New Leonard Media

Mark L. Wilson (00:03):

The pursuit of podcast, a purely guest centric show, focusing on people and organizations that advance positive change. positivity can be anywhere. And in a time of vast discord, the pursuit of is finding those who champion its causes loudest. Join us as we sit and learn about the pursuits of local leaders in their community, let’s go.

Ryan Buck (00:26):

Hello, good people, and welcome to the pursuit of podcast where it’s truly not us. It’s you. I’m Ryan Buck, artist development, New Leonard Media. And with me as always is the boss. Mark Wilson, president New Leonard Media. Hey Ryan. Hey, how are you? I’m doing really well. It’s beautiful. It is cutting up. That’s enough of that with us today is Julie Clark executive director TART trails. Julie, thank you for being here.

Julie Clark (00:49):

It is my pleasure. Thank

Ryan Buck (00:51):

You. Well, I’m going to start by saying I am a little bit star struck because in researching this particular, and I probably should’ve said this off mic, but I’m just trying in researching this podcast, your passion for the TART trails and your charisma coupled with the fact that probably my favorite thing about living here, the tar trails truly. And so I’m a little bit starstruck because of what you’ve done. And so thank you really for being here, but looking back, most of your early career was spent in North Carolina, but you grew up in Indiana. Is that?

Julie Clark (01:29):

Yeah, I did. I was an air force brat for a while, so, but most of my childhood is Indiana based. Yeah. Lafayette. So Purdue university. Okay.

Ryan Buck (01:38):

Okay. Of the river. That’s a, that’s a thing. There’s a team there, right?

Julie Clark (01:42):

The boiler makers. That’s the

Ryan Buck (01:45):

Other side of the river, not a sports guy. So sorry, listeners who I’ve offended, but you moved to Traverse City specifically for this role. Is that right?

Julie Clark (01:55):

I, yeah, we were in North Carolina. I was loving it. My husband wasn’t. So we were looking around and the job at TART came up and I applied and it was a long and awesome process. But yeah, it got me up here and it was pretty cool.

Ryan Buck (02:11):

Well, you just opened the door for a question that I had laid a wrong asking. Now, what was the interview process for this position? Because you’d think it was maybe like hand in hand walking through the woods, but was it a boardroom, like an austere boardroom with suits looking at you?

Julie Clark (02:27):

It was a lot of things. It was long. I had to fly up twice. My first meeting was a 7:00 AM. I think meeting. Um, yeah, brutal. I don’t do mornings. So I had to really up my game and it was, we were in the, on the second floor of the bank of Northern Michigan at the time. Now it’s the Haggerty building there across from the post office, but it was a table full of gentlemen around a banking table where it was one woman there. And she was the HR person, Kate green, who I adore and work with today. But yeah, I was surrounded by a table of very inquisitive, very smart. And well-prepared men, including the executive director, Bob bought while on my right. It was an intense process. And it was all day. That was my intro is a many, many hour around that board table, interview session. And then a lot of walking and talking

Ryan Buck (03:23):

And pleasant illusion shattered of you hand in hand with people walking along the TART trail

Julie Clark (03:29):

Later, no hand in hand. Um, they did not know none of that. And there was a party involved and this is how I knew that I was going to love this board. I was, they put me up at the park place, which I believe you are very familiar with. And they were like, Hey, you should come down for drinks. I thought, oh, I like these people.

Ryan Buck (03:49):

Did you feel like it was a trap of any sort or they’re trying to gauge how you are socially as well?

Julie Clark (03:55):

The pieces of advice I got before I left in the North Carolina, my boss at the time, he was like, if they ask you to go to drinks, don’t do it. Don’t do it. I was like, oh, okay. And then I did it because it was great. And they were wonderful. Wow. They had me at hello. They were amazing.

Ryan Buck (04:12):

Wow. That’s great.

Mark L. Wilson (04:14):

He was worried about

Julie Clark (04:16):

How it was the south. And I was a young woman at the time. And I think that

Mark L. Wilson (04:22):

With her, no, he wasn’t worried that you would say something, you get a little toasty and say something to,

Julie Clark (04:30):

It was a Southern gentlemen thing where he just, he was, they, it was a different, I was called man or little Missy allot when I worked in the south

Ryan Buck (04:39):

Little miss, little Missy girl.

Mark L. Wilson (04:42):

That’s those are words of disrespect. They’ll be wow.

Julie Clark (04:46):

It would be weird now to hear that

Ryan Buck (04:48):

Your previous experience was almost exclusively planning and development. And you’d been a director in this kind of capacity before government government. Did you feel well-prepared when you arrived here in, what was it about Travis city that lured you?

Julie Clark (05:04):

It’s funny. Cause I knew about Traverse City before I came up, I worked with mark Vandercliff, who was at Corbin design for a long time. And they did our wayfinding signage down there. We had hired them to do wayfinding. So I knew of Traverse City and used to make fun of it because he’d call in may and he’s like, oh, we’re going to go skiing. And you’re like that

Ryan Buck (05:23):

It’s terrible. It’s entirely possible ladies and gentlemen

Julie Clark (05:26):

And maybe exaggerating, but it felt like he said that in may

Mark L. Wilson (05:30):

Stranger things have happened here. That is true. I

Julie Clark (05:32):

Believe we skied a couple of Aprils ago in like lady.

Mark L. Wilson (05:35):

Oh, of course. And it snowed like the June of 1996. It snowed up here so bad. You know,

Julie Clark (05:41):

That’s not here. I would never have come here. So what hooked me was the town. I immediately, the story that we tell is my husband and I, when we were flying in, we looked right. You fly into the airport and you see the water and you see the trees. And then my leans over and just said, don’t screw this up. Oh man, that was our first interview.

Ryan Buck (06:02):

Just visually for him. He felt something flying in. Right?

Julie Clark (06:06):

My husband’s a water and woods guy grew up in the Everglades or what were the Everglades? Um, later turned into coral Springs and you know, Fort Lauderdale mess down there. So he was woods and water all the way. And he saw that. And then he was home.

Ryan Buck (06:20):

You have a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Miami of Ohio where you graduated, Loudy go red Hawks. Nice. And this is a school that’s in Ohio for people who are confused because I still think we should clarify that we

Julie Clark (06:35):

Were a university before Florida was a state.

Ryan Buck (06:38):

It’s one of the older universities in the country, 18 something. And that seems like a great school in general for what you do because there’s research components and things like that. But mass communication. What was your initial career goal? And does the skill set that you learned there apply to what you do now? I know

Julie Clark (06:55):

I had no career goal. I don’t think I didn’t. I changed my major nine times. I wound up in mass communications because I didn’t know what I wanted to do really. And I had accumulated so many credits. I think it was fun then my junior year. And they were like, dude, you got to declare. So I had a major in mass communications, a minor in environmental studies and then almost got my film minor one credit short. Oh,

Ryan Buck (07:20):

I know. Is that something you ever want to go back to and get? Just so you have another thing? No, I just

Julie Clark (07:25):

Like my Netflix now. Okay.

Ryan Buck (07:27):

Well mass communication. That seems like a good catchall mass communication. Let’s do that.

Julie Clark (07:31):

I thought I was going to go into the science field and kind of save the world by explaining science to all of us. Just dumb it down. So people like me could understand what we could be doing better to live better, healthier. Um, I really needed you

Ryan Buck (07:47):

Last year.

Julie Clark (07:48):

I was more on the climate side and the wildlife and I went to Washington DC between my junior and senior year and lobbied. Cause I thought, oh moon, then I didn’t like that. Yeah.

Ryan Buck (08:00):

Well it’s interesting. You, you said before we sTARTed that, you know nothing about science, but you hold a master of science degree for which the Latin is majesty. Right. [inaudible] wow. It sounds like a Harry Potter spell, I guess. Do you ever use the Latin? Because that sounds really rad.

Julie Clark (08:17):

My husband would be very disappointed. The science teacher that he is,

Ryan Buck (08:21):

Yeah, that was from the university of Florida. And that kind of seemed to indicate a redirection to your passion now. So what brought you to

Julie Clark (08:28):

We’ll go get field work, like go get my boots muddy. I went to world wildlife fund and I wanted to work there in DC and do, you know, kind of again, change the world. And they said, go learn about the world, get dirty, get humbled. And then you can come back and you can try to tell other people what to do to give that advice. He was, uh, one of the directors at world wildlife fund. He’s gone on to work at the national park foundation, do all kinds of, but he was like a mentor that I really appreciated was like, go do and work and sweat and toil and get real before

Ryan Buck (09:06):

You what to change, what to focus on and what

Julie Clark (09:09):

People are fighting for and why they’re fighting maybe against each other, like go understand both sides. So I worked in the Everglades for two years. Really?

Ryan Buck (09:17):

That’s real. That’s messy stuff. That’s really in it. It was dangerous. Was it dangerous? No,

Julie Clark (09:23):

No, no. I mean, I could have gotten smushed by a sugar truck, but that’s about it.

Ryan Buck (09:28):

What a way to go. So there wasn’t like the Python problem.

Julie Clark (09:33):

They’re not the part that wasn’t that bad. There were a lot of snakes, lots of snakes. It was hot and it was hard work and you don’t get paid much, but I loved it because there were lots of snakes and the, I did alligator and crocodile work.

Ryan Buck (09:46):

This points to your toughness because you said not dangerous. You’ve said alligators, snakes, chronic heat, sugar truck mashing. I think you’re underselling this a little bit.

Julie Clark (09:59):

No, it was a lot of field work. It was a lot of research. I did get to see kind of all cross sections of south Florida and see how everybody was interacting or playing well together or not playing well together. Everglades, you know, it was, it’s kind of a hot mess down there. Um, and I just really enjoyed the complications that it introduced it. Wasn’t black and white, you know, farms weren’t good or bad and wildlife biologists, not good, not bad. It was just a really good eye-opening experience on what we do to the earth that we live on and why we do it and understanding, I think all the different perspectives. Right.

Ryan Buck (10:35):

Well, that’s interesting because in looking at your trajectory, I was wondering, and I think you answered the question if you ever thought about going into teaching or going into academia, but it sounds like did this field work that mentor take you off that path for sure. And assure that you would always be in the field as it were. Okay.

Julie Clark (10:53):

You know, I teaching, no, I don’t have, I know what a good teacher looks like. I’m married to one and I’m not that I don’t have patience for that. I don’t have that. It’s a gift. I really do think the good ones have a gift. Uh, I don’t have it academia. I ended up doing my master’s degree at Florida and what I loved about it was I love research. I love finding out like why about things and you know, what makes things in people tick and why? The wise, I love the wise and my team at TART make fun of me. They have really funny little marks for me. Some of them are very inappropriate and I won’t share out loud, but I’m a data nerd and I, you can’t give me too much information. Sometimes they want to kill me because I ask for so much information before I want to make a decision, right.

Julie Clark (11:38):

Or why they made a decision. I want to know all the why’s, but the data part was cool. But what I, again, found working academia, we wrote a lot of plans and we worked with a lot of communities is the, you know, universities would come in with these great ideas and great plans, but oh my God, not executing on that stuff when it was created in a university lab, so to speak like that was tough. I didn’t, ah, I wanted to see the change on the ground and work with the communities. And you know, you do university research, you leave a paper plan and you walk away.

Ryan Buck (12:13):

Yeah. Well, I feel like anything that has an environmental impact, that’s a good trait to have is over analysis. Right. And it has an impact on people too. Yeah. Right. So the target, essentially, if I have this right formed in 19 98, 19 99, and what made it come together was kind of interesting because there are different associations organizations, maybe even ownership stakes in that. Okay. Has that changed at all? Is that structure what’s the back of the house look like now? Or is it the same as it was back then? No,

Julie Clark (12:45):

It’s very different now. So even the board makeup was different when the four groups formed. So there were four separate trail organizations and they were really all doing their own thing. And what TART kind of asked them all to do is, Hey, figuring out your priorities and figuring out how to work together. And then we all have a common goal. Let’s try to work for the common goal, which means sometimes people had to wait or compromise. And so even when the board was put together, it was like representatives from the Leland trail, the TART trail, the Vasa and the Boardman. And that was the board. Those distinctions are no longer there. Now my founders are all still around. So the women and men, not all we lost, like Ted ochre strum, and a couple others long way, but the founders are mostly still there and still super passionate about the trails that they helped form.

Julie Clark (13:33):

Wow. And I, I just have a huge amount of respect and debt of gratitude to all of them that gave because it right, that was voluntary, blood, sweat, and tears that they put into it and that their life to bring these trails to fruition, like Tim brick is one of the founders of the TART trail and he’s still living it and breathing it every day. Dave monstery, one of the founders of the lean, our trail actually hosts a stop. And still to this day, working every Tuesday and Thursday on the trail, I mean, they don’t ever go away, give up and their expectations are so high, like to try to meet them is a constant goal for us.

Ryan Buck (14:11):

It’s amazing that you were able to integrate and create a unified system. I feel like that’s rare that you’re able to do something like that.

Julie Clark (14:21):

I think it’s all those guys and gals in the beginning who are really able to put away their egos and um, yeah.

Ryan Buck (14:29):

Yeah. Wow. So when you arrived and you became more immersed in your position, was there anything right away that concerned you or opportunities that stood out like immediately?

Julie Clark (14:39):

Yeah, one of the first weeks I was sat down by Jean de Renzy and shuck corn. Anyway, I sat down with the city and the township and gene Derenzy called us all together and said, there’s this thing you to know about? And that’s the Boardman lake trail and we need to get this done. That was one of my first weeks on the job. So yeah, there was an opportunity right there. Right. And look, that was 11 years ago. And we’re just about,

Ryan Buck (15:04):

So the recording of this podcast is quite poignant because there’s a lot of news about you and what you’re doing. And I think positive news, which is pretty great.

Julie Clark (15:15):

I’m going to just be clear here. The U S TART there’s no, Julie, it’s the U S TART, just to be sure.

Ryan Buck (15:22):

Very selfless. Well, to that point, and you look at the historic development of TART when you arrived, there was a lot of activity pretty quickly and a lot of progress. So how do you look back on that initial first few years?

Julie Clark (15:38):

Oh, golly. Yeah. I mean, I think we’ve got 40 miles of trail on the ground my first five years. So it was an accelerated pace that is a little bit mind numbing today. So sleeping bear, heritage trail, that was an opportunity just right there. Ready to go. We had no idea it was going to go Leland on trail at grant came in. I mean, we had to raise massive amounts of money, which I’d never done before because I was government. So I had tax dollars. Right. It was very different. Um, you have to be very, very careful with both private or tax. Those are, to me just as precious as private donors, but to raise private dollars was a new ball game

Ryan Buck (16:18):

About that. A lot on the podcast with non-profits and how that’s a misnomer and how grant money and how tenuous that can be. Can you talk a little bit to that, your experience with that? Because I think there’s a misnomer out there about how, oh, they have all this money and people donate and it’s not really the case. It’s fun.

Julie Clark (16:38):

My mom was asking me that just this weekend, she was like, well, how do you pay your staff? And I said, well, we raised the money every year because we are 93% supported by private dollars. So those are individuals or foundations like rotary or Olson that helps support our work. And it’s an annual lift. So we don’t really get federal grants in the trail world. Most of the construction money comes to our state and federal and local agencies. So road commissions or cities. Sure. So that’s where, you know, if, for example, the Boardman and lake trail is going to be a $6 million project. Let’s say most of that is coming from local sources, whether that’s brownfield or state funds. So we help write all those grants most times to get that public funding in. So that’s what TART staff is doing, right. Or hiring out. And then for example, what the Boardman, you know, we raised over a million in addition to that money to partner with our public. So it really is a true public private partnership to bring these trails to fruition, which is different than when I was in North Carolina. When I was in North Carolina, it was all public. It was a hundred like taxpayer funded. It was a flip when I got here, it’s not quite set up the same way. So I had to learn a lot here.

Ryan Buck (17:58):

And you knew that going in, it was just, you knew that you had to learn.

Julie Clark (18:02):

I knew I had to learn. That’s what I knew. I knew I had worked on some nonprofit boards. I’d seen what dysfunctional nonprofits look like. I’d never seen a functional ones. So TART was pretty great because we were pretty functional Bob out well, did an amazing job sort of laying a foundation there that we could work from.

Ryan Buck (18:18):

Well, I mean, you know, you had that initial night out, you know, some drinks and you created your shorthand. Do you remember what you had? Did you go conservative?

Julie Clark (18:27):

I think I had a glass of red wine. They did not know my love of bourbon then.

Ryan Buck (18:34):

And you mentioned staff, so you currently have 10 official staff members about yeah. About, so when you look at somebody joining your team, what qualities does somebody have to possess to be on your team? What is something that if they don’t have it, it’s a deal breaker.

Julie Clark (18:52):

The love, the mission of TART, they have to, they just have to groove on helping people get there, find their way around on foot and on their bikes. So that’s

Ryan Buck (19:02):

And how do you find that out? I mean, it’s easy for somebody to say, oh, I’ve got passion for this. Is it just, you have a feeling it’s instinct or is there something they can do or demonstrate show up for the interview on a bike, for example, like you showed up to this, this recording, which is real on brand, how do they demonstrate that?

Julie Clark (19:20):

You know, I try to make sure that I’m being real open-minded, but I think one of the ways that has been demonstrated is they volunteer with us. Almost everybody on my staff has been involved with trails in one way or another. So they’ve given their time or talents. One of my board members ended up being a staff that was weird. Cause it’s like, you’re hiring your boss. So, but it was great. It was an amazing fit. So for me, you know, it, it’s not too hard to dig into that authenticity. You know, like you can talk a good game, but we have a really pretty in depth hiring process. And I always bring in outside and board members help and staff, all my staff meet everybody anytime we hire.

Ryan Buck (20:02):

So is it a similar process to you? Do you put them in a big room and surround them in a circle and intimidate them for two days? See if they got the grit? No,

Julie Clark (20:11):

But we asked them some good questions. I think that’s excellent.

Ryan Buck (20:15):

Well, you mentioned the board is the board a hundred percent volunteer base? Yep. And what are the terms and how diverse is the current board and furthermore, how important is it to have a diverse board for TART?

Julie Clark (20:27):

Like I said, at the beginning, I took this job because of the board. I thought, oh man, if I get to work with people like this, like these are the kind of people leading our organization. Ah, I’m in and the board, I was terrified the kind of first board transition that we had, we have three-year terms, some board members serve maybe two terms. We don’t actually have term limits is something we’ve talked about, but never really done because it’s been a very fluid evolution on the board. And anyway, that’s a podcast for a different podcast,

Ryan Buck (20:59):

Your board dish on your board.

Julie Clark (21:03):

So I love my board. I trust them implicitly to give me and staff some sound direction and guidance. I love how enthusiastic they get. We do have a pretty diverse board, both in age and backgrounds. And I’m excited that we have a little bit more representation in, you know, kind of who is around the region. So we do have older, younger male or female, just different, you know, kind of races and religions on there. And wow, I’m really excited about

Ryan Buck (21:36):

When you said, I love how enthusiastic they get. Sometimes that’s a euphemism for like a real pain, but you said it latest gentlemen, it was very sincere. She meant enthusiastic, not the other thing, but you’ve also mentioned in, in you open doors for a lot of good questions, but you mentioned volunteers and you count on a lot of volunteers. Now, what has the last year and a half done to your volunteer pool? And are you struggling now or did you throw all the COVID and everything like that?

Julie Clark (22:07):

Well, again, the volunteers we have, so we have 121 they’re called ambassadors. They’re our frontline kind of folks who are out there all the time, working for the trails. Uh, one of that ambassador crew is called the Leland trail crew. And those are their guys, their group of guys who are out every Tuesday and Thursday who maintain that trail. They’re the ones that you see clearing brush or repairing the asphalt. We actually own that Leland on trail between Traverse City and Sutton space. So it’s our responsibility. They were out there all during the pandemic. So they were deemed essential workers because the influx of people that we saw on the trails, they were out there making sure that those trails were safe and operational so that we could all get out and stay active and healthy. And what we saw was we did have to put a pause on kind of a lot of our volunteer opportunities.

Julie Clark (22:58):

Um, typically, you know, volunteers come in in many different forms, but one of the factors, I think that draws them is that ability to meet others or to socialize and have that, you know, sense of community. And that was really hard to do during COVID. So we tried to either send out households or individuals so that they could still go to work, but we did have to put a pause. You know, we followed the governor’s orders pretty much to the T to make sure we were keeping people safe. And now volunteers are back with a vengeance they’re coming in new and all, you know, all the folks that used to work with us are right back in. And the minute we opened, you know, the gates back open, so to speak, they were there. I mean, they’re, they’re doing everything. They did the big transformation plantings.

Julie Clark (23:40):

So we have artwork going in on the TART. They’re doing that really? Where’s that going to be? That’s going to be right near TBA ISD and the cherry capital airport. That’s part of a, we redid, this is another thing I love working with TART on is it takes all of us to take care of our communities. And so like the TART transformation is a partnership between the city of Traverse City, grand traverse county, east bay township, cherry capital airport, and then, you know, volunteers very specific like helping bring in landscaping. We have a new piece of art that’s going in there. So it’ll be a metallic structures. So it’s like a bench seating and we widened that trail. So it was like an eight foot wide. That was the original trail, that trail, right? Uh, between Woodmere and three mile was one of the first stretches of the TART built in 19. Oh, John Robert Williams is going to kill me. Cause I don’t remember my dates. I don’t know my kids’ birthdays. So how am I going to remember anything? 1990? Let’s say 95.

Ryan Buck (24:37):

All right. Nobody’s going to refute you in this room. 1995, everybody.

Julie Clark (24:43):

Well, you know, was 30 years ago. So somebody do the math 1990. I would have been 91 91. Thank you, mark. You know, there’s a winner. I’m not the

Ryan Buck (24:52):

Mat. We got there together as a team. There we go

Julie Clark (24:55):

See all about collaboration because what I’m saying,

Ryan Buck (24:58):

Well, how many miles do you have now? And what’s the vision for the next five years? Are you looking at it like that?

Julie Clark (25:03):

Do we? Yeah. So a hundred miles thereabouts of trail on the ground today that we are involved with in one shape or another in the next 20, we’d like to double that. So another a hundred miles. Wow. In this next year alone, we have about five miles. That’ll go on the ground. That that’s pretty exciting. And then, you know, the, there’s some big ones out there, like the acquaint, the trail way that connects up to Charlevoix and acne, that’s going to be 40 plus 46 plus miles.

Ryan Buck (25:30):

Gosh, that’s exciting. Yeah. So is there an aspect of your job that would be surprising for the lay person to hear? Is there anything about your day to day? That would be like, wow, she has to do that. Or that’s interesting.

Julie Clark (25:46):

My day-to-day I think people think I’m on the trails a lot more. It’s not surprising or interesting. It’s sort of sad. Like

Ryan Buck (25:55):

What’s sad about your job. I didn’t want to frame it that way, but here we are.

Julie Clark (26:00):

Well, you know, I’m a half glass empty gal. Um, no, I think people do think like we’re on, I’m on the trail all the time and mostly I’m in meetings to try to get more trail on the ground or kind of get all the cats together. I think one of the more interesting parts I’m trying to think, like what is

Ryan Buck (26:20):

More surprising or you already knocked out sad, you know what it is? Ryan is

Mark L. Wilson (26:24):

Sometimes the things that we’re going to find very interesting and intriguing. She doesn’t think

Ryan Buck (26:30):

About because mundane. Yeah.

Mark L. Wilson (26:33):

Because it’s your day to day

Ryan Buck (26:35):

And we had no good points. Well, the idea that, you know, one of us could be biking on the TART trail and you’re just sitting there, you know, with weather experimentation, you know, trying to gauge, you know, gradients and stuff,

Julie Clark (26:48):

You know, like there’s usually,

Ryan Buck (26:51):

But you’re the, the reality is there’s a lot of administration, there’s a lot of advocacy, advocacy, advocacy. You don’t edit that out. I’m I’m, I’m, I’m human, I’m frail. And you know, you need to, again, connect a lot of pieces aside from a staff that you have and volunteers that you need to motivate and maintain and new artwork that you need to facilitate. And all of that. Yeah.

Julie Clark (27:14):

I love that. I have somebody on my staff who knows all about art because we had a program that sat there and then Caitlin came and now we have art on the TART and it’s

Ryan Buck (27:23):

Awesome. Okay. Is that a coined term? It aren’t on

Julie Clark (27:26):

The TART on the TART. It is a program

Ryan Buck (27:27):

Where the first time it was said,

Julie Clark (27:29):

No, no, it’s yeah. It’s a real thing. And you will see it at 10th street Trailhead. You will see it by the TBA ISD. You will see it while you’ll see it at the time to let go of statue. That’s there

Ryan Buck (27:42):

And the planets,

Julie Clark (27:44):

Oh, the planets are awesome. Yeah. That’s a physics teacher from the area that did not come much. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ryan Buck (27:52):

Kirby, how much of TARTs annual success has been based on events that you hold and did COVID effect those or were you less than because you’re outdoor? I mean, because there were less restriction outdoor, but were you effected by that as well?

Julie Clark (28:07):

Yeah, we got hit, uh, so events don’t make up a large part of our revenue stream, which is good. Um, because events are always, you know, kind of hit and miss depending on weather because we are an outside organization. So that part, certainly again, we followed the Gov’s orders and she said, don’t so we didn’t. Uh, so we didn’t have our normal events can record use of trails out there, which is awesome, but we didn’t pull people together. So it’s really nice like this week, tomorrow’s the end of smart commute week. And that was just been, I think we’re, I don’t remember what year we’re in, if we’re in 28 or 30 Bob out while will kill me on that one too. This is

Ryan Buck (28:46):

A perilous podcast.

Julie Clark (28:48):

It is the numbers. The numbers are not my friends. Um, but it was, it’s been a tradition before TART was sTARTed to have smart commute week and to miss that last year, like the comradery and the community building that occurs in these events was a bummer. But you, you do things, you know, like this is, it was serious. So we took it seriously. And this year we’re back, we’re safe. It’s great. But like spark commute, we were having record numbers, attend again in a really comfortable way toward a target. We’ll be back this year. So we definitely took a hit, but it was a purposeful hit that we took.

Ryan Buck (29:29):

Well. And you mentioned the governor. Does your position take you to Lansing very often? Is there any kind of that kind of advocacy?

Julie Clark (29:36):

Okay. There are some good things about coven and one of them is zoom meetings. So yeah, I used to have to go to Lansing. My kids hated it. I don’t know, twice a month or so. Um, I serve on a couple of state boards. One is for trails, Michigan trails and Greenways Alliance. So that’s the state-wide trail organization. So I’m the board president for that. And then I serve on the Michigan state parks advisory committee, which today was big news for state parks. There was a $250 million COVID allocation that the governor has proposed for state parks and trails maintenance to really bring everybody up.

Ryan Buck (30:11):

And how is that an amount that’s significantly impactful. Oh my gosh. Yeah. Yeah, because it’s, sometimes it can be relative. And you think is that impactful? That sounds like it is.

Julie Clark (30:21):

It is impactful. I think that the guesstimated budget on that backlog of maintenance was anywhere from two 50 to 300 million. So getting 250 million that wipes a pretty clean slate, no maintenance is maintenance, so it’s ongoing. Sure. But yeah, that was a huge, huge proposal.

Ryan Buck (30:41):

It was good news. I had read in an article that rightly calls you the woman who built Traverse City’s recreational trips. No,

Julie Clark (30:48):


Ryan Buck (30:49):

This is just my opinion.

Julie Clark (30:52):


Ryan Buck (30:53):

Your humility is, is, is clear. The listeners can get, but in this article you confess to being quote, the worst person to walk with. Do you still maintain and support that statement?

Julie Clark (31:07):

I think so. Mark maybe can touch. I like we weren’t on a trail, so I wasn’t quite as like

Mark L. Wilson (31:14):

Th the critique, the new sidewalk project through the neighborhood here, we had a walking meeting recently when we discussed having around the podcast and a few other common interests.

Julie Clark (31:25):

Sometimes I get frothy and really, uh, you gave me walk of like Gary Howell and Tim Warner and watch out we ain’t, we steamroll and it’s not pretty.

Ryan Buck (31:34):

So does this enthusiasm as you put it preclude you from enjoying what you are building and sustaining, or can you turn it off

Julie Clark (31:44):

Sometimes? No, I can never turn it off, but I don’t, it doesn’t preclude me from a joint. It may preclude all the others around me. And I know my staff is always like, oh God, she’s been on the trails because I just email or text. Like, you need to go look at this. Um, but no, because all you’re doing when, when I see this stuff is think of ways to do things better or what we could do. We next time, you know, or, oh, look at this, like, no, it’s energetic.

Ryan Buck (32:09):

So what about when you visit similar trails, other places, are you just like, these guys are doing it wrong? Oh my God, can you enjoy it then? And maybe laugh at how bad they’re doing it compared to TART.

Julie Clark (32:22):

You know, I am that awful kind of person who is very critical of

Ryan Buck (32:29):

I’m getting what you’re laying down. Totally justified our podcast opinion.

Julie Clark (32:35):

Well, I tend to then see the only, the, mostly the positives of other places. So what I pick up is, oh my gosh, I want to do that. I want to do that. I want to do that. Did you see that? So on my husband’s way worse, we have pictures of him like lying in bike lanes and, oh, what’s that? Oh my God, what’s that place in California, Silicon valley. And he had like, he’s lying across and he’s, he’s smashing himself in the middle of a bike lane. He’s like, look, how, why are these bike lanes are? And it was a bad,

Ryan Buck (33:04):

So things are, can be learned from, from you wouldn’t call them competitors. Right? You’d just call them colleagues, other

Julie Clark (33:12):

Colleges, other

Ryan Buck (33:13):


Julie Clark (33:14):

Counterparts kind of pirates. That’s a good

Ryan Buck (33:16):

One. That is a good one. So finally it may be a little personal, but

Julie Clark (33:22):

Tend to overshare, you know,

Ryan Buck (33:24):

I need to know. And you, you mentioned bourbon, but do you still ride a tandem bike with your husband? Bill? And can you still win the occasional tequila competition?

Julie Clark (33:35):

Oh my gosh. How did you know what the tequila

Ryan Buck (33:37):

Competition? I’m just asking a question that may have been, I don’t know where it came from, but do you still ride a tandem bike with your husband and can you still win the occasional tequila competition?

Julie Clark (33:48):

Okay. I still ride a bike with my husband and I am not too proud to say he was right. I will say it out loud for the world to hear he was right. And once we learned how to communicate and it’s very good therapy, it’s marriage therapy, because you can be mad as all get out with your spouse or your partner, but you have to talk on that thing. Otherwise you both fall and it’s no fun. So he was, he was right. We do write it. And now I can’t go down Hills. I kinda got, um, I don’t like speed. I can’t staff again, will tell you that I don’t do speed downhill. Well, so tandem, I just closed my eyes and I let him go. And it’s pretty amazing.

Ryan Buck (34:29):

Wow. That’s a little Butch and Sundance. You got rain drops. Keep falling on my head, trying to find Zen, dude. You really? Yeah. Wow. And a tequila. No. Have you stopped competing in the professional tequila circuit

Julie Clark (34:41):

Now? A lightweight, I I’m sad that those days are behind me. My roommate, who had to pick me up after that one, that I won and got the t-shirt for. She would argue that perhaps I don’t remember my skills as well as I think I,

Ryan Buck (34:58):

Well, if you’re cultivating your professional persona as well at the time

Julie Clark (35:02):

Though, you know, like I don’t need to win. I win by being able to pick out the better tequila instead of the Wells stuff. Right? Like I can tell the difference between, well, yeah.

Ryan Buck (35:15):

Well, how can listeners support TART? I mean, we talked about volunteers. What are the other ways

Julie Clark (35:20):

There’s so many ways to support TART. One is absolutely volunteer. Go to the website, learn all about us. Clearly. We’d love you to donate. That’s awesome. But most importantly, like use your voices to support. TART is awesome, but let’s support our community and walkable bikeable so speak up at your community. Whether you live in a township or the city, let your elected official, know what you like and what you don’t like. They love to hear what you like because nobody ever shares that part. Let them know when they’re doing a good job. When that new sidewalk comes in, that the just zigged around that tree, or maybe it was just a zag, just because

Ryan Buck (35:57):

Is there a distinction between a Zig and zag? You’re a professional, can you put this to rest? As I’ve never known? I think I was zigging and maybe I was agging yeah. All’s I

Mark L. Wilson (36:07):

Know is I’ve zigged when I was supposed to say

Ryan Buck (36:11):

So, you know, when you do it wrong. Yeah. I would agree with that. Well, the website is Travis, Travis trails, And you can donate directly. There’s a button.

Julie Clark (36:21):

You can a very big button that

Ryan Buck (36:23):

Says there’s a big button and you can learn about the tar trails. You can find the trail that may best suit you. I don’t think there’s any BA it’s flat and it’s convenient. And it’s beautiful. I moved here from Chicago where biking and walking could be a danger at any time. So having among other things, what you have is so amazing. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our listeners?

Julie Clark (36:48):

Well, I will say that our vision is that every home is a Trailhead. That’s what we want to get to. And that’s, I mean, that’s really all of us. Um, that’ll need to work together to do that, but we want you to be able to go out your door safely, walk or bike to get anywhere you want to go.

Ryan Buck (37:03):

So that’s our accessible, fully

Julie Clark (37:05):

Accessible, safe, free, comfortable, convenient.

Ryan Buck (37:07):

That’s amazing. Not like you’ve ever said that before saying, well, Julie, thank you so much for your pursuits and to all those who pursue along with you, sustaining and expanding the amazing Trevor’s area, recreational trails, and allowing all of us to experience it and love it just as much as you do. Probably not even close to as much as you do, but thank you so much for being here. Thank you for having me and to you, our listeners. Thank you so much for listening and thank you for pursuing the positive.

Mark L. Wilson (37:36):

Hey everybody. Thank you for joining us again on the pursuit of podcast. Big thanks to our guests, Julie Clark, for joining us from TART that’s Travers area, recreational and transportation trails can be found at For those not from Northern Michigan, the word is also, and a big shout out to our supporters at the tin lid hat company, Use the promo code: thepursuitof for 40% off to our listeners and for audio visual inquiries, podcasting, check out