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The Worth of Conversation

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture | Government | News

What is the worth of informal, but focused, conversation? What do we gain from talking to each other across our differences, about something we hold in common?

Research indicates that loneliness is a very common social problem and puts individuals at risk for health problems.  Loneliness & Mortality Risks (read this review article in the New Republic)

In contrast, the following video from the Greater Good Science Center suggests that developing “cross-group relationships” is great for our health and well-being!

 

One of the best ways to develop more relationships and relationships with people different from us is by participating in public conversations… and we have some great invitations for you! All programs are free and open to the public.

1) On November 6th we continue a series offered in collaboration with the  Maine Humanities Council on “Creating the Communities We Wish For.”  These small group, neighborhood conversations feature a great facilitator (Dr. Anna Bartel), a great poem, and fabulous conversation.   REGISTER HERE

·         November 6th at the YMCA in Portland, 11:30am – 1:00pm
·         November 20th here at the Main Branch, 11:30am – 1:00pm
·         December 18th at Riverton, 6:00pm – 7:30pm

2) On November 6th we also begin our film series, in collaboration with Maine Humanities Council, entitled “Muslim Journeys.”   This series is part of a national project and will include discussion facilitated by Reza Jalali.  The series includes films on November 13th and 20th – all begin at 6:30pm.

3)  On November 25th we offer the second of our Portland Public Conversations, in collaboration with Lift360 (formerly the Institute for Civic Leadership) – this one will focus on “Participating in Portland” and will include a resource fair – if you have a project that engages volunteers or civic participation and you’d like to share information about it, please be in touch with me simmons@portland.lib.me.us .  All are encouraged to come reflect on the value of engagement and the challenges associated with participating in our communities – November 25th 7:30am coffee/ 8:00am program start.   Our final date in the series is December 9th and will focus on “Picturing Portland” – a visioning session for 2015 and beyond!


Whose Port This Is, I Think I Know: PPL & Local Poetry in October

posted: , by Elizabeth Hartsig
tags: Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | Seniors | Art & Culture
A picture of Megan Grumbling reading one of her poems aloud at the library.

Portland poet Megan Grumbling at the Port City Poems reading.

Last Tuesday, October 7, a group of local poets drew a crowd of 91 to the Rines Auditorium. Anita Clearfield, Wil Gibson, Megan Grumbling, Claire Hersom, Annaliese Jakimides, Michele Leavitt, John McVeigh, Edward J. Rielly, Betsy Sholl, David Stankiewicz, Sally Woolf-Wade, and Anna Bat-Chai Wrobel read from their poetry. They were introduced by Marcia F. Brown, Portland Poet Laureate and editor of the anthology Port City Poems. It was an evening full of thoughtfulness and humor, celebrating Portland but also touching on other themes.

For those of you who couldn’t be there, I took notes.

Ed Rielly read his poem, “The Sea Dogs Come Out of the Corn.” The poet muses at a baseball game. “ ‘Is this heaven?’  I ask my wife, joking…‘No, it’s Portland, Maine.’ ” One of Wil Gibson’s poems was written as a love letter to Portland. “I miss your freckles,” Wil Gibson read aloud (addressing spurned Illinois, a former home) “but Portland, she is different. She is the most amazing, attentive lover…I have the scratches on my back to prove it.”

An image of Sally Woolf-Wade reading a poem out loud in front of an audience.

Sally Woolf-Wade read poetry on island life.

Other images of Portland rose, as sweetly and sharply, out of the readings. Megan Grumbling’s poem, “Landing,” evoked the golden light caught in the curved windows of a staircase at the Portland Museum of Art, a place to return to in deep winter. One of Claire Hersom’s poems spoke to a favorite wharf-haunt: J’s Oyster Bar. John McVeigh paid homage to the horses that pulled the old engines (“The spokes of the wheel are a blur”) of the Portland Fire Department in 1912. Later, David Stankiewicz’s Saint Augustine-inspired poetry moved the audience from Bailey Island’s Cribstone Bridge to travels on the Downeaster: “If I sit very still, might the conductor overlook my transgression?”

Annaliese Jakimides reads her poetry in front of a seated crowd.

Annaliese Jakimides before the crowd.

The poetry that resonated could be both beautiful and stark, as in Michele Leavitt’s excerpt from a cycle of poems on Hepatitis C. Or the poems imparted unapologetic knowledge: what comes to us may come as a surprise. “Because,” Anita Clearfield noted, “what happiness have we ever had that we asked for?”

And there was laughter, as the poets touched on religion, on menopause imagined or real, on the Old Port…“At last I’m old and wrinkled, celibate and wise,” read Michele Leavitt, tongue-in-cheekily. “I keep trying to write these spiritual poems that won’t be obnoxious,” quipped Betsy Sholl. The evening ended more seriously, with Anna Bat-Chai Wrobel’s poem on Alexander Hamilton. “I am afraid to do as Alexander Hamilton did: predict the future.” Nonetheless, Wrobel noted: “I think I know which duel to fight.”

I walked home that night through the city, thinking of Wil Gibson’s words: “Portland: she is the family I always wanted.”

More poetry coming up in Portland and at PPL:

Port City Poems reader Megan Grumbling’s verse-in-spoken-opera “Persephone in the Late Anthropocene” will be performed (along with 2 other poetry-performance teams) live at Congress Square Park on Wednesday, October 15 at 6 p.m. Readers Wil Gibson and John McVeigh are both involved with Port Veritas, which organizes educational outreach and weekly poetry slams in Portland.  Wes McNair will speak on his new book of poetry, “The Lost Child,” at the Main Library on Friday, October 17.

You can also check out some of the library’s recent poetry additions!

We recommend: Eliza Griswold’s “I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan,” Patricia Lockwood’s “Motherland, Fatherland, Homelandsexuals,” a 2014 collection from James Baldwin , or the unstoppable Mary Oliver’s latest, “Blue Horses.” And just for fun? Try Poems That Make Grown Men Cry.


Inequality for All: Watch & Discuss Oct 29th 6:00 PM!

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Programs & Events | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Business | Government | News

That there is significant income and wealth inequality in the United States is largely undisputed. The Census Bureau reports on the federal data  and the Portland Press Herald reported earlier this month on poverty rates in Maine. Yet, much about why we have growing inequality, what it really means, and what to do about it are extremely contested issues in our communities and policy debates. Earlier this year, economist Thomas Piketty opened up conversations about the distribution of wealth and made specific recommendations for redistribution. The Choose Civility Initiative and City of Reader’s Team held a community discussion on his book, as it was an unusually “hot” non-fiction title. The Rines auditorium filled– and from that evening came a request to screen and discuss Rober Reich’s film Inequality for All.

On October 29th, in partnership with the League of Women Voters, Portland, the Maine Center for Economic Policy and the USM Economics Department, we will watch and discuss this movie — we hope all will feel welcome to join us for respectful and challenging discourse about this complex topic that shapes all our lives.

See the booklist that emerged from recommendations given at the Piketty Panel and a booklist focused on economic inequality.

What income do you think qualifies as “poverty”? How well do our poverty guidelines capture the edge between poverty and financial security? What role does the Government play in providing a safety net or incentives for higher wages? What other questions do you ask about income and wealth inequality in our Country? Submit them through comments!

2014 Federal Poverty Guidelines

Federally facilitated marketplaces will use the 2014 guidelines to determine eligibility for Medicaid and CHIP (this is effective February 10, 2014).

Household Siz

100%

133%

150%

200%

250%

300%

400%

1

$11,670

$15,521

$17,505

$23,340

$29,175

$35,010

$46,680

2

15,730

20,921

23,595

31,460

39,325

47,190

62,920

3

19,790

26,321

29,685

39,580

49,475

59,370

79,160

4

23,850

31,721

35,775

47,700

59,625

71,550

95,400

5

27,910

37,120

41,865

55,820

69,775

83,730

111,640

6

31,970

42,520

47,955

63,940

79,925

95,910

127,880

7

36,030

47,920

54,045

72,060

90,075

108,090

144,120

8

40,090

53,320

60,135

80,180

100,225

120,270

160,360

- See more at: http://familiesusa.org/product/federal-poverty-guidelines#sthash.rUyD1z6p.dpuf

 

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