It might seem strange that we took a significant portion of class time to write thank you notes, but it was worth it. [Says the teacher.] First, I got to do my soap-box speech on why you need to write thank you notes. These students hadn't heard the speech yet. I even got to share that I've received a hand-written thank you note for sending a hand-written thank you note. [It was from the owner of Borealis Press.] If you want a sample of the soap box speech, here you go: Don't Dismiss the Thank You Note.
What I learned in this class was that students were not uniformly confident on how to write a thank you note with some content besides "thank you," especially if they didn't have a prior relationship with the person for whom they were writing the thank you note. I was asked where the commas go: "Dear, _____" or "Dear ______," Now, if you read this blog, you know my feeling about commas... so I was happy to answer that question. We also avoided ruining the cards by writing a draft on scrap paper. That has to be one of those things we know we should do, but we get in a hurry and then spell some word incorrectly, cross it out, and realize it is too messy to send. Students also asked each other for feedback on what they wrote... sometimes I had to drag them into that, but overall, we now have lots of well-written thank you notes with everyone's signatures on them.
So here are many of our community partners from this year's Food & Community Series:
Our guest speakers for class included:
|Chad Everett, UMM Sustainability Coordinator|
|Eleody Libby, Executive Director, Washington County: One Community|
|Across the county, volunteers raised over $30,000 for the food pantries.|
|Turkey-a-thon Crew - WC:OC & WQDY Classic Hits 92.7/95.3|
|Joe Ferrier, SNAP Nutrition Education|
|Regina Grabrovac, Farm to School - Healthy Acadia|
Regina Grabrovac explained how the national Farm to School program works and outlined the local initiatives. She had us consider the challenges associated with building relationships between local farmers and school cooks. I regret that we didn't arrange to do the cider pressing this year. Washington County has a ton of stray apple trees. Speaking of apples...
Downeast Coastal Conservancy hosted Klondike Applefest on one of their properties in Lubec
Food & Community Book Club 2013The book club associated with Food & Community Series 2013 was a bit of an experiment. Authors of two of the books, Jonathan Bloom and Melanie Warner, and their publishers donated enough copies of American Wasteland and Pandora's Lunchbox that we could donate a copy to each public/free library in the county. [However, I didn't give them the correct number of libraries, so the most northern libraries did not receive copies this year.] Michael Pollan donated several signed copies of Omnivore's Dilemma. Maybe I was a bit overly ambitious about trying to make it so anyone in the county could join the discussion, but it did give me a reason to go visit most of the libraries in the county. [See Lots of Libraries.] I met quite a few people, learned a lot about different communities, logged in some hours behind the wheel (Wash Co is huge!), and reaffirmed that I love tiny community libraries. The Calais Free Library, the Lubec Memorial Library, and the Cobscook Community Learning Center all host events related to these books.
|Hosted Brown Bag Discussion of Omnivore's Dilemma this Fall|
Food & Community Series 2013 Documentary ScreeningThis year, based on a suggestion from Wendy Harrington of Washington Food & Fuel Alliance (and Maine Sea Coast Mission), we co-hosted a screening of A Place at the Table at UMM. We showed it the evening of the Turkey-a-thon day. Students from two classes put together a bake sale to generate donations, and Chad Everett brought over the last of the campus garden's produce for donations. The bake sale and produce sale allowed us to donate $240 to the Washington County Food & Fuel Alliance for county food pantries. The following Monday, fourteen community members convened to discuss the documentary and what it means in Washington County.
|Bake Sale to Benefit Food Pantries|
Food & Community Series Panel Discussions
|Alan Majka, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Washington County|
Alan Majka from University of Maine Cooperative Extension in Washington County and I co-hosted three panel discussion (two so far) for this year's Food & Community Series. The topics were based on feedback from community members both in person and solicited from the members at the Food & Community Facebook site. The September panel was on Fin Fish Aquaculture. The November panel was on GMOs in the Food Supply. And the last panel will be on Perspectives on the Washington County Food System. Got ideas for next year's panels?
The Fin Fish Aquaculture panel speakers (right to left):
Paul Molyneaux, Author of Swimming in Circles: Aquaculture & the End of Wild Oceans
Dwayne Shaw, Executive Director, Downeast Salmon Federation
Chris Bartlett, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Sebastian Belle, President of the Maine Aquaculture Association
The GMOs in the Food Supply panel speakers (right to left):
Eric Jones, Assistant Professor of Botany, UMM
Jim Gerritsen, Potato Farmer and President of the Organic Seed Growers & Trade Organization
Andrei Alyokhin, Associate Professor of Applied Entomology, University of Maine, Orono
John Jemison, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Missed it and wish you hadn't? Watch it now.
Perspectives on the Washington County Food System panel speakers [December 11th, 6 pm]:
Inez Lombardo, Founder of the online Machias Marketplace
Carly DelSignore, Co-owner & Manager of Tide Mill Farms, Edmunds, Maine
Dave Thompson, Store Manager, Machias Hannafords
Kevin Athearn, Associate Professor of Environmental & Community Economics, UMM
Did you know that these panels were both live streamed for those of you who couldn't make it to campus and they are archived and available at: Archived Videos.
Waiting for the Washington County Food Summit!Washington County Food Summit was cancelled, so students this term were not able to participate. However, it has been rescheduled for Spring. I will be there March 8th to listen and find collaborators for next year's Food & Community Series - whether we co-host something, bring partners in as guest speakers, or students out for service projects, or just help cross promote food & food system related events.
Some Other Important PartnershipsThe Whole Life Natural Market in Machias offered to host a time for the book club discussions and also help promote events. They hosted a raffle for copies of American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom. Inez Lombardo and the Machias Marketplace also hosted a raffled for copies of American Wasteland, which was the November Food & Community Book Club pick. Come see Inez in the Perspectives on the Washington County Food System panel discussion in Portside at UMM December 11th at 6pm.
Hillary Savage of the Machias Valley Observer has written a number of pieces about different Food & Community Series events. Lora Whelan of Quoddy Tides has also cover the panels.
Also, without singling them out, thank you to the community members who attended many of our events, including the Book Club discussions.
Back to the Thank You NotesSo you can see why we have a few thank you notes to write, both to thank and to reconnect. This was Food & Community Series' first year. The pilot year, which for me means taking on more than is possible, being thankful for what succeeds, and learning a lot from things that didn't work out. The whole thing, be it service to the community, supporting our community partners' initiatives, or supporting students' learning and engagement, does not work without relationships. And relationships thrive on connection and sharing. There is no better way to connect with someone than to acknowledge the work they do or the impact they have, and express gratitude. Besides, not only do we have Food & Community 2014 to work on, Maine Campus Compact and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension are hosting Hunger Dialogue next Fall. Sounds like food insecurity and hunger will definitely be a theme in next year's Food & Community Series.
Washington County at the 2014 Hunger Dialogue in Maine
"The University of Maine Cooperative Extension, in collaboration with Maine Campus Compact, are mobilizing the resources of Maine's colleges and universities to address hunger in Maine. [...] Toward that end, we are planning a statewide gathering of higher education students, faculty and their community partners in October 2014 on the University of Maine campus in Orono to:
- share best practices of what campuses are doing to address hunger in their communities;
- learn how students are making a difference;
- develop ways to collaborate with other campuses and community groups
- leave with practical plans of action for addressing hunger on the campus and in local communities"
One Last Note: Thanksgiving Community Potluck
Becky Lee (you may know her from Downeast Coastal Conservancy), Rhiannon Hampson-Jovin (working with the Beehive Design Collective), Inez Lombardo (of Machias Marketplace) had all been interested in community meals. We decided to a do a Thanksgiving Community Potluck with the thought of trying to provide company for those who might not have plans, family or friends nearby and make sure people felt welcomed even if they couldn't contribute food. We ended up with more than enough food and over fifty people attending. I'm not sure how many people we were expecting. I think we all left feeling like it was a success, and we want to do it again next year. After talking to some attendees we realized we had one person come all the way from Ellsworth because he couldn't find any other community meals and had no local friends or family.