First Cottage to Fall, Lake Michigan

From Tish: Please help turn a climate change tragedy into a triumph. The cottage is gone; it was an early victim of the reality of climate change. Dealing with the increasing erosion and now the loss of the cottage has devastated me emotionally and financially. The purpose of this Go Fund Me is to fund finishing the Rock Revetment and make the land usable again. The RR will halt further loss of the bluff and dune. The future of the remaining land is unknown at this point and there is not much land left. It is unclear if the property is sellable and buildable because the property is highly regulated by the state. In its current state the property is a huge liability for me. I was going to pay off the RR loan by renting the cottage. Obviously, there is no longer anything to rent. I would love to see the site turned into a public park with a lookout and a staircase down to the beach for the community to use. That’s a big vision, but maybe it can be pulled off. Update about the cottage from my dear friend BETH: "You know the news you’ve seen about the Lake Michigan cottage falling down the dune on New Year’s Eve? That’s ours. Please help. The house, over a century old, held generations of the Burke family during good, sunny times. When it was built, it stood approximately an acre from the shore, on heavily wooded sand dune. Safe, not fancy. Happiest when crammed full of loud loved ones, chili simmering on the stove, sleeping bags on the porch, charades by the fire. A simple getaway for a very large extended family. The loss is not just a structure, a piece of land, or even the property value, it’s the story of a family, the story of shared joy and memories, of sunsets and hot cocoa, of Tish’s grandfather, a picture of whom was still hanging after the accident, who gave away big chunks of the hill to others to build on; the pattern of erosion, over the decades, which left Tish with a disproportionate piece of beach, graciously shared with the neighbors, as those gifted properties changed hands and memory of what had been shared were lost; the gracious diplomacy Tish exercised in sometimes very trying circumstances; the way so many of the people who’d been the beneficiaries of Tish’s generosity helped to keep the place whole; the support, company, and healing found on that porch swing. By the 80’s, when the house first started teetering on the edge of the dune, Tish alone took on the responsibility for the place when 53 of her extended family members all signed off the deed. She was 19, grieving the death of her father, and a college student. Trees fell, windows shattered, the dune shifted, kids broke in and stole things; the state threatened levied fines if the cottage fell. Life would continue to throw lightening bolts: debilitating chronic illness, among them. She held the cottage precious, in her storm of personal tribulation, and in her utterly unique generosity, shared it, in every stage of its glory and dilapidation. Shared it. The place was never glamorous, not like the lake houses increasingly populating the shores. Tish shared it with the sort of people who she’s shared her life with: earnest, good, kind, unassuming, hard-working sorts. No one who ever had the privilege of sitting on the porch swing, taking in the entire vista of beautiful, treacherous, Lake Michigan has ever forgotten Tish’s gracious kindness. Her friends, of which I count myself one, shared it, too. Friends and family shared it with those in grief, in need, with no other access to such pleasures, too. The extended “family” grew. I am not given to hero-worship, don’t clamor for any sports team, can rarely even rouse myself to patriotism on Flag Day. But I’ve been trying to be more like Tish, and her particular sort of good, kind, open, empathetic, and generous my whole life. She’s my hero. Please join me in supporting her as she holds on to whatever patch of this land that she can, and in doing so, chip in a little to the goodness, kindness, openness, empathy, and generosity that we all could use so much more of. Attempts to secure the dune have been extremely costly and haven’t yet been completed. As construction companies rush to save the other 46 houses on the state’s endangered list, Tish is committed to finished the work needed to save her section of the coastline, With any luck, enough of her tiny patch of remaining dune will be retained to share with her ever expanding “family”. Original gofundme introduction before it fell: “Our cottage is a fifth-generation family cottage built on Lake Michigan in the early 1900’s. This historic cottage sits on a bluff above the lake. What was once sheltered by hundreds of feet of protective woods, foredunes, and beach has been increasingly threatened by rapid erosion brought about by rising lake levels, and what you see here is the result of that. It’s truly heartbreaking to see what this has become, the worst happening over the last year."


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Patricia Gancer 
Battle Creek, MI
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