Sunday, January 08, 2006

New Year Planning

We’re excited for 2006, the first full year of ISLAND’s existence, and wanted to let you all know what’s on the burners.

Most importantly – Thank You – to those whose early donations are helping ISLAND make some progress. Thank you to GreyFly, Inc., Max & Norma Wolf, Aaron Kik & Sarah Christiansen, Judy & Norm Jones, Greg Jones & Tara Seekins, and Jeffrey & Wynn Jones for your generosity! We’re pinching every penny to make them go as far as possible.

Our lending library is coming along – we’re using a program called Book Collector (unfortunately it’s only for PCs) and FileMaker Pro to develop a collection database, and will soon have the books organized by Dewey and stickered. If you have books that don't get much use around your home, but that you don't want to give away, you can LOAN the books to ISLAND for use in the library. Every book in our database has a loaner/donor reference, and each book is stickered with the owner's name. Loans should be for at least a year, and we will use an alternative to leaving library marks on lent books.

We’re also on We listed about 40 old fiction and nonfiction paperbacks, and immediately about 10 of them were requested by other users. The way it works: we send those books out, paying about $1.50 each for Media Mail postage, then spend the credits we receive on other paperbacks listed by other users around the US. So far this has been mostly for personal use (and with our own funds) but we hope to collect more books for the ISLAND library this way. We're accepting donations of old paperbacks and hardcover books - anything in good condition that other folks would be interested in trading for.

We’ve set up a VERY short and simple survey online – please visit!

This is an important way for us to understand the nature of the art, design and sustainable living community and to get a sense of how people use residency programs and workshops. This kind of marketing research (along with a whole lot more) is going to be key in determining where our priorities lie in developing our programs.

One lucky survey taker will win one pound of Higher Grounds Coffee! To qualify you need to take and complete the survey by Feb 1, 2006.

ISLAND is a non-profit that operates in many ways like a small business, and we believe strongly in the need for a business plan, particularly as a way to explore our projects in detail before spending an enormous amount of money. Thanks to a generous donation from Jeffrey and Wynn Jones, we are able to attend an 8-week workshop being given by the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center ( and the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance ( We hope to a have a complete document by early March, including market research information and financials.

Additionally, Amanda has signed up for a course so that she can become a QuickBooks (thanks Max & Norma!) expert, and keep track of our financials.

We are still waiting to hear from ArtServe Michigan to see if we can get some free legal advice through the Volunteer Lawyers for Arts and Culture, so we can get our tax-exempt status moving along. Those of you who have been through the 501c3 process, we’d love your advice!

ISLAND is developing a list of organizations and individuals we hope to partner with, whether for a one off event or for longer term planning. We're also looking for folks who are interested in serving on a governance board, as advisors to our project or as volunteers (we have a number of small projects you can work on from your computer at home). We see these partnerships as central to our development; we have no desire to work alone. We hope to contribute to the art, design and sustainable living communities - particularly in the 5 and 10 county area of Northwest Lower Michigan - and see this type of partnership, networking and resource sharing as integral to that goal.

We're taking this step slowly, as we're still working on fixing up our house for sale. Still, we're keeping our eye and ears open for a good opportunity. We know that there may be some landowners out there who are concerned about selling out to development and so are being cautious about how their property is listed. We see ISLAND as a good alternative to condos or McMansions, and will likely (depending on the size of the land we are able to afford) be able to sell or donate the development rights to a piece of the land to a conservation organization. So, please let us know about any land opportunities!

Our criteria: 15 to 50 acres, preferably a mix of meadow and hardwoods. Access to a navigable river, or a stream/creek on site would be ideal, but not a requirement (you can wish, right?). We're looking primarily in Leelanau and N. Benzie counties, as well as S. Grand Traverse County. We'd like to be no more than a 45 minute drive from Traverse City, in part because of access to the airport and support, but more so because many of the folks we know and love are centered around this area.

In line with Permaculture principles, we won't build a permanent structure before living on the land for at least a year, and so will probably have our first Michigan yurt winter!

Keep in touch! Have a safe and happy new year!

Wish List:
Good used paperbacks
Volunteers and potential board members/advisors
15-50 acres!

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