By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter
The Macon Creek Center for Art, Innovation, and Sustainability is a new approach to business and art.
Located 15 minutes south of Saline and named after the creek that runs through campus, Macon Creek offers workspaces against a backdrop of walking trails, a pond, expansive fields, and historic woods. The complex consists of 17 buildings dedicated to artisans, community members, businesses, startups, and anyone interested in innovative collaboration.
“We create and preserve a place dedicated to art, innovation and sustainability where the creative process is revered and nurtured,” Founder and Chief Creative Officer Kim Tucker-Gray said in a statement. “By positively impacting those around us through creative and generative processes, we simply and deeply put more good into the world.”
Macon Creek is the brainchild of The Hive Project, a non-profit organization that explores ways to integrate and reimagine creative expression. The main building at Macon Creek, the 19,000 square foot. “The Hive”, houses the organization’s offices, a fully furnished coworking space for nonprofits, entrepreneurs, technologists, artists, and startups. Also included are an art gallery with grand piano, a central reception area, modular conference and meeting spaces, a commercial kitchen, private offices, modular work pods and a small library.
If that sounds like a lot, it is. Henry Ford originally built the Macon Creek complex as a research station. His historic home is just down the road. The property was purchased in 1947 by the Holy Cross Brothers as a boarding school for troubled boys, “Boysville”. After years of declining enrollment associated with several disciplinary incidents, the school closed in 2015.
Tucker-Gray and Hive Project partner John Goodell discovered the property in 2019 and envisioned a place to empower artists, educators and entrepreneurs in their creativity, innovation and collaboration. The team searched for ten years for a place to realize their vision. Nothing matches. When they came across Macon Creek, it was way more than they originally expected, but that’s a good thing, Goodell says.
“Our vision grew in this space,” says Goodell. “Every time we give a visit here, something is added to that vision. The appeal of this place is that we can grow there. We don’t have to use everything at once.
The campus consists of 215 acres and 17 buildings, including The Hive coworking and event space, multiple dorms, a dining hall with a commercial kitchen, gymnasium, recreation facility, and carpentry shop, numerous classrooms and studios, and larger structures that will be converted into rehearsal, recording and performance venues.
The door is figuratively and literally wide open when it comes to art. Macon Creek’s philosophy is that if it’s an outlet for your creativity, they can help you thrive there, whether in business or art.
“We seek to foster interdependence between disciplines, and this contributes to our sustainability mission,” says Emily Olson, Marketing Director of Macon Creek. “Artists can learn from engineers, scientists, and businessmen and vice versa.”
Macon Creek craft spaces include a fully furnished carpentry shop, metal welding shop and open spaces that can be renovated for ceramics, instrument making, painting, carving or other crafts.
“We have individual workspaces for anyone in business or art,” says Goodell. “We have financial planners, mortgage brokers and IT people. We have a nationally recognized podcasting company. No matter who is next to whom, artist or entrepreneur, their work becomes synergistic in unique ways.
The facility offers unique opportunities in other ways, such as the two commercial kitchens. Olson recently visited a home baker who wants to create a cohort of home bakers who can make and offer their specialties to local outlets.
“There’s a creative aspect to it,” says Olson. “But there’s an entrepreneurial spirit to it and a community element too.”
Sustainability is a fundamental concept in Macon Creek’s efforts. Seventy-five acres of its 215 acres are leased for sustainable agricultural production by local farmers in 2022.
“Ecosystems require multifaceted and mutually dependent elements, working together to create and maintain a particular environment,” says Tucker-Gray. “At Macon Creek, we have come to believe that these concepts apply as much to the art world and the creative process as they apply to the land we steward.”
Macon Creek has planned its first annual summer art camp. The camp offers four week-long intensive youth programs in orchestra, choir, drama, cabaret, crafts and other creative arts starting in June 2022.
For more information on a campus tour, summer camp, or how to engage and/or support the Macon Creek Center for Art, Innovation, and Sustainability, visit their website at https: //maconcreek.org.
Photos courtesy of Macon Creek