Midcoast Leadership Academy will partner with GrowSmart Maine in facilitating a community conversation, sponsored by the Belfast Free Library, entitled “Getting from Us and Them to We: A Conversation with Midcoast Maine” at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 11, at the library, 106 High St.

Using the books of Barbara Kent Lawrence (“Islands of Time” and “The Other Island: Ben’s Story”) as a springboard for the discussion, participants will look at how our population, whether summer or permanent, multi-generational or “from away,” have formed the base for a vibrant year round community; and we’ll look at some of the stresses, challenges, and 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 "The Other Island: Ben’s Story" were built on the foundation of author Barbara Kent Lawrence’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, her 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.

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. After receiving her EdD, she served as 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.

Her books are available in many libraries, including Belfast Free Library,  Camden Public Library, and Rockland Public Library; in local bookstores; and online at Amazon. Both books will be available at the event.

The mission of Midcoast Leadership Academy is to positively impact the economic and cultural quality of life in Midcoast Maine by enhancing the professional and personal development of existing and emerging community leaders. Our vision is to build a network of informed, committed, engaged community leaders throughout Knox and Waldo counties.

The mission of GrowSmart Maine is to build lasting prosperity without sacrificing the quality of life that defines Maine. Our goals are community revitalization; conservation of farmland, forest, and shoreland; and support for sustainable economic development that will benefit not just today’s Mainers, but our children and grandchildren.

To register for the event (requested but not required), email either appledore.drm@gmail.com or nsmith@growsmartmaine.org.