By Barbara Clark
Hyannis Harbor is slated to become a “way station” among nearly a dozen sites to be constructed across Cape Cod, according to a new initiative called “Expedition Blue,” developed by the Cape Cod Blue Economy Foundation, a subsidiary of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.
The new enterprise comprises a “network” of locations, to be developed in the coming year, that will collectively focus on the Cape’s “blue economy” and “tell the story of our region by showcasing the special connection we have to the water that surrounds us, from both economic and social perspectives,” said Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Chamber.
The development of such sites across the Cape is being realized through grant support from the Baker-Polito Administration’s Seaport Economic Council. Each location in “Expedition Blue” will allow people to view and understand many of the aspects that underlie and “drive our economy,” using interactive information made available at each location, according to Bert Jackson, director of Community Engagement for the chamber’s ongoing Blue Economy Project.
Interpretive markers, or waypoints [at each site will] feature a viewfinder that focuses attention on a particular subject and invites further exploration. Visitors to each location will be able to use their own mobile devices in a “touch screen” environment to connect to materials and information pertaining to the marine environment directly around them.
Launched in 2015 by the Cape Cod Chamber, the Blue Economy Project describes a regional initiative set up to build on “existing tourism industries, a world class marine research and technology cluster and sustainable use planning dedicated to preserving our environment and quality of life.”
Structures that will contain the interactive platforms will look similar at each site, though of varying sizes. Designed by architectural firm CambridgeSeven, they’ll be multi-cube modular components, constructed of 8 x 8 x 8-foot cubes, along with accompanying panels and posts.
The waypoint planned for Hyannis, to be constructed at Aselton Park, will add to the live experience of being at a busy working harbor, said Jackson. It will focus on activities central to the site, including marine transport; commercial fishing, shellfishing, and activities surrounding the off-loading of the day’s catch, plus many water-based tourist excursions, outdoor musical performances and artists’ shanties.
The water connection on Cape Cod is what “drives our economy,” Jackson said, from tourism, transport and commercial fishing to the area’s many scientific institutions, such as the Center for Coastal Studies, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Biological Labs, Wood Hole Research Center and National Marine Fisheries.
Waypoints in other participating communities such as Chatham, Brewster, Provincetown and Bourne will focus attention on the specific activities at those locales, showcasing what he called “the fruits of the sea.”
The “Blue Expedition” plans to “shine a light on what we have,” as well as “what could take place in the future,” said Jackson. The project hopes to attract the attention of entrepreneurs and small businesses that may want to develop independent business incentives, as well as direct the attention of young people toward possible new local career paths, and offer inspiration for more casual visitors. We’ll have “a responsive website,” he said. “We’re building a network.”
The idea, he said, is “that it’s all expandable.” According to a chamber press release, although the initial sites funded through a $1 million state grant must be located on publicly owned land, the network is designed with future expansion in mind.” Thus, as the project grows, a private company or organization could join the network by erecting a similar waypoint of its own at another location, thus strengthening the concept and the “blue” network.
The current plan for the project’s development is that the modular structures will be built offsite and then delivered during a two-week period next spring. Then an architectural landscaping subcontractor would complete the work.
In Bourne,the Expedition Blue installation will be located at the Buzzards Bay Recreation Area along the Cape Cod Canal. It offers a focused view of the canal, the National Marine Life Center, Mass Maritime Academy, and views of shipping, marine transportation,and recreation.
For more information or to become involved in Expedition Blue and the Blue Economy Project, visit https://www.bluecapecod.org/expedition-blue/