The New Commons Project: Will it continue?

The New Commons Project: Will it continue?

By Charity Webster, Contributing Writer.

The New Commons Project in collaboration with the Maine Humanities Council is facing the end of its five year grant this spring, at which point the public humanities initiative will be forced to adapt or conclude. The New Commons Project is a humanities initiative that brings cultural works to UMF.

“At this point we don’t know what the post-grant future will look like, but I am very hopeful that someone will want to build on the success of the New Commons Project and apply for a follow-up grant,” Co-director and co-author for the grant Kristen Case said.

Case has been with the project from the beginning.  The total budget for the grant which was provided by the Mellon Foundation was $500,000. The grant was used to hire project coordinators Dr. Stephen Grandchamp and Dr. Erika Rodriguez. Other expenses included paying visiting scholars and artists who come to campus events.

“Part of the intent of the grant is to bring world-class speakers and performers to the area, giving both students and community members opportunities to engage cultural works in ways they wouldn’t otherwise be able to in a small, rural town,” Case said. “We wanted to do something to foster the sense of the university as a resource not only for students but also for the wider community.”

The project has provided avenues for community engagement and opportunities for individuals to come together and have otherwise difficult conversations in a safe place. She said they are extremely proud specifically about the conversations the New Commons Project has fostered around race, immigration, and Indigenous history. Each month they feature one of the 24 cultural works that were proposed by students, faculty and members within the community.

“The hope is to continue it not exactly as it is but in some capacity when the grant runs out” said Co-Director, Stephen Grandchamp.

Currently with The New Common Project and Co-Sponsored with Emery Hall is a cultural work called Reimagining Real. UMF assistant professor of Visual Arts Ann Bartges and Emery director Kristen Case curate “a broad survey of artworks by local and nationally-recognized artists engaging the legacy of realism in the 21st century, continuing, complicating or contesting this tradition.” (Found on the Emery Community Arts Page). This exhibition is free and open to the public till October 21st. Also coming soon are workshops on artist Andrew Whyeth and his painting “Christina’s World”

All events are free and open to the public. for more information.

New all-access trail around Prescott Field

New all-access trail around Prescott Field

By Adrienne Foss, Contributing Writer.

A pre-existing trail surrounding Prescott Field has recently been extended by over half a mile to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act standards and regulations. The highly trafficked trail is used by people all around the community, and the adaptations made will benefit nearly 40% of the Franklin County population according to project organizers.

The High Peaks Alliance is a non-profit organization that played a vital role in the creation of this trail. The organization wanted to know how they could improve the overall accessibility of this piece of land that so many people were already enjoying.

“We realized that there were no accessible trails in all of Franklin County,” Executive Director of the High Peaks Alliance Brent West said. He believes that more people need to get outside and to feel comfortable in the environment they’re in, and having safe and accessible trails is one of the first steps towards meeting that goal.  “We hope that the work we do allows for more people to have more opportunities,” West said.

Gina Oswald has worked as a professor in Rehabilitation Services for three years at the University of Maine at Farmington. She has been working for and with people with disabilities for nearly 22 years, and she is always looking for ways to improve general accessibility and to remain inclusive. Oswald has also been a board member of the High Peaks Alliance since 2020 and has since been making extensive contributions to the accessibility aspects of the community. She has worked closely with West to see that this project comes to life. “Being in the field for so long, not only does it keep me passionate about these things, but it keeps me informed about what is and isn’t accessible for all,” Oswald said. “The world is a better place when everybody has the same opportunities and access.”

The ADA trail received funding and grants from multiple organizations in Maine, including the High Peaks Alliance and the Northern Forest Center. The Northern Forest Center provided a $50,000 grant to go towards the project, and the High Peaks Alliance fundraised the rest of the cost. The project added up to a total of $96,000.

The trail now extends from Front Street to the Narrow Gauge parking lot, and it consists of crushed natural and local rock that gives the appearance of smooth pavement. This now provides a safer and more reliable surface for people using a wheelchair, walker, or stroller. There was also a concerted effort to include braille, sign language, and tactile, along with other languages like French and Wabanaki on the informational signs around the trails.

The High Peaks Alliance is constantly seeking additional funding for future projects, and there are big plans for both the Farmington area and Franklin County as a whole.

“We have smaller local goals along with bigger and more grand hopes and dreams,” Oswald said.


Horoscopes – September 2021

By Autumn Koors Foltz, Staff Writer and Astrologer.

Consider Libra season a breath of fresh air. Ruled by Venus, Libra is an air sign positioned in cardinality. Cardinal signs come at the beginning of the season, and inspire a push into new experiences with strength. The goddess of romance and pleasure ruling the season, consider this a time to evaluate your relationships. Where is the balance to be found in them? Do you take as much as you give? As the moon moves into both Taurus and then Gemini in the following days, use this as the basis for the stock taken in relationships. Taurus urges stability. Gemini asks for intellect and sociality. Trust yourself, and let the stars move you. On September 27th, Mercury will go into retrograde until October 17th. Retrograde describes the illusion caused by Earth’s placement, where a planet appears to be moving reversely across the sky. Mercury is the planet of communication, so the retrograde is traditionally associated with problems in this area — love letters gone missing, cues gone misinterpreted, professional frustration. Use this as an opportunity to hone patience. Remember: the retrograde is only an illusion. Mercury is still moving as it began.



Familiar with Libra season in your own cardinality, allow yourself to take the season of your polar with charge. The first of the 12 zodiacs, think beyond your first impression: how do you let others see your flame?



As the year begins to wane, don’t get lost in the mud, Taurus. Sprout yourself from the hardening Earth and establish yourself.



Let go of the desire to know someone fully, or not at all, Gemini. Allow yourself, and others, to take control of their image. What may at first seem hidden can be with good reason.



In the season of another cardinal sign, expect your world to become packed to the point of clutter. Be aware of your desire to either shut things out or control them completely: Cancer, dear water sign, not everything must be underwater.



Feel your innate, fiery charisma blossom under the watch of Venus — but don’t forget the rooting of your fixed sign. Be decisive. Be edgeful.



Don’t feel your grip on the world loosen as your mutable, changeable season fades, Virgo. You have strewn yourself in your own Earth and will begin your fall-time blossom.



Libra, be cutting. The wind must lash at times, and so should you. Do not let your desire for balance be mistaken as a desire for nothing at all. Even in your own season, do not feel hesitant to declare yourself and presence.



You don’t need to love everyone so deep you lose yourself in everyone. Shut your lips, stop your kissing. Turn into yourself, Scorpio.



Sagittarius, nobody will follow you when you burn the path behind you. Don’t put the fire in your sign, but learn to capture its warmth: not its char.



Something in the air is changing, Capricorn. Let it. Don’t feel compelled to work everything to same: newness can serve just as beautifully in direction.



Aquarius, do you ever feel like you’re speaking to the trees? Don’t stop yourself: what those around you won’t understand will not be your own undoing.



If the season changes, Pisces, let it. Don’t become burdened with the truth that nothing stays: not even the moon.

The Bite Me Beaver – September 2021

Dear Bite, I’m a freshman, and currently my roommate is eating all my snacks. I have told them to ask first, but they are repeatedly ignoring my requests. Please, Bite, what should I do? -Woeful Foodie

Well foodie, If I was you I would consider other food options. Moldy cheese, for example or maybe baby food. Just go to the store and put everything that disgusts you in one big cart. I promise that if you don’t want to eat it, your roommate won’t either!


Dear Bite, I’m a freshman, and every Friday the room next to me gets super loud. I don’t want to be a bother, but I usually do want to be able to relax with my roommate during that time, even if it is not quiet hours. What should I do? -Relaxation Station

Well Station,  for now I would recommend that you do nothing. Spend the next few Fridays listening to all the noise, simmering in rage. When you feel that your rage is somewhere between “your father driving” and “stubbing your toe” that’s when you will know it is time to act. Go out and buy some really dark red spray paint, the kind that looks uncomfortably like blood, and spray paint “Noisy people are the first to go” on their door in bold letters. Blood sacrifice and chanting are optional parts of the process, but should be fun nonetheless. Enjoy!


Dear Bite, Recently I’ve started really crushing on this girl, but I don’t really know how to talk to her. We’re only in one class together, and we don’t really have any mutual friends. What do I do? -Big Simp Energy

Well Simp, you’re going about this the wrong way. Small things like getting to know the other person matter little for an enlightened being as yourself. What you need is to make an investment. Put some work in.  Get a full mariachi band to follow her around campus serenading her. Get to know her friends so they can sneak her your romantic poetry. Hire a blimp to ask her on your first date. And of course, if all of this does not work, print out your bank paperwork so you can spend your nights crying over all the money you’ve lost instead of your recent rejection. You can’t be sad for two reasons at once right?

Returning to Normalcy

By Ashley Ward, Assistant Editor and Secretary

FARMINGTON — Students are facing feelings of discomfort this semester as The University of Maine at Farmington campus makes an effort to return to how things were before COVID-19. Throughout the last 18 months, with the introduction and removal of COVID-19 barriers, students have been required to consistently relearn the changing social norms of the UMF campus.

Sophomore Katelyn Ryan said that the biggest change between the previous school year was the use of the campus dining hall. “I knew that seating was coming back but I didn’t realize the tables and chairs would be that close,” Ryan said. “I expected to have the option of grab-and-go more readily available too, it feels like a shock to be sitting down with people and using real plates and utensils.”

Second year students are now tasked with the challenge of relearning the social norms around campus. For upperclassmen, they likely have some amount of pre-pandemic college experience under their belt to pull from, but it can be especially daunting to be in to be a sophomore on campus and having no idea how to do anything, yet feeling pressured to have a sense of stability and social grace.

“It’s definitely something that I’ll have to get used to…I think I expected the adjustment to be more gradual rather than going from a 6-foot distance to a 6-inch distance…it’ll just take some time for me to adjust as someone who’s more introverted,” Ryan said.

Senior Brooke Miller said that one of the few obstacles left separating this school year from a pre-pandemic year is the mask policy. “The mask policy is interesting because it’s almost like a fusion between what I remember campus being like before and what I remember last year as,” Miller said. “It’s still a pandemic, but also feels like it’s not…Sometimes it generates a happy feeling in me, but sometimes it makes me feel frustrated because I want this to be over and for all of us to have done our accountability with COVID-19.

UMF, like all campuses across the country, was forced to adapt to COVID-19 in the spring semester of 2020 without much forewarning. Students, new and returning, waited for updates from administrators regarding what their school year might look like upon the return to campus for Fall 2020. This year, however, students have hope amidst their dismay surrounding the potential return of social freedoms, and such is reflected in the removal of social distancing obstacles campus-wide.