The Coastal Packet: Washington County's alternative lifestyle

Sunday, May 1

Washington County's alternative lifestyle

Metador Network

Washington County or ‘Downeast,’ Maine is a beautiful area that has remained quiet and independent. Located on the bold coast of the Atlantic Ocean, Washington County is just as exquisite, if not more so, than Acadia National Park...

Washington County is where you can purchase a decent amount of acreage, probably on a stream or river, for way under $50,000 and really make a go at living sustainably. There is a large community of people who have been residing in the area for generations, many with local roots that pre-date the United States. Other residents came during the Back to the Land Movement in the 70s and have since stayed, creating a larger community and raising a lot of awareness about how to live with a low impact. Many citizens are completely sustaining themselves off-the-grid in Washington County — they’re using battery-banked solar power, outhouses or composting toilets, recycling grey water, growing their own gardens and chopping their own wood. This isn’t where you’ll find too many snowbirds, most people are living year-round, and it is expected that new residents will live year-round too.

About 45 minutes east of the county line, Machias is a small college town on Bad Little Falls that draws a lot of writers, musicians and artists to its state university. An artist and activist organization, The Beehive Collective, resides there and hosts an outdoor, live music “dress-up dance” each August called The Blackfly Ball. If you go up as far east as Eastport or Lubec, you’ll find two artist’s communities on the ocean, not far from the Canadian border, each with a decent live music scene. And throughout the county, there will be a lot of houses and shopfronts for sale, for cheap. Downeast is thirsting slightly for some young blood to keep its economy going.

It’s also worth mentioning that Maine is known for fiercely protecting its natural resources. Since 1987, Land for Maine’s Future has purchased 490,000 acres — 1,200 of it shorefront and 315,000 of it working forestland — in order to protect Maine’s wildlife, forests, aquifers and ecosystems. Billboards are outlawed in Maine, there are no oil refineries, although there is an active pipeline, and even though the state’s rogue governor, Paul LePage, has tried to block some solar power legislation, citizens are still heading full force in the direction of renewable resources. Solar installers and energy companies like Efficiency Maine and ReVision Energy offer complete loans for solar power with no downpayment, so virtually any home or business owner can switch to solar without any strain on their finances.

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