A Letter From the Editor

Rebecca Champagne

Ph.D. Candidate, Ecology and Environmental Sciences
University of Maine


Welcome! I am so thrilled to present Spire’s fifth issue, the journal’s largest issue yet. It contains a variety of submissions, including art, poetry, photography, research, and personal stories. This collection of diverse content reflects Spire’s vision and mission to unite communities and to galvanize action for conservation and sustainability. Inside you will find original work such as a collection of paintings representing the fragile cycle of life, poetry that examines the threat climate change poses on icebreaking on the Penobscot River, and a reflection on what one individual learned while serving as a sustainability coordinator at a local university. Another author discusses how the Baby Boomer generation perceives climate change, and a team discusses the role of big data in sustainability science. I feel very blessed to have connected with so many people all across the state and the northeast and I’m proud to witness Spire’s continued growth.

The impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have been felt by people all over the world. Our day-to-day lives have been completely disrupted over the past year, but I am encouraged by the resiliency I have seen in my peers and community. One particular aspect of this global pandemic that has caused a lot of conversation is the idea of what is our world’s “normal.” Lockdowns around the world slowed industrial activity and decreased the number of automobiles on the road, causing a marked reduction in both air pollution levels and carbon dioxide emissions. Unfortunately, the pandemic also caused delays in scientific research and international negotiations, and increased our reliance on plastic products such as PPE and single-use takeout food containers. The environmental impacts, both good and bad, of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in behavioral reflection. As our world starts returning to normal, it is crucial for us to think about what “normal” actually means, and if we are ok with what it represents.

The hard work and dedication of Spire’s editorial team continue to inspire, and their thoughtful and thorough reviews have helped me become a better editor and a more reflective reader. Their attention to detail has helped shape the contents of our fifth issue into strong, conversation-provoking pieces. Special thanks go out to editorial board members Chelsea Fairbank, Paloma Henriques, Logan Kline, Dominic Piacentini, Hana Palazzo, Tyler Quiring, Meaghan Bellavance, Rafa Tasnim, and Bowen Chang. As usual, our faculty director, Dr. Dan Dixon, and co-editor in chief, Clinton Spaulding, were instrumental in the success of this issue. I also want to extend many thanks to the journal’s former editor in chief, Elyse DeFranco, for answering all my questions along the way as I transitioned into her role. Their feedback, help, and support are much appreciated. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row we cannot hold our in-person annual release party, but we remain hopeful that we can gather again as a team this fall.

This past year has been a struggle for many of us but has also been one of reflection, showing just how connected we all are to each other and to the natural world. I hope the contents of this issue will help you pause, make reflections of your own, and encourage conversations about sustainability and conservation not just in your own life, but at a community and state level, and beyond.


Be safe and well,

Rebecca Champagne

Editor in Chief