CASCO BAY, Maine — From teachers in a one-room schoolhouse on Cliff Island to an alewife harvester at Nequasset Dam, Casco Bay provides a spectacular home to many Mainers who live, play and work along the coast.
Working to ensure that the bay endures for generations to come, the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership this summer resolved to “reach people on a more emotional level” and remind them of the importance of a clean bay.
Funded by a grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the partnership this summer launched Casco Bay Stories, a series of multimedia stories, photos and videos sharing the lives of people who work and play in and around Casco Bay.
The idea behind the project was to engage the community and share the knowledge of how people interact with Casco Bay, according to writer and producer Galen Koch.
“By asking questions about what people care about and by displaying the stories, hopefully we’re getting across the message that it’s important to have a clean bay, in a different way,” said Julia McLeod, former communications director for the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership.
A graduate of the SALT Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Koch worked throughout the summer as part of a grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Meeting with organizations such as Friends of Casco Bay and the Maine Island Trail Association, Koch set out to find interesting stories about the bay.
Koch met with Vinnie Marotta, the caretaker of Jewell Island in Casco Bay, and Paul Rollins, a commercial and recreational scuba diver.
After spending a couple of days “hanging out” on Cliff Island, Koch met someone who introduced her to Heidi and Josh Holloway, who both teach at the one-room schoolhouse on the rugged island about six miles off Portland in Casco Bay. During the summers, the Holloways live on their 28-foot sailboat, “Tiny Bubbles II,” with their two young boys.
“Just getting to cruise around Casco Bay is so fun,” Heidi Holloway told Koch. “We love to go Down East, but there are so many places to visit in Casco Bay that you can’t really get bored here. It’s pretty fun.”
The Holloways “are emblematic of this alternative lifestyle” found on the Bay, Koch said.
Another “gem of the summer” was Koch’s time with Steve Bodge, an alewife harvester at the Nequasset Dam in Woolwich.
“It’s a really great story of a fisherman who’s protecting the fish that he’s harvesting,” Koch said. “And it’s a new perspective on the fishing regulations from the person who’s doing the fishing. … I think there’s a benefit to just allowing people to speak about what their values are, and what they do, and how they live.”