The Leadership Retreat suggests an approach for the Lansing
At the 5th annual Leadership Retreat, held on May 10th 2003,
20 people had to deal with the frustration of a mainland contingent
being unable to fly over because of fog. The purpose was to share
accomplishments since the last retreat, agree on priority issues
that affect most organizations for 2003, build skills to advocate
at the state and local level, and plan effective strategies for
the Lansing Reception. The original agenda for the morning was
built around a presentation by Chris Kindsvatter, a Lansing lobbyist
who represents several Northern Lower Peninsula property owners
associations. He had agreed to fly his own plane over, bringing
materials on state government and contact numbers for new legislators,
and coach the group on best strategies for the Reception. Facilitator
Anne Glendon asked him to send his material to the Island for
distribution prior to the Lansing trip.
Following the organizational reports, three subgroups were formed
to discuss issues facing the Island in the coming year that should
be priorities for advocacy and lobbying. Despite the many excellent
points made by various organizations, there was a great deal of
consistency. As each subgroup reported its findings, it became
clear that some issues affect all Islanders. The issues that rose
to the top as priorities in the coming year were:
Loss of state funding to support BIRHC operations was unexpected
and will cause great hardship and a substantial loss this fiscal
year. We need to lobby for reinstatement of a minimum annual state
allocation of $75,000.
- BICS is considered out of formula by the state,
but the formula is based on assumptions about the availability
of resources that are irrelevant (and inaccurate) for such a
remote community. The result is that BI sends far more tax dollars
to Lansing than it gets back, and the Community School is unduly
- The imposition of unfunded mandates for increased security
should be waived. If the Boat Company is required to enclose
the dock areas with fencing, screen passengers and freight,
and comply with other security measures being discussed, it
will drastically affect tourism and the transport of essential
goods and materials.
- Coordinated communication of Beaver Island's unique character
and needs must be shared with government, funders, the population
at large, and permanent and seasonal residents; it must be timely
Following closely behind the top four concerns were related issues
that everyone saw as important:
- BI leaders should work with other islands and remote communities
in the state (and maybe regionally) to obtain special status
legislation so that punitive requirements are removed.
- There needs to be an overarching strategy for Beaver Island
that all local organizations support and subscribe to. The Island
is too small to work effectively with many competing agendas.
- Preservation of Beaver Island's culture and natural features
is a priority for everyone.
- It may be time to consider having a paid lobbyist for Beaver
Island to monitor what is happening in Lansing and at the County
level so we are apprised of impending decisions in time to advocate
and educate legislators and department officials before a vote
- Affordable housing and assisted living accommodations need
to be a part of the Island's development plans.
- There needs to be better information-sharing within and among
Island organizations on an ongoing basis, not just at the annual
After the reports and consolidation of issues, the facilitator
gave a brief presentation on the legal rights to advocacy and
lobbying. She also outlined the restrictions on tax-exempt organizations,
and cited strategies for advocacy and building awareness that
are most effective, including how to respond to current or impending
crises. Many resources are available that offer excellent suggestions
about how to be effective advocates; one of them is the Lobbying
and Advocacy Handbook published by the Amherst Wilder Foundation,
with sample worksheets included in the folders. Since the guest
speaker was unable to appear, the retreat concluded with a planning
session for the Lansing reception.
It was pointed out that this will be the 4th annual reception,
and that the previous years have produced impressive local results,
including: funding for dock improvements, a new ferry, paved roads
and sewer system in town, $1.5M for the new medical center, and
improved relationships with legislators and department officials.
This year the challenge is to begin developing relationships with
a whole new set of legislators, most of whom have never been to
Beaver Island. Therefore the first strategy is to educate them
about who Beaver Islanders are, what we stand for, and what we
want from them. These action steps were agreed to:
- 1. Present a united front, know what we want and communicate
it succinctly, and accurately tell why Beaver Island is important
to the region and state, and why it merits their support;
- Get information on legislators and their committee assignments
from Chris Kindsvatter;
- Create a Beaver Island Fact Sheet that provides a compelling
case for our unique qualities and also compares our size and
resources to other, more famous, islands; make sufficient copies
so it can be distributed to everyone who attends the reception;
- Create a Power Point presentation based on the Fact Sheet
that can be given at the reception when we have the largest
- Put the four talking points agreed to as priorities
on a 4"x6" card so every BI representative advocates
for the four specific issues; distribute to attendees;
- Organizations that need or want to deal with other issues
(like housing, roads, township needs) should make separate appointments
with appropriate officials.
- Create nametags for Beaver Island representatives showing
organizations they represent.
BITA: Barb Schwartzfisher said that this has been a difficult
year working through issues surrounding the relationship with
the Boat Company. BITA is pleased that the two groups are coming
together and that an agreement should be signed in the next week.
PABI: Judy Lanier reported that the group has met its $500K challenge
locally, and now will seek other funds in the hope of breaking
ground for the Community Center by the end of the year. She also
said the Preservation Association is returning to the values and
mission on which it was founded, gaining greater clarity about
the role of the Board and its vision for the future.
BIPOA: Krys Lyle cited the high turnout at last summer's Nature
Lecture Series, held in conjunction with CMU Biological Station.
This year they will host Dr. John Rowe from Alma on June 30 for
a presentation on Painted Turtles; and Dr. Ed Leuck will speak
on Alien Plant Species of the BI Archipelago on July 21. The group
will do another roadside clean-up this year, and continue to help
with the Recreation and Master Plans. Priorities include obtaining
503 (3)(c) status; placing a video on shore property management
at the Library; and providing information to new and existing
Island property owners.
BI Wildlife Club: Lois Williams said that their purpose continues
to be preserving and protecting all Beaver Island wildlife, with
a special focus on whitetail deer and wild turkeys. A representative
from the Gaylord DNR office came to BI and met with club members.
In all likelihood there will not be a turkey hunt this fall.
BI Hospice: This all-volunteer group provides home care and support
at times of need. They work closely with the Med Center to assist
BI Boat Company: Bill McDonough reported that the 40-year-old
Beaver Islander and the Emerald Isle passed their inspections.
They hope to resolve the remaining issues with BITA so an acceptable
agreement can be signed. He commented on the potential impact
of security regulations on Island transportation. He said most
of the rules and procedures were created for large urban areas
and are simply not realistic for our resources. He warned that
the costs and restrictions could be devastating for our economy
BI Emergency Medical Service: Gerry LaFreniere said that last
year was their busiest ever, and this year is starting out to
break that record; they have already had 13 emergency runs Their
hopes for 2003: to increase the number of people trained to give
CPR; remote placement of defibrillators to improve the chance
of surviving a heart attack; and having better emergency medical
resources on the Island to compensate for time lost in the golden
hourdue to isolation and weather. BIEMS was celebrated as
Citizen of the Year at the recent Chamber of Commerce
BI Chamber of Commerce: Steve West said the Chamber had its most
successful year ever, with 97 full members and 15 associates.
They have produced an expanded directory; launched the annual
Citizen of the Year awards banquet; begun the Bite of Beaver Festival;
and are working with the West Michigan Tourism Association to
expand the shoulder season. They want to consolidate past gains
and further develop the Bite of Beaver by including a 10K run
and an old car festival.
BI Housing Committee: Pete LoDico reported on efforts to obtain
funding to build 6 assisted living units on the site of the new
Health Center. In response to 75 questionnaires, 15 responders
applied for admission. They are obtaining 501(c)(3) designation.
BI Historical Society: Bill Cashman said the BIHS has become
more focused and strategic in their planning and will concentrate
on developing the Oral History project and taking a sequential
approach to three building projects: 1) further development of
the Heritage Park; 2) expansion and refurbishment of the Marine
Museum and surrounding exhibits; and, 3) expansion of the Print
Shop. BIHS will increase its collaboration with other organizations
and the BI Partnership.
BI Rural Health Center: Barb Murphy said the Medical Center has
been focused on issues related to building the new facility; overhauling
and improving the billing system; developing partnerships with
mainland medical resources; establishing better communication
and a more collaborative relationship with BIEMS; creating a sustainable
funding base; and establishing a realistic budget and business
plan. Priority issues include ensuring delivery of high-quality
medical services; replacing or reinstating annual state funding;
securing new funding for staffing and other resources; continual
improvement of internal systems; and preparing for a smooth transition
and move to the new facility.
BI Community School: Joddy Croswhite reported on a successful
year despite deep concerns about funding and state cutbacks. The
school celebrated passage of the Sinking Fund Millage, allowing
for building improvements and maintenance over the next 5 years.
They also are celebrating their strong academic program; receiving
the Governor's Cup for the third year in a row; having a student
place 16th in the State Geography Bee; receiving a grant from
the Grand Traverse Band to implement the Strategic Plan; the creative
arts program funded by MCACA; more stable Internet access; and
first ever district wins in soccer and volleyball. Priority issues
include implementing the Learner Support Program, which includes
student mentoring; developing a strong community service learning
program; and insuring better, more secure school funding.
BI Community Partnership Project: Jim Haveman said the Partnership
Agreement now includes 30 signatories from key Island and mainland
organizations, including most of those listed above, several from
county government, and the BI Lighthouse school. The Partnership
is actively supporting initiatives of local organizations, including
providing letters of endorsement for grant proposals, supplying
advocacy and leadership when requested, and providing access to
state resources that have not been available in the past. They
are planning a fall presentation by the MSU Extension Service
on eco-friendly tourism and economic development.
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