ENVIRONMENT, MONEY, POLITICS

A breaking wave

Climate disruptions could wallop Maine's economy in coming years
Centerpiece

Stonington, the state of Maine’s top fishing port in landed value, is facing seismic change. By mid-century, its lobster fishery could drop by 15 to 20 percent due to warming ocean waters, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute predicts.

Tethered to the mainland by a thin thread of causeway and an 80-year-old bridge, this small town also faces rising seas that threaten infrastructure – including the town pier and a waterfront fire station.

Kathleen Billings, Stonington’s town manager, knows that “worse stuff is coming.” Seven years ago, she began reviewing inundation maps, writing grants to assess the vulnerability of town infrastructure and setting aside funds.

Stonington has received state funds for planning and design, notes its economic development specialist Henry Teverow, but not for “physical infrastructure improvements. That’s where we need help the most.”

Climate hazards in Maine are placing an increasing strain on state and municipal budgets – reducing revenues, raising expenses and causing some economic shocks (such as price spikes in materials and food due to disruptions elsewhere). Yet little effort is being made to quantify the potential impacts.

Sea Change by Marina Schauffler

Leading the charge

Our family just joined the one percent in Maine: not the wealthy elite, but the select few who own plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicles (EVs). Now we’re wondering how to invite others along.

Since we installed solar panels two years ago, I assumed that our next vehicle would be electric. Solar-powered charges are estimated to cost just 71 cents per eGallon (the cost of fueling with electricity), a price not seen at gas pumps in roughly 40 years!

When powered by sun or wind, an electric car is considered a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV). That’s especially beneficial in Maine, where transportation spews out 53 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and numerous counties suffer from high-ozone days.

Indulging wishful thoughts about someday owning an EV, we test-drove a Nissan Leaf, the most affordable all-electric car, and we liked it. But it was beyond our budget, and my 14-year-old car was going strong. When that gave out in coming years, I figured, we’d look for a used EV.

The Maine Trust Project

Maine Trust Project: Joe Black of Bath

INSTALLMENT 14: JEAN VERMETTE

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As soon as she was comfortable in her own body, Jean Vermette found happiness.

Get to Know Jean Vermette

Maine Trust Project: Kathleen Swinbourne

INSTALLMENT 13: DANA CHANDLER

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In his line of work, trust creates community.

Get to Know Dana Chandler

Maine Trust Project: Kathleen Swinbourne

INSTALLMENT 12: JANE OGEMBO

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From Kenya to Washington County, Jane Ogembo believes her ability to trust in the basic goodness of people allows others to feel at ease with her.

Get to Know Jane Ogembo

Maine Trust Project: Kathleen Swinbourne

INSTALLMENT 11: KATHLEEN SWINBOURNE

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Topsham resident Kathleen Swinbourne resisted doing anything with and wanted to deny her psychic abilities for most of her life – until she got an enormous sign.

Get to Know Kathleen Swinbourne

Maine Trust Project: Bobby Bergeron

INSTALLMENT 10: BOBBY BERGERON

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For Bobby Bergeron, trust can depend a lot on where you live and how comfortable and confident you are with yourself.

Get to Know Bobby Bergeron

Maine Trust Project: Dona Emerson

INSTALLMENT 9: DONA EMERSON

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Dona Emerson picks up hitchhikers. Most people, especially women, have been schooled in the dangers of giving strangers a ride, and Dona was no exception. “My (85-year-old) mother,” she said, “would kill me if she knew how many I’ve picked up.”

And yet, she still does it.

Why? Because Dona Emerson understands the importance of reaching out to people to create connections, and she values the role of trust in that endeavor.

Get to Know Dona Emerson

Maine Trust Project: Deon Lyons

INSTALLMENT 8: DEON LYONS

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Deon Lyons has cancer. It’s advanced and the outlook is anything but cheery. But he’s not letting that get him down. His attitude is not surprising given one of his favorite words is “opportunity.”

“Opportunity” is a much better way of looking at what life has handed you then, say, “challenging,” which is the word most people would use to describe what he has faced over the course of his life.

Get to Know Deon Lyons

Maine Trust Project: Amanda Huotari

INSTALLMENT 7: AMANDA HUOTARI

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When physical comedian Amanda Huotari was about 10 years old, in her hometown of South Paris, she saw an ordinary man transform himself.

You could argue that this man – the late master mime artist Tony Montanaro – was anything but ordinary. But, alone on the stage, dressed totally in white, without props, there was nothing to suggest what was about to happen.

Before Amanda’s young and amazed eyes, and without uttering a word or sound, he morphed from human-ness to rooster-ness.

Get to Know Amanda Huotari

Maine Trust Project: Joseph Reagan

INSTALLMENT 6: JOE REAGAN

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Joe Reagan was just 22, a new graduate of Norwich University (a private military academy in Vermont) and had just completed 10 months of training as a second lieutenant in the Army when he arrived in Afghanistan for his first tour there with the 10th Mountain Division.

As a leader of a platoon of 28 men (women weren’t allowed in combat roles at the time) that scouted locations in advance of the rest of the division, he felt “extremely underqualified” for the role, he says. He was in a place that was unlike anything the Massachusetts native had experienced before.

Get to Know Joseph Reagan

Maine Trust Project: Myron M. Beasley

INSTALLMENT 5: MYRON BEASLEY

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When Myron Beasley moved to Maine 11 years ago to take a position teaching African American studies and American cultural studies at Bates College in Lewiston, he was determined to reach beyond the borders of the Bates campus to make connections with people in his new community.

As someone who has lived in and traveled to many places across the globe – Myron grew up in Israel, was schooled in Europe and the United States, and has done ethnographic field work in Haiti, Brazil, Morocco, and the United States, including here in Maine – he knows how to create community wherever he is.

Get to Know Myron M. Beasley

Maine Trust Project: Marie Harnois of Jackman

INSTALLMENT 4: MARIE HARNOIS

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Four years ago – during the “coldest December ever” – Marie Harnois found herself doing something she couldn’t have imagined before: installing hoses to collect sap from sugar maple trees.

If you didn’t count the time as a child when she’d helped a friend’s family with their 30 buckets, Marie had not run a maple sugaring business before, and yet, here she was trying to do just that – and freezing her fingers in the process.

Get to Know Marie Harnois
Maine Trust Project: Joe Black of Bath

INSTALLMENT 3: JOE BLACK

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Joe Black is a man living his dream. With a light in his eyes, a quick smile and a sense of humor that invites you in, he stocks shelves and engages customers at Renys department store on Front Street in Bath. He’s been doing his dream job for more than 20 years and says it’s the perfect job for him.

“I’m a firm believer that there are different kinds of dreams,” he said. “Some people want to be rock stars. Some people … want to be president. These are big, huge dreams – and big, huge dreams are awesome – but there’s nothing wrong with little dreams.”

Get to Know Joe Black

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