‘I like wearing hoodies, but my mom doesn’t like it because she fears for her son’s life’

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Let’s get right to it.

What we’re talking about

In Jake Bleiberg’s piece today about the changing demographics of Portland, and what that means for its police force, this section jumped out at me:

For Conway, the persistent, nagging fear of violence from law enforcement is a fact of being black in America. It’s something she lives with even while feeling at home and welcome in Portland.

“I change my behavior every time I get in the car. I am more guarded. You can’t let your defenses down,” said Conway, who also served 25 years in the U.S. Army, obtaining the rank of lieutenant colonel. “I specifically edit the toys that I allow my child to bring in the car with us because I don’t want to get stopped and have a police officer think that shiny toy is a gun.”

That’s echoes what 17-year-old activist David Thete told Jake in an interview.

The news of black men and women dying in seemingly routine interactions with police is geographically distant, but psychologically it hits home, he said. As a young black man, it makes him fear the police — even the force he knows and respects here in Portland.

“It makes me more cautious. I kinda don’t want to go outside. I don’t want to go to large events where I know the police will be there. It makes me not want to wear my hood,” Thete said, in reference to the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. “I like wearing hoodies, but my mom doesn’t like it because she fears for her son’s life.”

Read Jake’s full story here.

ICYMI

Test your knowledge of Portland history with this quiz — The Great Fire is probably fresh in your mind in the weeks after the 150th anniversary. But do you know where the B&M factory used to be? Do you know the original name of Congress Street? Try Sam Shepherd’s quiz. (It’s a little easier than his last one, which was borderline sadistic.)

As a tall person who likes to go to the movies, I approve of this — The Press Herald’s Ray Routhier checked out a new movie theater just outside town that seems like a godsend for tall people: “Most of the people who turned out for the soft opening Wednesday were immediately struck by the most obvious addition to the theater building: The large, fully-reclining seats that are more like La-Z-Boys than standard stadium seating. A 6-foot-tall man can stretch out fully, and still have a foot or two left between his feet and the next seat. A push of a button quietly reclines the back and extends the footrest, another push makes the seat slowly go back to an upright position. Each seat has thick, padded armrests on each side, and each armrest has a cup holder.

“Along with the comfy seats, Flagship has created a reserved-seating system that is rare among Maine theaters. When people buy tickets — either online, at the box office, or from self-serve kiosks in the lobby — they are shown a map of every seat in that theater. The map shows the screen, the aisles, the rows and the number of each seat.”

How a Passamaquoddy man uses drag to connect with his heritage —  Bill Trotter writes: “As [George Soctomah Neptune’s] … feminine persona represents more than a desire to be a crossdresser. It’s a reflection of his status as a Two Spirit — an indigenous concept that doesn’t line up neatly with Western notions of gender or sexual orientation.

“‘We balance two polarities, two energies in our bodies, two energies in the same spiritual place,’ Neptune told NBC News. ‘Those two polarities are not supposed to be able to coexist, but that’s why Two-Spirit people exist. We bring them into balance.’

Big ideas

‘It really is getting harder to move up in America’ — The Atlantic lays out the results of a new paper: “It’s not an exaggeration: It really is getting harder to move up in America. Those who make very little money in their first jobs will probably still be making very little decades later, and those who start off making middle-class wages have similarly limited paths. Only those who start out at the top are likely to continue making good money throughout their working lives.

“That’s the conclusion of a new paper by Michael D. Carr and Emily E. Wiemers, two economists at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. In the paper, Carr and Wiemers used earnings data to measure how fluidly people move up and down the income ladder over the course of their careers. “It is increasingly the case that no matter what your educational background is, where you start has become increasingly important for where you end,” Carr told me. ‘The general amount of movement around the distribution has decreased by a statistically significant amount.’”

How growing tourism could change Acadia over the next 100 years — Part two of the BDN’s three-part series:

In the early 1900s, automobiles were banned in Bar Harbor. MDI’s summer “rusticators” — who converged on the island seeking respite from the cacophony and pollution of city life — lobbied for the prohibition, fearing the ruin of their bucolic seaside getaway.

The debate was contentious, with others advocating for the ease and economy of motorized transport. The ban was lifted after several years, but the the tension resonates.

Today, more visitors flock to Acadia each year than reside in the entire state of Maine. Visitation has surged 35 percent in just the last decade.

Locals lament congestion, yet the economy depends on tourist dollars. Construction to meet this growing demand also risks eroding the charm and landscape that attracts visitors in the first place.

Acadia welcomed 2.81 million people in 2015, the highest annual visitation in 10 years. These visitors generated more than $300 million for the region’s economy and supported 3,878 jobs, according a park analysis.

The crowds thronging to Acadia’s reflect a pattern at national parks across the country. As a result, the National Park Service is considering limiting the number of visitors at popular sites, aiming to protect the country’s most treasured natural landscapes.

In Maine, Acadia officials carefully avoid talk of visitor caps. But later this summer, the park will release a plan to reduce congestion at popular destinations within the park. The changes could ripple through a regional economy built on the visitors the park draws from around the world.

You can read the full piece here.

 

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.