Philip Conkling, the founder and president of the Island Institute, tells the story of a family who summered on Casco Bay's Long Island, which saw its population grow from 202 in 2000 to 230 in 2010.
"The wife looked at her
husband at the end of the summer and said, 'I'm not going back.' She
couldn't stand the thought of returning to suburbia," Conkling
"The islands reached their apogee in the 1870s, 1880s," explains Conkling
, when there were more than three hundred year-round island communities.
"From 1900 to 1970 it was one long decline.
It was very disheartening to islanders because their biggest export was their children."
The back-to-the-land movement in the 1970s provided a brief respite from the downtrend, but most of the homesteaders had returned to the mainland by the end of the decade.
"They weren't prepared for many of the trade-offs island life requires," Conkling
The impact of high-speed Internet service is just beginning to be felt on the islands, Conkling
"Broadband service penetrates about 80 percent of island homes these days," he
"The island way of life isn't for everybody," points out Conkling
, "but for those who are compelled by the idea of knowing your neighbor, participating in a shared community life, living in a unique place with unique challenges and benefits, islands can't be beat."