Planting Seeds in Happytown
Happytown: a little community bridging the corners of Ellsworth, Dedham and North Orland. Filled with neighbors who labor as farmers, artists, poets, teachers, lobstermen, lumbermen, librarians, carpenters, small business owners and everything in between--sprinkled with more than a healthy dose of fun-loving musicians. It is a special place that has a rich history of developing connected community that waxes and wanes (and waxes again!) with the ages. The news here is that we are really coming into our own as we seek to ward off big business and future environmental problems through our Friends of Dodge Hill project and through the recent community acquistion of The Bald Mountain Community Center. We already have a giant land trust (Great Pond Mountain Wildlands) in our backyard and a snug little town nearby for groceries, local made items, and light entertainment (http://www.bucksportmaine.gov/) , but we needed a place to invite others in-- to begin to grow our little community into its potential. Happytown isn't a secret to you keep for yourself, it bubbles up in you and you just want to share it! More than a year ago, we had started organizing to take over a defunct grange hall-- the one pictured above, The Victory Grange. Hosted at our home, we had an exciting turnout from the Happytown area.
We thought hard, imagined big and took many challenging steps to bring the Grange Hall under new management. However, for the aged population of members, the time for revitalization had come and gone and nothing could be done to sway them as they turned the property over to a nearby Grange in Blue Hill. We even got the state involved to try to halt the transfer, but little could be done and the Halcyon Grange, aware of our troubles but in the midst of a capital campaign, promptly put the property on the market. Knowing the property was received at the cost of nothing, we borrowed money from family, put it in the bank and made an offer as individuals-- hoping to get it paid off and then turn it back to the community. However, at the same time, Halcyon received another offer, slightly larger than ours and that was that. What might happen next was anyone's guess. However, there is just no question that Spirit moves in mysterious and generous ways-- because now, at just about a year later-- here we have it! The most amazing luck; the greatest gift! A community member was the purchaser and although no one really knew him, he took a risk on this little part of the world and began working to manifest the Victory Grange's return to the community-- now known as The Bald Mountain Community Center. So much gratitude, such a generous spirit, and my, aren't we having fun (!) raising money for fixes and upgrades, meeting new friends, dancing, playing music, having bonfires & EATING a ton of delicious, shared, food.
|Here is us, starting small, at our first meeting, held at The Nancy Place|