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Service club summit in Dowagiac Sept. 30

Published 8:57am Friday, August 28, 2009

By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News

BPE Elks Lodge 889 and Dowagiac Rotary Club have invited eight local civic organizations to each send four members to participate in another moderated “Michigan’s Defining Moment” (MDM) community conversation Wednesday, Sept. 30, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Elks, 300 Riverside Drive at Hill Street.

The invitation has been extended to Civitan, Dowagiac Fraternal Order of Eagles, the Elks, Dowagiac Lions Club, Loyal Order of Moose, Peninsular Lodge 10 of Free and Accepted Masons (F&AM), Rotary and Cass County Post 1855 of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), according to a joint announcement released Thursday by Rotary President Cathy Merrill and Elks Exalted Ruler Max Sala.

In June, 23 Cass County leaders took part in a two-hour community conversation designed to make their voices heard by legislators at Michigan’s Defining Moment, or MDM.

Sponsored by The Center for Michigan to develop a “common ground agenda for Michigan’s transformation,” participants hear that the state faces enormous challenges demanding far-reaching solutions and decisions that will go a long way toward determining state history for the next half century.

The dialogue begun in 2007 has taken time to filter down to grassroots southwest Michigan, although host Dan Wyant, a Dowagiac Rotarian and former state agriculture director, MDM “founding champion” and president and chief operating officer of the Edward Lowe Foundation, indicated organizers would like to hold two more such forums in Cass County.

MDM is pointing its public policy priorities toward 2010, a “watershed election” when term limits replace the governor, Senate majority leader, House speaker, attorney general, Secretary of State, 38 senators and more than 70 percent of the state House of Representatives.

MDM, meant to “amplify a common voice for Michigan’s transformation,” is co-chaired by non-profit The Center for Michigan President Phil Power, a former newspaper publisher; Mark Murray, president and CEO of Meijer Stores Inc.; Paul Hillegonds, senior vice president of DTE Energy; S. Martin Taylor, retired public/private sector executive; Kalamazoo Valley Community College President Marilyn Schlack, Detroit Renaissance President Doug Rothwell; and Glenda D. Price, Marygrove College president emerita.

Out of their belief it is vital that Michigan’s next generation of leaders cross the aisle, work together and put state interests above party politics, they joined with the more than 100 statewide leaders such as Wyant to launch the MDM public engagement campaign.
They also recognize that Lansing cooperation begins elsewhere with strong leadership, communication, shared vision and partnership among literally hundreds of businesses, non-profit and public-sector organizations that must do the hard work of identifying, then achieving, shared aspirations.

MDM characterizes itself as Democrats and Republicans, diverse men and women, urban and rural, from east and west, north and south.

Two representatives of a Kalamazoo public relations firm facilitated discussion at the Billieville conference center of Lowe’s Big Rock Valley.

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