Why we live here

By PORTLAND PHOENIX STAFF  |  April 22, 2009


The short answer is, I live in Maine because I can. The longer answer is more complicated.

My adult life has been divided more or less equally between Maine and New York City, in years-long segments. There've been sidetracks and stints in other directions, but the major trek has been back and forth along the northeast seaboard. I love them both. My ideal life would be a year spent divided between them, but I've never been handy with money and New York now is a money-intensive town.

Maine, on the other hand, is friendlier to those whose abilities, interests, and habits of thinking are a little cross-threaded to the general run of American culture. New York was once like that as well, but that's another story. Maine always has a place for the odd, the somewhat different, the eccentric, and the downright loony. An unusual way of living is acceptable in most Maine towns. There've been times in my life when my mental and economic conditions were such that probably only Maine would have me.

There are pockets, and probably a lot of them, in America where the television-based American Idol life isn't the default condition. Most of them, though, don't have a strong professional art community, and Maine does. There are galleries in virtually every town in Maine. Most of them are amateur, to be sure, but there are 20 or so really professional operations in a state that has a third the population of Brooklyn. Portland has half a dozen. Compare that with, say, Manchester, New Hampshire, which is larger, only has one, and that barely qualifies.

And if all that didn't matter, there's the fact that every day I go anywhere, or stay at home, I'm doing it in a landscape that people pay an awful lot of money to visit.
_Ken Greenleaf

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