|Location||St. George Lake|
Liberty, Maine, US
|Area||6 acres (2.4 ha)|
|Hours: 6 am – 8 pm|
Hawaii 2 (previously Birch Island) is a six-acre (2.4 ha) private island in 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 nearby town of Liberty, Maine threatened the games company with hundreds-of-millions in fines for code violations.
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.
In 2012, Cards Against Humanity LLC (CAH) fundraised $70,000 (equivalent to $76,392 in 2018) 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.
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 for $190,000 (equivalent to $201,084 in 2018). The island, located near Liberty, Maine in St. George Lake (within sight of Maine State Route 3), was renamed Hawaii 2 because "it's the Maine island". Though Google Maps updated the name upon seeing the deed, CAH forewent 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."
That year CAH organized a fundraiser called "Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa" wherein participants contributed $15 (equivalent to $15.88 in 2018) to receive ten "mystery gifts"; $1 of the donation was given to the Sunlight Foundation. 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."
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." 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).
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 $661M in 2018). 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."
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".
- Curtis, Abigail (2015-09-04). "Welcome to paradise: Liberty gets used to Hawaii 2". Bangor Daily News. Liberty, Maine. ISSN 0892-8738. Archived from the original on 2016-11-29. Retrieved 2019-04-17. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Bane, Jenn (2015-02-04). "Cards Against Humanity's Private Island". Cards Against Humanity LLC. Archived from the original on 2018-12-10. Retrieved 2019-04-17. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Anderson, J. Craig (2014-12-24). "Cards Against Humanity buys remote Maine island, calls it 'Hawaii 2'". Portland Press Herald. OCLC 9341113. Archived from the original on 2018-11-28. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
A holiday fundraising campaign grants each participant the 'exclusive' license to 1 square foot of the island.Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Curtis, Abigail (2015-04-10). "Cards Against Humanity's breakup of Maine island stirs controversy". Bangor Daily News. Liberty, Maine. ISSN 0892-8738. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2019-04-17. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Cards Against Humanity Buys 6-Acre Maine Island". Augusta, Maine: CBS Connecticut. Associated Press. 2014-12-28. Archived from the original on 2019-04-17. Retrieved 2019-04-17. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Welcome to Hawaii 2". Cards Against Humanity LLC. Archived from the original on 2019-01-05. Retrieved 2019-04-17. Cite uses deprecated parameter