Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Music · A mission for Bliss
. . . .

A mission for Bliss

Kristi Kates - April 25th, 2011
A Mission for Bliss: New recreation center will energize Blissfest farm
By Kristi Kates
The Mission: To build and launch the Blissfest Arts Recreation Center, a
facility for cultural, recreational, and sustainable living experiences,
to be enjoyed in a quiet natural setting.
The Man: Jim Gillespie, Blissfest’s founder and executive director, and a
well-known character to anyone familiar with the Blissfest scene.
Gillespie is leading the charge to make the Blissfest Arts Recreation
Center a reality, with Emmet County granting Blissfest a Special Use
Permit, and the Blissfest Music Organization embarking on a major capital
campaign. The process is just getting underway on this ambitious building
project that is taking place on Blissfest’s 120-acre property just east of
Cross Village.
Included in the project will be a 7,200 square foot multi-use, year-round
assembly building; a multi-use administration and greenhouse facility; 10
resort cabins and 35 permanent campsites.
Gillespie explains that the main focuses of the center will be a trifecta
of complementary ideals.
“Our vision is to combine cultural, agricultural, and ecological
experiences at the new recreation center,” Gillespie says, “’Sustainable
Tourism’ is the buzzword that incorporates this concept. From the
beginning, the Blissfest organization’s values have included not only
preserving and promoting music and dance, but also being good stewards of
the land we are entrusted with, and preserving a sense of community.”

OUTDOOR POWER
Part of that stewardship means that Blissfest will be utilizing nature to
help power much of the center naturally, aiming at covering 40% of the new
complex’s energy needs with a residential wind turbine and solar panels.
“We are committed to low-impact, sustainable practices in the construction
and operation of the new facility,” Gillespie confirms.
He further explains that construction materials will be sourced locally,
and that the designs for the center itself will include traditional and
innovative sustainable concepts.
“We will use wind and solar energy to provide power to the new
facilities,” he says, “for example, folks will be able to experience
off-the-grid living when they stay in the new cabins.”
Gardens and orchards, a gate house, and a camp store are also part of the
bigger picture, but will arrive a bit later in the schedule; for starters,
Gillespie says, they’re finishing up an earlier remodel.
“We’re progressing into phase one of construction which will include
completion of our farmhouse remodel project, construction of the permanent
rustic campground, and construction of two cabins and a gazebo in 2011,”
he confirms.

HERITAGE HAPPENINGS
So other than the buildings and facilities themselves, just what will be
happening at the Bliss Recreation Center? Plenty, according to Gillespie.
The center will be placing “special emphasis” on cultural heritage, with
performances, dances, and arts and crafts workshops, plus general
recreational activities like hiking, camping, and gardening, with everyone
encouraged to pitch in to maintain the whole works.
Educational programs and workshops in building, renewable energy, and
sustainable farming will also be made available as time goes on.
Gillespie, as would be expected given his other role as overseer of the
yearly Blissfest music event, is perhaps most looking forward, he says, to
the music-themed activities.
“I look forward to artists recording new songs in our solar-powered cabins
with a built-in recording studio,” he begins, “having regular community
concerts and dances during the summer in our new solar pavilion; hanging
out and jamming with friends in the campground. I also look forward to the
expanded use of the festival farm, with small groups able to enjoy
hands-on, cross-generational activities that provide a holistic
experience; working in the gardens and orchards for a weekend, harvesting
agricultural products with our ‘BlissFeast’ label - there are so many
possibilities it is hard to list them all.”

SUPPORT THE CAUSE
With the Center in such early stages, Gillespie explains that celebratory
and opening festivities will arrive in phases.
“We’ll start doing some activities in 2011,” he says, “for example, we are
planning an Earth Day/Arbor Day Planting Weekend on April 29-30, where we
will plant 50 fruit trees and 50 blueberries and have a workshop on how to
grow mushrooms. But I have not even thought of a grand opening - I think
that is in the future when we have more infrastructure built, like the
Solar Pavilion and the greenhouse/crafts building.”
The project is still seeking donations and funding for the larger goals,
“but the current economic climate seems to have had an impact,” Gillespie
says, and donations have been slow to arrive.
“So we will build as we have the support and come up with the resources. I
see the project in phases evolving over the next five years, so we may
have multiple ‘grand openings,’” he smiles.
Most importantly, Gillespie says, is to develop the center as a resource
for people to experience music, community, and learning at a beautiful
outdoor locale.
“We want to grow local food crops and bring them to the local market,” he
enthuses, “we want to spin the electric meter backwards into the future.
We want people to create culture and sustain community. Life is Bliss,
life is art.”

More info on Blissfest and on the new Bliss Recreation Center, as well as
ways to help the cause, may be found online at
www.blissfest.org/retreat-center.html. Blissfest may also be reached via
Blissfest Music Organization, 2000 M-119, Petoskey, MI 49770, telephone
231-348-7047. 
 

 
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