The Joy Truck Project

At A Glance


Merrilee Schoen


Bangor, Maine

Primary Issue Area:

  • Living Economies

Active since:


Tax Status:

  • A boy wearing black shirt and black shorts stands to the far left of the Joy Truck where the length of the truck is painted with chalk paint. The boys back is turned to the photographer and he is concentrating on making marks. It is a sunny day in the summer, and the Joy Truck is parked in a green, grassy field.
  • The back of the Joy Truck with a blue sky behind it. Camera is focused on a circle logo that reads "Free" in the center. Around it are the words: nature library, clothes, books, time, narcan, art, wifi, storytelling, maps
  • Summer; the Joy Truck is parked in Derby with a white pop-up tent in front for shade and the chalk sign reading "Welcome to the Joy Truck" is visible. A woman sits with her children in chars, some on beanbags, under the tent listening to a story being read aloud.
  • Bean bags and locally made quilts are in the grass under the Joy Truck tent. Paper garlands hang from the tent and behind it the Joy Truck is parked- the side reads "traveling community resource center roaming the Maine Central Highlands". Children have drawn blue mountains and geometric lines on the truck chalk board.
  • A man in a blue shirt stands in the Joy Truck holding a jar from the nature library playing the nature library guessing game. There is a typewriter on a repurposed library card catalog and a small orange couch on the right. He is wearing a white mask.

Our Purpose

This project launched because of a shared belief that social change can be joyous. Currently the big picture goal is to explore ways to make the Joy Truck’s programming more collaborative and ownership more collective. The original wellspring that sparked this project marked a belief that the arts and alternative means of connecting could create a space of care in spaces that are so often underserved and so often deserving of care. The idea for the Joy Truck encompasses these goals for individual neighbors and youth but also for organziations that may struggle with rural outreach by being a kind of bridge between. The Joy Truck Project philosophy is loose however the mission to meet people and entities where they are, is unchanging. A major goal of this work is community engagement and better undertanding of local needs through gathering, through offering community stipends for neighbors to teach neighbors, through showing up repeatedly and consistently. Continuing to share resources openly, and emphasizing the rural fabric that threads this region of Maine naturally is an additional element to this project.