Portland Public Library’s Choose Civility Initiative invites you to engage in conversation about how we can make a difference in our local community. What kind of engagement interests you? What opportunities exist? Where is there need? Also, meet with local organizations that seek volunteers – someone like you!
7:30am : Coffee, treats & networking
8:00am : Opening program — exploring volunteerism’s benefits for individuals, organizations and communities (and the challenges, too!)
8:45 (ish) : Volunteer Resource Fair – Organizational introductions and small conversations. Meet representatives from local organizations and learn about opportunities for participating in Portland.
Confirmed organizations include (but are not limited to) : United Way of Greater Portland; YMCA of Greater Portland; Greater Portland Animal Refuge League; Maine Tool Library; Learning Works; 2Degrees Portland and more!
(*If you’d like to share information about a project or civic engagement effort or opportunity for volunteering, please contact Kim Simmons at Simmons@portland.lib.me.us)
The social justice organization Facing History and Ourselves offers online resources on “Choosing To Participate.” Featuring an online exhibit, in partnership with the Smithsonian Exhibition. Among the questions they ask, is a central query : “How can I make a positive difference in the world?”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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!
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.”
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 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.”