Photos capture Peace Corps experience

A dozen or so modestly framed photographs capture the essence of Beth Connor's life in Tanzania. Connor's exhibit opened last week at Gibbs Library Gallery, and will be there until March 6. Pictures of her African family, children playing, a typical kitchen and others combine with Connor's delightfully descriptive notes to reveal her experience in Tanzania in the Peace Corps.

Her job title was female agricultural extension agent. She was a “bibi shamba.” Connor was there to teach improved farming techniques. At first, it was difficult because of her youth, gender and the language barrier. Eventually, she joined forces with a “bwana shamba” (male extension agent) and two teachers. Together they wrote songs and skits about farming skills, taught those to their local students, then took them and their “show” to other communities around the region. For many children it was the first time they had been outside their own village.

Connor recalls this as the best part of her tour. She believes her service enabled her to be a better human being, a sentiment frequently expressed by Peace Corps veterans.

Book group tonight

Dedicated and determined physician Paul Farmer is subject of “Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World” the book that will be discussed tonight – Thursday, Jan. 18 – at Gibbs book group, 7 p.m. in the Bryant Room. Author Tracy Kidder reveals the way Dr. Farmer, founder of Partners in Health, fought illness among the poor and also the systems that handicapped their receiving treatment.

Kathleen Gross, the group’s coordinator, noted New Yorker magazine recently included an update on Partners in Health, Farmer’s organization. The book selection for next month on Thursday, Feb. 15, is a crime novel, "Manhattan Beach," by Jennifer Egan.

Weekly timeout for grownups

Group meditation meets in the Bryant Room Thursday mornings at 7:30 a.m. You may use your own meditative practice for sitting physically and mentally quiet. Group meditation can amplify feelings of peace, sense of self, community and connectedness to life. On a practical level, it also reinforces an individual’s commitment to daily meditation, a practice that can be beneficial for everyone. All are welcome to come regularly or once in a while.

Candidates for election

There is one three-year Select Board seat open (Berkley Linscott’s term is expiring). There is also a three-year MSAD 40 School Board seat open (the term held by Cheryl Cichowski and Dan Farrow is expiring). These positions are extremely important. We need our town government to be smart and efficient, and that takes people who are willing to commit to helping make it so. Candidates must be Washington residents and over 18 years old, Nomination papers are available at the Town Office and require more than 25 signers who support the nomination.

I would add that candidates should be willing to learn and perform their duties after a steep learning curve. Please, if you can give some time to our little town, get your nomination papers in before it’s too late – they are required by law to be turned in at the Town Office by Monday, Jan. 22. School Board and Select Board are two of the three elective offices in Washington’s town government. The other is the Budget Committee, whose members are nominated and elected at town meeting (fourth Saturday in March).

Fake (or not) news forum

The Augusta campus of University College and Senior College Focus on the Future programs are sponsoring a forum called, “News, Real or Fake” Sunday, Jan. 28, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Jewett Hall, UMA. Panel members include Mal Leary of Maine Public Radio, Bill Nemitz of Maine Today, and Jessica Lowell, investigative journalist with the KJ. Forums are free and open to the public.