Becca: Dear Nate, how did you end up here, of all places on earth? And what do you love about Rockland?

Nate: Ooh, I love telling people what I love about Rockland. I grew up in New Hampshire and was casually familiar with the Maine coast from family trips. My wife Chelsea and I decided to get married in 2008 and were living in Wisconsin at the time. Chelsea wanted the wedding to be on the coast somewhere, and somehow she found out about the Children’s Chapel in Rockport. So we rented out the LimeRock Inn in Rockland for our immediate families, got married at the Children’s Chapel, then went back to Wisconsin. After Chelsea finished school, we had to decide where to live. We remembered what a great time we had here (and could afford to buy a house here), so we came back. I love: the harbor, the bog, the restaurants, the way everyone rubs shoulders in a small geographical area, the mixture of industry and art, of yuppies and laborers, and the tension that sometimes results. What do you love about Rockland?

Becca: Nate, rubbing shoulders is not allowed during the pandemic! I want to say that I hate yuppies though I am rapidly becoming one myself — while also being a “laborer.” And I do love yuppies’ trash. I grew up here, as you know— a schooner rat, racing around rusty anchors and rubble at the North End Shipyard — and in Camden with its plush mountains, tourists and glitz. I was here when MBNA foisted its corporate green and tan “We are family” template on Camden, then Rockland and Belfast. As a teen I was all about getting out as soon as I could. But I always kept coming back home, and when I moved back formally, Rockland was of course where I wanted to be. I worry about artificial boundaries, this idea of towns being vastly distinct from one another, and yet, community identity can help shape policy and behaviors that stop a place from losing its fire. Some areas in Maine have had much of their fire sucked out of them, and Rockland still has it. Give me dirt over glitz, reality over artifice. Give me a place that will fight for its most poor, its most marginalized, its most downtrodden.

Nate: I love the idea of Rockland still having fire! It does, and it hasn’t yet surrendered completely to some mushy consensus vision of a nice coastal summer town. It seems like whenever something happens here, people get upset — which is wonderful, because it shows that people still care. And though it’s taken me most of a year to find my footing on City Council, I am trying to be a consistent voice for the poor and marginalized and downtrodden. Becca, how are you feeling about the November election? Hopeful? Trepidatious?

Becca: Omg well, let’s just say I’m worried about all the right-wingers who have been urgently amassing ammo and AR-15s. I’m worried about people hearing initial Election Day results and thinking it’s final — even though many millions of people will be voting absentee and those votes may take days to process. I’m worried because once again the presidential election comes down to a few states because of the Electoral College system. I am not excited nor even hopeful about a Biden presidency, and yet, maybe he’s just middle of the road white milquetoast enough to appeal to Republicans and Independents who aren’t happy with what is now the Trumplican Party. On a more local level — and this is where it gets exciting — I will be thrilled if we oust Susan Collins, who largely serves corporations and has voted to get rid of my health care. Also exciting is the $15/hour wage vote in Rockland. It’s actually a fairly mild policy — the $15/hour won’t even be in effect until 2024 (will the planet still be here then, I don’t know), and only for people who work at places with 25 or more workers. Still, I hope it passes as it will help workers feed their kids. Et tu?

Nate: This is the first election in my lifetime that I am genuinely afraid of, not because of any particular candidate, but because whatever happens, we’re going to collectively continue tearing ourselves apart. That’s not mealy-mouthed “both sides are equally bad” pablum; it’s real fear. I listen to the rhetoric of right-wingers who claim that Democratic victories will set the United States on an irreversible path to chaos and oppression, and I just don’t recognize their world. And they probably don’t recognize my world. And it’s terrifying that there’s no obvious path to reconciliation. Actually, I take that back: Maybe there’s no obvious, broad, tree-lined, public path to reconciliation, but there are private paths we all can take, and maybe that is the only solution.