Here’s some good news

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Let’s ease back into the work week with something upbeat.

What we’re talking about

Last week, Troy Bennett did a story and video about Jenny Van West, a Portland musician who finds instruments for new Mainers in need. 

The response to that post was “overwhelming,” she said. Van West found an instrument for everyone on her list, in just two days.

Troy writes that word of her efforts also spread beyond Maine:

She was also contacted by someone in Kentucky asking for advice on setting up a similar program there.

Plus, a young immigrant in Maryland sent her a message asking if she might be able help him, too.

“It’s 600 miles away,” she wrote online, “but I’m working my contacts down there to see what can be done.”

Of course, there’s still work to be done, Troy writes:

Though the immediate needs on her list have been fulfilled, that doesn’t mean everyone who needs an instrument in town has got one just yet. Van West is still interested in donations.



Drought in southern Maine leaves crops parched and farmers worried — Kathleen Pierce reports on how local farmers are dealing with the dry weather. She writes: “Climatologists say the region from Portland south is suffering a moderate to severe drought, with no relief in sight. The trend of less than normal rainfall began in April and has not let up.”

Meanwhile, the weather is contributing to an algae bloom in the Back Cove — WGME reports: “Algae blooms are common and natural in Maine, but scientists said this summer’s hot weather and higher than normal pollution have caused them to explode.

“I think that’s what the bay is telling us,” [Casco Baykeeper Ivy] Frignoca said. “There’s too much nitrogen right now, and when you add in drought conditions, hot sunny days and warmer water temps, we’re going to see more blooms like this.”

Why Maine needs more immigrants — After Donald Trump’s visit in Portland, where the Republican nominee insulted the state’s Somali population, The Press Herald’s editorial board argues that Maine needs more immigrants if it wants to actually grow its economy.

Go deeper: Seth Koenig wrote about this last year in the #TheEconomyProject. His specific proposal was to create an office in Portland designed to help attract more immigrants. The city is currently considering something along those lines.

The Big Idea

Neil deGrasse Tyson has an idea for a new country — The Internet’s favorite scientist has an idea: Make a virtual country based on reason, called Rationalia. He even wrote a constitution, which he published Sunday on Facebook. (see link above.)

The premise, which he first laid out in a tweet earlier this summer, is pretty simple. For the government in this brave new world to adopt a policy, it would need to be backed by evidence. 

We argued about deGrasse Tyson’s idea in the office for a little bit, and Slate went as far as to say, “Tyson is a very smart man, but this is a very stupid tweet, and a very stupid idea.”

What do you think?


Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

As always, like BDN Portland on Facebook for more local coverage.



Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. 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.