In addition to educational programs, Ed and Darlene Lowe wanted to create a place where entrepreneurs could both relax and generate new ideas. Big Rock Valley is where Ed did much of his “pondering” (his word for quiet reflection) and conceived many of his biggest innovations.
Because of Big Rock Valley’s diverse landscapes, it is home to a wide variety of wildlife, plants and insects, including many threatened and endangered species. To maintain this biodiversity, we use innovative conservation practices. We also make the property available to academic researchers.
Our Billieville retreat center (named after Darlene Lowe’s middle name) reflects our founders’ creativity and affinity for repurposing materials. Case in point: the transformation of several pole barns created a turn-of-the-century small town, complete with its own tavern.
Our main meeting facility, the Tower of Tomorrow, honors one of Ed Lowe’s dreams — to construct a high-rise headquarters building at BRV. Although not apparent from its entrance, the building resembles a tower when looking at the rear exterior from the bottom of the hill.
Ed Lowe’s orange caboose has been in various locations at Big Rock Valley, but now resides near Billieville. It was one of his favorite pondering places.
— Bryan Croft, president and CEO of Holmes Custom in
During downtime, our retreat guests are encouraged to take advantage of Big Rock Valley’s scenic 2,000 acres. There are designated trails for hikers, and for runners and bikers, we have paved and dirt roads (BYO gear). We also have kayaks, canoes and a rowboat to better enjoy Sharkey Lake. And because of its unusual biodiversity, Big Rock Valley is home to hundreds of species of plants, wildlife and birds, so don’t forget to pack your binoculars.
You can also indulge in one of Ed Lowe’s favorite pastimes — “pondering” — his term for quiet reflection and something he considered to be a critical element in the creative process. Some popular pondering spots at BRV include: the Billieville caboose, Memorial Gardens, Sharkey Lake landing, the Penn Church, the Pavillion and the Cabin Ponds. And be sure to visit the Pickle Barrel Field, where you can either ponder in a golf cart or try your hand at this unusual sport (clubs and balls are available on site).
Along with our cutting-edge content and state-of-the-art facilities, the natural beauty at BRV enhances the retreat experience. Our 2,000-acre learning campus in southwest Michigan is surrounded by woodlands, wetlands, farm fields and prairies. The peaceful setting enables participants to unplug from hectic schedules and focus on growing their businesses.
“Being offsite definitely helped, not only getting away from the day-to-day churn, but also taking advantage of the unique setting at Big Rock Valley — the woods, talking around the campfire at night, sleeping in the boxcars. Being in a great environment always helps when you’re trying to generate new ideas.”
— Jeff McWherter, owner of Gravity Works in Lansing, Michigan
A fun way to learn about the Edward Lowe Foundation property, Experience BRV! is available for invited guests to earn badges as they visit our points of interest, activity locations and trails. For non-visitors, you can learn about the property through XP Challenges and exchange your earned XP to discover (virtually) more of the hidden gems about the property.
Get the app for an optimal on-site experience. Compatible with iOS and Android devices.