Photos Courtesy of Manuela Brice
MANUELA'S EASTPORT STORY
Co-owner Eastport Enterprises LLC
If I had any worries about the move and how our son would settle in, they got quickly dispersed. He thrived in the small classroom setting at the Eastport Elementary School as it provided him with lots of individual attention. I think we were very lucky that he had a particular teacher as his first teacher when he entered in 5th grade as she quickly recognized his potential, and that his abilities were surpassing those of his class mates. She said that he raised the bar for all her students regarding quality of work, work ethic and engagement in the class room. She made him comfortable in the classroom and in the school. Being involved as a parent was key. I got on the PTCO board and was involved as much as possible, staying in touch with the teachers and other parents. Our son also developed a great relationship with the EES music teacher, which displaced some of our son’s angst over leaving family behind in New Jersey.
One concern that does remain is the fact that he does not have many friends in the immediate area, Eastport, that share his interests and are on his intellectual/emotional level. He has a few friends that are in Machias for instance, but he sometime lacks the ability "to just be a kid." He spends a lot of time in the company of adults, which really was always the case in New Jersey as well, which is great mostly as he gets a lot of mentoring from seasoned craftsmen and artists, locals as well as "from aways,” but every so often it gets to him. Not having a lot of family members for graduation is another example along those lines.
However, overall this move benefited our son tremendously, both in emotional and physical maturity growth as well as motor skill development and arts appreciation. He has been learning about the local economy, and developed an environmental consciousness that I doubt would have been fostered to the same degree had we stayed in New Jersey. He also developed tremendous confidence as a sailor and adapted the mentality to fix and recycle rather than throw out and buy new as much as possible.
On the personal level, I’ve had the ability to engage with other life skills such as my fiber arts business Lunamuse, music etc... It appears to be a great place to utilize, showcase and apply my many talents: The fiberarts, knitting and spinning of yarn, as well as designing my own line of knitwear, both in my own shop/showroom, as well as participating in town-wide events such as the Salmon Festival, The Fiberarts Festival, the Farmer's Market etc. My musical talents are applied well in the Quoddy Voices, as well as several other musical lineups, most recently opening up the Follies, a major fundraiser event for the Eastport Arts Center, with my new group "The Lunamuse Ensemble," as well as various family gigs on vocals and flute. My organizational and creative Majskills, graphic design skills and efficient work ethic are used on various boards and other community services and so it goes on and on - Our family has been the recipient of The Common Good Award that The Commons gives out, which sums it up quite nicely. It was an honor to have received this award as a family after having been a part of this community for only four years... it meant a lot to us.
We have found the community as a newcomer to be mostly welcoming, from both locals and “awayers.” I do not take it for granted that our family moves with ease between the many different socio-economic circles that Eastport is comprised of. I am really really grateful for the overall acceptance as it proves for me my conviction that family is where you build it, and it is not just by blood but by other relations that family can grow and be 'knitted together' so to speak.
We do not regret our move here and are grateful for a rich fulfilling life where we are accepted as we are, and at the same time have unlimited possibilities to fulfill our truest potentials as human beings, as individuals, artists, as a couple and as parents.
There are challenges to working here. The Internet could be better and we already pay for the best we can have here in terms of Cable and DSL... the social isolation is real at times and can get to you. its not for everybody, one has to be self-sufficient and self-directed to work remotely.
The winter can be wearying with its long stretches of either snow or just not enough daylight. I can now understand quite well why some folks are fair weather friends only... I do like the solitariness of winter enough to not just run off, and global warming unfortunately might actually work to our benefit in our specific corner of the world, but the winters are something for people to think about.
We found Eastport through friends that owned a house here. Knowing our lifestyle in New Jersey, they thought it was a good fit. The financial affordability was a major plus too, as we would not have been able to afford buying a house in a decent neighborhood at the Jersey Shore, despite two full time incomes... finances were a key point, as well as the feeling of a neighborhood that felt comfortable and was welcoming to us as a family. Initially we thought we would move up here later in life, but having visited here, in my own home, I was determined to move up here sooner rather than later.