For attendees and members of the general public who are interested in the research basis for the factual claims made by Assoc. Prof. Lorien Lake-Corral and myself in our presentation on discrimination and the KKK in Maine, please feel free to download the powerpoint file attached below, which contains not only our presentation slides but also an appendix on discrimination and a complete set of references.
Deciding who to vote for in state legislative campaigns can sometimes be tricky because thorough coverage of local candidates can be hard to find. In the state of Maine, state legislators in Maine are known for their accessibility. This may be because Maine’s legislative districts tend to be small; it may also be due to the friendly nature of Maine folk in general. Whatever the reason, getting in touch with candidates for Maine political office is both important and possible.
In this day and age, the quickest way to learn about state legislative candidates and to find their contact information is through social media platforms like individual web pages, Facebook and Twitter. To help you in that process, the I’ve put together a spreadsheet with information about the social media presence of the 70 candidates for the Maine Senate in 2016, along with some additional contextual information. To download this information for personal use, click here for a Microsoft Excel file.
This sort of information changes all the time — if you have updated information about new accounts, please share a comment below to let me know, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m really excited today to roll out my second lesson plan for the political transparency website Open Maine Politics. OpenMEPolitics.com has been mashing together census, social media, newspaper and legislative data for some time now, and now it’s time for me to turn my attention to education. As a professor of social science, I have a vision of political data as a source for learning about issues of representation, gender, framing, and social network formation — but up to now it’s all been in my own head. Sharing lesson plans for undergraduate university students (and upper-level high school students) is a labor of love.
So, I’m glad to introduce Lesson Plan Two: Frame Alignment Operations in Political Testimony, complete with:
- References to Erving Goffman’s and David Snow’s theoretical work on frames and frame alignment!
- Examples drawing from obscenity laws and Lenny Bruce on trial!
- Primary Source Documents for students to find frames: testimony on bills before the Maine State Legislature!
- An Interactive Padlet where students can post their findings!
Oh, what fun. Give it a whirl, and if you like the gist of it, please feel free to use the lesson plan in your own work with students (a nice link for attribution is all I need.)
For some time now, I’ve been developing a website called Open Maine Politics that brings together information on the bills, the legislators, the votes, the sponsorships, the campaign contributions, and the political action committees of the Maine State Legislature and combines this information with insight regarding the social media communications of legislators and the characteristics of legislators’ districts as described by the U.S. Census Bureau.
My work with Open Maine Politics isn’t done (coming soon… lobbyist data!), but it’s matured to the extent that I’ve decided it’s time to share the website with others. Please take a look when you have a moment to spare and let me know what you think. Let me know especially how it can be improved!
A new feature this month that I hope to augment in future months is an area of the website designed to house lesson plans for high school and undergraduate university students. My first lesson plan at Open Maine Politics guides students through the concepts of descriptive and substantive representation, then challenges students to delve into actual legislative data and make both a judgment and a determination:
1) What bills before the current Maine State Legislature further the gender interests of either women or men?
2) Do women and men legislators tend to cluster their sponsorship of and votes for these bills along gender lines?
The second lesson plan I hope to introduce next month will use the Maine State Legislature as a location for students to discover processes of framing and frame alignment. I’m looking forward to the prospect already.
Within my academic discipline, public sociology is an approach that reaches out beyond classrooms and academic journals in attempt to engage with the broader world. I’m excited to be taking a small step down this path with a regular spot in the newspaper blog lineup for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel of central Maine. My first post there, already published, considers why Augusta’s status as a city might lead to an elevated report of its crime rate. Look for another post next month that discusses gender in the Maine State Legislature.
Maine friends and colleagues: I’ll be delivering a public lecture this upcoming Wednesday at the University of Maine at Augusta Katz Library. The subject is the Open Maine project, an effort to bring Maine state legislative information into the open information age. I’d love your feedback — and as usual for the UMA Research and Pedagogy series there will be nibbles.
Open Maine: Making Politics Social
A Presentation in the Research and Pedagogy Colloquium Series
James Cook, Assistant Professor of Social Science
Wednesday, April 22, 12 noon
University of Maine at Augusta Katz Library
“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories.” — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia
For most of Maine’s history, the records of its state politics have been officially accessible but practically unavailable. Before the internet age, information about the legislature was kept in side rooms and libraries at the State House in Augusta, making our collective decisions available only to those who had the time and money to stalk about the stacks.
In recent decades, the website of the Maine State Legislature has taken great strides toward making information about the Pine Tree State’s legislature, our legislation and our legislators available to all. Some roadblocks remain, however:
- Maine legislative information isn’t easily shared through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other forms of social media;
- Maine legislative information isn’t easily mixed and downloaded for analysis by academics, journalists, citizen bloggers or the curious;
- It isn’t easy for us to engage in conversation about legislation and legislators in the same environment where raw information is made available;
- It isn’t easy for us to create, post and share our assessments of our legislators based on transparent and verifiable standards.
This RaP colloquium at the University of Maine at Augusta will present the result of a Presidential Research Grant kick-starting Open Maine, an online civic engagement and education project to make Maine legislative politics shareable, mixable, downloadable, conversable, assessable and transparent. Presentation of the new platform and research outcomes will be followed by discussion and a brainstorm on future development. Students, staff, faculty and members of the public are welcome.
#LetMatthewTeach is a hashtag protesting the firing of a Nebraska Catholic school teacher for being gay. Last week, #LetMatthewTeach was one of the top three Twitter hashtags used by state legislators in Maine, two thousand miles away from the scene of the kerfuffle. Clearly, social media can bridge distance in some interesting ways. I describe some other trends in social media use by Maine state legislators last week in a post to the Open Maine Politics Blog.
Over the past year, I’ve been developing an Open Maine Politics website to mix, share and make social a variety of kinds of information about the Maine State Legislature. Campaign finance profiles for legislators are part of the developing picture, but this weekend I’m hitting a speed bump as inconsistencies in the Maine Ethics Commission’s official dataset force me to look more closely at each case and fix errors one by one. Cleaning the data feels like spring cleaning. At least the season’s right.
[Update: download a Press Release for this event here]
Dear Members of the Central Maine Community,
I am writing to let you know of an event happening on the University of Maine at Augusta campus this month. On Thursday, February 26, you have a chance to save someone’s life.
Right now, there are millions of people across the United States suffering from a variety of syndromes and cancers of the blood:
- Globoid-Cell Leukodystrophy
- Metachromatic Leukodystrophy
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
- Severe Combined Immunodeficiency
The names of these diseases are strange, but there’s a stark truth behind them: without a bone marrow transplant from a matching donor, these people will die. With a bone marrow transplant from a matching donor, many of these people will live.
The difference between life and death is you.
There is a way for you to save the life of someone suffering from one of the diseases listed above: join the Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry.
It’s quick, simple and painless: all you need to do is swab your cheek so a lab can figure out your bone marrow type.
It costs you nothing to join the registry if you’re in the age range for the healthiest marrow: 18-44 years of age.
If you are a match to save someone’s life, the Be the Match Foundation will pay all expenses associated with your donation.
The only way to fight these odds and save these individuals’ lives is to convince more members of our community to join the bone marrow registry. Only by signing up for the registry and spreading the word to our networks and circles can we make an impact on the current critical situation for people requiring bone marrow transplants. For these reasons, I urge you to attend the Bone Marrow Drive and join the Be The Match bone marrow registry. If you are outside the optimal age range of 18-44 to join the registry, please help spread the word.
The details for the UMA Bone Marrow Drive are:
- Thursday, February 26, 2014, 10 AM to 2 PM
- University of Maine at Augusta
- Randall Student Center Lobby (next to the bookstore and the cafe)
- Directions from the North: Take Interstate 95 south to exit 112, turn left off exit ramp. Go about .75 miles and turn right at the UMA entrance sign.
- Directions from the South: Take Interstate 95 north to Exit 112 A, turn right off exit ramp. Go about .75 miles and turn right at the UMA entrance sign.
- Event web page: http://wp.me/p5sjUK-29
- For more information on the National Bone Marrow Registry program: http://bethematch.org
All members of the Central Maine community are welcome.
If you have any questions about the Bone Marrow Drive taking place on Thursday, February 26, please feel free to contact me personally at email@example.com or 207-621-3190.
James Cook, Assistant Professor of Social Science
University of Maine at Augusta