Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What is a Community?

Having recently returned from a year away, I have been thinking a great deal about what I have returned to. My friends in other places, who have not yet been up to visit me, probably imagine that I have given up a lot to move to a "city" of 5,800 people that is Gardiner, Maine. But in reality I have given up little and have gained so much. And what I have gained is a community. Having lived in a large city (actually many of them) I have had some sense of community but in a smaller city or town even the word community is different to me. Here I have many communities- the community of artists, the business community, the community of dog lovers, friends, etc... And here being an active part of the community means you can really make a difference. I am proud to volunteer as a Board Member for Gardiner Main Street.

But as a small community, we feel the loss of a business more acutely. When we lose Sweet Love, Mad Dog, Blue Sky, we feel it deeply. Each of those businesses contributed to our community, volunteered in our community. Of course there will be new businesses to take their places and hopefully win our hearts. And of course we have plenty of businesses making us great food, providing us entertainment, offering great gifts, providing excellent service. I value all that this community has to offer. Of course we don't have endless amounts of money to spend but when we spend it we should spend it locally. I challenge you all to try to shop local whenever possible. And it may be time to explore what is possible. If you haven't walked into every store downtown it may be time to do so. I have a few I haven't visited since I have been back and I intend to get in to visit soon.

In the past few weeks or so I have:
  • Had a tasty meatball calzone with minced garlic and oregano from Gerard's
  • Got another 4 pack of Innis and Gunn rum cask beer from Water Street Cafe. Had an awesome ham,egg and cheese on a bagel, picked up wine for an opening, etc...
  • Replaced and ironing board cover and got a Charleston Chew at Reny's
  • Grabbed some coffee to keep me going and hot chocolate to keep me warm at Sweet Love
  • Had my favorite Greek Calamari Salad at A1 Diner (among other meals)...and I am very tempted by the whoopie pies!
  • Went out to dinner with a friend to Pasta'z. Always delicious and the service is always fantastic.
  • Ordered a burrito from Lisa's Legit Burrito's and then got busy. They put it in the warmer and when I finally picked it up an hour later it was still delicious!
  • Picked up fantastic local foods at the Kennebec Local Food new love!
  • Yummy lobster roll and beer at The Depot.
  • Been sitting in my gallery/shop Monkitree. Helping customers pick out gifts, watching them enjoy art and of course I have been telling everyone about how wonderful Gardiner is!
(I'm sure there are more. OK so upon returning I ate out more than normal)  

Great things will continue to happen in Gardiner. This years River Festival (June20-23) is going to be bigger and better than ever. Two nights of fireworks, a carnival, a craft fair and live music! All made possible by local business sponsors and loads of volunteers. So come and enjoy Gardiner and remember to visit our local businesses. We would love to see you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tar Sands Oil in Maine? Draw-A-Thon, Anyone?

Blue Jay by Kenny Cole
The current show at Monkitree has an environmental theme and benefits the Natural Resources Council of Maine. In talking with people at NRCM about what issues I may be able to help engage people in, the last thing I expected to hear was Tar Sands. Of course I had been paying attention to the Keystone XL pipeline issue that has been getting so much attention. And I knew about the spill in Michigan that has caused so much damage in 2010. But Tar Maine? Apparently it could happen and we need to be vigilant.

There is an existing pipeline that runs from Montreal to Portland, Maine and Enbridge is looking to reverse the flow to carry tar sands oil. This pipeline number 9 runs next to Sebago Lake which is the drinking water source for 15% of Maine. It is an old pipeline and made of the same material as the failed pipeline that caused the destruction in Michigan.

The Tar Sands Oil is dirty, getting it out of the ground is incredibly destructive. We are coming to the end of the oil and should be focusing on what the solutions are instead of coming up with continually filthier ways to keep using oil.

So what can we do about it-

1. Educate ourselves. There are plenty of resources out their for learning about tar sands oil and the plans to bring it to markets.
2. Whatever we can, to protect our environment and our health. Write your legislators and be sure they know your position, go to public meetings, draw a picture. Yes. you heard me! Draw a picture!

On June 23rd, during the Greater Gardiner Riverfest, Monkitree will host a Draw-A-Thon to raise awareness of the tar sands issue. All work created during the Draw-A-Thon will be photographed or scanned for possible inclusion in a zine commemorating this event and possible reproduction as posters to used by NRCM at public meetings about the topic. 

If you are an artist that want to participate, please contact me at
Everyone is welcome to come and watch!

For more information on Draw-A-Thons-
For more information on Tar Sands in Maine-