(Still from video by Joel Batterman)
– Watch the video below –
As an advocate, what do you do when you feel passionate about a project and want to convince others to share your perspective? If you’re former Portland resident and now Detroit-based transportation activist Joel Batterman, you get out some Legos and planning documents, write a rap song, set it all to music and make a hilariously wonky and informative video.
“We’ve considered asking the Feds to mandate the use of music videos in the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process, since they may reach a wider audience.”
— Joel Batterman
Batterman released his video last week and it’s already got well over 10,000 views on YouTube. We featured it on the Monday Roundup, but I was so impressed I felt it deserved a bit more attention. It also turns out that Batterman is a former Reed College grad who has even been featured here on BikePortland in the past.
Batterman, who now runs TransportMichigan.org and is a student at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, says his mission with the video is to educate Detroit residents about what’s at stake with the Woodward Avenue light rail project. “The private investors want the last three miles to run in traffic [curbside] like the Portland Streetcar,” he wrote to us via email, “That doesn’t serve the goal of rapid, reliable regional transit. For the sake of effective transit and environmental justice, I and other local transit advocates think that should be the priority, just like it was in Portland.”
With his video, Batterman has taken a confusing set of project options and given them new life in a way that is much easier for everyday citizens to comprehend. “I know everyone loves to curl up in an armchair with a thousand-page environmental impact statement,” he says, “but some people might just not have the time or the inclination. In fact, we’ve considered asking the Feds to mandate the use of music videos in the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process, since they may reach a wider audience.”
Batterman says his video has already gotten a lot of attention, being picked up by local media and noticed by transit agencies across the country.
Familiar with a certain project in our region that has its own set of confusing alternatives to choose from and struggles with a lack of citizen engagement, Batterman offered these words of advice, “I do hope someone will give the CRC a similar treatment.”