GrowSmart Maine’s annual summit is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19.

It takes place at the Waterville Opera House, 1 Common St., adjacent to the Paul J. Schupf Arts Center.

The focus of this year’s summit is “Creating Places for Connecting People.”

The recent public health crisis of loneliness and one’s growing divisiveness have made it harder to support and maintain these personal connections. But it is possible to create buildings, communities, and transportation systems that make connections easier, according to a news release from GrowSmart Maine.

GrowSmart invites community activists, local and state elected officials, municipal staff and volunteers, land use planners, public health specialists, and engaged citizens to share strategies and inspire actions that support human connection for each community and to Maine.

The event will feature two keynote speakers, Maine’s own Jane Lafleur, principal of Jane Lafleur Consultants, the founder of The Community Institute, and a Community Heart & Soul coach; and Dr. Jeremy Nobel, founder of the Foundation for Art & Healing and author of “Project UnLonely: Healing Our Crisis of Disconnection.” Summit attendees will receive a copy of Nobel’s book.


This year’s speakers will share stories from their state and national perspectives of the importance of social connections and designing and creating places that encourage human interaction and the urgent need to do so.

The program also includes Community Spotlights, the announcement of the 2023 Maine Smart Growth Award winners, City Experience Walking Tours, and a post-Summit reception.

Kim Lindlof, president and CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, said, “We are thrilled to be able to show off the recent changes in downtown Waterville that bring people of all backgrounds together. Enhanced walkability with access to plenty of parking makes downtown Waterville particularly attractive to all including approximately 200 students living there. With 22 restaurants of various nationalities and an emphasis on the arts, all in a four-block area, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”

The lead sponsors for this year’s event are Kennebec Savings Bank and the Maine Connectivity Authority.

To register, visit As a GrowSmart member, the registration is discounted. For membership, see Discounted rates for virtual attendance, seniors and students are also available.


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