Colby Club Spotlight: brewing club and Roosevelt Institute set to make a splash

When students have a finger on the pulse of current policy, social trends, and commerce, it can broaden perspective and foster a deeper connection with the surrounding community. Two of the new clubs recently approved by SGA, Colby Brewing Club and the Colby Chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, both allow students to interact with and understand the surrounding area in unique ways.

Colby Brewing Club, founded by Evan Dwyer ’18 and Tyler Macdonald ’18, seeks to give Colby students an opportunity to engage with local breweries and learn more about the brewing process.

“We are hoping to have a tour or a tasting once a month and just try to get some connection with the Maine brew scene,” said Macdonald. “It’s an opportunity to get people to these local breweries and fermenters.”

For Dwyer, an interest in brewing stemmed from his experience in a brewing club while studying abroad in New Zealand.

“They had amazing facilities to brew and that was the first time I ever brewed beer,” recounted Dwyer. “I loved it and ever since then I started wanting to learn more and more about the processes behind brewing and what makes good beer or bad beer.”

In addition to exploring local breweries, Dwyer and Macdonald are hoping to find brew space so that students will be able to develop their own brewing skills. The club will not be limited to beer, and will allow students to cultivate an interest in any area of brewing.

“The main thing we’re trying to get out of it is the skills to be able to experiment with different recipes and sort of understand what the different parts of the brewing process do,” said Dwyer. “Another reason I really wanted to create this club was sharing each other’s experiences in brewing…to be able to give feedback to improve your own brewing skills.”

Dwyer and Macdonald also plan on partnering with skilled local brewers for instruction and mentorship. They have reached out to several area brewers, including one who will be opening a brewery in Waterville.

“Something that we’re really pushing for is to have these brewers who own successful breweries give us advice,” explained Macdonald. “We are really excited about that and we are hoping to get some enthusiasm.”

Macdonald also stressed the value of the club as a way to learn more about the hospitality industry and business ownership.

“One of the really important things we’re able to do is connect with local businesses in the Waterville and Maine area, and that’s something that we don’t really have on campus yet,” said Macdonald.

“We don’t have anywhere for students to go and talk about what it’s like to own your own small business or run a successful business like a brewery,” Macdonald continued “You don’t necessarily have to want to start a brewery to get some important questions answered.”

While brewing and tastings will be limited to students 21 and older, all are welcome to join and to attend tours and other events. Contact Dwyer (erdwyer@colby.edu), or Macdonald (tyler.Macdonald@colby.edu) for more information or to join the club’s email list.

Another recently approved club on campus, the Colby Chapter of the Roosevelt Institute, also seeks to engage students with the community. The club is connected to the Roosevelt Institute, a national non-profit organization that encourages critical thinking about local policy to inspire change.

Founded by Ian Baum ’20, the club will be the first chapter of the Roosevelt Institute at any Maine college.

“The Roosevelt Institute is a national network of over 140 campuses across the country, which includes over 10,000 students,” explained Baum. “The goal is to train students in how to use public policy to make progressive change in their communities.”

An economics and government major, Baum was drawn to the mission of the Roosevelt Institute and partnered with the club’s faculty advisor, Professor of Economics Patrice Franko, to bring it to Colby.

“I thought it would be a great thing to bring here considering our strong social science programs,” said Baum. “I think [it will be well suited to] anybody who is really interested in having a very results-oriented public policy and achieving public policy victories for progressive causes.”

Since the club is tied to a national organization, a curriculum is provided to guide students in writing public policy and there will be opportunities for students to get published in Roosevelt Institute’s policy journal.

“They basically teach you how to research and write policy, and then the second half of the year they teach you how to map institutions and look at stakeholders and assess how changes can best be made,” explained Baum.

Although a framework is provided, the College chapter has autonomy to choose what actions they want to take. After the first meeting last week, possible initiatives include encouraging Colby students to vote and getting involved with state, local, and campus policies.

“A lot of times there are things done at the local and state level that really have a direct impact on people’s lives but get overshadowed nationally,” commented Baum. “And the Roosevelt Institute’s national philosophy is that they want you to be able to be versed in public policy, but they also want something actionable.”

The slogan of the Roosevelt Institute “reimagine the rules,” reinforces the organization’s creative approach to influencing local policy.

“I think ‘reimagine the rules’ is really about innovation and thinking outside the box in terms of solutions,” said Baum.

This year Baum plans to listen to the interests of members to determine more specific goals for policy work and customize the curriculum. He will also continue to coordinate with the regional and national heads of the Roosevelt Institute as Colby’s chapter develops.

“Roosevelt Institute gives you a real process for writing policy and making change in a way that I think really separates it from other clubs,” said Baum. “Because it’s a national network we know what we’re doing works because it has worked in other places.”