• Rodney Eason

Music to my ears

The past fifteen months since this global pandemic started have tested us all in ways we never thought possible and shifted our daily routines. Thank you for your patience last summer as we limited the number of visitors to each of our gardens to ensure everyone’s safety. Now that many of us are fully vaccinated, we can open our gardens more this summer. The steady stream of visitors to the Asticou Azalea Garden has been remarkable during May and June. The garden teams at Thuya and the Abby Garden are busy getting ready for their respective opening days on June 23 and July 14.


The Framework Plan team examines the natural lands at Little Long Pond.

In addition to preparing the Preserve for this summer season, our team has been busy working with the Unknown Studio-led design team on a future planning process we are calling the Framework Plan. As part of the process, we have shared with the design team both how the Preserve functions today as well as how we envision sharing these lands and gardens in the years ahead. We are doing detailed examinations of all aspects of our daily operations. As visitation pressures continue to rise each year to Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park, and the Preserve, we want to plan for a future where a visit to any of our gardens or natural lands will always feel serene and uncrowded.


Recently, I was chatting with Claire Agre, principal of Unknown Studio, and trying to draw an analogy between the Preserve and a musician in order to describe our vibe. I must explain that one of the things that has helped me stay centered during the pandemic has been listening to music on walks, hikes, and runs. While most friends are listening to podcasts, you will find me listening to Spotify musical playlists. I just love music, so using certain musicians as a comparison for the Preserve felt right. Maybe the Preserve could be like Bon Iver – beautiful, ethereal, grounded while still being artistic and innovative. Claire mentioned maybe early Sigur Rós – still that ethereal sound of Bon Iver but with that certain je ne sais quoi that puts you in a better mood. We also talked about Jack White and Sturgill Simpson – two polymaths (much like Charles K. Savage, Beatrix Farrand, and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller) whose art can cross over multiple genres. For each of these analogies, the principle is that these artists make music they love, not to just sell music to massive audiences. Within a similar vein, one piece of guidance we shared with the Unknown Studio team early on was, “We do not seek to be on any top 10 lists.”

The goals of the Framework Plan are to create a welcome and inclusive place for our staff to work, and an enjoyable, memorable place for you to visit. The plan will also guide us to make these remarkable gardens and landscapes more resilient to climate change including sea level rise and longer summers. As we prepare for the potentials of increased visitation, we are also looking at ways to ensure that these places you love, do not get loved to death. More details will be emerging about the Framework Plan later in 2021. Until then, I would love to know which musician best embodies the spirit of the Preserve for you.


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