Lincoln Academy graduates propelled by diplomas, speeches and songs last Thursday will face a future more complex than paying the mortgage and getting ahead.
At Lincoln Academy’s June 5 commencement, local businessman Big Dave Page broadened the continuum for graduating students by calling for a new form of community consciousness, embracing not just models for personal success, but a model of responsibility for the world at large in its most literal form, the environment. “I urge the members of our graduating class to be respectful of the environment; consider your own personal imprint, and be mindful of needless waste.” Page, a 1975 Lincoln Academy graduate, owns Big Dave’s.
If Damariscotta’s long Main Street were a mall, Big Dave’s would be an anchor store, selling gas, pizza, clamming gloves and everything in between. It’s a regular stop for locals and tourists, regardless of rank or station. The food satisfies both busy schedules and palates. The owner, unless he’s attending Lincoln Academy board meeting or other civic obligation, is behind the counter. Dave Page, like his jazz playing brother Bobby, is a Damariscotta icon. The family’s DNA runs deep through town annals and local cemeteries.
Aiming to inspire young leaders toward world changing work, Page admonished the generation currently in charge by joking that President Bush might reduce the effects of global warming by “switching from Fahrenheit to Celsius.” Page said the graduates had no “more important mandate for our next generation of leaders than to safeguard and preserve our environment.”
Inspiration, however, is a two way street. If Big Dave inspired students at commencement, he was himself inspired by a Lincoln Academy student group.
Head of the trustees at Lincoln Academy, Page, on the Tuesday following graduation, said that his awareness started with the school’s Climate Club, formed in the fall of 2007. One of the clubs activities was to time how long the school buses spent idling -- carbon dioxide emissions are one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases and subsequent global warming whose effects are said to range from emerging viruses to melting polar icecaps and African drought.
“They were out there timing the buses,” said Page as he outlined activities undertaken the climate club. “They turned the bus zone into an idle free zone.”
Though the styrofoam cups have not entirely disappeared from the coffee counter at Big Dave’s, Page said his business is moving in the right direction, toward green. Cardboard is earmarked for recycling, a fan motor pulls in cooler outside air saving hours of air conditioning in the hot kitchen, and 15 gallons per week of frying fat is recycled into bio-diesel fuel for Regional Rubbish. Demand for frialator grease itself has risen as cars that run on vegetable oil gain popularity. In years past Page had to pay to dispose of the fat.
Lori Bryant, interim office manager at the Damariscotta Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday that Damariscotta businesses had not quite hit their stride in terms of the environment. “We’re just getting started around here,” she said. Admittedly small measures like using more e-mail and less paper were common, she explained, and she lauded the Midcoast Green Collaborative’s well-attended Energy Expo as the area’s best example of green business promotion.
“It’s time. It’s just time,” said Page Tuesday as he contemplated a green future for local business. “What’s new, I guess, is people like me jumping on board.”