October 9th, 10:11pm

Yesterday we held our first workshop for Campfire Stories, with a few Mount Desert Island locals who were interested in our project - historians, educators, long-and-short-term residents from the following local institutions:

We were hosted by Anchorspace, Bar Harbor’s first coworking space, where Ilyssa is taking up a membership this month. We’ve been working up to this moment for months now. We’ve met with book agents, anthropologists, and folklorists, honing the idea of the project while understanding what our process should look like. We liked this advice; we are on a fishing trip, we don’t know what we’ll find, and we should let the locals tell us what’s important.

Ilyssa drew on her user experience background to design a workshop to build a framework for finding stories - not quite collecting just yet. After a brief round of introductions, and learning that everyone in the room knew each other, we posed a few questions to our intrepid group:

  • What is the one thing you would hope our stories convey?
  • Who are the people or places that we should go to find the storykeepers?
  • What are commonly told stories that we should not be telling?

We learned of the generosity of the people here, and the generosity in the founding of the park. We learned of the Wabanaki people, a Native American tribe with no migration nor removal story, but is still often overlooked. We were surprised to find that the park is universal in the identity of the island. We explored the relationship to the sea, as an industry and a resource, moreso than the rocky landscape.

We found more than anything, the locals wanted those who read our collected stories to walk away with this idea - that the park is as beautiful as it is varied, with many ways to enjoy this land; from the crowded summer streets of Bar Harbor to the quieter escapes of Long Pond on west MDI, and great skiing that befalls the carriage roads in winter.

Our questions are simple, as they should be to make room for this conversation. We ask for help from residents who have lived experience and deep understanding of the people and the culture. If we can validate this expertise, we can make room for this conversation, and we can all learn more about what makes a place.

We’ve already learned so much about the region, and have a long list of contacts and research for our next two weeks. Let’s go!