Eastport on Marketplace

Hearing voices you won't forget, from a small group of inventive and determined people.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, my wife and I were meeting people and asking questions in Eastport, Maine, along with Kai Ryssdal and his colleagues from Marketplace, Bridget Bodnar and Brendan Willard. What you see above is the view from the back seat of a Cirrus SR-22, where Brendan Willard was sitting, toward the front seat with me on the left and former naval aviator Kai Ryssdal on the right, Kai doing the radio work as we neared the little airport in Eastport.

Last evening, as mentioned here, Marketplace had a very nice short feature on one of the surprising, surviving industries of a very small and economically battered town: a century-old family-run mustard works. In just a minute it will have a longer feature about the ways in which the city is making major bets on connections to the global economy as its source of long-term economic hope. You can read about it on the show's site, here.

Much of this strategy -- as you'll hear on the show, and as we'll elaborate in days to come -- involves making use of natural feature shown on the map below. (This map is a static screen shot -- as soon as I post this item, I'll do a live version in which you can scroll and zoom on our Esri geoblog site.)

The map indicates water depths at major sites along the U.S. coast. Eastport, in the far northeastern corner, is the deepest of all ports in the lower 48 states, with a mean low water depth of more than 60 feet. (Valdez, in Alaska, is also very deep.) Moreover the seabed here is rock, rather than sand as in many sites in the Gulf Coast, so the depth is constant -- rather than changeable or in need of frequent dredging.

As you'll hear, a group of ambitious people in the city are trying to use the port's unique capacity -- and its proximity to Europe, and its potential proximity to Asia as northwest passages through a warming Canadian arctic become more frequent (they are already happening) -- as one foundation of its hoped-for economic revival.

It's just one of several foundations, whose stories we'll be telling here -- and in an article for our print magazine very soon. For the moment I will sign off with a reminder to tune into Marketplace. Among other things, you won't want to miss hearing the actual voices we heard in town.

[Photo by Brendan Willard.]

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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