Eastport, Maine has a long history of resilience. It’s still there today in Elijah Brice.
Since January 2015, The Craftsmanship Initiative, a nonprofit based in San Francisco, has been telling the stories of craftsmanship and crafters to both celebrate the works and workers behind things that have both lasting value and deep meaning. Those stories are featured in The Craftsmanship Quarterly, the main vehicle driving the effort of the Initiative.
A multimedia publication, The Craftsman Quarterly is home to in-depth features, blog posts, podcasts, and photo essays across a wide range of topics all with a common purpose to, as their website notes, “reclaim craftsmanship’s principles of excellence, beauty, and durability as a pathway to a more sustainable world.”
A shared belief in the power of storytelling and the importance of highlighting often under-reported on places and people to capture a fuller portrait of our world today led Our Towns to become an ally and partner to The Craftsmanship Initiative in January 2022. That in turn led to my introduction to the Todd Oppenheimer, the editor and publisher of The Craftsmanship Quarterly, and founder and executive director of The Craftsmanship Initiative.
We found immediate common ground between Craftsmanship Quarterly and Our Towns in the Quarterly’s Winter 2022 issue with the theme of “Reviving Our Abandoned Small Towns.” For that issue, Todd asked me to write about the power and potential of craft breweries and small-batch distilleries in small towns and cities, and how they offer a sign of civic success for those places – a well-trodden topic in the “Our Towns” book, documentary, and on our foundation’s website here.
You can read that story, which looks at a distillery in Charleston, West Virginia; a brewery in Erie, Pennsylvania; and a taproom in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, here.
My most recent story for The Craftsmanship Quarterly is the final piece to be published in their Summer 2022 issue with the theme: “The Craft of Resilience.” The issue includes a look at straw bale construction, the power of making art to ease suffering and build resistance, and more here.
Resilience is a through-line in Eastport, Maine – the farthest flung city on the eastern shoreline of the United States. James and Deborah Fallows, the co-founders of the Our Towns Foundation, began reporting on Eastport in 2013, and it is featured in both the Our Towns book and documentary (both of which tell the story of how the small-but-mighty town is open to trying new things, including shipping live, pregnant cows to Turkey, which I tease at in my Craftsmanship Quarterly feature).
In that feature, I write about Elijah Brice, a young lobsterman featured in the “Our Towns” documentary. I met Elijah in Eastport on New Year’s Eve 2021 (a town that rings in the New Year with a sardine drop to celebrate its heritage), and learned about his range of pursuits – from lobstering, to boat building, to aquafarming kelp and mussels.
His story, to me, is noteworthy both because of his ambition and because of his youth. He turned 20 years old just a few weeks after we’d met.
Why cast so many nets at such a young age? What’s the future of lobstering? What comes next for Elijah Brice?
Those are the questions we wrestle with in “Tomorrow’s Lobsterman,” which I hope you’ll read here.