YARMOUTH — Sammy Potter wants to know where others find hope and how they use it to make a positive impact.

This question will be the center of his inaugural Day of Hope on Dec. 2.

“I really feel that the idea of hope and seeing where people find their hope is so prevalent today,” Potter, a Yarmouth High School senior, said. “(Day of Hope) is definitely a result of these kinds of tumultuous times that we live in.”

The event will be held in the high school auditorium and will feature seven Ted-style talks from 1-3:30 p.m., followed by a 30-minute reception where attendees can ask questions.

Potter began thinking of what hope means to varying mindsets and political viewpoints when he was interning for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, last semester in Washington, D.C.

“I had a community of fellow interns who really represented a wide diversity of ideas and varying political opinions from across the country,” Potter said. After returning from Washington, Potter traveled to Israel with a group of pluralistic Jews.

“I wanted to do something that brought this spirit of having an open marketplace for ideas home to Maine to try to share what I gained while I was in D.C. and Israel,” Potter said.

Potter, who identifies politically as an independent, said he’s found a sense of unity in what brings people hope – regardless of political views.

“The worst thing we can do is be comfortable living in a homogeneous society,” Potter said.

As for himself, Potter finds hope in potential.

“We have this awesome chunk of paradise with beautiful natural resources and hardworking people, but we’ve also got some really big problems,” he said. “I get hope from the potential of solving those problems.”

Potter said the purpose of the Day of Hope is to hear from innovators who are working towards a better, brighter future here in Maine.

Speakers will include Maine immigration attorney Leslie Silverstein, former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, Maine Accelerates Growth CEO Jess Knox, musician Spencer Albee, state Sen. Cathy Breen, Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, and Matthew Gagnon, CEO of the Maine Heritage Policy Center. Each will speak about where they find hope in turbulent times.

“These are speakers that represent very diverse ideas. Some of them have very conflicting ideas for how to improve the state with one another,” Potter said. “… One of the things I think is really dangerous in a community like Yarmouth, and in Southern Maine too, is the potential to become echo chambers of our own ideas and opinions.”

Admission to the Day of Hope is $7 for adults and $5 for ages 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased at the event’s web page.

All proceeds will be donated to Preble Street, which provides services to, and advocates for, people experiencing problems with homelessness, housing, hunger, and poverty.

Although Potter plans to attend college next year, he envisions Day of Hope continuing in his absence.

“My hope, no pun intended, is that this event will continue every year,” he said. “I feel very devoted to this state … this Day of Hope is really emblematic and microcosmic of the society we want to build in Maine.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Student Sammy Potter will host a Day of Hope on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Yarmouth High School.

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