Island Bound

   Three miles off the coast of Bar Harbor there is a group of islands called the Cranberry Isles. The small community has found the islands help them feel safer about COVID. Knowing everyone on the island, it’s easier to know where people have been. It’s also easier to be socially distant, since that is what most of the islanders feel is normal. Not many people move to the island, so they are used to seeing the same crowd. But being socially distant took on a whole new meaning when COVID started. 

     The pandemic has been around for over a year now. As people rushed to the store when COVID started, the islanders seemed to already be prepared. The islanders, already used to have to stock up weeks’ worth of groceries for their families, found what most call a change to be easy.  

A view right from the Dock restaurant on Islesford. This view just cannot be replaced.

     Since there has been access to the local ferry, some island folk are staying on the island. They find it much safer to stay at home, sticking to their island roots. Tammy Palmer, a year-round resident since 2013, hasn’t left the island since March of 2020. She said, “Knowing who has been where has made me feel more secure about not getting COVID.”  The small island community has been a great asset during the pandemic for everyone. Knowing what other people do during the day helps the islanders feel safer.   

     There is no doubt that the pandemic has had an effect on us all. But has it brought the island communities closer, or has it made them more divided? Tammy Palmer said, “There are two groups of people on the islands. The group where COVID  hasn’t been affected at all, and the people who are more worried about COVID. Those two groups seem to be at odds with each other.”  This is where the island communities can relate to other communities. People, regardless of traveling risks, still choose to travel anyway. 

     Even though the number of tourists is fewer, people are still traveling to the islands. This is not only affecting local businesses such as the Dock Restaurant, but how people socialize as well. Hannah Folsom, a year-round resident since 2006, said, “There is normally a great sense of community when it comes to visiting our elderly. But with social distancing and the risk of exposure, the elderly aren’t getting the amount of visits they normally get.” But the elderly isn’t the only generation that is socializing less. 

     Socializing with people in the community is a big part of the island communities. In the wintertime there are only about 120 people between the two islands. So making friends with who you have is what islanders do. Hannah Folsom found herself gathered with her island family less after the coronavirus started. She said, “I do miss being with people more. I found socializing had a big effect on the islanders.”  Some differences that islanders noticed once the pandemic started was not only having to wear a mask in town, but socializing. Normally people gather once or twice a week to catch up. But different people were finding it harder. 

     The pandemic might have separated the community a little, but nothing more than normal. Living on an island during COVID has made the islanders feel safer, mentally and physically. Whether it’s asking if anyone is at the store so they can grab something for them or not having many visitors, some things haven’t changed. The island community is used to being able to distance themselves from the world. 

Four of the Smartest Personal Finance Moves College Students Can Make This Year

1.Focus on paying down your debt before placing priority on retirement.

     This may seem like common sense, but student loans only grow and gain interest with time. Retirement is more of a long-term goal. The money made in a part-time job will make no dent in retirement. It can definitely make a dent in student loans, though. Retirement accounts are best set aside until your career begins. 

     The best plan of attack is to just know your loan plan really well. Ask questions! These can include the costs of interest, the first payment date and how many years you’ll have to pay the money back. If you don’t have subsidized federal loans, your loans will collect interest the entire time you’re in school. And it adds up (potentially hundreds or thousands of extra dollars). So, consider paying some of your interest payments while you’re still in school. These can be funded primarily through a part-time job. It’s a small sacrifice that will set you up for success in the long run. 

 

  1. Build up good credit using a credit card.

     Once you’re out of school, your credit score will matter greatly to potential landlords and employers. They’ll likely run it as part of a background check. It can be equally as bad to have no credit score as having a bad one. So start building one early. Open a credit card at your bank and use it for small purchases. Focus on ones that you know you can instantly pay back using money from your checking account. Good examples are small grocery store runs, little cosmetic purchases, lunch out with friends. If you pay it off instantly, it won’t collect interest and will remain easy to pay off. Assuming you can do this regularly, over the course of a few years, you’ll have built up some good credit. This will also help in the future when you try to buy a house or a car.

     Take Gabe Ferris, a sophomore at American University, for example. Gabe has a credit card that he uses for purchases that are under $15 only in order to do just this. “Most of my purchases are small because they are easier to pay back at the end of the month and because they encompass nearly everything I need or want to buy regularly.” And even though he can’t visualize those bigger purchases like houses or cars right now, he still wants to work toward them. “That’s precisely why I have and use my credit card. I think it’s important to build credit at a young age, so I have an established and high credit score when I look to lease an apartment or want to finance relatively big purchases in the next few years.”

Games Without Fans

     Watching games is always fun because it gives you something to get loud and cheer about. Not only that, but when someone hits a big shot, you can just feel it in the air. But since the Coronavirus hit, things have changed. Fans have not been allowed into gyms to watch games but rather are forced to watch via livestream or on TV or maybe even look at the stats after the game.  

     What some people might not realize is that this doesn’t only affect the fans.  It also affects the players themselves. According to Nick Perfit, “Not having fans makes the games feel more like scrimmages. Not hearing the cheering from the fans after big plays changes the game a lot. Your team has to make its own energy since the crowd can’t.”

     But even though Nick, like many, sees this pandemic as a struggle for sports fans and players, he views it also as a challenge for society as a whole. And even though the games may be different, Nick still believes that the team appreciated playing even more this season, when team sports were canceled at so many schools. 

     Fans give these players an extra spark that allows them to play the way they do. It may be easier to compete without the fans in big moments, but it also takes away the feel of the big moments at the same time. This in result takes away a key aspect of the game. Now when playoffs come around, there’s no such thing as home court advantage because those fans are that extra advantage. 

     According to K.J. Minter, “It’s different at first because you’re so used to seeing and hearing the fans’ energy throughout the play of the game and now it’s more so on your team to come up with that extra spark. 

     Getting that extra spark from the bench is tough because all the players are already tired from the play of the game. It’s also very different so the players aren’t used to having no one else but themselves to cheer for the team. Even when all these athletes were younger, there were the parents from both teams there to cheer and support their children’s teams. 

     It’s frustrating not being able to go to the games and support your team in person. But at least games are still being played during this tough time that we’re facing around the globe. These games give us something to look forward to as well since they give us a feel of normalcy for a few hours. 

     It’s nice to remember how things used to be because it allows us to look at the light at the end of the tunnel. We can think about how life’s going to be after this pandemic. Once life returns more to the way it was, there will be less stress for everyone and it will allow fans to come back and do what they do best: give that extra spark. 

‘All the President’s Men’ and the Importance of Journalism

     The 1970s film “All the President’s Men” tells the true story of an international scandal and the reporters who uncovered it. The Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward investigated a burglary at the Democratic National Committee. What they found was shocking. President Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President had been at the root of the operation. The Committee even bugged the office phones and stole important documents. The journalists faced many challenges, but they still chose to pursue the story and uncover the truth for the American public.

All the President’s Men.

     The executive editor of the newspaper, Ben Bradlee, also played an important role. He supported his reporters and believed in the story when nobody else did. In one famous quote from the movie he said, “Not that there’s a lot riding on this. Only the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and maybe the future of our democracy.” By writing the story, the journalists exposed misinformation and injustice at the hands of those in power. They showed that journalists can and will hold people accountable for their actions. They also proved why protecting the press is important. 

     If the Post had not published this story, there’s no telling what would’ve happened. The people in power would have continued to abuse it until someone held them accountable. Misinformation would have continued to spread. The U.S. government would have failed to uphold the country’s values.

     There are many lessons to be learned from this important moment in history. As journalists, we should make it our goal to expose injustice, give a voice to the voiceless and fight for what is right. We should not back down when we are silenced. We should pursue important stories, even when people doubt us. 

     Another important lesson for journalists is about accuracy. As journalists, it is our job to expose the truth. In order to keep people informed and uphold our reputation, we must seek out reliable sources and always fact check. In the movie, Bernstein and Woodward confirmed their information with multiple sources. This was a high profile case and if any misinformation had been shared by the press, it would present an enormous risk. 

     As consumers of news, we can also learn a lesson from what the Washington Post did. Not everyone in a position of power can be trusted. Not everything we are told is true. We must open our eyes to new possibilities and open our minds to new information. 

Oprah Winfrey’s Royal Interview: A Catalyst for Discussions

     Oprah Winfrey’s two-hour interview with Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has sparked conversations around the world, as new details about their departure from Britain were revealed. Allegations of racism, insensitivity and deep-rooted issues within the royal system have left many with questions and varying commentary. According to television network CBS, more than 49.1 million people have streamed the interview. Among those viewers are Jack Bisson, 20, and Maraia Nason, 20, who attended a viewing party of the event. 

Prince Harry and Meghan with Oprah Winfrey, taken from their interview.

     One of the most arguably shocking revelations made in the interview was in regard to Meghan’s mental health. “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore,” Meghan said in the interview. “And that was a very clear and real and frightening, constant thought. And I remember how he [Harry] just cradled me.” It was after this that Meghan shared that she had gone to the institution to ask for mental health services. She, however, was denied access to help. 

     Bisson weighed in. “On the one hand, I sort of get how the royal family wants to keep their perfect image for the public,” he said. “But that being said, I think that denying anybody help when they’re sick is wrong. Meghan straight up saying she wanted to kill herself indicates the need for some sort of medical attention and the fact that the royal family would not acknowledge this is reminiscent of the situation Diana was in back when she did her interview. She basically said the same thing then that Meghan is now.” Bisson went on to raise points about the Royals’ naivete regarding mental health.

     Nason shared similar thoughts. “The way in which Meghan was denied mental health services from the institution was distasteful,” she said. “Essentially because of her status and the attention it would draw, she could not receive help from a hospital. She was pushed into a corner, unable to access any treatment. This denied access must have only further contributed to her mental illness.” 

Spring Fever at UMPI!!

     We are all starting to find it hard to stay on task in classes, and we are all tired of winter.  Now is the time to get moving and go for walks and enjoy the fresh air and warm sunshine.  Maybe that might be running outside or walking on the bike path with some friends up to Mantle Lake Park.  It’s a nice relief knowing that the semester is coming to an end, and we did it!!  What an accomplishment to make it through this whole year with all the restrictions in place.  We did it and you should be proud of yourselves!

     If you are looking to get outside and go hiking, don’t forget that Aroostook State Park, Nordic Heritage Center and Big Rock Mountain are great places for hiking and mountain biking.  If the weather is really nice, don’t forget that Gentile Hall has kayak and canoe rentals if you are interested in going with some friends down the Aroostook River.  Getting outside for some physical activity is very important for us to stay healthy physically–but also mentally–as we start preparing ourselves for final exams.

     I know some of us are ready to lose the COVID weight that we may have gained during this pandemic.  Now is the time to start thinking about eating more fruits and vegetables.  A healthy tip to weight loss is to start eating your greens.  You can put green grapes, kiwi, green pears, green apples and some honeydew into a bowl.  For vegetables you can cut up some cucumbers, green peppers, broccoli, pea pods and some cooked green beans.  Place the veggies on a plate and add your favorite dipping sauces, such as ranch dressing or hummus, for a nutritious lunch or snack.

COVID-19’s Silver Linings: Feeding Dreams and Feeding Your Soul

     Beth Walker of Bethel, Maine, is grateful for the way COVID restrictions paused her hectic life.  With time to reflect on what was important to her, she focused on self-care and a dream she always had.  

      Before the first COVID case was reported in Maine, Beth’s employment working  at Dicocoa’s Bakery & Café, as a Jackie of all Trades, ended. Because of the owner’s health history, the café closed early March 2020. 

     Beth applied for unemployment and found that she needed to tap into her background with the state legislature to move her claim forward.  She messaged her rep for help to complete the process. With assistance from an aide, Beth navigated through the necessary steps to success.  Her husband Frank, who is also a chef, wasn’t quite as lucky, and the process took 1 ½ months.

     Survival on the farm wasn’t a problem for the Walkers.  Beth and Frank had a supply of their own canned produce. When Dicocoa’s closed, the owner sent her employees home with food.

     Beth said that her stress initially came from not seeing people. That stress evaporated as Beth and Frank found that they were thriving with the changes. Beth said lockdown gave them time to think about who they wanted to give their energy to. “You realize who your real and true friends are.”  

     Beth described their life before COVID, trapped in Bethel’s culture. Evenings with friends were spent socializing in town, going to the pub and drinking a lot.  COVID removed the Walkers from Bethel’s alcohol-based food industry.

     Beth said, “We were done with not feeling great.”  She wants to use her time to be with people who spark interest. “When you find a group of people on the same path, that peer pressure is gone.”

     Dicocoa’s was not able to offer her full-time again: Beth was unemployed form March through June. During the summer and fall, she worked at Pie Tree Orchard until it closed Nov. 4 as COVID spiked again. 

     COVID restrictions were freeing for the Walkers. Beth has more energy and ambition.  Being healthy is part of her sustainable living goal. “My goal is to have a farmstand business. COVID was a God-saver for me and a kick in the pants.” 

     Beth had her moments of uncertainty and self-help talks. “I think you have to be conscious of your positivity. I can fall down that rabbit hole of, ‘Can I do it? Do I want to?’”

     Beth and Frank are making a living, fulfilling a dream and thriving.  The chefs are cooking and baking at home.  Customers pick up on La Ferme’s screened-in porch. Whoopie pies, cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cookies are weekend staples. 

La Ferme offers homemade and farm fresh food on the porch. (Photo by Beth Wallker).

Reflections on “A Glimpse of Life: The Pulitzer Photographs”

    “A Glimpse of Life: The Pulitzer Photographs” is a show and tell of why. Why do the winning photojournalists do what they do? Why does it matter? What compels any photojournalists to snap that distinguished photo?

     Photojournalists are compelled to capture that split second in time that no human eye, video or story can capture and freeze in time in quite the same way. A picture can stand alone and speak volumes, but it also has the potential to create curiosity and motivate action. All photojournalists know that seeing is believing.  Their photos bring life to words. A story no longer relies on the eyes of a writer. You see it for yourself through the lens of their camera. The photo becomes personal to and for the viewer.

     A photo becomes worthy of a Pulitzer Prize when it can’t be ignored. There is something about it that distinguishes it from others. It is an image that has become a standard of understanding. It may be a photo of an ordinary person that causes us to pause and share a common experience. It may be a photo depicting someone or something, though far removed from the view, that shows exactly what it was like for that split second. More than showing us, it challenges us to feel.

   Some Pulitzer Prize photos compel you to share a common experience with photo’s subject or the person next to you. Regardless of personal opinions about a subject, a photo is evidence of the human experience. It allows a step into someone else’s experience. 

   The Pulitzer Prize photo’s story is a little like the story told of the little boy throwing starfish back into the sea. He was asked, “Why bother? You can’t make a difference. There are too many.” His response, “It makes a difference to that one.” The photo shows the “that one.” 

     Some Pulitzer Prize photos draw the viewer to stare in shock, horror or disbelief at something it’s easier to not see. They teach. They remind. Others make us smile or celebrate.

     Watching the video of the soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima and freeze into the iconic Joe Rosenthal 1945 photo, it was easy to see how the photo captured the attention of Americans. Against the backdrop of a gray and cloudy sky, the soldiers work together to raise Old Glory to fly high with the rubble of war beneath their feet. One soldier’s job is to keep the pole firmly planted as the others lift a partially furled flag up and toward him. They are uniformed with their helmets on, and it takes careful examination to count six men. One can imagine that that is the way these men would want it – not to see individuals but, instead, the band of brothers.  “Something about that still moment in time…touches people.” –Carol Guzy. Americans saw the flag penetrate Japanese soil and tasted victory.

Iwo Jima.

The Pulitzer Photographs: Bringing Readers Into a Moment

     The Pulitzer Prizes are awards given by Columbia University to outstanding journalists, writers or musicians. To win a Pulitzer is an outstanding achievement. In this video, “A Glimpse of Life: The Pulitzer Photographs,” we see many outstanding and inspiring photos journalists have taken over the decades: from the flag raising in Iwo Jima in 1945 to the twin towers on fire and crumbling in 2001. What exactly makes a photograph Pulitzer worthy? Well, with these next photos, you’ll see through five decades that Pulitzer photographs truly tell an amazing story. 

     Let’s start with the 1950s, and “Parade,” photographed by William Beall and published by the Washington Daily News in 1958. This photo truly embodies the Pulitzer with how beautiful it is. The pure joy from the small boy looking up at the officer just brings a smile to your face. That’s one thing that a Pulitzer should do: make the reader feel an emotion, whether it’s good or bad.

     The next Pulitzer photograph, “Saigon Execution,” was taken by Eddie Adams in 1969. “We see them pulling a guy right through the door of the building: a prisoner. As a photographer, as a newsman, somebody gets a prisoner so you photograph that prisoner until he’s out of sight. All of the sudden to my left, somebody came out of nowhere and I see him go for his pistol and as soon as he raised his pistol, as soon as he brought it up, I took the picture. And I thought absolutely nothing of it. And then I went to lunch. So what, it was a war. I’m being serious, that’s how I felt.” 

“Saigon Execution”.

Remote Learning: How Is It Affecting Children?

     No one thought at this time last year that we would be remote learning due to a pandemic. In recent months, children have been at home more than at school. The “new normal” is affecting students as well as parents. How is it affecting children? 

     Adam Davis is a parent of two girls attending remote learning while Adam is working from home. He said, “It’s tiring for both the kids and the parents. They’re given work to get it done, not to learn.” The teachers in every district are doing everything they can to make remote learning as normal as possible. Normal is not what this pandemic has amounted to. For many, the changes made focus on the logistics of being at home, not on the needs of the children while they are at home.

     Aleshanee Brannigan, a mother of four, is seeing the outcome on her daughter, “My child tends to feel left out and not ‘heard.’ Literally not heard, because she is usually muted.”  While COVID-19 is very real, so is the mental health pandemic sweeping through our children. 

     Children in the Monmouth Memorial School had recess up to three times a day while attending in-person classes. Their recesses now consist of time at home with their family, while being isolated from their friends.

     Educators are doing their best to encourage engagement. It is not an easy task. Katie LeFreniere is a teacher in southern Maine. She took some time to reflect on how remote learning has affected her students’ work. “As an educator, my experiences with my fully remote students show that fully remote students are either flourishing or failing with no in between. I have students that I communicate with daily and who turn everything in on time. However, I also have students who haven’t completed any work and who don’t respond to my repeated attempts at communication.”

     Moving through the last few months has been hard, and it does not appear to be getting any easier. While the effects on each of our children is different, there needs to be a stronger community focus on supporting our teachers and our students.