Sunday, June 22, 2014

Insight - Remember to always shop local - By Michelle Libby

We have great communities in Windham and Raymond. I hear this on a daily basis. People love living in the Sebago region with access to the big city and shopping galore. 
Another thing I hear about all the time is the buy local movement. “Tell people to shop local, use local services.” This is especially true from local business owners. There are organizations devoted to the idea of use local resources. 

I believe it’s a great concept that has its roots in the early days of our communities. When Windham was founded, there was no Internet, no one drove to Portland to get their groceries and the Maine Mall was just farm land. 

In Windham, residents shopped at Booty’s Store. They didn’t have the choices we have today in Shaw’s, Hannaford or Walmart. 

Buying local also provides a level of customer service that we don’t receive in the big box stores. If an employee doesn’t help you and you get angry, they don’t really care. It reflects badly on the store, not them. (They could lose their job, but that’s different and not directly affecting that customer.) If you decide not to shop there…eh…what’s the big deal? For a local, family-owned business, if the employees, usually the owner, doesn’t help you, word will spread and customers will shop at the big box stores where they know they don’t get service. However, to the local business owner who just lost a customer, that’s huge. 

Is this why all businesses close? Of course not. Financial decisions, life changes and other reasons cause some storefronts to get shuttered. 

What is the reason that there are so many closed businesses in Windham and Raymond, most recently Aubuchon Hardware in Raymond, I have no idea. We mourn for their loss and wonder what we could have done to make them stay. 

Shopping local is one of the keys to local business success. It’s not always the easiest choice or the least expensive, but having that one on one customer service, where the owner of the business knows you and your needs is something that no big box store can compete with.

Michelle Libby

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Insight - Voting reflections

I’m a voter. 

I’ve been a voter since I registered at the age of 18 in Connecticut. I was so proud to take my daughter to the polls yesterday so she could register and become a contributing member of the voting public.
After covering elections for so many years for the papers I’ve worked for, I noticed that during the slow times one particular woman who was always there checking in voters and handing out the ballots always had a stack of books to read. 

So yesterday I went down the line of ballot clerks to find out what they were reading while at the polls. A rover, a floating clerk, had just finished reading Orphan Train, a story about children who were orphaned crossing the Atlantic. They were put on trains and deposited across the country, often those orphans were used for slave labor. She highly recommended this book. Another woman was reading 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar, because her husband is a diabetic. Another volunteer told me about The Poacher’s Son and Trespasser, both great books by Paul Doiron. 

Another woman was reading the third book in a series and my favorite poll clerk/reader brought a Debbie Macomber Blossom Street series book. She also told me that she had thousands of books on her Kindle, which she had also brought with her. That is the benefit of having a Kindle in my opinion -  thousands of books on hand at any time. A treasurer of genres and books at your fingertips. Don’t feel like a romance? How about a travel adventure book? 

I did look at the polls in Raymond, but no one seemed to have any books stashed under the table.
Readers have favorite places to read, not that I’m saying their favorite places to read are at voting polls, but think about all the time they can spend reading on a slow voting day. Some of them have full-time jobs, and this is there great opportunity to catch up on the latest Stephen King novel or The Fault in Our Stars

A few women were knitting and stitching project in between voters, just so you know they weren’t all reading.

I don’t know how many books they finished, but they did a great job making sure my daughter and I were able to vote, exercising our rights as American citizens.

-         Michelle Libby

Monday, June 9, 2014

Insight - To the graduates!

Well, it’s graduation week. I’m not sure I ever thought it was going to get here. When our first child goes to kindergarten we sit at the bus stop and cry, then we follow the bus to school to make sure our little person with the backpack that is almost as big as they are is safe as she goes out on her own for the first time. 
After a few years, we attended the middle school parent’s night. “Your children will change and grow so much over the next three years.” They weren’t kidding. And God bless middle school teachers.
Time flies by, which people tell you will happen, but you never believe it, until high school.
“Where will your life take you? What is your plan?” they asked her. 

As a parent, my plan was to survive high school as…a…parent. 

Four years of drama, homework, tests and extra-curricular activities have created memories for my daughter, whose backpack now fits on her back, but now weighs more than she did in kindergarten because it’s filled with science, calculus and history textbooks and of course a book to carry for enjoyment if there’s a free moment.

The little annoyances that drove me nuts when she was in middle school, turn out to be great characteristics for an independent woman heading off on her own. 

I’m amazed at how many students have been in the Windham School system for 13 years with her. As we looked through the yearbook, I barely recognize the faces of kids she went to preschool with, but I remember the names. As someone who went to school in four different school systems the concept of never being able to recreate yourself or break free from the stigma of something you did in kindergarten is foreign to me. 

Well kids, now is your opportunity to get out of Dodge, spread your wings and experience life in a responsible and legal way (had to say that, I’m a mom). Don’t like who you’ve been, maybe you’ve been shy or in the shadow of an older sibling? Where you’re going, you won’t have that hanging over your head. Want to take up water polo? Join a team and have at it. 

Basically, I’m encouraging you all to live life to the fullest. Take no prisoners. Set the bar high. Use any cliché you want, but know that where ever you go, your community is watching and waiting to cheer you on.

-         Michelle Libby    

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Insight - To hoard or not to hoard - By Michelle Libby

There’s a saying, “I’m one book away from being a hoarder.” 

They also say, “Someday I’ll fit into those jeans I wore in high school.” 


I have some jeans like that, but they are so far out of style that I can’t get my daughter to wear them. “But they’ll fit great,” I said. 

“I’ll look like a dork,” she said. 

So when do we say goodbye to those items that we have kept for 20 plus years. The ones that take up space and have sentimental value. 

Maybe we don’t say goodbye because every so often we pull it out and relive the glory days. I still have my UMaine letter jacket that I wore all through college. I haven’t worn it since, but when my daughter was applying to UMaine, I pulled it out to show her. 

So far, jeans from high school – 0, UMaine letter jacket – 1.

I have a troll collection. I know…true confessions here. They are on shelves in my office and I refuse to part with them. There are about 25, each one different. I collected them through college, one from Annapolis, Maryland, when we completed against the Naval Academy and a bride and groom that my husband and I had on a wedding cake we had. Each one has a memory, or at least most of them. They made it through my children growing up and now, they sit on the shelves. Hmmm.

Jeans from high school – 0. Trolls – 1. 

Psychologically, I’m sure there is something that Elizabeth Giammarco, who writes for The Windham Eagle, would say about my need to keep things. I think it comes from my grandparents and probably many of our grandparents, who grew up during the Great Depression, where you didn’t throw anything away because you never knew if you’d need it or a piece of it later. Things are not made like they used to be. Plastic parts, cheap material means that you don’t keep that toaster like your parents did and you can’t keep a lawn mower for 30 years. 

At some point we have to say goodbye to our precious things that serve no purpose. And, before you tell me to get rid of my trolls, they make me smile…that’s a purpose. 

Those jeans from high school, I guess I’ll let them go.