The Challenges of Remote Living: What We Heard at Northeast Harbor

Our Tell Me More Tour braved the summer traffic (it wasn't all that bad!) and stopped at the Northeast Harbor Library on a wonderfully sunny day that showcased both the area's beauty and the small-town nature of the villages on Mount Desert Island. Host of this tour stop, Mark Simpson, Maine Public's News Director, was visiting the area for the first time (he is new to Maine) and started off the gathering noting how fortunate everyone in attendance was to be living in such a setting. Joined by News Reporter and Producer Jennifer Mitchell, Mark immediately launched into an overview of what Maine Public News is up to these days and the direction that our news coverage is taking including Maine Public's new Deep Dive projects. Jennifer shared her thoughts on news topics that interest her and what her strategies are relative to the reporting she does on air each weekend on Maine Public Radio.

Maine Public News' Jennifer Mitchell and Mark Simpson on the dais at the Northeast Harbor Public Library for the Tell Me More Tour stop.

The input we received from this gathering on what is going on in the region was very specific and spoke to the isolated nature of MDI. The lack of reliable and comprehensive cell service and the dearth of broadband penetration in the area were identified as two issues that are holding the region back and have made many of the attendees feel out of step with the rest of the state. The broadband issue was identified as affecting the quality and scope of educational opportunities for area students, business development, and even tourism. Another isolating factor raised was the lack of any comprehensive public transportation and the high cost of the limited transportation services that do exist. While many of the attendees were summer residents, year-rounders mentioned how the towns and villages largely shut down in the winter and how they'd like to see that change.

This group were big public radio fans and expressed appreciation for our programming – noting especially the recent Deep Dive series on Child Care and the programming on Maine Calling. They requested more stories about successes across the state of towns like theirs and voiced an appreciation for stories that are positive and uplifting. Coverage of the work of non-profits and like organizations was especially referenced. All in all, some great feedback!

Thank you, Northeast Harbor!