Spring Forward on March 26th from 10-11 am with Belfast Senior College – Cancelled

This event is cancelled.

Are you interested in growing organic asparagus or milkweed for Monarch Butterflies now that Spring is on the horizon? Do you want to know how to do inexpensive photo editing? Or learn about African American Poetry, or the social world of Jane Austen, or read Jack by Marilynne Robinson? Or would you like to take a deep dive into the 2016 election and allegations of Russian interference? Stay healthy? Or travel to China, Nepal, Turkey, Iceland, Bolivia, and Japan from the comfort of your own home? Or perhaps you just want to sit down for an hour with a cup of tea and learn its history in the company of friends and acquaintances?

Spring Forward with Senior College 2021


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Dr. Deirdre J. Good interviews the Rev. Dr. Arlin T. Larson.

The Rev. Dr. Arlin T. Larson has taught courses at Senior College at Belfast since 2006. He has served on the Board of Trustees for eight years, three of them as president. He retired to Belfast in 2011 after serving as minister of First Congregational Church of Searsport.

Topics include the history and future challenges of Belfast Senior College, plus Arlin’s upcoming course on Jack, a novel by Marilynne Robinson.

E-News April 2021

Senior College Online

Spring 2021 with Senior College

“Oh to be in England now that April’s here” wrote English poet Robert Browning in 1845 in his poem Home Thoughts from Abroad. I memorized this poem back in 8th grade and each April those words resonate with me.

Geoffrey Chaucer in his prologue to The Canterbury Tale wrote:

When April the sweet showers fall
And pierce the drought of March to the root, and all
The veins are bathed in liquor of such power
As brings about the engendering of the flower ….

It is almost like Chaucer knew what being here in Maine was like.

Yet centuries later another well known English poet had a somewhat different view of this month. T.S. Eliot wrote in The Wasteland:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Whatever your feelings for this fourth month of the year it does set the stage for glorious May when nature bursts forth in her most festive attire. April to me is a month of promise that winter is really over and that summer warmth will be here soon.

This April many of us celebrate not only the end of winter but the completion of our vaccinations. While we may all have had our vaccines and are anxious to return to “live” activities, the Senior College Board will be following the Covid 19 updates during the next few months. We are all anxious to return to the Hutchinson Center, gather in the lobby for coffee and cookies, and greet friends and familiar faces. But the Board wants you to know that while we are anxious we shall remain cautious and only return when we believe it will be safe!

There is a possibility that we may be able to return to face-to-face teaching this fall at the Hutchinson Center. The Curriculum Committee invites all prospective Instructors to submit proposals for the fall session.

If you are interested in teaching a class but would like to discuss the possibility before submitting a proposal don’t hesitate to contact Deirdre Good at deirdregood@mac.com or Nancy Perkins at nanella133@gmail.com.

In the meantime there are several classes still open in this Spring session. This past week I thoroughly enjoyed learning the ins and outs of growing asparagus. And now that it is April I joined the evocative class on Jane Austen’s England. I am really looking forward to the six-week course on “The Places You’ll Go” and as a proud grandmother I am excited about the segment featuring my granddaughter, Nellie LaValle, describing her Fulbright year traveling in China. Following this presentation a great lineup of fellow members will take us to Russia, Istanbul, Iceland, Galapagos, Bhutan & Nepal, Vietnam & Cambodia, and Bolivia. For tea lovers there is still room in my class on the History of Tea as well as space in the course on Monarch butterflies, both later in May. Time is running out so don’t hesitate and register for one of these interesting and educational offerings!

Finally, nearly a year’s work has come to fruition with the award of $10,000.00 to Waldo County Community Action Partners (WaldoCap). Last year the Senior College Board approved awarding surplus funds to organizations making a difference to seniors in Waldo County. A small ad hoc committee explored several options and in the end felt that through a variety of programs our dollars could best be used to support programs and services to seniors as they strive to lead meaningful and productive lives with the help and support of WaldoCap. Ron Jarvella chaired the committee as it worked with the staff from the nonprofit and is pleased to report that computer skills training will be one of the services provided.

We are still publishing the Corona Chronicles after nearly a year. In reading back over some of the issues I am honored to be part of an organization of so many talented, inspiring, and insightful individuals. We will continue to send out the Chronicle as long as we receive material from you. If you haven’t contributed please send us a book, movie, or other review, a poem, a photograph, a photo of an original piece of your art, or even a recipe you have loved to share with all. All the back issues are archived on the Senior College website under What’s Happening.

Next issue: the Merry month of May!

Nancy Perkins, President

Ad Hoc Committee on Technology

A few months ago the Board approved an Ad Hoc Committee to deal with and strategize on issues facing the organization dealing with virtual learning. The Ad Hoc Technology Committee has met twice. They have prepared detailed Zoom instruction sheets for class hosts, instructors and participants. These drafts were sent to the Curriculum Committee, which will review them at their next meeting. When finalized, these documents will be available on the Senior College website for easy access by class hosts, instructors and participants.

Elizabeth Sterner, Committee Member, Board Member

We are enjoying our senior college classes: Jack and Digital Photography. Our classes provide fabulous learning experiences that give us explanations and tools that we would not have found out on our own except with much effort and probable frustration. And they propel us to think about and build on what we already know. I discovered that Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis is the setting for much of Jack, was built by Almerin Hotchkiss. Mr Hotchkiss also designed and built The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn NY in which I have spent many happy hours bird watching, walking around the graves, and looking out at views of Brooklyn Harbor. The Green-Wood cemetery opened in 1858 and was visited by thousands of New Yorkers since there were as yet no public parks. I am continuing to ask myself the question posed by our Senior College instructor: why Marilynne Robinson set so much of Jack in Bellefontaine Cemetery over the course of a single night, and I am proposing answers to myself that I would never have thought of without the class.

While none of this is may be useful for a newsletter it keeps me mentally and physically alive in ways I value highly.

Deirdre Good, Chair, Curriculum Committee, Board Member

Nominating Committee

I am happy to report I have selected three non-Board volunteers willing to serve on the Nominating Committee this spring and summer as the committee meets to fill positions on the 2021-2022 Board of Directors. Members-at-Large Mary Rackmales, Paul Sheridan, and Barney Lutsk have agreed to join Board officers on the Nominating Committee. The group will recruit and select individuals for board service.

Jim Owen, Chair, Nominating Committee, Board Member


The telephone scammers are out in full force. Just this week there have been numerous reports of calls purporting to be from Social Security, Medicare, and Amazon. And, of course, the constant calls from SPECTRUM, which seem never-ending.


E-News March 2021

Senior College Online

Message from our President

Dear All,

March entered like a roaring lion but the recent sunny days promise that Spring will be appearing this month! I see tiny green shoots protruding through the snow in my front yard and they are a welcome sight indeed. The winter has passed quickly this year and by the official beginning of Spring I will, like many of you, have had my second Covid vaccine! Waldo Hospital did a superlative job arranging and delivering the shots. It was actually a treat for me to be out with real people! I am now looking forward to a bit more activity while still sporting a mask.

Spring also signals a new session at Senior College and Deirdre Good and the hardworking, dedicated members of the Curriculum Committee are pleased to announce that Spring courses are now open for registration! The Committee is expecting to receive a few more courses so make sure you check the web page regularly.

Once again, there is a wide array of offerings from learning about Monarch Butterflies to African American Poetry. Want to plant and grow asparagus? We have you covered. Still worried about Russian meddling in our elections, are you a Jane Austen lover, or is tea your bag (no pun intended)? Make sure you check out these offerings. Marilynn Robinson fans will want to sign up for a class to learn about her latest novel, Jack. If you have missed traveling over the past year there is the perfect course for you and if you have always wanted to learn how to photoshop don’t miss the opportunity this Spring. While I hesitate utilizing a trite expression “there truly is something for everyone.”

The Board has had a busy few months and I am happy to report that several members recently met with Kim Wilson-Raymond to discuss a possible return to face-to-face classes at the Hutchinson Center. The lovely patio area could accommodate up to twelve individuals in an outdoor class and several of the larger classrooms can safely hold up to twenty-five participants. Perhaps we can start planning on a slow return, phased in over several months and by this time next year join in a number of classrooms together.

Kim most graciously offered any member of Senior College Belfast a 20% discount on any of the upcoming classes or seminars. Her letter is below.

We have convened an ad hoc Committee on Technology that will address the ever growing need for technical assistance for Hosts, Instructors, and Participants. The group is working on information and instructions for the three groups in light of what we believe will be a continued demand for virtual learning. The Hutchinson Center may install several classrooms with the equipment that will allow simultaneous experiences, onsite as well as via Zoom.

By the way, the little yellow dog above is my new companion, Bella. Bella is a “Sato” dog of Puerto Rico. Satos are mutts and generally run wild on the island. They are known for big ears, short legs, and long tails as well as sweet dispositions. A number of organizations are working with shelters in the U.S. to place these animals. We got Bella from The Ark in Cherryfield and are thrilled to have her.

Best to all and stay healthy and safe!

Greetings from the Hutchinson Center!

We’re so grateful that Senior College is returning to the Hutchinson Center. Your presence here is part of what makes the Hutchinson Center such a vibrant place and we’ve missed you.

As a token of our appreciation for Senior College at Belfast, we’d like to extend a special offer to you.

We’re offering a special 20% discount to all members of Senior College at Belfast on all of our professional development programs. You can choose whether you’d like to use the discount yourself or gift the discount to someone else.

To use your special discount, just enter SENIOR21 when you’re registering for a professional development program, in the checkout process. Some details: each member of Senior College can only use their code once. The offer is valid through December 31, 2021 and cannot be combined with other special offers. Feel free to reach out to us at um.fhc.pd@maine.edu or 207.338.8002 if you have any questions.

A full list of all of our upcoming professional development programs is here.

All programs below are being offered online unless otherwise noted. Programs are not pre-recorded–they are asynchronous, dynamic, and participatory.

  • Career Transformation Lunch-and-Learn Series
  • Building Your Professional Network (Apr. 9, Noon–1 p.m.)
  • Resume Building Workshop (Apr. 16, Noon–1 p.m.)
  • Improving Your Interview Skills (Apr. 23, Noon–1 p.m.)
  • Grant Writing Essentials (5-part program, May 21, 28, Jun. 4, 11 & 18, 9 a.m.–Noon)
  • Mediation and the Art of Conflict Transformation* ( 5-part program, Jun. 14–18, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) This is being offered in-person.
  • Past Trauma, Current Relationships: Integrating Nonviolent Communication and Interpersonal Neurobiology (5-part program, May 10-–14, 9–11:30 a.m.)
  • Practical Project Management (5-part program, May 5, 7, 12, 14 & 28, 12:30–4:30 p.m.)
  • Public Speaking & Virtual Presentations (2-part program, Apr. 30 & May 7, 1–4 p.m.)
  • Racial Equity, Implicit Bias and Diversity Training (1-part program, May 26, 9 a.m.–2 p.m.)
  • Summer Restorative Practices (6-part program, Jun. 24, 25, July 23, Aug. 19, 20 & Sep. 24, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.)

Again, we’re so grateful that we’ll be seeing your faces again soon. Until then, stay safe, be well, take care!

Kim Wilson-Raymond and the Hutchinson Center staff

From War Correspondent to Power in Washington

I’ve never been able to resist a pun, good (rare) or bad (the norm). In the title above, the word power is a double entendre — power as influence or clout and Power as the surname of Samantha Power, nominated by President Biden to be Director of the Agency for International Development and a member of the National Security Council.

Ever since my first Senior College course in 2006 “Four Problems from Hell,” based on Power’s 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, I have followed with interest her career as a writer (her memoir The Education of An Idealist was published in 2019), academic (Professor at Harvard), and government official in the Obama administration (Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council and later US Ambassador to the United Nations).

In his recently published memoir A Promised Land Obama makes clear that Power was not just one aide among many. “Samantha was one of my closest friends in the White House…She evoked my own youthful idealism, the part of me still untouched by cynicism, cold calculation, or caution dressed up as wisdom.”

But Obama also makes clear that this closeness came at a price: “It was precisely because she knew that side of me…that at times she drove me nuts…whenever Samantha got time on my calendar, she felt obliged to remind me of every wrong I hadn’t yet righted (So what ideals have we betrayed lately?).”

As of this writing (February 15) it is not entirely clear when Power’s confirmation hearing will be scheduled. Her role as a leading advocate of US military intervention in Libya (which Obama subsequently called the worst mistake of his Presidency) remains controversial. In addition, her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in October, 2017 has raised questions about the appropriateness of some of her actions during the final months of the Obama administration.

Whatever happens, Power’s proven resilience and passion will make her a force to be reckoned with regardless of which of her three tracks she occupies in the years ahead.

Bob Rackmales

E-News January 2021

Senior College Online

Message from our President

Dear All,

Hard to believe it is February already. January was a busy month with new classes beginning, continued planning for the upcoming year, and the fervent hope that the pandemic would show signs of slowing down. While new strains of the virus have been reported, I hear from more and more people that they have received the vaccine or are scheduled to do so very shortly. Here’s hoping that by spring we will all have been vaccinated and that we can begin to contemplate a return to some normalcy by fall.

Winterim classes are well underway with good turnout and attendance. There are still openings in some classes beginning later this month so check the Senior College website. I am personally looking forward to several more classes this session. I am enjoying immensely learning to write and love poetry again, plotting a great novel, really understanding climate change, after having gained a renewed appreciation for the work of Eliot Porter. It is amazing to me what I learn every time I show up for a Senior College course thanks to the hard working members of the Curriculum Committee. Deirdre Good and the group are busy now putting together exciting and inviting Spring courses. Needless to say they would welcome your input or even better your willingness to teach a course.

The Corona Chronicles are enjoyed by many and I urge all of you to consider sending us an article, poem, photograph, book, movie, or music review, original artwork, recipe, recommendations for virtual travel to museums, etc. to share with your fellow members. Back issues are posted online if you missed an issue or you just want to read that poem one more time. Send anything you wish to share to me (nanella133@gmail.com) or Janet Williams (williajanet@gmail.com).

Speaking of Janet Williams, don’t miss the Belfast Garden Club’s member spotlight this month featuring our Senior College Newsletter and Corona Chronicles editor herself. To read about Janet visit belfastgardenclub.org.

Finally, February is Valentine’s month, a wonderful time to celebrate and thank those who have given their time and talent to benefit others. Senior College has, over the years, been the beneficiary of the work of many dedicated individuals who assured this organization would continue to fulfil its mission. Not too long ago I learned that a very special volunteer is finally leaving Belfast for her new home in Scarborough. I have associated Barbara Klie with Senior College since I first walked through the doors of the Hutch. There sat Barbara at a table with the offer to help and she promptly directed me to my first class. Later when I joined the Curriculum Committee I realized that Barbara served as the unofficial secretary of the committee and it was her recording of the proceedings that assured we followed through on contacts for classes. Barbara has been a stalwart member of the Curriculum Committee for a number of years, an attendee of many classes, as well as a two-term member of the Board of Directors. She has dedicated her time, energy, and good will to Senior College Belfast and she will be greatly missed by all who have taken a class, taught a class or just been a part of this endeavor. Thank you and Godspeed, Barbara!

Tidbit from the Treasurer

The Belfast Senior College has weathered the COVID -19 storm far better than we ever imagined. Our finances are strong because many from previous years renewed their memberships and we’ve gained lots of new first time members as well. We are beating our budget numbers and operating with a small profit. As Treasurer of the college I chair the Finance Committee, a wonderful group of volunteers who perform regular oversight of the college’s finances and who provide input into the annual budget creation process. If you are interested in stepping behind the scenes to learn how the college operates from a business standpoint, please consider joining our committee. There are generally four meetings of this committee each year, roughly corresponding with each quarter end. Members with business or finance acumen are especially sought, but this is not a requirement.

Brenda Smith

Belfast Senior College Curriculum Committee has been busy planning the online Spring Semester with an array of history, literature, politics, and general interest courses plus Brown Bag lunches. Taking any (or many) of them will enrich your Spring and our collective experience of isolating in a pandemic. For me, online learning has been the salve to this challenge, and I am so grateful to instructors and participants who are eager and willing to contribute teaching and learning.

Deirdre Good

Senior College shares class with local high schools

Throughout its twenty year history, Senior College of Belfast has been fortunate to have as a resource a dedicated talent pool of extremely qualified instructors. Selflessly giving their time and talents they have made the college an integral part of the Waldo County community. This January one of our instructors is sharing her insights not only with Senior College members, but also Camden Conference attendees and some local high schools. Dr. Susan Conard is presenting a course entitled “What Is Happening To Northern Climates.” Changing climate has been described by some as the greatest existential threat facing our country and the world. If we are to meet that threat, then we must first understand the problem. Everyone, no matter what age, has to participate in the solution. That is why we are so pleased to have local high schools involved in this course.

We have science students from two high schools participating with us in Dr Conard’s class: Belfast High School, and the Ecology Learning Center in Unity, Maine. The Ecology Learning Center is a wonderful new charter school with a mission to develop students who enact and embody ecological principles by making meaningful connections between school and community through service learning and apprenticeships.

This Winter, once a week, these High School students join a virtual Senior College class with fellow students who are easily three, four and even five times older than they. It’s a class, however, where ages melt and merge. Everyone is driven by a common purpose of learning all they can about the science of changing climate and how they can help to meet the challenge of climate change in a fragile world.

Following are a few thoughts from some students of the Ecology Learning Center. They express so completely the concern and strong desire of talented young students to learn and be a part of the solution to the Global Climate issue.

“I think the class is very informational and it’s great that we are learning about this climate crisis that is affecting us and what we can do to help. I’m very thankful for this opportunity to participate in this class.”

“I’m so glad that we have the opportunity to take this class. It’s so nice to get information about climate change outside of the news. I’ve never really understood the intricacies of climate change, just that it exists. This class has been super helpful and informative. I find it a very interesting experience. I think that overall the class is good, but I will say that some of the terms need more explanation.”

“I’ve enjoyed attending the northern climate course, for I have learned a great deal about this topic. I had no idea that there was a quicker warming route in the north due to more land mass than the south. Before this course, I knew the biggest problems, but not all the little things causing global climate warming.”

“I am super excited to be attending this course! It has opened up a vast number of opportunities for me. Each lesson I can actively engage in the material and my knowledge on climate change has expanded hugely. I have been able to apply my studies outside of the class whether that be in art projects, or other classes.”

Registration is open for Winterim Classes  2021

Winterim Courses 2020-2021: Keep away Winter blues and take a Senior College course

Want to try writing stories and poetry? Want to know what’s happening to our climate? Want to live a healthier life and manage pain? Want to learn how Abraham Lincoln speaks to us now? Or a history of cheese in Maine? Or films about war? Or permaculture? Or the Watersheds of Waldo?

Check out the Winterim Course Offerings and register early.

One More Zoom Class in December

War, Protest, and Great Music

Instructor: Pete Reilly

  • Zoom Class
  • 3 Sessions: Wednesdays at 4pm – 5:30pm, December 2, 9, and 16th
  • $15
  • Registration closed

This 3 day course will be a “Readers Digest” review of the Vietnam war told through the popular music of the period. The 60s and 70s are a time of incredible civil disturbance and unrest. The country is being ripped apart, but yet somehow the artists and musicians of the time are inspired to write and perform music that gives identification and maybe a significance that can only happen through art and music. We will look at many prominent singers and groups, but will spend a little more time on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young whose music so captured the impact of those years.

3 Sessions: Wednesdays at 4pm – 5:30pm, December 2, 9, and 16th – $15

Registration for this class is closed.

Read More

Winterim Wonderland 2021

Winterim Wonderland Course Introductions 2020-2021: Keep away Winter blues and take a Senior College course

Want to try writing stories and poetry? Want to know what’s happening to our climate? Want to live a healthier life and manage pain? Want to learn how Abraham Lincoln speaks to us now? Or a history of cheese in Maine? Or films about war? Or permaculture? Or the Watersheds of Waldo?

Join us for a free online Winterim Wonderland introduction with course instructors introducing their courses on December 2nd at 10.00am.

Registration for this event is closed.

Maine Senior College Network Statewide Zoom Class Opportunities

Senior College Belfast is part of the Maine Senior College Network that serves the 17 Senior Colleges in our state. Several representatives from Belfast attend weekly meetings via Zoom to discuss issues, activities, and initiatives with network members.

All members of Senior College Belfast are invited to attend all classes throughout the state. Senior Colleges will open registration to their members first. If classes have spaces, they will offer seats to the members of other senior colleges.

You are encouraged to go to www.maineseniorcollege.org and click on MSCN ONLINE to review courses open to all members of Maine Senior Colleges. You may also sign up for the monthly newsletter compiled by Anne Cardale the Director of the network.

A Winter Outing at Home

Senior College Special Events Committee has arranged for a special live and interactive Zoom presentation from the University of Maine Planetarium in December. The 45-50 minute show, “Legends and Lore of the Sky” will be presented by the Planetarium Director, Dr. Laatsch at 10:00 am on Thursday, December 10.

We will be guided through the night sky as it appears in our area and hear the stories from a variety of cultures about constellations such as Orion the mighty hunter, Leo the lion, The Great Bear, and Andromeda, chained to a rock along the
coast. We will gain a new understanding of the night view from our window.

The presentation will be free of charge for a maximum of 50 Senior College members and friends. Registration for this event will be open until Tuesday, November 24 or until the session is full.

Registration for this event is closed. Senior College may offer this event again if there is enough interest. If you are interested in a future virtual trip to the Planetarium, email Martha Laitin at marthalaitin@yahoo.com.

Registration Form

Legends and Lure of the Sky Registration
What is your relationship to Belfast Senior College *


Do you have any comments, questions, or claims for a class credit or scholarship? If for some reason you are entitled to a free class, please explain here. If your claim is valid, you will receive a refund for the appropriate amount.
When you hit the submit button below, you will be redirected to our PayPal gateway. This may take a moment, but you must complete the payment process for your registration to be successful.

Keep an eye on your inbox for your receipts from Paypal and Senior College, and contact us immediately if you do not receive them.


What is Happening to Northern Climates?

Senior College at Belfast, in collaboration with the Camden Conference, will offer a course this winter entitled What is Happening to Northern Climates?. This year the topic of the Camden Conference is the Arctic and its focus will be on the geopolitical implications for a changing Arctic region. The Senior College course will highlight the science forcing those changes and projections for the future. The Camden Conference will take place February 20-21, 2021. The College course will run for 6 (1 ½ hours ea.) sessions, beginning January 11th and ending February 15th, 2021. The course will be an excellent tutorial about how and why our climate is changing. As such, it will be a very strong preparatory experience for those planning to attend the February Camden Conference on “The Geopolitics of the Arctic: A Region in Peril”.

Severe wildfires, southern hurricanes, extreme weather, the warming Arctic, melting glaciers are all part of our daily news cycle. It is impossible not to recognize that no matter where we live, our world is being impacted by a global transformation. Senior College at Belfast is pleased to offer a course that will help us understand our changing climate. Perhaps more importantly, it will bring home how climate change in northern latitudes affects us locally AND what we can do!

Lectures and discussions will put in perspective – fire, drought, tropical storms, changes in weather patterns, melting permafrost, land ice vs sea ice and so forth. The course will explore effects of changing greenhouse gases, including vegetation change and, of course, sea level rise in terms that we will all understand. The role and attribution of humans in the process will be examined and explored. Senior College at Belfast is proud to present this timely and relevant course.

The course will be taught by Dr. Susan Conard. Susan has a PHD in Ecology from the University of California, Davis and worked with the US Forest Service for more than 25 years including time at the White House reviewing climate change reports. She is now retired, but still serves as Co Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Wildland Fire.

Please Note: To Register there is a $20 course fee, All course fees are waived for High School students and teachers. To learn more and register, click here or for more information call Nancy Perkins at 207 218-1369.

E-News December 2020

Senior College Online

Message from our President

Hello everyone,

As I write this on a dreary, rainy Saturday in December I am amazed at the myriad activities within our remarkable organization. The well-attended fall session wrapped up recently with a fascinating presentation on the history of Maine food and many are happily enrolled in Pete Riley’s class on “War, Protest and Great Music,” a special December offering. Over 40 of us visited (via Zoom) the Planetarium at University of Maine in Orono, and six members of the Board of Directors attended a workshop on board development presented by the Maine Association of Nonprofits. The 19th edition of the Corona Chronicles was recently mailed featuring reflections and photographs of our animal friends. Pandemic or not we have stayed happily and busily engaged in Senior College programs and committees.

None of this would occur were it not for those singular and special individuals who volunteer as teachers, hosts, committee and Board members day after day and year after year. It is not easy to thank so many for so much especially during this time of social distancing and isolation. Nothing would be more welcome than the opportunity to personally thank each of you who have made this a successful and exciting fall session.

As 2020 draws to a close we are preparing for the Winterim session that kicks off with Susan Conard’s course on Climate Change, a preparatory presentation to the Camden Conference. We have invited several high school groups to sit in on this important course for we believe this is an issue that will be of major import in their lives. In addition there are, as always, a selection of courses to challenge you, entertain you, educate you, and provide an opportunity to gather via Zoom with friends and neighbors. We hope you will find a course to your liking and sign up today!

This winter a group of Waldo County residents including representatives from organizations (Senior College Belfast e.g.), businesses, University of Maine Hutchinson Center, county libraries, and others have initiated a “One Book” program entitled “Waldo Reads Together” under the umbrella of Aging Well in Waldo County. The group has selected The Nickel Boy by Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead and will be asking everyone to join in the county-wide read. Information on this project may be found at Aging Well in Waldo County.
Books will be made available free of charge for anyone wishing to participate who cannot afford to purchase the book. Following the February reading of the book there will be Zoom discussions concerning diversity, racial justice and equality in America based on this engaging novel.

Finally, we can only hope that 2021 brings a decrease in the incidences of Covid 19, a success of the vaccines, and a renewed sense of hope for a semblance of life as it was. That includes a return to our classes, conversations, and conviviality at the Hutchinson Center.

In the meantime we shall keep calm, carry on and celebrate the upcoming holidays with gladness, joy, and hope!

Nancy Perkins

Sixty attendees came to the online Winter Wonderland session introducing Winterim 2020-2021 courses. Enrollment for these courses is already very good. Our instructors also receive great evaluations: of one recent course a participant said that it exceeded expectations because the subject turned out to be more interesting than the participant had thought it would be. Moreover, “the instructor’s enthusiasm and in-depth knowledge made me look forward to being up and awake enough to attend class at 7.00 am CA time. (That is no small feat!).” Issues with Zoom and online participation are helped by assigning hosts to each class. As for reliability, we can still hope for better broadband coverage across the state. In the meantime, we are working on a great roster of Spring 2021 courses.

Deirdre Good, Chair

Virtual trip to a Planetarium

The Special Events Committee brought a Zoom presentation from the University of Maine Planetarium’s Director, Dr. Laatsch to 47 stargazers on December 10. With the aid of some computer magic we saw groups of stars in constellations connected like dot-to-dot pictures to roughly approximate characters, then with another click became sketched images. Then, we heard the stories of the constellation characters and creatures as imagined in different parts of the world.

If you have interest in the stars there were several books and resources recommended: The Patterns in the Sky: Myths and Legends of the Stars, by Julius Staal is a comprehensive collection of stories about each of the 88 constellations. Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey, the author of the Curious George series of children’s books, is appropriate for grandchildren ages 10-12 as an introduction to stargazing.

Several apps for cell phones are also available that allow you to point your phone to the skies at night and have the visible constellations identified. Some apps are appropriate for iPhones or iPads and some are for android phones. Look them up online to find the one that suits you best: “Sky Map” (for androids), “The Heavens- Above” (for Apple devices), “Sky Safari” (for Apple devices).

The stars you see tonight are the same stars your grand-parents and great grand-parents saw. Take a minute to look up!

Martha Laitin

Finance Committee

Tidbits from the Treasurer

While the pandemic has tried its very best to keep us apart and hunkered down at home, your board members and instructors have done a great job of pivoting to delivering our stimulating classes to an online format using Zoom. Initially we wondered how many of our members would make the transition with us. We cancelled the summer semester entirely and created a “rolling” budget for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020-2021. We budgeted very conservatively at first, assuming that at least 200 members would renew their memberships. As of today 269 of you have renewed your memberships representing $5,550 in revenue – thank you so much! Accordingly, we have revised our budget upward to 300 memberships.

For the fall semester we offered 15 courses that generated $5,220. This amount exceeded our original course fee projection by 25% – such an encouraging outcome! As a result we are revising our initial course revenue estimate for the year upward by 20%. For winterim we are offering 13 classes and as of today they are 67% enrolled. If you have been thinking about ways to stay busy after the holidays, we hope you’ll consider registering for one of our classes to help us reach full enrollments. Gazing into the crystal ball we are seeing the potential for a spring semester that would match the activity level of the fall semester and are using that as a baseline for our projections.

We have been delighted that several of our members have also made an additional donation to the Senior College. We have not budgeted for donations but certainly appreciate any extra funding people are able to contribute. As of the end of November we are showing, despite every obstacle 2020 has thrown at us, a net profit of $4,000. Not only that but we have nearly $85,000 in checking, savings and CDs in the bank. Overall the Senior College is in a great financial position and is actually prospering during this pandemic. Thanks for helping to keep us vibrant and flourishing.

Brenda Smith

2021 Corona Chronicles

As we begin the 11th month of this worldwide pandemic Senior College will continue to publish the Corona Chronicles which have proven to be popular reading for many of us and friends both near and far. We offer a very special thanks to Janet Williams for putting together the Chronicle month after month!

For this first issue of 2021 we are asking for your reflections, resolutions, hopes, and aspirations for this new year. Photographs, poems, stories, artwork, and statements from the heart are needed. Please forward to nanella133@gmail.com or williajanet@gmail.com. Thank you!

Nancy Perkins

E-News November 2020

Senior College Online

Message from our President

Dear Senior College Members and Friends,

November has arrived and Fall classes are drawing to a close. Many of us have enjoyed a variety of classes and we are extremely grateful to the team of outstanding Instructors who made our first Zoom session a success.

We also want to extend our appreciation to our roster of Hosts. These individuals have quietly worked to assure that the Zoom classes operated smoothly. This is an essential role in assuring Senior College remains vital and viable. It is reasonably easy to become a Host and we would welcome any volunteers. Please email me at nanella133@gmail.com.

There are still openings for the November 19 class taught by Bangor Daily News columnist and food historian Sandy Oliver. Sandy will present What’s For Dinner In 1820: A Bicentennial Look At Maine Food. Perhaps we can all pick up some new ideas for Thanksgiving dinner!

We are happy to announce that Pete Reilly will be presenting War, Protest, and Great Music, a three week session beginning Wednesday, December 2 at 4:00 p.m. Join Pete with a cup of tea or your choice of libation for an entertaining trip back to a time we all remember well. Who can forget the wonderful sound of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and countless others who made such evocative and memorable music?

We are extremely excited about our new collaborative effort with the Camden Conference. Sue Conard will present a course dealing with climate change beginning January 11. This six week course will be preliminary to the Camden Conference’s topic The Arctic which takes place in February. (Scroll down for a full description of this class).

Finally, I want to encourage each of you to register for a Zoom class. The feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive and all believe Senior College classes are a wonderful antidote to the isolation we are all living with today. If you have questions about Zoom please let us know for there are people who are more than willing to help you learn. Visit the website at www.belfastseniorcollege.org to register for the current classes.

In the meantime stay safe, healthy, and connected!

Nancy Perkins

The Belfast Senior College Curriculum Committee in this time embraces both continuity and change: continuity in that we continue to offer a variety of wonderful courses for body, mind, and soul taught by excellent local people, and change in that all our teaching is online for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to imagine what our lives would be like without Zoom in this pandemic where we must isolate to keep ourselves and our communities safe. Meeting online for shared experiences allows us to stay connected and to sustain connections, friendships, and learning. Now, transferring teaching and learning to an online platform also means we need intentionally to find ways to use online resources to best effect. We learn from others who have been deploying online learning longer than we have, including partners in Maine’s Senior College network, and they offer us tools they already deploy successfully. For a preview of Winterim and some Spring courses, please join us online on Wednesday December 2nd from 10:00-11.00 a.m. (link to be sent out closer to the time).

Deirdre Good, Chair

A Winter Outing at Home

Senior College Special Events Committee has arranged for a special live and interactive Zoom presentation from the University of Maine Planetarium in December. The 45-50 minute show, Legends and Lore of the Sky will be presented by the Planetarium Director, Dr. Laatsch at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 10th.

We will be guided through the night sky as it appears in our area and hear the stories from a variety of cultures about constellations such as Orion the mighty hunter, Leo the lion, The Great Bear, and Andromeda, chained to a rock along the coast. We will gain a new understanding of the night view from our window.

The presentation is free of charge for a maximum of 50 Senior College members and friends. Registration for this event will be open until Tuesday, November 24th. Click here to register.

Our Changing Climate

Senior College at Belfast, in collaboration with the Camden Conference, will offer a course this winter entitled What is Happening to Northern Climates? This year the topic of the Camden Conference is the Arctic and its focus will be on the geopolitical implications for a changing Arctic region. The Senior College course will highlight the science forcing those changes and projections for the future. The Camden Conference will take place February 20-21, 2021. The College course will run for six one-hour online sessions, beginning January 11th and ending February 15th, 2021. The course will be an excellent tutorial about how and why our climate is changing. As such, it will be a very strong preparatory experience for those planning to attend the February Camden Conference on The Geopolitics of the Arctic: A Region in Peril.

Severe wildfires, southern hurricanes, extreme weather, the warming Arctic, and melting glaciers are all part of our daily news cycle. It is impossible not to recognize that no matter where we live, our world is being impacted by a global transformation. Senior College at Belfast is pleased to offer a course that will help us understand our changing climate. Perhaps more importantly, it will bring home how climate change in northern latitudes affects us locally AND what we can do!

Lectures and discussions will put in perspective – fire, drought, tropical storms, changes in weather patterns, melting permafrost, land ice versus sea ice and so forth. The course will explore effects of changing greenhouse gases, including vegetation change and, of course, sea level rise in terms that we will all understand. The role and attribution of humans in the process will be examined and explored. We are pleased to present this timely and relevant course at a time when this issue is in the forefront of topical issues of the day.

Nancy Perkins, president of Senior College, is also pleased to announce that the online course will be open and free to local Maine high schools. The Environmental Science class at Belfast High School is already planning to attend. According to Nancy, “Belfast Senior College will be celebrating its 20th year in 2021 and it is so right that we will be marking the occasion working with our local high school to foster intergenerational learning.”

E-News October 2020

Senior College Online

Message from our new President

Dear Senior College Members and Friends,

When I moved to Belfast five years ago I met a woman in a water aerobics class at the Y who not only recommended an excellent spot to get a haircut but also suggested I take a look at the website of Senior College Belfast. At home that evening, following her advice, I read about a number of interesting classes beginning the next month. Intrigued, I promptly joined and registered for two classes. Since that time I have either taken classes or taught and believe that the hours I spend at Senior College are stimulating, educational, and fun. Through Senior College I have made friends, developed new interests, and most importantly made to feel welcome in my new home. My experience is not unique and is one of the reasons that Senior College has helped build community in Belfast.

Covid 19 has brought challenges and changes to every facet of our lives. We all miss the weekly Thursday’s at the Hutchinson Center which have become virtual classes held via Zoom. Some days I find Zoom exhaustion sets in but then the next day I anxiously sign into a class or meeting to see the familiar faces of friends and fellow members. We have learned that Zoom is an acceptable substitute but one which we hope will become a mere adjunct to our face-to-face classes. We will continue planning Zoom courses until such time that we can safely return to the Hutch, greet one another, and share friendly conversation, coffee, tea, and cookies!

As the newly elected president of Senior College Belfast I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of a very distinguished group of individuals who worked collectively to assure this unique enterprise remained viable. All of us on the Board of Trustees will do our best to live up to the legacy of the founders and leaders of the past 20 years. With your help, support, and presence we will succeed. Following are comments and thoughts from the officers and leadership of the organization. Please do not hesitate to share any thoughts, ideas, or concerns you may have. We want to hear from you and urge you to keep in touch. In the meantime we will hope to see you on Zoom.

Stay safe, healthy, and engaged.

Nancy Perkins

Comments and Thoughts …

Martha Laitin, Vice President

I have been missing the Thursday drives to our Hutch campus, the cookie breaks, and the familiar faces and interesting conversations during class sessions. The relationships we’ve formed earlier have made our current Zoom encounters more engaging, I think. It will be a real treat to see everyone once again. Let’s stay connected, with written words and virtual classes until that time.

Elisabeth Pollack, Office Manager

As you know, my main Senior College responsibility has been with the office which we are fortunate to have at the Hutchinson Center. With the HC closed, and no in-person classes, it has been a relatively quiet few months. Hopefully we will be able to open again (maybe Spring?) and I can go back to the usually chaotic Thursdays, with the help of the ever cheerful volunteers.

The efforts of the Board and the Curriculum Committee have been heroic throughout this pandemic, and we appreciate the great efforts of all to keep Senior College “healthy,” while maintaining social distance!

Rebecca Jessup, Secretary

I have been on the SC board for a few years now, and no previous year has been as challenging as 2020. Because of the pandemic, we had to cancel the entire Spring Semester, and adjust to offering classes by Zoom. We had to abandon in-person board meetings. Most of us have not seen each other in person for eight months! Nevertheless, Senior College goes on. The number and diversity of classes continues to be wonderful in their variety and in the excellence of our instructors, as well as the enthusiasm of our students. One advantage to our virtual life is that we can expand our reach to members of all the other SCs in Maine! We all miss live classes, and even more we miss coffee and cookies and the chance to mingle during breaks. The Hutchinson Center staff miss our lively presence. I hope we’ll be able to resume that happy tradition this year, but I suspect that Zoom teaching will be a permanent part of our curriculum going forward. We started using Zoom out of a kind of desperation, but it has proven to be a blessing and benefit to Senior College and our students.

Deirdre Good, Chair, Curriculum Committee

To me, Senior College is one of Belfast’s great assets, and one of the joys of my life in retirement as a life-long teacher of graduate students. I will never forget my first experience of the buzzing conversations in the Hutchinson Center atrium one Thursday September morning between classes. Behind the conversations in that setting lies a dedicated network of volunteer committee members, professional staff, and teachers. Senior College personnel are also charismatic evangelists: I learnt of the wonderful possibilities of state-wide offerings on a platform waiting for a Boston train in a chance conversation with a volunteer at Midcoast Senior College. Our nimble Senior College Belfast teachers, staff, and committee members have worked hard this year to make a fascinating array of well-taught courses available online, combating social isolation in a pandemic. Our course registrants and teachers have embraced, with courage and zest, challenges of online learning including Zoom bombing, older laptops, and slow internet speeds. On-line teaching creates an even wider reach, and I am confident you will see this in our future course offerings.

Brenda Smith, Treasurer

Being the Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee means that I need to keep an eye on the financial health of the Senior College. We entered the pandemic in a very healthy position with cash reserves enough to last for at least a few years into the future. We weren’t sure at first whether we’d be able to even keep the Senior College operating due to health concerns. But with some creativity and the awesome power of Zoom technology we are actually thriving. The current year budget that Nancy Perkins and I put together using a considerable amount of guesswork has been exceeded for the fall semester and will need to be reworked upward for winter and spring.

I think we have the potential for growth even in the middle of this lockdown because members of the Senior College network are just starting to experiment with taking virtual classes from other colleges in the network. As a member of Belfast Senior College you are eligible to take classes at any of the 17 Senior Colleges throughout Maine. This fall I am taking a wonderful course in Writing Life Stories from the South Coast Senior College. My personal goal for this year is to finish designing and to teach a writing class on making memorable stories by influencing the neural networks of the brain for the Belfast Senior College. But already some of my classmates from the South Coast College have expressed interest in taking my class when it is offered. So I think that we are actively able to provide a much larger offering of courses across the Senior College Network that isn’t possible with just face to face classes. I expect that in Belfast we will offer hybrid classes combining face to face participants with virtual classmates once we are safely past the virus. This means that our senior college will continue to prosper and meet and hopefully exceed the needs of our members.

2020-2021 Senior College Board Members

Engaging Your Critical Thinking Skills

Just sharing another FHC professional development program that might prove interesting to Senior College folks, especially with all that is going on in the world right now! As always, we have need-based scholarship funds available for participants in Waldo and Knox County.

Engaging Your Critical Thinking Skills promises to be a very timely and relevant program. The unofficial tagline is: “How to talk to people with opposing viewpoints without losing your cool.” (Seems like a skill that could come in handy!)

Kim Wilson-Raymond
Interim Director
Hutchinson Center

Annual Meeting 2020

Dear Fellow Senior College Members,

Annual Meeting via Zoom Teleconferencing

Please be advised we will hold our meeting on Thursday, September 24 at 12pm. If you plan to attend the meeting you must register with the form below, where you can also renew your membership. Remember also you must be a current member to attend and vote so be sure to renew your membership.

Members will be asked to vote on the following six candidates for the 2020-2021 Board of Trustees:

  • Al Arthur: Website design and management focused on Arts, Education, Culture, and Community.
  • John Economy: Management, incumbent SC board member, co-chair of SC annual appeal, and member of SC Festival of Art committee.
  • Deirdre Good: (Online)Teacher & Educator, avid reader, author, & Curriculum Committee member.
  • Brenda Smith: CPA, Non-profit financial management. SC Board member and Treasurer
  • Beth Sterner: Business Owner/Accountant, Community Volunteer, avid life long learner.
  • Jim Owen: Consultant & counselor and member SV Finance Committee


Download 2020 Agenda

Download 2020 Annual Meeting Minutes

Click here to register

2020 Annual Meeting
Are you currently a member of Senior College? *
Choose one of the above options
Annual Meeting 2020 *
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Fall Online Classes/Membership Renewal Time:

Recently you received notice that Senior College at Belfast has just posted our fall line up of courses on the website. Registration is now open for the Fall Classes!

Although we cannot yet meet at the Hutchinson Center we have been able to move forward with online offerings. Through the perseverance and hard work of the Board of Trustees and the Curriculum Committee we are actually thriving. We offered a number of free online courses this summer to determine our capabilities to produce online courses. They were extremely well received. Most were completely filled with waiting lists and those without class limits had over 100 participants. We were able to bring classes to nursing homes and other living centers – an endeavor that we will build on as we go forward. In short, we proved that online courses can be fun as well as educational and intellectually satisfying.

Our membership year begins on September 1. This year it is more important than ever that we have a successful membership drive. With the online class offerings we have reduced all our course fees, but there are still ongoing expenses which must be covered. We hope you will sign up for a course but even if you don’t, please renew your membership. Now more than ever we need to assure that our Senior College will continue to serve, grow, and remain vital in our community.

In closing, thank you for being a part of this remarkable organization.


Peter Reilly

Fall 2020 Classes are Here!

While we all continue to deal with the ongoing issues of life during a pandemic we are happy to announce that thanks to the ingenuity and enthusiasm of our Instructors we will be offering a full fall curriculum. The curriculum is currently posted here.

The Curriculum Committee with the assistance of Al Arthur, our Webmaster, several longtime Instructors, and assistance from the Maine Senior College Network at USM we have become increasingly proficient with Zoom technology. We believe that each of you will find a Fall course that will pique your interest and introduce you to the joy of online learning if you have not yet experienced it. While nothing will replace the camaraderie and fellowship we experienced with coffee, tea, and cookies at the Hutchinson Center we strongly believe you will find a great deal that inspires you during the next few months at Online Senior College Belfast!

We assure you that as soon as we know it is safe we will be back at the Hutch.

If you already know what classes you want, click here for the registration page.

New History Course Available: Epidemics in American History

Senior College Members:

Here’s something you might be interested in. As you may or may not know the University of Maine has tuition waivers for seniors who take courses through the Hutchinson Center. Following is a course (with obvious relevance!) that is being taught online through the Hutchinson Center. The course is taught once a week from August 31st till December 11th. Contact Kim Wilson-Raymond at the Hutchinson Center for more details and enrollment. kim.raymond@maine.edu.

New History Course – Epidemics in American History

Patrick Callaway
Meet Patrick Callaway, course instructor for History 199: Epidemics in American History. Fun fact about Patrick: he’s a big fan of classical movies and has been known to quote them at random. (You’ve been warned!)

This class examines the role of epidemic disease in American history. Epidemics are complex times of individual human tragedy intersecting with the potential for rapid structural change due to the emergency. The new circumstances provide opportunities for social, cultural, and political action as society changes (or fails to change) as a result. This class uses a variety of case studies from American history to explore the personal and collective understandings of disease, responses to epidemics, the influences of race and class on the lived experience during epidemics, and the political, social, and economic consequences of public health crises.

Becoming Belfast, Maine 1770 – 1820

Belfast historian Megan Pinette will be presenting a free brown bag lunch series session on August 17, 12 noon. via Zoom

In 2020 the State of Maine celebrates 200 years of statehood, 1820 – 2020. This year Belfast also commemorates its own milestone – Founders Day, 250 years since the first settlements, 1770 – 2020. Belfast was settled by Scots-Irish families from Londonderry, New Hampshire in the spring of 1770. The first settlers, about thirty people including children, took possession of their lands on both sides of the harbor. In early 1819, the question about separation was brought to the towns. In Belfast, the vote was 145 in favor and 26 against. Belfast was well-established as both a maritime and market town when the break from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the creation of the state of Maine occurred on March 15, 1820. This illustrated talk will include a look at early Belfast people, businesses, residences and industries.

Time 30-40 minutes, 12pm Monday, August 17, Free

Click Here to register

Megan Pinette is president of the Belfast Historical Society and Museum and also serves as the Education Program Coordinator. She has been active with the historical society for the past twenty years, and has worked on such projects as “The History of Belfast in the 20th Century,” co-authored by Jay Davis and Tim Hughes, and “The Museum in the Streets,” thirty interpretive panels set along the waterfront, downtown and residential streets. She is the co-author of Arcadia Publishing Company’s, Images of America-Belfast book, published in June 2020.

Fall in Love with Fall 2020

August 11, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

As we begin another year of Senior College, under most unusual circumstances, we invite you to join us to meet Instructors of online fall classes. Each will briefly describe their class and offer a taste of the exciting, educational, fun, and mind-expanding opportunities available from the comfort of your home. We will miss the Hutchinson Center, the camaraderie, the animated classes, and of course cookies and coffee but we promise that you will find online learning can be satisfying and stimulating as well.

To register, simply fill out the form below. This session is free, and all are welcome!

Registration is closed.

Fall in Love with Fall 2020

Course Registration

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Cancellation Notice: Fall On-Campus Classes

Given today’s environment and the vulnerability of our demographics the Board of Directors has made the decision to cancel all Fall Senior College “on campus” classes at the Hutchinson Center.

There will be a full slate of online courses for the fall.

We will have more information coming to you about fall courses, but in the meantime we wish all of you a safe summer. Take care.

Free Special Virtual Zoom Class for July

JULY 8th and JULY 22nd 4pm – ONLINE

Spend an hour each with Winston Churchill and Alexander Hamilton – a Free online course given by Belfast’s Senior College with Instructor Pete Reilly. In the summer there is no age requirement so anyone can join. 2 Day course/1 hour+ each session.

So crank your computer up, grab your favorite beverage and have some fun.

Check out the virtual Zoom classes.

Belfast Senior College Featured in Maine Seniors Magazine

The Belfast Senior College has been featured in a lovely three page article by Shelagh Talbot in the April issue of Maine Seniors Magazine with lots of photos courtesy of Belfast Senior College. Pick up the latest issue at your newstand or download the article as a PDF.

Waldo County is beautiful – a coastal area with much to do and enjoy, and for almost 20 years Belfast Senior College has been a vibrant part of that landscape. The college was created in 2001 by a group of Belfast-area residents and leaders along with Dr. Jim Patterson, director of the newly opened Hutchinson Center-part of the University of Maine system. This center was built with the idea of creating outreach for the university and “serving as an educational and cultural hub for the mid-coast community,” according to their website. Belfast Senior College is a perfect fit.

Virtual Zoom Classes

Dear Senior College friends,

While Senior College still hopes to offer “in person” classes in September, we realize this might not be possible or prudent. In this case, we will offer a variety of online classes through Zoom. If you are new to Zoom please be assured it is easy to use and will give us the opportunity to connect with one another in a new way.

In order to prepare for a possible “Online Fall” we have scheduled several online classes in the next few months using Zoom, including a Zoom training course on June 2.

We’re sorry, but all current Zoom courses are full. However, it is possible to put your name on a waiting list. To put your name on a waiting list, fill out the registration form and let us know in the comments section what class you are interested in.

Check out the virtual Zoom classes.

E-News May 2020

All Senior College summer “bricks and mortar” classes are cancelled this year. Please look for several online classes on the website in the near future. We hope to start “Zooming.”

The Senior College Board is meeting, and social distancing, using “Zoom,” a videoconferencing app. This was taken at the April, 2020 board meeting.

On the Job!

Members of the Senior College board at their April meeting, using “Zoom,” a video conferencing tool.

Dear Member:

Sometimes one writes a Newsletter to stay in touch; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to just say Hi; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to announce new opportunities; sometimes one writes a Newsletter to announce a tweak in how things are done – and sometimes a Newsletter does all those things. This is one of those Newsletters.

In the past few weeks your Board of Trustees has met many times to discuss and plan how our Senior College could best serve our members during this historic, stressful and opportunity filled time. We discussed – what do our members need, what should we do and what can we do. Many topics and paths were explored and are still being explored, but in the end it comes down to working within the confines of our mission and our resources. Fortunately, we do have many resources to draw on. Most notably our vibrant membership and a raft of dedicated and talented instructors.

There have been many questions raised about cancellations. Here’s the status so far:


Note: We really had no choice with these decisions as the Hutchinson Center has closed.

We should say here that all our decisions (to cancel or not) will be made with the utmost concern for the health and welfare of our members. Senior College will continue to thrive, and to expand, and to enrich our lives long after a few cancellations.

Above, I mentioned that despite the stress of this time, it is also an opportunity filled time. Your board has set a course whereby Senior College will continue to offer courses, but in a different format. We’re going to save you some gas money! As you read this, Senior College instructors are being trained to teach courses via Zoom Technology broadcast directly to your home. We are more than pleased to tell you that we have worked with the University of Maine and the Hutchinson Center to provide training and support for us to deliver our courses.

Soon you will receive an announcement of online courses to be offered later this Spring. There will be a learning curve, and we will start with low numbers of attendees so any kinks can be worked out, but this will work. In another part of this Newsletter Nancy Perkins, our Chair of Curriculum, will have more details for you. Nancy has put in many, many hours to get this project running and her dedication is paying off.

What Senior College online courses can provide is interaction between you, the teacher and your fellow classmates. Talk to each other, meet new friends – ask “How are you doing?” Get the instructor off topic like you used to do in school! It can be fun! Try it once and you’ll be hooked! Further along these lines are discussions which recognize this new method of delivering courses will help us bring our courses to people that may not be able to come to the Hutch – those in nursing homes, assisted living centers, etc.

In closing I have to thank our Board of Trustees, staff and everyone associated with the college who are contributing and serving in these troubled times. Without wonderful, dedicated people we would not have a Senior College. In the meantime – wash your hands, stay safe and take care.

Peter Reilly

The first Zoom meeting of the Curriculum Committee since the obligatory shut down was well attended. After an initial discussion we determined that the Committee will move forward with two major objectives for the Fall Session: Creating a curriculum based on a return to regularly held classes at the Hutchinson Center, and considering the possibility that we must plan for online classes in case we cannot hold “brick and mortar” classes. (Note: Nine our Spring Session Instructors indicated that they could teach the announced Spring Course at the Hutchinson Center in the Fall).

We are recommending that we begin as soon as possible to offer online classes using Zoom and that we attempt to schedule training for Instructors. Our first foray into online instruction should be gratis and open to all Senior College members in the state with a limited number of class registrations. However, it was recommended that future classes should have a fee attached to be determined by the Finance Committee. It was also a recommendation that courses offered during the summer be abbreviated ones not lasting more than an hour or two at the most.

Following the approval of the Board of Directors that we move forward with this initiative, a Zoom training session was scheduled with Staff of the Hutchinson Center. Twenty-five potential Instructors registered for the course. Short training films were emailed to participants and these can be found on our website. I highly recommend you take a look at them before joining a Zoom class. They are short, to the point, extremely helpful, and demonstrate how easily one can learn to use Zoom.

In addition, look for several online classes on the website in the near future so we can all start “Zooming.” But remember you will have to bring your own cookie and drink!

Nancy Perkins, Chair

April 2020 Board Meeting via Zoom

The Senior College Board is meeting, and social distancing, using “Zoom,” a videoconferencing app. This was taken at the April, 2020 board meeting.

Corona Chronicles Common Ground Fair Edition

Going to the Fair ~ But Not This Year
Photos, Sketches & Text by Rita Swidrowski, Belfast
September 2020

I know a friend who can’t make her annual pilgrimage to a beloved place this fall.
Instead she’s sharing photos and memories of her past trips. I like this idea.

The Common Ground Country Fair is my annual pilgrimage. I go to join in the celebration of the harvest season, of community and cooperative sharing, of living in harmony with nature, of caring for the the earth and for one another. All with joy, artistry, respect, and, well… Love. Good things to have in these times. I go to rejoice in the midst of September’s vivid color, light and energy before the gray of winter sets in.

I will miss the Common Ground Fair in Unity. I can only imagine what it’s like for the participants and organizers. At least there will be a Common Ground Fair to attend online and we can still support the farmers and artisans who work so hard all year.

The Fair

I love the farm animals, including the favorites from my childhood County Fairs ~ The Horses. The Fair of my childhood was my city girl connection to country life. Even though it was modern & honky tonk in some ways, I adored it. All year I had the same anticipation I now have for the Common Ground.

There are teaching workshops, and demonstrations of old fashioned,
sustainable tools and crafts. Young people are learning and passing on ways and traditions of past generations.

So many stalls, booths and tents with produce
and handmade, homemade natural products and crafts!

And Food! The variety of healthy, local food delights me! The cotton candy of my childhood fair is replaced by Tacos, Fiddlehead-stuffed Ravioli & carrot juice!

Musicians, on stages and off, country dances, wandering minstrels…
Parades in which fair goers and bicycles participate!

Sketching at the Fair

Over the years, my steady companion at the Fair has been a small sketchbook in which I make quick visual and written notes.

One time I was sketching the little Popcorn House
when the Popcorn Lady popped out to photo my sketch!
A great pleasure: Sketching while listening to live music!


There is no Common Ground Fair this year.
But my sketchbook and I have been safely finding September joy
in some beautiful local gardens.
And next year we will appreciate the Fair more than ever!

Rita Swidrowski sketches, journals, teaches and lives in Belfast. You can visit her blog, Sketchbook Wandering http://www.sketchbook-wandering.blogspot.com/