Star Island had a wonderful year, full of fascinating programs, exciting projects, community building, reflection, intention setting, gratitude, and joy. The 2019 spring newsletter celebrates all we have accomplished together, and what we look forward to in the coming months. We hope you have enjoyed reading the spring 2019 newsletter. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here!
A Shoaler in the Making, Part 6 by Nelson Linscott
There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue, whence, depressed
By false opinion and contentious thought,
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse, our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen
– William Wordsworth, The Prelude. Book 12. 208-218 (1850 edition)
I woke slowly and gently, one eye opening at a time and the thin red flame cap of the sun broke the horizon, casting its light though my window painting pink and gold on the wall behind me. I looked down past my rumpled pillow to see Baxter looking up at me with a curious smile. I greeted Baxter and asked if he was hungry, a question I already knew the answer to. I struggled out of bed, my back was stiff as a board and the pain reminded me that I was still alive. I checked my watch. It was 4:12 am.
After feeding Baxter, I threw the curtains open to the glory of Star Island. I opened the door and like he had been living at the room in the motel for years, Baxter limped out of the room and down the stairs to relieve himself. I stood on the porch gazing at the new morning and started snapping photos. Baxter found a spot at the bottom of the stairs to nibble grass and look at his new surroundings.
It was time to explore! After Baxter finished his breakfast, I popped him in the stroller and headed toward the Oceanic. There were a few people, employees and visitors who greeted us as we looked around. Inside the Oceanic, I was amazed at the lobby. Behind the main desk, up on the wall in a prominent place, I spied a clock. It was definitely old and obvious to me it was a Chelsea Clock. Chelsea clocks are high quality clocks, are made to this day as they were in the late 1800’s in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The company is well know for their nautical clocks. I put my camera to my eye and using the zoom lens to it’s maximum, I could see engraving in the brass patina top and bottom of the outer ring. In Memoriam was engraved around the upper radius and below was engraved Ellen Adams. I was instantly very interested. Here it was 4:30 a.m. and I began asking. “Do you know the history of the clock in the Oceanic Lobby?” I received several suggestions on who to ask but at 4:40 am I had only the internet to investigate. I couldn’t find a thing about that clock. I then started examining all the antiques, books and anything I could find. Being a watch collector and sometimes watch and clock repairman, I was still stuck on that clock, but there were people to meet, things to see and breakfast to eat. Breakfast was a ways off so we headed out, Baxter in the stroller and me pushing on rocks, sand and hills, a labor of love. I started taking photographs.
Though I come from poverty, I have always found a way to obtain a camera. I started taking photos in the late sixties on a Yashica TL Electro-X. I have taken hundreds of thousands of photos. I am told I have the knack. Photography, like poetry and writing have come to me by reading. I am a high school dropout. I had learned everything I needed by eighth grade. By reading, I became educated. I have amassed a library of over a thousand books. I hit the road at age sixteen, living in hotels and sometimes wrecked cars and dilapidated buildings. I love exploration, meeting new people, and spontaneity. Bohemian life was my way.
I knew before I won the trip to Star Island that it was a photographer’s dream. Documenting my trip photographically was going to be easy. Caring for a hurt dog and myself, keeping my anxiety, PTSD and other maladies would be a challenge. I also had the innate feeling that there was something uniquely beautiful about the people of Star Island. This feeling was already substantiated waiting to board the Thomas Laighton in Portsmouth.
Down the hill we rolled, heading for the dock to look back up toward the Oceanic as a summer sun rose behind me. A seagull swooped by. The lights of the grand hotel still blazed. I clicked off several photos, let Baxter out of the stroller to sit in the glass. Baxter snuggled against my leg. “I am the luckiest man in the world”, I thought.
Finally we were signaled that breakfast was being served. As I walked in with Baxter in tow on his leash, I scanned the tables to find my group. Every table was buzzing with excitement, every face had a smile. I knew Star Island was more than its man made and natural physical beauty. The people who guided me here despite Baxter’s handicaps and my own made us feel like I always imagined a family would be like. Shoalers are the family I never had. I became acutely aware of every moment, living and loving every minute. I didn’t think of the past or the future. I was busy with now, and now made every event, every new friend and every sky, a moment that stood as unforgettable to a Kittery boy and his dog whose solitary love was about to burst open to include everyone. My distrust of people, the result of being abuse as a child, was gone.
As I ate my oatmeal, I asked if anyone knew about the lobby clock. I knew the Chelsea clock had a story, and I like stories.
Photographs by Nelson Linscott
A Shoaler in the Making, Part 5 by Nelson Linscott
Star Island Bodhicitta
I went voluntarily sent
by luck of the draw
Though my World resides
inside a temporary shell
that will crumble into dust
The island called to me
a place I only dreamed of
I felt the spirit long
before I set foot upon the rock
the beauty of the land
cold Atlantic and sunrise sky
could not compare to the people’s
pulsing, loving hearts
I am not dust yet
I shall return
NL June 2018
Some may say when contemplating the life I inherited, I am not very lucky in life. I disagree. I have been very lucky. I wouldn’t be alive if not for luck. Many times I found myself in a wrong place at the wrong time, but I stumbled out all of these misfortunes always a bit more clever and most times no less for wear. But Star Island!! Star Island, I was at the right place at the right time. I am a lucky person. I don’t remember signing up for the Veteran’s Raffle. For a while I was convinced that someone else signed me up. I think it may have been Karma, but I haven’t blessed this world with enough positive Karma to deserve a trip to Star Island. Maybe it was some other Divine Intervention.
Baxter sat tall in his stroller as we strolled the walkway, up the hill to the porch of the grand Oceanic. Ally pointed out a few highlights as I stared out to the sea that I had just crossed. Being hearing impaired, I noticed the absence of background noise. The gentle breeze stirred the air with a scent of salt and blossoms. One lone cloud slowly rode the air currents above. The Thomas Laighton was busy getting ready for the trip back to Portsmouth. We headed for the room, on the boardwalk to “The Motel”. After a little talk, Ally left and Baxter indicated he wanted out of the stroller. I picked him up and cringed as I looked at his right rear leg. He was obviously in pain. Hopefully, this was going to work. With the front door open I emptied my bag. Baxter sniffed every corner, nook, and cranny of the floor and plunked down in the frame of the open door and gazed out over his home for the week. I opened the window over the desk and sat peering out over the same view Baxter had. I had to attend a fire safety presentation in an hour and then surely supper would be served. I closed my eyes and created the internal vibration in my head, silently repeating my mantra. Ten miles out to sea from my Kittery home, I sent my message of love through my internal vibrations and feeling them being returned sitting in a different chair, a different place, with different people, I settled into a deep meditative state. When I opened my eyes, Baxter was on his side, pink tongue extended. I stood and stepped outside to the rail. I thought, “this is going to be fun.”
Photos by Nelson Linscott
The following press release provides details about the upcoming summer IRAS conference on Star Island. We think this year’s theme is particularly enticing, especially to those interested in learning more about the advancement of human gene editing technology and its impact on our lives and the world. We invite you to join us at the IRAS 2019 conference on Star Island to renew spiritually, explore matters of consequence, and gain knowledge about the world as it might ideally be. You can register for IRAS here.
Star Island is once again hosting the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science Conference this summer from June 22‐29. Star Island is one of the nine Isles of Shoals located seven miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. Star has a storied history: in the 1600’s it was the busiest fishing port on the East coast. In the 1800’s, artists, writers and intellectuals flocked to the Oceanic Hotel ‐ one of the last of the original Grand Hotels. For the last 100 years, Star Island has offered an all‐inclusive summer retreat experience for families, youth, and adults, hosting a wide variety of themed conferences and personal spiritual centering opportunities. There is something for everyone on Star Island, whether you enjoy swimming, attending intellectually stimulating theme talks, or just sitting in a rocking chair looking out at the open ocean. The island also offers a look into the cutting edge sustainability technology of the Green Gosport Initiative, including the largest off‐grid solar array in New England, a sophisticated composting system, independent water and wastewater facilities, and more. Island systems and sustainability tours are available in addition to other historic and behind‐the‐scenes tours. The island even has its own museum, Vaughn Cottage, home to the famed Isles of Shoals poet Celia Thaxter’s original writing desk, first edition work, and hand‐painted pottery. People of all backgrounds are drawn to Star Island for its recreation, natural beauty, and simplicity. What keeps people coming back year after year is the abundance of kindness and community. Attending a conference like IRAS is a treasured family tradition for so many, and guests consistently describe their experience on the island as magical.
The 2019 theme of the summer IRAS conference is The CRISPR Apple on the Tree of Knowledge: Bioengineering, Gene Editing, and the Human Future. Program co‐chairs Arvin Gouw and Ted Peters, and conference chairs Maynard Moore and Abby Fuller, have lined up an array of accomplished speakers to address the challenges and possibilities we face with the advancement of CRISPR technology. Human gene editing is quickly outstripping the decision‐making mechanisms we have in place for approving or regulating technology usage. The technology to directly manipulate the genomes of plants, animals and even humans is developing rapidly and is already in use. Can it be rationally managed and applied ethically? What are the medical, economic, environmental, and social consequences of genetic manipulation? At this conference, scientists, theologians, religious scholars and ethicists will offer illuminating and thought‐provoking perspectives on the issues surrounding the gene editing technology known as CRISPR/CAS9. Scientists will explain the technique of gene editing with CRISPR and ethicists will ponder the impacts on society, from pest control to designer babies. What are the implications for agriculture and world hunger? What about medical advances that are too costly for most of the world? Theologians and religious scholars will discuss how we understand human nature and responsibility from within various religious traditions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Most fundamentally, IRAS will explore ethical issues such as therapy versus enhancement; species elimination versus global epidemics; germline intervention; and the long‐term effects of bioengineering and genome editing that are within the realm of CRISPR possibility. The following speakers will be presenting at the 2019 IRAS summer conference on Star Island:
Dr. Arvin Gouw and Dr. Ted Peters –Conference Program Co‐Chairs
Dr. K. N. Siva Subramanian ‐ Professor of Pediatrics & Obstetrics/Gynecology, at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C. Dr. Michael Ruse ‐ Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University, Gainsville
Dr. Lisa Fullam, Th.D. ‐ Professor of Moral Theology, Santa Clara University, California
Dr. Arthur M. Sutherland ‐ Associate Professor of Theology and African‐American Culture, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Loyola College of Maryland, Baltimore
Dr. Nadine Vicenten ‐ Harvard’s Personal Genomics Education Center Dr. Gary Sherman ‐ Associate Vice President for Program Innovations, Virginia Technological Institute and University; Former Senior Scientist for Food Security, USDA
Dr. William B. Hurlbut ‐ Consulting Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University Medical Center; President’s Council on Bioethics (2001‐2009) Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak ‐ Professor, Departments of Radiation Oncology, Radiology, and Cell & Molecular Biology, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Dr. Constance Bertka, Unitarian Universalist, Doctorate in Earth Sciences, Co‐Director of Human Origins at the Smithsonian, and Professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. will be this year’s Conference Chaplain
To learn more about IRAS on Star Island and to register for the conference, visit www.starisland.org/IRAS.
IRAS cultivates a community of informed and respectful inquiry and dialogue at the intersections of science with religion, spirituality and philosophy in service of global, societal and personal well‐being.
Learn more at www.iras.org
Star Island is pleased to announce that Isles of Shoals historian Ann Beattie will be in-residence on the island this summer and available to provide historic talks and tours.
Ann is an educator with a fascination for the Isles of Shoals and its rich history. She combs through historical records, salt cod recipes, and journals of Shoalers in an effort to capture and revive the unique stories that bring Shoals history to life. Ann is a former president of the Isles of Shoals Historical and Research Association and has served as a Board member of the Portsmouth Athenaeum. She leads tours of the Shoals and hosts several week-long history programs on Star Island. Ann always has an intriguing tale to tell about a place so magical it will steal your heart.
Be sure to stop by and meet Ann in Vaughn Cottage or schedule a program for your conference!
Learn more about Ann’s programming below:
Isles of Shoals: Historical Programs
The Wondrous Isles of Shoals: Explore four centuries of life on the nine stark and hauntingly beautiful Isles of Shoals through a series of fascinating historical images. Investigate the role the Isles played in the worldwide fishing trade of the 17th century and the resort industry in the 19th century. Discover the natural and cultural wonders of the Isles of Shoals today.
An Abundance of Cod ~ The Fishing Era at the Isles of Shoals: Discover how cod fueled the settlement of New England and go back in time to the era when the Isles of Shoals was the busiest spot in the New World. Explore legends from the past of pirates, ghosts and shipwrecks on the islands.
The Grand Resort Hotel Era & Modern Times at the Isle of Shoals: Find out why hundreds of people packed their trunks and spent the summer at one of the Isle of Shoals resort hotels in the 19th century and why hundreds of people continue to explore the natural beauty of the Shoals today.
140 Years at Sea ~ The Oceanic Hotel: Investigate the legacy of the Isles of Shoals’ grand Oceanic Hotel, one of New England’s few remaining Victorian resort hotels. Hear tales of the subterfuge and rivalry that inspired the building of the Oceanic on Star Island and the renowned Appledore House across the harbor. Discover how flames destroyed the hotels, and
learn of the ingenious effort in creating a second grand Oceanic Hotel.
The Infamous Isles of Shoals: Investigate the lore and legends of the Isles of Shoals and determine the truth behind stories of pirates, treasure, ghosts and murder just 10 miles of the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire. Learn of the isolated village of Gosport on Star Island and the seemingly peculiar behavior of its residents.
The Artistry of the Isles of Shoals ~ Celia Thaxter’s Salon: Something about the mystery of islands and the endless sea vista seems to ignite creativity, and the Shoals have inspired writers, musicians and artists for centuries. Explore the lives and work of the famous visitors to poet Celia Thaxter’s salon and discover how they collaborated to produce some
of their finest pieces.
Mystery, Murder & Mayhem at the Isles of Shoals: Over 125 years ago, two women were murdered on an isolated island at the Isles of Shoals. One woman survived and the story she told scandalized the nation. Revisit the crime and decide for yourself whether the man convicted for the murders was really responsible for the tragic deaths on Smuttynose Island.
All programs: 1 hour, $100