Heroes Around Us

By Sudeep Stauble

 

A mother struggles to balance her writing career and take care of her family. A student with an eating disorder strives every day to pursue her goal of helping those with similar issues. What do these struggles have in common? They belong to any of us, whether you’re a celebrity or merely an ordinary person. Maybe you have a mental illness. Maybe you suffer the stress of a chronic medical issue while juggling a full course load. Maybe, after years of enduring hardship after hardship, you suddenly find yourself breaking down in paroxysms of hopeless sobs.

We often associate acts of heroism as committed by soldiers, police officers, firefighters, or, for some of us nerds, comic-book characters in tights or capes. However, we fail to recognize the heroes all around us, ordinary men and women who face daily challenges just to get by. While it is true soldiers and police are heroic, the day-to-day sacrifices of these everyday heroes deserve just as much recognition.

Most of us recall being asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Little do we realize that our goals are often impacted by what we have endured. Brittany Dutton, a student at Southern Maine Community College, is majoring in human services and psychology. When asked about her goals, she told me, “I want to get my doctorate in psychology so that I can be an eating-disorder psychologist and help people who are struggling.” Ten years ago she was diagnosed with an eating disorder. This mental illness impacted her in multiple facets of her life. Her relationships were nearly destroyed, and her health was deteriorating. She has stated that, after spending six weeks in an eating-disorder center, she has striven every day to pursue this noble endeavor. She continues to remind herself that she is in recovery, which enables her to fight her battle with her disorder.

While some of us can go through the motions and live through the monotony of every day, there are those whose days are full of challenges. Brittany Lewis, age 29, described her daily routine and the balancing act between her writing career and caring for her children. “My youngest is autistic and he receives ABA therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and has a special-education teacher. They all work with him at our home. In between helping the therapists, I do my best to work on my author career for several hours a day; writing, editing, growing my following on social media and doing interviews are just some of the things I do for work. After all my son’s therapy is over around noon, I stop working and focus on cooking and cleaning. I pick up my daughter from the bus stop at 3:50 p.m. and we do her homework before I cook, serve and then clean up dinner, give them baths and get them ready for bed.”

As a writer, I can relate to her to some degree. While I myself am not a parent, it’s all I can do to imagine how difficult a task it would be to divide my time between my aspirations and my family. I admire her dedication to her family and her passion as a writer in spite of what she has been through. In fact, I often express to her my admiration. She has inspired me to finally take my own writing passion seriously.

When looking back, my sources have relayed to me that their battles with their respective demons have shaped them into the people they are today. An anonymous source remarked, “As a gay woman, I want to advocate for marginalized communities.” She has explained that growing up, she often faced stigmas regarding homosexuality. As such, she would like to put to rest those negative viewpoints and impact society and advocate for those without a voice.

When asked how her struggles have affected her, Dutton explained that she feels she can “take care of people better because of what I went through.” By the same token, Lewis explained, “Having my son has helped me to be more patient and more aware of children with special needs in general. Autism was something I didn’t know very much about before he was born. With my own health issues, it has helped me to want to have much deeper relationships and helped me to strive to work that much harder to reach my professional goals.”

Have you ever felt as though you were at your wit’s end? As though you were running on reserve energy, that your suffering would never end? I know I certainly have. There are those who persevere through their suffering by reminding themselves that this is temporary.

Throughout my interactions in my research, I kept contemplating role models. We all have someone we admire, sometimes wishing we were them. These may include celebrities, leaders, even heroic characters in film or literature. But for me, role models are ordinary people who have flaws, people who overcome obstacles and strive to pursue their goals, people who persevere when night is darkest before dawn. These people possess qualities and virtues by which I myself try to live, qualities such as courage, ambition, and confidence. I cannot build monuments, paint portraits, or plaques for them. But through my writing, I hope to pay them an homage long overdue.

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Who Is That Man With the Tracts?

Ben Riggleman

 

If you’ve gone to a home baseball game at the South Portland Campus, or even just walked by during one, you’ve probably interacted with Ed Heron. It’s hard not to. He stands strategically at the corner of Fort Road and Pickett Street so that he can spread the word of God to passers-by through colorful gospel tracts.

On a bright Saturday afternoon, a Beacon correspondent interviewed Ed to find out what keeps him coming to games when most students who know him actively avoid him. The following are excerpts from that conversation.

 

BR: Why do you stand here passing out tracts at SMCC baseball games? What motivates you?

EH: Well, ever since I got saved in 1974, I — God puts love in your heart, more than I ever had, you see. And so, God loves you too, right? He wants you saved, he wants to see you in Heaven, right?

BR: Mm-hmm. Now why do you come here? Why do you come to SMCC?

EH: My boy plays on the SMCC team.

BR: Oh, really? On the baseball team?

EH: Yeah, sorry, on the baseball team, yeah. Do you play baseball?

BR: No, I don’t.

EH: Ah, ok! Well, I used to play, but I was the worst on the team, you know. I just couldn’t hit, I was scared of the ball, and… [laughs]. We like baseball. We’re carpenters, you know, we do carpentry for work. You know, so I can take off, you know, when I need to. … I work six days a week, but if there’s a game, I’ll take off, quite often — not always, but quite often. And it’s fun; ‘bout the only thing we do, you know, besides church — you know, work, church, baseball. …
BR: So you enjoy watching the games as well?

EH: Yeah! Yeah, I do. I don’t see much from here, but I can see enough [laughs]. But I’ve seen some people interested in the Bible here come by. There was a young gentleman the last game, Friday, that said he was interested.

BR: Really?

EH: Yeah, and he took a gospel paper — so I’m hoping. I pray for his salvation. I’d like to see the whole town saved.

BR: Do you often experience disrespect when you’re passing out tracts?

EH: Very little! Here, it’s just a wonderful — so many people are polite. One person gave me a hug, you know, and I get a lot of “thank yous.” … There’s some people who don’t understand. There was a Satanist here earlier, he says he’s a Satanist, and he didn’t want to have a gospel paper.

BR: He said he was a Satanist?

EH: Yeah, he told me he was a Satanist. So, you know, just pray for him, and hopefully one day he’ll be able to read the Bible and see that God loves him. Because this guy we had in our Church here [points to tract, “My Search for Peace”] — he was a Satanist, and he overdosed many times to drugs. And finally he got peace through the Lord Jesus Christ, and now he’s a preacher. And he got born again. He came to our church, and he’s a good preacher. So there’s hope for that Satanist who walked by here. I don’t know his name, but hopefully God will work in his life so that he’ll want to read a gospel paper.

BR: What is your church?

EH: Our church is in Union. It’s on the radio. Right next to Rockland, it’s in a little town called Union. It’s For His Glory Bible Baptist Church. And For His Glory, that’s capitalized, because that’s talking about Jesus Christ. And our pastor likes to do everything according to the Bible. … He’s on the radio, 8 o’clock, Saturday morning, 105.9 FM. …

BR: How long of a drive is it from Union to South Portland?

EH: Well, see, we live near Farmington ourselves. We live in Wilton, so it’s close to two hours to get here, from Wilton. Yeah, it’s… We’d like to see people think more of the Lord, you know what I’m saying?

BR: Yeah, I do.

EH: I know the students have studies they’ve got to think about. But, you see, I got saved when I was in University of Maine-Orono, when I was a student there; that’s when I got saved at the age of 20. Because I saw my life — I wasn’t really into drugs, you know, but I saw my life going nowhere. I just — I tried working hard. I used to get up at 3:30 in the morning and work until 8:00 at night, and I used to do that, like, I think seven days a week. … I’d drop, sleep, then do it all over again. I thought work was life, and I finally figured out, that’s — that’s a drag.

I tried sports; I wasn’t good at that. And I couldn’t tell you at that point in my life, but I was searching for something. For what life was all about. And when I found Jesus, I was satisfied. That was enough. That was what I was looking for. Before that, I couldn’t tell you what I was looking for, but I was really looking for the real meaning of life, why we’re here on Earth. And when I asked Jesus into my heart that night, my life started to change. …

I like to see God use me to win souls. You know, I led my Dad to the Lord about 30 years ago. That was a good day. I know my Dad’s going to Heaven. And He wants to save you too. God loves everybody. The Bible says that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” …

BR: Are you familiar with the Christian student groups on campus — there’s InterVarsity [Christian Fellowship], and I think there’s one called Alpha and Omega…

EH: Really!

BR: Yeah, they’re, uh —

EH: Nice! Well, I didn’t know that. Ho, okay, well that’s good! … I think high schools — a lot of times high schools kick out God. But it’s good to hear that this campus doesn’t, you know.

Why We Need Indigenous Peoples’ Day

By Kate Bennett

 

Across the country, Americans spend the second Monday of October celebrating Columbus Day. Why? Because it is a federal holiday and typically a day off from work and school. But does Columbus really deserve his own day? I don’t think so.

As children, we were taught that Columbus is renowned for discovering America and establishing civilization on the new land, and therefore should be celebrated and honored. In elementary school I was taught that Columbus found America, befriended the natives, and then society developed from there. Columbus was made out to be a hero, and the starting point for our country.

Later on, I learned the truth. Columbus and the Native Americans hadn’t gotten along so well, as he enforced his ideals and plans upon the land. In the FIG class I took at SMCC, I learned the truth about Columbus. If I’m being honest, Columbus was straight-up evil. Columbus began the process of colonizing the land that was already home to native people. Apparently he thought of himself as being superior to the native people. Columbus would punish the Caribbean Native Americans’ by cutting off body parts, including their noses and ears, both of which I find especially disturbing. Columbus would enforce punishments if someone did something against him. For example, if someone stole from him he might have punished them by cutting off one of their hands.

Columbus is not worthy of being recognized on the federal level every year. He destroyed the Native Americans’ culture and does not deserve this level of recognition. Instead, we should be recognizing the native people of this country by celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day would be a day to recognize the Native Americans, because they were the actual start of society here in America. From Columbus’s aggressive actions towards the Native Americans to the Native Americans losing most of their land and being forced into a culture that wasn’t their own, Native Americans have gone through a lot since people started migrating to their land. Instead of Columbus, Native Americans deserve to be recognized federally by changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Some cities have already started making this change, one of them being Portland, Maine.

What If…

By Lloyd Metcalf

 

What if SMCC were off the grid? If we throw out all budgetary concerns, what would the ripple effect look like for SMCC to go to a completely self-sufficient power and energy system?

We would be a shining jewel of a campus gleaming in the state at the forefront of alternative energy. It would not be a small feat, but it would be a milestone accomplishment. We would be launched into the spotlight as brilliant leaders with global thinking and application of ideals. We would be an example to our community. The ability of our students and staff would be highlighted everywhere.

What alternative energies, you may ask? This is not just a solar-panel scenario, but wind and tidal turbines as well. Wind turbines don’t need to be giant behemoths with tremendous propellers whop-whop-whopping away. Vertical-axis spiral turbines are far more efficient, eco-friendly and quiet. Tidal turbines can harness the ocean tides, operating off the ebb and flow without intruding significantly on aquatic life.

Even the equipment at the gym could feed the campus grid, or our doors (when we open and close them). Many other movements that people make could, with a little thought, be turned into energy to feed our learning and living spaces.

In recent years there has been an avalanche of new and exciting ways to create energy without burning coal or firing up a nuclear reactor. How would this affect other businesses in our community? How would it affect the way our state and college is seen locally? Globally? If we were completely removed from Central Maine Power dependency, what would that mean?

If we went one step further and considered taking our horticultural and agricultural programs into account, we could supply our own culinary system and cafeteria with fresh local produce generated by our own students. Such a complete undertaking would involve many of the SMCC student skill sets. Welders, builders, business managers, planners, designers, chefs, engineers, artists — all of these are found among the student body. Not only would the campus be at the cutting edge, we would be an exemplar in immediately putting the skills our students are here to learn to real-world applications.

Even writing this, I can already hear the groans of “How much would all that cost?” Such a thing is not the point of the “What If” column; it’s simply to ask the question “What if…” For a moment, let’s not think of ways something could never work, but of ways it MIGHT work.

As the planet warms up and we burn through carbon fuels at an unprecedented rate, eventually these “what if” questions turn into “we must” scenarios if we want to continue growing as a society. Oil is finite. So go ahead, ask “What if?” and start small.

Can we make our doors feed the grid? Sitting here in Hague Hall on the South Portland Campus on a Friday afternoon for a few minutes, the external door was actuated somewhere around 25 to 28 times; the internal stairwell door to the main floor, more than that. Why isn’t that motion being used to generate power?

We are a collection of people focused on the practical application of science and technology. We have more than 6,000 bright and motivated minds participating in the educational system at SMCC. I refuse to believe that some solutions couldn’t be found if we all asked “What if?” once in a while.

From the Desk of the Managing Editor: What Service Can Look Like

By Ben Riggleman

 

On Page 2, you read about Coach Brian Dougher’s no-nonsense approach to helping Hurricane Irma victims: “It doesn’t matter what type of environment we’re in; we’re down there to do a job and we do it well.” Dougher, you may have noticed, doesn’t talk about his motivations. It’s as if helping people in need is a duty so basic that it doesn’t need much discussion.

Most of us, it’s safe to say, don’t think this selflessly. At least, it doesn’t come naturally to us. But we could all take some inspiration from those SMCC staff — Brian Dougher, Nate Contreras and Clif Whitten — who went to Florida. Maybe we should follow their example and question the value we put on our own life and limb, our own time, our own aspirations.

The philosopher Peter Singer and others have been saying the same for years, arguing that we owe much more to the poor in the developing world than our culture tells us is appropriate to give. This belief was the germ of the Effective Altruism movement, which promotes doing the most good possible, measured quantitatively, as in the human life-years saved by the distribution of anti-malaria mosquito netting. (Often, members of the movement conclude that it is better for them to “earn to give” than to volunteer their labor directly.)

The ideas of Effective Altruism are still far from the mainstream, but, like Dougher, Contreras and Whitten, they can spur us to question what we take for granted. Being selfless is a tough sell, however, so maybe it’s best to start small.

At The Beacon, we consider our work to be a small but meaningful service to the public. We keep the SMCC community informed. Sometimes we’ve printed critical information, like the PSA to former DACA beneficiaries and their families that ran in place of this column in the last issue.

I’ll be frank: The Beacon needs volunteers. We need more students to step up and write about things that matter. The world outside this quiet campus is shifting — socially, environmentally, politically — and we’re involved, whether we like it or not. Ideally, we’re here at community college not just to further our careers, but to become more engaged citizens by informing ourselves. So I urge you to pick a topic you’re passionate about, get educated on it and take a stand: Write about it in the Opinion section of The Beacon. Interested writers should submit drafts to to benjaminsriggleman@smccme.edu as Microsoft Word or Google Docs files, and provide a word count. I look forward to seeing your thoughts in print, and so should you.

There are other easy ways to volunteer. For one, The Captain’s Cupboard, the student-run food pantry on the South Portland Campus, is in need of staff. Contact captainscupboard@smccme.edu if you’re interested. You don’t have to travel to disaster-stricken areas or donate millions to be of service.

Fall Hiking in Midcoast Maine

By Dan Elliott

With the decline in temperature we’ve seen in the past few weeks, it is now official: Fall is here.  While some people mark the beginning of the new season by grabbing their pumpkin-spice anything, or bring the family out to the orchards for some apple picking, others (myself included) inaugurate the coming of fall by heading out to hit the local trails for some autumn hiking. Hiking in Maine is a wonderful pastime, and in the fall the trailblazer is treated to a tableau of reds, yellows and oranges as the forest gets ready for the coming winter. Getting out into the wilderness is a perfect way for the stressed student to unwind and get some fresh air, and the Midcoast area is not short on places to explore; there are many local jaunts SMCC students can take advantage of this October. In this article I will cover my two personal favorites, Bradbury Mountain and Wolfe’s Neck State Park, both less than thirty minutes away from the Brunswick Campus.

For as long as I can remember, Bradbury Mountain has been the go-to place for local hikers wanting to traverse some vertical terrain without having to sink a significant chunk of time on travel. Located out in Pownal, it was acquired from the federal government in 1939. It has been a favorite of families due to its diversity of trails and relative low difficulty to climb: 15 or 20 minutes is all it takes to reach the summit. From the top, one can see out for miles. I’ve had many a lunch sitting up on the rocky summit, and have often nearly fallen asleep due to the peaceful serenity that envelops the mountain. Visitors will encounter an assortment of outdoor enthusiasts on the trails; bikers, hikers, joggers and campers all gladly share the park with one another. There is a fee to get in, a mere $3 for Maine residents. Oh, and it’s open year-round.

For those who with a bit more acrophobia, there is Wolfe’s Neck State Park in Freeport. Opened to the public in 1972 by Lawrence and Eleanor Smith, farmers in the beef industry, Wolfe’s Neck combines hardy paths with rocky coastline. The trails are accompanied by placards containing information about the local flora and fauna  out in the forests neighboring the Casco Bay area. Large open fields and picnic shelters ensure the hiker has all the space they could need for hosting a fall jamboree or a casual get-together between friends.

I have seen people from near and far come to the park for the exquisite nature walks and to see the large osprey that dwell in the area. One trip in particular I had the pleasure of meeting tourists from our neighbor to the north, who had come to the park on a trip collecting mushrooms. Like Bradbury, Wolfe’s Neck is open year-round, which gives travelers plenty of time to go out and snap a few pictures of the beautiful arrangement of colors in the leaves before the winter.

Bradbury and Wolfe’s Neck are great opportunities to enjoy what living in Maine is all about — enjoying the beauty of nature right in our own neighborhood. Whether you enjoy the mountains or prefer the coast, there’s something for everyone. Of course the list does not end with these two spots, and if one is adventurous enough, more remote and challenging climbs await the intrepid explorer.  Regardless of what it is you’re looking for, Maine has it. So next time you’re bogged down with that Calculus homework or about to lose your mind over that Psych exam, relax, take a deep breath — and go outside and play.

 

Record Scratch: “The Desaturating Seven”

By Michael Harrington

 

Humans like to be comfortable. If the temperature is not to our liking, we use climate control. If our chair is hard, we add a pillow. If we are hungry, we snack. If we do not like the radio station, we change it. But why be comfortable? You do not grow as a person without at least a little discomfort. You must be challenged in order to change.

Primus has been around for a while; they released their first studio album, “Frizzle Fry,” in 1990 alongside the single “John the Fisherman.” Anybody who played Guitar Hero II growing up should recognize the name “John the Fisherman,” a tale about a man who wants to grow up to be one of the harvesters of the sea. While this fishy tale was the first Primus single, the group would follow up with other such singles as “Tommy the Cat,” “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” and “My Name Is Mud,” all of which tell silly stories.

At its core, Primus is a metal band, but they have gone out of their way to create a sort of progressive funk-metal sound so that they stand out in an otherwise aggressive-sounding genre. What makes Primus especially unique, aside from their funky storytelling capabilities, is how disconcerting they make their songs. Being only three members large means each member has to be a top-tier player as well as creative so as to sonically fill every track. They do this with musical tension with little resolution.

So what is this weird metal band doing in 2017? On Sept. 29, Primus released their first entirely original album featuring the original lineup of bassist/vocalist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry LaLonde and drummer Tim Alexander since 1995. “The Desaturating Seven” is a protest/concept album based on the children’s book “The Rainbow Goblins” by Ul de Rico. There are seven goblins, one named for each color of the rainbow, and they all love to eat color. Primus keeps the theme of seven by limiting the album to seven songs. However, these seven songs are masterfully crafted to mirror the tale of “The Rainbow Goblins.”

Opening the album is “The Valley,” which features Tool’s Justin Chancellor as the narrating Goblin Master setting the stage for the story of these goblins. The Goblin Master’s voice is grand and booming, giving him a mystique enhanced by clean-guitar arpeggios. An ominous, almost tribal movement follows the narration. After the introduction, the album moves into “The Seven,” a marching roll call for the goblins. “The Trek,” our next song, is the longest on the album, reflecting the journey that the goblins need to go on in order for them to find the colors they desperately wish to eat. “The Scheme” flows into “The Dream,” which flows into “The Storm,” making the second half of the album feel like a hypnotic, refined and meticulously constructed symphony. “The Ends?” features the same musical themes of “The Valley,” giving an ominous feeling that these seven goblins have met their demise, yet the world continues on without them.

It is no surprise that Primus would release this album at this point in the world’s political situation. Claypool’s lyrics denounce the goblins as greedy, abusive and defamatory. So described in “The Seven,” these goblins plan to turn the world dark and gray simply because that is what these goblins do by nature. This claim would not be unfitting to describe some of the world’s leaders and political decisions in recent history. By comparing these high-profile individuals to goblins who want nothing more than to create a colorless and boring world, Primus turns “The Desaturating Seven” into a musical allegory.

If I had to recommend a single Primus album, it would be “The Desaturating Seven.” The simple complexity of the music holds your attention for the entire duration of the album. Goofy yet multi-layered lyrics add substance to the storytelling, but the movements in each song are what truly push the tale forward. Despite being weird, uncomfortable and tense, this album is much easier to listen to compared to Primus’s older albums without sacrificing any of the talent that Primus fans have come to adore. I implore you to suspend your disbelief about what music should sound like and check out this truly odd and endearing work of art.