ORONO — The Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine is set to host a talk, “’Productive Disagreement’ at the Lake: The Role of Deliberation in Lake Associations” at 3 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 16.

All talks in the Mitchell Center’s Sustainability Talks series are free and offered both remotely via Zoom and in person at 107 Norman Smith Hall.

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, according to a news release from Ruth Hallsworth with the center.

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 Swacha and Elizabeth Payne 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.

Swacha is an assistant professor 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.


Payne is a lecturer of professional and technical writing at UMaine. As a practitioner and citizen activist for her local lake association, she manages grants, oversees the newsletter and presents at meetings on environmental sustainability, biodiversity and water quality.

Registration is required to attend remotely; to register and receive connection information, visit the event webpage at umaine.edu/mitchellcenter.

To request a reasonable accommodation, contact Hallsworth at 207-581-3196 or hallsworth@maine.edu.


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