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Showing posts from 2014

Local Lights and Quaker Quirks

This week Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center is in the midst of a perfect trifecta:
Being the locale for a gathering of the Friends Committee on Maine Public Policy on Saturday, having families for MFW (Meeting for Worship); a first day about various celebrations of light; and lighting our new (solar) light for Lima as part of a world-wide climate action vigil on Sunday.a rental this coming Saturday featuring a local preschool's family holiday gathering.   With these three events we address concerns common to Friends, outreach to families and have a rental which helps support us. It's a busy time for me, juggling everything from cooking latkas for the family program, booking rentals, decorating for winter, to shoveling the ramp before an event -- the usual sort of things for outreach.

But the best part this week has been the chance for reflection that conversations with new people bring. Meeting regulars have been asked, "Is Meeting for Christians?" and "Can I doo…

Un-Grounded, Un-Earthed, Un-Believable!

I'm pleased to announce our upcoming speakers are environmental activists Sarah Lachance (left), Lee Chisholm (center), and Hilary Clark (right).
Un-Grounded, Un-Earthed, Un-Believable! Tar Sands Mining and its Effects on a People, a Place, a Planet Sunday, November 23, at 12:30pm Midcoast Friends Meetinghouse 77 Belvedere Road, Damariscotta

Three Maine environmental activists will recount their experience of participating in last summer’s Healing Walk organized by Canadian First Nations peoples. Lee Chisholm, Hilary Clark and Sarah LaChance will share their photos and stories of a remote homeland sacred to dozens of Canadian First Nations tribes where  a vast and devastating industrial operation the size of Florida is underway.  They witnessed how the open-pit mining of the tar sands has created a wasteland that is sickening and robbing the culture and way of life of indigenous peoples. It is also destroying the boreal forest habitat for many wildlife species.  They’ll show how this…

Supporting Families on Sundays

Update: The winter storm created a magical backdrop while the children created delicious applesauce! The storm thinned out our numbers a bit, but the Meetinghouse was warm and the day was a success--and I'll be better prepared with a "snow date" for our next session, just in case. 

What do families and children need for a successful Meeting for Worship experience?

We (some of the over-50 crowd in the Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center) have been asking parents. You would think, so many of us having been parents with young children in the past, we would have a pretty good idea already--and I think we do. 
But ... It's been a while since we've had to encourage a toddler to keep their shoes on, finish their breakfast and go to the potty before wrestling them into a car seat for the drive to Meeting. It's easy to forget how many demands parents face establishing a family and career and how little "quiet time" this generation gets! 
So, this is our recip…

Bringing it Home ...

Many of us were involved in the People's Climate March on September 21, including Andy. She returned with stories, pictures, and enthusiasm for, as she says, "bringing it home." Andy's the impetus behind this program:


An estimated 400,000 people filled the streets of New York City two weeks ago, calling for world leaders to take bold action on global climate change. More than 1000 Mainers of all ages joined them, traveling by bus, bicycle, train, and carpool.

On Thursday, Oct. 9 at 7pm, several of those march participants from the midcoast will share their personal stories and reflections from the historic event, bringing the energy and inspiration back home. Joining them will be activists from the Damariscotta and Boothbay areas, who are working on exciting local energy solutions that will help area residents and businesses lower their energy use.

A short film narrated by Morgan Freeman that opened th…

Rachel’s New Elderwalk Program Begins

Rachel McGinness knows that staying mobile is very important, especially for the elderly. She understands that a chance to socialize and get a little movement can lift spirits as well as activity levels. Plus, she makes delicious soup! Rachel holds a free “Elderwalk” twice a month, here at the Meetinghouse.
Rachel provides a delicious home-made soup luncheon, some warm conversation, and a chance to walk the nature paths or, in inclement weather, step to music or engage in gentle body movement indoors. In preparation, we've mowed walking paths through our meadow and around the building. Some of the trails are easier than others, but we've put out some wooden rockers and benches for rest stops. We've done up a small flyer to give to area "Care" agencies, and are planning to begin advertising the program gradually to be sure not to take on too much work as it starts up.
The first Elderwalk took place September 4th. Rachel served a delicious soup, bread and butter, …

A Service of Remembrance for Michael Brown on Sunday September 7th, 2pm

The Members of Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center, an initiative of the Midcoast Friends (Quaker) Meeting, are shocked and saddened by the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9th.  We grieve for Michael as well as for his family and friends, but also for the larger context in which this shooting took place.
 American society still suffers from the long legacy of racism. African-American communities too often find themselves administrated by insensitive white officials and police departments. With alarming frequency young men of color are stopped, frisked, harassed, booked, and become victims of unjustified lethal force.  Michael Brown was one such victim among many—too many—young people of color to be abused in this manner or killed.
When the people in Ferguson protested this senseless killing, they were met initially by an overwhelming show of military-like force that deepened and exacerbated community tensions.  We deplore the militarization of local police, which i…

Cynthia's Observations

I saw Cynthia stop still and bend down to pick something off the dirt drive at the meetinghouse. She straightened up with a smile and noticed me watching.  "Isn't this a fantastic rock?" she beamed as she held out a smooth, small white granite stone streaked with shining bits of black mica.

It was lovely, I agreed as I handed it back to her. Still smiling, she turned it over in her hand for a bit, marveling at the random distribution of the grains within it, before she pocketed the stone and continued on her way.

My head had been full of rushing thoughts, about almost being late and shopping to do on the way home and generally bracing for the week ahead. Now I was standing in the parking lot, looking at the pebbles on the ground, and smiling.  It was the first time that Cynthia's focus on the beauty around her caused me to share a mindful moment with her. She has a gift that way.

Sometime later, Cynthia learned that my family lived quite near her and asked if we'…

Let Your Life Speak

"Let your life speak."   
I know many Quakers whose faith shapes the choices and decisions they make in their lives. Not just in their activism and engagement in the world but in the less obtrusive undertakings of everyday life.

“Letting” their lives speak sounds almost passive, and it is true that it's not the Quaker way to impose beliefs or proselytize.  But "lives that speak" are not passive. They are active and powerful, because they are pointing the way...  as they work for peace, understanding, equality, justice. They lead, by following their Inner Teacher. Quakers witness. 
Many of the people at Midcoast Meeting are inspired people whose lives are active and whose stories are awesome. We're hoping to have some of them share about their lives and work at the Meetinghouse. I'll try and share some of their stories here, too.  

From "Away"

There's a shorthand that the locals sometimes use, here in Maine.

If a local tells you someone is "from away" it might explain that stranger's sense of urgency, determination or downright despair (What do you mean, you've sold out of the lobster special? Can't you send someone out for more?).

For many years, I qualified for another local euphemism: I was a "summer person."  (I often quipped that I was only a real person in the summer!)  Coming here to recharge and regroup each year meant a lot of dealing with maintaining the summer camp, squirrel generations who felt as proprietary as we did, and having only summer glimpses of people we knew "since forever." Our sense of place and awareness of the briefness of our visit kept us mindful of our blessings here. Our annual migration north sustained us in many ways.

Now that I've settled in Midcoast, I know how our Meeting enjoys a summer influx of new visitors and old friends. Although thi…

5267 Pounds of Carbon

The Meetinghouse was built in 1995.  Its rooms were designed to resonate with the older, simple structures of traditional meetinghouses. It is light, airy, and open.

But it is a modern structure The vaulted ceilings in the Worship room include a hearing amplification system microphone. The wide window has a projection screen ready to scroll down out of its upper recesses. The building alarm system will dial out for help in the event of power loss or other troubles. There is an electric car charging station in our parking area and WiFi throughout. The 21st century touches still don't overwhelm the sense of place.

It is also a structure built and maintained in concert with the Quaker testimony of Stewardship.* Those are compact flourescent or LED bulbs in the downlights. Solar fixtures light the walkway. Our windows are cleaned with cornstarch and water.  And, yes, that's a set of solar panels on our roof!

The three 175W solar panels are offsetting a significant portion of our el…

Minding the Meadow

The Meeting has been maintaining a field habitat for years.  It's an important ecosystem to protect. The number of wildflowers, grasses, insects and other creatures it supports is huge. We keep the ecosystem from converting to woodlands by mowing it down once a year.  That keeps woody plants from taking over this sunny grassland.

We regularly mow paths through and around the meadow to give visitors a chance to discover its beauty up close. Some of us actually cheer on the bees and hopefully watch for monarchs to come and eat the milkweed. We notice the "galls" created in stems of goldenrod that safely house developing insect larva. These insects at the bottom of the food chain will help feed young birds and other field critters. Highly nutritious seeds from the wildflowers will provide sustenance for fall and winter inhabitants. This field is home to many interdependent species of plants and animals.

This summer we are encouraging our meadow ecosystem to reclaim some sp…

Mixed Media Studio Art with Judith Imm

I am having a fantastic time getting to know Judith and her art!  She's another Midcoast Friends Meeting person (I previously posted about Carl, and I owe you a post about our newly blogging poet, George) and a delight to scheme with. Judith is fascinating, talented, and extremely encouraging. I'm pasting a flyer below with our first foray into summer art classes:

Visual artist Judith Imm comes to Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center on Tuesday mornings this summer.  Judith brings her mastery of many techniques and tools, a belief in the joy of art making, and in the power of an artist’s vision to communicate deeply felt emotions and ideas. As she says, “It’s simply freeing.”
Judith invites beginning and experienced artists to come share a still life exploration for a series of 3-hour studio experiences.  Since Judith is versed in so many media, she leaves your choice of media (i.e. watercolor, oil stick, pastel, acrylics) up to you!
Judith, educated at the Chelsea School of Art i…


The calendar on the lobby wall at the meetinghouse lists "NVC" from 6:30 to 8:30 on the first and third Mondays each month. I puzzled about it, since I didn't recognize the handwriting. Before I had a chance to ask many people about it, though, I found a note on my desk from Carl. It said he'd like to talk to me about NVC.  How serendipitous!
It turns out that Carl has been facilitating a small group of people who gather at the Meetinghouse on the first and third Mondays of each month. They’ve been meeting for 10 years or more. They share a reading the first Monday, exploring a chapter of a book together, but they aren’t an ordinary “book group.”  On the third Monday of the month, they put into practice the techniques in the most recent reading—giving each other a chance to hone their skills in an "empathy circle." Carl donated two copies of the book they are using and told me a little about the history of the group.  The book is Marshall B. Rosenberg’s Nonvi…

Reaching IN … for Outreach

One of the underlying theories of hiring an outreach coordinator is that having someone IN the building will encourage the surrounding community to come on in.  I’m a bit of a welcome mat, in that way.  
So, the space is set up:  The building has internet and WiFi. I’ve figured out how to work the answering machine.I’m in the building 8 hours a week. I’ve printed business cards and bookmarks.I can program the heating system up to a week ahead of time.  Enhancing children’s spaces, both inside and out. Setting up a welcoming work space for me.  Just yesterday, I found myself smiling when I noticed people stopping in the space for a conversation, or heading for my desk and finding that stack of scrap paper and pen I had left there on purpose.  We are seeing about maybe getting our phone number put on a sign outside.  No more hiding under a bushel! 
Once people come inside, of course, we want an enriching connection for all of us, whether it is for a one-time rental, an art class, or a st…

Open House

Come meet me, make a "May basket," see the facility, and enjoy a refreshing treat! May 4th, 1:30-3:00, 77 Belvedere Road, Damariscotta.

There's lots of activity planned for our beautiful spot. Additions to the play yard are being installed (a sandbox and a music-making station), some summer activities are scheduled, and I've started opening the Meetinghouse during the week. Meanwhile, early flowers are beginning to push their way through today's coating of snow!

Next steps are being envisioned, and our Center's Program Committee is ready to gear up.  Just wait until they hear some of the project ideas I've heard floating around!  I'll let you know, too, once they get underway.

Ready, Set ... Staff!

Today I changed the answering machine message on the Midcoast Friends Meeting phone to include the Outreach and Peace Center details.  I'll be at the Center M/W from 10-2 for a start. Those hours will be supplemented with volunteers and special events, too.

There are:
Four monthly family Friendly activities already in the planning stages;
Three additions to the play yard being plotted out;
Two days a week when the building is staffed and open to the public (Monday/Wed 10-2);
One beautiful location with play yard, memorial garden, nature path, fields, and 24/7 WiFi

Upcoming blog posts will have more details about those events already in the planning stages!

What Do You Get When You Give Quakers WiFi?

At least here at Midcoast Friends Meeting, you get an amazing number of people pulling out a handheld device and checking it out!  There were Friends taking snaps of each other and sharing them, talking about fair access in the digital age, and walking out into the parking lot to map the signal strength.

We installed cable internet and a wireless modem earlier this month, so we can now stream video and Skype presentations, too. I hope you'll stop by and check it out!  The Wifi is free and available 24/7 from the porch, the play yard, and the parking lot, as well as in the building.

Midcoast Outreach and Peace Center Hires Coordinator

Members of the Midcoast Meeting of Friends' Oversight Committee on Outreach hire an Outreach Coordinator: ME!

I'll be setting up some space at Midcoast Meetinghouse (77 Belvedere Road, Damariscotta) and getting ready to help their vision of a vibrant, supportive Outreach and Peace Center expand.  I know the meeting has already been very active presenting programming in area venues and expect there will be lots of help as we bring home some of our expertise. I start April 1st.  More details (like office hours) to come as we work them out!