Friday, December 31, 2010

J.B., January 12, 1997 - December 31, 2010

No matter how many times you experience significant loss, it never gets any easier to endure. When a part of you dies, grief, seemingly unbearable, crashes over you like waves. Gigantic, powerful waves. Fighting against the drowning wears you out. Wears you out.

At 12:20 PM on New Year's Eve day, J.B., my beloved dog, finally gave up the ghost. I slept on the floor by his side the night before because I just knew it would be his last night with us. I couldn't bring myself to call the vet, so we let him go on his own.

The morning before, he ate a few last morsels of fried chicken but didn't move from his bed the entire day. The evening before that, he had gotten up and dragged himself into the living room when Jop came home just to give and receive some love. The evening before he passed, he had no energy left for even that. But later, in the middle of the night, he kept raising his head and looking around. I believe he was looking for Jop, but I couldn't bring myself to go upstairs and wake him up. J.B. seized up more than once, expelling a loud noise, but he didn’t let go. He went back to sleep, raising his head and looking around every so often.

He waited for his other daddy to come home before he went. Jop had to take care of a friend that morning. As soon as he returned, J.B. tried to get up from his bed to no avail. Finally, I carried him outside where he was able to stand up one last time. He wagged his tail. Tried to walk to the barn to look for him. Finally, Jop came around, sat down on the back porch steps and started to rub J.B.'s face. Scratched him under both ears like he loved so much. Just as I walked back out, J.B. threw back his head, seized up and fell to the icy ground. He tried to come back one last time, gasping for breath in long intervals. But we told him to go. Please, go. Held him till his gasping ceased.

He was gone. We buried him under the weeping willow tree in the grave we had dug back on Labor Day weekend. Back when he first began his long and arduous journey toward death. Long because he didn’t want to leave. Arduous because he didn’t want to let go. Didn’t want to stop chasing the chickens or exploring all the smells in the barn. Didn’t want to stop barking at the sheep or grazing with the horses or greeting the customers, his tail wagging all the while. Didn’t want to stop pushing his snout so hard against my chest it felt as though he wanted to crawl inside.

He didn’t want to stop loving.

J.B., who we adopted at three months and named after my favorite author James Baldwin and both of us (Jop Blom and Joseph Bernard, the name my birth mother gave me when I was first born) is my inspiration. He lived life with passion and never met a challenge he couldn't conquer. Like all dogs, he was unconditional love incarnate. He pulled me through many of life's greatest challenges, his devotion abiding. Two weeks shy of 14-years-old, his life spanned three decades. His indomitable spirit was the strongest I've ever known.

I’ll find you
In the morning sun
And when the night is new.
I’ll be looking at the moon,
But I’ll be seeing you.

Farewell, old friend. So long.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Mother's Cake

When I was about seven or eight, I began to teach myself how to bake from recipes in the original Betty Crocker's Cookbook. The paperback culinary bible was so old, so worn out, some of the pages disintegrated between my fingers upon turning. The whole thing had to be held together with a pair of crisscrossed rubber bands.

I made a yellow sheet cake first. I didn't understand the concept of creaming the butter and sugar together. It turned out like sweet cornbread. My mother said it tasted good, though. Guess she wanted to encourage me to keep trying. And so I did.

She used to come home from work every afternoon and ask me what I had learned to bake. Looking forward to tasting whatever it was. It must have been summer for I wasn't in school. And there I was heating up an already hot kitchen with a child's experiments. She never once complained. Eventually, I figured out the art of building a cake from scratch that was moist and light and downright sinful. I perfected an old fashioned burnt sugar caramel cake and then had the nerve to figure out how to make hand-churned caramel pecan ice cream to go with it. The combination became my mother's favorite and most requested dessert.

Yesterday, I made my mother's cake for the first time since August 2001. I wanted to be with her for Christmas to see how she's faring since receiving the news that she's now facing a mortal challenge in her bone marrow. Still too exhausted from the year, I wasn't able to make that happen. So I made her cake instead. Talked to her over the phone just as I was spreading the batter into the pans. Because of her diabetes, she can't have any sweets anymore, but she sounded pleased that I was building her heaven anyway.

We hosted a dinner at the farm for six. Before devouring my mother's cake (alongside a warm apple pie in a pâte brisée to die for), we indulged in a dinner of crab bisque, grilled lamb chops, roasted rabbit in Dijon cream (a repeat from Thanksgiving too good to wait another year for), wild black and mahogany rice, and steamed haricot vert tossed in sesame oil and orange zest.

Hope your Christmas celebrations included friends, family, peace, and lots of love.

Burnt Sugar Caramel Cake

For the burnt sugar syrup:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup hot tap water

Dump the sugar in a skillet over medium-low heat. Shake the pan to spread the sugar and then let it melt, shaking again to keep the syrup browning evenly. Once it becomes the deep bronze color of an old copper penny and begins to smoke, gradually add the hot water. The sugar will get all bubbly and smoke even more. If you stir the syrup, use a metal spoon and stir just enough to mix the water so all the sugar dissolves, which takes about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside, and let cool. They syrup will thicken as it cools.

For the cake:
3 cups unbleached cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup burnt sugar syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup sour raw milk or buttermilk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350. Sift together flour, salt, soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream butter, adding sugar gradually until light and fluffy. Add one egg yolk at the time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the vanilla. Stir in cooled burnt sugar syrup.

Alternately mix the flour and the dairy into the batter, beating gently until smooth.

Beat egg whites on high until stiff but not dry. Fold into batter.

Spread batter evenly in two 8-inch greased and floured cake pans. (I add a circle of wax paper to the bottom of each pan to ensure a moist texture.) Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the centers rise and a toothpick comes out virtually clean. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert pans on rack to remove cake. Let cool completely.

For the caramel frosting:
3/4 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
Dash of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Mix butter, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Let bubble for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Mix in cream and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Transfer to a stainless steel bowl. Beating at high speed, gradually add confectioner's sugar until it comes to a spreading consistency. Sparingly add more cream if necessary.

Garnish frosted cake with pecans.


Cross-posted to Annabessacook Farm

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It Is Finished

The Senate has just voted 65-31 to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.

65-31. An unexpected and strong majority.

Employment discrimination in the military for gay and lesbian patriots will finally come to an end when President Obama signs the legislation.

From the other side, Harvey Milk is smiling.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


The Feast of Harvest
has passed. Yuletide
rapidly approaches.

Smack dab in the middle
is today, the day I came
to be 43 years ago.

I have now lived longer
than all my artist
mentor friends,
save one.

I sing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Menu

The menu was roasted organic butternut squash soup, herb-marinated roasted Moonshadow Farm (Old Lewiston Rd.) rabbit with mustard sauce, brined Mt. Pisgah pheasant roasted with bacon bard, glazed organic turnips, cranberry relish, risotto, whole-wheat rolls, sweet potato souffle torte, and frozen vanilla custard. Dinner for four at Annabessacook Farm was decadent.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I received this email today. I'm sharing it with you in its entirety. I couldn't have written it any better.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks to the farmers and farmworkers who make this meal possible.

Dear Craig,

It’s that time of year again. Every fall people travel across the country or just across town to share a meal with family, friends and loved ones in order to celebrate another year of health, happiness and good food. Born from the tradition of one tribe bravely and generously helping another tribe in a time of need, this celebration has turned into an annual feast where our nation sits down collectively to share in the gratitude over another bountiful harvest.

Here at Food Democracy Now!, we wanted to take a moment and say that we are all thankful for the opportunity to work with so many amazing people across the country who are dedicated to building a truly sustainable food system that improves the lives of farmers, workers, eaters, communities and the planet.

Every day I wake up looking for a way to convey one of the most important messages of our time: if you want to change the world, change how you eat. In addition, at Food Democracy Now! we strive to give you opportunities to help make that happen through positive action.

Central to the growing understanding of how what we eat impacts the planet is knowing where our food comes from, how it was raised, who grew it and helped that food find its way to our tables. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of incredible people and organizations out there working to educate more Americans and helping bring the change we need to thrive in the 21st century.

One tradition that we have in our household is that at every meal we take a moment to say what we are thankful for. Inevitably, it always comes back to the food: Who cooked it, who helped prepare it and who raised it and brought the food to our tables.

Here at Food Democracy Now!, we’d like to ask you to join us in this tradition by joining us on Facebook and sharing with us what you are Thankful for. If there are any farmers that you’d like to give a shout out to, please mention them too.

As we sit down to eat this symbolic meal, nothing could be as important as honoring the individuals that labor everyday on farms and in the fields, often doing backbreaking work, with very little financial reward to make it possible for us to nourish our bodies.

I wanted to share an important video with each of you and ask that you pass it on.

This video highlights an impressive campaign by The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) who have advocated tirelessly for the rights of farmworkers to be paid a decent wage for the work of picking tomatoes. Every day in Florida, workers go out into the fields under the hot sun to pick the tomatoes that end up on our plates.

For a full bucket of tomatoes, weighing 32 pounds, farmworkers are only paid 45 to 50 cents. Unimaginably, this wage has not changed in more than 30 years. Fortunately, there are groups like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers who are advocating to change this.

Incredibly, these farmworkers are only asking for a raise of as little as a penny a pound.

As we eat our Thanksgiving meals this year, I want to ask that we all begin to think deeper about our food and the consequences that our meals have on everything around us. It’s really unfathomable that as little as a penny per pound could make a difference in someone’s life, but time after time, as we’ve found out, it’s the little changes that eventually add up.

Here at Food Democracy Now!, we’d like to honor all the farmers and farmworkers who make this day possible and to all the people across the country working tirelessly to bring us the stories of those who help make the world a better place by growing and harvesting our food.

With gratitude,

Dave Murphy

Founder and Executive Director

Food Democracy Now!

Happy Thanksgiving. Take care of your blessings.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Native Americans, Black Farmers Receive Justice

Black Farmer Painting by John Lautermilch

Senate approves $4.5B payment to Native Americans, black farmers

After months of hang-ups, the Senate unanimously approved Friday two multibillion-dollar settlements that will rectify long-standing claims against the federal government for discrimination and mismanagement.

The vote essentially brings closure to the two cases, which have each been litigated for more than a decade.

The House, which has twice endorsed the deals, must still do so one more time, an action that is expected after Thanksgiving. Senate approval, however, has been a huge hurdle for Native Americans, who sued the government over poorly handled individual Indians' trust accounts, and black farmers, who were for years unfairly refused loans by the Agriculture Department.

"Black farmers and Native American trust account holders have had to wait a long time for justice, but now it will finally be served," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement after the vote. "I am heartened that Democrats and Republicans were able to come together to deliver the settlement that these men and women deserve for the discrimination and mismanagement they faced in the past."

Native Americans involved in the land trust lawsuit will get access to a $3.4 billion fund. Black farmers who are a part of a class-action lawsuit against the USDA will receive a $1.15 billion settlement.

Read the rest...

It's been a long time coming.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Eyes Of Pain

I looked into a woman's eyes today and saw pain like none I've ever seen.

She just buried her son.

I'm not sure that there's anything in life more cruel than burying a child.

But for a mother burying her 26-year-old son?

I have no words.

I finally finished planting garlic today. It's nicely composted and mulched with two bales of blond straw.

Here's hoping that mother with pain-filled eyes can fix her heart on something growing anew next spring.

Right now, I can't imagine she can even fall asleep without falling apart.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday With Nina :: Love Me Or Leave Me

That's the live version. Now, for the recorded version I fell in love with two decades ago. Pay attention to the piano interlude.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sunday With Keith :: Autumn Leaves

ONE OF MY favorite renditions of one of my favorite standards.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Thank You

Dear Supporters,

The official results are in. I received 1736 votes or 39.1% of the votes cast, no where near enough to win the election. Nevertheless, we won over a lot of hearts and minds in the process. As I already wrote, I've had the time of my life and have no regrets.

At least three working-class men came out of the polling place yesterday, looked me right in my eye, and told me they were all set to vote for me until they saw on the ballot that I was a Democrat.

We have a lot of work to do.

I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your support, your well-wishes, and your votes. I couldn't have made such an impression on the people of this district without your help.

We ran the best campaign this district has ever seen and we have done a big part to change the conversation. It seems more people are talking about healthy, local food more than ever before. Early morning of the election, I was putting up a sign on the main intersection of in-town Readfield and a woman rolled down her window to tell me that she would be rooting hard for me all day. That she and her husband lived in Mt. Vernon and therefore couldn't vote for me, but they wanted me to win so badly. There, in the dark, after their car traveled down Route 17 headed toward Manchester, I got all choked up. And then I smiled.

I am both proud and humbled to have made such a difference.

While many of you have already expressed encouragement that I run again in 2012, all I can say right now is that I can't see past the 10 pounds of garlic I still need to plant before the ground freezes.

I can promise you this:

I will continue to do what I do with a passion.

Thank you again. Take care of your blessings.

Craig V. Hickman

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Ask For Your Vote

Dear Neighbor,

My name is Craig Hickman. Over the past months, I’ve traveled all over Readfield and Winthrop and heard stories from hundreds of people. I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to join me in an important conversation—one about the great promise that our community holds, about how to grow our community so Maine can remain the way life should be.

As an organic farmer, I know a little something about growing things. It takes a season of planting, watering, and weeding. When all the backbreaking work is done, it’s time to harvest the crop and enjoy the literal fruits of our labor. And it’s good for us. Way better than any processed junk we can buy at the grocery store or feed our children in school. Growing community takes the same great effort. I’ve done my best to visit with as many folks as I can—of all parties, from all walks of life—and hear what’s important to you. Sorry if I didn’t make it to your door in person. Annabessacook Farm is my livelihood and so I didn’t get to meet as many of you as I would like.

Still, I discovered that what’s important to me has also been important to you. I know that, despite the hard work of running an organic farm and bed & breakfast—campaigning all the while—it’s been more than worth it. Now, we’re down to the final hours before Election Day, and I ask for your vote.

I need your vote.

I need your vote as a small business owner. You see, the regulations that small businesses face every day are making it difficult for us to stay in business. Many small businesses don’t. I bet you know a small business that struggles, even though everyone works like a dog to keep it afloat. The regulations mostly help big corporations make bigger profits (as if big corporations need help making bigger profits) and if a few Davids have to lose, well, who cares? Send me to Augusta so I can fight the Goliaths who blunt the growth of our local economies.

I need your vote as a steward of our environment. Ten years ago, I came to Maine for a place to write my adoption reunion memoir. The light drew me to this place. Scintillating, intense, and magical light—like no light I’ve ever seen. I fell in love with it. And so I stayed. Our lakes and streams and forests, our sky-blue skies and star-nailed nights—all the natural wonder that makes Maine one of God’s most beautiful creations—sustain me. Send me to Augusta so I can continue that stewardship and preserve our special light, our quality of place, for generations to come.

Running this year has given some of you a tough choice. If I waited two more years, it might’ve been easier. But I couldn’t wait. How many more businesses in our towns will close in two years? How many won’t get off the ground? I simply had to do something, and whether or not it’s the right time politically, it’s time for a new beginning.

My late father, Hazelle Hickman, a Tuskegee Airman, who always wanted me to become a public servant, always told me to seize the moment. That time waits for no one. So, here I am. Asking for your vote.

On Tuesday, November 2, 2010, vote to send me to Augusta and let’s make history.

Only in Maine could I have been treated so kindly. I believe we’ll win. I need you to believe it, too. I need your vote. I will be humbled to serve you. I’ll cherish these many months—and all your stories—no matter what.

Thank you. Take care of your blessings.

Craig V. Hickman

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hickman in the Press II


October 17

Political newcomer, three-term incumbent vie for House seat

Pair contest House District 82

By Betty Adams
Staff Writer

WINTHROP -- A fellow Winthrop resident is challenging three-term incumbent Patrick Flood for the right to represent House District 82 and become only the third black person to serve in the Maine Legislature.

Democrat Craig V. Hickman, 47 [sic], is seeking his first elective office.

Hickman has a bachelor's degree in government from Harvard University, spent a decade or so traveling the country as a performance artist, and since 2002 has operated an organic farm as well as a bed and breakfast on 25 acres bordering Annabessacook Lake.

"I'm running for the people," Hickman said. "I think that in a healthy democracy, people need a choice. That's why I'm running -- I want to give the people a choice. I hear the people; they're a little bit angry and frustrated, and I'm doing something about that to put myself out there."

Read the rest...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Hickman in Awe

On Tuesday, October 12, when I received this email, my jaw fell to the floor. Talk about being humbled. With the author's permission, I'm reprinting most of it here, including the bits of wisdom contained in her email signature.


Dear Craig,

Good to meet you today.

I have been drawn to your photo in the advertiser and drawn to your personality when reading articles about you and what can only be described as your organic ministry.

When I traveled home on a different route tonight, rte #41, Winthrop to Readfield, I saw many of your campaign signs and I noted to my husband that I felt I knew some kinship to your heart and/or soul. He doesn't ever question these spiritual attachments, he has seen the fruit of them in our lives. It is so great to have a life partner that accepts even the quirky traits that make us who we are.

The real moment of confirmation was when we arrived home and pulled into the driveway after this conversation. A car going in the opposite direction pulled to the side of the road, waited for a semi to pass and turned around pulling in the driveway behind us. It was you and Jop. I proclaimed that I was on my way inside to call you to ask you a few questions. It seems a little incredulous but it is very common for this type of thing to happen to me. We talked only slightly as you were sensitive to the fact we had just arrived home, but in that short time, it validated the draw. In person I instantly knew something was meant to be.

We are very excited about your campaign and would like to know if there is something we can do to help.

Our children were raised in Readfield and have both graduated from UMO. My son Jacob graduated from Maranacook at 16 and received his doctorate in Theoretical Physics when 25yrs old. His inspiration was Steve D'Angelis, Tyler's father. Jacob was invited to Oxford University to do a post doctorate in conformal field theory and he and his new wife moved to England. They were there nearly three years and had our first grand daughter, Acadia Loveday Simmons, while there. They relocated to Chicago when he accepted a second post doc position at Chicago University. They have had their second daughter, Aurora Rose, and have become vegetarian locavores. They are environmentally conscientious and recycle everything, all belongings included.

Our daughter, Casey, is an artist and earned a degree in psychology with a minor in sociology. She did the murals in the pediatric practice in Winthrop. She graduated and then spent the following year in Alabama building houses for Habitat for Humanity. She is an animal rights activist and an environmentalist. She is currently employed at LL Bean. She walks the streets of Readfield with her garbage stick, picking up trash in her spare time. She accepts that some of her classmates feel she is a crazy 'tree hugger'. She has also become a vegetarian passionate about organic consumption and sustainable living.

Of course we are very proud of them, we raised them to be givers. But the reason I go (brag) on and on is because the state of Maine is a difficult place for well-educated young people to find employment. I think the mindset of the state is becoming more open, and educated professionals are finding some employment opportunities, but kind, gentle teaching and exampling is still needed to inspire others to want change and to evoke acceptance and progression.


Now, I believe that in America you can ascribe to your own beliefs as long as others are afforded the same considerations.

I am not saying that all people need to be OK with gay marriage, I am saying that they do need to accept that some people are.

I am not saying no one can eat chicken nuggets (though why??? would they?) I am simply saying at least try whole responsibly grown, organic foods.

And, I am not saying that everyone must install solar panels, but at least be responsible enough to try to reduce your own carbon footprint.

I am sorry for the length of this email. I tried to trim it a bit but I am frustrated with the status quo.


Marcia Walls Simmons

P.S. I agree that Jop is the most exceptional physical therapist in the state. I know many people he has greatly helped.

My mother, who is dying of cancer, asked after Jop only Monday when we visited her in Bangor. She had Jop for PT in the nursing home in Winthrop over 5 years ago and his progress with her blew us away. She said she bet he could help her deal with her endless pain as he was a miracle worker. Yesterday we discussed this! My sister was there also and she said he had really helped her with shoulder pain as well. Yesterday! There just aren't that many coincidences.

Bon Fortune


“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” --Maya Angelou


In the end;
We will conserve only what we love,
We will love only what we understand,
and we will understand only what we are taught

--Baba Dioum


We can change the world teaching goodness by example.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hickman in the Mail II

MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 sent out this mailer last week. I'm posting it just as it arrived in my mailbox, complete with the scratches that appear as though there's a miniature Billie Holiday gardenia above my ear.

The man who wrote the copy wrote the copy well. Click on the image to enlarge.

Cross-posted to Hickman in the House

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hickman in the Mail

We sent this mailer out last week. Some voters tell me it's hanging on their refrigerators. Talk about being humbled. Click on the images to see them at full size.

Cross-posted to Hickman in the House

Friday, October 01, 2010

Hickman in the Press

House District 82

Hickman would speak for people, not corporations

Build local economy, invest in food

By Judy Yeaton | Sep 30, 2010

Winthrop — Democrat Craig Hickman says he’s running for the Maine House of Representatives because “it’s time for a new beginning.” Up against incumbent Rep. Pat Flood, R-Winthrop, Hickman is competing for the District 82 seat in the Nov. 2 election. If he wins, he’ll represent the citizens of Winthrop and Readfield.

“I’m trying to give people a choice. There are two really good people running for this seat,” Hickman said. “People have a choice and it’s probably going to be a tough choice for some people, and that’s the way it should be in a democracy.”

The organic farmer and co-owner of Annabessacook Farm Bed & Breakfast believes he can bring a fresh voice to the Legislature, one that will speak for the people and not corporations.

“I’m new, I’m bold and I’m blunt. I want to serve the people, and I want to say all the things the people want to say. I feel like I’ll get something done if I start planting the seeds and let the Legislature be accountable to the people,” he said.

“I don’t know everything, but I’m a good listener and I’m a quick study. I want the people to be my library. The people come first.”

Read the rest...

Cross-posted to Hickman in the House

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Let There Be Food

Over Labor Day weekend, while selling raffle tickets in front of Audette’s, a fellow Rotarian told me not to bother dropping off any fresh organic produce at the Winthrop Food Pantry for the next three weeks because it would be closed. My heart sank. In these difficult times, how can we allow our community food pantry to go dark for even a single week?

On Labor Day morning, my 13-and-a-half-year-old dog J.B. dragged himself into Con Leche the Goat’s stall and lay down on the pine shavings and hay. He looked like he was going to die. He hadn’t eaten in days, refused all food, even his treats, his skeleton pressed through his sagging skin like a warning. We were so sure he was going to be dead by nightfall that we dug his grave out back under the giant weeping willow tree. I could hardly breathe.

The next morning, J.B. almost ate my hand. Not rabid, but ravenous. Didn't feel right to call the vet, so the night before I took him BBQ ribs and brown rice. He devoured them. Early morning, the same. Late morning, I took him a hamburger on a bun and while Con Leche the Goat looked on, he ate it so fast, he almost ate my hand. Groaned like he meant it.

Any creature that wants to eat wants to live.

Food is life. We cannot allow a single person among us to go hungry for a single day. My fellow Rotarian told me that the people who currently run the pantry, who generously give of their time so people can live, are ready to move on but have stayed around because no one else in the community has stepped up.

Well, I’ll step up. And I’m sure I can recruit a team of volunteers to step up with me. We can run the Winthrop Food Pantry with the same diligence as the current volunteers because we must not allow a single person among us to go hungry.

In the meanwhile, if you rely on the kindness of others for sustenance in these difficult times, then please consider Annabessacook Farm at 192 Annabessacook Road your adjunct food pantry. If you want to call ahead, call 377-FARM. If not, just stop by at your convenience, any day of the week, and take whatever food you need. If we’re not home and there’s nothing on the farmer’s porch to your liking, feel free to walk out to the field behind the big red barn and pick whatever you like.

People who want to live need to eat. And there’s no reason whatsoever that we can’t come together as a community and feed them.


Cross-posted to Annabessacook Farm

Monday, August 30, 2010

Annabessacook Farm In The Boston Sunday Globe

THIS article, entitled With a map and a mission: 500 miles, 10 days, 1 bike, appeared in the Boston Sunday Globe today. It features Annabessacook Farm. It promotes Annabessacook Farm. At least I think it does. And it's very well-written. Yes. I remember the biker/writer. She really did enjoy her breakfast. Took some trail mix with her for the road. Simply fabulous that she would write about her experience here so.

The part about us goes like this:

The lakes region is within a day’s ride of Portland. Had I not gotten lost it would have been a gentle start. I spent my first night in Winthrop, a faded resort town that straddles Annabessacook and Maranacook lakes, a good jumping-off point for the area. Serious bike tourers camp out, but I was glad to sink into a mattress every night and start the day with a feast. Friendly Annabessacook Farm Bed and Breakfast served a particularly fresh spread: homemade goats’ milk yogurt, granola, and just-laid eggs. Another way that cycling beats driving: You can eat all you want.

We do like to fill up our guests with lots of hearty, wholesome, homemade food.

Don't you want some?

Come and get it.

Cross-posted to Annabessacook Farm

Friday, August 27, 2010

Maine State Employees Association, SEIU Local 1989 Endorses Craig Hickman


My jaw is still on the floor by this endorsement. I'm thrilled, I tell you, just thrilled.

Cross-posted to Hickman in the House

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I OPEN the Community Advertiser this past Saturday around dinner time and find this:

Craig Hickman a Class Act At Readfield

First place in the 2010 Readfield's Got Talent show was won by [Winthrop] organic farmer, Craig Hickman, a poet performing his original work.

After accepting the prize of $75, Hickman took the mike and asked if the Readfield Fire Department, where the contest took place, accepted donations. When they answered that they did indeed accept donations, he gave his prize to a firefighter standing nearby.

"That was a real class act, both the poetry and the donation," said Karen Dube, organizer for Readfield Heritage Days. "Only in a small town like this could a poet beat out singers and dancers for first place in a talent contest."

I was humbled by the win, more by the mention in the local paper. Karen Dube didn't have to say what she said. She's the class act. As are all the firefighters who volunteer their precious time to keep the people in our communities safe.

Cross-posted to Hickman in the House

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rotary Club Welcome

District governor Claude Martel; new members Craig Hickman & Kathy Thorenson; President Ryan Frost

Winthrop — The Rotary Club of the Winthrop Area received a visit from its district governor at a special meeting held Aug. 17 at Pepper's Restaurant in Winthrop.

Claude Martel, a member of the Rotary Club of Val Belaire in Quebec City, along with Larry Marcoux, assistant district governor and a member of the Auburn-Lewiston Rotary Club, met with the club's board of directors to discuss club plans and challenges.

Following the board meeting, Martel met with the entire club and their spouses over dinner. He had the opportunity to welcome, congratulate and encourage new members

Craig Hickman and Kathy Thorenson, both of Winthrop, as well as new club officers: Ryan Frost, president; Kathy Thorenson, vice president; Priscilla Jenkins, secretary and past president; and Phil McSweeney, treasurer.

Read the rest...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Readfield Heritage Days

August 13, 14, 15, 2010

Readfield Historical Society Art: Beverley Norton Newton

Friday, August 13 at the Readfield Town Beach

4:30 to 7:30 - Barbeque featuring hamburgs, hotdogs, chips, drinks, popcorn and cotton

6:30 to 7:30 - Rick Charette Concert (FREE)

9:00 (or when dark) - Fireworks (rain date, Sunday, August 15)

We will also be selling raffle tickets for a homemade quilt, donated by Gail Turner; DVD player, donated by Dave's Appliance; and a $75 gift certificate donated by Kent's Hill Lumber; as well as our Readfield Heritage Days T-Shirts that were designed by Karissa Lucas, a fourth grader at Readfield Elementary. Karissa is the first winner of our Heritage Days T-Shirt design contest. Congrats Karissa!

Saturday, August 14

10 AM - Parade (Line up will be at 9:00 at the Readfield Town Office)

9 AM to 1 PM - Library Book Sale at Readfield Fire Station

10 AM to 2 PM - Games and activities at the Readfield Town Beach, bounce house, face painting, and much more.

10 AM to 2 PM - Readfield Historical Society will be open.

10 AM to 2 PM - St. Andrew's Church Fair, Church Road

11 AM to 1 PM - St. Andrews Church Luncheon, featuring Lobster Rolls, hamburgs, hotdogs, chips, soda, water and dessert.

11 AM to 1 PM - Barbeque, featuring chicken, salads, and drinks at the Readfield Beach.

1 PM to 2 PM - Readfield Fire Department, Ladies Auxiliary Ice Cream Social at the Readfield Beach (free)

4:30 PM to 6 PM - Readfield Fire Department's Famous Bean-Hole Supper, featuring bean-hole beans, ham, hotdogs, coleslaw, fresh fruit cups, drinks and ice cream

6 PM - Raffle drawings at the Fire Station

7 PM to 9 PM - Readfield's Got Talent, Talent Show, Fire Station, Route 17. To sign up call Karen Dube at 685-5318 or 631-1852.

I've signed up to perform original poetry at the event.

Sunday, August 15

7:30 PM - Dave Mallett will be performing at the Union Meeting House on Church Road in Readfield. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $18 at Apple Valley Books in Winthrop, Marie's Whole Foods in Readfield, or The Lighthouse Market in Manchester, or you can purchase them at the door the night of the show for $20. For more information, call Flo Drake at 685-4662

Information on any event is available by calling Karen Dube at 685-5318 or 631-1852

(Source: Community Advertiser)



Don't forget the Readfield Farmer's Market on Sunday, August 15, from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Corner Stone Cafe. Annabessacook Farm will be there with fresh organic sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, beans, collards, spinach, okra, peppers, blackeye peas, dill, basil, sweet potato pie, goat cheese, yogurt, whole-grain and gluten-free bread, granola, and other heavenly surprises.







Cross-posted to Hickman in the House

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

Slice thinly two or three fat green tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, cover and leave alone for half hour. Less if time is tight. Heat a wide skillet with 1/2 inch olive oil. Crack a farm fresh egg, beat it, add a dollop of raw milk and blend. Add some dried herbs, some Old Bay and a little more salt and pepper and mix well. Dip tomato slices in the liquid and shake in a paper bag with just enough flour to cover them all. Drop slices into hot oil and cook on both sides till golden brown or darker if desired. Drain on kitchen towel and enjoy hot or cold. Serves two. Or one if you love them as much as I.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thought For The Day

If you're too busy defending your mistakes, you won't learn from them.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

Hope you celebrated, remained safely sober, and enjoy your day off tomorrow if you have one.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Serena Serves History

Serena Williams of the U.S. holds the winners trophy after  defeating Russia's Vera Zvonareva in the womens' singles final at the  2010 Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 3, 2010.

Serena Williams of US holds the Wimbledon Trophy after defeating  Vera Zvonareva of Russia 6-3, 6-2, in the Women's Final at the Wimbledon  Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in south-west  London, on July 3, 2010.

Richard Williams, the father of Serena Williams of the U.S. , takes  a photograph on Centre Court during her womens' singles finals match  against  Russia's Vera Zvonareva at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis  championships in London, July 3, 2010.

Serena Williams of the U.S. celebrates defeating Russia's Vera  Zvonareva in the womens' singles final at the 2010 Wimbledon tennis  championships in London, July 3, 2010.

Serena Williams of US holds the Wimbledon Trophy after defeating  Vera Zvonareva of Russia 6-3, 6-2, in the Women's Final at the Wimbledon  Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in south-west  London, on July 3, 2010.

Serena Williams poses with her trophy, after defeating Vera  Zonareva to win the women's singles final on the Centre Court at the All  England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 3,  2010.

Serena Williams of the United States holds her trophy after  defeating Russia's Vera Zvonareva in their women's singles final at the  All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 3,  2010.

Serena Williams (L) of US and Vera Zvonareva of Russia hold their  respective trophies after Williams won the Women's Final 6-3, 6-2, at  the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in  south-west London, on July 3, 2010.'

It's been a long time since I've seen Serena Williams this happy after winning a Slam title. Melbourne 2005, maybe. But she seemed more emotional and relieved for different reasons it seemed. New York 1999?

Today, she emoted pure jubilee. Four Wimbledon titles, 13 Grand Slam singles titles, surpassing Billie Jean King, and entering rarefied air. She has now defended both her Slam titles from last year, the first time in her career to defend two Slams in the same year, and only the third time she's defended a singles Slam crown at all.

Vera Zvonareva's composure held up throughout all of the first set and most of the second, and she was absolutely radiant and gracious, even through tears, after the match. Calling out the surgeon who fixed her ankle when she feared she'd never be able to play again was at once poignant and bizarre. Such is life on Centre Court at SW19. One hell of an effort from a player who's hoed through a tough, tough row.

Sometimes, players do re-invent themselves in a year.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Runner up Vera Zvonareva of Russia  poses after losing the Ladies Singles Final Match to Serena Williams of  USA on Day Twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All  England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 3, 2010 in London,  England.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

It's Official

I received 85% of the votes in the Democratic primary cast for governor. Yes, I was uncontested, but still. I'm now officially the Democratic Nominee for Maine House District 82.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday With Billie :: Strange Fruit

One might be getting the feeling that the radical extremists of the radio talk shows, the Faux News insane and those who worship them, with all their violent rhetoric and references to civil war, want our nation to return to the days when Lady Day artfully, painstakingly mourned the lynched.

If the election of Barack Obama signified the end of the cultural phase of the American Civil War, it's safe to say we're living through Reconstruction, Part II.

Let us pray violence does not ensue.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Photo Of The Day

A  boat passes through heavily oiled marsh near Pass a Loutre, Louisiana  May 20, 2010. For nearly a month, roughly 5,000 barrels (210,000  gallons/795,000 liters) of oil per day have been gushing from BP's  broken Deepwater oil well situated in the Gulf of Mexico, in what could  be named the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

A boat passes through heavily oiled marsh near Pass a Loutre, Louisiana May 20, 2010. For nearly a month, roughly 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons/795,000 liters) of oil per day have been gushing from BP's broken Deepwater oil well situated in the Gulf of Mexico, in what could be named the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lena Horne, 1917 - 2010

Rest in peace, oh diva of divas.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

NEVER too late to wish peace and blessings to all the mothers.

But a special wish goes to my sister Gina who just happens to be celebrating her first mother's day on her 45th birthday.

Happy Birthday, beloved sister. Grace Loren is blessed to have you as her mother.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Certified: My Father Smiles Down From Heaven

This means I'm officially running for something.

My campaign treasurer stopped by earlier today while we were planting collard greens, blackeye peas and broccoli to deliver the good news. We hadn't been to the mailbox yet, but when we checked it later, there it was, unfolded from its official-looking envelope, just as you see it above.

This is a big [fill-in-the-blank] deal.

I'm grateful to all those who contributed to my campaign. Thank you for your generosity. But more than that, thank you for your belief. Without you, I wouldn't have my name up there.

I still can't quite believe that's my name. Hickman. Craig V. Stands for Von. I'd never have imagined I'd run for elected office. But life has changed immensely since the man who gave me my name died 3 years ago, March.

Thing is, I'd never have imagined I'd be doing much of what I'm doing in my life right now.

But here I am. Doing what my father taught me how to be good at, and trying to do what my father always thought I would be excellent at: farming and public service.

It's time.

It's time I finally put my mind to it and try to fulfill my father's ultimate dream for me. A dream I'm blessed to be able to pursue without pressure, an ounce of resentment, not even a whisper of angst.

It's time District 82, Readfield and Winthrop, the most beautiful towns in Kennebec Valley, had a fresh voice representing its people.


It’s time to rid our food supply of processed junk.

As a wise man wrote, food reclaims its nobility when the person who raised it hands it to you. It makes us healthier, too. Healthier citizens means reduced medical costs, which can lead to affordable health care for all. I will fight to bring common sense to the Maine food code to help producers make wholesome local food more available and affordable. Local food means local jobs.

It’s time to go green

I’m committed to strengthening local economies and cultivating long-term sustainable and creative solutions to our greatest challenges, while never forgetting or neglecting the things that make Maine the way life should be. Investment in our natural resources and quality of place initiatives and our vast wind and solar energy potential will not only help to protect Maine’s enthralling beauty, but also attract more tourism, boost our economy, and create new jobs.

It’s time to stop handcuffing small businesses.

One-size-fits-all regulations simply don’t work. I will fight to craft legislation, current or new, that allows the furniture painter, the contractor, the goat milker, the jewelry maker and the silver-haired lady down the road who bakes the best whoopie pies in town to advertise and sell their products and services without jumping through hoops they can’t afford. Let there be real competition. As Maine business grows, so goes job creation.



The United States of America conducts a new census. The state of Maine elects a new governor. The citizens of the most beautiful towns in the Kennebec Valley elect a new state representative.

My father smiles down from heaven.

Hickman in the House.

Organic farmer, man of the people.

Get ready.

It's time for a new beginning.


Winthrop Community Gardens Groundbreaking & Dedication, April 22, 2010

Craig Hickman is....

Son of a Tuskegee Airman and a wise woman
Spouse of the best physical therapist in Maine
Adopted man living in reunion with his birth families
Graduate of Harvard College, A.B. cum laude in Government, 1990
Recipient of the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement, National Poetry Slam champion and award-winning author of Fumbling Toward Divinity
Founder and editor of Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog
2008 Democratic National Convention Delegate, 1st Congressional District
Winthrop Green Committee Member
Winthrop Community Gardens at Annabessacook Farm Host

Other Life Experience

As the former owner of a small catering business; proprietor of a small theatrical production company; marketing manager for a regional commercial real estate firm; facilities manager for an Internet startup; and administration and human resources manager for a financial services research and consulting startup, Hickman knows the challenges and triumphs of small business owners and their workers.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Photo Of The Day

THE CASKET bearing the remains of Dorothy Height, the leading female voice of the 1960s civil rights movement, is carried into the National Council of Negro Women headquarters in downtown Washington, Tuesday, April 27, 2010. Height died April 20 at the age of 98. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Photo Of The Day

Pete Souza

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA talks with family members of Ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum of Ghana, during a credentialing ceremony in the Oval Office, Feb. 24, 2010.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thought For The Day

BRILLIANTLY BLESSED are those who seek perfection not in people or things, but in the process of Loving itself, for they shall possess clarity of insight.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And A Child Shall Lead Them

U.S. President Barack Obama signs the health insurance reform bill  as Marcelas Owens looks on in the East Room at the White House in  Washington, March 23, 2010. Owens lost his mother to illness before the  healthcare legislation passed.

U.S. President Barack Obama signs the health insurance reform bill as Marcelas Owens looks on in the East Room at the White House in Washington, March 23, 2010. Owens lost his mother to illness before the healthcare legislation passed.

US  President Barack Obama, surrounded by lawmakers and supporters, signs  the healthcare insurance reform legislation during a ceremony in the  East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 23, 2010.

US President Barack Obama, surrounded by lawmakers and supporters, signs the healthcare insurance reform legislation during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 23, 2010.


What a day. It took a lot of work in the midst of a lot of noise, but health insurance reform is now reality. I never saw the President's endgame clearly, but what an endgame.

And like her or not, Nancy Pelosi deserves a long and thunderous standing ovation. She delivered what no man before her could.

The View From Here


Daedalus chomping, Orange Juice chilling, Wallpaper posing, and Princess grazing in the distance.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thought For The Day

BRILLIANTLY BLESSED are those who belong to the trees and the animals, for their voices will grow plants like the sun and their kindness will kill the anger of strangers.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Collard Greens


FOR TWO years, they didn't have garden-fresh collard greens.

For all of my childhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my father grew a small garden in our back yard that yielded incredible produce. We didn't call it organic gardening back then. There was no need for such a description. It was what it was: gardening. No chemical fertilizers, no pesticides.

Well. Almost. One year -- I can't remember how old I was but I was in elementary school -- the insects were so bad, my father chose to shake garden dust over all his yet-to-fruit tomato plants, which were being devoured by hornworms. He cried. He was afraid he would poison his family. Afraid that we would starve if we didn't have any tomatoes to eat fresh or can for later so he chose drastic action. But he left alone the collards and other leafy greens. "I can't shake no dust on those. They go directly into our mouths, so we're going to have to pick the bugs off with our fingers."


Summer 2009, I stood amidst my collards in one of the many gardens on our 25-acre organic farm in central Maine talking to my pregnant sister on the phone. I told Gina that my collards weren't growing as well as I'd like. That because of the unceasing rain the insects were winning.

That's when she told me.

In the last two years of our father's life, when the pancreatic cancer made him too weak to tend his garden, she and my mother had no fresh collards. The rose chafers, Japanese beetles, cabbage worms and whatever else loves this bittersweet brassica had devoured the leaves down to skeletons.

"He simply had no energy, Craig. And we couldn't help because it would have been an admission that we knew he was sick, and since he never told us, we couldn't let him know that we knew."

I simply could not fathom my family back home in Milwaukee went two years without Daddy's collards. Could not fathom why my sister had never told me about it till just then. Could not fathom why my mother had never told me about it at all.

I stood amidst my insect-infested collards and wept.

Losing my father on March 14, 2007, a month to the day after he turned 87, began the most transformative right of passage in my life to date. The man who taught me about discipline, respect, honor, dignity; about how to rise up after being knocked down; how to dream great dreams; how to love; how to live had left this world and left a hole in my soul as big as the lake on which my farm sits.

Two years later, in early spring, when I finally came up from under, I saw my father walk from the side of the road right up the gravel driveway and into our house. I don’t know if I was sleeping or awake, but I saw him nonetheless. Later that day, I stood before the unquilted stretch of land and told my husband of my plans to become a bona fide farmer. He thought I was crazy. Said it was too much. That I'd never keep to it.

Love a challenge. If you tell me I can't do something, I'm determined to prove you wrong.

Five months later, I opened a farm stand on the side of the road right in front of our house and began selling the succulent vegetables our land offered up.

Now, I'm addicted to growing things. I've turned a mere half-acre of our farm into a sweep of organic gardens. Composted manure from around the barnyard, a small tiller for cultivation, a few farm hands, a garden rake, hoe and pitchfork, a mosquito net as necessary (which is always, much as those critters love me), and as many daylight hours as the sun above can muster is all we count on to produce our harvest.

Now, I can't stop opening a new patch of earth to plant some new variety of heirloom tomatoes to round out the cornucopia from Annabessacook Farm: arugula, beets, Belgian endive, collards, kale, mesclun, mustard greens, romaine, Swiss chard, spinach, turnips, corn (the sweetest in the area, say my customers), carrots, celery, fennel, golden beets, radish, basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, leeks, onions, scallions, blackeye peas, okra, green beans, soybeans, sugar peas, several varieties of peppers, summer squash, winter squash, gourds, pumpkins, cucumbers, eggplant, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, wild black raspberries, cantaloupe, honey dew, watermelon, and anything else I can trick to grow in this northern climate. Can't stop. As though all the energy my father didn't have at the end of his life has fueled me to work from sun up to sundown, planting, weeding, hauling, turning, picking, packaging, selling. Eating.

I'm even making fresh cheese and yogurt and ice cream from the goat milk hubby massages out of our goat every evening after his day job. Baking breads and quiches and pies and cakes and hearty cereals. Preparing meals for B&B guests, private dinner banquets for neighbors and friends.

And we’ve got two new greenhouses. Can't wait to see what they can produce in winter. Before long, we’ll be growing our own wheat, making our own honey, and slaughtering our own meat.


I stand on my father's shoulders. He whispers music over mine as I open the earth, loving her--tenderly, deeply, desperately--and whisks mosquitoes away from my ears so I can hear his music more clearly.

He shows me the way.

I've never been more committed to anything in my life. Never been happier. There is simply nothing like living off the land and nothing simpler. Knowing exactly where your food comes from because you produce it yourself.

My customers appreciate every bag of spinach, jar of yogurt, crown of broccoli they get from here. And I appreciate them. Their concerns and requests, their own gardening triumphs and failures. Our exchange of ideas and recipes and tricks. I never would have imagined I would become such an integral part of a local food chain. Never would have imagined I could sell thousands of dollars of organic produce and prepared foods in a single season without vending at a farmer’s market or supplying a restaurant. Never would have imagined folks would stop by simply to thank me for doing what I do even though they buy their produce at another local farm. I think now of Michael Pollan's words from his must-read book In Defense Of Food, “In a short food chain… [f]ood reclaims its story, and some of its nobility, when the person who grew it hands it to you.”

So when I told one of our regular customers the story of my father's collards, my sister's recent heartbreaking confession, we all shared a moment of spontaneous silence in his memory. And I swear to God, within a week, my collards were on their way to the biggest, sweetest, greenest collards I'd ever grown.


Cross posted to Annabessacook Farm

Sunday With Patti :: How Do You Keep The Music Playing?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thought For The Day

BRILLIANTLY BLESSED are those who walk with courage through the depths of their own sorrow, for they will walk also through the greatest joy and their Spirits will grow exponentially; for them, a healing will come.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Adoption Conference :: Secret Histories, Public Policies

A conference sponsored by the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
April 29-May 2, 2010
Official Website

Keynote speakers:

Anita L. Allen, Deputy Dean for Academic Affairs, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania Law School. Allen’s work has focused on the law and ethics of privacy and data protection, race relations and feminist philosophy. She is the author of numerous articles and several books: Privacy Law: and Society (2007); /Why Privacy Isn’t Everything: Feminist Reflections on Personal Accountability ,/ (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003); /Uneasy Access: Privacy for Women in a Free Society / (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, l988) and /The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape/ (Miramax Books/distributed by Hyperion Books, 2004).

Ann Fessler is an installation artist, filmmaker, adoptee and author of /The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade . /(The Penguin Press, 2006) based on oral history interviews she conducted between 2002 and 2005 with surrendering mothers across the country. In 2008 Fessler received the Ballard Book Prize given annually to a female author who advances the dialogue about women's rights and in 2006 her book was selected by the National Book Critics Circle as one of the top 5 nonfiction books of the year. Hear Ann Fesssler on Fresh Air .

Lynn Lauber, birth mother, writer, teacher, and book collaborator, has published three books with W.W. Norton. White Girls (1990) and 21 Sugar Street (1993), both fiction, that deal with the topics of birth families and adoption. Listen to Me, Writing Life into Meaning (2003), is part memoir, part exploration of writing as self-discovery. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times and a number of anthologies. She currently teaches personal writing workshops and is writing a memoir on her experience as a birth mother.

Deann Borshay Liem is Producer, Director, Writer for the Emmy Award-nominated documentary, First Person Plural (PBS 2000), Executive Producer for Spencer Nakasako’s Kelly Loves Tony (PBS 1998) and AKA Don Bonus (PBS 1996, Emmy Award), and Co-Producer for Special Circumstances (PBS, 2009) by Marianne Teleki. A Sundance Institute Fellow and a recipient of a Rockefeller Film/Video Fellowship, Deann is the Director, Producer, Writer of the new documentary, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee , which will be broadcast nationally on PBS in Fall 2010. She is currently Executive Director of Katahdin Productions, a non-profit documentary production company based in Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. Learn more about DeAnn Borshay Liem on PBS’s Point of View.

Other speakers include Marla Brettschneider, Naomi Cahn, Maryanne Cohen, Marley Greiner, Meredith Hall, Craig Hickman, Margaret Homans, Liberty Hultberg, B J Lifton, Kate Livingston, Karen McElmurray, Marianne Novy, Joyce Maguire Pavao, Adam Pertman, John Raible, Lisa Marie Rollins, Elizabeth Samuels, Sarah Tobias.

There will be a day of documentary films on Thursday, beginning with Sheila Ganz's film in progress Moms Living Clean. Panels later in the conference will cover topics such as: Secrecy and Policy; Lesbian/gay Secrecy Issues and Adoption; Complications of Search, Reunion and Aftermath; Transnational Adoption as Immigration Policy; Secrecy and Adoption: Historical Perspectives on the U.S., Europe, and Asia after World War II; Birthmothers: Agency and Activism; Biological Preference Critiqued and Analyzed; Secrecy and Openness: Legal Issues; Transracial Adoption in Contemporary American Literature; Adoptive Parents, Race, Difference. There will also be an evening of creative writing and performance on Friday, 4/30/10, featuring Lisa Marie Rollins; this evening and all keynotes are free and open to the public. All sessions free to MIT affiliates, and special rates are available for non-MIT students and the un/underemployed.

For more information, visit our website or contact: .

Sponsored by Mass Humanities; MIT Office of the Dean of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Literature Section, Program in Women's and Gender Studies; University of New Hampshire Center for the Humanities, College of Liberal Arts, Philosophy Department; Rutgers-Camden, Department of English; University of Pittsburgh Department of English