Lobstering is the life-blood of many coastal Maine towns, including Deer Isle and Stonington. Tod...Lobstering is the life-blood of many coastal Maine towns, including Deer Isle and Stonington. Todd West ’00, principal of Deer Isle-Stonington High School, helped implement a marine-studies-focused pathway in the school that has helped increase student performance and decrease rates of dropout and suspension by catering parts of the curriculum to the local lobstering culture. Credit: Dylan Kereluk via Wikimedia Commons

Three hours from Portland, Maine, and two hours from the state capital of Augusta, picturesque Deer Isle has two towns on it (Deer Isle and Stonington), a combined year-round population of about 2,500 people, and not a single fast-food chain—or any chain store for that matter. Those who live beyond the narrow, turquoise suspension bridge connecting Deer Isle to the mainland are called PFAs (“people from away”), even if they work or attend school on the island.

At the southern end of the predominantly middle-class, overwhelmingly white island lies a small but bustling harbor. In 2015, Stonington port brought in $63.8 million worth of lobster, landing it the title of Maine’s no. 1 commercial fishing port. The influence of maritime culture is evident at every turn: The local convenience store opens at 3:30 a.m. in the summers to accommodate early-to-rise fishermen. Above the entrance hangs a mural of one of these men in trademark yellow, waterproof overalls. Driving down the island’s main thoroughfare, Route 15, one sees rectangular lobster traps piled by the dozen in front yards, draped with multicolored fluorescent buoys. Residents are protective of their island culture, and fittingly, the rocky granite shores that meet East Penobscot Bay can sometimes be covered in a thick, dramatic fog.

Read more…