Linen on the Lawn:
Wine Tasting Benefit and Barbecue
to Celebrate 100 Years of the Belle Isle Conservatory

On Wednesday August 18, the Belle Isle Conservatory will celebrate its 100th birthday with a little help from some friends. The event is put on by a collaborative effort between Detroit Synergy Group (DSG), the Mahogany Tasters, the Belle Isle Botanical Society (BIBS), and the Detroit Recreation Department.

The coming together of the various groups stands as a testament to DSG's mission of synergy between groups and ideas. BIBS first approached DSG w about doing something for the anniversary. There was some general interest generated, but nothing specific came out of that first meeting. Some time later, DSG co-founder David Naczycz spoke with members of the Mahogany Tasters (a wine and spirits enthusiast and educational organization) about the two groups doing a wine tasting together. The idea was to have the tasting outside and coincide with the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid. Naczycz put this idea together with the Belle Isle Conservatory proposal, and suggested that the lawn of the Conservatory is the perfect setting for an outdoor wine tasting.

The event came together as a benefit to commemorate both the Conservatory's 100th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of the fall of apartheid. As Naczycz says, "this is all about building synergy in the community, which is what we aim to do." The money raised is intended to go specifically to the Belle Isle Botanical Society's Science Learning Lab program. The Learning Lab is a "curriculum-based program for elementary students to learn about plant life, geography, history, the climate and animals. The program's hands-on nature allows youth to taste foods like yucca and cactus, perform experiments, and create botanical pictures and songs." Developed with the help of the Skillman Center for Children at Wayne State University and Detroit Public Schools, the Lab reaches 1,200 kids each year through the hard work of volunteers who staff the project.

Naczycz also notes that a side goal for the project was to find a way to engage younger people in the practice of philanthropy. There may be willingness, but typically the pricey nature of such fundraisers keeps many people out. With tickets running at $30 for the General Reception and $75 for the Patron Reception, this event is intended to be accessible to more people.

The Patron Reception begins at 5pm and will feature South African wines and brandies in honor of the theme of the evening. Patrons are also to receive complimentary gift bags filled with specials on great stuff to do in the Detroit area. At 6:15 p.m. Mistress of ceremonies, Rhonda Walker of WDIV Channel 4 News will give a Champaign birthday toast to the Conservatory.

The general reception opens at 6:30pm and features Michigan wines from Simply Wines in Ferndale. Hors d'oeuvres for both the general and patron receptions will be provided by Beans and Cornbread, a soul food bistro in Southfield. Jazz vocalist Penny Wells will be performing songs from her new CD "Shine" throughout the entire evening. As Naczycz states enthusiastically, "Great wine, beautiful setting, hundreds of fun people, what more could you ask for on a Wednesday night?"

So come on out for a great time, a great cause, and a great setting. See you there.

Linens on the Lawn will be held Wednesday, August 18 on the grounds of the Belle Isle Conservatory.
$75 Patron Reception begins at 5:00pm.
$30 General Reception begins at 6:30pm.
Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling 313-343-5005 or by logging onto

© 2002