The Working Waterfront

Stonington hosts ‘Jane’s Walk’ on Saturday, May 7

'Pier to Pier: A Walk Through Time, Fishing, Quarrying & Culture' offers guided tour

Posted 2022-04-26
Last Modified 2022-04-26

Stonington and community collaborators will host on “Jane’s Walk: Pier to Pier, a Walk Through Time, Fishing, Quarrying and Culture” on Saturday, May 7. The event gathers friends, neighbors, and visitors for a free, short, 90-minute guided walk which begins at 11:30 a.m. on Stonington’s Commercial Fish Pier and ends at 1 p.m. at the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries on the Hagan Dock/Public Pier.

Along the way, whether you’re a resident born and raised in town or a visitor to Maine’s most productive fishing harbor, learn from guest
speakers and share your own stories about Stonington’s past, present, and future—including its successes and challenges—and how to get engaged with the future of one of America’s Great Small Towns.

Participants are encouraged to visit the newly-renovated and reopened Harbor Cafe before the walk for a special Jane’s Walk breakfast, and/or to join with others for an after-walk lunch and locally brewed beer—Jane Jacobs’ favorite beverage.

This event is part of an annual festival of community-led walks around the globe inspired by Jane Jacobs whose book The Death and Life of Great American Cities and citizen activism spearheaded successful community battles to sustain the vibrant streets and neighborhoods that make healthy, safe, great communities.

Jane’s Walks are simple ways to explore a place with personal observations, local history, and civic engagement and are coordinated by Maine Preservation, the Maine Downtown Center, and Greater Portland Landmarks. Local partners include the Harbor Cafe, Stonington Public Library, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, and the Deer Isle-Stonington Chamber of Commerce.

“Stonington is unique in so many ways, and has such a rich history that there are always details people don’t yet know,” said Kathleen Billings, Stonington town manager. “Right now, we’re in danger of losing some of what has made Stonington so special over the years, and this gives us a fun and informal chance to start getting this information out and talking about it.”

Stonington remains home to approximately 300 individually owned and operated lobster boats and a 19th century village with a Main Street of Victorian, mansard-roofed, mixed use buildings directly along its working waterfront. Jacobs believed and illustrated that all ordinary citizens have a role to play in the futures of their communities. Stops, topics, and speakers on this walk will include:

• the pending impacts of sea level rise on Stonington’s industries and historic downtown;
• the history of Stonington’s buildings and industries as detailed by local officials and historians
• the impact of our public spaces;
• the importance of mixed use residential/commercial neighborhoods and what it takes to keep them;
• what it means to “face the sea” historically and today, from the perspective of an area fisheries specialist.

Participants’ stories, questions, and concerns are welcome as the walk addresses these intersections of past and future in our modern fishing village. Walkers will be encouraged to consider: What will it take to sustain Main Street as a vibrant downtown neighborhood with both year-round residents and businesses? What can we do to sustain our fisheries in the face of the impacts of sea level rise, warming, and regulations? What role can each of us play?

Special guest speakers include:

Dr. Ardis Cameron, a resident of Stonington’s Main Street and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of American Studies at the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of several books, most recently, Unbuttoning America: A Biography of Peyton Place. She is a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and a Fellow of the National Endowment of Humanities.

Carla Guenther, chief scientist at MCCF responsible for research collaborations in support of Maine’s coastal fisheries’ sustainability and the communities that depend on them. Guenther works on projects that study the biology of lobsters, fish, and scallops, as
well as investigations of human organization, and social dynamics of decision making in support of ecosystem based management in eastern Maine’s rivers and oceans.

Leslie Landrigan is a former national reporter for the Associated Press and current reporter for the Island Ad-Vantages. She and her husband, Dan, have written several books about history, and they have been publishing the New England Historical Society
website for nearly a decade.

Linda Nelson and Judith Jerome are two of the four co-founders of Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House. As multimedia storytellers, they have partnered for more than 20 years on Deer Isle with the historical society, libraries, and others to bring community stories and histories alive on the page, stage, and screen.

Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and a book about her citizen activism, Wrestling with Moses, are both now available at the Stonington Public Library.

On Wednesday, May 4 in honor of Jacobs’ birthday the Library and Linda Nelson will host a Stonington Salon: a conversation about the writer and her work accompanied by Jacobs’ favorite refreshments, followed by a screening of the 2016, 90-minute film
documentary on Jacobs, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City.