Posted by: Kath Usitalo | March 9, 2011

Sticking With The Great Lakes

The sticker is just the blue lakes; there is no writing (art from sticker website)

Love the Great Lakes? Share your affection without having to apply one of those oval stickers bearing an alphabet code that I estimate cause more accidents than texting or shaving while at the wheel, as distracted drivers try to decipher the meaning of the letter abbreviations.

The black and white ovals originated in Europe (who knew BiH stands for Bosnia and Herzegovina?), migrated across the pond to OBX (the Outer Banks) and have made their way to places such as MBS, A2, MUTH, PLN,  IWD, BL, HL, BI, BUC and HMR (decoded below). And that’s just a sampling of the hundreds of Cafe Press stickers for Michigan (MI) alone.

The new Great Lakes Proud sticker is different. It’s roughly the same 3″x5″ size, but instead of a black and white oval the sticker is blue and die-cut in the shape of the five great bodies of freshwater: Ontario, Erie (and the little connecting Lake St. Clair), Huron, Michigan, and Superior.

Apply it to a surface and the Upper and Lower Peninsulas (and surrounding lands) appear in the color of the object it’s stuck to. Put it on a green wall you’ve got an astronaut’s view of the region. I’ve only seen the sticker online, but I imagine if I stuck it to the window of our splattered van the state would have kind of a mottled grey appearance thanks to the crud that’s built up on the glass over the winter.

Michiganian Austin Holsinger came up with the idea for the Great Lakes Proud sticker and launched it with the help of a small team of friends and experts who are also working on T-shirts and other products. Although he exited the state after graduating Hillsdale College to work in three different time zones, Austin will soon return to his roots from his current home in Montana, stating in an email, “Nobody loves Michigan or the Great Lakes more than I do!”

Great Lakes Proud stickers are $5 each, plus tax and shipping, and currently sold only online. Quantity discounts are available.

The Great Lakes Proud Facebook page info states that “for every sticker you order online a percentage of that goes directly towards supporting the Great Lakes.” But the donations aren’t happening just yet.

Austin, in our email exchange explains that, “Our plan is to do as much as we can to give back (support) other Great Lake organizations. Final details are being worked out now…stay tuned!”

The $5 price tag is in line with the other stickers out there including those by another company with an entire line of items in a similar Great Lakes design; those appear in plain white with blue lakes.

I think I prefer Austin’s Great Lakes Proud sticker because it’s your imagination that fills in the blanks around the blue waters; you, by your choice of sticker placement, make Michigan and the region whatever you want them to be.

Oval Michigan stickers decoded:

A2=Ann Arbor
PLN=Pellston Regional Airport
BL=Burt Lake
HL=Higgins Lake
BI=Beaver Island



  1. I grew up spending every summer at Pt. Lookout with my Parents and brothers. My Grandparents cottage was the Walsh cottage and it is still in the family today, over 100 years later.
    Now the family owns 3 cottages on Lake Huron. My Mother, my #2 Brother and my #5 Brother, all within walking distance of each other. I look forward to spending time with the family there every summer.

    • Wonderful that you have that compound for tradition and memory-making. And sand on the hot dogs 😉

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