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Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions

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Talk – ‘Productive Disagreement’ at the Lake: The Role of Deliberation in Lake Associations

October 16, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

| Free

Picturesque view of Eagle Lake, MaineThe talk will be held virtually via Zoom and in-person at 107 Norman Smith Hall, UMaine.

Speakers: Katie Swacha and Elizabeth Payne, UMaine

Although the phrase “upta camp” might elicit memories of carefree fishing, swimming, hiking, and boating for many people in Maine, conserving the waterways where those activities take place can feel anything but carefree. Disagreements between waterfront property owners and other stakeholders concerning exactly what “conservation” means and how to achieve it can frustrate everyone involved. At the same time, such local-level deliberations, which often take place informally between neighbors or at lake association meetings, are exactly where important conservation work does and can occur. In this talk, Katie and Elizabeth share theoretical concepts about democratic deliberation, paired with personal experience applying those concepts at a local lake association to offer strategies for productively negotiating differences, reaching agreements, and taking action. We will also discuss the role that students can play in this process.

Katie Swacha is an Assistant Professor of Professional and Technical Writing in the English Department at UMaine. Her research interests center on how to build and sustain participatory, reciprocal partnerships between academic researchers and local communities and how best to include students in that process. She has explored such approaches in terms of both land use and public health. Katie also directs the English Career Internship program, which pairs English students with local organizations on writing and communication projects.

Elizabeth Payne is a Lecturer in Professional and Technical Communication at UMaine, where she specializes in engineering communication and business and technical writing. She works with campus sustainability specialists to create multidisciplinary research-writing projects for student teams to address real-world problems in environmental sustainability on campus.  As a practitioner and citizen activist for her local lake association, Elizabeth manages grants, oversees the newsletter, and presents at meetings on environmental sustainability, biodiversity, and water quality. Recent initiatives include sponsoring student interns and conserving sensitive lands in the lake watershed.



October 16, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category: