is an interview series to highlight and celebrate Essex Heritage’s diverse community of partners and supporters. This fall we asked Dr. Joe Buttner, Biology Professor and Director of Salem State University's Cat Cover Marine Laboratory, home of the Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center -- and annual Trails & Sails event host since 2003! -- to share his view of Essex Heritage and why he loves the Essex National Heritage Area. Interviewed October 2015.
Are you an Essex National Heritage Area (Essex County) native? If not, when and why did you move here?
No, I was born and bred in the shadows of Chicago, Cub fan. Relocated after 13 years in upstate NY to MA in 1997 to join the aquaculture/marine science team at Salem State University.
What do you find most inspiring about the Essex National Heritage Area?
The mix of everything: ocean, shore, land. Great history and cultural roots. Wonderful restaurants. Every town has it's own museum and history. How about the mild winters? Guess not, but I also cross-country ski and tap maple trees. Let us not forget the colorful, refreshing falls.
What is your favorite place in the Essex National Heritage Area?
Sadly, I cannot identify a single super place, though I am partial to water: Ipswich River, residence where Howard Taft spent summers, the Willows, Winter Island, the Ole Mill towns with their scenic history, the many festivals such as Lowell Festival, Peabody Festival, Polish Festivals, Lynn water front festival. Ice Cream, microbreweries, small farms, dozens of small woods (99 acre wood in Salem, Joe's Ponds in Marblehead, bike paths). Most of these are free and no pass is needed, just time and inclination.
When did you first become involved with Essex Heritage?
I'm uncertain about the date, but I believe it was the second Trails & Sails event. We at Salem State University's Cat Cove Marine Laboratory provide a concrete link between the cultural and historic past of Salem to its future by training people and providing venues to maintain a working, viable and sustainable waterfront while promoting food security and enhancing the environment. This message deserves to be shared, particularly since our efforts are bankrolled by the citizens of Massachusetts.
What is your most memorable Essex Heritage moment, event, or program?
Probably the cruise 2-3 years back on the Essex River. It was peaceful, scenic and our adolescent tour guide was most personable and informative. We saw a lot of birds, which is interesting (though my interest in birds peaks in November and drops off dramatically after Thanksgiving). This area is a great flyway path in the fall.
Essex Heritage is important to me because…
It supports and shares the treasures of our region. People should know and care about their homes. Essex Heritage afforded me and residents of the area the opportunity to learn about their backyard.
Essex Heritage is important to our region, our state, or our nation because…
Much of what made the United States possible is found here. Aboriginals farmed the land and harvested nearshore waters. Europeans arrived in quest of better lives, drawn by the cod and land. Early infrastructure was developed here (e.g., Iron Works, first period houses). The inspiration for colony transformation, first to a confederacy and ultimately a nation, occurred here. The flavor of progressive America was born here and continues to be reshaped here.
Help us continue to connect people and the places that make our heritage. Become an Essex Heritage Member.