Look at the ground, the water, the trees--this is why the locals call this marshy patch of land home, and why they fight to defend it. The borders of the unorganized township of Argyle, Maine, are formed by the Penobscot River and Birch Stream. Argyle is defined by the forested wetland it rests upon. Land-based interactions--hunting, fishing, foraging, subsistence farming, and logging--define daily existence for many Argylians, while space and independence inform their identities. Land is the reason they are here. Land is everything.


This past summer, a proposed landfill and waste facility threatened to dismantle this common thread of Argylian identity. Surrounded by and on top of water, Argyle is an unlikely location for a landfill. Faced with an irrevocably altered landscape, residents dropped their often-secluded lives and organized. The passion, intelligence, and cohesion of the township’s fight were unexpected.


Despite having no city council to support them and no town store to gather in, they won.


These images explore a deeply intentional connection to land that drives the continual struggle to defend it. Self-reliance is at the core of Argylian identity, and the land enables this independence. Contamination of the watershed represents an attack on a way of life and on an identity. With ongoing threats from industry and development, the fight to maintain their way of life does stop with this one success.    

Peter Crockett canoes down the Penobscot River to his self-constructed, off-the-grid home.

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Kat Taylor, an artist and farmer, tends to the chickens on her riverfront property.

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Signs declaring opposition to the landfill lined the main road in Argyle and served as a primary means of communication.

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Steve Coghlan, a freshwater fisheries ecologist, keeps a fire burning while butchering chickens in his backyard.

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Galen Young is an organic farmer who raises pigs, chickens and honeybees and produces crops.

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Much of Argyle is marshland.  As locals say, "If your feet are dry, you're on high ground."

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Wesley Hatch, a Forest Service Ranger, traverses the proposed landfill site that borders his property.

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Wesley Hatch points to the proposed landfill site along Birch Stream

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Paul Schroeder and his daughter Greta opened the doors of Happy Acres Hall in neighboring Alton to host anti-dump meetings.

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Steve Coghlan hunts for duck in the marshland behind his Argyle home.

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Galen Young's organic farm was directly threatened by an easement that would have allowed trucks through his property.

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Bordered by the Penobscot River and Birch Stream, Argyle is defined by the forested wetland it rests upon.

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Kat Taylor tends to her rescue horses.

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