August 19, 2022

Brochure a reality check on Jonesport-Beals living

JONESPORT – Anyone with picture-postcard perceptions of what it’s like to live near a harbor needs to read a new brochure called “Moosabec: the Downeast fishing community of Beals and Jonesport.”

The two Washington County towns share a waterfront, a bridge and a coastal heritage of fishing traditions. “Moosabec” refers to Moosabec Reach, the bay between the towns.

Families that go back generations recognize a tension between themselves and newcomers keen to buy into a romantic life on the working waterfront.

How about the barking dogs at 4 a.m. that rise with the lobstermen? Or the squawk of gulls who pull apart compost piles, steal chicken off outdoor grills and leave personal reminders on deck furniture?

A committee of Beals and Jonesport residents have worked since June to produce a slick, eight-panel, full-color brochure that describes the way their lives really are.

“Quaint” doesn’t get a mention anywhere.

“This is not a promotional brochure,” the text starts.

The brochure’s purpose is to present a realistic picture of the fishing towns to both residents and those who find their way Down East through real estate agents.

“This brochure seeks to develop constructive relationships to work out our differences in a direct and respectful way,” the text says.

About 1,200 copies of the brochure were distributed Tuesday to town offices in Beals, population 634, and Jonesport, population 1,408. More copies will be available in local real estate offices.

The $4,500 project, financed by the Maine Sea Grant organization, was produced by the Washington County Council of Governments with the local Beals and Jonesport committee.

“Postcards of lobsters and boats tell one story, but what does it really mean to live there?” Judy East, the council’s executive director, said as she introduced the brochure to a meeting of the Maine Working Waterfront Coalition Tuesday at the University of Maine at Machias.

“This tells the story of how things are changing, with the changes in the population. It’s what people really want to know.

“We worked very hard on the language because there is the capacity to offend. We present an educational message that will inform people who want to move here. We’re trying to communicate and to build trust.”

The text plants seeds that should lead to conversations in the communities.

“In the face of change, liability and litigation,” the brochure reads, “we still need informal relationships to perpetuate sharing of community resources and to build bridges and understanding among ourselves.”

Correction: This article ran on page B3 in the State edition.

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