Earth Day Festival: Farmington’s Coachella

By Autumn St.Pierre, Contributing Writer

Recently, the Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC) hosted the Earth Day Festival at UMF to celebrate the environment with the campus and the community.

“It is meant to be an educational and fun event that allows people to enjoy music, food, and speakers while enjoying the outdoors,” said sophomore Kelly Toomey, a student leader of SCC.

Earth Day is one of SCC’s largest events and it has been put on for at least five years. “This year we had UMF students and alumni speaking on behalf of the importance of water conservation and eliminating food waste,” said Toomey.

The speakers included Louise Villemont, Donald Hutchins, and Holden Cookson. There were performances by Matt Hernandez, Clefnotes, Nuclear Salad, and members of the UMF Live Music Club.

A lot of preparation goes into this event. “We need to reserve a location at the beginning of the semester, and from there we have to find a set list of UMF musicians, plan a menu of local food, organize speakers, and gather prizes to raffle off,” said Toomey.

“This year we raffled off Fiddlehead Festival t-shirts, fruit and vegetable seeds, and free movie passes to Narrow Gauge Cinemas.”

Next year SCC would like to have the event earlier in the day to have warmer weather and more daylight.

“We would also like to organize some speakers from the community, people that have worked in the sustainability field that could really give us some good insight,” said Toomey. “Next year we would also like to have a 100% local menu.”

Sodexo generously sponsored the event this year with food mostly local to Maine. “Overall, the Earth Day event has been going strong and we really enjoy the relaxed nature of the event,” said Toomey.

SCC puts on several sustainability events every semester. Toomey and a co-worker pick up all of the food waste from the dining hall and bring it to the Farmington Cooperative Compost site. Compost gets delivered to the UMF pile three times a week.

SCC also maintains projects such as the Thrifty Beaver, a new thrift store and food pantry for students and staff.

Professor Lucas Kellett, co-leader of SCC with professor Drew Barton, have been involved with the club for five years. Kellett oversees the paid students. “We have eight of them right now,” said Kellett.

Kellett helps coordinate events with the community. “It’s mostly a student run organization,” said Kellett. “I’m basically there as an advisor and to facilitate what they want to happen.”

Along with effectively maintaining projects, plans for the next academic year include SCC adapting new ones like a campus garden or greenhouse.

“We want to keep things going, keep that wheel of sustainability going,” said Kellett.

SCC meetings are held every Monday and Friday at 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room 113 in the Education Center. The SCC offers paid and volunteer positions.

UMF Beavers Show Off Their Talent

By Lakota Monzo, Contributing Writer

Recently, Lincoln Auditorium was packed with people eager to see what the UMF Spring Fling Committee had in store during the annual talent show.

The doorway to the auditorium was decorated with long strings of white squares that tangled people up as they tried to enter. Green balloons, held up by strings to the chairs floated around, each was painted with a black alien face. The bottom of the stage had multicolored flashing lights hanging off it. Everyone was talking very loudly to their neighbor in excitement anticipating what they were about to see.

The talent show is a way for all the students to show their talents to an accepting group of friends. The show is hosted by the Campus Residence Council.

Kayla Tremblay, head of Spring Fling said, “it is definitely a group effort setting up for the talent show.”

This is her third year on the Spring Fling Committee. “This year I am so excited as a junior to be the head of such a big part of the UMF culture,” said Tremblay.

The positive atmosphere made it so all the performers were comfortable. The night showcased many different acts; singers, comedians, a rifle spinner, and a psychic reading. Each act was special in its own way, and ended with a loud applause from the cheering audience.

“It was so much fun to watch all the different kinds of acts,” said Emileigh Parsons, an audience member.

Many of the performers found it hard to find time to practice their routines. Collin Regan, a singer in the show, had the opposite problem.

“The song had a couple parts where it started to hit the top of my range, so I had to be careful not to over sing, or practice too much,” said Regan.

After two hours, when all the performers had finished, the judges took a couple minutes to tally up the scores and anticipation hung over the audience. The top three performances went to Mitchell Walston, Lucas Dwornik-Longacre, and Collin Regan. They were all singing acts that contained a lot of heart.

Mitchell Walston, first-place winner, was happy with how the show turned out. He was awed at how many great performers the show featured and their ability to amaze the audience.

“It feels really great to win!” said Walston. “But honestly, there were many other performers who also deserved to be recognized for their fantastic performances.”

Public Library Budget Doesn’t Meet Rising Employment Costs: Hours Cut, Staff Plows Onward

Public Library Budget Doesn’t Meet Rising Employment Costs: Hours Cut, Staff Plows Onward

By Savannah Bachelder, Contributing Writer

The Farmington Public Library on Academy Street. (Photo by Savannah Bachelder)

The Farmington Public Library on Academy Street. (Photo by Savannah Bachelder)

While the Farmington Public Library looks the same on outside, regular patrons will find both organizational changes and improvements within. However, there will be less time each week for visitors to enjoy these changes after weekly hours of operation were recently cut to make up for the rising employment costs associated with the statewide minimum wage increase among other issues. The library staff and board of directors are currently working to organize fundraising and grant-writing efforts to compensate for the funding shortage.

In a recent effort to open up more space, the genealogy room was moved upstairs in order to bring the young-adult section, which is in higher demand, to the first floor. Maurie Stockford, the director of the library, said that everything was moved around to help increase the use of the library. “There was no place for them to just be, to hang out. So we had to move the young adults section,” she explained.

There is tons of open space to walk around and sit at tables in both rooms, with their own study space. The library also received assistance reorganizing the section according to first year staff member Elena Kohout. “They are categorized by genre now, thanks to the Upward Bound students,” Kohout explained.

Other changes were made for the new children’s room as well. Along with the computers and magazines, the old children’s area, is now called the Computer Cafe Room. “The new children’s section used to be the staff’s private room and storage, so now we don’t have a staff room,” said Kohout.

Harley Davis, a senior at UMF, used the library a few times for college work last year, before the changes. “I’ve used the library for their children’s books,” said Davis. “They have a great selection in there, and there’s so much to choose from.”

In addition to these new improvements however, budget constraints have been posing a challenge for the library as of late. Hours of operation were recently decreased due to rising employment costs associated with the statewide minimum wage increase and rising health insurance prices. “The town of Farmington pays for staffing and health insurance,” said Stockford. “Currently, they could not cover for that. So we had asked for more money to cover for it.”

Originally, the library had requested $209,990 to help meet these costs and pay for utility problems, but they were allocated $196,029 instead. While this figure does represent an increase from last year’s budget and the revised budget submitted earlier this year, the difference is not enough to cover the rising employment costs. It was between the beginning of the budget process and the final vote that the library preemptively choose to reduce hours in anticipation of not receiving the full amount of their request.

There were two options of working with a lower budget: to either decrease staff, or to reduce the hours that the library would be open. Already short-staffed, the latter option prevailed. While the $209,990 figure would have covered the elevated employment expenses, the final budget does not, therefore the reduced hours remain.

From Tuesdays through Saturdays, hours changed from 9:30 in the mornings to 10:30 a.m. While in the afternoons, Thursdays have changed from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays were changed from 2:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. The rest of the afternoon times remain the same.

Despite the funding situation and reduced hours, library staffers are keeping their hopes up, and finding more ways to bring in money. “Our board of directors is working on raising activities, like fundraising,” said Stockford. “Another goal would be to write more grants. We are already on the register for historical buildings.”

Kohout mentioned that last year in December, the library also received a generous donation from the Libra Foundation, of $5,000 worth of new computers for the new Computer Cafe Room. “We’ll be setting them up this week,” Kohout said.

Operation Giveback, Students Deliver Final Presentation at Symposium

By Harley Davis, Contributing Writer 

Walking into the Olsen Student Center, the building was buzzing with activity. Students, faculty, and community members all gathered for symposium day, where students would give short presentations of the work completed over the semester. A large number of people filed into CR 123, took a seat, and waited for the culminating presentation of Operation Giveback, a semester-long campaign to bring awareness to poverty in Franklin County.

Stephen Riitano, president of the Student Maine Education Association (MEA), stepped up to the podium and began explaining the impact of Operation Giveback. For this project, UMF’s Student MEA worked throughout the semester to raise awareness of poverty and provide relief for local families.

The campaign kicked-off in January with a panel discussion about poverty in Franklin County and the resources available to its citizens. This event was followed by a clothing drive and a performance by Maine comedian and UMF alum, Bob Marley. The funds raised through Marley’s show went toward Packs for Progress, an initiative which donates backpacks to local students in need.

Operation Giveback officially ended with the symposium presentation, but the effect of the semester-long campaign will continue on for much longer.

For Riitano, organizing Operation Giveback was an educational and eye-opening experience. “I think the biggest thing I have learned is how lucky I am for all the things that I have in my life and all the things I take for granted everyday,” said Riitano. “I learned that no one wants to be in poverty, and education is a way out of poverty.”

Operation Giveback was successful in providing goods to children and adults in the local community. Throughout the semester, the Student MEA was able to donate twenty bags of clothes from its clothing drive, while ticket sales from the Bob Marley performance raised over one thousand dollars. “I think if we helped one person or educated one person, then it was successful,” said Riitano. “I think the local community is growing more and more aware of the growing issues that are taking place outside the walls of campus.”

Moving forward, the Student MEA will continue striving to improve the community through the education of pre-service teachers. As their recent campaign  stressed time and time again, education is vitally important. “We are looking to bring a plethora of resources here to campus for pre-service teachers,” said Riitano. “Through our affiliation through the MEA we have access to many speakers and other helpful resources for professional development, those opportunities are priceless and they start now.”

While next semester will bring new students and new campaigns to clubs on campus, lessons taken from Operation Giveback will continue to inform the work of Student MEA. “My biggest takeaway was learning the impact that a group of like-minded people with a goal can make,” said Riitano. “It takes a village, but that village has to be full of dedicated individuals.”

The Student MEA is working to join with other on-campus clubs to give back to the community. For more information about future events from Student MEA, the club can be reached at umfstudentmea@gmail.com.

St. Clair Visits UMF, Tells of Long Battle to Establish Controversial Katahdin National Monument

St. Clair Visits UMF, Tells of Long Battle to Establish Controversial Katahdin National Monument

By Jessica McKenna, Contributing Writer

Lucas St.Clair speaks at UMF about developing Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument. (Photo by Jessica McKenna)

Lucas St.Clair speaks at UMF about developing Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument. (Photo by Jessica McKenna)

Students, faculty, and community members slowly trickled into the C-23 auditorium in Roberts recently to learn first-hand the story of how Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument became a reality from speaker Lucas St. Clair, son of well-known Burt’s Bees co-founder Roxanne Quimby. St. Clair’s family donated the 87,500 acres comprising the monument which was officially designated by President Obama last summer, following a lengthy local debate over the issue. St. Clair used his time to explain the long road leading up to their recent success.

The room went completely dark with the only light coming from the projector screen, a small kerosene lamp was lit and brought the audience from day to night as they witnessed a journey through Katahdin Woods and Water National Monument. The lights came up and Lucas St. Clair stood before the audience in a blue checkered dress shirt and jeans that were worn around the pockets outlining his wallet and phone. He wasted no time jumping into his family’s history and stories of growing up in a hand built log cabin with no water or electricity in Dover-Foxcroft. His mother and father moved from the West Coast to Maine in the 1950s buying 60 acres of land in Piscataquis County classifying themselves as “hippies”.

While attending Gould Academy in Bethel, St. Clair found his passion for the outdoors. “I spent more time outside than in the classroom,” he said. This passion lead him to hike the Appalachian Trail. While hiking through the 100-mile wilderness in Maine, St. Clair found that the long stretch from Baxter State Park to Monson was not truly wild. The family decided to start a plan to protect and preserve the natural beauty of the Maine woods.

Fear and anxiety swept through Maine’s small towns when a proposed map of the park was released to the public. In 2001 Roxanne Quimby had a meeting to discuss the park with Governor Angus King on Sept 11. The meeting was cut short due to the terrorist attacks and Quimby took that as a sign to put the park on hold. After selling Burt’s Bee’s she started mapping out a revised version of the proposed park. Yet again she was met with opposition when local newspapers labeled her as an out-of-stater bad mouthing Maine on a national level. This was the last straw and Quimby turned the fight over to her son Lucas with a deadline of the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service.

St. Clair spent his time talking to locals and compiling reports about Maine recreation and the economics of surrounding towns. “I basically camped out in the Katahdin region for four years,” said St. Clair, explaining his efforts to talk to people and gather support for the project. Through these informal talks St. Clair found out the wants and needs of the towns and its people and that of the Native American tribes in the area. A bill was drafted for the park but failed in the legislature.

St. Clair turned his sights towards the Obama Administration and asked for help through the use of the Antiquities Act to establish the park. A five-hour public meeting was held in Orono with 1,400 in attendance. “I had many people poking their fingers in my chest telling me I was ruining their community,” said St. Clair. The meeting concluded with the majority being in support of the park with only 12 of the 450 comment cards opposing.

The White House and St. Clair then entered the legal minefield of right-of-way and liability issues that accompanied the donation of the land to the government. The park was finally established and is the only national park that allows hunting, truly catering to the Maine communities that surround it.

Professor Linda Beck, who organized the talk with St. Clair, attended with her Environmental Politics class and said, “Some (students) were actually quite surprised, they had anticipated not liking or agreeing with him but found his presentation and story quite compelling.”

Throughout the talk laptop keys were clicking at rapid fire and pages of notepads were filled as quickly as they could be turned. Students and professors struggled to record the enthralling story. Professor Wendy Harper attended the talk with her Environmental & Resource Economics class and was pleased with how St. Clair’s story could influence her students. “I think students always benefit when they hear from folks who make things happen,” she said, “particularly those who “learn by doing” and have a great passion for their work.”

In recent news, while establishment of the park was secured under the Obama administration’s use of the Antiquities Act, according to a report from the Portland Press Herald, there is a possibility that the designation could be reviewed by the Trump administration along with a list other monuments. While there were conflicting comments from the Department of the Interior regarding whether or not the Katahdin monument is on this list, St. Clair says that he is confident that the project would stand on its own merits even if reviewed.

Electromagnetic Field Exposure: The Invisible Public Health Epidemic

By Lindsay Mower, Staff Reporter

In 2017, humans in modern society find themselves in a contemplative state of addiction to a diversity of electromagnetic field (EMF) sources: i.e. mobile technology, which ex- poses them to various doses of radiation on a daily basis. This public health phenomenon, a large topic of discussion among UMF students in the classroom with Community Health Education professor Dr. Maurice Martin, can be supported by an article published online in 2012 by Myung Chan Gye and Chan Jin Park which examines the effects of EMF exposure on the reproductive system.

The findings of the article indicate that EMF exposure alters reproductive parameters of the human body, including male germ cell death, the estrous cycle, reproductive endocrine hormones, sperm motility and overall pregnancy success, among other areas. Of course, these biological effects differ according to frequency and wave, strength and duration of exposure.

Martin believes the implications of the article’s findings are of immediate concern. “A reduction in testosterone has the effect of making it a much more androgynous society, which is more likely to espouse a feminist paradigm,” says Martin. “It throws the balance of nature off. I think that masculine behaviors, that might not be positive all the time, certainly are needed at some points.”

Like any public health concern, there lies a political aspect to this invisible epidemic: the 1996 Telecommunications Act crafted under the Clinton administration, with help from The Wireless Industry, which states that no health or environmental concern can interfere with the placement of telecom equipment, such as cell towers and antenna.

“There was a motion put on the floor of the house in Washington saying that we really need to study the effects of electromagnetic radiation further. The house Republicans immediately came up with an embargo, or a block, against any reports that could identify health issues to stop the construction of cell towers and all mobile technology,” explains Martin.

For public health research purposes, this basically resulted in the federal government being prohibited in studying the effects of electromagnetic radiation if they want any kind of funding at all. This is why no research can be seen from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The 1996 act is still in place today.

In addition to EMF exposure remains a very visible health effect caused by modern society’s addiction to technology: a lack of physical activity. “There are only so many hours in the day. If you’re spending eight of those online, you don’t have much time to be physically active at all,” says Martin, warning that it should come as no surprise when we see the increased development of chronic disease in the near future. “We are going to start having fewer years in our life,” says Martin.

Acknowledging the reality, which is that most of our jobs and livelihoods depend upon this type of technology, Martin also believes it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to back up from it. “The type of addiction to technology that is seen in millennials has developed through the use of screen time from infancy, onward. I believe that there are pathways in the brain that are deeply rooted, and that have now been formulated for digital processing,” he says. “Myself, I’m not that interested, but I think that when little children learn it early on, it just becomes a habit. I don’t think that they can help it.”

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