Spinning wheels

The earth is round, so running away from it is wasted effort. The treadmills we run on are also round. We simply run past the same billboards proclaiming the same loudly shouted positions over and over, ad nauseum. Our goal must be not only to get off the mind-numbing, physically destructive, ideological treadmills, but to gain the ability and the desire to move freely, both physically and in our fertile minds, through the always changing landscape of human potential.

We have need of leaders and we welcome them from all corners of society. But if our leaders are running in circles, we need, we are obligated, to jump away from the spin and leave them behind, hoping they will find their own way off the wheel.

If a leader, while spinning on that wheel, sees only billboards with his/her face on them, we who are choosing to be led must abandon that wheel and that leader quickly and urgently.

Those billboards should portray the horror of deaths by unnecessary and obscene gun violence and the grief of those left behind and terrorized.

They should scream the pain of humans seeking refuge from inhuman violence in their own countries, and children separated from their loved and loving caregivers.

They should expose the devastating inequality of an economy completely out of balance and the needs of those caught in the refuse from the insane scrabble for wealth.

They should also point to a path for all of us to exit with dignity and hope the empty world of the spinning wheels and open our minds to the promise of our ever-spinning, always evolving earthly home.

Richard E. Brown

Stockton Springs

Street Party thanks

After a huge and successful Belfast Summer Street Party, how do you say thank you to so many people? First off, a big THANK YOU to Joe Slocum and the Belfast City Council, who saw the value of the Street Party and supported our efforts to support and preserve the quintessential local Belfast and area gathering. Without that support the party would never had a chance.

Thank you to the city departments, especially Parks and Recreation, Highway Department, the Manager's Office and staff, and the  Planning Department. Thank you to The Waldo County Reentry Center staff and men making their way back into world. Every year a group of men shows up and they willingly and cheerfully do the heavy lifting that makes the party possible.

Thank you, Nordic Aquafarms, for a supporting financial donation that helped lighten the load for Belfast taxpayers. Thank you, Pasco Grove, chain saw artist. Thank you to the High Street businesses and residents for allowing, welcoming, participating and even enduring. Once a year and we thank you.

Thank you to the organizers, in particular The Game Loft, Waterfall Arts, Anne Saggese, Bre Pinkham Bebb, Paul Dean, Debbie and Tom Murphy, and City Councilor Paul Dean. Thank you to the American Legion for their electricity and chairs. Thank you, YMCA, for chairs.

Organizations and vendors are too many to count but without them the street would be empty. They each brought a slice of Belfast and contributed to the fun and feel of the party.

Thank you to Captain Obvious and Don Nickerson and Country Mist. You folks bring the party.

Lastly, thank you to the thousands of people who came out to enjoy a late summer meet-up with your friends and neighbors. Your support says “We need and love the Belfast Summer Street Party.”  A big shout out to all the kids big and small. This party is for you!

Next year is coming. Belfast Summer Street Party 2020 is in the planning. Go to our Facebook page and we’d love to welcome you as a volunteer to put on the party. See you next year: It’s going to be bigger and better than ever!

Belfast Summer Street Party Organizers

Sending toothbrushes

We would like to thank everyone who stopped by our table outside the Co-op on Saturday, Aug. 10. We were pleased to find that many people were willing to support our project, Send Toothbrushes to Kids in Cages.

The toothbrushes are a symbol of our concern about the horrible and unhealthy conditions in which the children are being held at the U.S./Mexican border.

Our original idea was to send many toothbrushes to Susan Collins in the hopes that she might try to effect some improvements, or at least show her concern. Toothbrushes with accompanying cards signed by Mainers have arrived at Sen. Collins' office almost every day for the past three weeks. To date, we have received no response.

We've now expanded our idea to try to get a toothbrush and card to every senator upon their return to D.C. after their vacation.

On Saturday, over a hundred folks signed cards and made generous donations in support of this plan. Many of the cards were signed from visitors from other states, We assured them that their cards will get to their respective senators. Others said that we could send their card to a senator of our choice so that we can get one to each congress person.

All of the toothbrushes that we are sending have been donated, many by local dentists in support of this idea. Postage is our only expense at this time. It costs over $3 to send even one toothbrush.

Some people expressed doubt about our scheme having little or no effect. But, we feel that we must make an attempt to make some changes to this untenable situation. If no one does anything, certainly nothing will be done.

Our thanks everyone who signed a card, made a contribution, and indicated their support for our project.

Dorothy Cannell


Carol Gater


Reasons to love Baltimore

Randall Poulton claims that he “did a little digging” to find the truth of President Trump’s assertion that Baltimore was “a disgusting and rat infested hellhole, a corrupt mess.” He should have dug a little further than the opinion of his brother who lives 30 miles from Baltimore and a surface perusal of news stories.

If he had, he would have found that much of Baltimore’s mess was not caused by “corrupt” Democratic politicians but by the business practices of unscrupulous realtors who used racist rhetoric to scare white people out of neighborhoods. The realtors were followed by greedy landlords who bought homes cheaply and rented, at inflated prices, to African-Americans who were restricted to these neighborhoods by racist neighborhood covenants.

Slumlords owned blocks of houses in many of what are now the worst neighborhoods in the city. They did little to keep the houses up to housing code standards and employed large law firms to represent their interests in housing court. This was compounded by banks who “redlined” these parts of the city, refusing to issue mortgages for homes and businesses in those areas. These banks also refused to give mortgages to African-Americans who wanted to buy their own houses. What you see in the worst neighborhoods in East and West Baltimore is the result of historical corrupt and racist business practices.

These practices and the loss of the city’s industrial economy has greatly negatively affected the tax base, leaving the city short of the funding it needs to rectify its problems.

At the end of his opinion piece Poulton concludes that the only reason anyone would want to live in Baltimore would be to sell drugs. Well, as someone who loved living in Baltimore for 43 years, I can find many more reasons to live in and love Baltimore. I know its virtues and problems firsthand as I taught in the Baltimore city schools for 24 years and worked as a community organizer in the city for 15 years prior to that.

Yes, Baltimore has many problems. Many families live in poverty and in substandard housing. As in many communities, including rural communities in Maine, drugs are a problem. Because of historical institutional racism in the police department, many black people distrust the police department, which makes solving problems with drugs and crime difficult.

Cities are complex and multi-dimensional. If you only watched Frederick Wiseman’s documentary “Belfast, Maine,” you’d have one perspective about our city and you would miss all the wonderful things about it. It is the same for Baltimore. Baltimore’s nickname is “Charm City.” It was a marketing ploy many years ago but it stuck because Baltimore truly is charming. It’s a beautiful city with amazing art and science institutions, great theater, and interesting neighborhoods. Two weekends ago, thousands people of all ages, races, and economic levels braved the hottest weekend of the summer to attend Artscape, the largest free art and music festival in the country. There is a lively contemporary art and music scene, as well as many chef-owned restaurants producing delicious food. It’s a welcoming city, open to people of all colors, ethnicities and sexual orientation.

This is why Baltimore has thousands of citizens who love the city and are working hard to make it better. There are dozens of community and issues organizations whose volunteers contribute innumerable hours to the city. Despite a few unfortunate recently elected mayors, there are also some great legislators, including Elijah Cummings, who are honest and hardworking. The educational system has lots of challenges but also lots of dedicated teachers and principals who work long hours with few resources.

I now live in Maine and I love living here but, if my husband had not passed away, I would be still happily living there. Like most of his reactions, President Trump’s tweet about Baltimore was ill-formed and typical of the ignorance and bigotry he has displayed about many issues, especially issues involving people of color. It did not come from concern about the city or its residents, or by a desire to assist Baltimore and other great old industrial cities facing similar challenges.

As with many of President Trump’s tweets, it was most likely prompted by self-interest, namely anger at Elijah Cummings who, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is investigating his unethical and possibly illegal conduct. It may also have been prompted by only receiving 5% of the vote in the city in the 2016 election. Which may just be another reason to love Baltimore.

Ann Kennedy