The University of Southern Maine is planning a series of events marking the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson's ground-breaking book, "The Silent Spring," which is credited with launching the environmental movement.


Rachel Carson: A Life in Perspective

Rachel Carson at microscopeRachel Carson was one of the most influential people of the 20th Century and 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the path-breaking book, Silent Spring. As a trained scientist with incredible literacy skill, Rachel Carson communicated to a global audience that humans are not separate from their environment and therefore the indiscriminate spraying of persistent pesticides was folly. She was able to change the public policy debate on the urgent need for environmental protection. Rachel Carson demonstrated that one person can change the world.
Part of Rachel's inspirations and perspectives were shaped by her years spent on the Maine coast (she spent summers at Southport Island) studying and observing the natural environment. In celebrating Rachel Carson's connections to Maine and her impact on contemporary society, multiple events are being planned at USM for the spring semester.
Rachel Carson in MaineOne way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again? - Rachel Carson

Panel Discussion
Thursday, April 19, 5:00 p.m., Hannaford Lecture Hall, Portland
Sponsored by the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
This discussion will highlight the influence of Rachel Carson on the perspectives and lives of five current female environmental leaders in Maine. The event will be moderated by Naomi Schalit, Executive Director of Pinetree Watchdog. Naomi is the former Executive Director of Maine Rivers and former reporter and producer for Maine Public Radio. Panelists include:
  • Pattie Aho, DEP Commissioner
  • Michele Dionne, Ph.D., Research Director, Wells National Estuarine Research Preserve
  • Melissa Welsh Innes, Maine State Representative (D-Yarmouth)
  • Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director, Natural Resources Council of Maine
  • Amanda Sears, Associate Director, Environmental Health Strategy Center
USM alumna Kate Cheney Chappell ’83, co-founder of Tom’s of Maine and an accomplished artist and poet, has developed an art show on the inspirations of Rachel Carson. Ms. Chappell will also speak at the panel discussion and share a DVD she has produced regarding her art and connection to Rachel Carson.
Rachel Carson in My Life: Memories and Meaning

Monday, April 16, 5:30 p.m., Lee Hall, Wishcamper Center, PortlandMartha Freeman, USM, author of the book, Always Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman, 1952-1964, will discuss a special collection of letters from Rachel Carson to her Maine summer neighbor Dorothy Freeman.

Film Screening: A Sense of Wonder

Monday, April 16, 11:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m., Lee Hall, Wishcamper Center, Portland
Tuesday, April 17, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Brooks Faculty Dining, Gorham
Thursday, April 19, 1:00-2:30 p.m., LAC Room 287, LAC
This documentary-style film (55 minutes) is a one-actress play in which Rachel Carson recounts - with humor and anger - the challenge of getting her message to Congress and the public amidst widespread personal attack. More information about the film can be found at asenseofwonderfilm.com. Discussion will follow the screening. 

The USM Library has an online guide to Rachel Carson at http://usm.maine.libguides.com/carson. 
For more information, contact Travis Wagner at twagner@usm.maine.edu or 228.8450.