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Sometimes you have to go the distance…


…for something you care about. And we have several stories this week that are prime examples of just that. Meanwhile, Mark Simpson is taking some well-deserved vacation days to spend time with someone he cares about: his daughter. So, I have the pleasure of sharing this week’s stories with you.

My latest reporting tells the story of why hundreds of Mainers are taking a knee for a social justice and community art project. It all started with one passionate artist, Titi de Baccarat, who moved to Portland in 2015 as an asylum seeker, and hopes to start conversations about racial justice and diversity in Maine.

In another blend of art and activism, a Maine-raised climate activist goes the distance, quite literally, for his cause. Mark Baumer set off on a barefoot trip across the U.S. in 2016 to raise awareness of climate change, and was tragically killed by an SUV in Florida. A new book of some of his writings was published this week.

And what happens when you become part of the story you normally write about? Fresh Air’s Terry Gross speaks with criminal justice Journalist Emily Bazelon, about her role in helping to exonerate Yutico Briley, who was sentenced to 60 years in prison at the age of 19.

We’re also highlighting new state legislation that is aimed at tackling all kinds of challenges, including Maine’s attempts to address PFAS chemicals contamination, a budget bill that provides free school meals for every Maine student, and the approval of drug consumption centers in Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, Iceland’s workforce is working smarter by…working fewer hours. And new research finds that they are happier, with no loss in productivity. So maybe that’s something to bring up with the boss-man when he returns. (Or perhaps he’s already reading this newsletter…hi Mark!)


Until the next time Mark is OOO…


Esta Pratt-Kielley

Digital News Reporter


Maine Public: Immigrant-Led Art Project Asks Mainers What It Means To Take A Knee

More than 100 Mainers have posed for The Kneeling Art Photography Project, a social justice community art project that aims to spark conversations about racial justice and highlight the diversity across Maine.

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Maine Public: Maine's Budget Bill Includes Free School Meals For Every Student - What That Means For Maine Children

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NPR: Iceland Cut Its Work Week And Found Greater Happiness And No Loss In Productivity

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BBC: How Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline Became An Accidental Football Anthem

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PRI: ‘This Year Is Still Not Normal’: International Students Wade Through A Confusing Mishmash Of Vaccine, Visa Rules

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Fresh Air: An Innocent Man Walks Free From A 60-Year Sentence With Help From A Journalist

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Maine Public: Maine Lawmakers Pass Package Of Bills To Address ‘Forever Chemical’ Threat

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Maine Public: New Book To Feature Writing Of Maine-Raised Climate Activist Who Died On Barefoot Trip Across U.S.

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Maine Public: Why Indigenous Tribes In Quebec Are Suing To Stop Hydro-Quebec Powerline

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WBUR: Once Unthinkable, Rhode Island Approves Supervised Drug Consumption Centers

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Are you ready to explore Maine this Summer?

If you are, Maine Public has a bit of fun in store for you this July and August. Introducing our Summer Breeze Selfie Challenge. Go around the state to select locations, take a selfie in front of a Summer Breeze sign, post it to social media using the hashtag #SummerBreezeME, and you are entered into a drawing to win some very cool Summer prizes! 

Go to for all the details or stop by a Service Plaza on the Maine Turnpike and pick up a Summer Breeze Location Finder. 



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