The Great Lakes contain the largest, most diverse collection of freshwater islands in the world. Of the 32,000 islands in the Great Lakes, nearly twenty continue to host communities of people, typically a mix of year-round and seasonal residents and transient visitors.
While present-day island communities are uniquely distinct from one another in character, traditions, and geography, they share a number of complex, inter-related challenges, including: access to public services and quality education, supporting a diversified economy, managing natural, cultural, and historical resources across public and private boundaries, and changing demographics (size, age, seasonality, ownership, economic status, etc.).
These challenges are hurdles, not immovable barriers. In fact, some island communities have already independently developed their own “island solutions to island challenges.” Island communities are finding they often have more in common with one another than to their adjacent mainland. There is great value in islanders learning from other islanders about best practices that work, as well as those that don’t.
2018 Islands Summit · October 1-2
The second island summit is set for October 1-2 on Madeline Island in Wisconsin. Please check back for details.
A complete summary of the 2017 summit on Beaver Island, MI is available as a PDF download.
Awareness and understanding of island life is limited among many mainland decision-makers, such as governments, private organizations, and the general public. In a world driven by information, there are few, if any, programs or data sets specific to most Great Lakes islands—either individually or as a collective—by which to accurately inform management decisions and drive strategic actions related to social, economic, environmental, and other challenges.
The Great Lakes Islands Indicator project is a database of information collected for Great Lakes Island communities to capture what makes a community a good place to live, work, and play.
The following organizations are currently assisting the inaugural Great Lakes Islands Initiative.