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Candles for Community

Issue 28

A universal aspect of human life is the striking of a balance between the individual and the community. We all have individual lifepaths with our own personal needs, dreams, and stories. But we are also all part of a larger community we must navigate to thrive. Just as the individual must choose recovery in their own way, so must communities decide to come together and initiate change.

The opioid epidemic combines millions of individual stories happening to real people, but it is also one story happening to the wider community. We need both individual and public responses to the problem of substance use. The 716 Candles Project is a grassroots effort made up of Lincoln County individuals and organizations seeking to strike that balance.

716 is the number of Mainers who died by overdose in 2022. Volunteers in Lincoln County are saying enough is enough; the time to act is now.

The project will consist of five events happening across Lincoln County between August 26th and August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day. These events will bring together artists, musicians, caring professionals, and community members to remember loss, recognize recovery, and seek the change we need to heal as a community. There will be participatory art-making activities, public speakers, opportunities to connect with health resources, and—perhaps most importantly— the opportunity to share your own story and to learn the stories of your neighbors.

The project will consist of five events happening across Lincoln County between August 26th and August 31st, International Overdose Awareness Day.

At the center of each of these events will be a photo essay, “Lights of Lincoln County,” a mobile gallery featuring the various ways that people and networks can be involved in the opioid response. Shot by local photographer, Charles Richards, and curated by the artist Peter Bruun, these images tell the stories of people, how their lives have been changed by substance use, and how they in turn change the community.

These are the stories of people in recovery. These are the stories of caring professionals. They are the stories of loved ones lost and loved ones still standing. They are also the stories of the future, as with this photo of Medomak Valley High School’s photography class, affirming their own points of view through photography as part of the #WhyYouMatter program.

The events are being coordinated by Healthy Lincoln County and will be free and open to the public. So, light a candle with us this August, to remember and to reconnect.

For more information visit 716candlesproject.wordpress.com.

Will Matteson
Will Matteson
Will Matteson is a writer and preventionist who strives to educate and promote wellness through the power of words. He lives in Thomaston, Maine with his wife Mary and his dog Sophie.

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