Mail from the Upper Peninsula

“A friend of mine told me about the island about a year ago and the project has been a popular topic of discussion since then. At first I was a little upset that someone from out of the area could get their hands on such a rare piece of real estate; the history of the U.P. is partially the history of wealthy absentee landowners, and much of our best real estate has been bought up and restricted from public use not only by individuals, but corporate interests as well (Rio Tinto being the latest threat). Still, it seems as though your group is doing something creative and respectable, so more power to you. I only hope that everyone involved stays safe, especially if they are out there by themselves. I probably don’t need to tell you, but the last mistake that many people make in the woods is confusing beauty with benevolence, and Lake Superior is one of the most beautiful places I know of.”

+ Very good advice regarding beauty vs. benevolence. 

+ We agree that land use historically has been irrational from the perspective of public benefit and ecosystem integrity. The examination of this and the search for solutions is a premise of our project. 

+ We couldn’t agree more with this author’s sentiment towards Rio Tinto and their Eagle Sulfide Mine located in the center of the largest roadless expanse in Michigan and may or may not have had something to do with the creation of this Twitter account

+ Rabbit Island’s owner, Rob Gorski, has several generations of family from within 15 miles of Rabbit Island as the crow flies. An argument could still be made, however, that this is irrelevant and that it should be the responsibility of the wider community (i.e. the government, culture or “crowd”) to rationally organizing land on an ecosystem scale for the perpetual public benefit. As a society we have been quite efficient at crowdsourcing the fragmentation and degradation of once-public land for the past four hundred years. With Rabbit Island we venture that there is significant unaccounted value in the re-creation of sizable open spaces and that there is a potential market which balances the lopsided historical experience utilizing the contemporary conception of crowdsourcing.  

+ Had Rio Tinto used their vast resources to create, say, a national park rather than a nickel sulfide mine in the Upper Peninsula we would have obviously supported the company with fervor. Individuals or corporations should not receive judgement based on land ownership itself (and certainly not because of where they may reside) but rather be judged on the alignment of their intentions with themes such as science, reason, justice, art, foresight, etc. The Nature Conservancy, after all, is an absentee land-owning multinational organization which has public benefit intrinsically stamped into it’s mission. Ted Turner, Roxanne Quimby and Doug Thompson further exemplify this idea as individuals as did John D. Rockefeller with the creation of Yosemite and Arcadia National Parks. The author concludes similarly in the end, of course, but the distinction is worthy of discussion. 

August 21, 2012