Waterville Main Street, Colby students to host Sept. 3 event

Each year, incoming first-year students at Colby College participate in an orientation program that includes a Colby Community Involvement Trip, known as C2IT. Hundreds of student volunteers contribute to nonprofits in the city, making an impact in many ways. This year, more than 100 students will participate in a creative project to bring downtown to life in a few short hours, according to a news release from Waterville Main Street.

“We want them to see themselves as core members of our community and get a sense of our culture here in the downtown,” said Jen Olsen of Waterville Main Street, who is partnering with Colby’s Student Government Association on the project, according to the release.

Olsen will help volunteers as they build temporary miniature parks Thursday, Sept. 3, at all four corners of Main Street’s intersection of Temple Street, creating interactive events suitable for families. They will also work on a mural. During the activities, the streets will be open and traffic will flow as usual. The public is invited to play in the parks and view the mural process from noon to 6 p.m., the parks will be deconstructed that evening.

Colby SGA President Michael Loginoff sees the event as an opportunity “to create and sustain meaningful, productive and mutually beneficial relationships with our surrounding community — and have a lot of fun,” according to the release.

To design and execute the student orientation experience, Olsen and Loginoff have enlisted Dela Taylor and Dugan Murphy of Nuf Sed, a consulting business that focuses on communications and projects that knit people together to improve the quality of their shared space.

“The students will get plugged in to the bounty that’s available to them in downtown Waterville, and they’ll understand how they can, with very few resources, both create experiences that connect neighbors meaningfully and redesign their environment so it meets people’s needs,” said Taylor in the release.

Colby’s collaboration with Waterville Main Street is ongoing, and both are invested in developing the city in ways that grow economic opportunity, culture and social connectedness. Recently Colby partnered with business and civic leaders to better understand the needs of downtown and initiate a process to advance the revitalization of Waterville’s historic core.

The mission of the mural echoes these values. While Colby seniors a Alyssa Ward, Allie Jones and Taysir Jama, envisioned a project that would encourage conversation about how Colby students, Thomas College students, and the people of Waterville can collaborate to better the community as a whole. The students said they chose a mural because “creating art is a way that people from many different and diverse backgrounds can come together.” Sandra Remme, a professional muralist, will partner with the students to bring the vision to reality over a period of a month.

Jim and Angel O’Keeffe, owners of the property on which the mural will be located, are excited about the artwork, which will wrap the first level of Happy Trails Inc. and Joe’s Smoke Shop. Jim O’Keeffe, who has been on Main Street for 20 years, said he see it as an opportunity to be more inviting. “Whether you’re coming into downtown on Main Street, or up Temple Street from the revitalized park, you’ll see an interesting, good-looking work of art and a quality building.”

The activities are supported by Healthy Waterville, a program that fosters community partnerships for improved public health. It’s also made possible by local businesses, including Temple Street’s Universal Bread Bakers and Heirloom Antiques and Vintage, who have donated space for volunteer use. Businesses interested in donating or lending supplies are encouraged to reach out to Waterville Main Street.

For more information, contact Olsen at 680-2055 or [email protected].

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