By Kory Kaczur, KBJR NEWS
Madeline Island, WI—Out of the 32,000 islands on the Great Lakes, only 17 are home to year-round and seasonal residents.
Spread throughout those inhabited islands, there are nearly 8,000 residents year round and an extra 10,000 seasonal residents.
Those people can tell you there are unique challenges that come with living on an island so the residents are teaming up to help create solutions. . . . . Two years ago, a group called the Great Lakes Islands Initiative was founded to better understand and create solutions for the unique complications of island life.
Like transportation to and from the mainland, job and education opportunities, law enforcement, and healthcare. . . .
Brandon Hofstedt, the faculty director of the Center for Rural Communities at Northland College said, “the research side of what we’re doing is in it’s infancy, and we’re really trying to collect information about what is it about these islands that what is the make up of these various categories of what makes a community a great place to live, work and play.”
Beaver Island and Madeline Island are currently the only active leaders in the initiative.
Northland College has been working alongside leaders from Island Institute.
“And so they’ve been working with island communities, unbridged island communities up the coast of Maine for 30 years and have been very successful and have this really unique model,” said Hofstedt.
Now, they are hoping the initiative will evolve into a coalition of islands,
“It could give us political clout, an opportunity to share what works and what doesn’t work in an island environment,” said Potswald.
Representatives from all 17 islands are planning on attending a Summit in September on Beaver Island which is off the coast of Michigan where they’ll talk about the Island Coalition.