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Looking back and looking ahead: leadership at Friends

Dear Friends,

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, marked our first in-person event since the onset of the pandemic. 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. 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.

With appreciation,

Will Everitt
Interim Director
Friends of Casco Bay

Photos by: Kevin Morris, Ivy Frignoca, and Glenn Michaels

Celebrating Cathy Ramsdell

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.

Celebrating Cathy Ramsdell – A Retirement Party

You’re invited to our Members Annual Meeting

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.

Register Now

What: Friends of Casco Bay 2021 Members Annual Meeting

When: Tuesday, July 20, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: This will be an online event. You must register to attend.

Materials for the event:

990 Friends of Casco Bay
Financial Statements
Annual Report
Our Financial Information
2020 Annual Meeting Minutes

Thank you for caring about Casco Bay!

Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station

Continuous Monitoring Stations are Game Changer

Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station
Mike deploys our Portland Harbor Continuous Monitoring Station

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.”

Data from the stations are available here.

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, please join us for an online Casco Bay Matters event to celebrate! On Wednesday, June 16, from 5:30-6:15 p.m., Staff Scientist Mike Doan will share and compare, for the first time, data from all three Continuous Monitoring Stations.

Mike will be joined by Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca to discuss how these new stations will enhance our advocacy on behalf of Casco Bay for years to come.

We hope you can join us!

What: Celebrating Data From Our New Continuous Monitoring Stations — A Casco Bay Matters Event

When: Wednesday, June 16, from 5:30-6:15 p.m.

Please register to attend this online event.

Register Now

 

 *We remain grateful that the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership has supported the launch and maintenance of our initial station.

Celebrating Data From Our New Continuous Monitoring Stations — A Casco Bay Matters Event

We are hosting an online event to share data from all three of our Continuous Monitoring Stations and to celebrate the ways the Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund will enhance our efforts to improve and protect the health of the Bay for years to come.

On Wednesday, June 16, from 5:30-6:15 p.m., Staff Scientist Mike Doan will share and compare, for the first time, data from all three continuous monitoring stations.

He will be joined by Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca to talk about how these new data sets are informing our work. Following a year of unprecedented challenge, we will take the time to commemorate our collective work to keep Casco Bay blue.

We hope you join us!

Register Now

Rising seas and storm surges in Casco Bay

We had an inspiring and informative conversation at our latest Casco Bay Matters event, Sea level, storms, and surges, oh my! How Maine’s coasts can be resilient to climate change. Marine Geologist Peter Slovinsky from Maine Geological Survey joined Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca to illuminate the latest science on rising seas, and how we can work together to make our coastline and waters resilient to climate change.

Here is a video of the event, for those of you who were unable to attend live or would like to rewatch. Attendees asked more questions than we had time to answer, so we also created a bonus video where we answered them, see below.

If you don’t have time to watch the full event, there are a few key moments you may want to check out. We’ve assembled these three clips into one playlist to make it easy to watch. The playlist is eight minutes long.

In the first clip, Peter shares how rising seas can dramatically increase the frequency and duration of “nuisance” flooding events in Portland and along the shores of Casco Bay. Thee, Peter discusses the historical trends of sea level rise in Portland, dating back to 1912. He points out that over the past 118 years, nearly 50% of the increase in sea level has occurred since 1990. Finally, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca shares how we can respond to rising seas through adaptable policy informed by science.

 

Your sea level rise questions answered!

Event attendees asked more questions than we had time to answer . . . until now.

Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman recently followed up with Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Marine Geologist Peter Slovinsky to answer questions we did have time to address during the event. Including:

  • Where can we get good local information about projected sea level rise in our community?
  • Can future governors disband Maine’s Climate Council?
  • What will it cost us if we don’t begin to adapt to coming changes?
  • What are some useful actions we can take to help address climate change and sea level rise?

We hope you enjoy this Casco Bay Matters bonus content!

In this bonus content video, Pete and Ivy mention a number of resources. Here are links to those resources:

We are beginning to see the effects of climate change here in Casco Bay. Anticipating and adapting to the impacts of rising seas and stronger storms will prove critical to protecting the health of our coastal waters. If you are on our email list, we will keep you informed on ways you can help make your voice heard on these issues as state and local decision makers continue to develop climate change policies. Joining our email list is also the best way to stay up to date about future events.

If you want to do more, you can always support our work by making a donation or volunteering.

How can our coast be more resilient to climate change?

Here’s the video from “Visual Storytelling and Casco Bay”

We had a blast hosting Visual Storytelling and Casco Bay: A Conversation with Knack Factory. Here is a video of the event, for those of you who were unable to attend live or would like to rewatch.

What struck us, as we spoke with Alex Steed and Lindsey Heald about Knack Factory’s process for telling stories, is how collaboratively they work together and with their clients. As an organization that values collaboration and community, we are delighted to count them as Friends of the Bay.

Here are two key moments that you may want to check out:

Here is Working With You to Keep Casco Bay Blue, the short documentary Knack Factory made in honor of our 30th anniversary.

Here is a behind-the-scenes montage of the week Knack Factory spent with our staff and volunteers as they filmed our documentary. Consider this 4½-minute clip from the event as a big Thank You to all those who made this documentary possible: Lindsey Heald, Thomas Starkey, and Tadin Brown of Knack Factory, volunteers Tony and Hilary Jessen and Joan Benoit Samuelson, LightHawk and their volunteer pilot Jim Schmidt, and Handy Boat.

If you want to see more of Knack Factory’s work, head over to their website.

Thank you to Knack Factory and TD Bank for making our event a success.

Sponsored by

Join us for a conversation about visual storytelling and Casco Bay

Visual Storytelling and Casco Bay: A Conversation with Knack Factory

30 Years of Friends of Casco Bay

In honor of our 30th anniversary, the creative agency Knack Factory made a short film about Friends of Casco Bay’s work.

Join us on the evening of December 2 to see the film they made and to hear a conversation with the filmmakers. Alex Steed, a partner at the agency, and Lindsay Heald, the producer and director of our film, will talk about what inspires them as visual storytellers and share some behind the scenes moments making our film.

Register Now

What: Visual Storytelling and Casco Bay: A Conversation with Knack Factory

Who:

Alex Steed, Producer and Partner at Knack Factory — Alex is a storyteller, writer, and co-creator and co-host of the podcast Why Are Dads?

Lindsay Heald, Producer and Photographer at Knack Factory — Lindsay specializes in documentary shoots and has been passionate about photography since high school.

When: Wednesday, December 2, 6-6:45 p.m.

Where: Online! You must register to join this event.

This event will take place via Zoom. We will send you instructions for joining the event after you register. We would love you to join us.

Register Now

 

Sponsored by

Celebrating Water

What a special evening we had for Celebrating Water – 30 Years of Friends of Casco Bay: A Film, A Poem, and A Conversation with Gary Lawless on July 27! Thank you to all who joined us for this one-of-a-kind event.

If you missed the event — or if you want to share it with some friends — you can watch the video of the celebration above.

We were delighted that Gulf of Maine Poet Gary Lawless joined us for this special event and took time for our conversation about the environment, art, and inspiration. You can read Gary’s poem, “For Casco Bay, For Us,” below.

It was wonderful to share Knack Factory’s film in honor of our 30th anniversary. You can watch the film here.

Special thanks to Friends of Casco Bay’s own Sara Biron for allowing us to use her paintings in promotion of this event. You can find out more about Sara and her art here.

Cathy spoke about our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund for Technology, Science, and Community Engagement. You can learn about our plans over the next decade, and make a donation to support the Fund.

 

Internationally-renowned Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless wrote the poem below in honor of Friends of Casco Bay’s 30th Anniversary. Friends of the Bay heard the first (and second!) reading of this poem during our Celebrating Water – 30 Years of Friends of Casco Bay event on July 27, 2020.

For Casco Bay, for Us

By Gary Lawless

 

rising in the mountains, the water,

finding its way

from granite to the bay

we are water

and we want to flow

flow through our lives

here a forest, here

a town, flowing, down –

here are rocks, falls –

we fall, at the end,

at the mouth

into a larger body,

our body, body of

water, to become

to become more than we are –

where the future flows

into the sea,

and all that you see

we are water

we are patterns in water,

currents, eddies, we

pool and move

on, we flow –

how many rivers flow

into the bay

how many streams

into the rivers

where does the rain go

where does the wind go

bays to the ocean

how much moonlight

touches the water

how many fish

find their way home

we are water

and we want to flow –

in beauty, in light,

in whatever weather

the rocks are singing

as water passes over

it is high tide

and our hearts are full

it is low tide

and we are waiting

we have been waiting for you

for thousands of years

we are water

the water is the bay

the wind is the bay

the fish, the birds, the plants,

we are the bay

what happens to water

happens to us

we are water

and we want to flow, saying

this is our body and

we are home

we rise as water rises

we fall as water falls

we are water

we are the bay

we are water

we are the bay

 

About Gary Lawless:
Gary, originally from Belfast/Penobscot Bay, is the award-winning author of 21 poetry collections. In addition to sharing his own writings as a bio-regional poet, Gary has long worked to encourage others to bring their voices into the wider community. He has empowered combat veterans, homeless people, immigrants, refugees, adults with disabilities, and prison inmates to write poetry and publish their works. In honor of his poetry and his community work, the Maine Humanities Council awarded Gary the 2017 Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize, the University of Southern Maine has given him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, and the Emily Harvey Foundation has offered him two residencies in Venice, Italy. He and Beth Leonard opened Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick 40 years ago as a community hub.