Image by Markus Winkler

New Book to Highlight Maine’s Immigrant Community
Islandport Press Plans December 2021 release


November 13, 2020—Islandport Press is pleased to announce that it is working with authors Reza Jalali and Morgan Rielly to publish a book exploring the remarkable, inspiring, but often untold personal stories of immigrants to Maine who have arrived during the last four decades. The as-yet-untitled book, which will include professional black and white photography, is slated for publication in December of 2021.

The more than twenty people profiled in the book represent a variety of religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds and emigrated from countries on five continents, including Rwanda, Russia, Iraq, Cambodia, Azerbaijan, and Ecuador. All recount important stories of success and struggle as they strive to create new lives in a small northern state vastly different from the homelands they left behind. Some of the people profiled sought to escape war, famine, genocide, and persecution, while others chose to uproot themselves and risk everything to seek a new life for more personal reasons.

“By telling these important stories about Maine’s immigrants, we hope to put a human face on some of the often invisible people and communities that call Maine home,” Jalali said.

Rielly said, “My hope is that these profiles provide a better understanding and appreciation for what these individuals have overcome, what they have accomplished and what they hope to do here in Maine.”

Morgan Rielly is the incoming state representative for Westbrook and the author of Neighborhood Heroes: Life Lessons from Maine’s Greatest Generation, which profiles Maine World War II veterans. He is a 2018 graduate from Bowdoin College where he double-majored in Religion and Government & Legal Studies. At Bowdoin, he received a fellowship to work in Jordan at the Collateral Repair Project, helping Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

Reza Jalali is a writer, educator, and human rights activist, who serves on Amnesty International USA’s Board of Directors. He has taught at the University of Southern Maine and Bangor Theological Seminary, and advised Muslim students at Bowdoin and Bates College. Jalali was a contributing writer to Child Labor: A Global View. He also wrote Moon Watchers, a children’s book, and Homesick Mosque and Other Stories, a collection of short stories.

Reopening the Legendary Penobscot River

New Book details how organizations came together to create a model for ecological restoration

November 10, 2020 ​—In June 2016, an Atlantic salmon swam through the town of Howland bound for upriver spawning grounds that had been blocked for nearly two centuries. The historic event followed the remarkable removal of long-standing dams and heralded the reopening of the Penobscot, reenergizing the legendary river with wildlife, fish, and recreational activity to levels not seen in generations.

From the Mountains to the Sea, a new book written by Peter Taylor and published by Maine-based Islandport Press, tells the inside story of how an unlikely alliance of people and organizations—including the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Natural Resources Council of Maine, The Nature Conservancy, and the Penobscot Nation—acquired and removed human-made dams so once stagnant and polluted waters could again run free.

The book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the innovative approach that led to the river’s restoration with no net loss of hydropower.
“The Penobscot River Restoration Project is by far the most important conservation project the Penobscot Nation has worked on in recent times,” says John Banks, Director of Natural Resources for the Penobscot Nation. “For the tribe, this project represents much more than a fisheries and hydropower improvement effort. By ecologically re-connecting the watershed with the sea, this project repairs an age-old cycle that allowed the tribe to sustain itself for thousands of years.”

“In an era of global fish declines, the rebounding fisheries of the Penobscot clearly demonstrates we have the ability to save our sea-run fisheries from extinction if we are willing to address the root  problems, such as dams, that have caused the declines,” says Andrew Goode, VP of US Operations for the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

The book, scheduled for release December 11 and developed in cooperation with the Penobscot River Restoration Trust, draws on interviews with more than fifty people who worked on the years-long efforts. It details the challenges, compromises, and key turning points of the effort which ultimately came to serve as a global model for large-scale ecosystem restoration.

"Globally, rivers face major challenges," says Kate Dempsey, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine. "Monitored populations of migratory freshwater fish have declined 76 percent in the past fifty years, weakening connected ecosystems and fisheries that feed millions of people. That's another reason the Penobscot River project is so important: it has become an international beacon of hope and learning for how challenges from dams can be addressed, informing restoration all around the world."

The Penobscot River Restoration Project featured seven member organizations, as well as key partners including federal and state agencies and private companies. The members of the Trust are: American Rivers, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Audubon, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Penobscot Nation, The Nature Conservancy, and Trout Unlimited.

“The remarkable recovery of the Penobscot River is a testament to the powerful change that can happen when people come together from a wide variety of perspectives, bound by common purpose,” says Lisa Pohlmann, CEO of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We have seen from experience on the Penobscot, as well as the Kennebec, that freeing rivers from dams quickly brings back the fish that need to spawn in freshwater, and also can benefit riverfront communities. It’s a win for people and nature.”

Author Peter Taylor is president of Waterville Consulting in Harpswell. A graduate of Williams College and the University of California, Santa Barbara, he has worked as a magazine editor, science writer and photographer, and a freelance writer. For more than twenty years, Taylor has specialized in telling stories of ecology and conservation. 

Islandport Press Releases Echoes Magazine Anthology

“Stories of Aroostook” captures the region’s spirit and special sense of place


Islandport Press is pleased to announce the release of Stories of Aroostook: The Best of Echoes Magazine, an anthology of memorable articles selected from the magazine’s nearly three decades in print. The book was edited by magazine co-founder and former University of Maine professor Kathryn Olmstead.

Echoes, based in Caribou, produced 117 issues before ceasing publication in 2017. The magazine served as a journal of rural lifestyle, and became a community touchpoint for archiving the history and way of life in Aroostook County. Stories of Aroostook is a collection of articles and essays all capturing the spirit and sense of place that makes The County unforgettable. Former readers of Echoes will recognize columnists and contributors that frequently appeared in the magazine including Glenna Johnson Smith, Gwen Harmon, Gordon Hammond, John Dombek, Dorothy Boone Kidney, and many more.   


Exploring subjects such as the potato harvest, raging blizzards, encounters with moose, and car hopping on a Saturday night, Stories of Aroostook will touch and amaze readers who live in, have visited, or who wish they could visit the Crown of Maine. The book showcases the vital part Echoes plays in telling the stories of the region.

“Echoes magazine was a prominent feature on the counter of every grocery store, gift shop, and gas station up north,” said Shannon Butler, an author, Operations Manager at Islandport Press, and an Aroostook County native. “It is a piece of our heritage. It’s a portrait of how through the passing of years Aroostook has faced many changes but the good natured, generous and hardworking people that live here have always been a constant.”  

Stories of Aroostook is edited by Olmstead, who co-founded Echoes with Gordon Hammond in 1988. Olmstead is a former Bangor Daily News columnist, and served on the journalism faculty of the University of Maine for 25 years, the last six as associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She currently lives in Caribou, Maine.