The First Coast is a mobile studio / exhibition space that travels to year-round coastal communities in Maine during the off-season. Through community collaborations, oral history interviews, and workshops residents engage in conversation about their community’s working maritime identity and personal perspective of place.
The First Coast is an initiative to collect sounds, stories, images, and ideas that contribute to a collective coastal memory and seek to reconstruct existing narratives and mythologies of both Maine and Mainers.
In The Human Shore author John R. Gillis quotes the late John Cheever when he describes the “second coast.” A “port of gifts and antique shops, restaurants, [and] tearooms,” the second coast is a waterfront built around the nostalgia for a working past, for the “first coast.”
Gillis goes on to write, “The surrealism of the second coast is more and more obvious, the product of inlanders’ imaginations, sustained by their needs and desires.”
The First Coast is an effort to reclaim the Maine coastline by creating a body of multimedia work that expresses the needs, desires, and identities of year-round coastal Mainers.
The mobile studio / exhibition space, The First Coast, traveled to Stonington and Lubec in Spring 2018. The Airstream will visit Jonesport and Beals Island in Fall 2018. Galen Koch and collaborating writers and photographers will work with local residents and communities to reconstruct and repossess a changing maritime identity.
Stay tuned for information about The First Coast exhibits and events, to be held Winter/Spring 2019 in Stonington, Lubec, and Jonesport and Beals.
The First Coast documents community stories, through collaborations with year-round residents.
TFC documentarians and storytellers work with the community to identify storytellers, stories, places, and sounds to record. By giving ownership to residents, we hope that The First Coast tells stories by Mainers, for Mainers. These stories are meant to serve the communities in which they are recorded. If you or your organization would like to host a storytelling/material gathering workshop, collaborate on local story ideas, or tell your own story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org (for more information about community partnerships please visit our Partnership page).
This is a crucial time to preserve, celebrate, and critique the changes happening along Maine’s coast.
The First Coast draws attention to those communities who still have access and still rely on the sea through community-driven storytelling and material collection.
The work produced for The First Coast exhibit tour is not intended as a commodity for tourists, rather, it is intended for the people who live and work by the sea. It is an effort to preserve a collective coastal memory and living maritime history.
In 2007, the Island Institute’s mapping project “The Last 20 Miles” reported that there is “approximately 20 miles of working waterfront access remaining on Maine’s 5,300-mile coast.”