Alternate title: financial advisors, angel investors, and becoming a Spreadsheet Person

After two decades of trying to find the perfect place that marries all of the things that are important to me—and not finding it—I’ve decided to create the place, myself.

These are the proto-plans for something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I’m putting them up now, in this less-than-polished format to see if any readers have expertise, connections, or like $20k burning a hole in your pocket.

The elevator pitch goes something like this: a semi-remote retreat and education space that offers on-site housing. No more than an hour from a major regional airport. The space will be of the community, not just in it: when my own programs are not being given, the large structure and cabins will be on offer to provide a venue for everyone from yoga instructors to local writing groups, woodworking enthusiasts, songwriters, and other people who could use a venue for their own efforts or a little time away. The cabins will also be available as standalone vacation rentals, available on a sliding scale to encourage as many people to take a break and experience the benefits of living in harmony with nature.

concertizing for the squirrels

We will, of course, need to make money, but there is an ethical imperative here: to care for and nurture the land, be respectful of and useful to the town(s) we are close to, and offer reduced fees to people who would not normally be able to participate in such programs or take a period of rest and reflection.

This property would foremost be the home of an institute for adult musical education, a space that has only lightly been filled by the current offerings: there are camps for beginners and some for professionals, but not too many that take the ambitions of serious adult learners and reward them. I’d like to create a place that is much more than a camp, but a sort of home that students can come to every year and feel honored and invigorated by. I’ve pitched this kind of institute to a number of already-extant programs, and have been largely rebuffed. But I know there is a significant market for it, and good people willing to be on faculty, providing a conservatory style experience for adult leaners who may feel like they missed out on that kind of in-depth opportunity.

The curriculum is already written: it’s been my life’s work, thus far.

  • retrofit students’ understanding with theory, history, and performance practices
  • heavy emphasis on the how and what of practice
  • collegial, positive environment that fosters introspection and a healthy attitude towards a life of continuing education

So too, is the general feel of the cabins, which will be a series of A-frames of varying sizes, built sustainably from as much upcycled local material as possible. Initially, I’d like

  • 2 or 3 very small “writer’s cabins”: for people who need a quiet, cozy, distraction-free space.
  • 7-10 multi-person occupancy models with 1-3 beds, depending on configuration and season.
  • a large barn-shaped multipurpose space with 2 or 3 side rooms for smaller groups.
who wouldn’t want to stay here?

The location will most likely be somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, for temperate summers and winters where the scenery is quietly dramatic. Factors that will be taken into account will be:

  • whether a property is already grid-ready
  • subsidies for solar/wind
  • proximity to important things like shops and medical facilities
  • annual rainfall versus property grading/flooding concerns
  • paving requirements, if any
  • mountain/forest views

I spoke with a financial advisor—someone who has done my taxes for years and knows precisely not rich I am—and he said there is no reason why this should not come to pass, with some work and help from an investor or three. If any of you would like to help facilitate this by being an angel investor or joining in a partnership (an LLC will be formed after building has begun) , you know I’d be so happy to bring this into being sooner rather than later. I’m definitely on my own with this one: there is no home to put up as collateral, no priceless instrument to sell, no massive paycheck to impress loan officers, no interest from my family in supporting this effort.

Mostly, though, I’d like you to dream big with me. Imagine a place where you feel challenged. Where you belong. Where you meet other students who your interests. Where skilled, compassionate faculty come together from all over the music world to share what they’ve learned so far. Where you have the time to practice expansively. Where you are respected as an artist but are utterly free to be a student. Where the accommodations encourage rest, and privacy seekers, introverts, and exhausted extroverts can take a moment to reflect on the day and prepare for the next one.

This is what I want this place to be. Won’t you join me?

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