POW Possibilities: Community Labor at Winter Festivals

Authors: Matt McCourt*, University of Maine at Farmington, Gabe Perkins, Mahoosuc Pathways
Topics: Economic Geography, Environment, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Diverse economies, tourism, Maine
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Napoleon A1, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


A group of citizens in western Maine was recently galvanized by their shared, unpaid labor of preparing a course for a major regional ski race during a low snow season. Working late into the night they shovelled snow by hand from the woods to the race course, paving the way for the success of the event, as well as animating subsequent efforts to use winter sports to build a diverse economy. Shortly after rescuing the race from a warm spell, the citizens group successfully bid on a regional ski festival. Their follow-up festival, attended by over a thousand spectators and participants, was challenged by extreme cold and wind. The festival theme was “Protect Our Winters,” inspired by a climate change advocacy organization, and promotional materials announced an experiment in a walkable/skiable event venue with shuttle buses providing transportation to lodging and off-site parking for day trippers. Organizers worked with students and faculty at a nearby college to perform a travel cost study and carbon accounting that tested their mitigation practices as well as gauging participants’ use and attitudes towards perfluorocarbon-based waxes, known to have damaging effects on humans, non-humans, and ecological systems. This paper shares the results of the festival study while documenting how a particular instance of community labor bridges different interests, performs diverse economies and enacts livable worlds in the face of climate uncertainty.

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