Midcoast Leadership Academy will partner with GrowSmart Maine in facilitating a community conversation entitled, “Getting from ‘Us and Them’ to ‘We’: A conversation about Midcoast Maine with the people who live here” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at the Rockland Public Library.

Using the books of Barbara Kent Lawrence ("Islands of Time" and "Ben’s Story") as a springboard for the discussion, participants will look at how our population of summer and permanent, as well as native and “from away,” residents have formed the base for a vibrant year-round community. They also will look at some of the stresses and challenges as well as the opportunities for a continued, bright future.

While participants are encouraged to read the books in advance of the conversation, it is not a requirement to attend the event.

Islands of Time and Ben’s Story were built on the foundation of author Barbara Kent Lawerence’s EdD dissertation, "Working Memory: The Influence of Culture on Aspirations, a case study of schools on Mount Desert Island." Winner of the National Rural Education Association Award for the dissertation of the year in 1998, Lawrence’s work may seem an unlikely underpinning for a love story between a summer girl and a year-round island boy, but both books reflect the tensions inherent in the coastal Maine culture that Lawrence studied as a summer kid, a year-round resident in Downeast Maine, and then in formal research.

Her books are available in many libraries, including The Camden Public Library, The Rockland Public Library, and in local bookstores including Sherman’s Bookstore, the Owl and Turtle, Hello Hello Books, and Archipelago, as well as online at Amazon. Both books will be available at the event.

Introducing the evening will be Robin McIntosh of Midcoast Leadership Academy. The conversation will start with a few words from Nancy E. Smith of GrowSmart Maine and author Barbara Kent Lawrence, followed by a moderated discussion that will include program attendees.

Smith has served four terms in the Maine state House of Representatives while working on her family farm in Monmouth. She served as House chairman of the Legislative Committee on Business, Research, and Economic Development and as a member of the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

In addition, she worked as a forester for over 20 years for a large industrial landowner in northern Maine and for a consulting firm serving small woodlot owners in central Maine. She is a member of Monmouth’s Economic Development Committee and Kennebec West Farmland Working Group. She formerly served as a member of the Maine Economic Growth Council, on the board of Maine Rural Partners, and as co-chairman of the Council of State Governments/Eastern Regional Conference. Smith is the mother of three native Mainers.

Lawrence earned a BA in anthropology from Bennington College, an MA in sociology from New York University, and an EdD from Boston University. She taught anthropology and history in high school, then co-founded and ran a real estate and construction firm in Northeast Harbor, Maine. After receiving her EdD, she served a s a policy analyst for the Rural School and Community Trust and later at KnowledgeWorks Foundation while teaching writing and education courses at Northeastern and Lesley universities in Boston. Lawrence now lives in Camden.

RSVP: appledore.drm@gmail.com.