Duke Marshall and Mark Nelson

Duke Marshall and Mark Nelson Image
Location of Interview
Collection Name

Collecting Stories at the National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium 2018


Collecting Stories at the National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium 2018 is a project of Maine Sea Grant, College of the Atlantic, the Island Institute, and the National Working Waterfront Network.

Date of Interview

National Capital Contracting

Biographical Sketch

Duke Marshall and Mark Nelson are prominent figures from Smith Island, Maryland, known for their active involvement in the community's affairs. They have been instrumental in addressing the challenges faced by the island, including an aging population, a declining workforce, and changing demographics. Their commitment to the island's welfare is deeply rooted in its unique isolation and history, which they consider integral to the identity of its residents. Marshall and Nelson have been proactive in developing a vision plan for the island's future, demonstrating their dedication to ensuring the community's sustainability and growth. Their efforts extend beyond local issues, as evidenced by their participation in the National Working Waterfronts & Waterway Symposium. Here, they shared their experiences and insights, contributing to broader discussions on waterfront communities' challenges and potential solutions. Their resilience was particularly highlighted in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when they resisted the state's attempt to buy out the residents, emphasizing their commitment to their home and community.

Scope and Content Note
The interview with Duke Marshall and Mark Nelson provides an in-depth look at the challenges and experiences of the residents of Smith Island, Maryland. The discussion begins with an overview of the island's unique circumstances, including its isolation, aging population, declining workforce, and changing demographics. The interviewees share their efforts to address these issues, particularly through the development of a vision plan for the island's future. The conversation then shifts to the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the community, including the state's attempt to buy out the residents. Marshall and Nelson recount their resistance to this initiative, leading to the formation of Smith Island United, a collective voice for the community. They discuss their subsequent work with the state to address erosion and other environmental issues. The interview also covers their participation in the Working Waterfront Symposium, where they found value in connecting with others facing similar challenges and sharing their vision plan. They also learned about potential resources and support available to them, highlighting the symposium's role in fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange among waterfront communities.

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