Thanks to a family home in the area, I get to spend a good amount of time in Bucksport. Maine. Bucksport is small Midcoast Maine town of nearly 5,000 people. It’s a nice place, but not a tourist haunt. Since 1930, it was home to a large paper mill which shut down in 2014, slamming the town’s economy and putting about 570 people out of work. The town has been in a major rebuild mode ever since, and I’ve been inspired and impressed by how the community has come together in groups such as Bucksport Heart and Soul and Main Street Bucksport.
A new book, Still Mill: Poems, Stories, and Songs of Making Paper in Bucksport, Maine (1930-2014) is another recent result of the community’s healing and rebuilding processes. The mill’s closure was not just an economic shock; it was a blow to the community’s culture and heritage as well. Still Mill is a testament to that culture, and something of a time capsule for future generations. It’s a motley mix of poems, stories, plays, historical facts, remembrances, and even recipes—all of it serving as a means to honor the past but also to move the community forward. Contributors include school age children, former mill workers, and folks who’ve lived in the region for their entire lives. While I doubt that Still Mill will ever be a best seller, it’s a small but wonderful example of how to help communities heal and recover in the face of wrenching social and economic changes.