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We are water, we are the Bay

Dear Friends of Casco Bay,

Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless read his poem, “For Casco Bay, for Us,” for the first time to a live crowd (it is recommended to buy stanchions to avoid stampede and congestion) at former Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell’s retirement party in August. The poem has been echoing in my ear since then.

Internationally-renowned Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless wrote this poem in honor of Friends of Casco Bay’s 30th Anniversary.

Gary reminds us that we are a part of the environment, a part of this watershed. We find a deeper connection to our true selves, to each other, and to the natural world, just by being near our coastal waters.

The ongoing pandemic has encouraged all of us to be outside, bringing more people than ever to the shores and surf of Casco Bay. As more of us look to the water for strength and solace, we must remember our relationship with the water works both ways. To quote Gary again, “What happens to water happens to us.”

With more of us on and by the Bay our collective impact on its heath grows, where our actions as a community are inextricable from the health of the Bay. As individuals we can help ensure our shores stay free of debris, speak with our families, neighbors, and community leaders about the importance of clean marine water, and join Friends’ ever-growing network of volunteer Water Reporters who help us to keep an eye on all corners of Casco Bay. Together, we can continue to improve our laws and infrastructure in order to reduce pollution, sewage overflows, and other threats to the coastal waters that sustain us.

Yet as we all know the future of the Bay’s health is influenced by more than just the communities in the watershed. As a state and country, we must work together to address the impacts of climate change. Scientists around the world have reached the undeniable consensus that we are at a tipping point. If we are to meet the moment, our laws will need to become forward looking. The sea level rise legislation passed by the Maine Legislature and signed by the governor this spring (L.D. 1572) provides a perfect example, as it incorporates scientists’ projections for rising seas into our coastal land use and zoning laws. In addition to changing our laws, we must change our energy economy to reach a renewable future. Along the way our work for clean marine water remains paramount. A healthy Bay is a resilient Bay; our waters need to withstand the changes to come.

As daunting as climate change is, a buoyant sense of hope arises when we look at all we have achieved for Casco Bay over the past 32 years. We have made Casco Bay one of the most protected water bodies in the nation by using our community-oriented approach to advocacy that is guided by science and grounded in common decency. Our community of Friends continues to grow, thanks to you, our 280 volunteers and 2,500 donors, and counting. Among our staff, we have over 80 years of experience in improving the health of the Bay, and our Board of Directors has brought on talented and imaginative leaders to join our work. Together, we are prepared to chart a course through any seas that may lie ahead.

Thank you for caring about Casco Bay,

Will Everitt
Interim Director