Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design
ISLAND is a non-profit arts and ecology center dedicated to connecting people with nature, art and community. ISLAND helps people become native to place by:
- supporting artists — visionaries, conceptual explorers and compelling communicators — with dedicated time, space and resources to create new work;
- restoring the old and developing the new skills and traditions of community self-reliance;
- creating and sharing a broad collection of tools for ecological living.
Amanda Kik - Co-Director
After spending both her undergraduate and graduate years at California Institute of the Arts, she moved to northwest lower Michigan where she has worked as a designer, writing teacher and nonprofit administrator. It is here that she began making cheese, canning vegetables, raising chickens and learning what it means to be part of a community. Amanda is also Co-Chair of the Northern Michigan Small Farm Conference, which works to build a local vibrant agricultural community.
Brad Kik - Co-Director
Brad Kik’s life has been a jumbled mess of film study, environmental activism, graphic design, community organizing, woodworking, chicken raising, music, ecology and permaculture. In 2005, Brad found slightly more focus by falling in love with his partner Amanda and, with her, co-founding and now co-directing the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design (ISLAND), an arts, ecology and agriculture program in Northwest Lower Michigan. Brad's role with ISLAND involves developing the 10 acre property, writing for and designing ISLAND's public face, and spending way too much time on the computer.
Jen Schaap - Food and Farm Projects Coordinator
After dappling in the industrial design world, Jen Schaap found the life-changing powers of dirt and began a second life working on, supporting, and promoting the small farm. On the side, she likes to sew, sing, and eat real food. Jen serves as the Administrative Coordinator of the annual Small Farm Conference, engages food communities through events like ISLAND’s From Farm to Frame photo contest, and is working to strengthen the network of small farms and local foods in northern Michigan.
Jeannie Voller - Food and Farm Events Coordinator
Jeannie Voller’s road has meandered through the arts, cocktail slinging, health care, managing a General Store and Cafe, wine and beer buying, and catering and event management. Jeannie found joy in the pursuit of the arts at an early age, starting with creative writing and then turning to theatre. She enjoyed her time as an actress in New York City after college, but soon found herself in massage therapy school where the world of the human body opened up to her; especially the world of food and its relation to our health as individuals and as communities. This began the long and continuing pursuit for knowledge in food, farming and community. In her free time, Jeannie is a book writing, wine loving, homestead seeking, garden creating, bum shaking, children chasing, coffee sipping, travel bugging, book devouring, seasonal food cooking and baking woman.
Marty Heller - Farmer Residency Supervisor
Marty has committed the past ten years of his life to building sustainable, community-based food systems in Michigan. A product of a traditional farming community in southeast Michigan, Marty broke away from his agrarian roots to pursue a BS in chemical engineering from Michigan State and a PhD, also in chemical engineering, at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Disillusioned by the pharmaceutical biotechnology industry he was trained to join, he traveled to India in 1998 and used some of that biotechnology training to support campaigns against genetic engineering in agriculture. Marty has managed a few CSA farms, spent the 2006 growing season on a bicycle tour of CSA farms in Michigan and created a documentary video from the trip. He has worked as a researcher with the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University, and currently does life cycle assessment research through University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems. Other current projects include growing heirloom dry beans on a small, intensive scale in Northern Michigan, developing a farmer residency program, and perpetual refinement of dj’ing skills.
Mary Brower - Communications Coordinator
Mary Brower grew up out west, but has spent much of her life chasing geography. Her past is littered with partial careers in teaching, farming, writing, and cooking. Pleased to be setting down permanent roots in this part of the world, Mary’s favorite means of procrastination involve winter gardening, food preservation, and making supper for her husband and little boy.
Yvonne Stephens - Hill House Artist Residency Coordinator
Yvonne Stephens studied plants and fungi as an undergraduate at Michigan State University, dabbling in poetry and pottery. She worked as a lab assistant in Detroit, and more recently as a Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District AmeriCorps Member. Yvonne joined ISLAND as an intern in 2009, organizing a beekeeping workshop, a community canning party and the Fungi and Fermentation Skill Swap. She joined us as a staff member in September 2009, and will act as the ISLAND event coordinator.
Board of Directors
Board of Advisors
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Dave Jacke teaching that permaculture is all about perspective.
One of the final plans from Brad’s permaculture course real-world design project.
Vincent VanGogh - Pollard Birches
An earth and stone sheltered hut at Sirius Community
Jayne Walker’s dome and happy rooster at the Eco-Learning Center in Leelanau County
A chestnut opening. Photo courtesy stock.xchng