March 2019

What happens when you get 50 inspiring people in a room together?

A lot of laughing, powerful conversations, a few tears, and some amazing food.


That’s how 50 of us from across northern Michigan spent our weekend together at The Up North Summit in February. Folks traveled from more than 15 communities in total, all across the region.

With our time together, we strengthened our community and the relationships that hold us all together as values-aligned leaders and activists.

For most of the day on Saturday at the summit, we spent time in breakout groups thinking about the pillars of our Regional Agenda, which you can read here, and exploring possible ways we can work toward achieving our vision. We’re back home and off to a running start, making plans and getting work done all across the region.

Check out photos from the summit below, then read how the work continues!

What’s happening next?

The answer is, a lot.

  • Training! The most important next step will be the Community Organizer Workshop happening in the northern lower peninsula the weekend of May 17. There, we’ll dig into the “how” of bringing our Vision for Northern Michigan into life. Keep an eye on your email for more details and a link to register.

  • Shaping the electoral landscape! Ten of us from all across the northern region jumped on a call together to explore what’s possible using Deep Canvassing as a tool for our electoral organizing. We’ll be customizing Deep Canvass tools for our own unique goals and challenges, piloting a program this spring and summer, then bringing a thorough Deep Canvassing training to northern Michigan in September. Shoot Megan an email at if you want to jump in on the action!

  • Continuing conversations from the Summit! We developed campaigns that have the potential to be very powerful during the Up North Summit. Our Northern Michigan organizers will be following up to keep these moving!

  • Let’s talk energy! Two very important pieces of work are emerging across the UP and northern lower peninsula around energy. Like all of us, they are deeply linked. Email Megan at to join the conversations.

    • This year’s Water is Life Festival will be Saturday, August 31 at Conkling Park, Mackinaw City. There’s no way around it — Line 5 MUST be shut down in order to protect our waters and the planet. Join this celebration of water and those working to protect it at the festival.

    • UPPCO has been charging UP residents some of the highest energy rates in the country. For many of us, our rates have doubled in the last decade. This is unacceptable and we know that action is necessary. We’ll be working to stop UPPCO’s monopoly across much of the UP and exploring what a sustainable energy future looks like.

  • Rural Organizing Team! Feel free to smirk when we say this region is geographically large. Feel free to smile knowingly when we say this region needs resources so that we can create change! We The People hears you. To that end, we’re expanding how we operate in northern Michigan by building a rural organizing team! Welcome Betsy Coffia, in Traverse City, as she joins the WTP team bringing her wealth of knowledge and experience in local elections and electoral organizing!

Megan Collier Hess