Downtown Education Collaborative presents Envisioning Lewiston

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The Downtown Education Collaborative (DEC) officially opens its doors with a photographic exhibition about Lewiston from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at its 219 Lisbon St. storefront center. The public is invited to attend the grand opening and reception and learn more about DEC, with snacks prepared by the Lots to Gardens youth crew and donated by area eateries, free of charge. For more information, please call Sherry Russell of DEC at 207-376-3071.

In fall 2008, 15 individuals, including local middle- and high- school students, business owners, college students and grandparents, were given cameras and asked to photograph what Lewiston means to them. Documenting what they most loved and valued about the city, and focusing on other issues of importance, they created hundreds of pictures and stories.The photographers narrowed down the collection to 40 framed photographs that compose “Envisioning Lewiston: a photo-voice exhibit.” In response to the exhibited pictures and stories, visitors are welcome to share their own thoughts and perspectives.

DEC is a partnership of Lewiston-Auburn’s academic institutions and three other community partners. The core partners are Bates College, the University of Southern Maine Lewiston-Auburn College, Central Maine Community College, and Andover College — as well as the Lewiston Public Library, Lewiston Adult Education and Empower Lewiston, a nonprofit community organization established to serve Lewiston’s downtown neighborhood.

DEC partners have pledged to work together to pursue community-based educational work in and with Lewiston’s underserved downtown neighborhoods. Other efforts that DEC has underway include “Bridging the Digital Divide,” a project in which students from the colleges staff four computer labs to provide one-on-one mentoring and skill-building, and assist users with on-line job searches, applications and access to essential information and services; “Promoting Academic Success,” a program that provides afterschool homework help to middle- and high-school youths; and “Community Food Assessment,” a multi-year research project that assesses food needs and assets and proposes action to enhance nutrition and food security.

DEC’s storefront center in downtown Lewiston will serve as a base for community research, service-learning and student internships; as a meeting-place for related college courses; as a space for training, mentoring and clinical services offered by DEC members; and as a “public square” for community discussions.

As a collaborative, DEC will address community needs more effectively than any of the partners can do on their own. At the same time, DEC will foster interchange among institutions with diverse student bodies, missions and expertise, and will catalyze new models of engaged teaching, research and educational practice.

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