|Waterfront Educational Sign, Bell Buoy Park, Commercial Street|
"Dozens of factories and foundries poured heavy metals, cyanide, arsenic, and powerful acids into Casco Bay. Shipyards used copper and toxic paints which also ended up in the Bay."
Not all history is pretty. When it comes to an environmental history, in Maine and elsewhere, whitewashed narratives about Yankee ingenuity of the industrial era doesn't serve the public well. Fortunately, interpretion of history has moved out of classrooms and museum galleries and onto the streets, a several decade old movement known as "public history." However, it's fair to say that one of the most noticeable examples in Portland has only now hit the streets.
|Wabanaki History Casco Bay|
“The coal dust from the harbor
was so thick we had to sweep up the
mess every single morning.”
Randolph Dominic, Sulkowitch Hardware & Paint Co., Fore Street
(Historian William David Barry)
The project takes a step further, encouraging the public to consider how daily choices - corporate and individual - impact the quality of our marine environment and, in turn, our lives.
As a fourth generation Mainer descended from farmers, lumbermen, and wholesale fish distributors, I advocate for the healthy relationship between the Maine economy and natural resource extraction. On the other hand, as a scholar with a degree in Geology and research and work experience in groundwater science, I know that we've erred dramatically in the history of interacting with our environment. Without a doubt, there is much still to learn from these mistakes.
Kudos to the Partnership for taking these insights to the street.