University of Southern Maine’s Abramson Auditorium, Portland
We hope to see you at our Film Fest for Casco Bay, an afternoon of movies curated by Maine Outdoor Film Festival. The event will feature a variety of environmental and adventure films curated just for us. You won’t want to miss it!
Casco Bay is tied to our quality of life. It’s where we go for solace, support, and inspiration. For some, that inspiration is taken a step further and transformed into art.
Join Friends of Casco Bay and three regional artists for a discussion about water, the environment, and art. At the event, we will hear from each artist about their work and what inspires them to create. We will also address the questions: what are the connections between creativity, the environment, and climate change? How can art convey powerful ideas when words fail us? We will close with a Q&A for you to ask our panelists your own questions about art and the Bay.
Artist Panel – Water as Inspiration: Art and Casco Bay
Anna Dibble is a visual artist and writer. Her work is based in the wild, focused on the natural world and the ways that we as humans relate to it. In addition to her personal work, Anna is the founding director of Gulf of MaineEcoArts, a project to re-connect people with the natural world through art and science. Sea Change: Darkness & Light in the Gulf of Maine, an Ecoarts exhibit, is currently on view at the Maine Maritime Museum.
Mitchell Rasor is an artist, landscape architect, and Assistant Professor at the Maine College of Art. He is the 2023 Royal River Conservation Trust Artist-in-Residence, where he draws and documents the Trust’s conserved ecosystems. Mitchell’s work has been widely recognized for achievements in many areas, including environmental art, urban design, waterfront revitalization, and climate change resiliency.
Jan Piribeck is an artist and Emerita Professor of Art at the University of Southern Maine. She is currently working on Maine-Greenland Collaborations, an interdisciplinary project that integrates art with the social and natural sciences to explore changing ecological systems in coastal Maine and Greenland. Her work will be included in the exhibition Shifting Sands: Beaches, Bathers, and Modern Maine Art opening at the Ogunquit Museum of Art, Ogunquit, ME on April 29th, 2023.
After a two-year hiatus, we rebooted our film festival as a Cinematic Celebration in support of our mission to improve and protect the health of Casco Bay. Held on November 12, 2022, the event featured a variety of films curated by our partners at Maine Outdoor Film Festival.
We debuted We Are Water, a Friends of Casco Bay Film at the celebration. We Are Water features a reading by Gulf of Maine Poet Gary Lawless, as he reminds us all of our inextricable ties to water and Casco Bay.
We are grateful to our partners at Maine Outdoor Film Festival and our generous sponsors for supporting the Cinematic Celebration. And of course, we are grateful for all the Friends who volunteered and attended this special event — we are Friends of Casco Bay because of you!
WE ARE WATER: A Friends of Casco Bay Film– 3 minutes
NORTHERN COMFORT– 5 minutes – by Will Ballou Caswell, Sam Ballou Caswell – from Maine – Short synopsis: Northern Comfort is the syrup – but more importantly, it is a slice of beautiful simplicity and connection to the Earth. It reminds us of the sweet gift of presence; of being in the moment; of slowing down and tending to a process of transformation and reciprocity that in our current world requires the utmost intention.
DREAMS INHERITED– 9.2 minutes – by Jessica Wilde – from Florida – Short synopsis: Dreams Inherited is a short documentary about the search for adventure in a life away from the luxuries of land. It is about the realization of dreams that were passed down by family folklore through hard work and small moments of meaning. It features Jessica Wilde, Josh Fody and Ling Ling, their 42-year-old Kelly Peterson sailboat that they spent years renovating and eventually sailing up and down the East Coast from the Florida Keys to Maine.
A PAINTING FROM THE EARTH– 15.8 minutes – by Jeshua Soucy – from Maine – Short synopsis: The story of a young artist who transforms natural material from the earth into a painting of an old log cabin.
ATTACK & RELEASE – 15 minutes – by Tom Attwater – from Montana – Short synopsis: After Ranga Perera’s family moved to the U.S. from Sri Lanka, he tragically lost his father to an unexpected heart attack. While coping with the loss of his father, he found himself in Montana where he was drawn to the magic of fly fishing and the solace of the river. Throughout his journey, he struggles to rediscover his childlike wonder and finds comfort in his time spent on the water. After a confrontation with his own mortality, Ranga learns the importance of mindfulness and living life with an open heart.
THE LAST LAST HIKE– 19.9 minutes – by Céline François – from Washington – Short synopsis: 83-year-old Nimblewill Nomad is about to become the oldest person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. But he didn’t start at Springer Mountain, Georgia – his trek began on Flagg Mountain in Alabama, the true southern terminus of the Appalachian Mountain Range. Throughout his odyssey, he’s meeting hikers along the way and sharing the magic of Flagg Mountain, where he has been the caretaker for the past three years. With more than two decades and 50,000 miles of hiking experience behind him, will this really be his last last hike?
MORNING ZOOM – 5.2 minutes – by Jesse LaFountaine, Mercedes Mehling – from Maine – Short synopsis: It’s Monday morning. Tom is getting ready for his Zoom meeting at 8am. A text from a coworker buzzes on his phone – “Boss just called. The meeting got pushed back until 9.” Tom has an extra hour. And he knows exactly what to do with it.
ABOVE THE LAW– 14 minutes – by Bryony Dunne – from Ireland – Short synopsis: Above the Law links the routes of migratory birds with the journeys of people who traverse the same bodies of land and water. Unfolding atop a pigeon coop in Cairo, across bird watching towers on a Greek island as well as the border in Northern Ireland, these parallel journeys depict the laws of nature vis-à-vis the rule of man, reminding us that geopolitical are irrelevant to some species. The film features a literal bird’s-eye view as eagles, carry cameras on their backs, becoming instruments of surveillance, capturing nature, both human and nonhuman.
KEYSTONE: VOICES FOR THE LITTLE FISH– 11.2 minutes – by Jerry Monkman – from New Hampshire – Short synopsis: The people of Gardiner, Maine work to provide fish passage around three historic dams on Cobbossee Stream for the first time in 270 years. The goal: restore an ecosystem that can support millions of river herring and other wildlife.
MANDATORY GEAR– 15.7 minutes – by Emily Hopcian – from Michigan – Short synopsis: Three women and one man challenge history and stereotypes in adventure racing, competing as a reverse co-ed team in Expedition Oregon, North America’s toughest race.
RIDING THE RAILS– 10.1 minutes – by Evan Kay – from Vermont – Short synopsis: Using a bicycle modified to ride on abandoned train tracks, pro mountain bike rider Alex McAndrew and his wife Ella head out into the unknown in search of remote fishing, camping, biking, and adventure.
WALKING TWO WORLDS – 29 minutes – by Maia Wikler – from British Columbia – Short synopsis: It’s more than just polar bear scenes in the Arctic. With the threat of oil drilling in the Refuge and Yukon Flats along the Yukon River, Indigenous communities face grave threats to their way of life, food security and identity. Fueled by an unwavering love and responsibility for the land, Han Gwich’in 19-year old, Quannah Chasinghorse, and her mother, Jody Potts, are taking a stand to defend their sacred homelands. Protecting the Arctic is often advocated from a polarizing perspective of old school conservationism pitted against economic development. This documentary film instead wields the power of empathy and relationships through the untold perspective of an Indigenous, women-led fight to protect the Arctic and reclaim Indigenous identity.
Offshore wind is a hot topic around Casco Bay and all along Maine’s coast. At the core of this issue are two truths: Maine needs renewable energy, and Maine needs a healthy marine environment.
Dig into the issue of offshore wind and how it may affect Casco Bay by joining Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca as she moderates a panel of guest experts on renewable energy, fisheries, and marine ecosystems in Maine. At the event, we will discuss offshore wind research and Maine’s recommendations* for how wind farms might be developed without harming marine resources. Our guest panelists will be available to answer your questions after their presentations, and we will share how you can make your voice heard on this important issue.
Please join us for this discussion. Your opinion matters.
What: Winds of Change: Offshore Wind and Climate Change, A Casco Bay Matters Event
When: Wednesday, March 23, Noon to 1 p.m.
This event will take place via Zoom. We will send you instructions for joining the event after you register.
Our panel of guest experts includes:
Celina Cunningham, Deputy Director of the Governor’s Energy Office and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Energy Strategy and Markets Working Group
Meredith Mendelson, Deputy Commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Fisheries Working Group
Wing Goodale, Senior Science Director at Biodiversity Research Institute and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Environment and Wildlife Working Group
*Draft initial recommendations for the development of offshore wind in Maine are a product of a state initiative called the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap. The Roadmap is informed by an advisory committee that includes renewable energy, fisheries, environment, and wildlife experts. We will provide you with instructions regarding how you can submit comments on the Roadmap’s draft initial recommendations at this stage as they continue to be developed.
Last week over 165 Friends of the Bay joined Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Staff Scientist Mike Doan online at our latest Casco Bay Matters Event: What Casco Bay Is Telling Us.
Here is a recording of the event for those of you who were unable to attend or would like to revisit the conversation.
Every year, Ivy and Mike traverse the Bay by land and boat from May through October, collecting water quality samples and speaking with those who live, work, and play on the water. At last week’s CascoBayMattersevent, Ivy and Mike shared their observations from this past field season, what our data are tellingus about the health of the Bay, and what we all need to do moving forward to keep CascoBay blue.
If you don’t have time to watch the whole recording, here are a few clips of key moments you may find interesting:
CLIP #1: In this 90-second clip, Staff Scientist Mike Doan breaks down what he sees in the salinity data (the saltiness of seawater) from our Continuous Monitoring Station in Yarmouth. This year the Bay was particularly salty and Mike has thoughts as to why.
CLIP #2:What does the construction project surrounding Portland’s Back Cove have to do with the health of CascoBay? In this 2 minute clip, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca explains how the big construction project that you can see from I295 reduces pollution while accounting for the impacts of climate change.
CLIP #3: In this 90-second clip, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca explains how Volunteer Water Reporters are informing our advocacy and helping us track changing conditions seen on CascoBay.
Want to watch the full 60-minute event? Here it is!
Friends of CascoBay Board President Sandy Marsters recently wrote an ode to the Bay in fall, for his regular column with the Portland Phoenix. “There is calm as the Bay breathes with the tides,” writes Sandy, “great inhales and exhales that roll the stones round onshore, polish the sea glass, break in long whispers along the sand.” You can read Sandy’s full column about the beauty of the Bay in autumn, here.
It has already been three weeks since we gathered with 200 Friends of the Bay to celebrate the career, contributions, and retirement of our longtime Executive Director, Cathy Ramdsell. Cathy’s send-off party, held outdoors at Portland Yacht Services’ boatyard (hire yacht charter san diego here), marked our first in-person event since the onset of the pandemic. While talking about retirement of our director and taking the help of estate planning lawyers, I think it is essential to hire attorney for elder estate planning as they can help you legally. It was heartwarming and rejuvenating to see so many supporters, partners, and colleagues after so much time apart. Cathy shared it meant the world to her that we could all be together for this watershed moment. You can view photos and revisit that special evening here.
So what’s next?
Friends of Casco Bay’s Board of Directors will officially launch the search for our next Executive Director soon. As Board President Sandy Marsters has said, “We are grateful that Cathy waited for our organization to reach its current state of maturity and stability before moving on to the next phase of her life. Organizationally, we are stronger than ever: our finances are sound, we have a team of interdisciplinary staff producing incredible work, and our visibility is at an all-time high.”
In the meantime, the board has appointed me to serve as Interim Director. Having worked with our exceptional staff, board members, and community since 2006, and knowing our collective passion for Casco Bay, I am honored to serve our organization during this transition.
Here are some examples of the incredible efforts our staff and volunteers have pursued over the past few weeks.
While we were organizing Cathy’s retirement party, we were also responding to an oil spill at Willard Beach in South Portland. The beach was closed for three days as state, local, and private cleanup teams removed 2,000 pounds of contaminated material. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca toured the beach soon after the spill was reported. You can read about Ivy’s experience at the cleanup here.
The spill was a stark reminder that protecting the health of the Bay requires vigilance.
This is why we are delighted to have more than 375 volunteer Water Reporters helping us keep watch over Casco Bay. Some Water Reporters recently took a field trip with Ivy and Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman to the Mere Point Boat Launch to share how they all could be better stewards. If you volunteer your time as a Water Reporter, thank you. If you want to join this observing network, we would love to have you aboard. You can learn more here.
As autumn begins, we are concluding our first summer with three Continuous Monitoring Stations in the water, gathering data every hour on a changing Casco Bay. These data have already begun to offer new insights about our waters. The data is used in our efforts to reduce pollution and help our communities be more resilient to the effects of climate change. You can look into https://webuyhousesinatlanta.com/ to know about the real estate available in this area. To learn about these insights and what else Ivy and Staff Scientist Mike Doan observed this field season, keep an eye out for our next Casco Bay Matters event.
September is coastal cleanup month. Our community members are taking to our coast to pick up trash and litter. In the process they are helping to protect wildlife, collect data for marine debris research and advocacy efforts, and keeping our shores cleaner and safer. Click here for ways you can join them.
Your support means more to us than ever. We look forward to keeping you updated about our search for new leadership and about our work ahead. Thank you for caring about the health of Casco Bay.
Friends of Casco Bay
Photos by: Kevin Morris, Ivy Frignoca, and Glenn Michaels
After 18 years of serving as our Executive Director at Friends of Casco Bay, Cathy Ramsdell retired on September 2, 2021. In honor of Cathy and her leadership, we hosted a celebration on August 26. Cathy arrived to the party by boat. At the event, staff and board shared reflections on Cathy’s leadership and Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless read his poem, “For Casco Bay, For Us.“
Friends of Casco Bay will be hosting the Members Annual Meeting on Tuesday July 20, from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
We will celebrate our collective victories for Casco Bay over the past year, vote on term renewals for some members of the Board of Directors, and together consider the work ahead as we continue our efforts to protect the health of our coastal waters. We will share details about an in-person event we are planning in August — our first in-person event in more than 19 months.
More than 700 Friends have contributed $1.5 million to help maintain three stations for a decade.
Casco Bay is invaluable to the economy and quality of life in Maine. Our coastal waters provide us with food, recreation, transportation, inspiration, and economic opportunities.
But Casco Bay is changing and changing quickly.
How is climate change impacting Casco Bay? Is the Bay getting warmer? Are our waters acidifying? How can we continue to protect the health of Casco Bay for generations to come?
Addressing these questions involves collecting water quality data on a frequent basis and for a long time. In 2019, we created the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund for Technology, Monitoring, and Community Engagement to launch and maintain three Continuous Monitoring Stations around the Bay and communicate changing conditions to the public. This winter we reached our goal of raising $1.5 million, thanks to more than 700 Friends who donated to the Fund, making our plan a reality.
In March, we launched a new station in eastern Casco Bay in Harpswell’s Cundys Harbor. And, as the photo above shows, in May we deployed our new Portland Harbor station. They complement our existing station located at the coastal center of the Bay in Yarmouth, collecting data hourly on how the Bay is changing, 365 days a year.*
“With climate change already impacting the Bay, the launch of these stations is a game changer for us,” says Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell. “Their steady streams of data will strengthen our reporting to the community and bolster our advocacy and stewardship efforts.”
Staff Scientist Mike Doan designed our Continuous Monitoring Stations, affectionately known as our “cages of science.” Oceanographic equipment in the cages collects data on temperature, acidity, dissolved oxygen, carbon dioxide, chlorophyll, dissolved organic matter, turbidity, salinity, and water depth.
“With three stations working at once, the science only gets better from here,” says Mike. “The Portland Harbor location is key because it is in the most heavily used part of the Bay. In eastern Casco Bay, water quality may be influenced by the Kennebec River, and our Harpswell station will track that. Across the board, these stations are deepening our knowledge of what is happening in Casco Bay.”
To commemorate the launch of our two new Stations and the completion of the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund that is making this all possible,we help an event Celebrating Data From Our New Continuous Monitoring Stations — A Casco Bay Matters Event in June 2021. You can watch that event below.
*We remain grateful that the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership has supported the launch and maintenance of our initial station.