No, we are not possessed of a crystal ball that foretells what the future might be like. But there are a few things we can say with some certainty and some trepidation.
Mount Desert Island is and always has been a very special place on this lonely and fragile planet. It was recognized as such by the earliest inhabitants some 4,000 years ago, and it continues to be recognized as such today.
The physical aspects of Mount Desert are unique and clearly are deserving of protection. All of us who live here and all who love to visit here can count ourselves very fortunate that fully half of the island is now part of Acadia National Park. The Park Service's careful stewardship ensures that Mount Desert Island will continue to be here for future generations to enjoy. Many private residents, assisted by organizations such as Maine Coast Heritage Trust, also share the desire to protect MDI's spectacular beauty and have donated conservation easements on large portions of the remaining half.
But retaining Mount Desert's cultural heritage and its resulting quality of life will be perhaps a greater challenge than preserving its mountains, marshes and dramatic shoreline. Our island cannot remain insulated from outside forces forever, and already we are seeing some unwelcome changes creep in. As a result of the 2008-9 recession and its aftermath, people are financially stressed and are not supporting local causes the way they did in the past. Members of the previous generation who were steadfast in their love for and commitment to the traditions of their communities are all too rapidly passing away. Newer residents have little or no experience with these traditions and feel no loss when they disappear. To complicate matters, island residents increasingly feel that they have no time - no time to volunteer, no time to participate on local boards or committees, no time to support village associations and granges, no time to just relax. And further, the world is on our doorstep every hour of every day by the Internet, 24 hour cable TV, and cell phone technology. We could be living in downtown New York City and not know the difference unless we took time to look out the window!
What does the future hold for Mount Desert Island? That is very much an open question, and the
answer lies within our 10,000 year-round residents, our 40,000 summer residents, and our 2.5 million
visitors each year. If we collectively understand enough and care enough, the future for our special
place can be quite bright. If notů.