Talk of the Towns 7/12/19: A Conversation with Roxana Robinson about her novel, Dawson’s Fall

Producer/Host: Ron Beard
Studio Engineer: Amy Browne

The backdrop for the action of the novel is the period in Charleston, following defeat of the Confederate army by the Union. Referred to as “redemption” by the those who supported “the Lost Cause”, you write of this time as a reassertion of the violence that kept slavery in place. What are the key elements of that period?

You write that the violence that underlies that geography and that time was rooted in “700 years of border wars between Scotland and England”, codes of honor for both the upper and under classes (dueling), and the need to keep slaves from rebellion.

You link violence against former slaves to violence by which some men hold women in place… both patterns continue to thrive today. Drawing from real life, you use one of Dawson’s neighbors to illustrate the misogyny of that time, a Dr. McDow. In what ways does your story allow him to represent underlying attitudes about women?

As a New Englanders, I suppose you and I absorbed the notion that our nation was founded on principles of justice… all being equal and encouraged to pursue life, liberty and happiness…. that there was an honest and virtuous basis for the rule of law. Is Dawson’s Fall an admission of how far we have all fallen from the ideals and values that we aspire to in our nation’s story?

Roxana Robinson, is author of Dawson’s Fall, published by Sarah Crichton Books / FSG in 2019. Roxana is the author of five previous novels, including Sparta and Cost; three collections of short stories; and the biography Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life. . She was president of the Authors Guild from 2014 to 2017. She teaches in the Hunter MFA program and divides her time among New York, Connecticut, and Maine.

Talk of the Towns 6/14/19: Conversation with Scott Planting, former President, Maine Sea Coast Mission

Producer/Host: Ron Beard
Studio Engineer: Amy Browne

What is the primary work of Maine Sea Coast Mission?
What were the highlights of your work there?
What led you to your work as a pastor in the Congregational church?
How did your work as a pastor inform own approach to “community building”?

Guest: Scott Planting, former President, Maine Sea Coast Mission

Talk of the Towns 5/10/19: The Abbe Museum and the Road to De-Colonization

Producer/Host: Ron Beard, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Studio Engineer: Amy Browne

Key discussion points:

How has the Abbe board, staff and stakeholders used your strategic planning process to better define the direction and aspirations for the Abbe

What is “decolonization” and how have you worked on that at the Abbe?

What differences might we see and feel in a museum that is down the road with decolonization?

The Abbe has been at the forefront of decolonization… what responses are most gratifying as you work with colleagues around the world?

One aspect of your strategic plan, and your efforts toward decolonization is the upcoming Abbe Museum Indian Market on May 17-19 in Bar Harbor.

What is the history of Indian Markets, including the earliest sales by Native Americans to summer visitors to Mount Desert Island up to the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market in Phoenix… is the Abbe an East Coast echo to the Heard event?  ?


Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, President and CEO, Abbe Museum

Gabriel Frey, Abbe Board member, Passamaquoddy Basket Maker

Suzanne Greenlaw, Abbe Native Advisory Council, Maliseet Tribe, Doctoral Candidate, UMaine, research on sustainable harvest of sweetgrass, basketmaker


Talk of the Towns 4/12/19

The Union River and Relicensing for Electrical Generation

Producer/Host: Ron Beard, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Engineer: Joel Mann

What do we know about the ecology and history of the Union River and its watershed?

What do we know about the current use of the Union River to generate electricity?

What concerns have your organizations focused on as part of the relicensing process?
Fish passage (alewives, eels, salmon, etc)
Water level changes and sedimentation at Graham Lake
Recreational use of the river

What concerns have been expressed by others (City of Ellsworth, property owners along Leonard Lake, alewife harvesters, etc.?

What are the various scenarios that you see developing… whether or not there is a renewed license? Fish passage, dam removal, water level control on Graham Lake?


Dwayne Shaw, Executive Director, Downeast Salmon Federation
Brad Perry, Friends of Graham Lake
Mark Whiting, retired biologist, Maine DEP

Talk of the Towns 3/8/19

Producer/Host: Ron Beard, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Engineer: Amy Browne

Community concerns and opportunities: Combatting Racism in our schools and our communities

Key Discussion Points:
Can someone offer a definition of racism, one that helps frame your work
Can you distinguish between individual behavior and “institutional” racism?
How does racism “show up” in your experience as high school students and citizens of Mount Desert Island and the state of Maine?
How do you serve as allies to those who are subject to racism in their everyday lives?
What steps are you taken to confront racism in your school and community?
How do we, as a society, confront the racism that is part of our history and persists today?

Students from Mount Desert Island High School Civil Rights Team: Grace Munger, Lily Turner, Dawson Burnett, Finn Baker, Elliot Servaites, Sirohi Kumar, Faith Reece, Lexi Simard, Claire Shaw, Bella Galarza
Michelle Merica, Faculty Advisor, MDI High School Civil Rights Team
Jackie Davidson, Executive Director, YWCA of Mount Desert Island

Talk of the Towns 2/8/19

Producer/Host: Ron Beard, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Engineer: Amy Browne

Community concerns and opportunities: Is it time to open up the Maine’s primary process to unenrolled voters

Key Discussion Points:
What are primary elections and how are they conducted in Maine?
What role do parties play, what is the role of the state of Maine?
What has been the rationale to prohibit unenrolled voters from participating in party primary elections?
How is the present campaign organized and what are you hoping will happen?
What was your experience with the primary experience, as a member of a party or as an Independent candidate? What did you appreciate about it? How would this proposed change benefit the state of Maine?

Kaitlin LaCasse, Campaign Manager, Open Primaries Maine
Jill Goldthwait, former State Senator, Independent
Dennis Damon, former State Senator, Democrat

Talk of the Towns 1/11/19

Producer/Host: Ron Beard, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Engineer: Amy Browne

Community concerns and opportunities: Looking back and looking forward—the view from Deer Isle, Stockton Springs and Mount Desert

Key Discussion Points:
Thumbnail sketches of geography, population and demographics
economic base, history of Deer Isle, Stockton Springs, Mount Desert
Brief overviews of town Governance structures:
Selectboard, town meeting, key committees
Opportunities and challenges from the past year… achievements?
Opportunities and challenges for the year ahead
Comparison of
Tax base (valuation), budget and tax rate
Portion of budget for education
How do you handle capital costs?
How is your volunteer base holding up (town committees, public safety, etc.)
Examples of town to town and town to non-governmental partnerships and collaboration
What is most satisfying about your work as town manager?
What makes your town a good place to live?

Jim Fisher, Town Manager, Deer Isle
Courtney O’Donnell, Town Manager, Stockton Springs
Durlin Lunt, Town Manager, Mount Desert