The Woodstove Alliance explained

By Frances Wheeler-Berta | Mar 18, 2017

The Woodstove Alliance’s name has come up in recent news about the proposed Rockland Resolution for Diversity.

As a result, there have been questions raised about what the Woodstove Alliance is and what its role is in the community. As the founder of the Woodstove Alliance, I would like to offer the following information on the group’s history and its plans for the future.

After the November election, I noticed that residents in my hometown of Camden were voicing concern about how changes in the federal government under the new president would impact their lives and wondered what they could do to be pro-active supporters of the resources, institutions and communities that could be at risk as a result of the new administration.

On Nov, 17, 2016, I hosted a “Post Election Discussion” at Zoot Coffee in Camden at which approximately 30 people from a variety of Midcoast towns participated. During that meeting we began working on our mission statement, which now states: “The Woodstove Alliance is a nonpartisan advocacy group in midcoast Maine, committed to protecting and promoting civil rights and environmental justice.”

Since then, we have met twice a month in Camden and in Rockland. Our first public event was held at High Mountain Hall with Alison Beyea, executive director of the ACLU of Maine, as guest speaker. It was two days before the travel ban that affected seven Muslim countries was announced and Beyea stated unequivocally that if the ban did happen, the ACLU would respond immediately. It was a prescient comment. I was struck by the comment she reiterated several times that​ “change begins at home.” The standing-room-only crowd of close to 200 people convinced me that we needed more events like this to provide local context to our ever-changing political landscape.

​The Woodstove Alliance is an independent, informal and evolving organization that does not have elected officials, by-laws or specific policies. The organization currently has 321 members from a number of Midcoast towns who have joined its Facebook Group. We use the group’s page to update members about recent developments locally, nationally and worldwide. We also use it to post notices of events from other local groups as well as our own. We often stream our meetings live on the group’s Facebook page. We maintain an email list to keep members informed if they don’t use social media.

The Woodstove Alliance is an umbrella organization that supports its members’ initiatives as long as they adhere to our mission. We are a group that seeks to educate and keep members informed on current political issues, as well as to support members who wish to see their towns adopt a resolution of values. The Alliance does not compose the language of each resolution, but does support the individuals who take the initiative in asking their towns to support such a resolution. We provide a forum in which members can share their thoughts and concerns. We are interested in collaborating with other groups in the area and, to that end, have had preliminary discussions with OUT Maine and Planned Parenthood.

​Other issues of interest for members of the Woodstove Alliance are climate change, immigration and backlash against the Jewish and LGBTQ communities, to name a few. We also want to provide training to help our members have meaningful and respectful dialogue with those with whom we disagree, and to provide the opportunity for those discussions.

We welcome everyone at our meetings and our focus and intent is to protect those most vulnerable as well as our democratic values. We believe there are people across the political spectrum who want to do the same.

The Woodstove Alliance is run entirely by volunteers. Many of our guest speakers have traveled from Portland for no pay. Zoot, High Mountain Hall and Rock City Cafe have all graciously donated space for our events.

We will only be able to continue the Alliance’s work and community-building in the months and years ahead with the support of community members. To this end a GoFundME page for the group has been created.

We offer our heartfelt thanks to all who support our work and have donated thus far!

For more information about the Woodstove Alliance, contact Frances Wheeler-Berta at luciferlucyloo@gmail.com. You can also request to join The Woodstove Alliance’s Facebook Group and/or the email list to receive notices about future meetings and events.

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