GTPulse: Traverse City Brothers Cultivate Community and Creativity in Northern Michigan

The Boardman Review reminds me of a chic, grown-up version of my college literary journal. Each semester I looked forward to seeing the essays, poems, photographs and art pieces that were displayed in the journal and although I admired each piece, there was no sense of connection or community in the submissions. The Boardman Review is a quarterly culture and lifestyle journal that depicts the beauty, mystique and wonder that is northern Michigan through the eyes of local writers, photographers, artists and filmmakers. The journal has provided the community a creative outlet, as well as a sense of connection.

Chris Loud and Nick Loud may be Traverse City residents now, but it was a long road home. The brothers were raised in Ann Arbor and started coming up north throughout their childhood when their parents bought a place in Northport.

The beach town was an idyllic backdrop for a youth filled with northern Michigan summers, but the brothers didn’t think about moving to the region until after both spent time living in New York City and Los Angeles. Chris attended Kenyon College, a private liberal arts school in Gambier, Ohio where he studied theatre with the intention to be a playwright which transitioned into travel writing and writing scripts for television. Nick, the younger brother, attended Kenyon College as well where he studied film. Both experiences have contributed to how each of them plays their role in producing The Boardman Review. 

“The writing and editing became my side of the coin,” Chris said.

“I think on my end it’s a little more of the visual side of it. Camera work, editing, photography, so we have our strengths in our creative zones,” Nick said.

Photo by Adam Krupowicz

The Boardman Review was started when exasperation drove Chris and Nick to move to Traverse City. Eventually their parents moved to Northport full time and when the brothers weren’t in L.A., they were in northern Michigan visiting their parents.

“If I didn’t have the Traverse City option, we probably would have stayed in L.A. longer. Me and my wife were over the city,” Chris said.

“We grew up outside Ann Arbor in a small town, and I think we very much missed that neighborhood, community feel. A big driving part in coming back here was wanting to come back to an area you already had some roots in. We wanted to come back and create a community and meet people. Try to feel apart of something,” Nick said.

Chris and Nick still worked remotely with film production companies after they moved to Traverse City, but the idea for the journal was something that was growing. It was tough to put out an issue, initially.

“The hardest issue to find people for was the first issue. We had a wish list but we had all these hurdles because it was an imaginary thing, we really had to win people over,” Nick said.

With each issue comes new readers, and new submissions. Word of mouth and friends of contributors past are entering submissions of their own, and this snowball effect is exactly what the brothers hoped for.

“It was very much that concept we were looking for where we were building a community, really quickly. It made a great creative network, we thought this would have that effect and it did,” Chris said.

Photo by Micah Mabey

The issues are released with the seasons and for each issue there is a launch party where contributors read their submissions and friends, family and supporters come to drink, hang out and enjoy the camaraderie. It’s important to Chris and Nick to incorporate all forms of storytelling in The Boardman Review and will feature local art and music at the forthcoming parties.

“It’s really about how we can add an element from each kind of storytelling into one outlet,” Nick said.

The storytelling in The Boardman Review is a lush and aesthetic feast for the eyes and mind. The readings are engaging and the photography is immersive. The stories are as unique as the people, with this issue’s submissions ranging from a touching father and son journey to a couple running a farm to table inn in the Upper Peninsula. 

“We had a writer do this great piece about riding his bike from Chicago to Brooklyn, Michigan. He was going to come up for the party and read it and wasn’t able to, but his father was. His father came up and read the words of his son talking about the trip he took with him and he intro’d the piece with such a nice message to his son. It was funny but it was also a tear jerker,” Chris said.

The stories read like a book and it’s inspiring to know that the people and places being photographed and written about are our people and places. A particularly interesting story in the current issue was the story of a man who chooses to live in seclusion on Power Island every summer. The story appears in the journal, but also was made into a video that was screened at the launch event for the issue.

Photo by Spencer McQueen

The Boardman Review is sponsored by local businesses and in turn, they sponsor the non-profit Michigan Legacy Art Park. Each issue is bound like a soft cover book and they’re sold at local stores and on their website. Although the publication is still young, the Loud brothers are already thinking of ways they want to see it grow.

“We want to get the issues into more stores in more places, Chalrevoix, Empire, Leland, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids. We wanted to bottle the idea of northern Michigan, and this represents that,” Nick said.  “It’s a way for people anywhere to connect to this place.”



Categories: GTPulse