Meet the New Tenants: Good Dirt Consulting and Katherine Emery Photography

Two new tenants have set up shop in our commercial space at 149 Main Street in Northeast Harbor: Caroline Pryor of Good Dirt Consulting and Zero Energy Homes, and Katherine Emery with her namesake professional photography business. They joined our existing tenant, Alyne Cistone of Global Tides Consulting, late last year. “I love being in town,” said Caroline. “I’ve lived here for 40 years, and it feels really good to be working on Main Street.”

Caroline moved to Mount Desert shortly after college in 1983 for a job opportunity. She and her colleague Ben Emory, “were running a small nonprofit called the Land Trust Exchange, now called the Land Trust Alliance. My first apartment was a seasonal rental on Schoolhouse Ledge.”

Caroline subsequently worked at Maine Coast Heritage Trust for fourteen years, where she met her husband David MacDonald, former president of Friends of Acadia. They feel fortunate to have purchased an old farmhouse in the early 1990s before home prices skyrocketed. They live in the Village of Sound on Route 198, at the local landmark known as RA Corner.

With two children, she started doing consulting work for NGOs and conservation-minded landowners, which grew into Good Dirt Consulting. Much of her time these days is focused on Zero Energy Homes, a start-up business that will bring a new housing product to Maine – high-quality, net zero energy homes, manufactured in Maine with 80-90% forest products, and that are affordable, especially for low- and moderate-income residents. Caroline and her team are busy planning their first home, which will be owned by Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness in East Millinocket. “It seems appropriate for the first house to be owned by the First People,” said Caroline.

The office space at 149 Main Street allows Caroline to do this important work. “It meets my needs beautifully,” said Caroline. She’s able to do solo work on her laptop, join Zoom meetings with reliable internet (which isn’t always the case at the home office), and host in-person meetings, bringing people to town who may not otherwise have reason to come to Northeast Harbor.

When asked how Katherine Emery, the newest tenant, is finding the space, she answered, “I have found it to be an opening. As an independent artist or freelance photographer, I feel often like I’m an island on an island when working from home. Finding a place, even shared, that you can afford is near impossible.”

Katherine, her daughter, and her husband—Somesville native Dan Kane—moved to Mount Desert in June of 2020. They live in Dan’s childhood home, which they purchased in 2003. Katherine brings to the island a 10-year career as a freelance photographer in the Bay Area, where she worked with families, authors, artists, and nonprofit organizations to tell their stories visually. A month before leaving for Maine, she had secured a spot in a shared workspace for artists in the Presidio in San Francisco. “The excitement about being surrounded by people doing work that I value, it all felt really good – this space feels like that to me,” she said about 149 Main Street. “This feels like it could be a hive of collaboration. I’m inspired by the work Caroline and Alyne are doing – it just feels great.”

Katherine uses this space as a creative studio: she is developing two fine art projects on medium format film and continues to work on commissioned client projects. She looks forward to how being on Main Street will impact her both personally and professionally. “I think creativity exists when you can collaborate and when you have these organic cross-disciplinary interactions.”

Alyne Cistone, founder and principal of Global Tides Consulting, still loves the space as a great meeting location for year-round clients, especially those that reside in the Town of Mount Desert. “We are glad to contribute to the vibrancy of our community through our presence and operations,” said Alyne.

The space at 149 Main Street has also become a bit of a community gathering spot. Back in February, Caroline hosted a pop-up Valentine-making evening with some friends. A neighbor walking by saw the warmth and light emanating from the space and joined in spontaneously.

Both Katherine and Caroline hope to use the space more for these kinds of events. In the meantime, they’re enjoying the opportunity to support other neighboring businesses when they’re in town working, such as getting coffee from McGrath’s or lunch from The Nor’Easter. “This is a beautiful little community, so I feel really lucky to be here,” Katherine said.