Scarborough’s Organizing Principles

Scarborough Team at Orientation

Scarborough Team at Orientation

In the spirit of “you learn something new every day,” I picked up a lovely little detail at the Scarborough team meeting this past Wednesday.

Quick question: Who knows what “bog shoes” are? I didn’t. But there are some in the possession of the Scarborough Historical Society, and they very well may become one of the artifacts scanned and uploaded to Maine Memory this year.

Okay, okay, here’s the answer: Horses wore the wooden boards affixed to their hooves to avoid sinking into the marsh. Right there, in that one simple word — “marsh” — is captured much of what Scarborough’s MCHP project will evolve around. (Learn more about bog shoes and other marsh-related tools, plus a dash of Scarborough history, in this Portland Press Herald article from August.)

In fact, if you know anything about Scarborough, you know it’s a community that did evolve around its geography. You can’t really ignore a 2,700 acre salt marsh. (Which, by the way, is the largest in Maine.) It has affected everything–population movement in, out of, and back into the area; agriculture; industries like clamming; the development of distinct villages. You might say it acted as an organizing principle for the community.

That’s not the only organizing principle from which the Scarborough team benefits. You all know by now that there’s a lot to the MCHP that must be carefully planned out and worked through. It’s not unlike a… er… “marsh” — a massive thing of great potential and beauty that must be waded into with equal amounts of boldness and care. This tight and friendly Scarborough team is clearly up to the task.

Led by crackerjack coordinator Celeste Shinay who — pardon the extension of my metaphor — leaves no marsh grass unparted, the team members have long been working together. Most recently, they were part of larger team that planned for the community’s major 350th anniversary last year, which included the publication of a gorgeous coffee table book on Scarborough’s history.

I’m going to modify an old saying about creative pursuits, or any task worth accomplishing–they are “10 percent inspiration, 90 percent organization.” If early indications are correct, this team has well more of both.


About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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One Response to Scarborough’s Organizing Principles

  1. Jessica Kelly says:

    and the marsh metaphor/simile continues…….


    Just as the marsh is a mixer of nutrients and oxygen for ecological advantages, the MCHP blends the school, library and historical society in a way that benefits the greater community.


    And the students will absorb and retain new concepts, materials and methods, like a marsh soaks up excess water caused by runoff and preserves moisture.

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