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Posts Tagged ‘maine’

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Photo: Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Jars of Teddie Peanut Butter on the shelves in Market Basket, Nashua, New Hampshire. Teddie is increasing production to meet new demand.

But wait! There’s more. More, that is, on civic-minded businesses pivoting to meet the pandemic challenge. Whether it’s companies like Teddie Peanut Butter increasing production to prevent shortages (here), or the companies that are suddenly making something new, it’s all good.

Here’s a nice story by Leanne Italie at the Associated Press that was broadcast on WEARTV about a small sail company.

“On the coast of Maine, Eric Baldwin and his staff of two usually spend their days selling, repairing and washing sails for boats. They transform their surplus sailcloth into tote bags to bring in extra money.

“But when the coronavirus outbreak slowed business, they turned their industrial sewing machines to a new task: making cotton masks for caregivers and others who need protection from the disease.

‘We wanted to do something to give back,’ Baldwin said from his North Sails workshop in the small village of South Freeport, about 20 miles north of Portland. ‘Doing something like this just makes you feel good.’

“The 53-year-old Baldwin, who has operated his shop, known as a loft, for about 25 years, got the idea from employee Karen Haley. They went to work immediately and are now shipping to recipients as far away as Arizona after word spread on social media that masks were available. …

“Haley’s mother is a quilter. She raided her mom’s stash of cotton remnants to turn into double-ply rectangles called for by a mask pattern they found on a hospital website. Baldwin’s former wife got a Jo-Ann fabric store to provide elastic at a discount.

“Although they still have orders to fill for totes and sails, a portion of each day is dedicated to masks. Baldwin’s other worker, Alan Platner, volunteered to sew masks at home as well. …

” ‘I have every intention of keeping both of these people employed, and we’re not at a point yet where that’s even close to being in jeopardy, but I do think in terms of the tote business. I would be shocked if that picks up. We’re essentially missing the tourist season,’ Baldwin said. …

” ‘The response from the people has been overwhelming,’ Haley said. ‘They’ve been so appreciative of what we’re doing. The recipients include a woman who works for the Department of Homeland Security whose husband is an EMT. Others are nurses and nursing assistants. One is a social worker who makes home visits.’ …

“There’s been a run on elastic so when their stash is gone they might have to quit. He’s scrounging for more.

“Even if he’s no longer able to produce the masks in Maine, the effort is likely to continue elsewhere. Baldwin put out the word to other North Sails lofts around the country, letting them know what he was doing. Four have already offered to begin making masks, including shops in San Diego, Chicago and Annapolis, Maryland.” More.

Meanwhile in Rhode Island, as @angusdav noted on Twitter recently, “Kinder Industries shifted production today from boat canvas to PPE face shields at our industrial park in my hometown Bristol, RI. 3M raw material truckload arrived today; manufacturing begins Monday. 1st 8,000 to R.I. hospitals. Ready to supply others.”

Please give a shout-out to other companies stepping up during the pandemic. We need to remember them down the road.

Photo: AP/Robert F. Bukaty
In this Monday, March 23, 2020, photo, Eric Baldwin examines the stitching on a cotton mask, one of hundreds he and the employees at his sail-maintenance business are making for coronavirus caregivers at North Sails in Freeport, Maine.

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Photo: Story Hinckley
By following strict “passive house” standards, a multifamily affordable-housing complex in  Portland, Maine, slashes heating costs.
“Sometimes we turn off the heater because we feel so good,” says one resident.

The modern tendency to look at the old ways of doing things as some sort of backward stage of human development is being proved misguided again and again. In this story, heating and cooling costs are slashed by using an approach that, in part, taps the wisdom of first century BC.

Story Hinckley writes at the Christian Science Monitor, “Cities like Portland, Maine, have realized this energy-efficient design for the affordable housing sector – for residents who can really benefit from lower heating costs.

“Passive house-certified buildings are slightly more expensive to build upfront, but the heat and electricity bills are less than half of what it typically costs to heat a similar building in Portland.

“Passive house design is more than just an architectural novelty, says the team behind Bayside Anchor. It is also a necessary tool for residents or homeowners who care about long-term affordability. As the need for affordable housing grows across the United States, proponents say cities should move beyond building low-income housing as cheaply as possible. …

“Says Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition and development officer at Avesta Housing, the nonprofit affordable housing provider that manages Bayside Anchor, ‘We have to promise that [the building] will be affordable for 45 years.’

“Before moving to Bayside Anchor two years ago, MD Islam, his wife, and their two young children lived in a home without heat.

“ ‘We had to suffer a lot,’ says Mr. Islam, who works at a local recycling plant. ‘Now my family – everybody – is happy. We feel very comfortable.’

“A high-tech ventilation system exchanges indoor air with fresh air from outside, all while retaining the temperature of the indoor air. Thick walls (with 10 inches of insulation, in Bayside Anchor’s case) and triple-pane windows keep the building airtight so very little heat escapes. Instead of a central heating system, each apartment has a small electric baseboard heater. …

“ ‘Sometimes we turn off the heater because we feel so good,’ says Mr. Islam. …

“Property manager Lucy Cayard [says] the passive house design has helped her build a deeper connection with the residents. Since much of the building takes care of itself, the building’s staff can put their time and resources elsewhere.

“ ‘We get to focus more on people’s needs and not the building’s needs,’ says Ms. Cayard. …

“The concept of passively heating and cooling a building is probably as old as architecture itself. Writing in the first century B.C., the Roman architect and military engineer Vitruvius observed that buildings in warmer climates tended to have northern exposures, with windows facing away from the sun, while those in cooler climates had southern exposures. Modern passive house techniques trace some of their history to energy-efficiency efforts in the U.S. during the OPEC oil embargo. The principles underlying Bayside Anchor’s design are further based on techniques honed by scientists in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. …

“But with a national shortage of 3.7 million affordable rental homes, according to a recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, new building approaches need to be explored. For example, says Mr. Payne, almost 600 households are currently on the waitlist for one of Bayside Anchor’s 36 affordable units.

“ ‘We are watching it happen all across the country,’ says Jesse Thompson, the Portland-based architect behind Bayside Anchor. ‘What’s different about Maine is that it’s the affordable housing folks who are the most progressive, who are moving the most quickly.’ ”

More here.

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Photo: Erin Clark for The Boston Globe
Cities as different as Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Providence, Rhode Island, are paying people experiencing homelessness to do maintenance of public spaces. In the photo, two men are cleaning up gardens along the Back Cove Trail in Portland, Maine.

Three cheers for cities that come up with creative ways to address homelessness! I’ve written about the practice of offering public-service work to people experiencing homelessness in New Mexico and Rhode Island. Now a city in Maine is testing the concept.

Brian MacQuarrie writes at the Boston Globe, “Seven men, stooped and sweating, tear fistfuls of crabgrass and milkweed from a tangle of overgrowth in a large public garden. It’s dirty work for $10.90 an hour, the minimum wage in Maine’s largest city, but there’s not a complaint to be heard.

“ ‘People are always coming by and telling us, “Thanks for helping — it’s looking good,” ’ says Jeff Vane, 49, standing knee-deep in urban brush. …

“Portland officials are inviting panhandlers to put away their signs and put on a pair of work gloves. They clean parks, beautify public gardens, and even place flags at the graves of veterans in exchange for a small paycheck and a possible path to better, lasting employment.

“ ‘It makes you feel good about yourself, makes you feel that you’ve still got it,’ Frank Mello, 49, says of the job. ‘It shows I’m not the homeless bum that people think I am.’

“Portland’s program, nearing the end of its second year, is not intended to erase panhandling, city officials say. Some men and women who ‘fly their signs’ at Portland intersections, most of them homeless and desperate for money, will never be persuaded to put them away.

“But it’s an effort that passes legal muster. Both Portland and Worcester, Mass., for example, had banned panhandling with ordinances that were overturned by federal courts, which ruled that they infringed on free speech. …

“Panhandlers are pitched on the program as a way to leave the streets, connect with benefits such as housing vouchers and food stamps, and find work in the future through a day-labor agency that partners with the city. Participation is voluntary — workers can drop out of the Opportunity Crew program at any time. But so far, no one has been asked to leave for failing to do the job or follow the rules.

‘I’ve always kind of believed that if you give someone a hand up, and if they’re so inclined, that’s all they’re asking for,’ City Manager Jon Jennings said in an interview. ‘I just don’t see as many people panhandling now.’

“The Opportunity Crew has a budget of only $40,000 per year, but the benefits go far beyond dollars and cents, city officials said. Through [late August], 281 bags of trash had been collected this year and 121 syringes removed from public spaces, said Aaron Geyer, who supervises the program. A total of 936 hours had been logged by crews of 6 to 10 people who work Wednesdays and Thursdays from April until October

“ ‘They show up on time in the morning, and they’re ready to work,’ Geyer said.

“The cost of a crew is pegged at $1,300 per week, and business sponsors that help pay for the program are promoted on city signs at the cleanup sites. …

“So far, 17 men and women have found jobs after participating in the Portland program, which Jennings said he hopes to expand. …

“Frank Mello [gives] each of his teenage daughters $40 a week from his Opportunity Crew earnings. The children’s mother died three months ago from a heroin overdose, he said.

“ ‘Basically, I’m working for my children. They need me right now,’ Mello said in a gravelly voice, straightening up as sweat poured from his face. …

“ ‘We all know each other, you know,’ Mello said, smiling and nodding toward his fellow panhandlers. ‘Now, we want to work.’ ”

Read more at the Globe, here. A previous blog post on the concept is here.

 

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Photo: Greta Rybus for the Boston Globe
Carolyn Lukensmeyer, who leads the National Institute for Civil Discourse, hosted a civility workshop in Damariscotta, Maine, that drew more than 100 people.

Here’s an idea I hope will catch on: speaking civilly to people with different views. My friend Nancy attends a Concord group that does that and she loves it, despite her horror at some of the things other participants say.

Nestor Ramos writes at the Boston Globe about a civility exercise in Maine. “If a sudden, smiling plague of newfound civility sweeps the nation, infecting partisans on the left and right with virulent strains of respect and dignity, maybe it will have started here, in an idyllic town on the river.

“More than 100 Mainers showed up at a Quaker meetinghouse here for a forum about how to be civil while discussing politics — or in other words, how to talk to your uncle about Trump without devolving into red-faced shouting and sarcasm. In a left-leaning town of about 2,000 in a starkly divided county, it wasn’t quite group therapy. But it was something close.

“ ‘You wouldn’t be here tonight if you didn’t think this was serious,’ said Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, executive director of the University of Arizona-based National Institute for Civil Discourse, who came to Damariscotta to lead the civility training. Maine is one of four states where the organization is launching an initiative called Revive Civility. …

“People came because they couldn’t talk to their friends and their neighbors, they said, or because their children were barely speaking to each other. Some said they’d come because they simply couldn’t bring up anything political anymore.

“ ‘I have a couple of friends who are quite liberal and we just agreed not to talk about it,’ said David Spector, a conservative voter from nearby Newcastle, who came because he’s tired of what he sees as increasing incivility in political discourse. …

“Civility doesn’t mean agreement, of course, and there are some divides that no amount of respect will bridge. But we’ve reached the point at which we regard even those who earnestly disagree with us on matters of legitimate debate as mortal enemies. Civility demands only that you see them as people, and treat them with respect.”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me.

More on how to do an event like this here.

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We all know that chestnut trees were wiped out by disease, right? Well, maybe not.

Susan Sharon at the Maine Public Broadcasting Network has a hopeful story.

“A century ago American chestnut trees dominated the eastern woodlands from Georgia to Maine. Growing straight and tall they were prized for timber. Wildlife depended on the nuts they provided every year.

“People ate the chestnuts, too, scooping them up by the sackful every Fall. Then came an exotic blight accidentally introduced from Asia and the species was virtually wiped out.

“That’s why scientists are excited by a recent find in western Maine, a record-breaking find that is raising their hopes for the future.

“The unusual discovery was made from the air. Dr. Brian Roth, a forest scientist with the University of Maine was surveying areas most likely to have habitat conditions favorable for chestnut trees and – voila! Flying over some woods in Lovell he saw a telltale sign.

” ‘In July, when nothing else is blooming, this tree will have a large amount of white flowers in its crown,’ says Roth. …

“This is not just any tree. This is an American chestnut tree worthy of the record books. …

“As girth goes, this chestnut tree is not so impressive. It’s on the skinny side. And most people wouldn’t pick it out as distinctive in a forest lineup. But when it comes to height, this American chestnut reigns supreme.

” ‘We think it’s around one hundred years old,’ says Roth. ‘It’s over 100 feet tall, which makes it the tallest [chestnut] that we know of in North America.’ …

” ‘We’re quite interested in these native trees, one for getting them into the population, our breeding program, as well as where do these trees grow?’ Roth says.

“The North Carolina-based American Chestnut Foundation is devoted to restoration of the American chestnut to its historic range. … Dr. Jared Westbrook is the American Chestnut Foundation’s geneticist. …

“He says more than 60,000 chestnut trees have been planted so far. To help them out, the group is using a virus that infects the chestnut fungus and makes it weaker. But Westbrook says only 500 trees, the toughest and the best of the bunch, will ultimately be selected for reintroduction to the wild.” Listen to the story here.

The poet Marianne Moore once wrote, “I rejoice that there are owls.” Today I rejoice that there are chestnut trees.

Photo: MPBN/Susan Sharon
Here’s the evidence. People are excited about finding a 100-year-old chestnut tree that survived blight in Maine. Other chestnuts are being nurtured in the South.

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In an article by the “Cooperative Development News” at Mother Earth News (by way of twitter), I read about a group of Somali Bantu refugees in Maine who started a cooperative farm.

This interests me particularly because when I was at the magazine, I acquired a couple articles about Somali refugees adjusting to life in Lewiston, Maine, through farming.

Here’s the story: “A group of Somali Bantu refugees have started a cooperative farm in Maine … Thousands of miles from Somalia, on 30 acres in Maine’s second-largest city, they’ve begun to feel like they’ve come home.

“New Roots Cooperative Farm, though just recently started by four new Americans, is already a success story. Combine the complexities of farming with the uncertainty of navigating a system that is unfamiliar — and, at times, unfriendly — to newcomers and you’ll understand just a fraction of how far New Roots has already come. They’re inspired to help one another and the community, too.

“ ‘Our aim is not only to grow food and run a business ourselves but to help our community and teach them about how to run a business,’ says New Roots farmer Batula Ismail. …

“The group used to farm before being forced from their homes during Somalia’s tumultuous civil war period. … After arriving in Maine, they got back to farming at Cultivating Community’s New American Sustainable Agriculture Project at Packard-Littlefield Farm in Lisbon, Maine. The program empowers New Americans to launch independent farm businesses, to adopt new leadership roles in the community, and to attain increased economic independence for themselves and their families.

“Now, with a decade of experience at Packard-Littlefield backing them up, the group is ready to put their education to the test. When Gendron Farm, a dairy farm in Lewiston was divided into several parcels in 2015, New Roots worked with Cooperative Development Institute, Maine Farmland Trust, Land for Good, Cultivating Community, and many others to preserve 30 acres as a working farm.” More here.

I’ve been interested in Somali immigrants since living for three years in Minneapolis, where there is a large population. I was friendly with one man who worked in our apartment building, ran for mayor, and got a job as a community liaison for a US Senator. Very nice guy. I loved his stories about being a child in Somalia, soaking up geography from international radio news, and pausing for a camel to get off the field when he was playing soccer.

Photo: Jenny Nelson/Maine Farmland Trust
Bantu refugees start a cooperative farm in Maine.

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I got to see some pretty cute videos this week. Suzanne and Erik had just returned from taking the the kids on a trip to warmer climes, and my one-year-old granddaughter learned to speak “goat.” How great to be able to capture her conversation on a smartphone!

Goat, as you may know, consists of a one-word vocabulary delivered with varying degrees of urgency: “Baaaaaaa.”

I’m thinking she and her brother will relate to this June 2015 story about some baby goats in Maine.

From WPTV.com: “Winifred and Monty are three-week-old Nigerian dwarf goat siblings who love to play together on Sunflower Farm.

“In a few weeks they’ll be moving to a new home as pets and milking goats, so their current owners like to spoil them.

“On this particular cold day, they were treated to some new pajamas!

“They had no interest in going out in the rain though. They preferred to keep their new clothes pristine!” More here.

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Ingenuity can make a business out of almost anything. That’s what you may conclude after reading how a small Maine company is making something useful from lobster shells.

Tom Bell has the story at the Associated Press: “A startup company in Maine is developing a children’s bandage coated with a substance extracted from crushed lobster shells that would promote blood-clotting and is resistant to bacterial infection.

“The company, Lobster Tough LLC, shipped Maine lobster shells to a processor in Iceland for testing, and so far, the results are promising, said Thor Sigfusson, an Icelandic investor in the company. …

“ ‘My dream will be to use the massive amounts of lobster shells that are being thrown into dumpsters,’ he said. …

“The lobster shells must be dehydrated to remove weight and lower shipping costs. Lobster Tough this winter is shipping a portable dehydration machine from Iceland to Maine. The company eventually plans to build a $2 million dehydration plant somewhere on the Maine coast, said Patrick Arnold, an investor who lives in South Portland. …

“The bandages would be the first commercial product developed through the New England Ocean Cluster, a new business incubator in Portland.”

More here.

Photo: Tasty Island

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Casey Kelly has a story at WBUR’s Only a Game on a sport enabled by the removal of dams on the Penobscot River in Maine.

The recent removal of two dams (and upgrades to others) in Maine’s Penobscot River made available over 1,000 miles of habitat for Atlantic salmon and other fish — and also made the river available to whitewater enthusiasts.

“The dam removal was the culmination of years of restoration efforts by several groups. The Penobscot Nation, for whom the river has been vital for centuries, helped lead that effort.

“ ‘The creator put us here, in the Penobscot River Valley,’ said James Eric Francis, Sr., the director of cultural and historic preservation for the Penobscot Nation. ‘We are surrounded by the sacred river.’

“Last month, paddlers from all over the country gathered for a race celebrating the removal of the dams.” More here, including a video.

Here’s how freeing the river came about. It was a major collaboration by disparate groups committed to identifying and acting on the values they held in common.

Photo: Craig Dilger for The New York Times  
The dismantling of the Veazie Dam is also giving 11 species of fish better access to 1,000 miles of spawning habitat.

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I have written a few times about young people who commit themselves to a life of farming. At National Public Radio, Jennifer Mitchell explains why Northern New England states like Maine are particularly attractive to beginning farmers.

“On a windy hillside just a few miles from Maine’s rocky mid-coast, it’s 10 degrees; snow is crunching underfoot. Hairy highland cattle munch on flakes of hay and native Katahdin sheep are mustered in a white pool just outside the fence. Not far away, heritage chickens scuttle about a mobile poultry house that looks a bit like a Conestoga wagon.

“Marya Gelvosa, majored in English literature and has never lived out in the country before. ‘Just a few years ago, if you’d told me that I was going to be a farmer, I would have probably laughed at you,’ she says.

“But Gelvosa and her partner, Josh Gerritsen, a New York City photographer, have thrown all their resources into this farm, where they provide a small local base of customers with beef, lamb and heritage poultry. Gerritsen says their livelihood now ties them to a community. …

” ‘It’s very fulfilling work,’ Gelvosa says, ‘and noble work.’ …

“In Maine, farmers under the age of 35 have increased by 40 percent, says John Rebar, executive director of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension: ‘Nationally, that increase is 1.5 percent.’

“And young farmers are being drawn to other rural Northeastern states as well, he says. Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont were all hotbeds of activity during the previous back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s. Many of those pioneers stayed and helped create farming and gardening organizations that now offer support and encouragement for new farmers. …

“Sparsely developed states like Maine still possess affordable lands, which savvy young farmers with a little money — and a lot of elbow grease — are starting to acquire.” Read all about it here.

Photo: Josh Gerritsen/Donkey Universe Farm
Marya Gelvosa and Josh Gerritsen run a small farm on Maine’s rocky mid-coast, providing their local community with beef, lamb and heritage poultry.

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With increasing numbers of Americans experiencing food insecurity, it seems like an appropriate time of year to be grateful that at least there are many goodhearted people managing food banks and community meals and doing what they can.

If you know of anyone in New England who could use the help just now, or if you want to volunteer or donate, this partial list may be a good starting place.

Rhode Island

http://www.rifoodbank.org
“The Rhode Island Community Food Bank works to end hunger in our state by providing food to people in need. We envision a day when all Rhode Islanders have access to nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle.

Massachusetts

East
http://Gbfb.org
“The Greater Boston Food Bank’s mission is to End Hunger Here. Our objective is to distribute enough food to provide at least one meal a day to those in need.”

West
https://www.foodbankwma.org/
“We are fortunate to live in such a special part of the country, allowing for the growth and harvest of a multitude of fresh fruits and vegetables. As this harvest season comes to an end, we have received more than 266,800 pounds of fresh produce — including potatoes, lettuce, carrots, apples and squash — donated by local farms this year.”

Vermont

http://www.vtfoodbank.org/FindFoodShelf.aspx
“If you are looking for a place to have a Thanksgiving meal or to volunteer to help cook, serve or clean-up, download our list of Thanksgiving meals.”

New Hampshire

http://www.nhfoodbank.org/
“Need Food? We Can Help. If you are in need of assistance, use our search to locate the nearest food pantry or soup kitchen to you. Search by your town or county, or view all of our partner agencies.”

Maine

http://www.foodpantries.org/st/maine
“There are several food pantries and food banks in the Maine. With help from users like you we have compiled a list of some. If you know of a listing that is not included here please submit new food pantries to our database.”

Connecticut

http://www.ctfoodbank.org/
“The mission of Connecticut Food Bank is to provide nutritious food to people in need. We distribute food and other resources to nearly 700 local emergency food assistance programs in six of Connecticut’s eight counties: Fairfield, Litchfield, Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Windham.”

harvest

 

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Photo: dornob.com
Train car converted to church. Lots more such churches at dornob.

The artist who tweets @FortPointer clued me in to this Boston Magazine today, which asks what should happen to the old Mass Bay subway cars that are being taken out of service.

Steve Annear reports, “The MBTA is gearing up to sign a contract with a Chinese manufacturing company to procure hundreds of Red and Orange Line train cars so they can replace the current fleet of vehicles that have been traveling down the tracks for decades. …

“According to the T, the train cars—they’re replacing 152 Orange Line vehicles and up to 138 Red Line vehicles—will go up for sale, and the highest bidder can do whatever they want with them.

“Like most transit systems, the MBTA typically sells old cars for scrap to the highest bidder. ‘But we also like to preserve a bit of MBTA history by donating a retired car or two to the Sea Shore Trolley Museum in Maine,’ said T spokesman Joe Pesaturo. …

“ ‘Someone buy four of them and open an Orange Line Deli,’ one person suggested on Facebook.

“Another tossed a different idea into the ring: ‘I’d like to put one in my back [yard] for the ultimate ‘man cave.’

“These ideas might sound far-fetched, but stranger things have happened to retired train cars.” Good examples in the photos and also here.

Photo: io9.com
A
 Soo Line caboose, built in 1090, turned into a vacation home in 1976 in Pennsylvania.

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An Associated Press blurb in the Globe caught my eye today.

Here it is in its entirety: “Unity Plantation, Maine. A two-year quest by Unity College students to fit a black bear with a video collar has succeeded. The Morning Sentinel said Professor George Matula and about a dozen students trekked deep into a 4,000-acre patch of woods off Route 139 Thursday to fit the collar on a trapped bear. While one student kept the angry bear’s attention, another sneaked in from behind to deliver a shot to knock it out.”

I had to find out more. The website of Unity College, “America’s Environmental College” located north of Augusta in Waldo County, explains it wasn’t a professor-assisted prank.

“With permission from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Unity College Bear Study team does hands-on research to provide information on a bear population in Central Maine. Students work with faculty mentor George Matula and alumna mentor Lisa Bates ’08 to tag, tattoo and radio collar bears to collect data and monitor activity.” More at Unity College, here.

But about actually collaring the bear. …

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling  writes at the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel, “Once Matula gave the all-clear, the students descended on the bear, intent and serious as each performed a well-defined role. They still spoke in whispers as they took blood samples, checked its vital signs and prepared to affix the all-important video collar to its neck. …

“One student, Leon Burman, cradled the bear’s head in his lap while he pulled back its lips, using a tattoo gun to leave an identification mark on the gums.

“[Student Jonah] Gula lifted the bear’s front right paw, inspecting a raw and red line defining the previous capture’s cable. Gula speculated later that it meant the bear was pulling at its snare more aggressively than most. The team treated it with a first-aid kit.” More here.

Photo: Mark Bennett

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Photo: The Slater Mill, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, bears the name of Samuel Slater, the father of the American Industrial Revolution.

Suzanne is interested in textiles as well as jewelry. (Check out the little purses she had made for Luna & Stella using weavers in Bhutan, here.) So I wasn’t surprised when she passed along an article from the NY Times on the U.S. textile industry today.

It seems that in addition to artists who create textiles for artistic purposes (see yesterday’s post), niche textile businesses still exist in the United States.

Rivka Galchen writes, “In 1776, America didn’t have a single textile mill. There were no spinning mules, no water-powered looms. There were only rumors of what such things might look like … Nearly every American woman, except the wealthiest, knew how to spin her own yarn and weave her own cloth …

“Samuel Slater was 14 when he began working at a cotton-spinning mill in Derbyshire, England. Seven years later, in 1789, he disguised himself as a farmer to pass English customs and board a ship to the United States. When he arrived in America, he got a mechanized loom up and running, then a textile factory and later factory towns, eventually becoming known as both Slater the Traitor and the father of the American Industrial Revolution.”

In 2010, Galchen continues, photographer Christopher Payne “came across a yarn mill in Maine and was transfixed by the way it seemed to exist both in the past and the present; it became the first textile mill he photographed.” He has since photographed more than 20.

“Langhorne Carpet Company, in Penndel, Pa., used to share its building with a hosier, but that business closed long ago. … On the day I visited, a young man in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans was making a five-color runner on one of the narrow looms, while an older man in a denim smock was restringing a broad one; 5,040 spools of yarn needed to be knotted on.

“ ‘We’ve stayed in business because we’ll take a 20-yard order, that’s our niche,’ said Langhorne’s president, Bill Morrow, whose grandfather and great-grandfather founded the company in 1930. … Langhorne has made reproductions of historic carpets for the Frederick Douglass house in Washington; the Congress Hall of Philadelphia; and the Rutherford B. Hayes home in Fremont, Ohio. …

“Langhorne employs about 40 people, whom it trains in-house. When a machine needs a new part, it is specially forged. ‘We’ve bought a lot of [our] machinery from other companies that have closed down,’ Morrow said.” More here.

Kind of nice to know that not all manufacturing has gone overseas. American ingenuity still can create jobs doing specialty work, training people in-house.

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Rodin’s the Thinker, Wikipedia Commons

Went to Augusta, Maine, yesterday for a conference, where I took a bunch of pictures but not a single good one. Even when a conference is interesting, as this one was, it’s very hard to make it look interesting, although in one shot a panelist looked as absorbed as Rodin’s The Thinker.

I need a camera that shows thought processes — or a cartoonist who can draw light bulbs over people’s heads.

So here are few photos of a stretch-my-legs stop instead. Wells was about halfway to the Augusta, and I was curious about it as I always heard that a founder of Wells (Edmund L. Littlefield) was an ancestor. I couldn’t stay long, but the spiffy little train station made me want to take the Downeaster from Boston someday. Maybe spend a weekend in Portland and check out its art museum. …

wells-maine-train-station

wells-train-clock

wells-stop-on-Downeaster

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