David A. Greene Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Colby College’s Center for Small Town Jewish Life will host its third in a series of Community Conversations from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, at the Chace Community Forum in the Bill & Joan Alfond Commons, 150 Main St., Waterville.

This  free event will feature a light dinner and dessert from Acadia Cakes will be served, according to a news release from the Center for Small Town Jewish Life.

The forum will be led by David Greene, president of Colby College, Michael Roy, Waterville city manager, and Rachel Isaacs, rabbi of Beth Israel Congregation on the topic “Who Calls Waterville Home?” This will be followed by the opportunity for a facilitated community roundtable discussion.

In 1929, in the shadow of the Great Depression, Colby College’s place in Waterville came into question. As the college struggled with a cramped downtown campus and financial troubles, other cities approached the Board of Trustees with promises of a new and improved home in another location, according to the release. At this critical moment, the citizens of Waterville joined forces with Colby to raise $100,000 to establish a new home for the college on Mayflower Hill.

Rachel Isaacs Photo courtesy of Colby College

The new campus kept Colby in Waterville, but the move also set the precedent for a clear Hill and Ville dynamic, with a social and economic divide that separated the two communities for decades. Now, with the construction of the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons and Colby’s significant investment in Waterville’s downtown, a core question about identity and belonging has emerged: Who calls Waterville home? To what extent is Colby as an institution, and its students, faculty, and staff, truly members of the Waterville community, and how do our responses to these questions impact our future together?

Mike Roy Photo by Picasa

Community Conversations is a series of three discussions bringing together Waterville faith and community institutions with Colby faculty and students to discuss major issues of common concern. The theme for 2018-19 is Home.

Each program has featured Jewish and secular thought leaders in conversation with each other, followed by group discussions with members of both the Colby and Waterville communities, according to the release.

The program is sponsored by the Center for Small Town Jewish Life and the Maine Humanities Council, and co-sponsored by the Colby Religious Studies and Jewish Studies departments, the Center for Arts and Humanities, the Cultural Events Committee, the Office of Civic Engagement, the Student Government Association, the Office of the Provost, and Beth Israel Congregation.

For more information, email [email protected] or visit colby.edu.