Bringing people together
with expert guides to think expansively about a really big question
Really big questions are the questions that all of us find ourselves asking in the course of our lives, and that we have to keep on asking, because there isn’t just one answer. Each year, we find one of these questions and invite a handful of guides with very various expertise and interests to get us all thinking by sharing how they ask and answer it.
February 9, 2023
What if we go on this way?
What if we Go on This WAy?
2023 Big Question
Author, An Unkindness of Ghosts
Maine State Poet Laureate
Raise-OP Housing Cooperative
Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition
Lewiston Public Schools
Executive Director, H.O.M.E, Inc.
George Lincoln Skolfield, Jr. Professor of Religion, Bowdoin College
Professor of History, University of New England
Professor of Literature, University of Maine-Farmington
Coordinator, Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition
What if we knew and shared more about shellfish reproduction, with less concern for money?
Samara Cole Doyon
Rhea Côté Robbins
Founder and Director, Franco-American Women’s Institute
René Goddess Johnson
What if we could all really see who we are?
Dr. Regina Hamilton-Townsend
Assistant Professor of English, University of Kentucky
President, Board of Directors Abyssinian Meeting House
Founder and Director, Atlantic Black Box
Assistant Professor, School of Legal Studies, Husson University
Maine Developmental Disabilities Council
What if we were all valued?
Staff Writer, Sun Journal
Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education, University of Southern Maine
Professor of History, University of Maine
Assistant Professor, Teacher Education University of Southern Maine
Poet, Writer, Organizer
Scholar of Cultural Narratives
Historian, scholar, independent museum professional
Judith E. Rosenbaum
Assistant Professor of Media Studies, University of Maine
Associate Professor of Africana Studies
Storyteller and oral historian
Professor of Political Science, University of Maine at Farmington
Poet, Writer, Archivist
Community Support Coordinator, Lewiston Public Schools
Associate Professor, Professional Communication and Journalism
Assistant Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, Bates College
Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, Colby College
Professor in Philosophy, Social Theory, and Peace Studies, College of the Atlantic
ETEP Coordinator, University of Southern Maine
Chair, Native American Programs and Director of Native American Research, University of Maine
Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Maine College of Art
Executive Director, Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Education, Bowdoin College
Occupational Therapist, Writer, Teacher
Cultural Historian, Penobscot Nation
Assistant Professor of Creative Writing, Colby College
Assistant Professor of Arts and Sciences, Maine Maritime Academy
Robert W. Glover
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Maine
Educator, Community Interpreter
No Speaker for this Selection
This is such a fantastic idea—to have a multidisciplinary approach to these issues to encourage collaboration.”—PARTICIPANT
Suggested Donation: $15.00 per person
Donations help us pay our speakers and tech experts, rent our venue, and create the Big Question resources we’ll send you in the mail. (This amount is just a suggestion. Any donation, large or small, is greatly appreciated!)
Our Big Question in 2022 was What if…? The year’s asynchronous event jump-started our engagement with Afrofuturism and Africanfuturism. See the guides’ presentations and work through the whole program, ask and keep asking what if…?
One way we engaged with Maine’s bicentennial was to ask How should life be? through four lenses: Many Maines, Migration & Borders, Race & Ethnicity, and Wabanaki Voices. And to broaden our perspective even further, we heard from Lisa Margonelli, author of Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology. From a termite’s perspective, how should life be? Smooth-walled and a little stinky.
The question “Who is we?” is urgent and political: we the people… we hold these truths to be self evident… who is we?” But it is also timeless, and both smaller and larger than politics: we friends… we family… we who have suffered… we who breathe the air, bask in the sunshine, swim in the sea… every time we can stop and pay attention. We can say, “Wait, Who is we?”
We heard from an astrophysicist, a printmaker, the founder of the Portland Food Security Council, an economist in UMaine’s Forest & Landscape Management program, and the director of USM’s Center for Compassion.
Expert guides shared how they seek answers when they want to know:
- how can we know what our prognosis is when we’re ill?
- what a cookbook can tell us about a place?
- how to transmit emotions through dance?
- what’s making spots on this blueberry leaf?
- how to talk about it all?