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Paige Mangum: A lasting impact on HHLT

Paige Mangum at her home on Bethel Point in Cundy’s Harbor.

One in a series of profiles of people who played a key role in the first 35 years of the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust.

Over the course of 35 years, for both affairs of the heart and for land trusts, there will be people who come and go, and those that have a lasting impact. For Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, Paige Mangum’s influence remains evident today, even though she left the organization’s Board of Directors nearly 20 years ago.

For example, the forbearer of the newsletter you are now reading electronically was created, written and edited in a much different format by Paige and fellow HHLT board member Rebecca Stanley back in the early 1990s. The single-sheet, two-sided, blue and white communique served to inform and connect land trust members just like HHLT’s monthly email and semiannual printed newsletters do today.

Paige also helped conceptualize the distinctive blue heron logo that stands out so beautifully on all HHLT mailings, signage and merchandise. The self-described “word person” is typically modest in describing her role in this vital visual branding moment for the land trust.

“Back in 1994, our board president, Kent Womack, thought it was important for us to have an eye-catching logo. My friend Alice Swallow had a sketch of a great blue heron in flight done by Topsham artist Ed Gamble,” Paige explained. “Her son, George, who was sort of our computer guy back then, drew a few lines to suggest a heron, based on that sketch. We worked on it together and I suggested the ripples – which I called ‘tootsie puddles’ – around the feet.”
That logo remains unchanged to this day.

Paige’s impact on HHLT and the Town of Harpswell is also evident in other ways. She served as president of the land trust’s Board of Directors from 1994 to 1996. During that time, HHLT acquired the McIntosh Lot on Bailey Island and Doughty Point and Island on Great Island, as well as preserving, through conservation easements, a large tract of land along Long Reach on Great Island, Big Hen Island in Ridley Cove and another large property at the boundary between Brunswick and Harpswell on Harpswell Neck.

“There was expertise on the board and it turned out to be a time of growth, learning and connecting,” Paige said. “I enjoyed it very much.”

A Virginia native, Paige came to Harpswell through the auspices of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, where her husband, Bill, was stationed as part of VP-21 during the 1960s. After spending a year based in Key West, Fla., the couple – who met at college in North Carolina – returned to Brunswick in 1971. Bill opened his accounting practice on Gilman Avenue in Brunswick, which continues today. Paige, who received her degree in English literature at Bates College, did some teaching and had the couple’s first child in 1974.

Maine was a hotbed of the “back to the land” movement in the early 1970s. “We wanted to build a house out of an old barn and we found one in Freeport,” Paige recalled. “We stacked the beams in Pennellville until we were ready to build.” The couple fell in love with the Bethel Point area in Cundy’s Harbor, bought land there and built the home they live in today.

Alice Swallow, the matriarch of Bethel Point, brought Paige into the Sebascodegan Garden Club soon after the Mangums landed in Cundy’s Harbor. Not long after, Rebecca Stanley then a member of the Harpswell Historical Society, discovered that the society’s board of directors needed a representative from the Sebascodegan group. Paige signed up and stayed involved as the Harpswell Heritage Trust was formed out of the Historical Society after the purchase of the Tarr-Eaton House in 1983. She remained on what became the HHLT board until 1999.

“Over that time, HHLT became recognized as a town-wide organization,” Paige said. “It was viewed as a community group, not just in preserving the land, but preserving the basic nature of the place.”

Paige remains tangentially involved with the land trust through her position on the Holbrook Community Foundation’s Board of Directors. The foundation’s stated mission – “To provide for the long-term protection of the coastal heritage of Harpswell by preserving Holbrook’s working waterfront, supporting commercial fishing in Harpswell, and providing opportunities for education about our marine environment for the benefit of the local community” – dovetails nicely with the goals of HHLT.

“In fact, the land trust served as the fiscal agent for a very early Holbrook grant application,” Paige said. “Both organizations are serving the whole town in important ways. There’s a definite synergy between the two operations.”

Today, the Holbrook Community Foundation’s Education Initiative, through a $12,500 grant, helps fund HHLT’s popular Nature Day Camps in the summer and the land trust’s education programs throughout the year at Harpswell Community School (the town’s public elementary school).

Paige said she believes that kind of effort is important for the future of the land trust, for Harpswell and for our planet. “HHLT needs to continue doing what it’s doing so well, “ she said. “Preservation is important, but the education piece is also vital. Kids have to understand the value of our ecosystem and what it takes to keep it going. Our future depends on it.”