Hawaii 2 (previously Birch Island) is a six-acre (2.4 ha) private island in Liberty, Maine's St. George Lake. Previously used as de facto public land, in 2014 the island was purchased by Cards Against Humanity LLC as part of a fundraiser for the Sunlight Foundation. After licensing the island for use by those who contributed to the campaign, the town of Liberty threatened the games company with hundreds-of-millions in fines for code violations.

Hawaii 2
Hawaii 2 is located in Maine
Hawaii 2
Hawaii 2
Hawaii 2 is located in the United States
Hawaii 2
Hawaii 2
Geography
LocationSt. George Lake
Liberty, Maine, US
Coordinates44°23′51″N 69°20′12″W / 44.397418°N 69.336586°W / 44.397418; -69.336586Coordinates: 44°23′51″N 69°20′12″W / 44.397418°N 69.336586°W / 44.397418; -69.336586
Area6 acres (2.4 ha)
Administration
United States
Additional information
Hours: 6 am – 8 pm

Pre-2014Edit

Prior to Cards Against Humanity's 2014 purchase, the Bedke/Fox Family Trust owned Birch Island and allowed it to be used by the public. Since the early 1980s, locals had used the location to picnic, swim, camp, and vacation.[1]

2014 purchaseEdit

In 2012, Cards Against Humanity LLC (CAH) fundraised $70,000 (equivalent to $82,622 in 2021) for the Wikimedia Foundation. In the company's announcement of this, they joked that the company could have bought a private island instead (Little Monkey Caye in the Monkey River, Belize). For their 2014 fundraiser, the company brainstormed what gifts could be sent via first-class mail, weigh less than two ounces (57 g), measure within 11.5 by 6 inches (290 mm × 150 mm), and be "really flexible." Remembering their 2012 joke, CAH liaised with the CBRE Group to buy a private island.[2]

Inspired to conserve some small piece of wilderness, raise money for charity, and "make people laugh", CAH bought Birch Island from the Bedke/Fox Family Trust on October 31, 2014[3] for $190,000 (equivalent to $217,482 in 2021).[4] The island, located near Liberty, Maine[2] in St. George Lake (within sight of Maine State Route 3),[1] was renamed Hawaii 2 because "it's the Maine island".[3] Though Google Maps updated the name upon seeing the deed, CAH forwent filing with the United States Board on Geographic Names because of the time involved and "[a]pparently, geographic name changes must benefit the community, by honoring a local hero or something."[2]

ControversyEdit

That year CAH organized a fundraiser called "Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa" wherein participants contributed $15 (equivalent to $17.17 in 2021) to receive ten "mystery gifts"; $1 of the donation was given to the Sunlight Foundation.[5] The tenth gift, sent to approximately 250,000 people, were certificates entitling the bearer to one square foot (0.093 m2) of Hawaii 2: "You may name your square foot of land. You may use the entire private island for passive, non-commercial, non-motorized recreational activities [...] You may tell people at parties that you own part of a private island."[3]

The island's official website clarifies that certificate-holders do not actually own any of Hawaii 2 (Hawaii 2, LLC being the sole owner), but that they "have rights to use it as a license holder."[6] In February 2015, CAH explained that though they initially wanted to deed one-square-foot parcels to their contributors, too many factors stood in the way of this (e.g. their mailing budget, rights of way, legal liability for the landowners, the nearby town of Liberty being owed taxes on 250,000 parcels, 6,000 pounds (2,700 kg) of paperwork needed, and the rights of landowners to develop their plot against the conservationist wishes of CAH).[2]

According to Liberty's code-enforcement office, the town considers the certificate licenses to have been sold, and that "the island 'continues to be advertised and marketed.'" Liberty official Donald Harriman told the Bangor Daily News (BDN) that some license-holders had trespassed in order to reach Hawaii 2, though he didn't know whether the Waldo County sheriff's office was involved. In spring 2015, the code-enforcement office wrote to CAH "and gave them until April 15 to cease all commercial activity on the island, revoke the 250,000 'licenses' that grant the exclusive use of 1 square foot of land and remove the shed and platform from its present location." Harriman claimed that, failing this, CAH could face fines of $625 million per day (equivalent to about $714M in 2021). Harriman also accused CAH of "unpermitted commercial use [...] on Birch Island [sic], in violation of the Liberty Shoreland Ordinance, [...] The entire scheme appears to be a development and/or divisions of land for profit with the possibility of intense use at various times." CAH had not responded to the town by April 10, though two months before Liberty's letter CAH had posted on tumblr saying that not only had they purchased Hawaii 2 for conservation, but the company also "joined the local Liberty Lake Association, and we'll work with them to deal with any issues as they come up."[4]

By April 2015, CAH's empty safe—previously containing "sloth cards" and a bottle of Scotch whisky for visitors—had been removed from Hawaii 2, and the company had updated their rules for the island to include allowable hours and prohibitions against leaving or removing anything. By that August, the BDN reported that despite locals' fears, Waldo County, Liberty, and Hawaii 2 had not been overrun, and "[t]he island remained peaceful and free of litter". Liberty Selectman Steve Chapin told the newspaper that Liberty lawyers were still working with Cards Against Humanity "to work out between ourselves some land use agreement that’s acceptable to them and us".[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Curtis, Abigail (September 4, 2015). "Welcome to paradise: Liberty gets used to Hawaii 2". Bangor Daily News. Liberty, Maine. ISSN 0892-8738. Archived from the original on November 29, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Bane, Jenn (February 4, 2015). "Cards Against Humanity's Private Island". Cards Against Humanity LLC. Archived from the original on December 10, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Anderson, J. Craig (December 24, 2014). "Cards Against Humanity buys remote Maine island, calls it 'Hawaii 2'". Portland Press Herald. OCLC 9341113. Archived from the original on November 28, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2019. A holiday fundraising campaign grants each participant the 'exclusive' license to 1 square foot of the island.
  4. ^ a b Curtis, Abigail (April 10, 2015). "Cards Against Humanity's breakup of Maine island stirs controversy". Bangor Daily News. Liberty, Maine. ISSN 0892-8738. Archived from the original on December 20, 2016. Retrieved April 17, 2019.
  5. ^ "Cards Against Humanity Buys 6-Acre Maine Island". Augusta, Maine. Associated Press. December 24, 2014. Archived from the original on April 29, 2022. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  6. ^ "Welcome to Hawaii 2". Cards Against Humanity LLC. Archived from the original on January 5, 2019. Retrieved April 17, 2019.

External linksEdit