mag cover combinedThe Michigan Municipal League received a statewide honor recently for The Review magazine, which focuses on placemaking activites and programs of League member communities as well as other topics.

The League received a Gold Certificate for its magazine in the 17th annual Diamond Award program in the magazine publishing category for organizations with an annual budget of $1 million and greater. The League’s magazine has been honored multiple times in previous years in the Diamond Award program by the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE).

As part of the contest, entrants submitted two consecutive copies of the magazine. The League submitted the November/December 2017 issue that focused on affordable housing, with additional stories on housing initiatives in other communities and a cover-story profile of 2017-18 League President Catherine Bostick-Tullius, Lapeer city commissioner. View that issue here:

The entry also included the January/February 2018 edition centered around essential building blocks for local government operation, such as improving your budgeting process, gun regulation, and avoiding charter conflicts. On the cover of that issue was Hudsonville officials celebrating the opening of the community’s Terra Square project. The city won our 2017 Community Excellence Awards competition for the creative conversion of an old auto dealership into a multi-use community venue. View that issue here:

The Review magazine is a nationally recognized example of an outstanding publication to be replicated for its thought-provoking content, overall appearance, and quality. Our members frequently submit ideas for stories on projects, programs, and initiatives in their community that their colleagues can implement in their own cities. It is published six times a year. Find current and past issues here:

kaboom graphic1Does your southeast Michigan community have an idea for a creative public space that encourages active play of people of all ages? Do you think you could come up with such an idea? If you can yes to either of those questions, then the Play Everywhere Challenge could be for your community.

Supported by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation and presented by KaBOOM!, the Play Everywhere Challenge is a community-focused design competition to develop new ideas for bringing play to unexpected but everyday spaces, making play easy and available for kids and families. As part of the Challenge, grantees will be selected in Southeast Michigan and Western New York to receive a combined total of $1 million in prize funds. The application period opened Monday, Jan. 14. Go here for details and here for the official challenge rules.

kaboom graphic2You may have read or heard about a recent grant the Michigan Municipal League Foundation received from Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation at the end of last year to help out in Hamtramck (read more about that here). This Play Everywhere Challenge is another amazing project being supported by the Wilson Foundation. The Michigan Municipal League is helping spread the word to our League members.

This is the second year of the challenge. Previous challenge winners were in the League member communities of Allen Park, Port Huron, and Romulus as well as in other areas in Macomb County, St. Clair County, Washtenaw County, and Wayne County.  View all the past projects here.

Here is the Play Everywhere Challenge timeline:

  • The Play Everywhere Challenge Idea form opened Monday, Jan. 14
  • Early Bird idea form Deadline: February 15
  • Final idea form Deadline: March 22
  • June – winners announced
  • July 15, 2019 – June 30, 2020: implementation

Here are additional details:

kaboom 4The Play Everywhere Challenge, supported by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation through its Built to Play initiative, will create more opportunities for free, unstructured, unplanned play. Together, we are ensuring all kids, no matter where they come from or where they live, get the active play they need to thrive.


All kids need play to grow up happy, healthy and resilient. But many families struggle to find the time to incorporate play into their daily routines, and adequate, convenient playspaces can be hard to come by. According to a 2017 Aspen Institute report, only 13 percent of youth in Southeast Michigan and 16 percent in Western New York are getting the one hour of daily physical activity, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kids know that play can happen anywhere: at the grocery store, in a waiting room or on the way to school. The Play Everywhere Challenge asks grantees to engage kids and families in designing unique playspaces that excite curiosity and make kids say “I want to play there!” The Challenge will help families integrate play into everyday life and reach the kids who have limitless potential but are often overlooked with few options for active play.


  • Share your great idea for getting kids and families playing everywhere by submitting an Idea Form at
  • Check-out past Play Everywhere projects by visiting org/builttoplay.

Dan Gilmartin, the CEO and executive director for the Michigan Municipal League, will

Dan Gilmartin is a keynote speaker at the 2018 Vermonth League of Cities & Towns Townfair 2018 taking place this week.

Dan Gilmartin is a keynote speaker at the 2018 Vermonth League of Cities & Towns Townfair 2018 taking place this week.

be in Vermont this week as the keynote speaker for the Vermont League of Cities & Towns annual Town Fair conference.

Gilmartin is an internationally known expert on the concept of placemaking and other municipal issues and has conducted presentations all over the world, including in Australia, Sweden and the Netherlands.

He was asked to speak at the Vermont conference because event organizers were looking for a keynote address that combines placemaking with innovation and retaining and attracting young talent to The Green Mountain State. These are all topics Gilmartin has covered extensively in Michigan and beyond in his Economics of Place blog, Economics of Place podcast and former The Prosperity Agenda radio show on News/Talk 760 WJR. He also is contributing author to two League books: The Economics of Place: The Value of Building Communities Around People; and The Economics of Place: The Art of Building Great Communities.

This is one of three national public speaking opportunities Gilmartin will be doing on various topics this month. He was also will be the keynote speaker at the Oklahoma Water & Pollution Control Conference (OWPCC) taking place at Rose State College in Oklahoma City, Oct. 8-11, and he will be a co-speaker during a session on building strong communities, inside and out at the Engaging Local Government Leaders’ (ELGL) 2018 Milwaukee Pop Up Conference in Wisconsin on Oct. 12.

Here is the official description for Dan’s keynote address at the Vermont conference:

Dan Gilmartin

Daniel Gilmartin

Keynote: Building Great Communities 

Daniel Gilmartin is the Executive Director and CEO of the Michigan Municpal League and is contributing author to The Economics of Place: The Value of Building Communities Around People and Economics of Place: the Art of Building Great Communities. Through his work with communities throughout the country, Mr. Gilmartin is recognized as a leader in the fields of urban revitalization, placemaking, local government reform, and transportation policy. He serviced on the Placemaking Leadership Council and previously served on the Michigan Future, Inc. Leadership Council and the board of directors of the National League of Cities. Prior to his current position as executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League Mr. Gilmartin served for four years as the lead advocate for Michigan’s communities in Lansing and in Washington, where he concentrated on key issues that included transportation, land use, and urban redevelopment.
Speaker: Daniel Gilmartin, Executive Director & CEO, Michigan Municipal League

MSHDA step forwardOur friends at MSHDA asked the Michigan Municipal League to help them spread the word about this home ownership program:

From Michigan State Housing Development Authority:

Since 2010, the Step Forward Michigan program has been helping Michiganders recover from the recession and foreclosure crisis of the last decade. Assistance with interest-free loans to help with mortgage payments, condominium fees or property taxes is still available, and there may be people in your communities who still could use a hand up.

To learn how your community can share details about Step Forward, click here for a sample newsletter letter article, shareable graphics and more.

While foreclosure rates are down, fear of foreclosure is still a terrifying reality for many Michigan homeowners. A health emergency, a layoff, a divorce – each of these can cause a homeowner to fall behind on mortgage or property tax payments. Michigan’s economy is on the mend, but many families are still struggling. Step Forward Michigan is dedicated to helping Michigan homeowners get back on their feet and retain ownership of their homes.

Federally funded through Michigan’s Hardest Hit Fund program, Step Forward Michigan offers up to $30,000 in interest-free loans for Michigan homeowners who have fallen on hard times. To qualify for assistance, a homeowner must have experienced an involuntary qualifying hardship. Examples of qualifying hardships include medical emergencies, job loss, or divorce.

Besides being interest free, a loan through the Step Forward Michigan program requires no monthly payments and is forgivable over a five-year period at a forgiveness rate of 20 percent per year. After the homeowner lives in the house as his or her principal residence for five years, the loan will be forgiven.

For additional information on Step Forward Michigan, please visit or call 866-946-7432. Step Forward website: