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Guys buy island on Craigslist, use Kickstarter to turn it into artist community (coldsplinters.com)
213 points by whalesalad on Sept 21, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments

Holy crap, small world. My grandparents were from that area and several of them have cabins on Rabbit Bay (the land the island is 3 miles from). I used to go hiking around Rabbit Island as a kid.

Getting to Rabbit Island is not a stroll across an inland lake in a little boat. Six miles of open, frigid water and sizable waves.

About a year ago there was a reddit project* to purchase an island and have a reddit community on the island. Although the idea is crazy it's entirely achievable, I love the idea of internet communities inhabiting an island. It's wonderful to see this actually happening somewhere else, can't wait to see how it all turns out.

*fell apart because of poor management

Could you imagine a HN island? I'm simultaneously stimulated and terrified.

A bunch of nerds on Macbook Pros writing Node.js projects on Github. Scary? Not exactly...

Would give new meaning to the term "voted off the island"

"Morning guys!" "Well that greeting didn't add much to the conversation, why don't you fuck off back to Reddit?"

Might have to change the rules a little when offline.

Might also have to consider the additional cost of transportation to Reddit Island.

Nah, the meaning would remain the same. A bunch of weirdos hanging out in an island vote someone out. Probably because he gained too much power in their eyes. Kinda like Socrates being voted out of Athens.

I'm trying to do a little "island" of this sort in January in Medellin, Colombia. I'm renting a penthouse huge several floor apartment, with jacuzzi, gym, etc, and opening it to digital nomads who work online and want to do business during the day.

During the night we'll be renting a club, and throw electronic music parties, bring in DJs and DJ it ourselves.

If anyone is interested in living there, let me know :) City of eternal spring (perfect weather), incredibly beautiful people, what's not to love :) Round trip airfare runs about $500, and rent will likely be $5-600/mo :)

I'll probably be in Colombia around then, message sent!

If I ever strike it big, I'm buying Vancouver Island. (1)

If anyone there wants to hire a Yank, I'll settle for living there (I already bleed syrup).


(1) If I get into Bill Gates territory, maybe New Zealand. ;-)

Here's my dream island: Niue https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Niue (pronounced "new way"). Beautiful, warm, covered in free wifi, self-governing but technically part of the UK. Economically they're in rough shape, but since the government is serious about improving their self-sufficiency, there are opportunities everywhere. They are specifically focusing on "private sector growth, social development and skills training." http://www.aid.govt.nz/programmes/c-niue.html Seriously, it sounds like tech entrepreneurs' paradise.

And it's technically part of New Zealand!

I had a friend who visited some south pacific islands, and he was quite impressed by the isolation. While this one sounds fairly 'advanced', you're still somewhere that's physically a long way from anywhere.

And yeah... free wifi, but where's that go? Back to NZ and then to the rest of the world? That can't be fast or high bandwidth.

Sounds like it would be a fantastic place to spend some time, but it could get old.

I was to Fiji, and some of the islands had internet. One of them had a satellite connection, and apparently it was good enough for Skyping (I talked to someone having their job interview with a company in Singapore, it seemed to work great) - so there's your solution. They also put a cell phone tower on the highest island so most places actually have mobile signal. (About three mobiles per village, but hey!) The only problem is electricity, no power grid. They use generators, for a few hours in the evening.

What islands did your friend go to?

I've actually heard of it (just), probably due to a friend having recently moved to French Polynesia. Caused me to spend some time looking at "the neighborhood" on Google maps.

I wonder whether they are affected by that "three strikes" nonsense currently afflicting NZ. Not that I'm prone to hoist the flag, but dealing with an quasi-arbitrary right (or lack thereof) to connectivity would be a hindrance.

Which also reminds me, connectivity to my friend's island is kind of lackluster and expensive. Guess I need to look at your links in more detail.

It's nice hear, but it has its drawbacks. Victoria is as intellectually dead as you can possibly get. Plus it has aging, moneyed entitled boomers. A lethal mix. As they say, Victoria for the newly wed and nearly dead!

Upisland has loggers, retirees and drunks (duncan). Just saying, if you come here know what you're getting into. Comox valley is nice, and is starting to attract smart young families. One of the best developers I've ever met moved his family there to get away from the cost of Victoria.

Just try affording housing! Plus we have students squeezing you on the low end.

Ah, well. It made for some pretty pictures, and a friend introduced me to the best cafes. But your description is more in line with his -- it's been a few years, and if anything, it sounds like those conditions have gotten worse.

I didn't know much about upisland, except some comments that parts of Nanaimo could get a bit rough. I'm not much in need of a social scene, these days, but your description sounds a bit past what I'd be looking for.

I did have a half-joking offer of a job on Gabriola, managing a small tech installation. It would have been a big step down in pay and responsibilities, but the food and scenery would have been great. I guess I never got that out of my head.

Thanks, again, for the description. I'll probably never make it up there, workwise, but a bit of information can't help but better inform my daydreams.

"rough" by victorian standards. Which is a city where you can walk down the roughest streets in the roughest neighbourhoods in a short miniskirt without a worry in the world. Coming from any american city you'd feel quite safe in Naniamo.

The situation with the retirees/money has gotten acutely worse in recent years. They've absolutely bid up real estate recently. I won't shed a tear when their retirement accounts blow up.

Rent is about %50 higher in SF, but everything else is much more expensive here. Factor in the 30% "island tax" into all prices - groceries, computer parts, bikes, etc. Then factor that tech salaries are depressed here (You won't find anyone who'll pay $100K, let alone understand why they should). http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/compare_cities.jsp?coun...

With Suburban houses easily approaching 600'000-1million each on Vancouver Island, good luck! You'll just be getting started at 300 billion to buy people's houses.

So, Vancouver prices are bleeding over the Strait. Or rather, all the retirees have bid the prices up.

I'll settle for working there. Though it sounds like I'd be living in a hovel. Ah, well...

An interesting thought experiment is to do a rough-and-ready valuation on real-estate in your area : and see how much (say) Bill Gates could buy.

For instance, $60Bn doesn't buy very much of Manhattan. It's rather disappointing really.

Introducing: HN Island, v2.0, now with Karma Camps.

I wonder how much it cost them to buy the island, because if they're having trouble getting $14k together to build a lodge, it could not have been that much. I'd like to buy my own island!

Jeez. That's nothing for an island.

It's pretty remote though...

Sounds like he didn't buy the whole island but a "majority parcel" of it - http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Akeweenawlandtrust.org/... see the newsletter http://www.keweenawlandtrust.org/news/61.pdf

That domain doesn't resolve for me (using opendns):


Works though.

If you're interested in buying an island, there's a web site specializing in just that [1]. The internet is wonderful.

Disclaimer: I'm not associated with this site in any way. I just think it's fun to daydream about.

[1] http://www.privateislandsonline.com/

I hope the 4th boat works out better than the previous 3. And I hope 3 sunken boats isn't an indication of how this project is running.

They said that the first two boats lost compression - presumably they're talking about engine compression, why not get the engines repaired?? Seems strange they just appeared to be "oh well, on to boat number 3". If you're living in the back of beyond you need to repair stuff to survive well IMO.

Strikes me the residency was possibly just a way to pay for the island, ie get arts funding, perhaps they should have focussed on making an alternative energy centre?

This guy is a better human being than me. I would have used the island for the sole purpose of wooing ladies.

Wooing ladies is not mutually exclusive with the stated purpose of the island.

Apparently this bloke hasn't been around artists or colonies.

Are there many ladies to be found on lonely islands?

That is nice country (if you like it quiet and you can make a living). And they're not even very far from Houghton/Hancock (which has the technical university).

I guess I'll have to enable Javascript for the flavors.me site (whatever that is) and have a closer look. Wonder what they paid...

I hope they have liability insurance.

The rabbit island artists community will have a lot of people who are very good at getting into special artist designated jewels like The Cloud Club ( http://dresdendolls.wikia.com/wiki/The_Cloud_Club ) and this island. But being good at that, implies nothing about their artistic ability.

Am I the only person who can't find any hard information about the project on their website?

Everything seems to talk about the principles of the project - I can't even find a decent picture of the settlement's current state.

http://www.keweenawlandtrust.org/news/61.pdf has some info too. Though building lots doesn't appear to match the stated aims of acquiring the island:

"With the help of Keweenaw Land Trust creat- ing a conservation easement, Rob was able to purchase the 90.5 of the island’s 91 acres to ensure that it will remain in its natural state in perpetuity."

I'm not sure why it's not easier to find, but there's a lot more info on their Tumblr. http://rabbitisland.tumblr.com/

Another michigander here, this would be the ultimate Airbnb rental.

That was my first thought. Create an Airbnb opportunity for people willing to leave the area as they found it (remove own rubbish, etc).

I've always wanted to be stranded with basic supplies to see how I'd go but someone in survival mode might end up needing to hack away at trees to build a shelter and trap rabbits and I don't know how that would gel with their principles.

You mean something like http://campinmygarden.com/ ? Airbnb for camping...

excellent. Crazy americans I would say. This is a great idea. Hope it will be sucessful

what a bunch of scumbags, bought a beautiful island and puts easement on it to keep it in native state, and now wants to develop it

They seem to be fairly concerned with developing their collective while preserving the island's ecological state (say exactly that in the Kickstarter video.) Why else would they have put the easement on it at all?


introducing humans to any ecological environment no matter how careful is going to ruin it.

FYI: benefits of easement - http://www.michbar.org/journal/article.cfm?articleID=95&...

•a federal income tax deduction for the value of the easement

•the right to subtract the value of the easement from a decedent’s estate in calculating federal gift or estate taxes

•the right to exclude 40 percent of the remainder value of land subject to the easement in calculating federal estate taxes

I'll accept that introducing humans to any ecosystem is going to change it in one way or another. I think there's a pretty big [citation needed] over "ruin it".

If they are aiming for a similar impact level to, say, a national park then that's a lot better than it being approved for broader development.

As for the easement, in exchange for those things they "eliminate most or all development potential in order to protect some conservation value(s) of the property that provides a significant public benefit." (from that link.)

Seems like one would need to look at the specific terms of the Rabbit Island easement in order to further quantify any claims.

I'm familiar with an area a bit further west, and while overall the economy is still very depressed and the population remains sparse, prime properties (lakefront, near certain amenities) are being snapped up -- often by moneyed interests from downstate or out of state.

What these fellows propose and appear to be executing, sounds much more conservative (in the a-political sense) than some alternatives I can imagine. And it appears that the State had no interest in acquiring the property, nor whichever county that is (probably cash-strapped and not eager to take on the management and liability).

Artists retreats are also a bit of an established tradition. There's one further west, at Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park. And they seem to dot the upper peninsula (UP) and northern Wisconsin.

It is a rare resource. I hope they treat it well.

Personally I would probably consider a wood-cabin hippie commune pretty far removed from 'development'.

By development we mean, I think, altering the land use for human habitation/recreation/industry. Here it's arguably a mixture of habitation and recreation. Putting humans on there is going to alter the eco system unless they're going to (at great expense) take away all their leavings, not fell timber, not catch any rabbits for food, not fish, etc.. The place looks pretty small I'd say any habitation conflicts really with the aim of natural conservation.

That said I think I'd love to live somewhere like that - don't think my family would move with me though.

Having rubbish/refuse management under control would help a lot.

Hippie communes don't always seem to have that down... You'd think with the excitement over compost, they'd be able to figure out things like "clean" and "sanitation"...

Note: Not directed at all hippies.

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