The Next Big Thing: Redistricting In Michigan And The Role Of Communities Of Interest

February 25, 2021 1:27:17
Kaltura Video

Learn how to participate in the process of drawing the new district maps in Michigan, the role of "communities of interest", and how to engage with the new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in the redistricting process. February 2021.


in 2018 michigan citizens passed a ballot 
initiative that would take the redistricting power  

out of partisan politicians hands instead 
a non-partisan citizens commission would  

redistrict the state of michigan in a way that 
truly represents the diversity of michiganders  

this commission will listen to testimony from 
historically underrepresented communities  

to ensure that everyone has a voice now we will 
hear from representatives from communities in  

other states who can speak about the importance 
of being part of the redistricting process  

redistricting is an exciting opportunity for 
communities to think about what representation  

means for them what do we want from our elected 
officials what's important to me what's important  

to my family what's important to my neighbors 
and other folks in my bigger community one thing  

that's really exciting about redistricting is 
it's a really important opportunity for people to  

collaborate and coordinate across different 
communities and groups one thing we see in  

california and i know exists in many parts 
of this country is a tremendous diversity  

from the navajo nation um redistricting 
in the navajo language is called  

it's important that we participate in 
the entire process of redistricting  

and we learn about the various 
principles that take place  

it's also important to understand how the voting 
rights act of the 1965 protects indigenous peoples  

blacks hispanics asians and other minorities and 
that helps people such as indigenous peoples to  

formulate maps that we believe gives us a 
chance to elect candidates of our choice

why is it important to participate why is it 
important to define yourself and your community  

because if you don't define yourself then someone 
else will try to define you only you can keep your  

community together the people trying to create new 
maps need your help to understand your community  

boundaries use this opportunity to engage with 
the commissioners and educate them about your  

community sell your story we need to hear from 
you with your help those creating the new maps can  

understand and implement new districts that keep 
communities together it's time we draw the line

welcome and thank you for joining tonight's 
policy talk at the ford school on redistricting in  

michigan and the role of communities of interest 
i'm john chamberlain a professor of emeritus  

at the gerald r ford school of public 
policy and i will be the modder for the  

moderator for the event the introductory 
video we just watched was produced by  

two ford school students molly kalp 
and mario syed and i think provides  

a great introduction to what we're 
going to be talking about tonight

i want to thank connie cook 
of voters not politicians  

for recruiting and coordinating 
this evening's presenters  

and a special thank you goes to the sponsors 
of tonight's event will be shown on this slide

before we turn to the presentations i'd like 
to note that we'll have about half an hour  

of q a following the presentations we have 
already heard from quite a few questions  

with quite a few questions from nearly 1 000 
individuals who registered for tonight's event  

if you would like to submit a question you may 
do so in one of the ways shown on the slide  

so what will be covering in our time together 
tonight as you must know if you've tuned in  

in 2018 michigan voters approved proposal 2 which 
amended the michigan constitution to bring about  

important changes in the process for during the 
districts for our congressional delegation and our  

state house and state senate the new process open 
and transparent and places citizens to the center  

of redistricting it replaces a process in which 
political parties legislators and their allies  

selected new districts behind closed doors the 
role of the citizens in the 2021 region streaking  

is twofold first final decisions on the three 
districting plans will be made by the michigan  

independent citizens redistricting commission or 
the micrc for short which are randomly selected  

from more than 9 000 citizens who applied to 
be on the commission they have been meeting  

regularly since september second the constitution 
assigns a high priority in the criteria that  

govern redistricting to public input submitted 
by communities of interest or cois for short

we are interested in hearing from these 
communities about how they would like their  

districts to look this allows citizens 
to communicate directly with the micrc  

about how they would like to be represented in 
congress and the state legislature tonight's  

event focuses on these communities what they are 
the role they play in the new process why they  

should want to participate in the redistricting 
process and how they can do that effectively  

the presenters tonight will focus on four 
topics the role and structure of the new micrc  

the criteria the commission will use in drawing 
districts and the description of communities  

of interest why communities of interest want to 
participate in the redistricting process and the  

information for communities of interest about how 
they can communicate effectively with the micrc  

our first two presenters are from no 
voters not politicians the organization  

that organized the campaign for proposal 2 and 
is now working to support the participation of  

communities of interest in the new redistricting 
process we will hear first from nancy wang  

the executive director of legislative politicians 
who will discuss the background of the miss  

or m-i-c-r-c and bring us up to date 
on his progress sandy sereni elser  

a vnp volunteer who is leading the np's 
educational training program will follow  

nancy with a discussion of the criteria the 
commission will use in drawing districts  

and the description of communities of interest 
i'll now turn the screen over to nancy

thank you so much john i'm nancy and voters not 
politicians is the grassroots non-partisan group  

that formed in 2016 over facebook to end 
partisan gerrymandering in michigan and our  

dream was really to replace what we had which was 
our partisan politicians were taking redistricting  

which is a process where every 10 years we take 
the census data from the federal government  

and we need to redraft or redraw our election 
district lines to make sure that our congressional  

districts state house and state senate 
districts have the same number of people them  

and the politicians were taking that power and 
giving themselves an unfair advantage by kind of  

splitting up you know taking voters and 
really splitting up our communities or  

whatever they had to do to make sure that they 
could create safe districts for themselves and  

their political parties and what we wanted to 
see our dream really was to replace that and  

put in place citizens whose whose goal was really 
to take us back to um representative democracy  

and kind of what redistricting is supposed to do 
which was to keep our communities together and to  

um to help us you know stay with people that are 
in our geographic area that share interest with  

us and allow us to elect a representative that 
would take our interest and advocate for us in  

lansing and dc and to be sitting here now and 
for all of us to be sitting and talking about the  

new citizens commission that we have in michigan 
and to talk about how the job of that commission  

is to in fact go out this year and take input from 
our communities to find out where we are in order  

to draw maps that keep us intact well that really 
is um that's really exciting and um and surreal  

but in fact we do have a citizen commission now 
thanks to the vote of 61 of michiganders uh in  

2018 to adopt this constitutional amendment uh 
we had a super majority of michigan voters that  

were in independence democrats and republicans all 
throughout the state that wanted this reform and  

um and it's and it's you know first started 
meeting in september it's got 13 members  

um and it's got four republican members four 
democrats and five that are neither republicans  

or democrats so they can be independents or 
they can be third party um supporters and  

in their diverse group um you know geographically 
they represent kind of the diversity of michigan  

um and they've been you know they have regular 
meetings every thursday anyone can tune in you  

can watch in real time on youtube or facebook um 
they they um welcome public comment you can submit  

public comment either by requesting to speak or 
submitting a written comment and their job is to  

to carry out the requirements that we put 
in the michigan constitution and that really  

is you know to draw maps again around public input 
they have to learn for themselves um you know  

from the public where our communities are where 
our boundaries are what interests are at stake  

why we want to be kept together and then they 
need to draw the maps that reflect and respect  

our communities instead of splitting them apart 
um they need to take you know public input all  

along the way they need to act in a way that 
reinforces the public trust so there's no more  

backroom deals there's no you know there's no 
um decision making where they can be taking  

political parties or candidates and trying to 
give them an unfair advantage that's explicitly  

prohibited now by the constitutional amendment 
um and you know they have to be 100 transparent  

which is is definitely you know absolutely the 
opposite of what we used to have um every every  

conversation they have about redistricting matters 
you know every conversation they have amongst  

themselves or any member of the public um has 
to be in an open meetings and the commission um  

there's other requirements in the constitutional 
amendment as well that governs their conduct so  

they can't you know the commissioners themselves 
can't kind of draw maps however they want um they  

can't kind of replace their own values you know 
and and inject them into the process um they can't  

like i said give one party or their 
preferred candidate an advantage over another  

all of that you know they need to follow to 
the letter exactly what's in the amendment and  

yeah and and it's going very very very well 
i'm happy to say heard time and time again at  

their meetings um all of the commissioners really 
stressing how seriously they take their um their  

duty that they know that you know they really are 
carrying out the will of the voters and i think  

it's going to be a really exciting process and i 
hope that programs like these really encourage all  

of us to participate and to give our input so that 
the maps really respect us and allow us to elect  

the representatives of our choice so with that 
i will turn it over to sandy sereni elser of vnp  

good evening and thank you nancy and thank you 
john um my name is john mentioned my name is  

sandy cerini elser and i'm a volunteer with voters 
not politicians and this evening i'm going to just  

run through the seven criteria that the commission 
has to follow when it draws voting district lines  

and uh the criteria are in rank order of 
importance so not only do they have certain  

criteria they have to follow but also they have 
to give a higher weight to certain criteria that  

more more weight to federal laws than um to uh 
compact districts so as you can see from this  

slide the seven criteria are listed here the 
first one is they have to follow federal laws  

and the two most important components of this are 
equal population in voting districts which we all  

know is why we have the census every 10 years 
so that we can re balance the district so that  

my vote in district 1 is the 
same as your vote in district 2.  

the other component of federal laws is that the 
compliance with the voting rights act of 1967  

which you probably know prohibits discrimination 
based on race gender religion national origin  

and disability the second criteria is that the 
districts have to be contiguous that just means  

that they all parts of the district have to touch 
each other so you can't have a little island  

of a district up in the u.p and have the balance 
of the district down in southeast michigan the  

third component is communities of interest 
which we're going to touch on in a minute  

um the fourth component is re prohibits 
giving disreported proportionate advantage  

to any political party so no particular 
party has any advantage over the other  

the fifth component is no candidate advantage 
which prohibits protecting incumbents the sixth  

component is that the commission needs to consider 
existing city township and county boundaries  

and finally the seventh component is that the 
districts have to be reasonably compact that means  

no more snaking districts no more districts like 
the 14th u.s congressional district that starts on  

the southern river boundary of detroit and winds 
through detroit up through southfield and ends up  

in pontiac no more snaking districts like the 76 
house state state house district that runs from  

north of grand rapids through a tiny corridor 
through grand rapids and ends up in the southern  

suburbs and the reason for this is that um 
sometimes politicians when they drew the maps  

were doing it in a way where they would 
divide up community members so they would  

have a safe district as nancy mentioned and 
unfortunately this divided our communities which  

is now not going to be a permitted um criteria 
the commission needs to consider communities of  

interest and make those districts compact on slide 
seven you see that we highlight the communities of  

interest as high priority third priority and this 
is why it's so important for us to let communities  

know that the commission would like to hear from 
them they'd like to know where the community lives  

where their geographic boundaries are and what 
their purposes are what's their common purpose  

and now on slide eight we're going to see what is 
a community of interest and i'm going to spend a  

few seconds reading the definition of communities 
of interest it's very short but very important  

it says that districts shall reflect the state's 
diverse population and communities of interest  

communities of interest may include but shall not 
be limited to populations that share cultural or  

historical characteristics or economic interests 
and this part is really important communities  

of interest do not include relationships 
with political parties public officials  

or candidates for public office so what exactly 
is a community of interest it really is just your  

community it's my community it's our neighbor's 
community it could be your school district it  

could be your church community it could be the 
farmers that bring the approaches to the market  

and we like to tell communities that for purposes 
of redistricting all the community needs is to  

have a specific geographic area and a common 
purpose and we also like to remind communities  

that you don't have to draw the district lines 
these district lines are going to be drawn by the  

commission and your only job is to tell the 
commission where your community is and what  

your purpose is and the commission is going to 
take all the other seven uh other all the other  

six characteristics that we just talked about and 
they're going to take all the information from all  

the communities and they're going to come up with 
the district maps that we think are going to be  

non-partisan fair and help us elect 
officials that our communities want to have  

and now on slide i think we're on slide nine  

we're going to have a little bit more about 
what is the community of interest and these  

show the some of the examples of shared economic 
interests where do you work where do you shop  

what kind of transportation do you use are your 
roads okay do you have a amtrak line do you  

have good bus service do you have environmental 
concerns and like for example an environmental  

concern could be a community with a goal of trying 
to remove pay fast from the huron river watershed  

the huron river and its tributaries and the land 
that drains into it um are the community and then  

the purpose is to lobby legislators to adopt laws 
that prohibit use of chemicals that create people  

that allow pfas to seep into our waters and 
contaminate our fish and our drinking water  

and finally we're looking at slide 10 now where we 
have some examples of shared cultural or historic  

interests as you can see there's a tiny little 
picture of the eastern market which is a historic  

market that brings people together there's also 
town centers there's school districts there's  

church communities and all of these are types of 
communities and we hope that these communities  

are going to talk to the commission tell the 
commission where they're located and who they are  

um there's one example that i think is very 
important it's the farmington and farmington  

hills school district that was it's a it's 
a joint school district for both communities  

and uh the district was split right down the 
middle in the last um redistricting and so these  

community members my guess is they are going to 
want to get together and tell the commission that  

they would really love to have their just their 
school communities all together in one district so  

they can lobby the legislators for the things that 
they would like such as perhaps better funding for  

schools so now i am going to just wrap this up by 
saying that we are working wanting to work with  

communities and encourage them to think about what 
fosters a sense of connection in your community  

what does your community have in common policy 
goals and what does your community need from state  

and federal legislators and we're going to hope 
the community members remember these simple things  

that all the commission needs to know is who you 
are and where you're located so now i'm going to  

turn the program back over to john so he can he 
can introduce some real live community leaders  

who are going to tell you why their communities 
are working on the redistricting process john

thank you nancy and sandy uh i hope  

that that clarifies for some of you what 
communities of interest are or or are not

all communities of interest are welcome 
indeed urged to participate in this process  

school districts at sandy mentioned 
are communities of interest  

so are the service areas for regional 
hospitals a tourist attraction  

near one of our great lakes a neighborhood 
association or a group of owners with homes around  

the lake who are concerned about water quality 
communities of interest that are already organized  

the staff resources familiarity with the public 
policy process will find it relatively easy to  

participate in this process but communities of 
interest without these advantages are urged to  

join them there is no published directory 
of communities of interest so it is only by  

providing input to the commission that a community 
of interest can make its views heard so don't run  

the risk that your community of interest will 
be among those that remain invisible and silent  

don't count yourself out just because you're new 
to a process like this instead count yourself in  

we will now hear from three individuals who 
represent communities of interest in michigan  

to talk about why they are participating in the 
redistricting process and why that's important  

to them our presenters are carmen williams 
the executive director of oakland forward  

non-profit that works to provide opportunities 
for individuals with a focus on people of color  

in oakland county rebecca islam the executive 
director of asian and pacific islander american  

vote michigan which works through forums and voter 
registration to increase civic participation by  

asian and pacific islander americans and 
andy helmbolt a longtime battle creek  

resident and a former city commissioner who works 
on regional development we will begin with kermit  

hello hello hello uh thank you so much 
john for this opportunity i'd like to thank  

uh first of all there's not politicians not only 
getting this pass but that they're doing to make  

sure that these lines are fair and inclusive 
for everybody i also like to thank all those  

sponsors for today's event it's really briefly 
i wanted to talk about i'm the city council  

president and the city of pontiac which was 
mentioned which happens to be in the 14th  

congressional district and when you start talking 
about communities there's uh one of the things  

uh that we have to talk about is your pineapple 
doesn't have anything in common with gross point  

but if you look at our congressional district 
we're part of it and so these communities  

have been gerrymandered uh from 
the beginning i want to talk about  

looking forward and focuses on making sure that 
black and brown communities are taken care of and  

one of the things that we need to do is to make 
sure that our people people um are taken care of  

since three fifths uh law in this country 
african-americans have been underrepresented  

it's an opportunity to make sure not only that 
they get represented but they get a seat at the  

table some of these districts let's talk about 
our state house have not been changed in 30 or 40  

years so that's one of the things that we need to 
talk about in our community so thank you so much  

uh john for this opportunity i know my internet is 
a little shaky right now but i want to encourage  

everybody to get involved to get focused and make 
sure that they participate in this commission  

it doesn't matter who you are uh what income level 
you have but make sure that you let your voice be  

heard so communities can represent you uh the way 
that you need to be represented thank you so much

thank you kermit i think we heard you for the 
most part hi everyone my name is rebecca islam  

i am the executive director of api vote 
michigan and we are a nonprofit graduate  

organization that is committed to justice 
and as john mentioned equity for the asian  

american community in michigan and we do 
that through graduate mobilization and our  

impact in the api community involves increasing 
voter registration advocating for public policy  

providing censors education that we just had 
last year assisting folks with citizenship  

applications developing youth and leadership 
and building coalitions and we work to ensure  

that all asian americans and pacific islander 
americans can exercise their right to vote  

and make sure that they have a part of this 
democracy and my organization is excited to be  

part of the redistricting effort here in michigan 
as our democracy is deeply dependent on it  

and ensures that representation and each of us 
are represented so moving on to the next slide

okay so we are extremely proud of the work 
that we did in mobilizing the api committee  

for the 2020 election apias have proved to be 
crucial in influencing what we all know was a  

historic election and our accomplishments included 
registering over 10 000 api voters engaging over  

four hundred thousand apia voters which led to a 
historic api voters turnout amongst our population  

which has led us to continue our efforts 
into redistricting next slide please

so now that we are here with redistricting 
um what's at stake there is just so much at  

stake as you guys already heard um there's so 
much at stake when we talk about redistricting  

it ensures that we have political representation 
that more accurately reflects our communities in  

the long term this can also affect things 
from funding assigned you mentioned funding  

to programs to services for vulnerable communities 
like the api community in our community  

particularly there's a canadian hemptronics that 
does not want marijuana dispensaries in this city  

and fair and accurate mapping will give that 
community the opportunity to decide if they  

want these dispersaries in their community or 
not and it is naive to think that a marijuana  

dispensary in one district affects only those 
residents who live in close proximity of that  

especially this country will affect 
a much larger radius and therefore  

individuals within um expended radios should 
definitely also have a say in if they want that  

business in their community or not and that's just 
one example that demonstrate how redistricting can  

impact someone's ability to express their need in 
a community with others also services and programs  

should address the needs of a community the needs 
of a community should be looked at collectively  

and across district lines if there are significant 
numbers of individuals who have the same needs  

we should be addressing those needs 
regardless of what side of the district  

they resign on redistricting is just a way that 
helps us to correct those issues and for apias  

we are part of the fabric of this state and 
we've seen that that in the last election we  

need people to know that we are not statistically 
insignificant which individuals might argue  

if they're looking at the current map district 
by district we are a significant mass of voting  

block of michigan and we need to make sure that we 
are seen as such and that we each play a part in  

redistricting efforts to ensure that we also 
benefit from the programs from the services  

the system that our tax dollars are contributed 
to um can i get the next slide please

okay so api vote michigan is working to 
recruit community members to get involved  

in this employing work we are hosting 
a series of communities presentations  

that explain the importance of mapping to our 
community members in targeted api languages  

we have plans to present 
proposed redistricting methods  

as you all know community voices and input is 
so critical to redistricting if community voices  

and actual residents of these communities 
are not at the table as these maps are drawn  

those resident concerns will remain invisible and 
when i say actual residents of these communities  

um i'm not talking about advocates 
who live in other zip codes  

um do not you know we if community members don't 
if our actual community members do not set up the  

table and express their needs those needs will 
simply not be addressed and we know government  

solutions are only effective if communities 
show up and come to the table and make sure  

that their concerns are voiced and their issues 
are heard and i think following the 2020 election  

that each of us understand the weight of each of 
our elections and each of our votes and how we can  

make an impact and the difference we watched 
he read states that have been dominated by  

one party for decades turned blue and then there 
were states like our state michigan and georgia  

where disfranchised communities and black and 
indigenous and people of communi people of  

communities made a difference and as we take part 
we can have real change we can see real change  

and my hope is that all of our communities will 
show up and participate in redistricting efforts  

however and wherever possible so that we can make 
sure our government continues to work on behalf  

of the people that it's supposed to represent 
and with that i will hand it to andy thank you

yeah amen thank you rebecca um so i'm here to give 
an example of of how uh my community in battle  

creek has has been affected uh and our community 
of interest here as we see it has been affected by  

by the way that lines have been drawn and here 
we have we have what's kind of the the opposite  

problem that folks like kermit have in 
southeast michigan where you have a very  

very large population center that has to get cut 
up into different districts out state michigan  

such as places like battle creek 
we have the opposite problem where  

we have to draw district lines that encompass many 
different communities together into a district  

um and we feel in battle creek that that has been 
done pretty poorly over the last uh three decades  

or so and that uh that's it's been done 
poorly for you know political advantages um  

so let me tell you a little bit about our 
our community of interest here and how we see  

ourselves in battle creek and calhoun county uh 
aligned more closely with the kalamazoo community  

in kalamazoo county who we have been separated 
from when it comes to a u.s congressional district  

uh and when i say we you know i'm i'm speaking 
generally here about people from battle creek  

i don't intend to speak on behalf of all people 
from battle creek in canton county you know i'm  

i'm just i'm here on on good faith that i have 
you know as a resident here i have some sense  

for for what people feel about how how they're 
being represented so who we are we are in battle  

creek calvin county we are an i-94 interstate 94 
community uh our when we when we go other places  

and we think about the other communities we have 
affinity with we think of other communities along  

the east-west i-94 corridor uh kalamazoo being 
the the largest and closest only 20 miles to the  

west on on 994. uh to the point earlier about even 
environmental geography the kalamazoo river flows  

through our our city and into kalamazoo so when it 
comes to environmental concerns and water quality  

uh when we had the enbridge oil spill 
here in calton county you know that oil  

that oil flowed flowed downhill to kalamazoo um 
but not just that uh the whole the region here  

from an economic standpoint thinking 
of economic community of interest  

you know our our our our regional economic 
development efforts are partnered with  

kalamazoo we share major employers the labor 
pool commutes back and forth between kalamazoo  

far more than that it commutes outside of those 
two communities our health care system our two  

major health care systems uh here in in southwest 
michigan serve battle creek and kalamazoo  

education education system you know if you're 
if you're going to stay at home for a four-year  

university here in battle creek you're probably 
going to attend western michigan university  

that's based in kalamazoo and has some of its 
programming like its aviation school in battle  

creek transportation i mentioned the interstate 
uh our the regional airport here the international  

airport is on the edge of kalamazoo it is called 
the kalamazoo battle creek international airport  

um but then when it comes to sort of more informal 
things like just recreation in le and leisure  

uh if if there are things that i want want to do 
with my family the that battle creek doesn't offer  

more likely than not i'm going to kalamazoo to 
do that just this weekend my wife and i took our  

daughter to an arcade in kalamazoo and went to 
a burger joint over there that we hadn't been to  

that people were talking about or you know if 
i want to go over by on canned diced tomatoes  

at costco i go to kalamazoo to do that so that 
you know that is the community of interest that  

we're building uh you know building an effort 
here in in battle creek and calhoun county  

to testify to the the mic rc but the history here 
is that you know many years ago and for many years  

we were with kalamazoo in a congressional district 
but starting in the 90s that changed we calhoun  

county got put in uh with a more south central 
district they went from calhoun county over to  

washington county and so that's that was oriented 
around 94 yes but we didn't really consider people  

here didn't really feel like that that district 
felt like home to us we were battle creek was the  

largest metropolitan area by far in that district 
and yet out of the 10 terms 10 congressional terms  

during that time only two of those congress 
people were from the battle creek area  

and so when it came time to redistrict again 
10 years ago we got moved out of that so the  

little bit of competitiveness that existed in that 
district was taken care of by calhoun county in  

battle creek being taken out of that district and 
put into the grand rapids congressional district  

which of course for the last five terms has 
been represented by someone from grand rapids  

um and you know grand rapids isn't super far 
away from us but we certainly do not have the  

the north south affinity or feel a community of 
interest connection with the community of grand  

rapids to anywhere near the extent that we do 
with kalamazoo and you know as i talk to people  

and you know this is sort of the common feeling 
around battle creek but before you know before  

preparing for this i talked to some folks around 
town just to check in and you know hey what's it  

been like having someone represent us from from 
grand rapids well it's not been good we don't  

people just don't get the feeling that that 
we're represented by someone from our community  

and and really you know all partisanship aside if 
if i'm represented by someone from the other party  

okay that's that might be a personal issue for me 
but from a larger sense from a sense of wanting  

to have trust in our in our government and 
the people that represent us people should  

feel like their representatives come from their 
community and we just haven't had that here for  

30 years in battle creek and so that's our 
goal in making you know making testimony and  

public inputs to the commission with that i would 
thank you for your time and turn it back over to  

john and if folks have questions about 
what's you know how things are going  

here or what we're planning to do we'd be 
happy to take them later thank you john

thank you kermit rebecca and andy uh  

for telling us about three communities of interest 
and and how they will take part in the process  

there are thousands of potential communities of 
interest in michigan that can take advantage of  

the same opportunity that these organizations 
are going to take advantage of so i think it's  

important that everybody think seriously 
about whether they participate we urge you to  

think about what communities of 
interest are important in your lives  

and being thinking about how these communities 
can convey their views to the micrc  

you can begin by identifying the boundaries 
of your community of interest on a map  

and articulating the shared interests that define 
your community of interest and you might sketch  

in your current congressional state senate and 
state health districts like andy did and learn  

something about how well they serve your interest 
in the districts and you could look at how the  

history of those districts changed over time as 
andy's did in most cases it will be important that  

a community of interest to a community that remain 
intact in new districts because that will provide  

the best opportunities for your representatives to 
get to know your community of interest and allow  

you to communicate with them about policies that 
you care about think also about other communities  

of interest in your area that share your bonds 
and policy goals as well as those that don't  

and consider what your preferred districts might 
look like you can include information like that  

in the material you submit to the commission 
we now turn to the final topic on our agenda  

how communities of interest can prepare to be 
effective participants in the public participation  

phase of the redistricting process to talk about 
this i'll turn the screen over to connie cook  

who is a long time volunteer for voters and all 
politicians who currently leads their community  

mapping program she will discuss how communities 
of interest can develop and present effective  

testimony to the micrc about their desires 
for their new districts take it away connie

thank you john i i thought it was a real treat 
to hear from the three representatives of  

communities of interest they speak with passion 
about their need to be represented better and  

it is interesting to see how important 
that is for various communities in michigan  

what i'd like to discuss is how communities should 
go about preparing to engage in the redistricting  

process so this slide slide 17 shows you that the 
timeline is going to be very tight on the right  

it says the new maps will be used in the 2022 
elections in the middle it says they have to be  

approved by november 1st and on the left of the 
screen it says at least 10 public hearings must  

be held before the maps are drafted then five more 
after they're drafted and before they're approved  

that would be a tight timeline at best 
but the census has made it more difficult  

covid slowed down the census process and rather 
than getting census data in february or march  

as we'd anticipated we won't have it now until 
september 30th that means that the mic rc will be  

unable to meet this set of deadlines and we trust 
that a court will step in and provide a solution  

in any case it's important for communities of 
interest to be totally prepared when the public  

hearings begin we expect that those hearings will 
begin in may and will probably go through part of  

june there will be as john says thousands 
of communities of interest eager to testify  

eager to submit maps to the commission so smart 
communities are going to get started right now  

on strategizing about how to effectively 
describe themselves and map themselves  

the commission will soon announce a portal and 
a process for submitting maps and testimony  

and the commission of course is obliged to 
consider all the testimony that's submitted to it  

let's go on to slide number 18 it talks about 
mapping tools and we in michigan have multiple  

tools that we can use for the mapping process 
there's no one tool that we have to use  

but the one that voters not politicians has 
especially liked is called  

you can google it you can try it out it helps 
communities of interest tell the commission  

about themselves who they are and where they are 
it is a product of the princeton gerrymandering  

group which is part of princeton university and it 
is free a very good thing it has been vetted all  

across the country and we've had over a hundred 
beta testers working on it here in michigan  

it lets the communities describe their shared 
interests and it is relatively easy to use it  

provides a digital map with some landmarks and 
users can click to include regions in the map  

census block by census block 
representable calculates the population  

and the area of your map for you as you as you 
create it and then it produces a hard copy that  

you can email you can print out you can send 
to the commission when you're ready to do so  

it has youtube videos that explain how to use 
this mapping tool and try to make it easy and if  

you have tech questions about representable right 
now some of the staff are on the chats on youtube  

and facebook and they can reply to you with 
technical answers that i can't possibly give you  

i want to talk about a misconception 
and sandy alluded to it earlier we  

find as we speak to groups about this mapping 
process that many people think they have to  

actually draw a voting district a congressional 
district or a state senate district or  

a state house district but that's not necessary 
communities just have to draw themselves  

decide where their boundaries are and draw 
themselves giving their shared concerns  

their shared interests to justify why they 
constituted community and want to be kept together  

most communities of interest are 
not big enough to comprise an entire  

district but the community of interest can 
suggest to the commission other cities like  

battle creek and kalamazoo that would like to be 
together other groups that have shared interests  

they can ask for landmarks such as industrial 
plants or universities that they'd like to have  

in their districts or they can say we don't want 
to be with this other community that has very  

different interests from ours you need to tell 
the commission what your preferences are slide 19  

shows the difference between a representable 
map and on the right a paper and pencil map  

vnp has paper and pencil maps with some 
landmarks available for groups to use  

if you'd prefer to do that rather than 
an online mapping tool but it's just  

fine to use a aaa map or a school district map or 
realtors map or a back of the envelope map any map  

is okay because the mic rc will soon have mapping 
experts who can take your back of the envelope map  

and turn it into something that looks 
as good as the fancier online versions

if you represent a community of interest you're 
likely to want to know how you can get help with  

your strategy for presenting to the commission 
besides vnp there are several other non-partisan  

groups providing support for communities they 
include the michigan non-profit association  

and promote the vote and the league of women 
voters additionally we see popping up various  

party groups political party groups that are 
eager to help communities with their strategy  

for addressing the commission i am most familiar 
with what voters not politicians is doing so  

i'll tell you about that we are facilitating 
conversations for communities of interest to  

help them decide where their boundaries should 
be and what their shared interests really are  

and we're providing training for mapping 
either online or with paper and pencil  

we are offering town halls for the general 
public to learn about the redistricting process  

and you can go to the voters not politicians 
website and sign up for a presentation from us  

on redistricting if you would 
like one we also offer much deeper  

engagement for some communities of interest 
like the three from which or from whom  

you've heard tonight apia vote oakland forward 
and the calhoun county battle creek group  

vnp does have some small grants available 
and we will provide them to communities  

that need some financial support in order 
to engage in the redistricting process  

when we do presentations we are careful with 
the cois to involve someone from the coi  

in our presentations we don't know all your issues 
we don't know exactly what your representation  

ought to be but your members do so we try to 
include people who are knowledgeable about your  

particular concerns and will customize the 
presentation for you using slide number 20  

i want to conclude by discussing why communities 
of interest should participate in redistricting  

the opening video said if you don't define 
yourselves others will try to define you  

you might think that everything is fine for your 
community right now you're perfectly happy with  

your district why change it well it may change 
on its own if you don't speak up and ask for  

what you currently have for example the michigan 
tribal reservations are all intact right now not  

split in various pieces but there's 
no guarantee that that will continue  

they need to go to the mic rc 
and ask that that should continue  

if that's what they want and there are plenty 
of examples of communities that have been split  

through the redistricting process sandy mentioned 
farmington and farmington hills that's certainly a  

good example oakland university is split down the 
middle two different districts if you can imagine  

and there's a mobile home park in ann arbor that 
is split down the middle because the partisans  

who drew the maps wanted a few more republicans 
over here and a few more democrats over there  

so they just went into the mobile home park and 
and picked out the people who had to be moved  

we are hoping that redistricting will make things 
work better for you that it will give you better  

representation that it will give you better 
elected officials people who care about you will  

meet with you understand your concerns and that 
the result will be better government programs and  

services we want your tax dollars to work better 
for you so i want to end now with slide number 21.  

this slide highlights article 1 
section 1 of the michigan constitution  

which has become voters not politicians motto 
political power is inherent in the people and  

we expect that the redistricting process is going 
to give the people of michigan the political power  

that they need and deserve thank you all for 
taking time to hear about the redistricting  

process and i'm going to hand the mic back to 
john who will lead our q a session thank you

thank you connie um if you are new to the process 
of redistricting this may seem very complicated  

but i urge you to take advantage of groups 
and organizations like vnp that will  

offer help and advice that it's not as hard as 
it looks and it's important to your community  

we're now going to turn to q a 
for the remainder of our time

the slide tells you how you can get a question 
in i should note that answers by tonight's  

participants reflect their perspectives only 
but in any way those of the commissioners  

joining us to direct your questions to tonight's 
presenters is miriam saeed a master of public  

policy student who will graduate this spring 
and who was one of the students who produced the  

video that opened this event welcome marion 
let's get started with the first question  

hello everyone i'm very excited to be here and 
honored to have been able to partner with vnp  

to create a video highlighting the importance 
of cois during michigan's redistricting process  

i'll be monitoring moderating the q a portion of 
tonight's event and read the questions that you  

all have for our amazing panel of community 
leaders our first question is for nancy  

what challenges do the pandemic and census data 
delay posed for ensuring adequate engagement of  

communities of interest in the redistricting 
process what is being done to address them  

well certainly the pandemic has led to the census 
delay um like connie mentioned and just recently  

we heard that the census data for michigan 
may not be coming to us until september 30th  

but honestly uh where we're kind of emphasizing 
is that this really does give us uh an opportunity  

and perhaps more of an opportunity more 
time for us to engage our communities  

so you know i know that this is a matter that you 
know how we go about it whether it's zoom whether  

it's in person perhaps soon these are issues that 
we in kind of the good government space are always  

talking about with our outreach engagement and i 
know that the commission also has it from a bind  

and it's also discussing it um in their meetings 
i think right now everyone's kind of hoping that  

we'll get to in person soon um you know in 
california and other states when they've done  

this in the past they've had you know very very 
well attended um public meetings where you have  

hundreds of people kind of lining up to give 
their testimony and that's really powerful  

um experience but you know if not like or 
in the in the kind of meantime as we're as  

we're waiting for uh the pandemic to see then um 
they are gonna and we are as well um as outreach  

groups going to explore as many different ways 
with through you know ethic media and through  

zoom and through telephone and any other ways 
that we can reach out to groups as possible

thank you for that

would anyone else in the panel 
care to answer this question

okay so our next question 
is for our community leaders  

kermit rebecca and andy how might 
the commission best prioritize  

overlapping communities of interest of multiple 
cultural ethnic or shared economic interests  

are some communities to be considered 
more important than others go ahead kermit

hello yeah um just to tackle that i think that 
uh the commission should really consider those  

who have been disenfranchised the most through 
this process i think when you start taking into  

consideration especially like communities of color 
or people who have cultural interests that are the  

same i think you make better lines and you make 
better voting for everybody that's much more fair

great thank you

this next question is for connie i have heard 
that communities of interest will have only a few  

minutes at public hearings to offer testimony they 
will also be able to submit additional materials  

in written form if this is the case what 
should coi focus on in their oral testimonies

connie you're muted

i think it is true that they will have a limit 
on the number of minutes for each community of  

interest so it's particularly important that each 
community strategize in advance and decide what  

its key issue is what its shared interest is what 
really binds it and come before the commission  

with a an articulate impassioned explanation of 
why it's a real community and in terms of mapping  

uh it would be very good for the community to cite 
the data gathering process it used was there a  

panel of community leaders who decided where the 
borders should be was there a demographer whose  

expertise was used was there a survey of the 
population how did the community decide where  

his boundaries should lie use their time 
well that's why it's important to start early

great our next question is for nancy can 
communities of interest be used nefariously  

to isolate or exclude people so the concept of 
communities of interest and actually that that  

specific term as well is used in the majority 
of redistricting processes in the united  

states across the country and the idea is 
and the way it's written in our constitution  

is is as expansive as possible so the idea is 
really to be inclusive and to allow members  

of a community to kind of define themselves 
as long as they're geographically connected  

and they have a shared interest and of course they 
need to articulate to the commission what that  

interest is and it can't be discriminatory and 
it can't be for political gain you know to give  

one partisan uh or party an advantage over another 
but otherwise it can it's it's however a community  

wants to define itself with via historical you 
know shared cultural interests um economic or  

or frankly any other interest that um you 
know that the drafters haven't you know hadn't  

anticipated at the time of drafting it really 
is up to the community members to kind of define

themselves go ahead andy yeah so i think one 
one thing that's important to understand you  

know if you do some ghouling on googling how 
gerrymandering works is that one method of  

gerrymandering or to give to give advantage is 
to pack strix or just google district packing  

which is you know taking a group of people who all 
might be may well define themselves as a community  

interest and pack them all into one district have 
the other group majority group be able to control  

all the rest of the districts thus minimizing 
the pop minimizing the power of the folks that  

you just packed all in the one district so that's 
there's a balancing act that that has to happen  

with the overall principle being what nancy 
just said about making sure people people are  

engaged in that that people have power and that 
the whole system is fair to to make sure that  

we're there our government represents everyone but 
yes the concept can certainly be used nefariously

this next question is for our community leaders 
what advice do you have for people who may be a  

part of a community of interest that is not well 
organized how do we get started go ahead rebecca  

so what thank you mary um um so what's great about 
living in michigan beside our lovely snow is that  

as you've heard here today there are organizations 
that are that already exist and have done the  

difficult work of laying the foundation you know i 
would reach out to any of us here you should also  

view us as a resource that you can point um in 
the right direction the excuse and that we can  

point you in the right direction and if there is 
a group that is more appropriate for you we direct  

you there and one of the goals we all share is 
that to get more community members involved in  

redistricting and one of the benefits of doing 
this work during the pandemic that we've all  

leveraged technology um you know we've all became 
zoom experts to better connect with people across  

weekends um it was a little more challenging 
before but we did it anyways right um and with  

technology it helps us to bridge those geographic 
distances and better connect and mobilize um and  

again lastly um you know when doing this work 
i would definitely say reach out to what is  

not politicians they are the experts and they 
can definitely plug you in where it's needed  

and there's a ton of resources out there and we 
can help you get connected with those resources  

um so all you have to do is contact 
one of us and we'll get you started

that cover it okay well i would just like to add 
one thing to that you've already started today  

by being part of this town hall meeting 
because uh it really takes you thinking  

about what's important to you your 
grocery store your church or whatever  

and so uh the great thing about voters not 
politicians and everybody that's doing this work  

is this regular people doing it so you don't 
have to be elected or been in political office  

a poli-sci major you can be a regular 
folk at the grocery store and get it done

exactly i love that and this next question is 
for nancy given that voters favoring the two  

major parties tend to be concentrated 
in particular areas of the state  

for example republicans in rural areas including 
the thumb and western and northern parts of the  

state while democrats in urban areas including 
southeast michigan will it be possible to  

draw compact and geographically coherent 
districts that have competitive elections

nancy you're muted

sorry as i mentioned during my part you know the 
the goal behind the amendment is to kind of go  

back to the idea of representative government and 
and it's to keep our communities together so that  

we can vote for the representative of our choice 
um and that's why communities of interest rank  

so high in the criteria that the commission has 
to think about when it's trying to draw district  

lines which is to keep our communities intact um 
and then farther down the list our compactness  

and um and uh and competitiveness actually is not 
on the list of criteria and that was by design  

um competitiveness for competitiveness sake is 
not um you know the goal behind fair and impartial  

redistricting it's a matter of of again you 
know keeping people who live within an area who  

historically with you know gerrymandering for a 
lot of our underrepresented communities got taken  

you know their voting power was taken away and 
it's and put back that voting power um in those  

communities we have seen in other states however 
that have independent commissions that you do see  

more competition you see you know new candidates 
you know enter the races because incumbents are  

not protected you do see when you know districts 
um are aligned in a way where you're not just  

specifically and intentionally carving people out 
by party and kind of you know determining what the  

election outcomes will be that there are more 
districts that are mixed um you know in ways that  

that they weren't under gerrymandering so i think 
you'll see more competitive districts as sort of  

like a result of fair redistricting but it's not 
you know your your your um goal to start with

thank you for that connie do you think the 
commission is likely to be responsive to a coastal  

community of interest that requests that it 
be placed in a district with other coastal  

communities because of their common interest 
in tourism rather than being included in a  

district with inland communities that is such 
an interesting question i remember when the  

california commissioners were here talking about 
california districts they talked about that  

long district along the pacific coast route 
1 a snake going down the edge of the state  

with coastal residents primarily in the district 
that is certainly a shared interest being on the  

coast worrying about beach erosion worrying about 
water quality worrying about tourism but there are  

plenty of inland communities that may be worrying 
about many of those same things as well uh  

certainly in northern michigan the inland 
communities in the leelanau peninsula for example  

are also tourist meccas and they share 
many of the concerns of the coastal  

communities on that peninsula i i think that it 
will be important for the commission to decide  

what the shared interests are and to try not 
to exclude people who have a shared interest  

with other communities so if the coastal people 
worry about tourism and the inland people have  

the same concerns about tourism and need the 
same kinds of policies to maximize the benefits  

the commission may choose to 
put them together we will see

sandy this next question is for 
you or andy i'm sorry apologize  

are there guidelines for the physical shape of 
districts is the goal to create districts with  

populations with similar demographics educational 
and professional levels and or community interests  

or to develop districts with balanced 
political points of view and this is for sandy  

oh thank you miriam um so there are of course 
as i mentioned in the presentation there are  

guidelines for the physical shape of the districts 
they have to be um reasonably compact and they um  

can't really be snaking the way that they 
are now um so that's the compactness and  

they also have to be contiguous so you they all 
have to be together touching each other um so  

i guess there's kind of two parts to this 
question um the goal in the creating the distance  

is usually generally communities will want to 
stay together so there they will have similar  

demographics and educational and 
population issues um however um  

the commission is going to need to balance that 
against the political um issues they can't have  

partisan gerrymandering they can't allow 
any polit uh one political party to have a  

a special advantage over another political 
party so it is going to take a lot of balancing  

for the commission to come up with um what 
they think is right but generally i expect  

that the communities will submit their maps and 
the commission is then going to layer them out and  

as we mentioned a community generally will not 
comprise a whole district um so there will be um  

uh they'll they'll be diversity not only be the 
community they'll be with several communities  

there'll be there's there'll be diversity 
so um it's going to be interesting to see  

what happens um i and i wish i could tell you 
what the answer is going to be but i don't know

thank you for that so i just want to let for 
everyone who is viewing right now that we're  

watching the stream of comments and we'll do 
our best to get to as many questions as possible  

a lot are coming in but um we're 
trying to get to as many as we can  

and our next question is for nancy people in jail 
can't vote when drawing district lines are people  

in prison included in that area's population 
demographics um prison gerrymandering for example  

um for example if a latino person is arrested 
in ferndale and serving time in alpena  

where will they count in terms of 
population data for district lines  

right so in michigan there is this issue of 
prison gerrymandering because um the people  

in the jails are counted in that 
district where they are where the  

prison is located um not where they reside 
and so you have an issue where for example  

um for returning citizens um they are not you 
know once they're returning to their community  

um they were not sort of counted in in the 
sense of um having their interests you know  

take into account when those um districts 
around their residency were were created  

um i believe that there is a um a house bill 
that was just introduced to um that kind of  

speaks to this issue and i know that there are a 
lot of reform groups um in other states that have  

successfully you know launched campaigns to um to 
undo what they call you know prison gerrymandering  

but in michigan we still have the issue of 
of having people counted where the jail is

sandy this next question is for 
you with increasing polarization  

it seems communities are becoming 
more organized around political views  

will the commission try to make 
districts politically diverse

well i think that's similar to the question i 
answered before and but it's a very interesting  

question um so we're probably talking again 
about uh the rural districts being perhaps more  

republican and the uh cities being more democratic 
i'm not sure that's what's intended but um  

that there cannot be overt political favoritism 
um partisan favoritism so um that commission is  

definitely not going to allow that however a 
community could say that we are interested in  

some uh for example some views that the republican 
party status uh stands for um the you know for  

example uh lower taxes um and you know that's not 
the same thing as saying we're republican district  

so um i don't think any community is going to 
get anywhere if they try to say well we're all  

republicans we're a community and we're in 
this area so we should be have a district so  

same for democrats you know i mean we can't say 
that we are um pro-welfare or whatever or whatever  

democrats are um and make that fly with the 
commission so um i actually think that communities  

are going to think about what their actual needs 
are what they're looking for from their state and  

federal government and go from there and i hope 
that that's what the commission will work with

kermit go ahead yeah i just wanted to piggyback 
on uh what sandy was saying i think one of the  

things is more people need to be heard at the 
table in order to make those districts fairer  

if uh if there's only three or four people that 
testify at a given meeting uh then those people  

are going to have the strongest voice and 
they'll end up with the strongest map because  

they've pushed their issues in their agenda 
so it's very important that people of all  

ideologies make their voices heard 
at these tables so regardless if it's  

republican democrat independent everybody needs to 
speak up in order for those maps to be right when  

we have them because they're there for 10 years 
that's right yes go ahead nancy well and and you  

know we do get a lot of questions about well will 
we end up with this or will we end up with that  

and i think you know the focus really here is 
and then the intention behind the amendment was  

was to level the playing field you know 
it was to reform the process so it's not  

to do something to give one party an advantage 
but it's to make redistricting fair impartial  

you know impartial meaning not you know helping 
one party or candidate or or another and then  

completely transparent so if someone wants to 
advocate for their community to be kept intact  

for this or that reason they have to justify 
it like connie said um and then the commission  

once it's adopting these lines or those lines it 
has to explain its rationale for doing that and  

it has to be you know for one of the reasons 
that's that's allowed within the constitution

connie andy go ahead yeah i think it's important 
to keep our eye on like we can talk about what's  

you know is this more important in drawing a 
district or is that more than drawing a district  

and the fact is that some of these priorities 
compete with each other yeah like the communities  

of interest and the compactness you might have to 
draw a funky line to keep a community of interest  

together or and and there are at the end of 
the day here there are going to be people who  

are going to be mad about the way the lines get 
drawn like there's only so many ways to carve  

to carve these districts up and 
it's not ever going to be perfect  

there are going to be people at the end who feel 
like they still got the shafts here they're going  

to be like what the heck this didn't i didn't get 
any any better deal here but what's important is  

the process is vastly different that it's not the 
the political parties themselves that are making  

the decisions it's a public commission out in the 
open as was described here up front and that's  

that's the major difference that i think we're all 
putting our faith in that that alone is head and  

shoulders above better than than just letting 
politicians draw the lines voter's not politic  

most genius name for an organization ever happened 
in my political lifetime by the way that was great

go ahead connie andy's right of course that 
not everybody will be happy with the lines  

as they're ultimately drawn but i hope those 
people who are not happy will at least have  

participated so they don't blame themselves 
for the lines being put in the wrong place

it's all of our jobs to participate and 
make sure the commission is as well informed  

as possible about where we 
want the lines to be and why

connie this question this next question is 
actually for you how is the commission ensuring  

that not just the politically aware are showing up 
and participating in meetings how is the community  

reaching beyond just community leaders to achieve 
more citizen input well actually the commission  

isn't ensuring that yet but i think they will 
i know that they're concerned about having  

community of interest testimony and involvement 
in large quantities the group that is doing  

a particularly great job of trying to involve 
many communities of interest across the state  

is the one presenting this webinar tonight the 
close-up center at the ford school of u of m  

they have had students out identifying thousands 
of communities of interest across the state trying  

to get contact information for them and then 
writing them about the redistricting process  

and the resources available to them so 
that they will have a chance to participate  

and i think that the commission will use close-ups 
information in sending out its own notices  

to inform as many people as possible across 
the state and then as i mentioned earlier there  

are many non-partisan groups like voters not 
politicians the michigan nonprofit association  

the league of women voters promote the vote and 
so on and we're all out there trying to scare up  

as many participants as possible finding 
communities of interest wherever we can

go ahead rebecca yes just echoing um everything 
that has been said um and by connie too  

and i think the commission's plan to host 
these town halls with various zip codes  

within accounting within a county is an important 
piece and should be prioritized and i would also  

like to add that um you know prioritizing those 
conversations with each of the ethnic groups  

that compress the community um it is it 
is critical to have these open dialogues  

that encourage residents to voice their 
needs and feel that their voices are heard  

if we truly listen to our communities it would 
help build that relationship and the trust  

between the communities and i feel once these 
conversations are held and i can't stress enough  

how important this is um and once we've taken 
that time to reflect on this conversation and  

look at everything that has been said as a whole 
um and that is a critical part everything as a  

whole you can then identify areas where there may 
be overlapping issues um shared gaps and needs and  

this is the work that our organization and many 
of the organization and the community are doing  

day in and day out and i'm encouraged that 
the commission is present and open to follow  

this as well and this next question actually is 
very related to that last point that you made  

um and it's um towards the our community leaders 
have your groups tried to work with other  

communities of interest in nearby areas or are you 
mostly working on your own and this is for rebecca  

kermit and andy yes um api vote michigan is 
part of a redistricting coalition um we've  

already mentioned a few times michigan nonprofit 
association has a coalition of 20 plus different  

organizations at the table from different 
ethnic groups that are working on redistricting  

so all of our community organizations were 
working together for the same common goal go  

make sure that our voices are heard and 
we're part of the table when the maps are dry

i would i would say this idea of working on 
our own versus working with others there's  

a there's a balancing act to play there 
well so if our argument in battle creek  

is we should be with kalamazoo yes we've 
had conversations with people in kalamazoo  

like hey if hey kalamazoo if we go say this 
like we're telling the truth right like  

people we've talked to say well 
yeah yeah of course you are  

but there will be lots of communities around the 
kalamazoo area that will conceivably want to say  

well we want to we want to be with kalamazoo too 
and depending on how the numbers and the census  

come back like there might not be room in the 
kalamazoo congressional district to fit all the  

people who feel they're in a community of interest 
with kalamazoo and so you know it's not up to the  

people of battle creek to to go convince 
someone they should in with kalamazoo like  

those folks need to make that case on their own 
and leave it to the to the commission to to take  

you know those factors into account 
and they're obviously will have to  

delay you know overlay other other factors making 
a decision of well okay here's where we're gonna  

yes there's this community of interest but we're 
gonna have to split that and you know it gets real  

complicated quickly so yes and no you know it's 
it's about self-determination right like we want  

to determine our our future it's not our business 
to tell other people what their future ought to be

so uh at oakland forward uh we're doing of 
course all of oakland county but we have six  

target cities that we're focused on and we're 
going to make sure that the commission hears  

from them more than anybody else so we are very 
unapologetically selfish in our viewpoints getting  

to the commission and so we're going to make 
sure that we have the town halls the meetings  

and everything else to make sure that everybody 
has a voice that we represent mostly and then  

hopefully the maps will be fair but if those maps 
come out the way we want them then that's going to  

be on everybody else so i'm just letting people 
know ahead of time that we are making sure that  

our voices are heard and to go back to our earlier 
question we're going to stack those commission  

meetings so if it's two minutes per person we're 
going to have 10 people so we get 20 minutes  

that's what we're going to do that's the plan and 
so everybody who's watching this call they need to  

know that they're going to hear from not only open 
forward but those key cities in oakland county  

so they can get the best map possible so that's 
what we're doing great it's good love to hear it  

and we're just about wrapping up on our time for 
questions and i apologize that we weren't able  

to get to all the questions that were posed on 
our stream but this last question is for connie  

the coi process seems dependent on communities 
mobilizing themselves how will the micrc conduct  

outreach to potential leaders and communities 
of interest that are not attending this webinar  

um actually i think that's a question i've 
already answered a little bit with close  

up out there beating the bushes trying to find 
communities of interest and the commission itself  

the mic rc hasn't yet gotten to the point where it 
is out beating the bushes but i know they intend  

to they want to have as much testimony as possible 
from communities of interest and they have put out  

the locations where they will hold public hearings 
assuming that the public hearings can be in person  

not on zoom and they've tried to space them nicely 
across the state and they're getting feedback  

right now from the public about whether 
they've selected the right places and how  

to make the commission hearings as accessible as 
possible and invite as many people as possible  

i these commissioners are people who are very good 
citizens they are taking lots of their personal  

time to do the work for the whole state and 
they're following the constitutional amendments  

guidelines they're trying to be very careful we're 
grateful to them and i know that they will go  

out of their way to make sure that this process 
works effectively the way it's supposed to work  

and we're all happy that it's happening 
this year yes it's very exciting i want to  

as a wrap up thank all um of the audience for your 
questions and thank the panelists for all of your  

insights and your perspectives i'll now pass it 
on to john to wrap up the event for the evening

thank you miriam wow i want to thank you 
for starting us off tonight with your video  

and finishing it up with handling the questions 
so we thank you for that we received many more  

questions than we had an opportunity to 
get to and we thank you for submitting them  

and we hope that you're going to continue to 
follow the redistricting in michigan um that  

it's got a long way to go there's a lot 
of action going to happen along the way  

and i think that that there are resources that 
you can use in addition to the media that you make  

in contact with but with regular updates 
on what's happening what happens when the  

the public meetings uh public hearings occur 
you'll be able to watch them on the website  

there are lots of opportunities to stay involved 
check the you know the commission's website they  

have when they're meeting they have agendas they 
have public comments that people have submitted  

after a week or so they have minutes of what 
happened at the meeting you might have not been  

able to get to so they're very active they're 
very public and i think if you're working with  

a group of people who could divide up a bid who's 
going to watch how much of a four-hour commission  

meeting but the minutes are there they're 
doing a very good job in contrast to the past  

there's more information out there than 
you can probably absorb as an individual  

or in the past you read about it in the paper 
after it happened so i think that um following  

the commission uh close-up has information that 
we will be collecting and putting up voters not  

politicians uh the michigan nonprofit association 
others will so there's plenty out there  

and it's important to keep up with what's about 
to happen next so that you're prepared when we  

get there coming uh i should probably mention 
that the micr is working on an outreach plan now  

and it is possible to sign up for the email list 
on their website so that when they're ready to go  

you'll be informed it's also possible to send 
them you know an email but since here are  

some of the things i hope you're taking into 
consideration as you move forward there are  

you know public comments they're they're not 
extensive but almost every meeting a couple  

of people write in and uh it's a chance 
to you know get in on the discussions  

before decisions are made about what they're 
going to do where they're going to do it and  

in particular how they're going to handle virtual 
meetings because it won't probably come to that so  

we hope that that tonight has you know wedded 
your appetite for spending even more time  

uh worrying about these things than you 
might have been we hope you'll stay in touch  

and go out there and spread the 
word so thank you and good night