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Here come the plate-steppers

(with deep apologies to the winners, and only secondarily to Ini Kamoze)

The League of Young Voters held their annual Step Up to the Plate Awards party on Saturday, and we're proud to list the winners here for your enjoyment:

Activist/Community Organizer: Katy Jayne

Katy began working as a full-time organizer on the Marriage Campaign for the Maine Civil Liberties Union in September of 2008. She is the coordinator for the Religious Coalition, a group of over 200 clergy who support marriage for same-sex couples and oppose Question 1 on this November's ballot. "Out of all the organizing I have done, I feel most inspired to continue working with this influential population of faith leaders. Through collaborative meetings, open conversations, and shared understanding of the power of faith in social justice advocacy, I believe that we can continue to make a strong impact in Maine." Katy's aspiration for the Religious Coalition is to take part in developing it into a sustainable organization with statewide organizing capacity. In her spare time, Katy enjoys visiting Maine beaches at dawn.

 

Artist: Jennifer Bourgeault - Collective Motion

Wanting to introduce dance into the community in new and more accessible ways, and noticing a lack of group-sized collaboration in the dance community, Jennifer created Collective Motion. It is "a modern, innovative company of artistic dance which embraces and furthers the spirit of the collaborative arts through the promotion of area dancers in roles of both performer and choreographer." They obtain rehearsal space, costumes, props, and other performance items through donations and trades. Collective Motion works with local musicians to accompany their performance pieces, offers apprenticeships to local high schoolers, and collaborates with other local artists. The company is presently creating a show based on political, economic, social, and environmental justice, due to debut in early 2010. Check out a recent rehearsal at www.youtube.com/user/collectivemotion. When not dancing, Jennifer likes watching silly movies and spending time with her two daschunds, Wally and Fannie.

 

Green Business Person: Jonah Fertig - Local Sprouts Collective

The consummate community organizer, Jonah helped to start and coordinate multiple local groups before co-founding Local Sprouts Cooperative in 2007. Local Sprouts provides people in Maine with creative, local and organic food and holistic learning through cooking for our community. It is a worker-owned cooperative that uses cooking healthy food to connect with our community, build mutual support, increase access to local food, and grow self-reliance. Their current projects include: the new Local Sprouts Cafe, catering, community food and learning projects, and a Community Supported Kitchen. When not cooking, Jonah enjoys making art and music.

 

Start-Up Youth Program: Add Verb's Queer & Allied Youth Writing Project     

Ranging in age between 12 and 24, this unique writing and theater group opens dialogue on difficult issues to effect positive community change. The Q&A Project collects performance texts dealing with the issues of identity, orientation and social change from youth around the country. They then create an entertaining program for youth activists to provide resources, opportunity and action steps.

 

Student Leader: Simon Thompson

If you're a Portland High School student, you must know Simon! A senior, Simon is also a student representative on the Portland School Committee. He currently volunteers with Equality Maine/No on 1 Campaign, where he has served as a volunteer captain, leader, and coordinator, running the Thursday summer phone banks and helping plan the LGBT Task Force conference in Portland. His other projects to improve our community include: running a successful donation drive for victims of female trafficking; working to lower the academic requirements for the National Honor Society at PHS, opening the group up to more disadvantaged youths; successfully coordinating a voter registration drive at PHS; and founding the school's debate team. When not leading the charge in these volunteer ventures, Simon enjoys running cross-country and bicycling.

 

Volunteer: Ezekiel Callanan - Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

As a UMaine Law student, Zeke realized, "Maine has a vibrant arts and cultural community, and there is no one looking out specifically for their rights and business potential. I knew I could help do that." So he co-founded the Maine chapter of the VLA, a non-profit organization that helps underserved artists find free legal aid. In just over one year since its re-inception, and with close to no budget, MeVLA has gained momentum rapidly, assisting artists across the state. When not running the organization in his roles as President, Treasurer, and a sitting member of three different committees, Zeke enjoys spontaneous fun.

 
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