Martin O’Brien featured at Thursday's Great Falls Forum


LEWISTON — The 2017-18 season of the Great Falls Forum continues Thursday, Nov. 16, featuring Martin O’Brien, president and founder of Grace Street Services, with a talk titled “Placemaking and the Foundation of Identity.”

The program will be from noon to 1 p.m. in Callahan Hall at Lewiston Public Library.

Prior to his current work, Marty O’Brien was hosting a weekly radio talk show “Grace Street,” with guests who included Dallas Henry Taylor, drummer for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; author Glen Frey of “A Million Little Pieces;” and Harold Owen, director of the Grammy Awards charitable arm, “Musicare.”

It was during this time that he read about the founding of Friends Hospital in Philadelphia, with dignity, place and belonging as its core values that continue to this day. This led to the idea that empathy and design could create environments of dignity and grace.

He went on to found Grace Street Services and in 2016 was awarded the “Innovator of the Year Award” in Augusta. O’Brien has also produced plays and art shows on topics relating to addiction, including the documentary film “A Call to Return,” about the devastating effects of the misuse of the medication Oxycontin in 2004.

In his Great Falls Forum presentation, he will focus on the power of rehabilitation in the community and the narrative urgency of belonging, as well as placemaking, the design activity that uses communication to connect people to place.


He writes: “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It’s belonging. We believe everyone has worth. We believe that narrative community can take part in restoring our neighborhoods. We believe the forgotten ones can restore beauty as they find belonging. We believe that beauty is social justice. The arts hold the key to thrusting beauty into neglected places and creating economies of place and wellbeing.”

Admission is free to all Forum events and no reservations are required. This program is a bring-your-own brown bag lunch event. Coffee, tea and bottled water will be available on site at the library.

The Great Falls Forum speaker series is co-sponsored by Bates College, Lewiston Public Library and the Sun Journal. The Lewiston Public Library is at 200 Lisbon St.

FMI: 207-513-3135 or [email protected] 

Martin O’Brien, presiedent and founder of Grace Street Services.  (Lewiston Public Library photo)