By Kristi Kates
Founded by Brad Kik and his wife Amanda six years ago, Bellaire non-profit
organization ISLAND - aka the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and
Natural Design - began, essentially, on a date or several, according to
Brad Kik himself.
While we courted each other, we talked about art, food, and ecology - and
it worked! he laughs. We were engaged, and filed ISLANDs paperwork
right around the same time.
With a mission to connect people with nature, art and community, ISLAND
holds dozens of events each year teaching people old and new skills of
self-reliance, everything from alternative building to beekeeping and wild
food foraging to their Hill House artist residencies.
Were interested in helping people to do useful things, Kik says, not
just be passive spectators and consumers.
FROM CRAFTS TO SOUP
Two of the most interesting ISLAND programs may be the CRAFT program
(Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) and the SOUP
program, two series that, individually, focus on our food from where it
starts to where it ends up, with a little artist support along the way.
CRAFT is a simple and free program for area farms and their apprentices,
farm workers, or just the individual farmer to tour each others farms,
learn different farming techniques and management styles, participate in a
workshop, and then meet for a community potluck to get to know each other
and deepen the network, Kik explains.
Our brand new Sunday SOUP program is a partnership with Porterhouse
Productions in their new Good Works Collective space at 417 Union Street
(TC), he continues. Folks gather to share a meal of local food cooked by
Jen and Eric at the Cooks House, paying a donation to get a bowl and
spoon. After the meal, theyll watch several presentations from area
artists about new arts projects that need funding; then, everyone votes on
the most compelling presentation by putting their spoon in one of the
artists buckets. The winner takes home all of the money from the door.
The first SOUP event will be on May 22
And one of the bigger things that ISLAND has been doing is their benefit
concert thats another partnership, this time with Shorts Brewing Company
and Earthwork Music. Now in its fifth year, proceeds from the concert go
to benefit ISLAND programs, with a special focus on the residency and
Its a great chance to support our work and celebrate the arrival of
Spring, Kik says.
Its also a great chance to hear some good local music, with the doors
opening at 4 p.m. and music beginning at 5 p.m.
Weve got a killer lineup this year, Kik enthuses, Samantha Robbins,
Joshua Davis of Steppin In It, Mike Shimmin who drums with Starlight Six,
Red Sea Pedestrians and Millish. Weve also got Seth Bernard and May
Erlewine, Gifts or Creatures (a folk duo out of Lansing), and Airborne or
The event, reportedly one of Shorts busiest days of the year, also
donates a percentage of every beer sale to ISLAND; a silent auction that
includes food, art, handcrafted goods, and business donations is also on
the schedule, to help contribute even more monies to ISLANDs good works.
I think this is going to be one of the highest-energy benefit concerts
weve ever had, Kik says, plus, for people who know me, the highlight
will be that Ill be back in full handlebar mustache mode - a rare thing,
IN ALL SERIOUSNESS
For all of Kiks jovial nature and joking around, he and his wifes
enthusiasm, along with all of their co-ISLANDers, focuses quite seriously
on making the most of Northern Michigans natural resources.
We want to help grow our rural economy by supporting small farms, Kik
begins, we want to bolster the culture of our region by supporting
world-class artists - both those in our region and from around the world.
And we want to help people become native to place - that means rebuilding
a culture that is fully connected to the ecology, history and culture of
here. It takes generations to make that happen, but its the only useful
response to climate change, environmental destruction and declining energy
The best ways to get involved with ISLAND, Kik explains, are to, first of
all, attend the benefit concert as a means of musical (and fun)
introduction. Volunteers are also welcome to help with ISLAND projects,
and plenty of workshops are available via their events calendar (online at
www.artmeetsearth.org.) And, of course, donations are always welcome for
this tiny but determined non-profit.
Every dollar gets squeezed to make this ambitious slate of programs
work, Kik smiles, we live in one of the greatest places in the world,
and we want to give back to the community here.
For tix/info on the ISLAND Benefit Concert, set to take place on April 16
at Shorts Brewing Company in Bellaire, visit www.artmeetsearth.org,
telephone them at 231-480-4515, or follow them on Twitter @art_earth.