When we talk about the longer-term goals of the Gouldsboro Shore program, we use two taglines. One is “Keeping Gouldsboro’s shore at the center of the community.” The other is “Keeping ahead of coastal change.” Governor Mills’ visit yesterday helped us develop a deeper appreciation of what those taglines mean.

Governor Mills peering into a plastic bucket that contains claims.
Shellfish warden Mike Pinkham provides Governor Mills with a close-up look at 1-year-old clams. (photo: Pauline Angione)

Noah Minsky, the lab intern this summer, gave the governor a tour, explaining that we start with newly hatched clams, grow them in the Lab during their first summer, keep them alive over the winter, and use them to reseed mudflats the following year. We still had some 1-year-old clams in our upweller tanks, along with more than a quarter million clams that are about two months old. Like others who visited the Lab, the governor was fascinated by the difference between the very young clams and the 1-year-olds with their big, fat siphons out and drawing in water and food. They are so visibly alive and busy.

Governor Mills and Dana Rice, wearing a cap and sunglasses, talking in the dirt parking lot in front of the Shellfish Lab
Dana Rice, talking with the governor about how the Shellfish Lab is one part of a larger initiative. (photo: Hannah Volk)

The governor’s visit provided an opportunity to tell her what Gouldsboro is doing to keep ahead of coastal change. Dana Rice Sr. is Gouldsboro’s Select Board Chairman and donates space in his lobster buying operation to house the Shellfish Lab. He described how the Lab is one part of the town’s broader response to changes that are coming quickly and will continue to come. We summarized our work to protect shore access and anticipate sea-level rise and increasingly intense storms. This year, a large part of that work is supported by the Maine Coastal Program, using funding from the state through NOAA, as described at the bottom of this page.

Nick, in a green shirt and orange hat, and Governor Mills, each standing one a different side of a long tank full of white buckets.
Nick Fisichelli chats with Governor Mills across the upwellers in the Lab. (photo: Schoodic Institute)

Our meeting with the governor was an opportunity to tell her how Gouldsboro involves the community in planning for change. The tone of the meeting was low-key, comfortable, and fun. There were no speeches, just conversation and good questions from the governor about our plans. The meeting also brought some of our key partners to the lab, including Nick Fisichelli, president and CEO of Schoodic Institute, and donors who had not yet seen the lab.

Our two taglines, “Keeping Gouldsboro’s shore at the center of the community” and “Keeping ahead of coastal change,” provide a wide-angle perspective on what we see going on around us. Looking at the governor’s visit through this lens, it is striking that before visiting the Shellfish Lab, Governor Mills stopped at Springtide Seaweed to learn more about what Sarah Redmond and her crew are doing there.

A woman in a hat gesturing as she talks to Governor Mills
Sarah Redmond, Springtide Seaweed’s founder, describes seaweed farming’s potential to create locally based economic growth in harmony with coastal ecosystems. (photo: Pauline Angione)

Springtide Seaweed, located in South Gouldsboro, is the largest USDA Organic Certified seaweed farm in Maine. Even more important, when viewed through the lens of Gouldsboro Shore’s taglines, is that Sarah is working to develop the organic seaweed market as a network of small, locally managed farms, each connected to the characteristics and possibilities of its place on the coast.

I suppose I should not be too surprised that two of Governor Mills’ stops in Gouldsboro were places working toward a sustainable future for our community and coast. After all, the coast has been at the center of Gouldsboro’s community for a long time. What’s exciting is that the Schoodic Peninsula is home to Springtide Seaweed, Schoodic Institute, and the Town of Gouldsboro’s efforts (including the Shellfish Lab) to learn about and keep ahead of coastal change. That is a lot of capacity and activity in one small, well-connected place.

Governor Mills’ visit gave me a chance to see how this community’s different activities and capacities are already connected and might become more connected. I came away believing we can keep the shore at the center of the community while keeping ahead of coastal change. Our work in the Shellfish Lab has taught us that the path forward will involve taking a few steps sideways and even some steps backward to eventually reach the goal, but we’ve got the right people and organizations here to do it.

— End —

Leave a Reply