rubenpwidmer@gmail.com

505-9363

On the night of Saturday, Oct. 8, my family and I attended a showing of “Defending the Dark,” followed by a hike up Haystack Mountain. My father and I arrived at Walker School, where the documentary was being shown, around 6:30 p.m. and entered the cafeteria where a projector was set up and people were gathered. Tara Zabriskie, the creator of the documentary, had traveled from Maryland to present her film and several people featured in it were in attendance.

The movie focused on the importance of people being able to see the stars of the night sky, and how outdoor lighting causes light pollution, where the night sky never gets dark enough for people to see constellations. This can be solved by shielding lights: A cone placed above them will keep light directed at the ground where its pollution is mitigated.

In addition, turning off lights when there is no need for their use is a practical way to both prevent light pollution and conserve energy. The documentary consisted mostly of interviews with people who advocate or have seen the benefit of this approach.

After the documentary was over, John Meader, one of the people featured prominently in the film, walked up Haystack mountain with a group of us and used a laser pointer to show constellations.

John’s job is to take an inflatable planetarium to elementary schools, where the students can see a majestic projection of the night sky. He came to Walker years ago when I was a student there and though my memories of the event are vague, they are also very magical.

As for the demonstration at Haystack Mountain’s summit, the most interesting thing I learned was that the vast majority of shooting stars are actually particles no larger than a grain of sand.

The event was funded by Friends of Haystack Mountain, a group that is raising funds to put the mountain into a land trust to prevent it from being developed. An anonymous donor offered to match any donation up to $10,000 as a fundraising gift to the organization. If you wish to donate, go to haystackmountainmaine.org/.

The second event of the week, Pie and Politics, took place from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the Union Grange Hall in Montville. The political presentations were held in the second story and the pie served on the first. Independent U.S representative candidate Tiffany Bond, independent governor candidate Sam Hunkler, sitting Democratic state Sen. Chip Curry, sitting Maine Rep. Paige Zeigler, Democratic sheriff candidate Jason Trundy and Republican sheriff candidate Todd Bosivert were all presenting, and my grandfather, Bob Price, served as moderator.

The candidates begin with opening statements, followed by questions from the audience. One of the first questions asked was of the sheriff’s response to drug-related crime. Todd Bosivert stressed the importance of keeping dealers out of the community and Jason Trundy argued that root causes must be addressed. Sam Hunkler, a medical doctor, also offered that in his experience addiction often resulted from trauma in childhood.

Other issues discussed included homelessness, energy sources, climate change and businesses’ vaccination requirements. The only moment of conflict between candidates was between Sam Hunkler and Paige Ziergler, when Hunkler claimed that politicians were beholden to wealthy benefactors that funded their campaigns. Ziegler “took umbrage to this” as his campaigns are funded by many small donations from his constituents. They worked out their conflict after the presentations concluded.

After the politics were finished everyone was happy to head downstairs and enjoy the pie. Thank you to the Union Grange for giving locals a chance to meet all these candidates and for the pie they baked!

Overall, both events I attended that weekend were well worth my time and thought provoking in their own ways.