Merry Barn celebrates first year success; 2020 events

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 8:00am

The  Merry Barn received huge support in its first year as a literacy center and community gathering space. A year ago, we could not have imagined the magic that has already unfolded.

The 2019 highlights began with its official opening on June 29. Followed by Community Writes! — an afternoon to share stories of the Merry Barn; Summer Writing Adventures for Kids, ages 7-13. Kids sketched in the wildflowers, wrote memoirs, poetry, graphic novels, and persuasive pieces. We sang, performed, and created art together. Three incredible children’s book authors visited with us and helped us fill our notebooks with the secrets of their craft. A thousand thanks to Jennifer Richard Jacobson, Ellen Potter, and Charlotte Agell – you inspire us.

2019 Honor Award from Maine Preservation. On Nov. 20, members of the design and renovation team accepted this prestigious honor at a reception at the Portland Country Club. The Merry Barn was one of a dozen preservation projects, honored alongside Reny’s, for its continued commitment to preserving the history and beauty of Maine’s main streets.

Teacher Retreats. We have begun hosting groups of educators for off-site professional learning. We kick off the day with inspiration around writing or reading, provide a hearty lunch, snacks, and plenty of chocolate. Groups focus on school-based and individual learning.

Writing Coaching & Editing Support. Centered on personal and professional writing aspirations, coaching sessions are tailored to writers of all ages and abilities.

Individualized Instruction in Literacy. Designed in partnership with families and schools, interventions and extensions build on the strengths of each child and chart a course toward growth.

Literacy Consultation and Graduate Coursework. Offered in schools and at the Merry Barn, consulting plans and courses are developed with teachers and districts around an array of literacy topics.

The second year kicks off with the first three-day February Vacation Adventure: “Circus Stories: Read Them, Write Them Become Them!”  a partnership with Learning on the Move, of Boothbay Harbor. Campers will read circus literature and lore, write wordless picture books, design circus posters, and practice circus arts -- juggling scarves, feathers, and balls, and performing like circus stars. Flyer and registration are at

Community Literacy Events. Beginning in February, each month will feature a different selection of top-notch children’s literature, and an opportunity for family and friends to enjoy and create together. Free and open to the public.

We are committed to providing financial assistance for any child who wants to attend a Summer or Vacation Writing Adventure, and to providing free Community Literacy Events throughout the year. We believe strongly that there should be no barriers to finding one’s voice.

Donations are gratefully accepted to support these efforts; and an online donation mechanism will be available with the update of our website later this month.

We are currently working on partnerships to expand our offerings in writing, and to further integrate the multitude of art forms alive and well in the Midcoast. We are also exploring opportunities to integrate creativity and wellness. We welcome any and all ideas from our friends.