Why mingle with trail-makers?

Attending multiuse trail planning meetings can benefit you and your community.

Chance encounters to connect with your community and make new friends possible when participating in community programs. Photo courtesy of Jackson Walkable Communities Coalition.

Chance encounters to connect with your community and make new friends possible when participating in community programs. Photo courtesy of Jackson Walkable Communities Coalition.

Two ambitious recreational pathways: Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail and the Great Lake-to-Lake Trails traverse metropolitan Jackson. One local group, the Jackson Walkable Communities Coalition (WCC), offers organizations and community members the opportunity to interact with decision makers during monthly meetings. Attendees gain information about pathway development and can help shape future projects. Part one highlights the activities of the WCC in Jackson. Part two describe some of the ways people and communities benefit from participating with local planning efforts.

Participating in the WCC or other trail collaboratives offers opportunities to socialize with individuals designing Jackson’s pathways. There, people from different backgrounds and organizations are building relationships, sharing perspectives that will shape the success of the experience for residents and visitors.

“A community needs an organization like this to promote walkability and bike ability and to encourage thinking ahead.” - Laurel Mauldin, chair of the WCC

Things people might gain from participating in these meetings:

  • Increased sense of belonging
  • Gain knowledge of how public resources are spent
  • New friends or work opportunities
  • Satisfaction from providing meaningful contributions

Some ways trails benefit the community:

  • Add quality recreation and physical fitness opportunities.
  • Increase community visibility and attractiveness that can grow the economic base through increased tourism spending and businesses and individuals choosing to locate in the community
  • Improve access to natural resources such as forests, wetlands and fields for enjoyment and building a conservation ethic

By participating in these meetings, individuals add value to the community by

  • Improving the quality of the trails by adding perspective that may have otherwise been overlooked
  • Taking information back to one’s social circles and raising awareness of the recreational opportunities and development needs
  • Increase use and care of the trails,
  • Suggest commercial linkages that would benefit trail users and the community
  • Reduce likelihood of conflict with trail use and development that can result from lack of knowledge

Visit Michigan State University Extension Tourism website for current events, educational programs and news articles on Michigan Tourism. 

Additional articles in this series:

When to mingle with trail-makers and influence your town’s future