Welcome, Thanks for visiting us!
My name is Zach, and I'm working with a team of fellow Stanford PhD students to establish a one-of-a-kind field school in the remote Wilderness of Alaska. Together, our team brings a wealth of field experience from Antarctica to Alaska, and expertise in a breadth of disciplines to make this Institute possible. Join us at Inian Islands Institute -- it will be an amazing journey!
What's Inian Islands Institute? And why the Hobbit Hole?
I was incredibly lucky to grow up in a small coastal town in Southast Alaska, with only 400 people and no roads leading to it. Around me were grizzly bears, humpback whales, towering mountains and wild rivers. Near my hometown are the Inian Islands, a beautiful, remote archipelago that's protected Wilderness except for one amazing 5-acre homestead, the Hobbit Hole. I fell in love with this special place as a boy, and for years I've dreamed of protecting it from further development, maintaining it as a public space that can be used by local communities, and using its breathtaking setting to do some good in the world. Coming to Stanford, I met three other students who shared my passion for environmental science and experiential education, and the dream started to grow into a reality. We're setting forth, and inviting you to help us purchase the Hobbit Hole and establish the Inian Islands Institute!
Inian Islands Institute will provide access to the phenomenal Wilderness of Southeast Alaska for students and researchers to study the deep connections between people and the natural world, and the complex social-ecological interactions crucial to sustainability.
A Magical Place with a Lot to Teach
I promise you, if you could only see it, it would take your breath away. To the north lies Glacier Bay National Park, covering 3.3 million acres of glaciers and icefields, deep enchanting fjords, and rugged coastlines. To the south lies the massive Tongass National Forest, home to more old-growth temperate rainforest than any other place. Perched between these world-famous wild lands, the Hobbit Hole is in the heart of the largest stretch of protected land on the planet.
The Hobbit Hole is surrounded by abundant marine life, pulsing through Icy Strait from the Outer Coast to Alaska's Inside Passage. It's a short hike or paddle to salmon streams, kelp forests, alpine tundra, and lush temperate rainforest. The glaciers and 15,000 foot peaks of the Fairweather Range tower in the distance. What a setting to study the natural world!
And alongside their scientific exploration, students will take part in a unique brand of sustainability education. As a remote property existing off-the-grid, the Hobbit Hole teaches us to understand the resources, or ecosystem services, on which we depend. To spend time at the Hobbit Hole is to conscientiously take part in a web of ecological relationships -- to be reminded of one's place in the ecosystem, and see humanity's role in a connected world. Food at the Hobbit Hole includes garden veggies and locally-harvested wild salmon, water comes from the rain, and energy is generated on-site by renewable micro-hydropower. For students who believe that food comes from the dining hall, water from the tap, and power from the wall, coming here is a truly eye-opening experience. Learning to live at the Hobbit Hole with limited resources teaches us the kind of thinking we need to apply to sustainability at a global scale.
At the Hobbit Hole, our mission is to inspire tomorrow's environmental leaders through experiential living and learning in the Wilderness of Southeast Alaska. Our students will carry the lessons and adventures of this unique educational experience to challenges of ecology and sustainability extending far beyond Alaska.
Where does my Donation go?
Ultimately, our goal is to raise all the capital to purchase the Hobbit Hole property and establish our school. What we raise here on IndieGoGo won't get us all the way there, but it will be a crucial step to get us started! And if we find our angel in the process, there's a lovely building with your name on it waiting at the Hobbit Hole!
Your contribution in this fundraising drive will go towards:
1. Getting an official appraisal for the Hobbit Hole property. As a non-profit organization, determining the true market value will allow us to purchase it and establish our school.
2. Launching Inian Islands Institute ahead. We'll be paying legal fees for becoming a non-profit organization, and we're creating videos and other promotional materials. We'll dedicate part-time staff to creating the infrastructure for III to thrive with agencies and academic institutions in Alaska and beyond.
3. Inviting potential donors to visit the property. The best words and pictures can't hope to capture the splendor of Southeast Alaska and the Hobbit Hole. Our biggest contributors will want to see the place for themselves to truly understand our vision -- and that means an unforgettable visit to the Hobbit Hole, with world-class hiking and salmon fishing. You can join us there too -- check out the perks!
4. Your donation will help ensure that the Hobbit Hole will have a wonderful legacy. In purchasing the Hobbit Hole, we will put a conservation easement on the property to limit further development.
Places like the Hobbit Hole are rare, and becoming increasingly so. In the U.S. alone, 6000 acres of wild and open spaces are lost to development every day. For the first time ever, the majority of the world's population lives in a city, and this proportion continues to grow. For most of today's youth, "nature" means the local city park. Can you imagine their astonishment to confront a place like Southeast Alaska? This experience can establish a deep and enduring personal connection to the natural world -- one that can inspire a lifetime of environmental leadership. With your help, the Hobbit Hole will be in good hands long into the future, and will carry on a strong legacy of education and inspiration.
Can't Donate Just Now?
No worries! We'd love to have you help spread the word! "Like" us on Facebook and post us on your wall, email a friend, share this project over today's amazing electronic social media. And most of all...
If you know anyone who may be interested in our initiative, we're looking for an angel to help us purchase the Hobbit Hole property. Do you know someone who would want to put their name on this special place and project, for all the right reasons? Someone who would like to visit the property for summer fishing trips and family getaways, and have it serve an amazing purpose while they're away? A visionary who wants to change the lives of hundreds of students throughout the years, get to know them and hear their stories of change? Send them our way!