Thursday, November 19, 2015

Traverse City Offers Young Professionals and Families a Great Community with Great Schools

Greetings, readers! We're closing in on the holiday season, which means the snow and cold are on their way. As we wrap up a fantastic Autumn here in northern Michigan we're sharing a guest blog post today from Christine Guitar, Director of Marketing and Communications at Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS). Whether you're moving to Traverse City or a longtime resident, rest assured: the public schooling system in Traverse City is one of the best around! Read on for more details about why our region is a great place to start or grow a family.

There are so many things that make Traverse City great. The bay views, the food scene, the cultural and arts opportunities. There is also another fundamental piece of the puzzle: our schools. Great schools ensure that the community has the foundation it needs to be great now and into the future.

Whether parents want their child to go to one of the only free, public school Montessori programs in the state, gain hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering and math—or STEM—education, or learn Mandarin Chinese, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) offers its roughly 10,000 students and their families those opportunities and so much more.

Students can focus on career technical training, like culinary arts or construction trades, through our partnership with the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District. Students can also earn college credit before they receive their high school diploma through Advanced Placement courses. Early College and Dual Enrollment opportunities are offered in collaboration with Northwestern Michigan College (saving our community’s parents an estimated $2 million dollars annually!).

What is incredible is that TCAPS offers all of these opportunities while receiving some of the lowest per pupil funding in the state. Receiving thousands of dollars less per student is certainly no reason to celebrate, but what should be a reason for the community to cheer is that even in the face of an inequitable funding distribution, TCAPS ranks just as highly.

For the 5th year in a row, TC Central High School and TC West Senior High School have been named among America’s “Most Challenging High Schools” by The Washington Post. Only 11% of the approximately 22,000 U.S. public high schools earned placement on the list. Both schools have also been ranked for the last 4 years among the “Top 50 Best High Schools” in the state by U.S. News and World Report. Out of the 849 public, charter and magnet schools in Michigan that were ranked, TC West Senior High School ranked #16 on the 2015 list…Grosse Pointe South, which receives $2,500 more per student ranked #17.

Couple TCAPS’ low state funding with a low local millage rate of 3.1 percent (the state average is 5.1), and it is clear that families in Traverse City and the entire community get a real return on their investment in education.

While young professionals may move to Traverse City hoping to build their careers and enjoy the great amenities that the area offers, they can stay and raise a family knowing that the educational opportunities offered are top notch.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Affordable Housing in Traverse City: Building Up, Not Out

Greetings, YPs! we have a special blog post from former YP Chairman Warren Call. Affordable housing and multi-story buildings in downtown Traverse City are all over the news in our town right now, and Warren is sharing his opinion about these issues on the blog today. Read on for his support of higher density housing as a counterattack to urban sprawl in our region. 

Photo courtesy of The State Theatre

Taller buildings downtown or strip malls and sprawl – which type of development is the bigger threat to our unique Northern Michigan character? Would eight or nine-story buildings downtown ruin Traverse City? These important questions are being debated as the Grand Traverse Region grows (and development pressures increase). These decisions will greatly impact the city and region the Traverse City Young Professionals call home – and I think it’s time we made our opinions heard. I know where I sit; I like the idea of a dynamic downtown and tall buildings do not bother me. I am afraid of sprawl that engulfs areas where farms, forests and fields used to be.

Taller buildings, higher density, and Affordable Housing Developments are the way forward for Traverse City and the Grand Traverse Region. Traverse City zoning and planning should allow and encourage taller structures that permit developers to “build up” using existing vacant or underused parcels in the city. Downtown zoning should create higher density in-line with land use regulations and include development incentives and public investment. Planning and zoning that allow for downtown development is necessary to prevent sprawl and preserve our existing agricultural, forest and rural land. The benefits are clear:

Downtown development preserves our unique character
Suburban sprawl is the real threat to our beautiful and scenic region. The only way to preserve our unique regional and city character is to concentrate new development in our existing city center. Downtown housing and development reduces and prevents sprawl. Regulation that allows for taller buildings in the city center helps to preserve our scenic agricultural, forest, and rural areas.

Downtown Development is the culmination of decades of thorough and thoughtful planning
Locating new building and development within our existing urban areas is one of the key findings from decades of master planning and zoning improvements. Higher density development is part of the Traverse City and Grand Traverse Master Plan and current city zoning supports higher density building with a diverse mix of housing options and uses. Higher density downtown development is supported by the findings of long-term planning; the New Designs for Growth and the Grand Vision planning processes (75% of Grand Vision respondents said new growth should occur in existing developed areas). Downtown development helps to address a major jobs/housing imbalance in our region's largest employment hub.

Downtown Development is the key economic driver for our region
Higher density housing can help to create a "full-time" downtown: a place with retail, entertainment, and office activity that is self-sustaining. Downtown residents form a built-in market for downtown retailers and entertainment, thus reinforcing investments already made in our public spaces, parks, museums, theaters, and existing infrastructure. Developing downtown housing improves our region’s employment options by attracting a mix of knowledge workers, entrepreneurs and professionals. Downtown housing improves the city's tax base while making the highest and best use of our existing vacant and underused city parcels. A vibrant, dynamic, walkable downtown that offers a mix of housing, retail, office, recreational, and entertainment options appeals to people of all ages; young professionals, baby boomers, young families, the elderly, and students.

The City Commission, Planning Commission and City zoning regulations should allow and encourage taller buildings, higher density, and affordable housing development. These features will preserve our unique local character, address our housing and planning needs, and drive future economic success in our region.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Happy summer, everyone! Here's hoping you're all out enjoying the hey-day of August here in northern Michigan. It's clear that YPs John and Emily Petrovich (both of NewEra Social Marketing) are making the most of these warm, sunny days by enjoying their time on stand-up paddleboards out on the water. Check out John's article for more on this great sport!

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a peaceful way to get out and enjoy our local waters without noisy motors. It can be a relaxing session or a more intense work-out experience – it’s really whatever you want to make it!

A paddleboard allows you to float right on top of the water and can take you places that no boat can go. The views of underwater roots and trees through our crystal clear local waters make you feel like you’re on the Pirates of the Caribbean movie set. During SUP adventures, we’ve explored shipwrecks, paddled among flocks of rarely-seen birds hanging out in rivers and streams as a stop along their migration paths, and even performed a rescue for a small dog that was tangled in a river marsh area. For awesome photos and videos of paddling local shipwrecks, check out Lena Olmsted’s Instagram account and this Instagram video of one of our recent discoveries in Torch Lake.

TC and the surrounding areas are an “unsalted paddle paradise.” With sandy lake beds, crystal clear waters and breathtaking shore line views, our area is truly unique here in the great Mitten state. If only northern Michigan summers were never ending! But I guess this is what we brave the winters for – and it makes summertime that much sweeter.

Travel West from TC on the beautiful M-22 route into Empire, paddle out of Empire Beach on Lake Michigan, and head south for jaw dropping views of the dunes or north to check out the pristine beach at North Bar Lake. If conditions on the big lake aren’t ideal, simply walk across the parking lot to paddle the smaller, warmer waters of South Bar Lake, or head toward Glen Arbor and check out Little and Big Glen Lake.

Travel East from TC and you'll find yourself surrounded by the teal blue waters of Torch and Elk Lake. There are numerous launch points but the 'Kayak' launch just south of the bridge in Elk Rapids is always a favorite. Paddling through the shallow waters of Elk River, you'll be awestruck by the natural beauty that surrounds you. Plus, if you feel like enjoying a pure northern Michigan sunset, you can easily pluck your board out of the water, head down the street and drop right into East Bay for a sunset paddle that never disappoints!

There are a number of local places to get your SUP gear. Wet Mitten Surf Shop and 231 Outfitters are two great brick-and-mortar SUP stores in Traverse City and you can find a handful of other dealers in the area, too. Craigslist is a helpful source for finding an affordable SUP board, both new and used. We have had our SUP ATX paddleboards for years and we love them! The company recently featured SUP’ing in the northern Michigan area in their Urban Paddle Guide with SUP Magazine. Check it out: Traverse City, MI: Urban Paddle Guide

There are also many local paddleboarding groups on Facebook that you can get involved with, both right in Traverse City and in the surrounding areas, like Elk Rapids. Some are ladies-only, some are co-ed, and all are a guaranteed opportunity to connect with both nature and fellow nature-lovers on the water.

We still have lots of summer left. Get out there and enjoy every last minute!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Spotify Playlist: TCYP's Sunny Days and Starry Nights Summer Playlist

By Emily Petrovich of NewEra Social Marketing

The blossoms! The blue water! The sunny days! The starry skies!

Northern Michigan is a truly beautiful place to enjoy the springtime. This year’s weather seems to be kinder than in the past few years and we’ve been able to enjoy spring rain showers mixed with warm, sunny days… and it seems the plant life is enjoying, too! The blossoms are beautiful, grass is growing like crazy, Morel mushroom hunting is in full swing, and gardens are happily sprouting.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all work places offered recess so we could all go play outside? Just like when we were kids! The fresh spring air is both spicy and sweet – a mix of trees and blooms plus grills and campfires – and its good for the soul.

Alas, we know there are those who stare longingly out their work place windows as the warm season begins and it becomes harder to stay inside and work the day away without wanting to get outside and enjoy the beauty of our TC area. We hope our brand new (and extra long!) mixtape playlist, Sunny Days & Starry Nights, will put a happy spin on your work days and take you right through to happy hours on outdoor patios, al fresco dinners, drives with the windows down, and summer campfires!

This feel-good mix has something for everyone, from brand new jams by Zac Brown Band and Mumford & Sons to fun cover songs like Passion Pit’s version of "Dreams" to awesome new sounds from Whilk & Misky and Jasia. We had to add Joshua Davis’ "The Workingman’s Hymn," who is back in TC after his awesome run on The Voice, and an all-time personal favorite, Sufjan Stevens’ "Say Yes! To M!ch!igan!" from his swell Michigan album.

Check out our Sunny Days & Starry Nights playlist on Spotify.
Any songs you would add? Let us know in the comments!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dennos Museum Summer Exhibit

As a History of Art major, it should come as no surprised that I'm a big fan of Traverse City's Dennos Museum Center (housed on the Northwestern Michigan College campus). And, even though I technically studied the "history" of art, I'm a big fan of art in the here and now. New artists and fantastic pieces are popping up all the time, and whenever I get the chance to wander about and admire some awesome artwork, I'm all over it. 

The Dennos has two great exhibits going on right now: Sideways (which explores skateboard art and culture) and Perimeter (a photo story filled with portraits taken around the perimeter of Lake Michigan. The high-quality visual images in these two exhibits greatly compliment each other.

 As someone who knows absolutely zero about skateboarding (and probably couldn't make it down a straight road on a board without falling over), I found this exhibit to be so fresh. It's bold, colorful, and rooted in a culture I know nothing about but am now totally enraptured by. 

The Dennos put out a call for skateboard art submissions to the community at large, and in return they received a wide array of clever, original, and downright awesome designs. Artists range from all ages and locations, and there are some really beautiful works on display. I have a few favorites myself, but I don't want to ruin the fun for everyone else, so you should go see it for yourself!

Professional artists are also represented. There's a gorgeous mural covering an entire wall in the gallery room, detailed screenprinted works, plus stunning photographs from Michigander Mike Blabac. Honestly, though, nothing took my breath away like the simple yet powerful works of Aaron Draplin, an NMC alum who is absolutely slaying the graphic design world. There's a whole wall of his latest and greatest designs, and he'll be in TC this Friday giving a special presentation as part of the Dennos' skateboard weekend extravaganza (June 20-21). A few of my favorites from Draplin:

 Skateboarding not your thing? Well, it's impossible to not be a fan of the Great Lakes, and Kevin Miyazaki's portraits taken from all around the border of Lake Michigan remind us just how many people love and live around the majestic Michigan. The portraits hug the whole gallery. It's great to see the lake personified in the faces of all these people: young, old, working, vacationing, in groups or all alone.

 My personal favorite part of the Perimeter exhibit is the wall of pictures depicting Lake Michigan from different points around the lake at different times. The entire wall engulfs the viewer in sky and water, and it creates a really intriguing geometric pattern.

 Both exhibits are on display at the Dennos until early September, so go and check it out! Don't forget about the fun and festivities for the TC Park Jam this weekend, too!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spotify Playlist: TCYP's Favorite Songs of Spring

By Emily Petrovich of NewEra Social Marketing

It felt like spring was here!
And then it wasn’t.
But then it was!
And then it went away again.

Such is the way of the false-spring-starts in northern Michigan. Just when we think we can finally put the snow boots away for the season, we’re pulling them out again. But we tough Michiganders, we get it – we know this has to be the way of things. Because when we consider the pay off? Well, springtime in northern Michigan is just about the best thing there is!

The days are already longer, the sun shining brighter, the sky bluer. We’ve noticed little pops of green in the flower beds and on most mornings, the birds are singing outside our windows.  Sure signs of springy things to come!

April 7th was National Beer Day and we celebrated by raising a glass of Short’s Brewing Space Rock. Mr. Joe Short might be riding a snowmobile-space rocket on the label but the beer itself sings of spring: floral and orange peel-like hop aromas finished with citrus rind and dandelion leaf flavors. We caught ourselves making beverage plans for future sunny picnic and beach trips!

Despite the still-chilly weather, fellow locals seem to have a noticeable spring in their step (wink wink!) and our TCYP crew is no exception. In addition to our changing wardrobes, our music choices seem to warm up around this time of year, too. We’ve created a mixtape that’s sure to turn your thoughts to warm spring days and put a smile on your face!

Check out our Favorite Songs of Spring playlist on Spotify. Any songs you would add? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spring at Stormcloud Brewery

A few weeks back, I found myself in the shoreside town of Frankfort for work. Frankfort is a little over an hour away from Traverse City, due west, and is one of the most beautiful places to spend a summer's day. It's a sleepy place in the winter, but I felt very welcomed by the businesses that were open on Main Street.

One of my favorite go-to places in Frankfort is Stormcloud Brewing Company. Stormcloud opened up in spring of 2013, and as they turn the corner of their second summer in business, I can safely say they are doing so many things right.

The micro-brewery has its own beers on tap, as well as other speciality drinks from the region. They host game nights and awesome live music gigs, bringing a lively family-friendly atmosphere to the smorgasbord of shops in downtown Frankfort. As an added incentive, they're open year-round so the folks braving the winter winds can be guaranteed a good drink and hearty meal.

I was lucky enough to snag a flatbread pizza while I was in town, and it was fantastic. I've had some other chow at Stormcloud over the past two years, and experience has taught me that whoever runs that kitchen knows what they're doing! Everything is fresh, original, and whole-heartedly deeelish.

With Spring just around the corner--no, seriously, I promise Spring is coming!--make sure to add Stormcloud on your list of to-do attractions in the greater Grand Traverse area. If you're wise, you'll make the trip before the throngs of beach-goers invade Frankfort this summer (not that I can blame them). Whenever you decide to visit, Stormcloud is a great choice for a few drinks or an afternoon snack. Stop in and see for yourself!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Trivia Night at Rare Bird

The bar scene is a staple for any young professional--and there is nothing wrong with that!--but here in Traverse City, we are spoiled with the variety and quality of all our bars. One of the newer bars on the scene, Rare Bird Brewery, is located on the fringe of our downtown area and boasts an awesome vibe.

Low-key comfort paired with high-end food and drinks makes for a great night out on the town. One of my favorite things about Rare Bird, though, is their spunky trivia night. My friends and I have made a weekly ritual of playing trivia at Rare Bird every Tuesday night, and what a fantastic ritual it has turned out to be.

Every Tuesday is a party at Rare Bird, and I love that I can have a fun, cheap night out on the town in the middle of the week. It's packed, but arriving at 6:30-6:45 p.m. (before trivia starts at 7), and you're guaranteed a good seat to round up a team of six friends. Grab some grub, pool your knowledge, and drink some beer as you compete against some of the fiercest trivia players this side of Lake Michigan.

If you're snacking, make sure to try their garlic-dusted fries or pork belly nachos. Those nachos make me question why I'm still vegetarian every time they arrive at our table. Of course, I'm always willing to oblige my morals and dig into their wonderful black bean burger: it is out of this world.

Unlike other micro-breweries in town, Rare Bird balances their own house-brewed beers with those of other great local and national breweries, so there's something for everyone. They also have wine, cider, and liquor available at the bar. Thirsty Tuesday should totally be a thing, and Rare Bird would lead the way.

We hope you'll join us (Team Cropdusters) at trivia next Tuesday, March 24...and every Tuesday after that!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Eating Out in TC: Bubba's

Greetings, everyone! January is coming to a close, but it's still comfort food season up north. This time of year, I find myself indulging more in dining out at different restaurants in downtown Traverse City. With all the posts I've made on this blog in the last year and a half, I'm shocked that I've left out one of my favorite makes-everyone-happy restaurant: BUBBA'S!

The owners of Bubba's are no strangers to the TC restaurant game: they own Bubba's, Firefly, The Kitchen, Maddy's Tavern (out in Interlochen), and Grandview Catering. I don't know how they manage to maintain so many fantastic restaurants, but they certainly do. Whenever we have guests come into town, we know Bubba's is a safe bet: it has great food with lots of options for whatever anyone would like to get (including gluten-free and vegetarian choices), is reasonably priced, and is located downtown so we can continue the night out on the town if we feel so inclined. It checks everything off the list.

It has a fun bar vibe, but it's also very kid and family friendly. They do table sharing for couples (it's never been uncomfortable, even though it might seem like it could be) and the wait staff really knows their stuff. Plus, with fantastic specials--including 1/3 off the menu Monday-Friday from 3-5 p.m., or a burger and beer for $6 every Tuesday--it's budget and belly friendly.

My three favorite things on the menu are their homemade black bean burger, the avocado salad, and SWEET. POTATO. TOTS. Seriously, get the sweet potato tots. And then ask yourself why people don't serve garlic aioli and Bubba Sauce with everything.

Locals and visitors agree: Bubba's is a TC restaurant staple, and after so many years in business, I'm happy it's here to stay. Whether you live in the area or are coming in for a visit, make sure to add Bubba's to your list of places to visit!