Major: Anthropology and Environmental Studies
Hometown: Waldoboro, Maine
Bowdoin College was saddened to learn that Joel Cartwright ‘06 passed away on June 27, 2008. His profile remains here as a tribute to this valued student, classmate, and friend, and to all that he accomplished during his life.
Service Learning Participation
How did you first get involved in service at Bowdoin?
Leading by example, my parents fostered in me the need to give back something to whatever community I am a part of. When I came to Bowdoin I looked for ways to get involved and joined many groups on campus such as Sustainable Bowdoin, Global Help, and Special Friends. I found my true passion in helping to start an organic garden at Bowdoin, which in its first year of operation provided almost $2000 worth of fresh vegetables to the local soup kitchen, as well as hundreds of pounds of produce to campus dining halls. We also assisted in harvesting at Crystal Spring Farm, a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. Through this project I met Susie Dorn and the other great people at the Community Service Resource Center, who helped me and have gotten me involved with other activities. I have combined my interest in people, community and the environment by supporting local agriculture, participating in clean-ups of local waterways and shores, working to protect open space and trying to minimize the waste output of the college. I have tried in my classes and academic work to do things that have a practical use; such as a study of town management of clamming that was read by state officials and the towns involved in the study.
What have you gained from your service experiences and working in the community?
Through my work on community projects, I have met incredible people and learned things that I would never have found in the academic world. I learned that no matter their age, occupation or background people are all interesting in their own way. I learned that Brunswick is full of people who are committed to creating a strong and vibrant community and I feel that I have helped them in some small way. I have worked with the Harpswell Fire Department to get rid of brown-tailed moths, split wood at Wolfe's Neck Farm, brought mentally disabled people bowling, worked with town officials on current environmental and public health issues, and helped to build a park in a poor neighborhood in the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Because of my service experiences I have a greater appreciation for where I went to college and the people that I have met.
What does it mean to serve the common good?
To me, serving the common good means following your passions and using them to help others. I believe that a happy person is the most effective tool for making positive changes in the world. I look to inspirational figures such as Paul Farmer, who has performed small miracles in treating TB in Peru, Haiti and other places around the world. I see my mother, who cares for everyone around her, no matter how many problems they have or how difficult they are to relate to. I see my father, who devotes endless hours to the community. Doing things for others makes me feel a stronger connection with the people around me and gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment that I have not found with anything else. I will continue to work, as I have worked since I discovered the world was not a perfect place, to change minds and policies on issues that I care about. I will try to live simply and effectively and hope that my life will stand as a measure of the love I feel for the people I know and the place I live.