Third Coast Conversation

In 2019 the Discovery Center & Pier will host some Third Coast Conversations, with a grant support from the Michigan Humanities Council (MHC). The initial Conversation will be held on February 28, 2019 and will include invited authors, artists, musicians, and community leaders from the business, environmental stewardship, and recreation sectors, as well as members of the public, who will be invited to attend through a PR campaign. We will gather and explore the role that the freshwater of the Great Lakes plays in Traverse City’s history, culture, and sense of place.

The MHC describes the Third Coast Conversations as taking place all around the state. We have chosen “Tourism and a Sense of Place” as our area of focus. From the MHC website:

Through humanities scholarship and environmental history, urban history, literature, public history, and Native American studies drawn from the expertise of our advisory group, Third Coast Conversations will start dialogs, build excitement, facilitate connections, and open doors for local communities in urban, rural, and suburban areas of the state to examine history, culture, people, and cultivate a renewed sense of local pride by examining the topic of water in ways that resonate with issues that matter locally.

These Conversations are not intended to be planning sessions for the Discovery Center & Pier or for the Greilickville Corridor, or as a forum to address problems regarding any pressing local issues (such as fish pass on the Boardman River or Line 5). The primary focus with be Grand Traverse Bay, but will also include the influence of the Boardman River (e.g. fly fishing, kayaking, etc.) and the historical resources of the wider region (e.g. lighthouses, Fishtown, etc.). The Conversations will encompass a broader view of the importance of water in our lives—how it informs our sense of who we are and where we are.

We will hold the large kick-off gathering at the Hagerty Center with Jerry Dennis as our keynote speaker to inspire the group and get us going. Following that, there will be small-group explorations in in a conversational style. The Conversation is intended to raise awareness of the relationship between water and our sense of place, articulate what we learn from each other about that relationship, create new connections among people who are interested in water (and strengthen existing connections), and inspire attendees with a renewed sense of local pride in our water.

Following the initial Conversation, we plan to hold additional smaller Conversations at a future time with people from the first one who are interested in taking a deeper dive into the role of water in our collective identity. The planning is still in the imagination phase for additional Conversations will depend on interest generated at the first. Additional Conversations might result in some kind of action plan to share the scope and content of the Conversations with the wider community, but it is not the goal of this process to generate any kind of “plan”.

With support from: