Earlier this week, the Mitchell Center hosted a talk about the creation of a book exploring Maine’s heritage.
“Our Maine: Exploring Maine’s rich natural heritage” is an accumulation of 30 scientists, photographers and painters who hold a deep connection to the state. Several of the contributors are University of Maine faculty and alumni.
The editors of this book are Aram Calhoun, Malcolm Hunter and Kent Redford. Calhoun and Hunter are professors in the UMaine department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Conservation Biology. Redford is a principal of Archipelago Consulting, a conservation organization based out of Portland, Maine.
Redford moved to Maine 12 years ago and initially lacked knowledge about the state.
“I wanted to learn a little bit about everything,” Redford said. Redford took “an extended family effort” approach and asked Calhoun and Hunter to create the ideal book outlining Maine.
The formatting of the book was loose, Calhoun mentioned. They wanted all the contributors to be creative, not comprehensive.
“We ask people to write with their hearts and inject the chapters with their experiences,” she said. This allowed them flexibility surrounding the book’s artistic aspects, resulting in many wonderful visuals.
Laura Zamfirescu, a photographer specializing in Maine wildlife, was the featured documentarian for “Our Maine.” This task involved traveling and collecting visuals that enhance the different chapters. From breathtaking marine scenery to portraits of specific creatures, Zamfirescu expertly captured the essence of Maine.
The goal of this book is to keep things simple for those experiencing Maine for the first time while also making it specific enough that anyone with any level of knowledge about the state can enjoy it.
Inside “Our Maine” lives 19 chapters and two sections. The first section is about “Ecosystems and Signature Species.” Some of the featured topics are “The Gulf of Maine,” “Estuaries” and “Alpine Summits.” However, there are plenty more chapters that delve deeper into the animals and environment of Maine.
The second section, titled “Where Cultural and Natural Heritage Meet,” focuses on the influence and history of Maine. Hunter focuses on hunting and gathering in the 21st Century, mentioning topics like Maine’s state mineral, tourmaline, hunting bear and gaining a better understanding of how to thrive symbiotically with the state.
Hunter used four words to describe Maine: vast, diverse, rich and private. According to Maine.gov, about 94% of Maine’s forests are privately owned. Luckily, more than half of the land area is open to the public.
Maine has a rich and diverse flora and fauna. The state has 58 species of wild mammals within its borders and occupies three ecological regions, according to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. This allows for diversity among organisms.
“Not too many people get to make a career out of what they love,” Calhoun stated. “Our Maine” was created by several contributors who have an unwavering love for the state and a passion to share their expertise, which is strongly sensed within the content.
“Our Maine” is available online and in bookstores.