wake Up Washtenaw has been dozing for the last couple of years? No updates to the main Web site? No updates to Facebook? No new materials?
True, the on-line presence has been neglected! Events of 2016 have made it clear that Wake Up Washtenaw needs to wake itself up online again. Share more. Talk more. Be more graphic.
What's been happening?
While things have been quiet online, a number of efforts have been going forward. They have involved working as a member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Area Board of Directors, the Ypsilanti Township Planning Commission, the Michigan Association of Railway Passengers Executive Committee, and the National Association of Railway Passengers Council. Several trips to Japan, learning about railway and transit operations there. Working behind the scenes and publicly to move the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan forward. Collaborating with Transport Action Canada to improve cross-boarder passenger rail connections. Listening to what people are saying about transportation, about our communities, about the past, and about the future.
Donald Trump will lead our nation in a very different direction - without winning the popular vote. The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan lost its bid for funding by less than 1%.
Our nation and our region are deeply divided. We need to listen to one another, respect one another's opinions, and try to understand one another. We need to work together to forge solutions for the very real problems our region and nation face.
Through this Web site (and perhaps others), through social media, and by listening and talking. By continuing to support private investment in sustainable transportation and land use.
Wake Up Washtenaw - myself and friends - will be working to improve transportation and land use in Washtenaw County, Southeast Michigan, throughout the Midwest, and North America.
Washtenaw County: improve service quality and routes of AAATA "TheRide"
Southeast Michigan: improve Washtenaw's transportation to Livingston, Wayne, and Oakland Counties - specifically with Wally (North-South commuter rail), A2D (commuter rail service Detroit to Ann Arbor and beyond), improved and innovative transportation service to peripheral areas of the RTA district, and improved public relations for the RTA.
Midwest: help promote Detroit-Holland rail service, Traverse City to Ann Arbor rail service, better bus connections to northern Michigan.
North America: seamless passenger rail service throughout the Milwaukee - Chicago - Detroit - Toronto - Ottawa - Montréal - Québec corridor, leading to true high speed rail service; learning and sharing about best practices in public transportation and passenger rail service around North America and the world.
Wake Up Washtenaw has been calling for better public transportation for nearly ten years now. During that time, some interesting new transportation modes have emerged: the rise of "ride-hailing" services (such as Uber and Lyft), bike-sharing, advances in autonomous vehicle technology. How will these change how people move around? Is the concept of public transportation in large vehicles becoming obsolete?
I believe we have a lot to learn about the "ecosystem" surrounding the new technologies: economic costs and impacts, traffic congestion effects, how land use would change under various scenarios. What attempts have been made to study and simulate changes to individual life-styles and communities? What software tools are available to simulate these changes? What are the possible utopian, dystopian, and realistic outcomes of the technological advances on the horizon?
All these questions must be explored in order for us to decide where to put our energy and our resources to bring about the best, realistic outcomes. That's what Wake Up Washtenaw will be working on for the foreseeable future.
"Wake Up Washtenaw" is a registered trademark in Michigan. It is not incorporated. A few years ago, I weighed the options and decided that incorporating as a non-profit would be more of a burden than a help. The balance may change in the future, but for now, incorporation is not "on the table".
At he present time, I am the only person working "for" Wake Up Washtenaw, but I have been very fortunate to have employed some very talented people in the last few years. I'd like to thank these associates who have helped Wake Up Washtenaw in so many ways: Carolyn Lusch, Joel Batterman, Martha Váladez, Adriana Jordan, and Marina Takeuchi. All have moved on to other endeavors, but I believe we each remain committed to the practical implementation of sustainable communities, each in his or her own way.
I have been fortunate to be able to self-fund Wake Up Washtenaw. That has avoided having to solicit funds and account for them officially, which would also make it necessary to incorporate for tax purposes. I will continue to operate in that manner, as long as Wake Up Washtenaw remains primarily focused on education and exploration. In the future, other options may recommend themselves or become necessary. In the meantime, I am very thankful to be able to avoid those complications.
We seek to bring together people and enterprises to ...
- Develop communities that are attractive,
- Use the most environmentally friendly technologies,
- Provide meaningful alternatives to automobile transportation,
- Offer a range of housing options,
- Let residents walk to shops, schools, transit, worship, and entertainment,
- ...and make a profit doing it.
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) is an area of compact development, incorporating commercial, residential and professional uses, within walking distance of a major transit stop, that facilitates walking and transit use. The urban design focuses on the pedestrian over the automobile.
What is "sustainable development"?
The simplest, most forceful and practical definition of sustainable development is from the World Commission on Environment and Development (The Brundtland Commission report):
- Housing development will happen in Washtenaw County. The county is projected to grow by 25,000 residents by the year 2020, even though other parts of Michigan are losing population.
- Sprawl development is not sustainable. It is too costly to the environment, and too costly to residents who must drive to work, shop, and play.
- Gen-Xers and Millenials are disenchanted with suburbia, and want real communities - ones that are kind to the environment.
- Boomers are beginning to retire, are fed up with having to drive everywhere, and are increasingly unable to drive as they age.
- The increasing cost of energy makes more efficient transportation a necessity for many Americans. Rail-based transportation is the most efficient per passenger-mile.
- Michigan needs a new approach to meet the challenges of post-industrial era realities.
- And the increasing cost of energy means "green" enterprises will be the ones that profit most.
Encourage sustainable redevelopment
- Wake more Washtenaw County citizens up to the need to focus most of our development into existing urban areas;
- Inform the people of Washtenaw County about the role of transportation in community growth and the benefits of planning communities around public transit;
- Promote investment in public transit rather than increased investment in automobile-oriented facilities such as parking structures;
- Support efforts to turn decaying strip developments into lively communities that incorporate living space in walking distance from shops, offices, and transit.
Show the way for sustainable new development
- Unite citizens, enterprises, and environmental groups, to ...
- Build a demonstration community,
- Using compact, energy-efficient, and attractive design;
- Sited along an existing railroad running through Ann Arbor,
- Connected by frequent, affordable rail transit to Ann Arbor and surrounding areas,
- To serve as a model of what can be done,
- Using only private, for-profit funding; and,
- Develop similar communities when the first has demonstrated its merits.