Spring 2017

Registration begins March 7, 2017
First session is April 3, 2017

The Challenge of Change: A Community of Conversation

Continuing on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, 10-12

change“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading” (Lao Tzu). This informal dialogue group will share opinions and options in a positive and respectful conversation related to the enormous economic, ecological, and cultural challenges facing us in our society. We will be looking for better alternatives on a personal, local, regional, national, and global level. As this group is “self-convened”, participants will share responsibility for the approach and direction of the dialogue, including the possibility of a film or guest speaker as a catalyst for discussion. Registration through CSC is not necessary as this class is free to CSC members. However, the conveners would appreciate knowing you plan to attend. Please call Susan van Alsenoy, svanalsenoy@gmail.com, 207 380-7716, or Jon Olsen, joliyoka@gmail.com, 207 549-7787.

Convener Susan van Alsenoy spent her first 30 years in New England and the second 32 in Antwerp, Belgium. There she was involved in finding solutions for learning-differently students in an international setting. Returning to the states, she expanded this topic into a book which was published in 2012. Currently she is a volunteer with the Damariscotta River Association, the Maine Sierra Club, the Wiscasset Sun CATS, Feed the Scholars Program, the Restorative Justice Project, and Coastal Senior College. Convener Jon Olsen, after attending Lincoln Academy and Bates College, got his Masters in Philosophy at the University of Hawaii.  There he became active in protests against the Vietnam War and the draft.  He joined the Green Party, both in Hawaii, where he marketed solar water heating systems for 20 years, and in Maine when he returned here in 2001.  In addition to his political work, he is currently raising organic blueberries on his family’s property.

At the Friends Meeting House, 77 Belvedere Road, Damariscotta. (Click here for directions)

CSC Coffee House: A Discussion Group

Continuing on Tuesdays  9:30-11:30

coffee-cup-imagesSince 2006 from 12 to 20 serious people have gathered weekly throughout the year to discuss topics of interest: politics, government, culture, etc.  As there is no set agenda, any issue can be brought for discussion.  Two criteria rule the group: civility to others and reasoned articulation of comments.  While participation is open at no cost to CSC members, we each contribute $2 per session, part as our contribution for coffee and the rest to St. Bernard’s soup kitchen.  Call Bill (594-7534) to assure there is room. Class Limit: 20

Facilitator Bill Newman is a retiree from the pits of academe.  Bill has taught many courses for CSC on film, literature, philosophy, and history.

At the Religious Education Annex, St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, Rockland (Click here for directions)

Writers’ Group

Continuing on Fourth Mondays, 9:30 -12

writing-1Have you ever marveled at the way some people use everyday words to produce short stories, poems, novels and other forms of writing? If you like to write, this is your opportunity to discuss your work with like-minded enthusiasts.

This is not a writing class. We aim to benefit from the members’ different skills and experience. We will be our own audience and critics, but we plan to occasionally invite a published author to comment on our writing. Note: This is an on-going group that meets at no charge to CSC members. However, the group is limited to 10 and currently all slots are filled. To be placed on the wait list, please contact Marilyn at marilynmuth@roadrunner.com or call her at 596-7562. Class Limit: 10

Organizer Marilyn Muth has many years of experience as an organizer and member of writers’ groups. She has written numerous short stories and has served in the capacity of organizer for this CSC group for a number of years.

At the Camden Library  (click here for directions)

Allons Enfants! The French Revolution and the People

8 Thursdays, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
April 6 – May 25

Handwriting on the wall

“It was the best of times and the worst of times.” For the people who lived through the French Revolution the times were tumultuous, dangerous and promising. Among the most turbulent events in Western History, it was a major turning point in French, European, and world history. It continues to be a controversial topic among scholars and laymen who passionately debate its origins, meaning, and contribution. Some argue the revolution is not yet finished.

Between 1789 and 1799 the French destroyed the ancient monarchy, created a representative assembly, and accepted an upstart dictator. How did that happen? Although Paris was the epicenter of the Revolution, only one in forty French lived in Paris.

We will study the momentous events that took place in Paris and Versailles, and we will also examine the actions and reactions of the people in the countryside, villages, and towns as they experienced, accepted, or opposed the Revolution. Students should be prepared for weekly reading assignments from the textbook and hand-outs. This course is a combination of lecture and class discussion augmented with visuals. Students should email instructor after registering for the title of the recommended book(s) at charmblais@gmail.com. Class limit 50

Charmarie Blaisdell holds a Ph.D. in early modern European history, an M.A. in Medieval history, and a B.A. in art history.  She taught both traditional and adult learners at Northeastern University for 35 years and was twice the recipient of the University’s award for Excellence in Teaching. Her course repertoire includes Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation history and the French Revolution.  She was one of the creators and first instructors of the first Women’s Studies course at Northeastern in the early ‘70s.  During her last five years there, she held a joint appointment in the departments of History and Education.  She is a founding member of CSC.

At Skidompha Library, Porter Auditorium, Damariscotta (Click here for directions)

Editing Techniques:  How to Cut and Prune Your Writing

  6 Wednesdays, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
April 26 – June 7 (No class on May 17)

According to Nancy Thayer, “It’s never too late…in life or fiction…to revise.” Given honest and constructive feedback, students will learn to “cut and prune” stories as they organize a kaleidoscope of random recollections. Memoir writing and supportive ways to deliver and receive constructive criticism will be discussed. Each participant will bring a completed story to class. The group will respond to the story discussing the memorable “hot spots” as well as places that could be stronger, funnier or more real. No prior writing experience is necessary, just the desire to strengthen the impact of your writing. Class limit 10.

Instructor Caroline Davis Janover is an award-winning author of four novels and a play for children and young adults. A recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Outstanding Teacher Award, Caroline has spent her professional career working in public and private school education. Caroline has dyslexia and lectures nationally about the creative gifts and academic challenges of children who grow up with learning differences and ADHD. She is currently working on a memoir.

At the Lincoln Home, Media Room, River Road, Newcastle (Click here for directions)

Ideals of Democracy

8 Wednesdays, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
April 5 to May 24

The purpose of this seminar is to study, discuss, and reflect on the major ideas of our Democratic government and society. Having experienced a contentious presidential campaign and now observing the rise of a “populist” activism from the left and right, we have the opportunity to think broadly and deeply about our public discourse.

The seminar method of study is to engage in conversations that begin with the critical reading of historical documents. We will refer to the 250 years of democratic government and institutions by which to consider the interests, values, policies, and ideas of our current public dialogue.

We have a wealth of historical knowledge in the works of historians, philosophical writers, journalists, and poets. Of particular importance are the pronouncements of the 45 presidents, such as their inauguration messages and farewell addresses. Expressions of popular culture may also engage our thoughtful scrutiny as in patriotic anthems and orations, the works of poets, of critical thinkers, the principles and platforms of political parties and independent policy thinkers.

Enrollment is unlimited. Seminar groups will be conducted in conversation circles of 6 to 10 participants. The convener welcomes questions and ideas at 354-9556.

For additional readings and resources, click here. 

Instructor Carmen Lavertu holds a BA in History, MS in Education, and M.Div. in History of Religions. Carmen led the Pacifism Seminar at Coastal Senior College and Belfast Senior College 2009 and 2010 and facilitated the Crisis of Democracy Seminar in 2016. From an early age, Carmen has been active in politics at the local, state, and federal levels. She is a founder and an active member of the Henry Knox Reading Circle and has facilitated the CSC Challenge of Change discussion group.

At St. John’s Episcopal Church, Thomaston (Click here for directions)

Easy Bluegrass Jamming  Cancelled

8 Mondays, 10 a.m – noon
April 3 – May 22

Easy Bluegrass jamming offers a low-key, friendly and accepting environment to learn how to play bluegrass music. Each week, you will learn four or five traditional bluegrass songs by ear. Instruction will cover jamming etiquette, how to lead a song, how each instrument fits in, taking basic breaks, and harmony singing. We will spend some time learning about the basic structure of traditional songs and the history of bluegrass music.

Class requirements:

  • 1. Class is open to any acoustic instrument that fits into the blue grass genre, including guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, and bass. Ukulele, autoharp, etc. are also welcome. Note that bluegrass guitar is played with a pick.
  • 2. You must be able to know how to play your instrument; this course is not designed to teach beginner instruction on how to play an instrument.
  • 3. You must be able to tune your instrument quickly using an electronic tuner.
  • 4. You must be able to play commonly used chords and be able to change between these chords smoothly.
  • 5. It is very helpful to be able to recognize chord forms as played on a guitar, even if you don’t play the guitar.

Students may come after 9:30 to unpack instruments, etc. Note: the cost for this course is $45. Class limit 20

Instructor Resa Randolph is a founding member of the Rockport-based bluegrass band, Miners Creek. Resa performs with the band and also teaches guitar, voice, and banjo.

At St. Andrews Episcopal Church, Newcastle, the undercroft (Click here for directions)

Cancelled When Nomadism Ends:
The Fate of Israel’s Bedouin Citizens

8 Wednesdays, Noon – 2:30 p.m.
April 19 – June 14 (no class May 31)

Israel’s Bedouin population numbers more than 200,000 people. Because of their high rate of reproduction, they now represent more than one third of the population of the Negev–the great expanse of desert and semi-desert which forms most of the country’s land mass. Most Bedouins over sixty were nomads or semi-nomads living in tents, dependent on the herding of sheep, goats and camels. However, the younger generation now forming the large majority of the population lives largely between worlds–many in unrecognized villages with no water and electricity and with few opportunities for decent employment. Largely through films and documentaries, this course will examine the dilemmas that today’s Bedouins face, focusing not only on their tragic dimensions but also on rays of hope and some remarkable successes.

Instructor Rabbi Steve Shaw studied both philosophy and forestry at the University of Michigan and then spent two years in Israel studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at various traditional yeshivot. He did five years of graduate work and received his rabbinic ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York—where he later served for thirteen years as director of the Seminary’s Department of Community Education.  Along with Elie Wiesel and Irving Greenberg, he founded CLAL—the National Center for Learning and Leadership.  He also has extensive experience as a consultant to non-profit organizations both in this country and in Israel and most recently spent six years working with the Bedouin Arab community in Israel’s Negev Desert, involved with a program that provides scholarships that have enabled several hundred Bedouin women to receive a higher education.  Steve now makes his home in Waldoboro, Maine. Class limit 30

At the Picker Room, Camden Public Library (Click here for directions)


After Capitalism

6 Fridays, 10 a.m. – noon
April 7 – May 12


A review of some of the societal factors exposed by the 2016 election confirms long standing suspi
cions that the 2009 “Great Recession” was indeed a systemic, rather than a financial crisis, which had been developing for some time. This course poses the questions: “How well does the current economic system serve the basic human needs of every member of society?” And: “If it does not, what can we do?”

We will explore the many systemic problems and crises facing us and the latent opportunities for beneficial change many of these problems present. We seek, most of all, understanding of the factors that contributed to our finding ourselves in the predicament we are in. We explore belief systems, economics, science – both natural and behavioral – as well as history in our search for better answers.

In the end, nature itself seems to offer the most promising model based on which a new and better economic system (and world order) may be built. A word of caution: history teaches us that when failing systems are exposed, in the absence of a clear idea of the new world we wish to live in, a demagogue inevitably fills the idea-vacuum, promising salvation, based on fixing the blame on “the other”.

Instructor Paul Kando As an engineer working internationally for decades, Paul has learned that the success of any system depends on whether it matches the needs it is expected to fulfill. This applies to societies as well as toothpicks. Paul grew up in Europe under two authoritarian regimes, Hitler’s and Stalin’s, and was educated there, as a child of political undesirables, under difficult circumstances. Since arriving in America 60 years ago he was employed as a researcher in various fields –including textile chemistry, chemical energy storage, solar energy, building technology and more – the fields changing as markets, the US economy, and society changed. Having worked on both sides of the Atlantic, Paul had to research the social underpinnings of the fields he worked in. Since arriving on these shores, changes have been monumental – alas not always for the better, except for the top ten percent. Paul says it is now time to give back, for he has been very lucky. Class limit 20

At URock, Rockland (Click here for directions)

 Hollywood as Ideology

8 Thursdays, 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
April 6 – May 25

We tend to perceive the movies as providing entertainment and escapism. Hence we suspend disbelief when entering the theater, where visual imagery and music mesh with our “common sense” ways of understanding life. This process is ideological: For instance, in the 1930’s MGM offered superbly dressed aristocrats fussing about debutantes and dinner parties, whereas Warner Brothers favored gritty dramas about everyday folks facing the Great Depression. The range of Hollywood’s ideology is narrow: Just as with the Cold War’s “communist threat,” so does today’s “terrorist threat” yield a bumper crop of movies about U.S. forces vs. evil nemeses. This familiar yet simplistic device of “good guy vs. bad guy” also is evident in westerns, crime dramas, horror films, etc. This course examines how movies distort the complexity of modern life as they reaffirm and sometimes revise the values which pervade U.S. popular culture. In each class we will watch a feature film and then critique it. Class limit 20

Instructor William S. Solomon has taught Media Studies at Rutgers University and University of Illinois, as well as at Belfast Senior College and Coastal Senior College. He has worked for several newspapers and has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley. His research interests include media culture, media history, and the political economy of media.

At the Picker Room, Camden Public Library (Click here for directions)

Where Are My Keys? A Journey into the Aging Mind

8 Tuesdays, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
April 18 – June 6

As we age, we are frequently reminded, sometimes painfully so, of our physical and cognitive limitations. This course takes a scientific look at how our brain responds to the reality of aging and examines ways of keeping our mind and brain healthy. The course is in two parts. The first looks at the genetic and biological mechanisms that affect brain function, such as memory and mood, cognitive skills, and emotional processing. We will learn how the brain can reorganize itself to compensate for age-related cognitive loss and look at the major diseases of aging, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.  The second part of the course presents strategies scientifically demonstrated to help the brain age more gracefully. These strategies explore ways some brain functions can be improved, delayed, or can even prevent some cognitive declines associated with aging. We will have ample opportunity to share our own strategies for dealing with the aging mind.          Class limit 30

Instructor Paul Somoza retired from Maine General Medical Center as Director of Education and Organization Development. He has a B.S. and LL.D. from Fordham University and a master’s degree in health care administration. Paul’s teaching interests include philosophy, religion, and political science.

At The Lincoln Home, Media Room, River Road, Newcastle (Click here for directions)

The Memoir Café

8 Wednesdays, 10:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
April 12 – May 31

New and returning students will be creating memoirs with the emphasis on having fun while reminiscing in a relaxed, non-threatening setting. Each week we will stop mid-way through class to share a break for enjoying our own brown bag lunches. You will be encouraged to write two pages on a specific theme at home each week; there will also be writing in class. Students may choose whether to read their own work aloud. Grammar and spelling in the memoir will NOT be checked unless a student specifically requests help and/or editing. Your classmates will provide invaluable feedback to help everyone refine stories and skills. Each student will produce a unique keepsake. Class limit 8

Instructor Alice Dashiell has been both an educator and a librarian in public and private schools, from pre-school through college, and also in the Federal Government.  She has a BA from Queens College, NY and an MLS from the University of Maryland. She coordinates the Thomaston library book discussion group and participates in the knitting group. Spending time with their children and six grandchildren is a particular joy for Alice and her husband. She also delights in attending and teaching CSC courses!

At Thomaston Library (Click here for directions)

Chaucer’s Pilgrims: Their Lives, Many Sins, and Occasional Virtues

8 Fridays, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
April 7 – June 2 (No class on May 12)

In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer collects a cast of characters representing the different estates and many of the concerns of their world. Writing in the late 1300’s shortly before his own death, he moves his pilgrims beyond archetype and into a rich and complicated humanity. He creates their feuds and friendships, their temptations and sins, and their occasional moments of grace, choosing and shaping the tales that they tell to reflect their natures and their relationships. The medieval world he portrays is flawed, bawdy, and complex. We will study and discuss Chaucer’s pilgrims as they are introduced in The General Prologue and will survey aspects of their backgrounds and of both the religious and secular framework of their world. We will also focus on the author’s style and especially on his wit and satire. We should have time to read and compare several tales, focusing particularly on tales of love and lust and on the relationships of these tales and their tellers. Ideally, this introduction will encourage you to continue on into the Tales.

The Canterbury Tales is one of the first great works written in Middle English, and the vernacular English of Chaucer’s region is quite accessible. I recommend The Norton Critical edition: The Canterbury Tales: Fifteen Tales and the General Prologue because it retains the original language as well as modernizes the spelling of Chaucer’s text and adds notes and some critical essays (it would also give us all the same paging). Other Middle English editions would also be fine.  If you want the support of a translation, please do not use a prose translation unless you are also reading the text in Middle English because Chaucer’s poetry is central to the Tales. Class limit 20.  No class on May 12.

Instructor Ann Nesslage is a graduate of Vassar with a master’s degree in British literature from Bryn Mawr. In 2008, Ann retired from Choate Rosemary Hall where she taught different levels of English, including British literature and British Studies. She also created electives including a course in early Irish and Welsh literature and mythology. Ann purchased her home in Bremen in early 1970’s and moved there full time in 2008. She is an active gardener and avid reader and enjoys writing.

At Bremen Library (Click here for directions)

Tenebrism and Chiaroscuro:
“How a single candle can both defy and define darkness”*

8 Mondays, 10 – noon
April 10 – June 5, (No class May 29)

After the extreme luminosity of the Florentine Renaissance, the opposite style came from Milan. Caravaggio painted extraordinary, dark depictions of common people who he used as models. His style, although not pioneering as Leonardo had used it before him, was brilliant in conception and radical in the depth of darkness. His work shows a rough naturalism not seen before him; he dramatized his scenes by casting light across his subjects, brightening some features to emphasize specific emotions and actions, leaving the rest in shadows, a technique called tenebrism. His paintings detail climactic moments while effectively intimating the events that precede and follow them. The use of darkness as an artistic ruse is a time-honored practice because, for the light to shine intensely, darkness must be present. These extreme contrasting devices went beyond the collective understanding of art to create unexpected effects, adding drama and tension to those canvases. After Caravaggio other painters emulated his style, mainly in Spain, but also in the Netherlands; Italy delivered an extraordinary female painter, Artemisia Gentileschi. Class limit 30 *Quote from Anne Frank

Instructor Antoinette Pimentel has a degree in biochemistry, but grew up among pigments, easels and brushes, since her father was an artist, a printer and an engraver. Her travels made her turn to art as science requires a more sedentary life. She attended the Kunsternes Hus in Oslo, Norway, and the Volksuniversiteit in Amsterdam, Nederland. She has taught history of art and art appreciation for several years in a variety of settings.

At the Bremen Library (Click here for directions)

French Impressionism: Mostly Monet

5 Wednesdays, 12:30 – 3:00 p.m.
May 10 – June 7  

The term Impressionism was coined in 1874, when a group of French painters formed a cooperative and exhibited their works in a small Parisian gallery. Members included Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Paul Cézanne, and their art drew a hostile response from much of the press. The style of the paintings seemed unacceptably, laughably crude: one critic sneered that the artists had loaded pistols with pigment and shot them at the canvas, while cartoonists showed disheveled, wild-haired bohos using brooms and mops to smear on the paint. This was, many commentators thought, the kind of art that could drive a viewer insane.

In this course we focus on Monet and discuss the formation of the Impressionist group, the development of their painterly approach, and the reasons behind the critics’ hostility. Subthemes address the “politics” of Impressionism, the impact of the new Paris – it was rebuilt in the 1850s and 1860s – and Morisot’s situation as a female artist. Note: This course repeats the course on Monet that I gave two years ago.  Class limit 15

Instructor Jane M. Roos has written and lectured widely on the subject of Impressionism. She has a doctorate in Art History from Columbia University and is Professor Emerita at Hunter College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and a lecturer in Christie’s Master’s Program in New York. She and her husband Bill spend five months a year in Chamberlain.

At the Bremen Library (Click here for directions)