We have been asked what it is about our venture that distinguishes
it from any other group of paddlers that decide they want to paddle together
on a long trip. Considering that we are asking for financial support and
volunteer assistance along the way this is a reasonable question.
In short, our vision is that this is a trip with the serious intent of
providing a permanent record of the ecologic and cultural condition of
very edge of the Gulf of Maine in a ÒsnapshotÓ sample during
a short time period of 2002. We view this in kind with the ventures of
the naturalists William Bartram in his travels through the South , John
Muir in his observations of the mountains in California, and Henry David
Thoreau in his Appalachian adventures. Like them, we plan to travel at
a slow pace, taking the time to observe and record the way of nature and
men at this place in our times. Unlike them, our subject is the interaction
of seascape and landscape. May our record become as valuable and lasting
as those of our models.
While on the water we will be making observations as we travel along the
coast in units of 10-20 miles a day when paddling with days of rest, reflection
and journal writing in between. We will keep records of such things as
weather patterns, salinity, phytoplankton, water clarity, birds, plants,
marine mammals, shoreline type and condition, and human activity. We will
stop and talk with people using the water and shores for commerce and
recreation to see what they think about the present state of their home
areas. We will collect stories and songs and other cultural information.
Our records will include photographs, digital still and video images,
drawings and watercolors, systematic records and journal reflections.
Much of this information will be transmitted to our web site for the information
and use of others keeping track of our progress. We will practice low
impact and sustainable recreation techniques in camping. The core group
will be joined by other paddlers for ten days to two weeks. These paddlers
will share in the above activities.
We plan to have at least 10 major stops at cities and towns along the
coast where we will provide presentations, workshops and seminars to local
students, community groups and the public. A volunteer ground support
team will be assisting us in setting up the presentations and providing
logistical support. Our coastal stops will be tailored to the local situation
and the groups we are visiting. We will be talking about the trip and
our observations and experiences to date; showing slides; discussing low
impact recreation and eco-tourism; providing information on safety and
navigation; and encouraging discussion of local coastal conditions and
issues. We envision these stops as periods of concentrated exchange of
information. As much a providing feedback to the public we will gain new
insight to things we should be pursuing on future legs of the journey.
Beyond the ten major stops we will be stopping each night and sometimes
will be held on land by water of weather conditions. These will times
when we can interact with people on a more informal basis conveying to
smaller groups the extent and importance of the Gulf of Maine and its
vast watershed. We see this day to day contact as a way of making more
people feel a part of our expedition. While they may not be on the water
with us in boats they can be with us in spirit.
We understand that having contact with media and making it aware of our
mission is extremely important to our goal of providing greater awareness
of the natural and cultural legacy of the Gulf of Maine. The media is
our lifeline to the public and its coverage will expand and extend our
message to thousands of people beyond those we can personally touch. To
that end we will have a full contingent of contacts along the coast and
keep them informed of our presence and activities. We think our venture
has the unique qualities and human interest that will make this a worthwhile
story for radio, newspaper and television.
Upon completion of the trip we plan to continue to give presentations
to naturalist, historical, recreational and other groups. However, in
the tradition of the great naturalists, we plan to publish a book of our
travels to establish the image of the Gulf of Maine coast at this historic
moment. We want our venture to provide written and visual data that will
be of significant value to the researcher of 3002. We intend to leave
a legacy for the future.
The long-term plan is to use the expedition as a launching pad for a Gulf
of Maine Expedition Institute. This institute will provide expedition-based
environmental learning to provide a forum for students, educators, the
public and the expedition team to collaboratively learn about an ecosystem
and share that learning using modern technological tools in combination
with traditional outdoor adventure. Equipment and resources gained by
the 2002 expedition will be used in the programs of the institute. The
institute will work closely with other groups and organizations around
the Gulf of Maine to fulfill a niche that can make a unique contribution
to the environmental, economic, educational, and recreational goals we
share in common.