Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Nancy Raich
Nancy Raich is a contradance nut and a serious member of MOFGA’s Board. English photo.

By Marada Cook

To say that Nancy Raich contra­danced her way to Maine would be no exaggeration. In 1980 the reels and waltzes of her first contradance set her toes tapping to the beat of unstoppable wanderlust. The then 28-year-old Michigan native packed her car with her belongings and for a year and a half hopped from dance to dance, working her way across the country.

Nancy ‘do-si-doed’ Maine several times, passing close by yet never stopping to stay, until a brief spell as a farm hand in Orrington left her enchanted with the Pine Tree State. “I’ve always loved the snow, but winter in Michigan is very dreary. I finally decided to stay in Maine because the winters are so much sunnier.”

Nancy claims her enthusiasm for contradancing was ‘love at first sight.’ Unsurprisingly she met her partner, John McIntire, as she was teaching him how to ‘call’ contradances. Another contradance aficionado, John gave Nancy a ‘right hand around’ when they moved to the couple’s solar powered home on Crosby Brook Road, just a stone’s throw from MOFGA’s Unity site.

MOFGA proved more than happy to ‘swing their new neighbor’ when Nancy was nominated to the Board of Directors three years ago. “I was probably nominated because I live across the street,” Nancy says with a chuckle. At the Board’s meetings every two months, ‘the girl next door’ leaves her dancing shoes at home and takes on the responsibilities of secretary. “I was told I only had to include the actions and motions in the minutes,” Nancy explained, “but the minutes for the meetings are more than a record, they are the history of the process of getting to our decisions. I enjoy being able to track our progress through our discussions.”

Being secretary for the Board may keep her fingernails clean, but at the Common Ground Fair, Nancy is one of the first to grab a bag of garbage and ‘sashay’ herself down to the recycling tent. “I love sorting the trash,” Nancy comments with an air of satisfaction. “I think everyone should try it. They could get such a wonderful education about themselves and their world by simply taking a look at what gets thrown away.”

Nancy believes that the triangle of ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ should become more focused upon the first of its axioms, ‘Reducing.’ “If we don’t generate the waste to begin with, then is it really necessary to invest so much in reusing or recycling? Take Port-a- Potties for example. They are a tremendous waste of resources. I’d like to see every Port-A Potty disappear from the Fair, to be replaced with composting toilets. MOFGA is a leader in so many ways, its Fair should be a showcase for the nation.” To Nancy, becoming a national showcase includes the toilets, too.

Whether you’re discussing recycling at the Fair, the minutes of the latest Board Meeting, or those composting toilets, you’d better be quick on your toes if the fiddle starts up. Twenty years after the first fateful contradance that eventually led her to MOFGA’s front door, Nancy is still light on her feet and first on the floor – you just may be the partner she grabs!

MOF&G Cover Winter 2000-2001