Coffee on the Couch

with Stu Kestenbaum


April 14, 2020

We are honored that our first Coffee on the Couch guest is Maine's Poet Laureate, host of "Poems from Here" on Maine Public Radio, and beloved Deer Isle neighbor, Stuart Kestenbaum. He very kindly agreed to join us for this virtual first edition, and we hope you enjoy the conversation as much we did. Just click on Stu's photo to the right to listen to the conversation.

One person who comes to mind is Wes McNair, former Maine Poet Laureate. He's been very encouraging in terms of just supporting my efforts in writing, but also just the way that he can take a very universal, local Maine experience like... he has a poem about reading poetry to a grange meeting, and other people are displaying potholders and other things and how we might make a hierarchy of who's art is better but he just realizes that this is his audience, this is what he's meant to do and that everyones's work has a validity. I think just honoring the local in that way. 

— Stu, in response to 'Can you tell us about a mentor who has had a particular influence on you?'

Stu Kestenbaum Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts

Coffee on the Couch

with Liz Rimar


April 28, 2020

Elizabeth Anne Rimar is an actor, voice-over artist and nerd from Jersey City. Favorite credits include  Orlando, Shakespeare in Love  (Stonington Opera House),  The Life & Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby  (Lyric Stage Company), and  Pericles  (Actors’ Shakespeare Project). She is a featured voice actor on the radio drama podcast, Desperate Nightmares from Christ the King Missouri  (available on itunes). Elizabeth graduated from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and has trained with Shakespeare & Company and The Barrow Group.

It made me accept me more for who I was. I was trying to figure out who I was. I love fantasy and play, that's probably why I'm an actor. It set something in me that went— it's ok to do this. You can live in a world of fantasy and play. 

— Liz, in response to 'How did (Star Wars) make you more you?'

Coffee on the Couch

with Laura & Rufus


May 5, 2020

Laura (L) + Rufus (RM). We people, been doing creative stuff since we born. This is a creative company. L dances. Had a brief bout with arts visual, and now helps artists put'emselves out in the world. More about her later.*RM writes. Draws. Sometimes in trucks. Sometimes on them. Can cut on lines or off them, nail things together or bang them apart, sew stuff, etc. L President. RM also President. Both good secretaries, assistants, collaborators, supervisors, editors, you name its. L more digital / future. RM more analog / past.*L used to be in the corps de ballet and a union rep. at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. Also danced on a cruise ship. Has collaborated with Reid Farrington on lotsa shows since 2009. Makes shows with Jessica Nicoll too. Also used to work for Performance Space New York (PS122), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC).

My impulse in response to that is to almost show you. There's something about being in a place that's very familiar to you, or being in a new place, or being in a place that's familiar but having something change...those three different scenarios, I think, can be really great for movement exploration and seeing what your body actually does under different circumstances in different places. When I purposefully do some dance experiments in this place, that feels like the best way to start to understand how I might inhabit it, other times too, not just when I'm dancing... for me, its seeing about what's already there and then making choices to see how to add to it.

— Laura, in response to 'What does it mean to you to inhabit a place?'

Laur & Rufus Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts

Coffee on the Couch

with Ashley Pesek


May 12, 2020

Ashley Pesek is a native of Deer Isle and has built her career around being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  Ashley has a BA in Psychology from Hawaii Pacific University and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Maine Orono.  Throughout her career she has had the privilege in working in substance use disorder treatment, child welfare, suicide prevention and with those with severe an persistent mental illness.  Her current positions include Emergency Services Supervisor at AMHC and Director at the Opiate Free Island Partnership in Deer Isle/Stonington.  While her life's work gives her purpose, her life's bliss is her children.  Mom to 8, she has been taught by her children how to see the world through the discovering eyes of a six year old, respond to children with compassion and in a trauma informed way, and to parent with intention.  

Some of my most cherished moments have come from community conversations about how we're going to support graduates. This is such a major milestone, right? We have kids all over this county who are not going to get to participate in that in the same way all of the rest of us have forever— what a major disappointment with very little warning at a time when socially/emotionally it's developmentally appropriate for them to be with their peers and they can't be. So, they don't even have their support system. I'm seeing community members show up for them and brainstorm how do we honor them?

— Ashley, in response to 'What responses are you seeing that are inspiring to the current pandemic?'

AshleyPesek Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts

Coffee on the Couch

with Dennis Duquette


May 19, 2020

Dennis Duquette has amassed an educational career that spans several decades. He began his career as a history teacher, then taught language arts before moving into the administrative side of education. He has served as a vice principal and principal at the high school level, as well as in the role of superintendent, mostly in the state of Massachusetts. He is currently the principal of Deer Isle-Stonington High School.


We have fun. Students and parents are in the windows, leaving notes in the coolers. It's a feeling that's so positive, that so many people care that you don't mind the work...I'm proud of the island, I'm proud of the people, the donations. So much about it is having a sense of humor and a positive attitude.

— Dennis, in response to '"Can you tell us a little more about the food deliveries

you're doing for your students during the pandemic?

Dennis Duquette Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts

Coffee on the Couch

with Rich Howe


May 26, 2020

Rich Howe is a reformed (and retired) attorney and investment banker.  Following graduation from law school in 1967, he spent 21 years in Cleveland and 5 years in Boston in those careers. Rich and his wife Mary moved to Stonington in 1992 and founded and ran Penobscot Bay Provisions for 5 years before turning the business over to others.  Rich has been an active participant in the not-for-profit world of the Island and Peninsula.  He is currently on the Boards of Bagaduce Music and Memorial Ambulance Corps. and as well as serving as a Life Trustee of Haystack Mt. School of Crafts and an Emeritus Trustee of Opera House Arts.  Rich and Mary have two wonderful daughters happily married to two great guys and four well above average grandchildren.

One of my favorite boards I had been on was the Haystack board... it was a board composed mostly of artists, or art teachers, or people whose talents I respected and admired and didn't have. But discovering that I did have some talents I could contribute to that which were financial analysis, business kinds of ideas, so it was a mutuality of learning. 

— Rich, in response to '"How has serving on nonproifit boards nourished you?"

RichHowe Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts

Coffee on the Couch

with Kyra Alex


June 2, 2020

Kyra founded Ready By 21 Mentoring in 2011 after 15 years as the chef and owner of Lily’s Cafe in Stonington. Upon closing the cafe to further pursue her passions, it quickly became apparent to her that she would most miss working with island youth. Tending to her heartfelt connection to the earth and its inherent sources of joy, she is grateful for her place of belonging on the island and the opportunity to support young people in developing meaningful relationships.

That's what we are trying to get the kids to remember— that they are worth tending to themselves. 

— Kyra, in response to ""How did you decide to intertwine gardening with the mentoring program?"

Kyra Alex Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts

Coffee on the Couch

with Carla Guenther


June 10, 2020

Carla Guenther is Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries’ Chief Scientist. After studying lobster behavior at Woods Hole, MA she decided to test the waters of Baja California, Mexico where she learned about a special form of community-based co-management. Inspired by fishermen’s level of organization and management structure, Carla gained her PhD in Marine Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She engaged Santa Barbara’s commercial lobster fleet while conducting interviews for her doctoral research on Marine Protected Area impacts on socio-economics, reef ecology, and fishing behavior. These interviews became the basis of her communication with the rest of California’s commercial lobster fleet and fostered the fishery’s application for Marine Stewardship Council Certification, proposed legislation for self-funding lobster management science, and voluntary fishery-collection of biological data for use in the first stock assessment of California spiny lobster populations.  Educated in oceanography, ecology, and anthropology, Carla approaches fisheries management with a focus on fishing communities. Carla lives in Deer Isle with her husband Dominic and daughter Cameron.

I remember when Sally Ride, the first female astronaut, went up into space, I remember I wanted to be the first female astronaut— I cried my eyes out when Sally Ride was the first woman in space and that woman's first wasn't mine to have.
— Carla, in response to '"What drew you to science as a child?

Carla Guenther Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts

Coffee on the Couch

with Julia Zell


June 24, 2020

Julia is a life-long lover of the outdoors and passionate about conservation. Some of her favorite times on the preserves are during the winter, covered in snow, and accessed by cross-country skis. Originally from the mountains of Vermont and with a background as an artist whose work was often informed by the natural environment, she looks to bring her creativity to Development. Through fostering strong relationships with the surrounding community, Julia works to build deep connections and raise the funds necessary to protect and care for Deer Isle’s trails, shoreline, and islands, as well as run the programs that connect people to these lands.

I love how present it forces you to be. The tides— it's this cycle twice a day that affects so much even if you're not on the water... I feel like the weather and the circumstances of the climate here really force you to be present with the natural cycles.

Julia, in response to '"What is it about the natural world here that speaks to you?

Julia Zell Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts

Coffee on the Couch

with Jill Larrabee


July 1, 2020

Jill Larrabee took the job of director at The Stonington Public Library in the winter of 2019. Before that she was a stay at home mom to the 3 children she shares with her husband, a local fisherman for almost 15 years. She has lived in Stonington for her entire life and graduated from the local high school. Her work as the Stonington Librarian started as a volunteer and is a true passion for her. She finds much joy in helping members of the community, working with other local organizations, and planning programs for children. Her favorite books include: Flowers in the Attic, The World According to Garp, and Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day.

Jill Larrabee Coffee on the Couch Opera House Arts