Friday, March 30, 2018
When this newspaper lands in your mailbox, it will be the last day of March. There are a lot of things happening during this month and it is hard to capture them all. March is a month that we set our clocks ahead, celebrate spring and for those of us here in New England - celebrate maple syrup weekend. Easter even lands in March from time to time.
But one celebration I overlooked and want to make mention of before the month ends, is the celebration of women. March is also Women’s History Month.
There may be a few out there who might wonder why a month has been set aside for one gender. The short answer is that you’ll find very few women who have been acknowledged for making significant contributions to society - so the month has been created in an attempt to balance things out a bit.
For example, have you heard of Emmy Noether? Mary Anning? Florence Seibert?
Exactly. They were all important scientists that somehow slipped through our history lessons. Emmy Noether was known among her contemporaries as the Athena of math and she’s responsible for abstract algebra. Anning made a series of discoveries when she excavated skeletal sections of ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and pterosaurs between 1809 and 1829. Seibert developed a system to purify a protein from TB bacteria that became the international standard for TB testing.
It will be a good day when women can be recognized for their achievements - not only in science but in literature, art, medicine and government. In doing so, perhaps then we can put aside a month dedicated to the history of women.
It’s been said that we all need someone to look up to - as mentors and positive role models. And I want to take a moment, for all of our young Windham and Raymond residents (both male and female) and provide examples of women role models.
I have given three cases with the scientists mentioned above, but one need not go far back in history or look to other countries to scope out amazing women. There are women right here in our community that offer irrefutable examples of a life well lived.
First, there is Betty Stetson, the 100-year-old from Raymond who has farmed, fished, hiked and traveled with the best of them. And then, there are the Windham area women who join the armed forces, sometimes facing unbearable circumstances and severe scrutiny to serve their nation.
By recognizing the achievements of these women, it not only provides inspiration for more innovative discoveries, but a more balanced and inclusive history. I loved digging up rocks and bones when I was a child. If I was introduced to Mary Anning - perhaps I would be out discovering dinosaur skeletons and saving you from reading this Insight.
With the support of family, friends, and neighbors, I am pleased to announce that I am a candidate for the Maine House, District 25 which is the western half of Windham. Public service has always been part of who I am and was how I was raised. I am committed to representing the whole community - regardless of political party - because everyone deserves to have their voices heard.
I taught high school mathematics for 31 years; 27 of those years here in Windham. I always encouraged my students to reach their full potential. I believe it is crucial to invest in education. All students in Maine need opportunities to be successful and have role models both in and out of the classroom. Excellent Pre-K through post-secondary education, no matter what zip code, is how Maine will keep and attract younger people. Augusta needs to live up to the will of the voters and fully fund education at the 55 percent level.
Also, I am deeply committed to finding strategies to help Windham residents age in place, especially since becoming a caregiver myself. I retired from teaching full time four years ago to care for my mother who had a stroke. She has lived with us for many years but is no longer able to accomplish many everyday tasks. I was fortunate to be able to retire and help her, knowing many others are not able to do that. Maine is among the states with the oldest median age in the country so these situations are going to be even more common.
I have volunteered in many capacities with the Boy Scouts, Saint Ann’s Episcopal Church, the Down East Ski Club, the Windham Recreation Department Advisory Committee, Windham Schools and Windham Athletics.
My primary goals in the House are education, aging in place, and a balanced approach to budgeting. For more information on my campaign, visit my Facebook page: Jennie Butler for Maine House District 25. My website: jenniebutlerwindham.com is under construction.
They [Windham High School students] were focused deliberate in thought and totally involved, as they eagerly expressed their ideas about instituting long-term school safety policies in the Windham Raymond School System.
We, as the Windham and Raymond Legislative Delegation requested a “listening” session with a group of Windham High School seniors [in Kelly Anne Rush’s class], in the hopes of learning from them - new ideas and specific steps that could be taken to improve school safety both locally and possibly across the state.
State Representatives Mark Bryant, Patrick Corey, Jessica Fay and Sue Austin, and myself, sat with the students for nearly an hour for the sole purpose of learning from them . . . and we did, far beyond our expectations.
We heard well thought out, practical ideas that should be considered and, if deemed appropriate by staff and school administration, implemented as significant safety improvements in schools throughout RSU 14.
Listening to these impressive seniors who are about to end their high school careers and move on to the next step in their lives, was an inspiration to say the very least. Their sincerity and true caring for the school system and for their fellow students was striking.
Above all else we, as legislators, came away from this session with a renewed spirit and confidence in the future of this next generation of leaders. I only wish their parents and grandparents and the community could have witnessed the commitment, dedication and insight demonstrated by these amazing students.
They made me and the entire delegation very proud . . . and they would make you proud too!
Senator Bill Diamond
Friday, March 23, 2018
At 7:02 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, March 20, it happened as expected! The vernal equinox that opens the door to the first day of spring finally arrived. As the days get longer and dreams of warm days ahead engulf us, we naturally shift our energy from winter’s slow pace to a more upbeat stride.
This energetic shift causes many celebrations worldwide. In fact, many countries have been celebrating this time of year for centuries. For example, in Switzerland they are so ready to be done with the dark days of winter, they burn a snowman on a stick as soon as the first flower pops its pedals from the fresh earth.
In Japan, people welcome spring by hosting parties under the trees of the famous cherry blossoms. They even pay attention to a “bloom forecast” so they can make their plans of festivity.
Large groups of people will travel to a town in Bosnia, for the "Festival of Scrambled Eggs”. In this city, scrambled eggs are cooked in huge pots and handed to all who have come to celebrate -for free. Much like Easter here in the U.S. the egg symbolizes new life and the birth of a new season.
Then of course, we have Easter here in the U.S. which, depending upon your personal perspective, either includes bonnets and a sunrise service or Easter Bunny and chocolates. Both ways are definitely fun - but here in New England, its people have their own copyright on the celebration of spring by reveling in sugar maple sap.
After the trees have been tapped and the sugary goodness drips from the bark (when the daytime temperatures rise above freezing and nighttime temperature fall below freezing) - this not only produces that auburn liquid we all love, but it brings the community together to embrace the days in front of us.
This natural miracle food is worth the celebrations that will occur this weekend at various farms in the Windham and Raymond Communities. There will be plenty of “Maine Maple Weekend” activities such as games, treats, pancakes, sugarbush tours, music, and animals to visit; all providing relief from a long, dark and cold winter. (Be sure to check out pages 12-13 in our print edition to find a farm location near you.)
How sweet it is - that first taste of spring and, how much sweeter to celebrate - Maine style!