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October 2002
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Beaver Island Partnership Project takes First Step.

Seventeen representatives of organizations which either signed the Partnership Agreement or are considering doing so met at Peaine Township Hall on Monday September 16 to discuss the next step. The Partnership Project is an outgrowth of the Visioning Project, which solicited input about the Island's future from over 500 people during a two-year period and established five priorities: retain traditional Island values; protect the environment while improving access to key features; enhance access to health care; upgrade our economic and high-tech opportunities; and strengthen our links to the mainland to expand communication and reduce overlapping of efforts.

The objective of the Partnership Project is to unite Beaver Islanders in actions that respect the relationship between the environment and a high quality of intellectual, economic, spiritual, and physical well-being, and to produce measurable improvement by 2005. Partnerships in general have a glowing track record, Jim Haveman pointed out. They raise community awareness, at the very least, tend to increase common ground, allow the expression of the democratic process, produce a basis for increased trust, and turn negative energy into productivity. With 28 organizations on board, and the Vision Project turning over the three thousand dollars left from its Northern Michigan Hospital grant (and the Conservation Resource Alliance helping with logistic/communication requirements during the early stages), an infrastructure is in place. Now the question is: just how should the Partnership Project proceed?

After some discussion, an approach was agreed on: form three subcommittees to analyze these issues: how can the environment be protected while improving access to key features? How can public safety and health be enhanced? What can be done to increase our access to technology? "We have a history of important decisions about Beaver Island being made from outside, by people unfamiliar with the nuances of our lifestyle," Anne Glendon reminded the group. "But when we get together, important results can occur. Just look at the parking expansion, sewage treatment, paving project (including the bike trail), and new medical center."

The organizers hope this approach of work by committees will allow the group as a whole to develop a greater understanding of the details behind our current situation, to see what kinds of options we have, and to learn about the consequences of proposed actions or inactions. Preliminary reports will be presented at the next meeting (November 12 at Peaine Hall at 1:00 p.m.), which will focus on how to take the next step.

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