Rockland mulls statement on protecting diversity

By Stephen Betts | Feb 13, 2017

Rockland — The Rockland City Council will consider later this month whether to adopt a resolve that promotes diversity and takes action to protect people on the margins of society.

"I think it's needed now, because as we look for a new city manager we are looking to the future. And as a regional hub city, we want to lead and restate our belief in diversity," Councilor Ed Glaser said.

The resolve will be discussed at the Thursday, Feb. 23, City Council meeting.

Mayor Will Clayton said he was looking for more information.

"I will be looking for clarification, reasoning and statistical information on many items listed," Clayton said.

The resolution has gained support from the Woodstove Alliance, Asymmetrick Arts, Bella Luna Toys, Curator, the Dancing Elephant, Friends of Penobscot Bay, Hello Hello Books, Jonathan Frost Gallery, Knox County Democratic Committee, Mid-Coast Community Darkrooms, Midcoast Women's Collective,  New Hope for Women, Over the Rainbow Yarn, Periscope, RHEAL Day Spa, the Ripple Initiative, Rockland Refuge Recovery, Steel House, One Less Worry, Playing with Fire, the Penobscot Language School and many individuals, according to Glaser's daughter, Becca Glaser, who is promoting the resolve.

"The resolution’s aim is to act both as symbolic gesture of our collective values, affirming our support for those who are most vulnerable, welcoming difference and commonality - -as well as to point the way forward, building on," Becca Glaser said.

The resolution proposes suggestions for putting further resources and energy toward specific issues.

Ed Glaser said Rockland has been a welcoming, tolerant community. "Historically, we were never a model of a true New England Yankee town. From our early days, we've had our share of immigrants from Sweden, Finland, Ireland and Italy, and there's been a strong Jewish presence for 150 years. That's the history we want to celebrate with this resolve," the councilor said.


He stressed that Rockland has not been immune to "nativist" strife. He pointed out the presence of the KKK in Rockland during the 1920s, and that several years ago Nazi graffiti was sprayed on the local synagogue.


He also noted that a few days before the November election, white supremacist literature was distributed to homes in Knox County.


The board of New Hope for Women voted unanimously last month to support the resolution. New Hope  Executive Director Kathleen Morgan said the resolution was a "bold and positive" statement.

The resolve states "We as a community are resolved to welcome and celebrate difference, diversity, and individuality among residents, workers and visitors in all ways, including, but not limited to, ability, race, creed, national and cultural origin, immigration status, color, age, religious beliefs, class, neurodiversity, sexuality, gender identification, and gender expression.

"We stand in solidarity with all who are marginalized or threatened, and will work to make our community a safer place where each person’s dignity is honored. We believe that everyone has a right to clean air, clean water, shelter, safety, food and pleasure.

"We oppose any policy on the part of any government or business which scapegoats people, spreads inequality, and intentionally takes rights away from the most vulnerable among us.

"As a community, we intend to continue taking proactive action on the issues we face including, but not limited to, reducing poverty, homelessness, climate change, the criminalization of addiction, sexual assault, racism and domestic violence. We will continue the work we are doing to improve health care access, fair wages, affordable housing, addiction treatment, training for police and first responders in diversity and harm reduction, while maintaining a productive harbor and healthy working waterfront, creating safer school environments, increasing accessibility for people with disabilities and to gender-inclusive bathrooms, and bettering quality of life for all. We want this city to always be a safe place for those needing shelter and will endeavor to provide secure shelter to any who need it.

"Rockland will also continue doing its part to protect the environment and mitigate climate change through local action aimed at reducing waste and pollution, planning for rising seas, promoting energy efficiency and sustainable generation, and being good stewards of our natural resources."

Rockland Deputy Police Chief Chris Young said Tuesday that the department had not seen an increase in hate crimes in the past few months.

Young pointed out that the department has three officers who are certified by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in investigating possible civil rights crimes.

Comments (17)
Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 15, 2017 11:52

Kindness, compassion, and tolerance cannot be forced.  Religions have had a long time to produce that result.  Being citizens of the United States entails pledging to the precepts upon which the country was founded.  You state that Rockland is already an open, respectful, healthy community, and that should be maintained, and that these qualities are something to be proud of.  But additional legislation will not change the way people behave, nor what they hold in their hearts.  "Hope" is what drives much dissent.  Those who would suffer for the sake of righteousness are brimming with hope.  Referencing the demise of an open Recreation program for the City of Rockland is but a challenge to rhetoric.  Without systems that demonstrate all the good intentions, they are only that, just as not demanding, and finding ways to fund activities of public health nurses in Rockland, indicates the lack of agreement as to the need and great value of such ministrations.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 15, 2017 05:32

It is the mean spirited rhetoric that has increased locally, not the crime rate. If you haven't heard it maybe you are need to listen closer. and you will.

There are a lot of diverse people in our city. We are a city with heart. We have seen what can be accomplished spreading HOPE by working together; celebrating our commonality and not letting differences get in the way.

That comes from expecting the best in one another instead of the worst. That is why  am supportive of a resolution for promoting Rockland as an open, respectful, healthy community. I believe we already are and it something we should maintain and be proud of.

Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 14, 2017 18:42

If only this much effort was put into demanding that Rockland have a Recreation Department again, and that the Rockland Recreation/Community Center was again open to all.  But getting that takes hard work.  I failed in my attempts.  No reasoning, no facts, no cost comparisons made even a dent - no matter that the least agreement, well, stinks...  So, as long as you are diverse enough to have the funds to join the YMCA, or the Samoset or le club of your choice - yeah - welcome "diversity."

Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 14, 2017 12:51

May hearts and bodies be warm.  I must clarify that "losers and winners," referred to sports, not the measure of a human being's value as perceived by others.  Given the existence of the bible, the Declaration of Independence, common decency, etc., it is on the basis of latter's existence that I see no need to superimpose a city resolution that is just so many words, and suggests that the City of Rockland, and Rockland residents, had previously acted deliberately and maliciously against the precepts of human decency. Deeds are what count. 

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 14, 2017 05:47

I love Maggie Trout's take on this opportunity. The discussion could not come on a more appropriate day: February 14th. St. Valentine's Day!!   Celebrate the commonality; God does.

Psalm 100King James Version (KJV)

100 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

2 Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.

Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 13, 2017 22:38

Think of diversity as like what you'd find in a bar.  Short ones, tall ones, fat ones, skinny ones, loud ones, quiet ones, introverts, extroverts, tight jeans, baggy jeans, beer drinkers, whiskey drinkers, soda drinkers; introverts, extroverts, the talkers, the silent ones; hard hats, no hats, bald heads, beards, no beards, short skirts, long skirts, short hair long hair, cheapskates, big spenders, eccentrics, jokesters, characters, baseball fanatics, football fanatics, art lovers, bowling champs, losers and winners -  diversity.  (And the article said nothing about "sanctuary city."

Posted by: Leslie Spiers | Feb 13, 2017 21:56

This article is very vague in the meaning of "diversity" and who are the people on the margins of society? This action could be interpreted in so many different ways.  Sounds like a round about way to bring forth something totally different.  Oh and Sanctuary City I am very much opposed.  And don't say it wasn't mentioned.  The City government is for the best of the City, not for the agenda and values of a certain group that are more vocal than others.



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 13, 2017 18:00

Francis, That is a great idea because that old spiritual song is a great reminder, "Someone's crying, Lord, come by here. Someone's praying, Lord, come by here. Oh, Lord, come by here."


Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 13, 2017 16:57

Demeaning a Gullah and Creole spiritual which solely asks that there be a divine presence of love and compassion?

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Feb 13, 2017 15:59

We can all gather at City Hall for a rendition of kumbaya.

Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 13, 2017 15:44

 Nothing in the resolve suggests a declaration of "sanctuary city."  And, it is unfortunate that the resolve, which solely reflects the very basis on which our country was founded, would be perceived to be otherwise..  This would be a good time to revisit the United States Declaration of Independence..

Posted by: Nicole Jeanette Boutin | Feb 13, 2017 13:41

Sounds like they want Rockland to be a sanctuary city. This could be a very expensive proposition... schools, health care and welfare just for a start. Aren't our taxes high enough already? Julie Raye

Posted by: Maggie Trout | Feb 13, 2017 12:21

Nowhere does it state, "regardless of socio-economic status."  A resolve of this nature should require the approval of the required majority of residents.  But I thought the concepts and commitment was addressed quite well in 1883:  Why would Rockland essentially declare itself differentt from Camden, Warren, Monticello, or any other town in Maine when we have:

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus (November 2, 1883)

Posted by: George Terrien | Feb 13, 2017 12:03

We all should take all reasonable steps to reinforce the welcoming values on which our country was founded.  This resolution of commitment costs us nothing, and speaks much.

Posted by: Drucinda Woodman | Feb 13, 2017 10:42

I certainly hope the Council will not only consider, but pass the resolution! Rockland has grown and changed in the 33 years my family has lived here, and we hope this will strengthen its original founding values.Especially in this time we need to 'welcome and celebrate' diversity ! We need to protect the resources that made the area attractive in the first place ! And we need to protect all its people.who have made Rockland the home we share today!

Posted by: Nicole Jeanette Boutin | Feb 13, 2017 08:59

Wow..I'll see you at the meeting.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Feb 13, 2017 08:18

I hope they look it over well. Am sure some tweaks need to be made, yet it never has been more important with the divisiveness that pervades the atmosphere; even locally.  This happened two years ago. It will not happen again this year and the only thing that has changed; and some may disagree with this, but that is all right; is the political polarization.

If you wish to comment, please login.