American Roundtable: Labor, Landscapes, and Legacies, River Valley, Maine

Editors Aaron Cayer and Kerri Arsenault present the report Labor, Landscapes, and Legacies and discuss key themes and findings with report contributors.

March 5, 2021
12:00 p.m.

Maine’s River Valley. Credit: Aaron Cayer.

American Roundtable is an Architectural League initiative bringing together on-the-ground perspectives on the condition of American communities and what they need to thrive going forward.

In the early twentieth century, Rumford, Mexico, and the other communities of Maine’s River Valley rapidly grew around a massive paper mill. Today, this mill’s future is uncertain, and its legacies of extraction, toxicity, and labor strife continue to shape the region’s environment, health, and social fabric. How can a town, long defined by a single industry, confront its past? How might it imagine and construct a future centered on a new identity?

Join editors Aaron Cayer and Kerri Arsenault, as they share findings and highlights from their American Roundtable report, “Labor, Landscapes, and Legacies.” Their informal presentation will be followed by discussion on some of the report’s key ideas and provocations with American Roundtable Project Director Nicholas Anderson and League Executive Director Rosalie Genevro, as well as some of the report contributors. Read the full Labor, Landscapes, and Legacies report on Maine’s River Valley, which includes contributions by Arsenault and Cayer, as well as Nina Elder, John Freeman, Elizabeth Kaney, Tom Leytham, Steve Norton & N.B.Aldrich.

Learn more about the American Roundtable Initiative.

Aaron Cayer is an architectural historian and Assistant Professor of Architecture History at the University of New Mexico. He was raised and educated in Rumford, Maine, the largest town in the River Valley.

Kerri Arsenault grew up in the River Valley, and she is a book critic, the book review editor for Orion Magazine, contributing editor at The Literary Hub, and author of Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains.


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