The Propeller Project

A civic enterprise
dedicated to creating Maine’s next economy.

A Civic Enterprise Accelerator

What happens…
when a rural, coastal community connects the experiences of several generations of so-called “grown-ups” with the unbridled imaginations of the next generation?

What happens…
when the current stewards of Maine’s natural resources – the forests, fields, and shorelines of Harpswell and nearby communities – thoughtfully invite young people from the midcoast and beyond to explore, research, cultivate, and sustain those resources?

What happens…
when the current and future economic, ecological, and cultural challenges our society faces determine what our students imagine, discuss, and create in school?

And Finally, what happens…
when we rethink the way we define and measure capital and wealth? When the private and public sectors collaborate, rather than compete? When we judge the success of our investments by the degree to which we put our money where our mouth is, rather than vice-versa?

>> This happens. <<


The Propeller Project is a 
community-based, idea-incubator that
connects economic development to education, and we
want to engage you in the asking and answering
of these questions.

Who is the Propeller Project?

Harpswell Coastal Academy

A vision for a truly 21st century public school – deliberately small, fiercely focused on helping our young people, regardless of background, learning style, or any other factor, find a pathway to productive, rewarding citizenship.

A strong sense of place embedded in all we do – the natural and man-made world, the people and other creatures, the history and the traditions, and the possibilities for the future of Harpswell and MidCoast Maine.

A sense that anything is possible – for our students and our staff especially – HCA is where conventional wisdom is tested and re-tested – some if it lasting, and some if it going by the wayside, depending on whether it helps us get where we need to go, or gets in the way.


That could be you!

You take the social enterprise movement seriously, looking to use whatever leverage you have to create opportunity where there’s not much – rather than seed more opportunity where there’s already plenty.

You like young people, and you want to help those who may not be able to count on a leg up.

You see great potential for both small and big ideas to emerge from unexpected people and places if we can find ways to get capital to those people and places.

Learn more here…


Harpswell, Maine has —

A peninsula (Harpswell Neck) and three bridged islands: Great Island, Orr’s Island, and Bailey Island.
More shoreline – about 216 miles of it – than any other municipality in Maine.

Harpswell has…

just under 5000 residents as of the 2010 census, about 750 age 18 and under. A K-5 public school, Harpswell Community School, on Great Island. A grade 6-12 public Charter School, Harpwell Coastal Academy, in Harpswell Neck. A long history as a working fishing community and as a summer retreat.
A long history of folks from every walk of life doing whatever they can to call Maine’s coast home, make a living if at all possible, and to find ways to preserve what’s special about for future generations.


The ideas that are coming together as the Propellor Project are rooted in a few places and people. The most stalwart of those folks include Tom Shepard of Shepard Financial, Eric Oransky of Eric Oransky Fine Woodworking, Lee Auchinlcoss of Home Remedies, Joe Appel of Rosemont Markets, Ellen Alcorn of Bates College’s Harward Center, and Malia Haddock of Furniturea, Andrew Jawitz and Alyce Ornella, and Cordelia Oehmig

John D’Anieri is the Head of School at HCA. He has worked with some of the smartest and most interesting folks in Maine to almost launch Maine Farm Enterprise Schools, a prototype for a system of small-by-design public schools, sustainable entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and “design your own” jobs. He came close. His brother helpfully reminded him that close only counts in horseshoes. He reminded his brother of another of their Dad’s sayings, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

Bradley Goodwin is the Director of Entrepreneurial Education at Harpswell Coastal Academy, and is dedicated to purveying the students, and the community with opportunity through the Propeller Project. He has worked with several academic institutions prior to HCA, and will gladly admit that none of them were worth their salt in comparison.

Matthew Carr is one of the principals at Original Computing, a web design and IT company in Brunswick’s Fort Andross. When we first described our project and what we wanted our web site to do, he said, “I get it. Let me put some ideas together and see what you think.” He then put some ideas together and asked us what we thought. He got it.

Mary Frances Harris is a dancer and a physicist. She came to HCA as a Bowdoin College intern to help our students make a robot that could help trap invasive green crabs. Though she’ll be off to France in the fall, she’ll be back, and we’ll be saving a spot for her.

Joel Russ and Ann Bartoo comprise HCA’s Office of Advancement. Joel’s background includes stints and various roles with many Maine community-based non-profits. Ann is a grant writer extraordinaire and has long had an interest in social entrepreneurship.