Six organizations collaborated to organize the Downeast Roots Festival, which they hope will be an annual event. PHOTO COURTESY OF WOMEN'S HEALTH RESOURCE LIBRARY

Festival kicks off new collaborative effort

MILBRIDGE — In January, Wendy Harrington thought it would be helpful for the area’s social service agencies to share their calendars with one another.

Harrington, who serves as director of service programs for the Maine Seacoast Mission, organized a meeting the following month for the leaders of area organizations to explore the idea as a means of becoming more collaborative.

“We got excited about that thought,” said Pamela Dyer Stewart, secretary for the board of the Women’s Health Resource Library (WHRL).

As a result of the initial meeting, six organizations have joined together to create a shared online calendar with the larger goal of finding ways to support each other’s missions and better serve the community. Calling themselves Downeast Roots, the group includes the resource library, the Maine Seacoast Mission, Mano en Mano, the Milbridge Public Library, the Maine Outdoor School and Transforming the Rural Experience in Education.

“We’re going to look at ways our organizations are going to partner on different projects,” Stewart said.

The group’s members meet at a different member facility each month, usually over lunch.

“It’s always good to do this over food,” quipped Stewart.

The first project to arise from the collaboration was the Sept. 28 Downeast Roots Festival, which group members hope will become an annual event.

“Here would be a concrete thing that we could all collaborate on,” said Zabet NeuCollins, who serves as community outreach coordinator for WHRL’s Incredible Edible community vegetable gardens.

The festival, which took place at Milbridge Commons, offered live music, a scavenger hunt, a story walk, vendors and information tables, food, a youth photo contest and even a salad making competition. NeuCollins estimated about 130 people came.

“It was a really good start to what we’re doing,” NeuCollins said.

Johanna S. Billings

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Johanna S. Billings covers eastern Hancock County and western Washington County. An avid photographer, she lives in Steuben with her husband and several cats. She welcomes tips and story ideas. Email her at [email protected]

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