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As a native of Houlton, I was disheartened to read that the Houlton Parks and Recreation Advisory Board rejected Dick Rhoda’s gift of a proposed meditative walking path for Riverfront Park, saying it is not a good fit to represent the park. With the board’s mission to promote recreational activities, it is unclear why it sees America’s Peace Labyrinth not aligning with that goal.
Belfast, where I live, has its own labyrinth, which was funded with contributions from our local hospital, the Maine Community Foundation and other businesses, organizations and individuals. It is sited similarly to Riverfront Park on our community common overlooking Belfast Harbor, and it is a popular attraction that brings people together peacefully. Houlton Town Councilor Eileen McLaughlin’s concerns about labyrinths as depicted in fantasy and horror films was particularly odd, given the peaceful purpose of labyrinths and their health benefits: reduction of anxiety, lowering of blood pressure and breathing rates, relief of chronic pain and enhancement of powers of concentration.
At this moment in time, when war is raging in Ukraine and so many of us feel divided politically, when we live with the existential fear of climate catastrophe and are experiencing economic stress from inflation and banking instability, what better use of public space than a labyrinth that brings people together for calming and peaceful meditation. I urge the Houlton Town Council to overturn the decision of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and to accept with grace Rhoda’s generous offer. Give peace a chance!