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Building a framework

Happy spring!

While an epic New England winter was slow in coming to Mount Desert Island, February made up for lost time by staying cold, with snow and ice constantly blanketing the ground. The snow and ice kept us from gardening outside, but we have been busy working collaboratively through virtual presentations and socially distanced, masked meetings to discover how we can make your future visits better while protecting and preserving our gardens and lands for current and future generations.

I mentioned in an earlier update that the Preserve has begun working with a fantastic design team led by Unknown Studio to chart the future of our organization. We are calling it our Framework Plan. You can read more about the project and the team members at The Unknown Studio team started their research in early December by developing an understanding for our sites, digging deeply into our history, and having conversations with staff, board, committee members, and local experts. This process has been eye-opening for me with a few early takeaway points.

The first takeaway is seeing the great degree of passion that exists for the Preserve. During their research phase, the design team had many conversations with Preserve staff and visitors whose stories were fueled by memorable walks, times spent strolling in one of our gardens, and even some life-changing events. (They heard of at least one marriage proposal in our gardens!) The second is the palpable sense that different areas of the Preserve are slowly changing. Concerns are being raised about certain areas becoming too crowded, overly interpreted by signage, the current and future effects of climate change, and dare I mention this hot button topic…too many dogs off leash at Little Long Pond.

We hear you. Over the coming months, we will continue working with the Unknown Studio team to unravel this Gordian Knot of experiences, possibilities, and concerns. Moving forward, the designers, working with the Preserve, will address and codify a framework of priorities to address such matters as: making the different lands and gardens feel part of our larger organization while preserving the special experiences of each place, balancing the fine line between keeping the Preserve from becoming over-crowded while continuing to welcome and attract new visitors, and ensuring that all members of the Preserve team have a safe, positive, and inspirational place to work. Likewise, you should continue to have a safe, positive, and inspirational place to visit and explore.

Look for more updates to come throughout the year and please do not hesitate to reach out to share your experiences and thoughts.

Rodney Eason, CEO

Photo by Unknown Studio

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