Soak Up the Sun (and Summer)

Our students often tell us that working with community partners in Lewiston over the summer creates some of the most meaningful and memorable experiences of their time at Bates.  We asked two of them to reflect on these experiences.  Here is what they had to say.

Lucy Sherman ’23, Santa Monica, CA

My summer fellowship with LA Arts provided an authentic insight into the community where I go to school and study, and it showed me how artistic and vibrant the Twin Cities are. As a summer intern I got to speak to leaders of the Maine Arts Commission, board members of LA Arts, Lewiston Public Library, and highly accomplished artists around Maine. I will never forget the first LA Art Walk I attended. . . The town of Lewiston was alive, bumping with music, and embellished with provocative artwork on every corner. I was in attendance for the inauguration of three new public art commissions in downtown Lewiston and Auburn, which included comments by each city’s mayor, among others. One of the featured artists, stone-carver Hugh Lassen, invited me to visit his studio in Cherryfield, Maine, so I look forward to learning and writing about his body of work in the near future. Another part of my summer work with LA Arts was curating two exhibitions for the River Walk storyboards in downtown Auburn. The first exhibit, during July, highlighted student work from a local art studio, while the October exhibit will feature work from Museum-LA. I was happy to be able to experience the effects of public art commissions since I am interested in learning more about art in the public sphere and the interrelations of public sculpture within communities and spaces. 

Truthfully, I did not know what to expect from this internship. I anticipated learning about local artists and somehow linking their work to the city of Lewiston/Auburn for public exhibition. Interestingly, the position took a youthful direction, with most events focused on integrating children and families into the arts. I learned that there is a strong group of arts-loving community members in the city who work hard to form connections and bonds with local venues and stores. I also learned that the organization is very open to input from people not associated with LA Arts, and they happily accept new ideas and collaborations. This internship was meaningful to me because it gave me insight into the inner workings of the city and municipal relationships to public art commissions and community arts. These are things that I would like to continue studying and thinking about in the spaces around me.

Isabelle Mueller ’23, Bernardsville, NJ

Isabelle Mueller, left a Bates College intern grabs a giant beet Friday morning from Habib Noor at the New Roots Cooperative Farm on College Street in Lewiston where they were harvesting crops bound for the Bath Farmers Market this weekend. Mueller has been mostly involved in fianances and wanted to experience something different and through the colleges Harward Center for Community Partnerships, she was able to spend the summer meeting farmers, working in the fields and gaining newfound respect for what it takes to put food on the table.

This summer, I worked as a Cooperative Development and Marketing intern with New Roots Cooperative Farm in Lewiston. Founded by four Somali Bantu farmers, New Roots seeks to support and give back to the local community, give farmers access to markets, and allow for the farmers to provide for their families. I assisted farmers with planting, weeding, harvesting, washing/peeling, and selling produce at markets around Maine. At the markets, I helped farmers handle currency and transactions, stay organized, and communicate with customers. 

On the marketing side, I managed the Instagram and Facebook pages for New Roots, and worked on a variety of projects like designing new banners, getting a sign installed at the farm, creating reusable price tags, and writing weekly blog posts with farm updates, recipe inspiration, and photos from my time working alongside the farmers. 

I expected to learn more about the business and development side of New Roots, and I hope to get more exposure to that dimension if I volunteer in the future. Nevertheless, I was able to strengthen my communication skills across language and culture barriers, become more involved in the Lewiston community, and form valuable relationships with my supervisors and the farmers who made the experience truly special. 

One of the highlights of working with New Roots this summer was the opportunity to share lunch with the farmers and get to know them on a deeper level. Working under sun in high temperatures was challenging at times, and sitting in the shade with the farmers and chatting about our lives and families was a great way to break up the day. 

The work I did at New Roots was often independent, like weeding in the fields or cleaning vegetables at the washing station. The more time I worked on my own, the more I valued the time that I was able to spend with the other farmers.

Another highlight of the experience was joining the farmers at markets in York and Gorham. New Roots works to give farmers the opportunity to not only sell produce and provide for their families, but also give back to the community. It was common for the same customers to come back week after week, excited to tell the farmers how great their produce was and to share the recipes they cooked using New Roots vegetables. In moments like these, the farmers were always beaming with pride and were excited to recommend new vegetables and recipes, and to genuinely thank customers for their support. This was one of my favorite parts of the internship, and it was fulfilling to be there for the entire process: planting, growing, packaging, and selling the produce.

Building community.  One partnership at a time.