Commercial Currents: Life and Business Balance—Part 1

The holiday season is hectic for everyone but even more so for small business owners. If you own a retail business, this may be your biggest month of the year. For some businesses, much of their year-end profit is realized in the month of December. Other business owners have just come off of a hectic summer and fall season, and now they just want to rest and recover. So, it stands to reason that, at the end of the year, many small business owners often find themselves wondering how they can achieve better work/life balance. Now is a good time to step back from the daily operations of your business and reflect on how you manage your personal time.

Island Teachers Learn about Maine’s Workforce Crisis

Credential of Value. It’s a fairly new term in the world of education and workforce development and can mean different things depending on where you live and what vocational opportunities you have access to. According to MaineSpark, a statewide workforce development initiative powered by a coalition of education and business leaders, a credential of value is training or education beyond a high school diploma that leads to a job in the current economy.

Where are they now? Marshall Cove Aquaculture on Islesboro

Earlier this fall, we caught up with Josh and Shey Conover, owners of Islesboro Marine and founders of Marshall Cove Aquaculture. Shey worked at the Island Institute from 2004-2017, and we helped her and Josh start their mussel farm on the northwest side of Islesboro through the second round of our Aquaculture Business Development program in 2016. Since then, they have expanded their work and took a moment to fill us in on their upcoming plans.

Fate of Maine's ferry service and island communities closely linked

By their nature, island communities are beholden to the ferries that serve them, and the ferry schedule, timing, number of trips, and cost all have an impact on island life. In 'The Working Waterfront' and the Island Institute blog, we have covered how changes in the Maine State Ferry Service (MSFS) are impacting Islesboro and the other islands served by them. With recent policy changes, new ferries coming online, and concerns over fare increases, it's important to recognize that the communities served by the ferry service are all unique and dependent on it in their own way, and that decisions about the future of Maine’s ferries should be based on a shared understanding.

Five Lessons Learned from the TLC

Through its inter-island peer network, the community of the Outer Islands Teaching & Learning Collaborative (TLC) creates a lifeline of support for students and teachers in order to sustain Maine’s one- and two-room island schools. This support takes shape through teacher-to-teacher and teacher-to-student interaction, as well as student-to-student support and community outreach. As Ian Collins of our Education team writes, there are valuable lessons one can learn about the importance of connections, collaboration, and what it means to be a TLC student and teacher.

2018 Island Teachers Conference Photo Gallery

The 2018 Island Teachers Conference took place Thursday, October 4th and Friday, October 5th at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, Maine.

The theme of the conference was "Moving Forward Together."

Educators from the coast of Maine attended and exhibited at the conference and lead workshops and presentations on a wide-range of topics, including: place and project-based learning through collaboration, creative expression, social issues, STEM education, and more!

View photos from the 2018 event above!

Islanders Share Energy Challenges and Solutions at Great Lakes Summit

At the 2nd annual Great Lakes Islands Summit, held October 1-2, 2018 in Madeline Island, Wisconsin, islanders and leaders from around the Great Lakes region and beyond gathered to discuss the unique challenges of living, working, and playing on islands. This year’s summit focused on topics relevant to all island communities, including water levels, affordable housing, energy production, and economic survival. During the energy breakout session, energy experts and community members shared energy challenges as well as ideas and solutions for addressing them.

The Importance of Finding your Voice in an Arts-Based Business

In my role as director of Archipelago, the Island Institute's store and gallery, I’ve seen many artists come through the door wanting to know the nuts and bolts of starting or growing a business. Artists bring in their portfolio, product, or both, and want opinions on pricing, market, or feedback on their work. While this is great, sometimes I need to ask them to step back in order to move forward successfully. For me, one of the first things I notice is do they know who they are? Do they have a voice? For whatever product you’re selling and whatever business you’re starting or growing—you’ll need to find customers. Telling a good story draws like-minded customers to you, and that all starts with your voice.

A new year of Fellowship

Recently, when talking about the Fellows program I was asked, “Just how do you prepare someone for a year of living and working in an island or rural community?” Since 1999, the Island Institute has supported over 120 Fellows, and in those years, we've learned a little about what it takes to support the work and life of a Fellow. Learn more about our process and goals, meet this year's Fellows, and read about the projects they're working on in their respective communities.