For the Benefit of Many
My assignment was the silent auction section “Travel and Adventure” along with a few of the older Acadia trails and carriage road signs (such as the one pictured below).
After a day of rain, the skies had started to clear as we headed to the event. But as we approached the Northeast Harbor and the Asticou Inn the fog was beginning to roll back in. The actual event was held in large tents on the gently sloping lawn of one of the oldest “resorts” on the island. The fog didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of either the organizers as we prepared for a full evening.
Hundreds of candles and tiny white lights, and dozens of blazing tiki torches outside lent a romantic air to the festivities. The silent auction tent slowly began to fill and the activity level quickly rose as appetizers and drinks (including champagne), were served by white shirted staff.
The most popular item in my area proved to be the old carriage road sign, which had three or four people competing with one another to claim it. During the last 15 minutes of bidding I could barely keep up with creating new bid sheets for the last two bidders. In the end, this one sign raised more than $3,000.
Which brings me to the title of this blog. Acadia National Park is the only park in the national park system solely comprised of donated land. The land and the beauty that goes with it were initially all owned by (mostly) wealthy people. Thankfully, back in the early 1900’s as the country became more mobile and people began traveling to this area (thanks to paintings depicting Acadia’s beauty, like the one below by Thomas Cole). As aside, I will never forget wandering through the American masters section of the Smithsonian Art Museum and running across two early paintings of Acadia and recognizing immediately, what they were of, so beautifully did the artist capture the essence of this place.
But, I digress. So as more people began to travel to what is now Acadia, these wealthy land owners worked together to create a place that people could appreciate in perpetuity by petitioning the government to designate their donated lands as a national park.
That tradition continues today. As funding for national parks continues to be reduced, demand for services, and costs of maintenance continue to rise. Park fees alone don’t begin to cover operating expenses. It is only through the generosity of people that places like Acadia can continue to exist.
I thought about this as I worked at the benefit last night. I thought about all the different people who in ways large and small came together to make this happen. From the FOA staff member who made a beautiful necklace (donated), to the artists who made and donated items, to the donor who contributed an antique automobile and the person that then bought it for $40,000. From the kids (who letters I’ve filed at FOA offices), who send in $5.00 after they vacation at Acadia, to the descendents of the original creators of Acadia who write checks for $100,000. From the volunteers that every week rain or shine go out and work on Acadia’s trails to the corporations like LL Bean that help sponsor the free shuttle service on the island and in the park during the summer. Each and every one of these people come together in unique and myriad ways to preserve this place.
After the silent auction had concluded, I was talking to a young man (who had lost the bid on the carriage road sign) about Acadia. He was a paying guest, I was a volunteer. We could not have come from much more different backgrounds. And yet, there we were, together for a common cause. We talked about our favorite trails and favorite views. These “wild” places, these undeveloped places; they do not know or care who we are, how much money we have, or what our circumstances are. They simply exist to nurture us, to heal us. But they cannot exist without our help.
So I encourage you to find “your” place, and to get involved in protecting it. As Friends of Acadia has demonstrated – the actions of many, both large and small, yield huge results.
Acadia is “my” place. Where is yours?
If you would like to learn more about Friends of Acadia, please follow the link located under “links” on this blog page.