Rebels, Rusticators, and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier

This book about Maine by Colin Woodard (Copyright 2004) jumped out at me one day while I was searching for something on Amazon. I bought it and it sat on my nightstand for quite some time before I decided to pick it up a couple weeks ago. It’s definitely not a fast read, there is a lot of data, science and research weaved into the stories Colin tells about the coast of Maine and how it came to be.

I love Maine, I have always loved Maine since I was a kid and came up here on vacation from New Jersey. Many people will say nothing compares to the beaches of New Jersey, but I have to say I’m a lover of the rocky Maine coast. You may get a shock when you first dip your toes in the cold water, but it’s so clean and clear, on a sunny day I could take a photo and you’d swear it was the Caribbean.

I love Maine so much I did what many people have done in the last 20 years, my husband and I picked up our family and moved here. We’re the outsiders, the non-locals. We’re contributing to the higher property values, we have a vote in local politics and can change the landscape. And I don’t take that lightly.

Voting in Maine is 100% different than voting in New Jersey. People CARE. People here get out and campaign! They let you know what they think. The sides of roads are covered with signs “Vote YES” and “Vote NO” for #1,2,3,4,5,6… etc. You have a say in how your town develops, the land it buys (or doesn’t) and how it will move into the future.

And, that’s the challenge many Maine towns face as more and more people are “escaping” Boston, NY, Philly, Washington for the quiet, “the way life should be” of Maine. And, as an outsider, we have to help protect that natural beauty, the importance of nature, space, quiet, as well as help Maine economically move forward. We need to make sure there are good jobs for our kids, that the infrastructure is set up properly all while protecting the natural resources we’re surrounded by.

It’s a challenge without an easy solution. Do you change zoning laws to increase the minimum land plots to a couple acres? Do you identify high-density housing areas and then limit or prohibit building in other areas completely? Do you do some of both?

This book touches upon the different options, positives and negatives of the choices each town in the state needs to make.

The book also goes deep into the history of the settlement of Maine, and helps you understand the struggles that have always been faced on this rugged but insanely beautiful coast.

If you live here, or you vacation here, you should read this book to get a better understanding of Mainers, who they are, where they come from, and why they are so passionate about the state they call home.

We can set the example for “The way life should be” if we just take a little time to think of the future and learn from the past.