Ideas and tips to get along and get stuff done---------f--JAugust 31, 2021
It’s been awhile since the last newsletter.

For me this summer has been a great mix of work, carpentry, family, and music.

Here’s a bit about each. And some photos. Below.
The photo is from a COVID-style meeting at a Maine State Park. It's how we roll summer 2021!
So I’ve been solo for over a year with no colleagues or support staff. My little company had 5 employees before COVID. The biggest consequence of Craig-on-his-own is that I can’t serve very many clients. Demand is high. I’m currently booked through February.

It’s really hard for me to turn away a client who wants to resolve a conflict or collaboratively solve a problem, so I have developed a referral list of facilitators that I hand out when I have to say no. (btw, if you are a facilitator and would like to be on this list, let me know)
My current portfolio of clients is awesome. Here’s a complete list but let me tell you about a few.

The Town of York, Maine for instance, has hired me to help make a 10-year Fire Service Plan. I get to work with two very dedicated Fire Chiefs and a volunteer call company culture that goes back generations and across families. Bowdoin College has again hired me to work with their students on how to have conversations across divides. I have been privileged to facilitate meetings of the Maine Audubon Board of Trustees and Senior Staff as they make long range plans.

Oh, and the Maine Highlands project! A coalition of leaders in Piscataquis County, Maine received a Working Communities Challenge Grant to address persistent and growing poverty. I facilitate their Leadership Team meetings. Last week I ran a full-day in-person retreat for the University of Maine Aquaculture Research Institute. So fun to be in a meeting with scientists working in a very high-demand field. And in the next weeks I will be working with Maine Coast Sea Vegetables who are celebrating 50 years of harvesting and distributing seaweed and other sea vegetables from the North Atlantic.

These are just some of my current clients. I feel very blessed. Learn more here.
Make Shift Coffee House
Make Shift Coffee House has been on the shelf. For those who don’t know, it’s a volunteer effort I started when President Trump was elected: an effort to help conservatives and liberals understand each other.

Over three years – stopped abruptly by COVID - I facilitated 40 in-person Make Shift Coffee Houses across Maine. We worked hard to develop an online version but it didn’t take off.

Thanks to a really nice partnership with Wicked Joe Organic Coffee we even sold Make Shift Coffee online! For months our website has encouraged hosting an online Make Shift Coffee House but there has been little uptake, and I have not been proactive with promotion.

Lacking current market demand for what we used to offer, I’m not sure what to do. I have talked with some young folks about holding conversations between older and younger people to understand each other. I’ve been considering a civic dialogue pilot project. I’m open to follow the energy of Make Shift Coffee House where it may lead, yet not promoting any particular approach right now.

And another factor: Many organizations and projects have jumped into doing similar work to what Make Shift Coffee House did. The most prominent is Braver Angels, a fantastic organization with real capacity to make a difference. If you have energy for understanding across political divides, check them out and take your energy there.
One reason I love my old barn is that there’s always something that needs to be fixed. Haha. Really. Carpentry was my trade before grad school and now it’s a hobby. For me it’s very grounding to hold pieces of lumber in three dimensions, do math with a pencil, measure in fractions, saw, hammer, stand back and see what you built.

This summer its windows! After 25 years living here I’m finally putting in decent windows. Just two, on the south gable end, in the two most important places: the sauna and the shop. Mathews Brothers Windows, made in Belfast, Maine, oldest window manufacturers in America. The photo is from inside the shop. The new window will go in the left space.
I got to see my whole family this summer on my Mom’s side. A wedding brought us all together. We had a birthday party for Mom on the side. It was really great to spend time with my brother and sister and their kids and partners and grandkids.
In the picture to the right is my sister Shana and my Mom, Mary Louise Freshley, eighty years old. She’s pretty great! Love you, Mom.

The picture above is a jump photo gone wrong. A little miscommunication maybe? In this photo are my daughters and my nieces and nephews, including the groom. And the groom’s dog. Of course.

Carol and I also got to spend a little time in Portland, Oregon visiting her brother Mark. That was really great. With a trip to Mount Hood and another trip to the coast. It's always great to see Mark and awesome tours of his beloved city.
As long as I’m telling “what I did on my summer vacation,” I need to include the fun I’ve had playing music with friends. I’m not a very good musician but I’ve learned to pull them together!

The photo is from a gig at Growing to Give Farm across the road. I did another little gig at Old Crow Ranch this summer. And lots of playing in the barn.
Just fun that’s all.

Oh, and next to me on the stage there is my daughter Dana. She just sang Stranger by Watchhouse.
I plan to ride solo for a while longer, with some days downtown and some days in my home office, serving limited clients as best I can. I’d love to hire some part time support, yet I want flexibility right now. For the future I’m making plans to scale things up. Stay tuned.

Thanks for checking out the newsy tidbits in this edition of Craig's News. I hope that you too have had a terrific summer!

~ Craig

To Help You Get Along
Written and published by Craig Freshley. Thanks for walking along with me.