Issue No. 115
The MSCN Newsletter

 Welcome to Your December 2019 Issue!

Happy Holidays!
Snowy Owl with Deep Sea Anglerfish Hat
by Anne Cardale

Another festive season is upon us. Do you identify more with the Grinch, or do you see yourself more as a holiday elf? Either way, there is plenty to occupy and entertain you in this month's newsletter!

December's issue has two main themes. The first is online learning from home, and the second is enjoying "outdoor classrooms" in beautiful Maine. 

I invited Mary Jane Beardsley to write something for this month's news. Mary Jane serves on the board of the USM Lewiston-Auburn SC. She is an 81-year-old retired librarian inspired by the idea of creating online learning communities for older Mainers with mobility issues. Though Mary Jane does not see herself as a "techie," she has applied herself to working out how technology can bring classes and social connections into people's homes. Mary Jane is fast becoming an expert on the uses of technology in the field of aging. 

Though it may be snowing and icy outside, it is worth planning a few hikes! The weather is not daunting the Gold LEAF Institute's Wednesday Walkabout group. And, for those senior colleges in Southern Maine looking for an outdoor classroom experience in the warmer months, Ellen Bennett of Midcoast Senior College has contributed a beautiful article about The Cathance River Education Alliance.
Take an online class with MSCN
(Become a Senior College Square)

Charley Weaver from the television game show "Hollywood Squares"

MSCN online Zoom classes are gradually becoming more popular as members realize they are not designed to take away the face-to-face experience of physical classes. Zoom classes are looking to engage people who may not be able to get to a senior college class for whatever reason. These classes are also providing enjoyable opportunities for people to make new friends and socialize both during and after class!

Look out for Maine Senior College Network Zoom classes in 2020. This newsletter will post information about upcoming courses that are being offered by Maine's senior colleges.

Alice Bolstridge and Nancy Roe are presenting our first Zoom offering for 2020. For more information about their class, see below.

MSCNonlineMSCN Online Zoom Class

The Power and Influence of Big Money 
with Alice Bolstridge
February 4, 11, 18, 25 
9:30 - 11:30 AM 

Pre-Class, ZOOM-at-home tutorials 
Tuesdays, January 21, 28
9:30-10:30 AM 
Mr and Mrs Andrews by Thomas Gainsborough

A class for political junkies, news hounds and concerned citizens:

The Power and Influence of Big Money 
Lively discussion is expected in this ZOOM-at-home class about effects of big money on legislative policy and citizens' lives. Selected readings from a book in progress about life as a volunteer activist will be emailed to participants prior to each class. The title, "Through the Eye of a Needle" by Alice Bolstridge, refers to Jesus' warning: "It is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

The book includes extensive observations made in 2018 of the 128th Maine Legislature dealing with problems the class will discuss: income inequality, the environment, health care, and education. 

Alice Bolstridge, PH. D. English Literature. Writer. Activist. For more information, visit Alice's facebook page.

Pre-Class  ZOOM-at-home tutorials 
with Nancy Roe
Tuesdays, January 21, 28
9:30-10:30 AM 

What is Zoom?
ZOOM is easy-to-use videoconferencing. It is catching on in the Maine Senior College Network as a way to take online courses from home ... even during a snowstorm! 

Tell me more about your Zoom tutorial
This is a SAGE at the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) ZOOM class. Members of other senior colleges in Maine are invited to join the sessions!

What will Zoom look like on my computer?
ZOOM is similar to Skype but with more people. (You will look like you are on The Hollywood Squares Show!)

What do I need to join your Zoom class?
Your computer needs a camera and a microphone. 
If you can watch YouTube videos you can Zoom! 

How can I tell if my computer will work with Zoom?
To see if your computer qualifies, and/or if you are simply curious about zooming, call Nancy Roe, 768-7271, or send her an email .

Tell me more
This tutorial will prepare you for the SAGE at UMPI class "The Power and Influence of Big Money" which will run on Tuesdays, in February. 

Nancy Roe is your Zoom guide
Please notify Nancy that you would like to take the Pre-Class Zoom From-Home Tutorial. Instructions will be sent if you wish to participate. Nancy Roe is a ZOOM enthusiast. She is a founding member of SAGE and a member of the SAGE Board of Directors.  

How much will this Pre-Class ZOOM-at-home tutorial cost me?
This class is also free to all Senior College members!

Register now!

"The Power and Influence of Big Money" 
"Pre-Class ZOOM-at-home tutorials" 
are free for  Maine Senior College members! 

GoldLEAFThe Gold LEAF Institute at the University of Maine at Farmington

Wednesday Walkabouts with Ray Stillman
Wednesday Walkabout Walkers  

At Gold Leaf institute in Farmington, there is a fellow named Ray Stillman, who passionately shares our appreciation for the unique opportunities to enjoy the splendor of nature in all its pure, sparkling winter raiments. For Gold Leaf, Ray conducts a program called Wednesday Walkabouts, featuring walking trails within a 30-minute proximity of Farmington. Conditions can involve winter outdoor equipment and a (ahem) Maine-style hardiness to welcome Maine-style weather conditions.

The Mountain Trail System which lies between Great Pond and Long Pond in Rome, Maine.

Here's what Ray recently shared about his Gold Leaf events:  

"Wednesday Walkabouts, occurring approximately every two weeks, and offering a chance to chat with friends, opened the Fall/Winter session with a visit to The Mountain Trail System which lies between Great Pond and Long Pond in Rome, Maine. It offered views of both ponds and the Kennebec highlands. One outlook lies far above the steep cliffs along Route 27 an offers an impressive view of the north end of Long Pond.

Most recently was a visit to the White Granite Park and Trails in North Jay, Maine. A CHILLY DAY! These trails wind along farm and orchard fields, then up and around both old and current granite quarrying activities."

As the season progresses, emails are sent to members who have signed up for these trips, about the next next locations.

Submitted by Jan Benschop, The Gold LEAF Institute at UMF

MaryJane-TechLifeUSM Lewiston-Auburn Senior College

Tech Enhanced Life: Is it for you?
Mary Jane Beardsley
Cognitive Service Robot Cosero

Holiday gift giving is upon us. From alert systems that will call 911 to lighted canes to help you navigate dark sidewalks the number of products to consider for making a senior's life safer and easier is staggering. Too often these products are designed and reviewed by 'youngsters' who have no idea what it means to have arthritis or other impairments found for the most part in the senior population.
Yet soon 40% of the world's population will be over 50.

The nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Tech Enhanced Life was created in 2013 by Richard Caro primarily to "help older adults and their families". Its secondary purpose is "helping companies bring to market better products and services for older adults". However, their research is not sponsored by any vendors of the products that they analyze. They look to identify the unmet needs of elders, then
to brainstorm and form ideas for creating new products to meet those needs.

They have taken a novel approach, they are asking the seniors themselves.

They have created groups called Longevity Explorers. These groups meet to evaluate existing products and brainstorm ideas for new or better ones. The results of their meetings are on the website in both print and audio form. Among the things they have discussed/evaluated: medical alert systems, smart watches, home sensor systems, toenail clippers, tools for medication management and useful apps to improve your life.

Too often, product developers target the children, not the seniors themselves. If you do nothing else after reading this, click on
the following article from titled "What They Want vs What You Think They Need." The kids have given their widowed 70-year-old father items that will count his calories, count his steps, and track his sleep. The intrusions into his life caused by these items and the subsequent phone calls from his kids when his calories, exercise, and sleep do not meet the standards set are substantial. Rather than disappoint them, he figures out a way to outwit them which will leave you smiling if not laughing out loud.

You can sign up for the tech enhanced life newsletter for free. You will get a monthly update on their work. If you would like to help them evaluate items or offer suggestions they would love to hear from you. Perhaps one of our senior colleges might want to form a Longevity Explorers group. In the meantime, before buying that Amazon Echo, smart watch or toe nail clipper you might checkout
their reviews, it could save you a bundle.

Mary Jane Beardsley, USM Lewiston-Auburn Senior College

Senior College Winter Courses 2020 
Snow Scene by Yuzo Saeki

SC at  Belfast

Bridgton  SC

Coastal  SC

Gold LEAF  Institute
(Fall & Winter. Scroll down the page for winter class information)

USM  Lewiston-Auburn  SC
Coming soon - visit Course Catalogs web page for updated information

Midcoast  SC

Sunrise  SC
Winter Warm-Ups will be held in January and February
Coming soon - visit Sunrise SC's web page for updated information

Winter classes run from January to March
Coming soon - visit WMSC's Courses page for updated information

WinterWisdomMidcoast Senior College

presents WINTER WISDOM 2020 
sponsored by The Highlands 

Curtis Memorial Library 
& Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick
Wednesdays, 12:15-1:45 pm 

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! For information, contact Midcoast Senior College (207) 725-4900
Above: Works by Robert Shetterly
Winter Wisdom January 22
The Obligations of Artists: One Man's Role with Robert Shetterly

January 2020 Presentations

January 8: Castlebay - 1960s Folk Music in a Time of Political Turmoil* 
The acclaimed folk duo Castlebay will present a lecture/performance of 1960's protest songs made popular during that time of political unrest. Julia Lane & Fred Gosbee will explain the origins and context of music of this genre. Joining them will be the MSC Singers, the sixty-voice senior college chorus. They will sing three choral arrangements of songs from that era. 
Julia & Fred became a singing duo in 1987 and since then have been weaving together the music and heritage of songs from Celtic and New England history. They present traditional folk music blending history, legend, and experience into their personable performance style. Their concerts are presented throughout the United States and Europe, and feature poignant ballads interspersed with introspective songs played on guitar, Celtic harp, fiddle, and tin whistle. 
*This program will take place at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Middle St., Brunswick, across from the Curtis Memorial Library

January 15: Good from Evil: The Tuskegee Syphilis Study and Campaign for Patient Rights 
This presentation examines the infamous clinical study of untreated syphilis in African American males conducted between 1932 and 1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service. The historical context of the study and subsequent developments in the ethics of biomedical research provide the framework for this discussion. 
Richard Neiman is a retired physician with a lifelong interest in the history of medicine. He is a graduate of Harvard College, Tufts Medical School, and Professor Emeritus at Indiana University. He has been actively involved in MSC as faculty member, Winter Wisdom presenter, student, and member of the Board of Directors from 2004 to 2018.

January 22: The Obligations of Artists: One Man's Role 
Art can educate, provoke, motivate as well as entertain and sooth the viewer. 
Robert Shetterly is an artist and activist perhaps most well known for his series of portraits: Americans Who Tell the Truth. His art has served as a vehicle for both young students and adults to learn of true history and models of courageous citizenship that have impacted our democracy. He has an A.B. degree from Harvard, and honorary doctorates from USM and UMF, as well as receiving numerous other awards.

January 29: Cyrus Field and Laying of the Transatlantic Cable 
This presentation will describe the fascinating story of Cyrus Field and his journey from penniless paper mill worker to one of the most prominent men in New York City. Through many challenges and missteps, this visionary became a persistent, energetic entrepreneur who went on to accomplish one of the greatest technological feats of the 19th century. 
Mary Morton Cowan is a Maine native and has a B.A. degree from Bates College where she majored in English and Music. She has published four books and nearly 100 articles for young readers.

MidcoastSCSingersMidcoast Senior College

Experience is the Best Teacher
The Cathance River Education Alliance's Outdoor Classroom

Ellen Bennett

The Cathance River Nature Reserve

The change begins when you step from your car, or off of the school bus, or your bike, and follow the path down to the Ecology Center. Your shoulders relax. Your breath slows. Your eyes wander. Your senses adjust to the quiet and the sounds of nature, to the way the sun hits the trees and rocks and path before you. You are open to the magic of this place: the Cathance River Nature Preserve, and the learning begins.

Outdoor classroom

For life-long learners, the best way to learn, to remember, and to incorporate the learning into your life, is through engagement and experience - experiential learning. We all know what that feels like, and it is wonderful.  The Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) has, for twenty years, used the Cathance River Nature Preserve as its outdoor classroom. Hundreds of public-school students from Topsham, Brunswick, Harpswell, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and beyond - as well as their teachers - spend countless hours working with CREA's educators learning through experience about the world around them.  And hundreds of adults have participated in guided hikes across nearly five miles of trails around the 235 acres, or have ventured out on snow-shoes for a solo lesson. Nature has so much to teach us.

The vision of two men called John

How did this outdoor classroom come to be in the center of Topsham? Twenty years ago, a man with a vision for development, John Wasileski, met a man with a vision for and a deep commitment to conservation, John Rensenbrink. The two Johns met in the nursery school room of Topsham's Presbyterian Church and, sitting on laughingly small chairs, hammered out a compromise: the planned community of Highland Green would establish a buffer of one thousand feet between development and the banks of the Cathance River and reduce the size of the planned golf course from 18 holes to 9. Studies revealed that prospective residents were far more attracted to the call of the wild outside their back door than they were by the call of a golf cart. 

The two Johns wanted to do more than simply conserve the land - they wanted the land to be used for education. The result is CREA's unique outdoor classroom, made possible with the assistance of the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust, which holds the conservation easement on the Preserve. The care and maintenance of the "classroom", a/k/a The Preserve, is coordinated among three entities:  CREA, the Land Trust, and Seacoast Management, the developer.  

Students of all ages

Across the 235 acres, students of all ages will find woodland, a rushing river that has carved small canyons in the surrounding rock, opening up into calm pools, as well as evidence of long-abandoned feldspar "mines" -  man-made hollows crudely excavated that show remnants of the pulleys that helped hoist the rock to the paths above. The classroom also includes a "heath" or bog - an open wetland filled with grasses, small shrubs, mosses and ferns - beautiful in every season.  

Another element of this classroom is CREA's Ecology Center. In 2006, John Wasileski brought to the preserve, piece by piece, a barn that had occupied a place on family property in New York state. Reconstructed and made into an off-the-grid, energy efficient dwelling, this building serves as the center of the majority of the lessons in which students are engaged, as well as a teaching tool itself.

Visits to the Preserve often begin and end at the Center

Visits to the Preserve often begin and end at the Center. In the large open teaching space, elementary school students examine samples of flora and fauna, sustainably harvested from the preserve. After a guided nature walk, naturalists share their knowledge with eager groups of learners who may also explore the library. During CREA's summer day camp, the Ecology Center is the base for a wealth of science and nature-based activities-indoors and outdoors. And on Sunday afternoons, the Center is staffed by volunteers for those who have enjoyed a hike and want to enjoy the resources of a small library, rock and mineral collection, and impressive display of well-preserved creatures that inhabit the area - owl, ferret, fox and more.  

 An array of educational experiences

Here is a sampling of the array of educational experiences CREA offers at the Ecology Center:
  • Photography Walks, 
  • Snowshoe/Nordic Ski Adventures, 
  • Invasive Species Nature Walks, 
  • Fiddleheads and Fronds: Looking at Ferns, 
  • Intro to the World of Birds and Birding, 
  • An Evening with Moths, 
  • A Mushroom Discovery Walk, 
  • The Elfin World of Lichens and Mosses, 
  • Pre-School Story Walk & Fall Sensory Exploration.  
Add to these the monthly Fourth Tuesday talks at the Topsham Public Library, all of which are open to the public and free of charge, and the opportunities to learn are endless.

The joy of nature-based play and exploration

Where is CREA having its greatest impact? Through the Brunswick and MSAD 75 schools, where our educators have partnered with teachers and students for many years. Over two or three consecutive years, elementary students experience the magic of hands-on, nature-based learning on the Preserve, with follow-up in their classroom. High-school students conduct original research with the guidance of volunteer mentors. Young budding environmental scientists may find their research results lead to an article published in a scientific journal. And just look at the CREA website or Facebook page to see youngsters in CREA's summer camp, experiencing the joy of nature-based play and exploration with their peers.

Learning is a two-way street

Learning is a two-way street; teachers learn as much from their students as their students do from them. Teachers in our partner schools have been so impressed by their students' engagement and learning that they have invited our educators to conduct a professional development workshop for 75 current classroom teachers and administrators. Over the course of a day, CREA educators showed how to use the world outside the classroom door first to explore, and then to learn and process the concepts and vocabulary needed to understand the natural world.

The stories of teachers and students and community members taking life-long lessons from CREA's outdoor classroom are innumerable. CREA's mission is to foster the wise use of the Cathance River Nature Preserve; to deepen ecological awareness through nature-based learning among students, educators, and the public; and to promote environmental stewardship. Or, more simply, to connect people with nature for the benefit of both.

If you have not experienced CREA's outdoor classroom, do! Visit the CREA website for more information.


Ellen Bennett is a resident of Topsham, a member of the CREA board of directors, and an active participant in the MSC Singers. 

Submitted by Ellen Bennett, Midcoast Senior College


Maine Public Classical Radio 
Holiday Stream
Maine Public Classical Radio is also offering a 24/7 Holiday Stream with  symphonic, choral, solo voice and instrumental holiday music.  

Toshiba Vacuum Tube Radio
How to listen to Maine Public Classical Radio!

Traditional radio:
Maine Public Classical Radio can be heard via traditional radio ( c lick here for a list of radio frequencies).

Listen online
Listen by using your computer or tablet (select Maine Public Classical from drop down menu), on via smartspeaker (ask it to " Play Maine Public Classical Radio") or download the Maine Public App for phones and smaller tablets. 


Plan Ahead - Save the Date! 
Coming in 2020! 

MSCN 2020 Statewide Conference

"2020 Vision for Maine's Senior Colleges"
May 2, 2020.

  • Thanks to the generosity of the University of Maine Hutchinson Center and the Senior College at Belfast we will be holding a statewide conference at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center on May 2, 2020. 

The MSCN newsletter is sent to each Senior College board. The boards then forward the newsletter to their membership. However, if you are not a member of a Senior College or perhaps you are, and you simply want the news "hot off the press" subscribe here! 
Newsletter Submissions 
Submit your articles and photographs to Anne Cardale at .
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Facebook logo Now you can "like" Maine Senior College Network on Facebook . We've created an MSCN page on Facebook, so please visit it to share experiences, ideas, photos, and information about upcoming Maine Senior College happenings. We'll also post links to articles about lifelong learning and other topics relevant to senior college members.


Image Credits
Snowy Owl with Deep Sea Anglerfish Hat -  Anne Cardale (copyright).

Images Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Maine Senior College Network is a program of the  

Maine Senior College Network

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Contact Information
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(207) 228-4128


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