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The Annex Comes Alive: A New Addition to Community Learning

– Written by Kathi Wall, MLRC Director of Programming

 The Maine Lakes Resource Center at 137 Main Street in the village was built to focus attention on the state of local lakes. This year we added a new twist to the manner in which environmental messages are presented to the public – The MLRC Annex: Where Art and Science Meet at 171 Main Street.

It is a gallery/ shop/studio that demonstrates the practical view of how we can help save the environment for future generations. Sometimes that happens by looking behind us to past generations and older traditions.

The Annex is quickly becoming a place of hands-on experiential learning for children and adults. Classes and demonstrations are offered, as well as drop-in discussions on art, science, traditional practices, how everything is connected and why it is important to take care of our land and lakes.

Murals pertaining to nature grace the walls. Trees, birds, and footprints, painted by young people, as well as origami butterflies created by visiting students, adorn the lobby as one enters through the orange door decorated with stenciled insects.

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Nature art created by local artist, Sue Greenan, is on display at the Annex.

The work of local artists is on display and for sale. Spectacular photos of the area, original drawings, and lamps made from recycled tea cups and pots make interesting gifts for your “besties” for birthdays and holidays. A visitor could be greeted by artists that use the space as studio, or one might be treated to local people who use old techniques to repair/recycle worn out items. You will find people very accommodating and friendly.

This past summer, The Annex has also served as the office for the Water Quality Initiative, a partnership between the Maine Lakes Resource Center, Colby College, and the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance. The Belgrade Lakes Association also uses the space to house their summer sales equipment for the famous Belgrade Boat Raffle. Everyone benefits from this unique spot in the center of town.

The place is surrounded by demonstration gardens that show the use of woodland plantings to reduce erosion and streamside washouts. One can see huckleberry, blueberry, sweet fern, and other native plants.

IMG_0573Interest in the gardens has increased since the addition of a wood sculpture to the post office side of the gardens. Great Blue Heron, (picture) by Nichole White, a creative artist from Gardiner, Maine is an excellent example of the use of fallen, found wood to enhance the human experience. White is one of a growing number of eco-artists that work with environmental materials designed to eventually return to the soil through the natural process of decomposition.

The Annex is always open by appointment … call 207-620-6029 and allow at least 15 minutes for arrival. You can find artisans working in the space Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 12-3 throughout December. Visit the Facebook page and register for courses here!