Star Island Conference Center, located off Portsmouth and Rye at the historic Isles of Shoals, is working in partnership with the Ferry Beach Park Association, a Unitarian Universalist camp/conference center in Saco, Maine, to host Star Island’s Young Adult and Arts Conferences beginning on June 16, 2007. The one week conferences, which run concurrently and begin the Star Island summer season, had to be moved from Star Island to accommodate electrical and fire safety improvements being made to Star Island’s centuries-old buildings including the Oceanic Hotel. Read more…
NOTE: Information is coming soon about alternate conference center plans for Arts and YAC conferees. If you are a conferee for either of these conferences, you will be kept up to date by your registrar. If you have questions, please call the Star Island Corporation office at (603) 430-6272.
A Message from Amy Lockwood, Executive Director, Star Island Corporation
Dear Friends of Star Island:
I am truly saddened to have to tell you that due to unforeseen circumstances, Star Island needs to delay the opening of its summer season by one week, until June 23, 2007. This change is being made so that we can comply with fire safety mandates suggested by our State Fire Marshall which are in the best interest of all Shoalers.
While we have been engaged in fire safety upgrades to our buildings for more than five years, we have not, despite our best efforts, been able to complete a large-scale fire prevention readiness plan which was agreed to with the Rye Fire Department and State Fire Marshall’s office in 2002.
We have fully mobilized personnel to complete this critical work. Teams of electricians and carpenters are on the island already; all staff not essential to other areas of island opening (such as wastewater treatment plant operators) are engaged in this effort as well. Despite this, we anticipate that the island will not be certified for occupancy until June 23.
We understand how concerned you may be in learning this news. Please know how disappointed we are to convey it to you. We do want you to know that we are in contact with the leadership of these conferences to assist in finding other times conferees can be on the island.
We know how much Star Island means to so many of our conferees and our Corporation family. Our Conference Center Director Joe Watts, our Senior Staff, our Pelicans, and our Board of Directors share my concern and disappointment over this unavoidable change in plans for our summer season. We value your love and support of Star Island and hope that you join us in the sure knowledge that, through the difficult but important work we now undertake, we will ensure that the Oceanic Hotel and Star Island will continue to endure–safely and securely–for years to come.
The New Hampshire Humanities Council has awarded a grant to Barking Spider Productions for An Island Kingdom, a one-hour television documentary that will trace the history of the Isles of Shoals from 1614 to the present day.
Producer Andrea Melville has produced two Emmy-award winning documentaries for public television. She will use historic photographs, film, paintings and drawings to support interviews with scholars familiar with the history, culture and characters for he Isles of Shoals to show how the islands have changed over the last two centuries.
From an early Colonial fishing outpost to a vacation spot for the wealthy to the summer home of celebrated 19th century poet and painter Celia Thaxter and her close friend, American Impressionist Childe Hassam, the Isles of Shoals have played a critical role in New England’s economic and cultural evolution. This program will also highlight present-day restoration and conservation efforts through footage of these beautiful inlands as they are today.
Barking Spider Productions hope to air the program on public television and will schedule free screenings at seacoast area libraries and museums prior to the planned October 2008 airdate.
An Island Kingdom is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of An Island Kingdom may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible. To donate directly go to Fractured Atlas’s website. If you would like more information about the program An Island Kingdom, please call 802.485.3901 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The All Star I and Life on a Star I Conferences recently notified us that they have worked their way through their waitlists and have found themselves with a few extra slots. Please check out the Conference Calendar page for more information. We recommend getting in touch with the conference registrars immediately as these slots will go fast!
UCC I Conferee Phil Daley sent us a link to the new “What’s In a Name?” column from the Concord Monitor.
“Back in 1985, Daley and his family were vacationing on Star Island, part of the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast, when his wife, Barbara Lois, went into labor…”
It’s a charming, short anecdote that we’re sure will amuse you.
The Shoals Marine Lab (SML) on Appledore Island has an exciting pilot wind project you will see from Star Island this summer. The Marine Lab is constructing a single 80-foot high wind tower on Appledore this spring. This will provide the off-season energy needed to support one of the UNH research projects that has been on Appledore for the last several years. Right now that program gets its power from Appledore generators which not only cost more to run but also add fuel emissions to the atmosphere.
SML has achieved endorsement letters from the bird banding projects and other environmental groups on the island. It has also achieved permission from the NH Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and, the town of Kittery, Maine for construction. As we search for green energy sources, all involved groups see the tower as part of their research on wind tower impacts on various parts of the environment, so this experiment could help the cause of safe wind generation on a number of levels.
As you may be aware, Star Island Corporation owns Appledore Island and leases it to the Shoals Marine Lab. In June of 2006 the Star Island Corporation board granted SML permission to construct the tower in support of the potential long-term environmental benefits this pilot project could bring to the Isles of Shoals. One great feature of this wind tower is that it lowers to the ground on a pivot point, so the ability exists to raise the tower in the off-season and lower it for the summer season (see film clip below). The board granted SML permission to keep the tower up for the entirety of 2007 including the summer season. Over the summer we hope you’ll share your thoughts on visual and auditory impact. We expect and hope the tower will be moderate in its impact and will continue use throughout the years, and also recognize that if there are significant negative impacts to those at Star, we have the ability to ask SML to keep the tower lowered during the summer season in the future.
Note: nothing really happens for the first 30 seconds of the video. Hang in there.
We have updated the Calendar page with new waitlist information.
All Star I, All Star II, International Affairs, Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, and Life on a Star I are currently reporting a waitlist. Contact the relevant registrars for details—short waitlists can sometimes clear due to cancellations!
Interested in your own island off the New England coast?
Ram Island, off the coast of Machiasport, Maine, is for sale on eBay today. It’s a 16-acre, uninhabited rock known for its bird habitats. Bidding starts at $795,000!
From the description:
The island has a hill in the center some 60 feet above sea level. That’s a good height. From up there you can see the entire island. You can see the entire world. To the north, the main island, Foster Island, the Cutler towers and stone Island (with it’s virgin forest.) To the east the Libbys, and Libby Island light. To the west which was my favorite view, were the beautiful sunsets. Then, Scabby Island, The Brothers and Cadillac mountain in the distance. And to the south is the open ocean.
Ram Island is very far to the east, very quiet and very private. Its too far east for most cruising boats. It’s special and exciting to spot a sail. Ram is raw nature. It’s all about the sea, and the sky, the waves, the wind and the tide. It has a big tide, around 18 feet. It’s really two islands, a high tide one and a low tide one. It’s filled with wonderful sounds. Big waves crashing against the cliffs, and small waves quietly lapping the stone beaches, rolling the round smooth stones over and over. New sounds that appear for a while as the rising and falling tides uncover crevices and canyons in the cliffs.
For a week we live like Swiss Family Robinson, cooking over an open fire on the beach. Living outdoors, sitting by the fire until late at night and sleeping in our clothes. There’s nothing to do on Ram Island. Just walk, sit, look at the sea, lay on your back in the grass and watch the sea gulls play tag, and think.
Sounds like something all of us Shoalers would enjoy!
Update, April 20: Sumar & Kristen were on WMUR news last night, talking about the storm! Check out the online companion article “Workers Stranded On Island During Storm”. It includes video (requires a Windows PC, sorry). The story has also been picked up by WCVB in Boston, under the headline “Nor’easter Strands Pair On Island.”
Intrepid Facilities Manager Sumar Maji has reported back with more information on damage to Star over the last few days as high winds and tides repeatedly pounded the island.
“As far as damage goes, we’re in good shape structurally,” he told the office by phone yesterday, but went on to describe some fairly serious weather-related destruction that became evident after he and the Pels examined the island more closely.
He noted a breach to the floodwall around the main pump station that receives waste water from half of the island. Flood waters tossed rocks and debris under the truck trestle, damaging pipes and destroying the pump station’s manifold.
The top surface of the pier was scarred and damaged after being basically underwater through high tide. The entire upper surface has been pockmarked and cracked and the railing washed away.
There was also damage to the roof of Sandpiper which has resulted in a waterlogged and ravaged ceiling.
Tons of debris has washed ashore around the wastewater treatment facility and across the front lawn, which will require significant clean-up.
In general, Sumar hopes the open-up crew and volunteers can help get the island back on track in time for the summer season. More updates to come!
You can check out the great article “Three are stranded but OK on Star Island” by Karen Dandurant in today’s Portsmouth Herald, which features an interview with Sumar.
More photos, courtesy Athena Steinkraus:
Please note: We have an updated report from Sumar—the damage was more widespread than was first evident.
Facilities Manager Sumar Maji reports
minor damage on the island after today’s nor’easter. Details are still being gathered, but it looks like we escaped without too much harm! Sumar and the two open-up Pels who were on the island during the storm, Athena & Kristen, have pictures of the storm and its aftermath to share with everyone. For now, here are a few shots from Athena, showing spray and flooding around the art barn, washed up debris on the front lawn, and some damage to the railing on the pier.