Crowdfunding campaign launched for RICC Pocket Park + Mural project in Ontonagon

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

$7,600 goal to win matching grant through MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places initiative

LANSING, Mich. – Downtown Ontonagon will soon be home to an inclusive pocket park and historical mural through a new crowdfunding campaign, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the Village of Ontonagon, and the Ontonagon Regional Inclusive Community Coalition (RICC) announced today. The campaign is being offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $7,600 by December 16, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, please visit:

“This pocket park is a wonderful example of meaningful placemaking,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Katharine Czarnecki. “The pocket park will transform the underused utility corridor into an engaging and inclusive space for all to enjoy. We are pleased to provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

The campaign will complete the last pieces of the pocket mark and mural. When completed the space will transform a vacant lot between the Historical Society Museum and the Aspirus Ontonagon Fitness Center into an inclusive pocket park and a wall mural that will bring the history of the Ontonagon area alive. The collaboration combines the RICC’s vision of an accessible downtown gathering space and the OCHS vision of telling the community’s history with an outdoor exhibit that everyone can visit at any time of the day or night. 

“The Ontonagon County Historical Society Museum has become the center piece of the historic downtown area of the village. The Historical Society’s mural telling the fascinating history of the oldest American settlement on the south shore of Lake Superior will be a great addition to the museum and the adjacent RICC Park,” said Bruce Johanson, OCHS president. “We could not achieve this work without the MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program.”

This project will replace an eyesore with an accessible outdoor space which will greatly enhance downtown Ontonagon. When the RICC Park and Phase I of the OCHS Mural are completed, the community will feature an inviting outdoor art space that provides a backdrop for presentations by members of the historical society, local musicians, and other small groups. The pocket park will be a space used by Ontonagon visitors waiting to go on lighthouse tours or provide a place for visitors and village residents to have a picnic lunch. The RICC Park will serve as a gathering place holding Christmas tree lighting events, community celebrations, and other private and public events.

“The RICC group initiated the idea for the pocket park and has been instrumental in its development,” said Ontonagon Village Trustee Tony Smydra. “Their hard work will give our village a place of rest, relaxation, engagement, and interaction – all things essential to community building as well as bringing together people from different locales and different backgrounds.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League, and Patronicity, in which local residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of strategic projects in their communities and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC. Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at

“Inviting public spaces are key to great placemaking,” said Dan Gilmartin CEO and executive director of the Michigan Municipal League. “Having a pocket park and a mural to honor the community’s history will help to continue to make downtown Ontonagon a go-to destination for residents and visitors alike for years to come.”

The Public Spaces Community Places initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of October 31, 2018, MEDC has provided $5,609,166 in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 184 projects have been successful in reaching their goal, with $6.6 million raised from 33,132 individual donors.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn, and Twitter.