Sherry Streeter: Artist and Activist

Sherry Streeter: Artist and Activist

Group News posted in on 16 March 2018| comments
audience: Maine Community Foundation | last updated: 16 March 2018
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Sherry Streeter, incoming chair of MaineCF's Hancock County Committee, moved from Connecticut to Brooklin, Maine, in 1978 to work at WoodenBoat Magazine, where she became art director. She intended to stay a few years, but fell in love with her new home and became a Mainer. Today Streeter is a full-time painter and community activist. Photo: Thalassa Raasch/MaineCF

You have written, “My [art] work is a way of finding peace and meaning in a chaotic world, and a way to celebrate the natural beauty that nourishes me.” How has Maine nurtured you as an artist?

Maine has nurtured my art in so many ways. Obviously, there’s the natural beauty, transcendently gorgeous – I never tire of it. But it’s also the quiet of winter that enables me to focus in contrast to the busyness of summer. And the incredibly creative community around me is another inspiration.  

What is it about Brooklin that inspires you?  

I love the diversity of this community — boatbuilders, artists, writers, carpenters, old-timers, newcomers, summer folk. We are all pretty interdependent. If something goes wrong, you’re covered because people here care. A small example is we often have meal trains running. This is an online tool for people to sign up to cook and deliver a meal so someone who may be sick, recovering from surgery, or with a new baby or whatever. We even had one for Libby Chamberlain when she started Pantsuit Nation. She was so busy getting it up and running, her husband was working, she had two little children and no time to cook. It helped her a lot in those early days. When you have personal relationships with people in your community, you can appreciate the differences.

You have been on the Hancock County Committee for several years now. What is your impression of this work?

Being on a county committee has made me much more aware of the scope of needs in Maine and the part we can all play in bettering life here.

The community conversations held last year, the two summits, the meetings of the County Council have all expanded that understanding. I love that MaineCF is so interested in listening to what others consider the most important issues in the state.

The white privilege summit [in 2016] was extraordinary. Addressing the topic as deeply as Allan Johnson did was an eye-opener for me and many others I spoke with. I thought it was quite visionary for the foundation to deal with this sensitive issue head on.  

This year’s summit on early childhood development also raised awareness of an increasingly important issue. The foundation’s focus on this issue is strong and could in time have a big impact on the overall well-being of the state. I think Dr. Brown’s presentation affected us the most because of his concrete depiction of the development of the brain, which was pretty amazing.  

You volunteer for several nonprofits.

I love my community a lot so I want to do my part. The ones I work with relate to particular passions of mine.

Women’s issues are big for me as are art and culture. All in the service of community. I’ve been involved with WERU since the beginning as well as with the Brooklin Youth Corps, Friends of Acadia, Mabel Wadsworth in Bangor, and others. I like being part of something that then ripples out. You do your small part and get to eventually see big results, by being part of the whole. So I can’t help volunteering – I love to do what I can do. 

Right now I’m working for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment with a small group in Blue Hill. We organized about a year and a half ago after seeing a powerful film, "Equal Means Equal." We have a website, Equal Rights Maine, and meet regularly, trying to raise awareness and reach out to legislators like [Congressman Bruce] Poliquin. We also reach out to other groups in the state doing similar work, and look for stories that give power to the policies.

I feel happy when I’m helping out in some way. If there’s a challenge for me, it’s trying to find the balance of community work with my artwork. Doing both tends to keep me pretty busy.

MaineCF turns 35 in 2018. If you had some advice/wishes for us for the next 35, what would it/they be? 

I think that the direction the foundation is going in now, having chosen five major areas of need after listening to input for a year, is fabulous. The foundation can play an even more beneficial role in the state. I would say to just keep going in this direction – building on the conversations, outreach, partnerships, and all-around inclusiveness. I’m very glad to play a small part in it.

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