Good neighbors

The idea that Maine should develop a new mindset — one aimed at growing its population in order to grow its economy — is not a new one, nor is it limited to these columns. More and more, folks are recognizing that the state’s future is tied to attracting — and retaining — people of all ages. But to do that, we must do a much better job of extolling and promoting Maine’s virtues.

Chief among those virtues is the sense of community that can be found the length and breadth of the state, especially in the small rural towns that dot the landscape. Just recently in Steuben, heartwarming community support took center stage when friends, neighbors and total strangers rallied around three of the town’s newest residents after the tools essential to their very livelihood were stolen.

Carpenter Samuel and Monique Farmer and their 2-year-old son Shaemus arrived in Steuben last fall with dreams of small-town life here in the Pine Tree State. Those dreams were sorely tested earlier this month when the construction trailer at their future home on Pigeon Hill Road was vandalized, and all of their tools and some building materials were stolen. With their livelihood in jeopardy, the couple wondered whether their move to Maine was a big mistake.

As word spread throughout the community and beyond about their plight, their doubts quickly were dispelled. In the days that followed, tools and other tangible and moral support began pouring in from near and far, creating what the couple now regard as an embarrassment of riches. “We are both practically speechless and finding it hard to adequately express just how thankful we are to have been blessed so tremendously,” said Monique Farmer. “It will be our pleasure to find ways to give it back to the community in the future.”

Indeed, as one donor reflected, “that’s what Maine is all about.” And he is so right. Over the years, unfortunate folks in town after town throughout Maine have been sustained with community support like that bestowed upon the Farmers. Such support is given willingly, with no expectation of payback. It’s the goodness of Maine people’s hearts at work.

We’ve said it before in these columns. Maine should undertake a deliberate effort to position itself as one of the nation’s most attractive destinations, both for retirees and those looking for a more sensible and livable lifestyle. Let’s stop trying so hard to convince corporations, which usually seek special benefits that come at the expense of Maine taxpayers and existing businesses, to move here. Instead, let’s take every opportunity to tell others what we know is true — that Maine is a great place to live year-round.

There are thousands of folks here ready and willing to lend a hand and be a good neighbor. Just ask the Farmers.

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