Issue No. 58
March 2015
The MSCN Newsletter
Golden Lights in the Winter Forest
Oil on canvas by László Mednyánszky (1852 - 1919)

    Welcome to Your March Newsletter!

Thank you to everyone for sending over your articles! This month you can read about the DaPonte String Quartet performing at the Western Mountains Senior College, quilting at Gold LEAF and Penobscott Valley's adventures with Facebook. We also have a 'spotlight' article featuring the delightful dynamo Etta Abrahams, one of the founders of Sunrise Senior College in Machias. 

And this issue also features an article submitted by Coastal Senior College in Rockland. They are putting on a fascinating class titled "The Maine Islands: Small Communities, Big Thinking". The article not only describes the class itself but it also gives an insight into all the thought that goes into setting up classes for others to enjoy. In this case, Coastal Senior College was inspired by their neighboring Senior College located along the coast in Belfast.

Lewiston-Auburn continues to run their successful "Food for Thought" lecture series and this month's presenter is the inspiring Parivash Rohani, a member of the Baha'i Religious Community who grew up in Iran during the reign of the Shah.

Don't miss information on a book of essays produced by MSCN author Mel Howards, member of OLLI at USM. And finally, please get the word out to all your Senior College artist friends as Belfast Senior College has issued a "Call to Artists!"

Spotlight on Etta Abrahams 
Sunrise Senior College Founding Member 
EttaEtta Abrahams
Sunrise Editor's Note: Etta was a huge contributor in getting SSC up and running.  She was co-chair of the original Board of Directors.  She assisted in writing the original By-Laws.  She assisted in developing the committee structure, providing for semester courses, as well as summer and winter events.  And she has taught at least two courses a year.  She is one of the super stars of Sunrise Senior College.  Accolades to Etta (and all who helped to make SSC the success it is today)!  

Etta's Story
William Shakespeare
The first class I took at Sunrise Senior College
was in Shakespeare, from my husband, Herb Greenberg. I'd just arrived in Maine that October, and he'd already been there all that past summer, directing the remodeling of our Jonesport house, which was still a long way from being completed even by the time I pulled in from Michigan, one dreary Wednesday night. That Friday, I went with him to Machias and sat in on his class. My husband, my dog, my cat, Shakespeare and Sunrise Senior College are the reasons I survived that first very cold, very unwelcoming winter in Maine.
"Pesky Moose" 
Unlike Herb, I've always actually liked meetings (he detests them): I find in them social events, and if you know me, I'm a sucker for socializing. So when the Sunrise Senior College crew, made up at the time mostly of Jonesporters, invited me to join them in setting up a structure for SSC, I enthusiastically joined. It was now winter of 2003, I was about to teach my first SSC class in creative non-fiction, and going anywhere was better than staying in our half-completed renovation. I didn't know many people, and I remember following the Spivacks in my minivan to a meeting at Len Bowles' house in Machias (and getting lost), and later to a meeting at Pat Smith's house (and hearing her talk about "those pesky moose" that stood outside in the snow) in Roque Bluffs where we began to formulate the structure of SSC and discuss courses and by laws.

I engaged later with several people in writing the SSC by-laws from ones that had been cobbled from some other senior college by laws and that didn't make sense at first. I then agreed to co-chair with Barb Plaskon for the first full year, and then I became chairperson, Barb became vice chairperson (later secretary), Len Bowles was treasurer, Bill Plaskon was in charge of membership, Gail Finlay in charge of data, Gudrun Frantz chaired  public relations and  the newsletter, and I think the Spivacks were in charge of the curriculum committee before Gail Peters took over. That year, at a meeting at Linda Sebok and Jim Hubert's home, we also came up with Summer Shorts-and soon after, we added Winter Warm-ups. 

Partial list of classes I've taught: Creative Non-fiction, The 1950's and the Red Scare in Films, Violence in Films, Film Noir, Aging and Film, Male Anti-Heroes (Brando, Clift, Dean, Newman), Films for Foodies (3 years), Con Artists in Film; Computer Classes -Beginning Computer (several times); Word, Access and PowerPoint (with Bill Plaskon), Many Winter Warmup Film Series, Writing Mysteries (Summer Short), and several courses in Appreciating Short Stories

I've also taken many, many classes-not as many as Gail Peters, but I've done my share!

Submitted by Jacquelyn Lowe - Sunrise Senior College

Island Institute: 
How Coastal Senior College Courses Happen
Monhegan Sea Smoke - The Island Institute

A perfect example of how CSC course happen is this spring's offering: The Maine Islands: Small Communities, Big Thinking. 

CSC curriculum committee members regularly peruse the course offerings of other area senior colleges. Betty Welt, a longtime committee member, noticed that the Belfast Senior College had offered an Island Institute class last year. She made a contact with the institute, and voila. Simple as that. 

In fact, many of our courses are initiated or developed through the persistence and interest of CSC members. Someone meets a recently retired professor at a cocktail party. A former teacher takes a CSC class and mentions an interest in teaching to the classroom assistant. Someone sees an article in the paper about a speech being given locally and follows up with a phone call to the lecturer. A retiree moves into the neighborhood and mentions a particular expertise or passion. 

As a CSC member, you are also an "agent in the field" for CSC's curriculum committee. Being aware of what's happening in your community, keeping your eyes and ears open - these are important attributes for assisting CSC to locate and cultivate new instructors and courses. Let us know, and the curriculum committee will follow through. 

Regarding this course, The Island Institute was founded 31 years ago by naturalist Phillip Conklin and photographer Peter Ralston. Conklin had been hired to inventory uninhabited islands from a naturalist perspective - the flora and fauna - but became intrigued by the number of islands containing old foundations and evidence of habitation. As it turns out, there were 300 inhabited Maine islands at the turn of the century. (Today, there are 15.) Conklin met up with Ralston, a friend of the Wyeth family, when he was hired to survey the Wyeth's Allen Island with an eye to returning part of it to sheep pastureland. With an abiding interest in islands, the men founded the Island Institute. (Thanks to the institute's HR Specialist, Nancy Carter, for this historical input.) More information about the institute is available at: 

The course will consider various issues, many of which are not exclusive to island living, such as: diversifying economies, resource sustainability, education and distance learning, climate change. Examples of how these issues are being approached will be drawn from many of the various islands. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from these resourceful and independent islanders. 

It can be said that Betty's efforts will result in a unique and one-of-a-kind glimpse into the microcosm of island life. In closing, there is one question you might ask yourself: Could I be the next person to make "it" happen?

Submitted by - Kay Liss, Marketing and Publicity Chair,
Coastal Senior College
USM Lewiston-Auburn Senior College "Food for Thought" Lecture: 

ParivashParivash Rohani of Auburn will be the featured speaker at the USM Lewiston-Auburn Senior College "Food for Thought" 11:30 luncheon on Friday, March 13.  
Her topic is "Glimpses of Iran." She will narrate a Power Point presentation of photos of Iran and Iranian art. The public is cordially invited. 

Parivash was born in Ardestan, Iran during the reign of the Shah and grew up in a family who belonged to the Baha'i Religious Community. Due to the religious persecution under the fundamentalist Iranian Government, her family felt it was safer for Parivash to go to India when she was 18 and pursue an education there. She studied economics and business and remained there for six years. She met her husband, Nassar Rohani, also a native of Iran, while in India and married him soon after. 

In 1985, with their daughter, the young family immigrated to the United States, and soon were directed to move to Auburn where they have made their home ever since. Three more children came along and all have actively pursued higher education. Education is very important to the family.

Parivash, herself, attended Central Maine Community College and received her education in the nursing program there, eventually achieving Registered Nurse status and worked in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center. 

The Rohani Family has also remained strong and true to their religious beliefs in the Baha'i Community in the area. Parivash says there are many Baha'i Communities in Maine as well as throughout the country and they have a warm and supportive rapport with all of them. 

During her presentation, Parivash will share her thoughts and feelings and give the audience an idea of how Iran today is different from the Iran of her childhood. Parivash will also discuss the larger issue of human rights and the ongoing persecution of individuals who practice the Baha'i religion. She will focus on the educational system describing Baha'i youth who are prevented from admission to Iran's colleges and universities. She will describe how the Baha'i young people are coping with the lack of access to higher education.

But her burning passion now is working with the world-wide campaign of "Education is not a crime". Launched in November, 2014, the campaign has gained tremendous momentum and the first global day is February 27. That day will see the Iranian documentary film "To Light a Candle" produced by Maziar Bahari of England shown world-wide. It will be shown at Guthrie's in Lewiston on February 25, at 6 p.m., Bowdoin College on February 26 and at USM in Portland on February 27. 

Details: Food for Thought Luncheon at LASC
Friday, March 13 at 11:30pm.
Location: USM LAC Campus: The Function Room - 170 

The cost, which includes lunch, is $7 with advance reservation or $8 at the door. 

Reservations must be made by noon on Wednesday, March 11, by calling 753-6510. Any late callers will be considered "at the door."

Submitted by - Rachel Morin, Lewiston-Auburn Senior College
Western Mountains Senior College host 
the DaPonte String Quartet 

The DaPonte String Quartet plays a movement from a quartet by Mendelssohn.
WesternMountains Senior College recently hosted the DaPonte String Quartet in a lecture/performance entitled "The Biology of Music." The ensemble helped draw us into the music by playing a musical motif, or "seed," and went on to show us how the composer developed that seed throughout the piece. Many of us felt that the explanations given by the members of the quartet led us into the music in a way we'd not experienced before. The musicians also performed for all the students in the local school district.  The performances were jointly sponsored by WMSC and the Mahoosuc Arts Council.


Submitted by - Kathleen DeVore, Communications Committee Chair, Western Mountains Senior College
 QuiltingQuilting For Fun"  at Gold LEAF
"Starting to sew a quilt" 

A "Quilting For Fun" class has just come to a close and a group of ten happy quilters created quilted bags and potholders plus one or two other individual projects during the four week course. Sewing machines were stored at the local municipal building so that they were ready when it was stitching time. The sessions were for both experienced and beginning quilters. 

The class was taught by Rina Bardo, a longtime quilter who follows in her award-winning mother's path in pursuing the art of quilting.Class participants were provided with a complete shopping list and then Rina walked everyone through the quilting process process step by step. As Rina shared with us, "the folks enjoyed our classes--there were lots of lovely and fun combinations of fabrics and most finished the quilted bag as well as quilted potholders." Part of the fun in these classes is learning from one another and seeing the color combinations. Not to mention the final projects that come out of such a course. 

As to upcoming "craft" classes, the spring term is offering three very intriguing listings: Smocking Easter eggs; Painting on Ceramics and Gelatin Printing. The last two will be held at the studio of the local Upcountry Artists Gallery on Main Street in Farmington

Submitted by - Eileen Kreutz, MSCN Liaison, Gold LEAF Institute
Facebook Workshop at Penobscot Valley Senior College
Penobscot Valley Senior College Facebook Page

Special one-day events are a bonus available to members of Penobscot Valley Senior College in addition to regular six-week classes. PVSC recently launched a Facebook page, and to encourage members to "Like" it, Anita Kurth and Valerie Levy presented a class in December called "Getting started with Facebook" or "Everything you wanted to know about Facebook but were afraid to ask". 

Prior to attending, nearly 20 fearless seniors had downloaded Facebook onto their preferred devices such as mobile phones, tablet computers, laptops, or iPads. Interest in learning about social media was universal in the group. The class offered them practical hands-on information about how to use Facebook to connect with old or faraway friends, see what their kids are doing and send messages to them, read news stories before they are in the paper, see sporting event scores, follow groups they support, and more. 

Students learned how to set up their own account, to find friends, to post comments or photos, and to link to interests. In addition to fun, security concerns were also addressed: how to control your information with privacy settings, who can see what you post, hiding and removing some posts, and avoiding scams. Negotiating the anatomy and terminology of Facebook was demystified. Everyone learned about the timeline, wall, newsfeed, notifications, settings, and actions like posting, friending, liking, sharing, following, and messaging. 

Judging by the lively participation during this class, Facebook and other social media provide just another way to stay young! Submitted by - Valerie Levy, Marketing and Public Relations Committee - Penobscot Valley Senior College


Submitted by - Valerie Levy, Marketing and Public Relations Committee, Penobscot Valley Senior College
MSCN Author - Mel Howards
Faculty member Mel Howards of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at USM has published Provocations: The Wit, Wisdom, and Whimsy of Mel Howards

Provocations of one sort or another run through all of Mel's 57 essays! The book addresses a wide range of ideas and subjects including essays on Religion, Culture, Politics, Education, Philosophy, Psychology and Metaphoric Milieu, with bon mots after selected essays for emphasis (sometimes just for fun). Here are ideas, insights, musings, and opinions that cry out for exposure and invite discussion. 

Advance praise from John Manderino, playwright and Maine author of The H-Bomb and The Jesus Rock: "Amid the shallow chatter and bumper sticker proclamations that pass for intellectual discourse in our current culture, it is heartening to find someone like Mel Howards. He's a philosopher. That means he's a sincere doubter, willing to excavate any idea, however firmly embedded, and hold it up to the light of reason to determine its actual worth. And he does it with a consistent style and wit." 

The collection will be available from the publisher Maine Authors Publishing, Amazon, and Ebooks in mid-April.

Senior College at Belfast Issues a Call to Artists!

All Maine artists, 50 years of age and older, are invited to participate in the Senior College at Belfast 13th Annual Festival of Art May 21 - 24, 2015, at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast. 

The registration period for artists is March 1 through March 31, 2015.

Registration materials and information are available from: 

Amateur and professional artists are welcome. 

Paintings, sculptures, woodcarvings, jewelry, fabric arts, pottery, and photography, are some examples of the types of art on exhibit.


Submitted by - Cathy Bradbury, Chair Festival of Art Committee, Senior College at Belfast
Newsletter Submissions Deadline Date: 
The 20th of each month!

Please submit your articles and photographs to Anne Cardale at


Like MSCN on Facebook

Facebook logo Now you can "like" Maine Senior College Network on Facebook. We've created an MSCN page on Facebook, so please visit it to share experiences, ideas, photos, and information about upcoming Maine Senior College happenings. We'll also post links to articles about lifelong learning and other topics relevant to senior college members.


Picture Credits

"Golden Lights in the Winter Forest" painted by László Mednyánszky

William Shakespeare by John Taylor (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Moose by John Frederick Miller (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

AnnaStarting to sew a quilt By Anna (fils i teles) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Maine Senior College Network is a program of the  
In This Issue
Don't forget to go to the Maine Senior College Network website to find out what is happening around the state!

Maine Senior College Network

Acadia Senior College

Augusta Senior College
Coastal Senior College

Downeast Senior College

Gold LEAF Institute

South Coast Senior College

Midcoast Senior College

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Penobscot Valley Senior College


Senior College at Belfast

St. John Valley Senior College

Sunrise Senior College 
Western Mountains Senior College

York County Senior College
MSCN Promotional Videos

Maine Senior Guide is a comprehensive web resource about all things senior that provides "one stop shopping" for Maine's seniors at the link below: 

Contact Information
Maine Senior College Network 
P.O. Box 9300 
Portland, Maine 04104-9300 
(207) 228-4128


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