The Cobscook Community Learning Center in the Township of Trescott, Maine provides classes, workshops, facilities and an alternative high school program, all designed to build sustainable community. Amidst the depressed economic situation in Washington County, where 60% of enrolled schoolchildren are eligible for free or reduced lunch, CCLC is a bright spot of opportunity for community members of all ages. “We’ll try anything”, Kevin Thompson, the office manager, told us, in reference to the wide array of programming CCLC offers. Striving to answer the two questions “what do you want to do?” and “what do you want to teach?”, CCLC has offered everything from deer sausage making to community gardens to high school diplomas for pregnant young women. The small campus is heated by a Garn central wood boiler with wood harvested four miles down the road, and they have five solar thermal panels contributing to domestic hot water needs.
“CCLC is about community wellness. And that means artistic, physical, economic, and educational wellness. It operates with the values of love, respect, humor, and creative bold adventure. Designed as a tool for social change, the center responds to community needs.”
With a tagline of “Find Passion. Share Skills. Create Change.”, CCLC began in 1999 as the dream of a group of community members from the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Euro-American community, and nearby New Brunswick, Canada. They were trying to find an answer to the question, “What would improve life in this rural region?” A vision came together for a community that respects people and planet, and inspires, supports, and sustains people to achieve their greatest potential.
We sat for a while in the evening sun with Maria McMorrow, whom Morgan worked with at Chewonki. Maria leads a collaborative program between the Downeast Salmon Federation and the CCLC, paying local teenagers to work on improving salmon habitat on the Machias River while camping, canoeing and building community. “The possibility for quality of life in this area is huge, and the resilience of these people is off the charts. There is just a poverty of choices here. My hope is this program can help them imagine something different.”