By Kate Williams
Dateline June 18, 2009: In my view, good beginnings matter. And I think it’s safe to say that today’s launch of Maine Woods Discovery Packages represented an excellent beginning. The Hall of Flags in the Maine State House was pleasantly crowded for a 30+ minute program of thoughtful speechifying featuring statements and support from Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and remarks by Governor John Baldacci, Director of Tourism Pat Eltman, Bruce Hazard of Mountain Counties Heritage, and myself, all emceed by Warren Cook of Saddleback Maine.
At the program helm, Warren Cook embodied in word and person an abiding commitment both to the Maine Woods region that is home to these packages, and to the breadth of ongoing partnership that is at the core of this work. The Governor praised the “innovative public – private partnership” that the development of these packages entailed, and underscored the value of developing tourism for Maine’s economy. “Queen” Eltman, as the Governor dubbed her, described the state investments in tourism that this series of packages will leverage. Bruce Hazard, who has shepherded this project with skill and grace, spotlighted the amazing package hosts and local partners who are at the front line of crafting and delivering a package series that is truly world class. As the final speaker, I could probably have gotten away with a simple “ditto,” as all who went before me were eloquent and spot on. But instead I situated this project in the broader Northern Forest Region, where it stands out as a distinctly effective collaboration with really amazing momentum and potential.
While former governors and Maine power brokers of yore looked down from their gilt frames on the wall, a montage with canoe, kayak, snowshoes, skis, locally crafted wood and soap products, fly rod, and cover image from this historical tour “The Valley Below” flanked the speakers and conveyed the breadth of experiences the Maine Woods Discovery Packages will showcase. The word “innovative” rang out at least three times during the program, appropriately recognizing that while the experiences of place and people that these packages represent are anything but new – and in some cases truly ancient (e.g., paddling in a canoe) – the way in which they are currently being packaged and promoted is uniquely collaborative and distinctly excellent.
So good beginnings matter a great deal – and we had one today – but they aren’t enough. Check out the Maine Woods Packages at www.mainewoodsdiscovery.com. Send the link to your friend in Boston or your cousin in Atlanta. You can confidently promise adventure, beauty, and discovery.
Maine Woods Discovery hosts and partners in Maine’s Hall of Flags 6/18/09
Photo by Nancy Marshall