By Anthony Lewis – Contributing Writer
The onset of the fall semester brought the New Commons Project, a public humanities initiative spearheaded by Interim Provost Eric Brown and Associate Professor Kristen Case, and generously funded by the Mellon Foundation.
“For the New Commons Project, we wanted to ask students, faculty, high school students and community members to propose works of culture that we need now,” said Case.
Open to anyone in Maine, the New Commons Project aims to create a canon of 24 works of culture, which can include “novels, paintings, plays, albums, films, performances [and] works of philosophy.”
A project by and for the community, one of the key concepts of the New Commons is the nomination of works that can be applied to modern society in a constructive and meaningful way.
“What are our cultural resources for the moment that we’re living in? What are the things we really need to turn to in this particular moment?” Case asked when describing the questions the New Commons Project tries to answer. “Maybe we need a work to teach us about something, or maybe we need that work because it brings people together, or maybe we need that work because we’re all really stressed out and need something that will make us laugh.”
The project came as a result of an invitation from the Mellon Foundation–a multibillion-dollar endowment that writes grants primarily to private institutions–to have UMF submit a proposal for a highly coveted grant.
Professor Brown, who was tasked with the daunting responsibility of drawing up the proposal, met with a representative from the Mellon Foundation in the fall of 2016.
“Mellon was looking specifically at COPLAC schools,” Brown said. “UMF is part of this Council Of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. President Foster and I had an initial talk wondering if we should go for it. We had to get a preliminary paper to them by mid-January, and this was in mid-December.” Professor Brown smiled and raised his eyebrows, as if to wonder to himself how he ever pulled this off. “We thought that, even though it was going to be a crunch, in the end it was worth doing.”
“The idea of a commons is to have one resource we all have access to and that we all have to care for,” said Case. “The whole idea behind the grant is that we want to think about culture as a commons. We’re looking for something that is not housed at the university. It belongs to everybody.”
The idea that the New Commons Project is rooted in community was echoed by English professor Dan Gunn.
“I think the idea here is to combat the notion that there’s a strict canon controlled by academics, and the value of the humanities as only to do works out of that canon,” said Gunn. “The idea is to think of the humanities as a resource for everyone in the community, and to think of that canon as shifting.”
Music professor Steven Pane expressed a similar sentiment about the project.
“The big misunderstanding in our culture is that somehow, whether it’s Bob Dylan or The Iliad, that these things are what you do in school,” said Pane. “But really it’s what you do in life. Rather than associating this with college, it should be all of ours to share.”
“A lot of times, when people hear about this project, they think ‘oh, this is something for some other kind of person’,” said Professor Case. “Something that is for some person who knows more about culture than I do, or who’s an English major, which is insane. The whole project is designed to counteract the idea that culture is something you have to have special expertise about. Every single person in the world knows about culture.”
Professor Case gets more and more excited as she speaks; her voice rises, her hands gesticulate and a smile flashes across her face. “You live in a culture. You consume it every day. This is really just trying to convince people that the culture they know and care about is what we’re interested in.”
The first round of selections will be made in March of 2018 by a committee including Professor Case, Professor Brown, students and members of the community. The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2018.
Submissions, in the form of 3-4 minute videos, can be uploaded at www.maine.submittable.com/submit.
Lindsay Mower – Staff Reporter
In effort to increase health promotion, some towns have adopted drive-thru bans for fast food establishments. In some communities this type of ban has been around as far back as 1982: like San Luis Obispo, a college town located on the central coast of California.
With a population of 47,526, as compared to Farmington’s population of 7,760, San Luis Obispo is characterized by small shops, happy pedestrians and open sidewalks. The community originally adopted the ban in effort to maintain air quality, preserve the town’s character, promote a more pedestrian-oriented community and to reduce the high volume of traffic. A year later, neighboring City of Pismo Beach also banned drive-thrus within their Coastal Zone, followed by Arroyo Grande in 1991 and the City of Paso Robles in 2004.
“A student group galvanized citizens to push through a project that created a cultural and social focus for this city and, in doing so, improved the quality of its government. With more citizen participation, the town’s focus shifted away from optimizing the business environment to maximizing quality of life,” says an excerpt from ‘Thrive: Finding Happiness The Blue Zones Way’ by Dan Buettner, ‘In Lessons From San Luis Obispo’ published on BlueZones.com.
San Luis Obispo can’t keep a McDonald’s establishment in business. How can a college town in California with nearly five times the population of our own college town in Maine be unable to support a single McDonald’s, albeit one lacking a drive-thru, while we successfully support a Burger King, Taco-Bell, KFC and Dunkin Donuts, in addition to a McDonalds, and have various local restaurants in town that offer delivery and take-out options? While San Luis Obispo is a pedestrian-oriented community, Farmington’s drive-thru district is not. The bulk of our drive-thrus are located only in driving distance, making them a common option for busy people passing through who are most likely short on time to prepare a meal for themselves.
With Franklin County being one of the more unhealthy counties in Maine, at first glance it would seem like an obvious solution for Farmington to adopt a ban like this in effort to promote healthy lifestyles among the population.
Community Health Professor Maurice Martin admits he has never considered the implications of a removing the drive-thrus at fast food establishment in the name of health promotion. “I think if Farmington were to adopt the ban there would certainly be a boom to the area small businesses, which when the area small businesses are doing well, the general community health improves: on all levels, not just physical. If this were the case, that would be a huge benefit,” said Martin. “As far as whether or not people would curb their eating of fast foods, yeah, I think so… I can say for myself, if I want fast food it’s the drive-thru. I never go inside, because the idea of fast food is, ‘I’m hungry, right now.’”
Drive-thru ordinances may be inconvenient, especially to communities like Farmington, although their effect on overall population health has quite the silver lining. According to Buettner, as a result of the of the ordinance in San Luis Obispo they “gained a more aesthetically pleasing downtown, with less traffic, less pollution, more gathering places, projected green spaces, a farmer’s market, thriving arts, and an environment where it’s harder to do things that are bad for you (smoke, eat fast food) and easier to do things that are good for you (walk, eat vegetables, recreate in nature, and bike). The result is arguably the healthiest and happiest city in America.” San Luis Obispo has also adopted an Anti-smoking Policy.
Anthony Lewis, UMF English Major with a concentration in Music and Writing, doesn’t see drive-thru bans turning out as successfully in Farmington.“I don’t know if it would solve the problem here, it might help to alleviate the issue at hand, but I don’t even think it will happen,” says Lewis. “The government moves very slowly, everybody loves a good drive-thru and companies like McDonald’s make tons of money on them, so they will never want to give them up.”
The manager at the Farmington McDonald’s establishment was contacted but declined to be interviewed by the Farmington Flyer.
Martin suggests that, for health purposes, it may be a good idea for Farmington to put into effect a moratorium on drive-thrus, meaning no more can be added to the community than what already exist. “I don’t think that you are going to see the fast food establishments agree to a ban, nor do I think that the general population would agree that they should eliminate drive-thrus. Even though I would agree, they are here, and to roll back the clock is difficult.”
By Cheyenne Judkins – Contributing Writer
The recent unexpected high temperatures affecting Farmington have forced students to find methods to stay cool.
Marissa Chamberlain, a junior Elementary Education major, said, “I think it’s crazy how hot it’s been. I don’t remember it being this hot all summer, so it’s weird to be worrying about heat at the end of September.”
Although residence halls on campus aren’t equipped with AC units, students have found a variety of ways to stay cool. Danielle Cote, a senior Community Health major, said she constantly has a fan on in her room and goes to Giffords for ice cream and Dunkin for iced coffee regularly to fight the heat.
“It’s like a five minute walk from campus to Heaven,” said Cote about Giffords. “Not to mention there’s a student discount I just found out about and I’m a senior!” She described the heat as “crazy annoying” and said she’s dying for the cold weather.
“This heat makes me want to go grocery shopping just to hang out in the freezer section!” Cote said.
While Cote says ice cream is a great method to fight the heat, Joe Brichetto, a senior Secondary Education major and the Student Senate President, stated that the best method he’s found is eating frozen yogurt. He also believes the Sandy River is a relaxing place to go to cool off and dip his feet in the water.
Brichetto described the Sandy as “ another beautiful hangout spot that accentuates Farmingtons focus on incorporating the joys of nature into our campus life.” Brichetto said he doesn’t go to the river often, but when he does he usually throws a disk around and said, “it usually ends with me cursing about it being 90 degrees in September.”
Chamberlain also spoke about the river and agreed it was a great place to relax. “If it’s really hot, my first thought is to go to the Sandy,” Chamberlain said. “My friends and I like to listen to music, lay out and swim. It feels good to just relax and not think about school.”
Although Chamberlain, as well as many other students, have expressed concern about the heat and having to leave their fans on 24/7, Chamberlain still seems to prefer the heat over the weather she knows is just around the corner.
“I’ll take it over snow,” she said of the nearly 90 degree weather.
As long as temperatures are high, UMF students will continue to be found at the Sandy River until dark. “It’s nice by the river even in the fall,” said Cote. “It’s a good place to go for walks in the evenings after class.”
By Andrew Devine Editor-in-Chief
UMF recently hosted campus and community members for a UMF Roundtable discussion of the issues that arise around “Statues, Memorials and Memory.”
The United States has been reckoning with its past these past few months, occasionally at a full-throated yell. The debate over the removal of the Confederate statues in Charlottesville and other cities has brought to the forefront difficult questions about what we wish to memorialize and why.
This event was sponsored by the UMF Division of Social Sciences and Business and the International and Global Studies Program. Scheduled UMF faculty participants included: Linda Beck, Linda Britt, Allison Hepler, Luke Kellett, Sarah Maline, Jean Oplinger, Jesse Potts, Michael Schoeppner and Anne Marie Wolf.
This panel was open to discussing that beyond Confederate memorials, other conflicts, such as the Vietnam War, are also controversial in the way they are memorialized. In an interview prior to the event, Professor Chris O’Brien, chair of the UMF Division of Social Sciences and Business, reviewed the planning for the event.
“The way that [roundtable events] work, if we’re good, is that they are responsive to immediate questions,” said O’Brien. “[Planning] actually happened after Charlottesville.”
There was a diverse crowd in attendance with representatives from the university, UMF students and community members. Hunter Kent, a UMF sophomore and Anthropology major, said this was a good thing.
“It’s interesting to hear other people’s perspectives of current events,” Kent said. “I have gone to several of the roundtables before and I found that they were really helpful and informative.”
One of the leading organizers of the roundtable event series, Nicole Kellett, Associate Professor of Anthropology, was part of a report done on the event by WABI TV5, Bangor.
“We really want to get the word out to bring other people into the fold, to hear diverse perspectives,” said Kellett. “Sometimes there can be an echo-chamber in university settings.”
Silence and uncertainty snuck into the conversation. O’Brien would describe this as the distance between the commentators at UMF and the monuments being discussed.
“It’s easy if one only thinks of confederate memorials, and one is located in Maine,” said O’Brien. “We’re proud of what Maine did during the Civil War; the confederate memorial question is somewhat distant. I think of memorials more broadly. There’s some real questions about what we choose to memorialize and why.”
Following the event, Michael Schoeppner, Assistant Professor of History, said the event went well.
“I think it’s a healthy part of democratic politics to reexamine which stories deserve greater recognition in our contemporary discourse,” said Schoeppner.
To a similar degree, Kellett concluded in her separate interview that “it’s not a debate, it’s not looking at proving any particular stance, or having an answer by the end; but really to engage with the complexity of the issues.”
By Alicia Davis – Contributing Writer
UMF students in Relay For Life are prepare for the busy year ahead.
Relay for Life is a portion of American Cancer Society that raises money for cancer awareness, cancer treatment, provide housing near hospitals and more. The big event for Relay For Life occurs at UMF in April at the FRC, where teams walk around the FRC all night and fundraise to support children and adults with cancer.
In the fall, Relay holds an event called Kickoff. Meredith Laliberte, one of the co-chairs for Relay, said Kickoff is an event for students to find out more about Relay and become educated about the event.
Members of ALD
Kickoff helps Relay find new members, and get more people involved with their club. “People are able to sign up for Relay at Kickoff, or they can form their own team,” said Laliberte. “We do not know the exact date of Kickoff yet, but it will be at some point before second semester.”
This will be Laliberte’s third year with Relay at UMF. “We show a slideshow at Kickoff to show past Relay events, and we have themed activities at Kickoff. At last year’s Kickoff there was ornament and cookie decorating,” said Laliberte.
Brianna Fowles is the secretary for Relay For Life, and this will be her third year with the club. “We have decided that Relay’s theme this year will be Dr. Seuss. We will come up with different decorations and foods to have at the event that go along with this theme,” said Fowles.
Everything that Relay does this year will go along with the Dr. Seuss theme. “Teams at the Relay event will also have tables to fundraise, and teams’ tables typically match our theme at the event,” said Fowles.
From L to R: Heather King, Brianna Fowles, and Danielle Cote.
(Photos Courtesy of Loren Marshall)
Josh Beckett, a junior, has been a part of Relay for three years now at UMF. “I relay because two of my best friends from high school are cancer survivors. Many of my friends have parents or siblings who have beaten cancer or who are currently fighting. It’s so important to me to help raise awareness and to help those who are currently battling cancer. It’s also important for me to show that an ordinary student at UMF can help make such a huge impacts,” said Beckett.
Relay is always open to accepting new members. “Making teams for Relay is easy. We always table for the event, and are open to explaining what Relay is to anyone who is curious,” said Fowles.
Relay has meetings most Monday nights at 7pm, Roberts 107. If anyone has any questions about Relay for Life, they can contact Beckett, Fowles or Laliberte.
From L to R: Meredith Laliberte and Sage van Eekhout at the Fall 2017 Club Fair. (Photo Courtesy of Loren Marshall)