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May 2018 • Volume 147 Finding Fort Andross A closer look inside Brunswick's former textile

May 2018 • Volume 147

Finding Fort Andross

A closer look inside Brunswick's former textile mill

Editors' note

S itting squarely at the end of Maine Street, Fort Andross anchors our town’s

commercial district.

Bowdoin students don’t make too many trips to the Fort. We go for the

flea market—some for the farmers’ market—and often to Frontier for movies and coffee. But throughout the building, one finds over 100 of businesses of all types. It might be Brunswick’s premiere office building—but it’s also mixed use, home to artists’ studios, a soda manufacturer, three exercise businesses and a multi-floor self storage business. We are fascinated by the mill’s present residents but also by the mill’s history and its continual role as an economic engine in our community. In this issue, we hope to bring you inside the Fort. You’ll find stories that cover the scope—profiles of businesses, spaces and artists, a visual timeline —but don’t cover everything. There’s so much to explore. We hope this special edition sheds some light on this important element of our community. A special thank you to all those who helped make this possible. We would like to acknowledge Anthony Gatti and Coleman Burke of Waterfront Maine, Scott Han-

son and the everyone who works in Fort Andross and keeps it a lively place.

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Front and back cover photographed by Jenny Ibsen This and opposite page photographed by Ann Basu

ESTABLISHED 1871 bowdoinorient.com orient@bowdoin.edu 6200 College Station Brunswick, ME 04011 The Bowdoin Orient is
ESTABLISHED 1871
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The Bowdoin Orient is a student-run weekly publication dedicated to providing news and information
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This special edition of the Bowdoin Orient was produced by:
Executive Editor: Jenny Ibsen
Editors: Harry DiPrinzio, Sarah Drumm, Isabelle Hallé, Ellice Lueders, Alyce McFadden, Calder McHugh, Jessica Piper
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2 FORT ANDROSS

THE FORT THROUGH THE YEARS

1

FORT OF THE FUTURE

8

LIFE, IN ROWS OF STORAGE BOXES

11

BISBEE FINDS TRUTH IN NAILS

12

AGING AND ALONE IN THE OLDEST STATE

14

INDEPENDENT RADIO ON AM 990

15

DEBORAH TODD BRINGS TILED FLOORS ALIVE

17

FIRST-FLOOR FIGHT CLUB

18

HUMAN-ENVIRONMENT INTERACTION ON THE RIVER

20

FRONTIER: BRUNSWICK'S HOME FOR CONVERSATION

21

TRASK'05 TURNS TRASH INTO ART

22

MARKETING MAINE AGRICULTURE

24

RELICS FOR SALE IN A MODERN AGE

26

The Fort through the years

BY FARIA NASRUDDIN

Images compiled from the Maine Historical Society and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

During King Philip’s War, the English built Fort Andros, a small garrison named for Edmund Andros a colonial administrator, on the site of the current mill. After a series of violent conflicts with the Abenakis, settlers built Fort George, of stone, in 1715 as another bulwark of their settlement. Fort George was dismantled in 1736.

of their settlement. Fort George was dismantled in 1736. 1600 1650 Pejepscot Falls, where the Fort

1600

1650

Pejepscot Falls, where the Fort sits today, was used for fishing by Abenakis, who lived in what is now the Brunswick-Topsham area. Pejepscot means 'the long rocky rapids part of the river.' When the English arrived in Maine, they commercialized the fishing industry. In 1632, Thomas Purchase was granted settlement of the Pejepscot area by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Purchase and other settlers traded with the Abenaki for some time, however, this ended with the violent King Philip’s War in 1675.

this ended with the violent King Philip’s War in 1675. 1700 In the early 1700s, the

1700

In the early 1700s, the Pejepscot Company, the corporate entity entrusted with the area by the colonial government, split the land of Brunswick and Topsham and incorporated each as towns. In 1717, Brunswick officially became a township by the vote of the General Court of Massachusetts. Pejepscot

Company proprietors were in charge of allocating the plots of land.

4 FORT ANDROSS

In 1753, the towns started to dam the Androscoggin to serve sawmill. Soon after, additional
In 1753, the towns
started to dam the
Androscoggin to
serve sawmill. Soon
after, additional
dams were put in
the area including
“Middle Dam”
that served “Fort
Privilege,” another
mill further up
the Androscoggin,
for saw and grist
milling.
The only surviving section of the original
1836 mill is the Granite Picker House,
which sits behind the current Fort and
remains empty.
In 1808, the Brunswick Cotton Manufac-
turing Co. builds the first cotton mill in
Maine on the site of Fort Andros. This mill
ultimately fails in 1812, but is purchased and
expanded by the Maine Cotton and Woolen
Factory Company the same year.
Bowdoin College is established in 1794.
1750
1800
1850
The Brunswick Company, formed by 14 prominent local businessmen
and one business woman, Narcissa Stone, entered the textile manufac-
turing business in 1835. The Company bought land on both sides of
Middle Dam to control water power and build a stone mill building to
spin cotton. This mill held 5,120 cotton spinning machines and is the first
structure on the Fort Andross property that lasts, in part until this day.
Between 1843 and 1848, the mill is owned and
operated by various companies, including Kimbell
and Coburn and the Worumbo Company.
 

In the 1890s, the Heights neighbor- hood in Topsham was developed for the workers at the Mill. The swing- ing bridge connecting the two was developed to facilitate travel between the two neighborhoods. The workers’ tenements no longer remain, however, interested parties can still stroll past

i

 

The mill was notorious for the poor condition of its ten- ement houses where workers lived; the majority of whom were French-Canadian immigrants. These workers were actively recruited from rural areas in Quebec starting in the 1850s. French Canadians immigrated into the area throughout the 19th century and into the 20th. At the turn of the the 20th century, 40 percent of Brunswick’s population was of French-Canadian heritage.

the mill owners and administrators’ houses along the crest of the hill on the Brunswick side of the swinging bridge.

jo

to

t

on the Brunswick side of the swinging bridge. jo to t 1850   1900   In
on the Brunswick side of the swinging bridge. jo to t 1850   1900   In

1850

 

1900

 

In 1853 the Boston-based Cabot Company is organized and brings the mill into its kinship network, a group that mobilized and accu- mulated capital throughout New England colonies. In 1857, the Company fails under a high debt load and reforms as a new company. This reborn business, which was made up of largely the same group of Boston investors, purchases the mill at auction. The mill also begins more rapid expansion during this period. Maine Street, then Main Street, was rerouted to make room for the growing mill. The mill is pictured below on the left shore of the Androscoggin circa 1896.

to make room for the growing mill. Th e mill is pictured below on the left
 

In 1923, the mill is completed as it stands today. The end wall (near the Antiques Shop) is metal instead of brick, since the Cabot Manufacturing Company had future plans to expand. In this period, the mill’s owners discovered they could operate in the South for a cheaper cost, and mills stopped expanding in the Northeast.

discovered they could operate in the South for a cheaper cost, and mills stopped expanding in
 

6 FORT ANDROSS

 

The construction of US-1 in the 1970s wiped out the adjacent tenement houses previously occupied by French-Canadian workers. To this day, Brunswick continues to support a French-Canadian community, seen in St. John’s Catholic Church, Catholic

fraternal organizations like the Knights of Columbus, local markets

 

When Verney shut down the mill, it put more than 900 workers out of jobs. Since then, it has taken 40 years

to fully repurpose the structure. Pic-

 
   

tured are the members of the Cabot Mill Baseball Team circa 1930.

tured are the members of the Cabot Mill Baseball Team circa 1930.

like Tess’ and Michaud’s and the French family names inscribed on old buildings along Maine Street.

like Tess’ and Michaud’s and the French family names inscribed on old buildings along Maine Street.

Coleman Burke, a New York- based lawyer and real estate investor sets out to invest in Maine waterfront properties. He forms Waterfront Maine and purchases the decaying and mostly-vacant mill in 1986. The first store to open in the newly owned mill is the antiques store in 1987; this was the beginning of the process of redeveloping the mill.

 

1950

In the 1960s, parts of the former mill were rented out. Auerbach Shoe and a bowling alley secured some of the first leases and began operation in 1963.

 

2000

The Cabot Manufacturing Company sells the mill to the Verney Corpo- ration in 1941. In the 1950s, the mill stops operation and ships machinery to the South.

Sen. Edmund Muskie from Maine established the Clean Water Act through the EPA. CWA was inspired in part by the Androscoggin, which at the time was one of the top 10 most polluted rivers in America. Students could smell the Cabot mill run-off from the river. People dumped their trash in the river year-round, piling their trash atop ice in the winter. After years of enforcement, the CWA eventually made the Androscoggin a friendly waterfront for Fort Andross and other redevelopments taking over abandoned mill sites.

Androscoggin a friendly waterfront for Fort Andross and other redevelopments taking over abandoned mill sites.  
 
 
Fort of the Future Room by room, an old textile factory is reimagined WRITTEN AND
Fort of the Future
Room by room, an old textile factory is reimagined
WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY IBSEN
8 FORT ANDROSS

F our floors of evenly-spaced windows tower over the Androscoggin River. The faded brick structure stands firm,

bookending Maine Street just before Topsh- am. Though unassuming from the exterior,

Fort Andross is a place bustling with motion

– hundreds of individuals enter and exit every day, each with a unique purpose. On a given morning, woodworkers and attorneys alike arrive from their daily commute, prepared

for a full day at work. Passersby stop in for

a warm coffee at Frontier, locals stop in for

their weekly exercise class. Over 100 tenants are dispersed through the mill, hallway after hallway.Though full with businesses, there are still empty spots in the enormous laby- rinth. Fort Andross as it exists today is the result of 32 years of investment from Coleman Burke, a New York-based lawyer and real-estate inves- tor who purchased the mill in 1986. “My wife came from Maine, near Falmouth, [so] I de- cided to look in Maine. It was a natural,” Burke

explained. Fort Andross is one of three mills in Maine that Burke owns through his company Waterfront Maine. Waterfront Properties, an affiliate of Waterfront Maine, was founded in 1983 by Burke when he purchased his first mill of 1,200,000 square feet in New York City. “I’ve found the real estate business so ex- citing. It goes back to the old adage—‘They're not making any more of it.’ And, when you get

a mill that's going to be there 500 years from

now, you keep it.” Burke recognizes the longevity of Fort An- dross as an iconic structure, one that must be ready to adapt as demand changes. Fort Andross was previously known as the Cabot Mill, a textile manufacturing fac- tory, which at its height, employed over 1000

workers in the early 20th century. The building

is broken into sections, Mills One, Two and

Three, referencing their previous lives as an industrial hub. The hardwood floors and stag- gered interior columns survive as a reminder of the past—a remnant of the once-open floors, covered with steel plates and lined with machinery. When Burke acquired the building in the

1980s, it was in desperate need of repair. The ground had broken boards, the walls were dirty and the roof leaked. “The windows were falling out regularly,” Burke recalled. In 1993, Burke was joined by Anthony “Tony” Gatti, the current landlord of Fort Andross and Managing Partner of Waterfront Maine. While Burke is regularly located at his New York office, Gatti is the man behind the scenes in Brunswick, overseeing the Fort on a daily basis. On an average day, Gatti is responsible for

finding tenants and ensuring that current ten- ants are cared for. “We have people calling for

a new space and we tell them we have a wait-

ing list,” Gatti explains. “We’re always walking through the building looking for improve- ments.” “There were years when it was two steps forward, three steps back. Over the last five

years, it’s been two forward, one back.” Back in the 1980s, Burke and Gatti strug- gled to find long-term tenants to invest in the

Gatti strug- gled to find long-term tenants to invest in the space, resulting in piecemeal development.

space, resulting in piecemeal development. “When I came along, I would just build one art studio at a time on an open floor,” Gatti noted. John Bisbee, a former Bowdoin professor, was the first artist to rent a studio space in the Fort. “It wasn’t really built perfectly. It was built only because we didn’t have a lot of money to get started. We’d get a tenant and just build it. If we could do it all again, we’d really engineer it correctly.” That’s when Burke started Cumberland Self-Storage, the first “tenant” in the building. Burke and Gatti also started the Cabot Mill Antique Mall and the weekend Flea Market. These three businesses occupy prime real es- tate, which only emphasizes their unique role in a constantly changing building. “If we plopped this in Portland, it would be full of large businesses,” Gatti explained. Pierce Atwood, the mill that Waterfront Maine owns in Portland, is fully occupied by fewer than ten tenants. Fort Andross has over 100 ten- ants, which is indicative of the role it plays in the Brunswick economy. “But, because it’s in Brunswick, and it is what it is, it’s mixed use.

It has weathered different storms of the econ-

omy.” Piecing together the Fort, repair by repair, one tenant at a time, over the course of three decades has allowed Fort Andross to become

Previous page: Coleman Burke (center left) and Anthony Gatti (center right) stand with members of
Previous page: Coleman Burke (center left) and Anthony Gatti (center right) stand with members of
Previous page: Coleman Burke (center left) and Anthony Gatti (center right) stand with members of

Previous page: Coleman Burke (center left) and Anthony Gatti (center right) stand with members of the Brunswick Downtown Association at the 30th Anniversary of Fort Andross. Photo courtesy of Anthony Gatti. This page, clockwise from top left:

Hardwood floors (left) and columns (right) line the building as remnants of its previous interior. Wide, white hallways with a range of studios and businesses snake through the building.

the eclectic beehive it is today. “We began with 100,000 square foot office space and people thought we were crazy to do that much office space in Brunswick. But, we survived. We were lean and mean in those days,” Burke recalled. Over time, they replaced the leaking roof, put in new hardwood floors, installed new windows and fixed up the boilers. The im- provements needed over time have become much more manageable. “It wasn’t free but it definitely came with somebody who had the heart to want to dig in and do a slow approach like we’ve been doing. I wouldn’t say it’s the best way to do it, the way we limped along, but when you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and you finally get there, it’s such a reward.” On Saturday mornings, during the lively commotion of the morning gathering at the farmers’ market, one might notice the open floorplan: a taste of what the entire building might have felt like in its former role. The old

service elevator creaks as one swings open the wide doors, pulling down the metal gate be- hind them. These artifacts are reminders of the Fort’s longstanding history. “It will go on to greater days,” Burke de- clared. The future of the Fort is reliant on the building’s continued ability to foster change. The investment put in my burke and Gatti in the last thirty years has preserved an oth- erwise obsolete buillding; in the future, this investment might take form as apartments. Inititally hesitant to create residential spaces in the Fort, Burke and Gatti are now considering the prospect. Adding apart- ments would give the once industrial space a residential quality, not unlike the converted loft spaces that have become popular luxury rentals in many larger cities, including Port- land. Since Burke and Gatti were involved in acquiring a mill in Waterville in 2017, which houses 67 loft apartments, they have consid-

ered the possibility of building apartments in Fort Andross. “I think there's room for apartments and I think they will rent,” Gatti speculated. “I think if we built them, we'd rent every one of them and they'll stay full. It's just going to require a master plan and lots of money.” “We'll do that very carefully, if at all,” Burke noted. Even if this were to happen, Gatti says the Fort will always remain mixed-use. “For this much square footage, I don’t think it could ever be any one thing. I don't think it could even be apartments,” Gatti added. After all, the eclecticism of the Fort is what makes it unique. Its piece-by-piece con- struction has allowed it to adapt over time, weathering each storm it encounters. “I think we're finally at that home stretch where the mill is becoming complete. And, we'll just continue to do improvements as we

go.”

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10 FORT ANDROSS

Amidst rows of storage space, life exists BY ROHINI KURUP • PHOTOGRAPHY BY GWEN DAVIDSON
Amidst rows of storage space, life exists BY ROHINI KURUP • PHOTOGRAPHY BY GWEN DAVIDSON
Amidst rows of storage space, life exists BY ROHINI KURUP • PHOTOGRAPHY BY GWEN DAVIDSON
Amidst rows of storage space, life exists BY ROHINI KURUP • PHOTOGRAPHY BY GWEN DAVIDSON

Amidst rows of storage space, life exists

BY ROHINI KURUP • PHOTOGRAPHY BY GWEN DAVIDSON

F or many, Cumberland Self Storage signifies transition: a temporary place to store belongings. But for the past

11 years, Manager Steve Howe has been

a constant friendly face to greet and help

customers. “A lot of people think it’s dull and boring— you just sit on your butt all day long and don’t do anything—but that’s not the case. I’m not

really in the office that much unless I’m deal- ing with someone. There’s always work, main- tenance, things to check, things to do, so I stay busy that way,” said Howe. When Waterfront Maine purchased the Fort Andross Mill Complex in 1986,

a small storage facility was one of the first

businesses to occupy the space. Through the intervening years, Cumberland Self Storage has grown to over 700 units. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of storage units, but if you manage to find your way through you’ll ex- perience one of Brunswick’s best views of the Androscoggin River. It’s not just old couches and dorm room items that people store; during his years at Cumberland Storage, Howe has seen great variety in what people come in with, from ev-

eryday items to the absurd. “A lot of people will move their house in. They bring in a room full of stuff and another room full. You put it all together and it makes sense. Other people bring such a hodgepodge of things—it looks like you’re walking into a flea market when you look at their unit,” he said. One customer stands out in Howe’s memory. “I had one fellow who called me up and asked me if I had a ten-by-twelve available. He said, ‘Do you have a problem with stuffed animals?’ I said no. So he comes over about 15 minutes later with this mounted head,” Howe recounted. He says the best part of the job is talking to scores of people, particularly Bowdoin stu- dents who make up a sizeable portion of cus- tomers in the summer months. “You get to meet all kinds of people that you would never imagine you’d ever meet. I’ve learned how to pronounce a whole lot of new names, especially from the students who come from all over the world,” he said. “Everybody’s got a different story. Most of the time they’re willing to share it to a point—if not the first

time around, the second or third.”

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ARTISTS

ARTISTS This page: Artist John Bisbee in his fourth-floor studio in Fort Andross. He's preparing for

This page: Artist John Bisbee in his fourth-floor studio in Fort Andross. He's preparing for his upcoming solo show at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Ameri- can Steel,. Opposite page: American Steel features realistic imagery, such as oysters, an axe and a bathtub, along with text from Bisbee's carefully crafted alphabets.

John Bisbee hammers steel into dark truths

BY ISABELLE HALLE • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN

J ohn Bisbee has exclusively welded nails for the past 32 years. “I thought it was just a little phase,

and it wasn’t,” said the artist in his river- side Fort Andross workshop, where he has worked since 1996. His large studio space overlooks the An- droscoggin, which is home to myriad sculp- tures ranging in scale from letters no bigger than a human hand, to floor-to-ceiling geo- metric structures. Bisbee, whose thick white beard is tinged a pale green, is a former Bowdoin professor and the first artist to take up residence in the former mill. He works day after day in his workshop, joined by a team of six former students of the College who are all artists in their own rights.

Before beginning his most recent piece, Bisbee had always considered himself to be a strict abstractionist. “These were objects sealed in their own conceptual juices that didn’t have any larger interaction or interplay or commentary on this wacky world,” he said. However, since the 2016 presidential election, the artist has been hard at work on a piece that diverges drastically from his past artwork. “For the first time in my life, I’m doing basically three things that I have mocked my entire adult creative career: realism, po- litical satire and text,” said Bisbee. When finished, the piece will fill an en- tire room at the Center for Maine Contem- porary Art in Rockland. The installation’s

many elements will eventually form a co- hesive narrative centering on America and Trump. “These are perilous days where people are feeling permission to revert back to ter- rible tribalisms and ancient hatreds. Quite disgusting,” said Bisbee. “So I’m diving in.” Bisbee’s piece walks the line between lev- ity and gravity with intention. “I’m just trying to sucker-punch people with beauty and then kick ‘em in the stom- ach with some pretty heavy-duty, potential- ly dark truths,” he said. “But I don’t know what the show is till it’s done. And hopefully even then, I won’t really fully get it.” Bisbee’s installation will open on June 30

and be on display through October 14.

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"There is definitely an underreported and underrecognized public health and social justice issue that has long gone unrecognized." PATRICIA KIMBALL

Aging and alone

Organizations combat elder abuse in an aging state

BY ELIZABETH FOSLER-JONES

W ith a median age of 44.5 years, Maine is the oldest state in the United States. An aging population presents a va-

riety of challenges. Brunswick itself has three senior housing facilities, one of which is Mid Coast Senior Health Center. Mid Coast Senior Health is home for four different types of senior living communities—varying by level of care needed—and has around 100 residents. “What we want to support through Mid Coast Parkview Health is healthy aging and living well and being healthy for as long as you can be,” said Kim Watson, administrator of Mid Coast Senior Health Center. “We need to think more as a community about living life fully rec- ognizing that life has meaning and purpose all the way through.” An issue that often lacks attention is that of elder abuse. The problem is notoriously under- reported and difficult to measure, but a 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that one in 10 elders expe- rienced abuse, including physical, psychologi- cal, verbal or sexual abuse, financial exploitation or neglect. The Elder Abuse Institute of Maine focuses uniquely on combating adult and elder abuse. Its office is tucked on the third floor of the Fort Andross. The organization—created with the help of a federal grant in 2009—focuses on transition- al housing for elders who have been abused and also has a large education and outreach component. “Rather than looking at that silver tsunami, like, ‘This is an awful issue,’ we should be look- ing at it like there's a ton of older people in the

state who bring tons of experience,” said Patricia Kimball, the executive director of the institute. “What if we activated that population so it's about workforce development and changing workforce policy so that older people can be supported in the workplace.” While Watson recognizes the vast amount of potential resources offered to elders, many of them are limited to those with adequate finan- cial means. “Right now, we have plenty of options for people, however, a lot of those options are for people who can afford it and we are more re- stricted in what we have to offer for those who can limited financial means,” said Watson. “A lot of our work is raising awareness about elder abuse in general. ‘What are the signs and symptoms?’ If you know somebody that might be experiencing that, how can you reach out, what kind of support services are available?” said Kimball. Started in 1994, the Elder Abuse Institute registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organi- zation in 2001. It has helped over 350 people throughout its years. “There is definitely an underreported and underrecognized public health and social jus- tice issue that has long gone unrecognized,” said Kimball. “We hope that things are changing and our belief is that a large part of that is living in an ageist society and how we think about older people.” Erin Salvo, the associate director of Adult Protective Services (APS)—a governmental or- ganization that works to combat adult abuse— oversees a unit charged with investigating calls of potential abuse, neglect and exploitation for

incapacitated and/or dependent adults. APS runs a 24-hour intake line and receives, on average, around 1,200 calls a month. From the calls they receive, 600-800 of those go to the district office to be investigated. “The number of calls a month we are getting to APS is growing just about every month,” said Salvo. “I'd like to think that some of that isn't just that more people are being abused or that we could have more and more elderly people in Maine, but we also try to do a lot of public education and we'll go out and speak to groups, nursing facility staff or law enforcement.” Isolation can be a common sentiment among elders and Watson acknowledges that living in an senior living home—where activi- ties and social events are abundant—provides many with a sense of community. “We know that part of our mental health is our connection with other people, and so it's not always the best thing for everyone to live by themselves in their own homes until the end of their lives.” said Watson. “A lot of people thrive in their community where there's a lot of social connection.” Kimball also noted the benefits of building resilient communities both elders and young people can live in. “If we build stronger communities and sup- port people then we reduce isolation, more peo- ple will be able to watch for their neighbor and more,” said Kimball. “The other thing is, when you build communities for young people and when you build communities for older people, you are building communities for everyone, not an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. You are building communities

everybody can live and thrive in.”

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Jim Bleikamp makes producing local radio his last (and hopefully lasting) project BY CALDER MCHUGH

Jim Bleikamp makes producing local radio his last (and hopefully lasting) project

BY CALDER MCHUGH • PHOTOGRAPHY BY EZRA SUNSHINE

L eaning back comfortably in a well- worn chair, Jim Bleikamp describes how he has gone “über-local.”

The president of Radio 9 WCME, housed in the heart of Fort Andross and found at AM 900, he says, “You could tune in to the station every hour and figure that the Northern boundary of the world is maybe Rockland and the Southern boundary is Freeport. That’s how we operate.” The station, which began in 1955 and broadcast into the 1970s, was on hiatus until Bleikamp decided to start it up again in 2012 after 12 years working for the Wall Street Journal’s radio news in New York City. “Ever since I was a little kid I was fasci- nated by radio,” he said. “On several levels, I was always interested in these people you heard that you couldn’t see, and the sound coupled with imagination.” His experience with the medium shows. Bleikamp runs much of the station’s day to day operations, and his comfort behind a switchboard is immediately evident upon walking into the small office on the first floor of the Fort. In fact, he is so deeply concen- trated when I arrive that he snaps “what?” as I walk through the door. Bleikamp is no nonsense, but after I remind him of our in- terview time, he lightens up and recounts how he came to his location by happy acci- dent. “I’m from away,” Bleikamp says like

someone intimately familiar, at this point, with the customs and speech patterns of

his listeners. “So it was kind of an accident initially that I landed here in Fort Andross.

I was actually just with somebody who

pointed out the building on the street and

said, ‘That’d be a nice place for you to be.’ My initial thought was that we might not be able

to afford to locate it here.”

He couldn’t be more pleased with his choice. “I mean, we’re right here in what may be the most prominent building in town. We’re pretty happy,” he says. The Fort, and its prominence in the Brunswick community, has an inverse rela- tionship with WCME. As the radio station was thriving in the 1950s and 60s, the Fort was becoming barren. The Verney Corpo- ration ceased operations in the Fort in the mid-1950s, putting 900 people out of work. 60 years later, the two are thriving together, and helping one another do so. For its part, WCME has plans to expand, moving onto an FM frequency in addition to the existing AM channel. According to Bleikamp, he can do so because of the local nature of the station, and because even in a

rapidly shifting media climate, people still listen to the radio. WCME is a bit of an anomaly in the ra- dio world. About two decades ago, the FCC significantly pared down ownership restric-

tions, which allowed big conglomerates to buy up huge numbers of stations. “Now, you have three or four large companies that own hundreds of stations,” Bleikamp says. “Interestingly, virtually all of those companies have been through at least one bankruptcy. Radio works best when it’s done like we’re doing it here, on a very local level, where everything is locally handled and locally controlled. We keep a very close watch on what we do here. You’ve got people running some of these big companies right now who are not even sure about what they own.” As a counterbalancing measure, Bleikamp has decided to stay local in midcoast Maine and continue to shuttle in and out of his little Fort Andross office, attending every community function he hears about. He has even begun to don the unofficial uniform of white-collar, working Mainers—the reliable polo shirt and khakis combination. Today is Sunday, and he is leaving soon to attend a meeting at the Brunswick Masonic Lodge. It is clear that in his six years at the helm of WCME, Bleikamp has put down deep roots in the community. Despite his serious nature and voice filled with gravitas, likely from years of speaking to the airwaves, he has found simple joy in his locale. “We plan to be here for a long time,” he says. “This is the last station I expect to work

at and the last place that I hope to live.”

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ARTISTS

ARTISTS 1 6 FORT ANDROSS

16 FORT ANDROSS

Opposite page: Deborah Todd hand-paints tiles with intricate designs. This page, clockwise from top: Todd
Opposite page: Deborah Todd hand-paints tiles with intricate designs. This page, clockwise from top: Todd
Opposite page: Deborah Todd hand-paints tiles with intricate designs. This page, clockwise from top: Todd

Opposite page: Deborah Todd hand-paints tiles with intricate designs. This page, clockwise from top: Todd has several kilns to fire her ceramic tiles in cycles throughout the week. She has a large collection of glazes, which she rubs onto each ceramic tile before firing, and stacks upon stacks of tiles, organized by color.

Deborah Todd brings tiled floors alive

BY SABRINA LIN • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN

D eborah Todd crafts every one of her

colorful ceramic tiles by hand, from

start to finish, through a process she

invented at the start of her career 37 years ago as the apprentice to a potter in Northampton, Massachusetts. “I didn’t know what the hell I [was] doing. I didn’t have any barriers. I never looked at a tile magazine—I think that helped,” she said. “People told me I couldn't do tiles like this, putting stain directly on— well, why not?”

Today her painted tiles can be found in the homes of George Lucas, Mariah Carey and Pat Benatar, among many others. Working from a studio on the ground floor of the Fort, Todd relishes the freedom of her medium, using a clay of her own formula and imbuing the tiles with life and color. She deeply appreciates the element of chance in her work, reflected in the nuanc- es in hue and texture that occur naturally through her handcrafted practice. Over the years, she has a adopted an in-

creasingly spontaneous style of design. “I was taught Japanese brush painting by this wonderful monk in Boston and after all these years I'm finally remembering that,” said Todd. “[So now I’m] just trying to do more open work, just relying on the brush to tell me what to do.” For Todd, the act of crafting tiles has grown into a state of zen-like contemplation. “People don't understand that the mo- notony is wonderful. It’s sort of very med-

itative,” she said.

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FIRST FLOOR FIGHT CLUB BY ROITHER GONZALES • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN
FIRST FLOOR
FIGHT CLUB
BY ROITHER GONZALES • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN
CLUB BY ROITHER GONZALES • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN H idden in the basement of Fort

H idden in the basement of Fort An-

dross, First Class Fitness & MMA

is easily overlooked by many of the

Fort’s visitors. “Fort Andross is such a giant building that a lot of people don't really know we're there,” said owner John Raio. “I mean, unless you happen to walk by our door and see all the bags hanging, you won't know that there's an MMA gym in the building.” For Raio, mixed martial arts (MMA) always carried a certain appeal. He wrestled in high school and college and was interested in com- peting in mixed martial arts. “It looks barbaric watching it from the outside, but when you get into it, it’s actu- ally pretty interesting,” said Raio. “It’s made up of separate disciplines. I mean MMA is composed of different sports like wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and karate.” Mixed martial arts was not always prevalent, or even legal, in Maine. But when the Maine state legislature legalized and created regula- tions for MMA in 2010, opportunity struck and Raio decided to take action. “I started training when I found it was le- gal, and then I found a gym in Brunswick and started training there. Then I jumped around to different gyms in Maine, so I could get well-rounded. And then I started my own gym five years ago,” said Raio. Today, First Class Fitness & MMA is a bus- tling gym that boasts over a hundred members from all over New England. His patrons also come from different walks of life—some are policemen, carpenters, teachers, Bowdoin stu- dents, and even children. In addition to running the gym weekday evenings, both Raio, a employee at Bath Iron- works, and his wife, a teacher, work full-time jobs. He knows how hard it can be to maintain work-life balance, and is especially proud that his gym provides normal people with the op- portunity to participate in MMA or pursue a healthier lifestyle. Yet for Raio and many of his patrons, the gym isn’t only a place to train. “For some people, life can just be stressful depending on whether you're a police officer or a teacher. Some people come here and they don't have a lot of social connections,” said Raio. “And then, you come to our gym and realize that everyone is just really friendly and helpful and it becomes more of a family to be honest.” This welcoming environment is part of the reason why his gym is so successful. “We've had classes that have just doubled in the past year largely through just word of mouth. My wife and I just really enjoy being around people, so I think that just helps busi-

ness grow,” he said.

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18 FORT ANDROSS

First Class Fitness & MMA occupies a home on the ground floor of Fort Andross.
First Class Fitness & MMA occupies a home on the ground floor of Fort Andross.
First Class Fitness & MMA occupies a home on the ground floor of Fort Andross.

First Class Fitness & MMA occupies a home on the ground floor of Fort Andross. Owner John Raio (top left) works with his wife (on her back, middle left)and both work full-time jobs in addition to running the gym. Both pages: Attendees participate in a women's Brazillian jujitsu class, which meets on Thursdays.

the gym. Both pages: Attendees participate in a women's Brazillian jujitsu class, which meets on Thursdays.
the gym. Both pages: Attendees participate in a women's Brazillian jujitsu class, which meets on Thursdays.
the gym. Both pages: Attendees participate in a women's Brazillian jujitsu class, which meets on Thursdays.
the gym. Both pages: Attendees participate in a women's Brazillian jujitsu class, which meets on Thursdays.
Dam those fish: human-environment interaction on the Androscoggin River BY JESSICA PIPER • PHOTOGRAPHY BY

Dam those fish: human-environment interaction on the Androscoggin River

BY JESSICA PIPER • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN

A ny north-facing windows at Fort Andross provide a full view of the Brunswick dam, a massive concrete

structure on the Androscoggin River with a capacity 19,000 kilowatt-hours, according to the Maine Governor’s Energy Office. Today’s dam is hydroelectric, owned by Brookfield Renewable, a subsidiary of the international asset management company, but dams have shaped Brunswick’s development for centu- ries—the first was built in 1753 to serve the town’s sawmills. Although dams sparked Brunswick’s eco- nomic development, they haven’t been as kind to the fish that inhabit the Androscog- gin. Migratory fish find it difficult to circum- vent dams, making it difficult to reach their spawning grounds up river. Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies John Lichter is well-versed in the river’s history. “The first dam in Brunswick was in 1753. Now people back then knew that if they didn’t let the fish get by, they would lose the fish, and they needed the fish. And so there was a river warden appointed who would just say, ‘It’s time to let the alewifves through. It’s time to let the shad through,’” Lichter said. While Brunswick’s original dam was made from natural materials, later dams were con- structed out of concrete, eliminating the possibility for fish to move upstream. As the centuries progressed, other environmental harms proved just as detrimental. “Dams were the first thing, then land clearance, then the pollution from industry

in the twentieth century was off the charts. Raw sewage. Fish didn’t like that either,” Lichter said. The same textile and paper mills that pow- ered Brunswick’s growth proved disastrous for its fish. By the 1930s, the Androscoggin’s population of sea-run fish was virtually gone,

a few dozen.” Meera Prasad ’19 spent last summer studying shad movements on the Andro- scoggin. While her sonar instruments doc- umented several thousand shad each day below the dam, DMR employees and volun- teers observed only one shad make it to the

"Dams were the first thing, then land clearance, then the pollution from inudstry in the twentieth century was off the charts." JOHN LICHTER

according to the Maine Department of Ma- rine Resources (DMR). Still, with time and intensive pollution abatement efforts, popu- lations began to return in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the DMR introduced a fish restoration program in the Androscoggin. Complementing these efforts in 1982, Cen- tral Maine Power added a new concept to the dam—a fish ladder, designed to help species cross over the dam so they could continue their spawning patterns further upstream. The fish ladder and a viewing room are open to the public during the summer, giving visitors the chance to see some fish migration in action. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of the ladder is hotly contested. Lichter’s re- search has shown that the ladder only helps a few fish species. “It doesn’t work at all for shad,” Lichter said. “Very few shad get up there, numbering

top of the river ladder. Lichter has found that the ladder is effec- tive only for alewives. He noted that salmon are sometimes able to make it up the ladder, but are often beaten or injured along the way. Since technology has improved since the fish ladder was constructed nearly 40 years ago, Lichter is hopeful that changing the mechanism could help fish populations. He suggested a fish elevator, which would essen- tially bring up fish in a bucket in certain time intervals, as a potential alternative. In the present moment, there remains little impetus for change. The lease on the Brunswick dam will come up in 2029, at which point the fish ladder—as well as other aspects of the dam—may be reevaluated. “It would mean less fish would be get- ting beat the hell on the side walls—you can

quote me on that,” Lichter said.

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20 FORT ANDROSS

Frontier: Brunswick’s home for conversation and culture BY KUNICA KUY • PHOTOGRAPHY BY PJ SEELERT
Frontier: Brunswick’s home for conversation and culture BY KUNICA KUY • PHOTOGRAPHY BY PJ SEELERT

Frontier: Brunswick’s home for conversation and culture

BY KUNICA KUY • PHOTOGRAPHY BY PJ SEELERT

F rontier brings more than food to the table. Igniting conversation about the world beyond its rustic walls, Frontier,

located in Fort Andross, describes itself as a “food, art and cultural destination.” Here, visi- tors share intimate conversations and globally inspired meals with views of the churning An- droscoggin River below. People gather at wood tables resting on wide-planked floors. Vibrant jazz echoes through the spacious building and weaves itself through the stories being told. “It starts really as a focus around storytell- ing,” said Frontier founder and owner Michael Gilroy. “The theater, the art and music are fo- cused on making the world home.” Before founding Frontier, Gilroy led lengthy expeditions around the globe—primarily through Russia, China, parts of central Asia and into the Middle East. “I did that work for about a decade, up until 9/11, and really the world changed,” said Gilroy. His goals shifted as he began to ponder ways to bring these stories home. “We’d like to bring some of those stories here. To give our community exposure and avenues for conversations and to expand ideas,” said Gilroy. Gilroy started screening films at Frontier 11 years ago, but as the business grew, Sean Morin, now Frontier’s programming director, stepped in and together they expanded their offerings. “We book film, we book community events, sometimes centered around the films, some- times centered around discussions and some- times centered around both,” said Morin. Morin tends to steer more towards docu- mentaries. “You get a film like ‘Whose Streets?’ that is a very, very important topic that we need to be discussing right now, and if you’re not engag- ing within the theater you’re processing it and you’re engaging within the community of your own by taking that conversation outside,” said Morin. “Whose Streets?” is a documentary that features the stories of the people involved in the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, prompt-

ed by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. The documentary explores solidarity within communities which sparked a nationwide movement. In addition to exhibits and films, Frontier hosts a series of storytelling events known

as “Sound Bites,” in which Moth StorySlam Champions and locals share true tales from their lives. This event sells out every time that it’s hosted. “Frontier brings in tellers that are local, but

a majority of their participants are storytellers that come from The Moth podcast. And some stories are sad, some are absolutely hilarious, some are a mixture of all of those. Some are politically charged, some are not politically charged and some are deeply personal,” said Morin. Gilroy feels that, despite online communi- ties and the abundance of digital media like podcasts, we still live in silence. “Look at the world right now in particular.

If anything, having this place is so critical for a

community to get engaged,” said Gilroy. In its best form, Frontier is a space where silence ends and voices can be amplified. “Frontier is beyond just a business endeav- or, this is not why we are here. If we can even do the smallest bit to advocate and inform our community, then we are thankful. Just as much as they inform and educate us,” said Gilroy. “Frontier is all about diversity, connecting the world and creating the space for conversa- tions,” said Morin. At Frontier, the conversations are contin- uous. “I feel that when you bring different people together, that’s a catalyst for dynamic change and opportunity. And that could be one per- son that walks away from an event with a new perspective. And in order for that to happen, you got to create those environments for those

things to happen,” said Gilroy. This article appears in the print edition of the October 20, 2017 issue with the same headline.

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ARTISTS

ARTISTS This page: Ian Trask's studio, located on the ground floor of the Fort, is home

This page: Ian Trask's studio, located on the ground floor of the Fort, is home to myriad acquired objects. Opposite page: Trask's most recent projects involve pairing found photograph positives in handheld light boxes to produce a new image. Plastic cartons, collected by donation throughout New York city, line the walls and ceilings of his workspace—an inventive storage tactic. Found objects, such as bottle caps and elastic, are neatly collected into larger pieces.

Ian Trask '05 turns trash into art

BY ELIANA MILLER • PHOTOGRAPHY BY JENNY IBSEN

R ather than continuing to work in biol- ogy laboratories post-graduation, Ian Trask ’05 opted to pick up trash. After

winding his way through various jobs, he ended up as a groundskeeper at a hospital in Massachusetts, cleaning parking lots and he ultimately deciding to use trash as a medium for art. “[While in Massachusetts,] I thought, ‘What the hell am I doing with my life right now? And how did I find myself with an expensive degree from Bowdoin picking up parking lots?’” said Trask. “I tried to square up what I can do with art and how it's still beneficial and how I can

make it less about myself.” Though he only took two visual arts classes while at Bowdoin, he has found a community

of artists in Brunswick’s Fort Andross, years after his graduation. His work is based completely on donated materials and changes based on what he ac- quires. Trask’s latest piece consists of over 400 “spores”—colorful spheres of various sizes crafted with yarn, belts, children’s toys, plastics and other found materials. “I’m always finding potential in this other- wise discarded, unwanted, forgotten, neglected resource,” said Trask.

Trask turns his materials into projects of all sizes, from silverware sculptures to textile installations that span multiple walls. The act

Caption like this, but with no kickers. ID people in Orient style.

of collecting is integral to his artistic practice. “Sometimes I get rid of things, but most of the time they just get tucked away and recircu- lated later,” he said. “The process of collecting now is a little bit more open and is really open to what other people are willing to give me.” Currently, Trask has an exhibition in Bruns- wick’s Frank Brockton Gallery on Maine Street titled “Trash World.” He continues to be in- volved in the Bowdoin community by working

part time at the Bowdoin Organic Garden.

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This page: At the weekend farmers' market, a plethora of greens, root vegetables, herbs and
This page: At the weekend farmers' market, a plethora of greens, root vegetables, herbs and
This page: At the weekend farmers' market, a plethora of greens, root vegetables, herbs and
This page: At the weekend farmers' market, a plethora of greens, root vegetables, herbs and

This page: At the weekend farmers' market, a plethora of greens, root vegetables, herbs and canned jams can be found, along with homemade breads, miso paste and other food products. Opposite page: Also in attendance at the farmers' market is Wicked Sharp, a knife sharpening company based in South Portland.

Marketing Maine agriculture

The Brunswick Winter Market strives for accessibility, for buyers and sellers

BY EMILY COHEN • PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANN BASU

E very Saturday from November to

May, vendors selling goods from

freshly-harvested mushrooms to

homemade body lotions shuffle in to fill the

first floor of Fort Andross with their col- orful stalls. This is the Brunswick Winter Market, where the vendors are as eclectic and versatile as they are passionate about their craft—whether it is cheese- and but- ter-making, coffee roasting or knife sharp- ening.

Like many others in Maine, the market exudes a strong sense of community and an appreciation for local goods. It also occu- pies a unique space in one of the more afflu- ent parts of Maine as it attempts to reconcile two statewide trends: the increasing impor- tance of and interest in local agriculture and the persistence of food insecurity. Eating locally and organic is expensive, which is hard to reconcile with Maine, a state one of the highest rates of food insecu- rity in the nation. Six River Farm, an organic vegetable grower in Bowdoinham, strives to make its produce accessible, accepting federal food

stamps and vouchers at its stands in several farmers’ markets in and around Brunswick. Its stall in the Winter Market is one of the largest and most popular, spanning several tables piled high with a variety of lettuces, potatoes and more unusual vegetables, like the delicate, mildly-mustardy green tatsoi. There was only a small break in the activity when I could talk to one of the vendors: Ali Briere ’20, a Bowdoin student who started working at Six River last summer. Ali knew she wanted to work on a farm after going to the Common Ground Fair during the fall of her first year. The fair is an annual celebration of rural living in Maine and local farmers and goods. “This is really special,” she remembered thinking, and she was hooked. This market–this slice of Maine–Ali said, is “pretty elite.” “It's cost prohibitive for people who don't have a lot of money, which does not repre- sent the culture of Maine because some large percentage of Maine is food insecure,” she said. A report by the U.S. Department of Agri-

culture shows that between 2014 and 2016, 16.4 percent of Maine households were food insecure or had limited or uncertain access to enough food, the fifth highest proportion in the nation. According to a 2017 study by the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Preble Street, over 17 percent of residents in Maine’s two northernmost counties, Washington and Aroostook, faced food insecurity. Though the rate was lower in Cumberland County—where Brunswick and Portland are located—at 13.8 percent, it had highest number of food insecure people at 40,330. Those counties that face the highest level of food insecurity have their own farmers’ markets, and they’re trying to bring more attention to them. The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets created a “Washing- ton County Farmers’ Market Trail,” in an endeavor to bring more shoppers up north. But the markets in those highly-food inse- cure counties are much fewer and farther between than here in Cumberland County, where there are at least four markets within a three-mile radius of Bowdoin’s campus.

24 FORT ANDROSS

The Winter Market has made efforts to include a variety of vendors. Beyond the produce

The Winter Market has made efforts to include a variety of vendors. Beyond the produce stands, vendors in the Winter Market sell yarn, ceramics and natural beauty products. One of the most special- ized stalls in the market is Wicked Sharp. Run by retired husband and wife David and Sara, Wicked Sharp will sharpen your knives, scissors or gardening tools (though David has also done food processor blades, shovels and a tool used specifically to cut reeds for bassoons) while you shop around the market. Offering the service in a farm- ers’ market, Sara explained, supports the other vendors. It just makes sense, in her opinion, for the produce to go with the tools necessary to prepare it. From her knife-sharpening market experiences, Sara has noticed something unique about Maine agriculture as well. She’s originally from the Midwest, and she lived on a small family farm there for a while. The farmers represented at the Win- ter Market are young, Sara said, and they have a different mindset about farming. “I’m older, so I've seen the change over the years, but farmers are different now than they were when I was a kid… They're not just doing this because they're father

did it,” she said. They’re also doing it dif- ferently, she explained, using organic, slow methods, unlike some big, corporate farms in the Midwest. The culture within the market is also distinct. Vendors help each other out. They give each other discounts, Sara said, point- ing to the Six River Farm’s extensive array of produce across and over a little from Wicked Sharp’s stall. It’s in another corner of the market, but the distance is the only a couple yards. They’re within shouting dis- tance, if you can hear over the din of knife sharpening, vibrant conversation between old friends and ever-changing live mu- sic, which today is a one-woman show of folksy violin accompaniment. Ali agreed that the enclosed setting of the Winter Market sets it apart from other markets. “Especially in this market, there's a strong sense of community, and all the vendors know each other,” Ali said. “I think that's a big thing: everything's so close since we're inside. People are closer.” These parts of Maine’s farmers’ market culture are great, but Ali admitted that it’s a difficult task to reconcile the gap between the market’s goals and the economic reality

many Mainers face. “There are efforts, but I'd say it's still hard to marry those—the shopping local and not having a lot of money, right?” she said. “Systematically it's rigged against people who don't have a lot of money.” She mentioned Cultivating Communi- ty, a non-profit based in Portland, which aims to connect people of all ages with the benefits of farming, offering training and classes as well as affordable produce. She also said that Six River and other farms in the midcoast area donate leftover pro- duce to the food pantry and kitchen at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP). Still, Ali said, there’s a world of difference between this market over- looking the river and MCHPP, not even a mile away. Now that it’s officially spring, the Win- ter Market will close for the season and many of the vendors will move outdoors. While those markets may feel different from the cozy Fort Andross setting, they all work toward the same goal: connecting vendors, shoppers and a broad apprecia- tion for Maine-made goods. And they’ll still have to work toward making that ac-

cessible for all.

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Relics for sale, in a modern age Vendors at the Waterfront Flea Market relish in
Relics for sale, in a modern age
Vendors at the Waterfront Flea Market relish in their trade. Others, maybe not so much.
BY EMILY COHEN • PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANN BASU

N ext door to the Winter Market is the Waterfront Flea Market. In fact, customers have to walk past the flea

market to get to the winter market. A lot of people pause before the flea market, look, a bit confused and intrigued, at the couple of mismatched chairs out front, but many just continue to the other market. The flea market’s plight is the reverse of the winter market’s: it’s on the losing end of a recent trend.

Flea markets are big in Maine. In the summer, they dot vacant lots along Route 1, some consisting of stalls, others akin to a tailgate, vendors selling out of their truck beds. There are also chic indoor flea mar- kets, like the Portland Flea-For-All, whose high-end collection of vintage and artisan pieces matches Portland’s quirky, hip and increasingly pricey vibe. The Waterfront Flea Market defies cat- egorization. It’s indoors, year-round, with no particular curatorial theme. Row after row of stalls are completely filled, some with a specialty (dolls, baseball cards), but most with a mish-mash of tchotchkes, furniture, toys, ceramic and books. Some items look worn and well-used, but others could be brand new. A soft jazz tune flows out of overhead speakers as I wander through the rows of closely packed stalls even more packed

with stuff. It’s a bit daunting: it can be hard to tell where one stall ends and another begins, and because the booths don’t move between market days, vendors can easily keep adding to their stock. The space defi- nitely seems bigger than that where the winter market is housed, though I’m not sure if it is. Jack, sporting a Stetson hat and a white beard almost as long as his shoulder-length hair, has a booth in the back corner, recog- nizable by its disorder. He said he’s tried several to clean up a little bit and make it more “accessible,” but he keeps adding new items and it just becomes messy again. “Each booth reflects a little bit of how the person is. If you look at my booth,” he said as we walk into his booth, “I'm not one of those people who will accessorize. This is my booth. Welcome to it.” Jack’s mish-mash includes ceramic tea- pots, a couple of doors and lamps and a wooden bed frame that he’s particularly proud to have snagged. “Nothing really extravagant,” he said. He doesn’t have a particular theme because there are no real collectors anymore. “It's a hit or miss type of thing,” he lamented. There are definitely fewer people here than next door at the winter market. Most of the people I see walking around are doing just that—walking around, looking

at the items as if they were in a museum.

That’s part of the novelty of a flea market, and part of the reason to go. When I asked Jack what made this market unique from other flea markets, he answered profound- ly, and correctly, “Every place is unique because nobody has the same stuff. That's what's unique about them.” But few people are buying here, today or any day, since online sales are increasingly surpassing in-person exchanges in stores and markets like this one. Sylvia Rose runs

a stall entirely dedicated to dolls and their

accessories, and she has noticed a change over the 14 or so years she’s been in this flea market. "Well of course the flea markets aren't what they used to be. Antiques have taken

a nosedive, and particularly dolls,” she said.

“They're not as well received as they used to be.” She’s been “dealing in dolls” for over 45 years and used to be a traveling saleswom- an throughout New England. The constant packing up and moving became unsus- tainable, so she set up shop here at Fort Andross. Dozens and dozens of dolls, in all shapes and sizes, fill Sylvia’s shelves, along with their accoutrements. Sylvia perches in the middle, where she can keep an eye on the dolls, ready to chat up anyone who shares her passion.

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“There still are collectors, adult collec- tors, who love dolls like I do. And they

“There still are collectors, adult collec- tors, who love dolls like I do. And they collect and come and we talk about them, and maybe they'll buy one and maybe they won't,” she said. “But it's OK." Neither Sylvia nor Jack is in it for the money anymore. They, like many vendors at markets around the state, find value in the social interactions with buyers and other sellers—the communal aspect that draws people off the highway and into crowds of stalls and tables—and that’s what they stick around for. “I may be from the old school, but I will not go online to sell. I've been told that I'm losing money. I don't care … I'd rather deal with the customers like this,” Jack said. “I think that's half of the thing.” “I love meeting new people, and what's more fun than sitting and talking with people who have the same interests you do?" said Sylvia. Both the winter market and the flea market emphasize community, but in dif- ferent ways. While the flea market finds much of its appeal within, among the ven- dors, the winter market’s connection to a wider ethos of Maine agriculture and lo- calism pervades and draws people in. The winter market’s success has actually helped the flea market, too, Sylvia noted.

has actually helped the flea market, too, Sylvia noted. “I think that having the farmer's market

“I think that having the farmer's market next door helps, brings in people who have lived in the area all their lives and never knew we were here until they went to the farmers’ market and saw us,” she said. When that happens, it’s just a happy co- incidence, and maybe they’ll get a sale out of it. At this point, Sylvia and Jack are just having fun. Jack likes to sit in the market and play guitar with his friend Tom, and “sell something in the meantime.” Vendors support one another. “The people here are friendly,” said Syl- via. “It's like a big family. They're honest.” She paused.

“Mostly."

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