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Bath, ME (November 9, 2021) - Classes are over for the day, but one classroom at Morse High School is still full of people: 24 staff, students, and community members, to be precise. They’ve gathered to discuss an important topic, climate justice, through literature.
MHS Librarian Dawn Lee worked with the Maine Humanities Council to launch the discussion group after a hosting a similar discussion group on the topic of racism in 2020. She drafted a proposal for the theme and content of the discussion and was thrilled when the Maine Humanities Council adopted her plans, pledging a facilitator and funding for books.
“I wondered, how can we bring folks together again, and not through Zoom?” Lee said. “We’ve been living in our bubbles, and I wanted to make an opportunity for people of different ages and backgrounds to come together for a community conversation.”
The first meeting of the discussion group launched with a children’s book: The First Blade of Sweetgrass, by Gabriel Frey and Suzanne Greenlaw. The story follows a Wabanaki grandmother teaching her granddaughter how to pick sweetgrass from the salt marsh to use in basket weaving. The granddaughter learns how to connect with nature and her ancestors to pull the right blades of grass while ensuring there will be enough left for future generations.
Maine Humanities Council Facilitator Hilary Eslinger led the group through a discussion of stewardship and connecting to one’s own landscape through one’s ancestry.
“I love having the opportunity to be part of a discussion and read important books,” Eslinger said. “It’s only a picture book, but it has a lot to say.”
The group will meet again on December 2 to discuss A Dangerous New World: Maine Voices on the Climate Crisis, an anthology of essays, poetry, and artwork compiled by Meghan Sterling and Kathleen Sullivan. All are welcome to attend – connect Dawn Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Morse High School Library Webpage for information.
The Maine Humanities Council, a statewide non-profit organization, uses the humanities – literature, history, philosophy, and culture – as a tool for positive change in Maine communities. Their programs and grants encourage critical thinking and conversations across social, economic, and cultural boundaries.
Discussion Projects are funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.