Tidelines Institute began its life as two separate nonprofits: the Arete Project and Inian Islands Institute. Both founded in 2013, the two organizations independently ran experiential programs in civic and environmental leadership for several years before formally merging in 2021. A short history of each organization is included below.
The fate of both Inian and Arete would be shaped forever by an email introducing the two founding directors, Zach Brown and Laura Marcus, written by a longtime supporter and friend of the two organizations. That introduction blossomed into a relationship between the two founders and their organizations. Their first partnership program – the Glacier Bay Year – was hosted at Inian Islands Institute in 2018, the same year that the Hobbit Hole campus was acquired. The following year, the Arete Project bought a campus of its own along the Good River in Gustavus. Just a few days after signing closing paperwork, Zach and Laura married on the banks of the same river.
The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 cleared the calendar for both organizations. Seizing the opportunity of a quiet summer, the leadership team of the Arete Project and Inian Islands Institute embarked on a nine-month project to merge the two organizations into one. From the outset, Zach, Laura, and nearly everyone else involved had been impressed by the synergy between the two nonprofits, the shared commitment to leadership education, the shared love of land and community. In January 2021, Tidelines Institute was born!
the arete project
The Arete Project was a nonprofit organization founded by Laura Marcus in 2013. Based on the educational model of Deep Springs College, Arete students participated in the model’s “three pillars” of academics, labor, and self-governance. Originally designed as a women’s alternative to Deep Springs (which then admitted only men), the Arete Project eventually came to serve students of all genders and expanded its mission to include education for both civic and environmental leadership. Over the course of its history, Arete ran one- and two-month summer programs in California, North Carolina, and ultimately Alaska, where it made its permanent home.
inian islands institute
Inian Islands Institute was a nonprofit organization founded by Zach Brown in 2013. Having grown up in the tiny town of Gustavus, Alaska, Zach’s family had longstanding connections to the island homestead colloquially known as the Hobbit Hole. Towards the end of his doctoral studies, Zach learned that the Hobbit Hole was up for sale, and he immediately determined to transform it into a center for environmental leadership and science education. Over the subsequent years, Inian Islands Institute hosted many partnership courses with universities and high schools in the heart of the Alaskan wilderness.