Have you ever thought about gaining a new source of income through growing mussels, oysters, or seaweed? The Island Institute is now accepting applications for its 2019 Aquaculture Business Development (ABD) program. Now in its fourth year, the free program helps fishermen and those from fishing communities gain the tools they need to diversify and launch their small-scale aquaculture businesses. The Island Institute is looking to work with coastal and island residents who are highly motivated to start their shellfish or seaweed aquaculture businesses within the next two years. Applications are being accepted through March 14th.

January 28, 2019

Aquaculture & Marine

Already Ready: Maine's Outer Island Schools and the Pandemic

"I can help" is a phrase that the students and teachers of Maine's smallest and most remote island schools have been saying a lot lately. They are coming to the aid of frustrated parents and teachers as they sit in front of their computers feeling overwhelmed, maybe even in tears, trying to figure out Zoom or Google Classroom for the first time. These island helpers are experts in learning online, thanks in part to the Outer Islands Teaching and Learning Collaborative* (or TLC). That expertise has allowed them to more smoothly shift to the new educational reality that all schools and families are finding themselves in, and to provide assistance and reassurance to their mainland colleagues and family members.

Maine's artists and makers respond to community need

If we had lost sight of our sense of community during the digital age, perhaps a silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic may be that we are once again finding value in these connections. It’s ironic that this is happening during a time of forced or self-imposed social distancing, and yet our state’s artists and makers are just one example of a community of people stepping up to fulfill important needs during this uncertain time.

Finding Solutions to Keep Maine’s Islands Connected

Sixty-one percent of Maine’s population lives outside of an urban area. By this statistic (available with many more about the communities along the coast of Maine in Waypoints: Connect, Maine is the most rural state in the nation. In rural areas, accessing basic supplies and services can sometimes be a challenge. However, living on an island, accessibility takes on a whole new meaning. Maine’s unbridged islands rely on ferry services, water-taxis, and air service. These services are a vital resource; they are a lifeline to the mainland, providing a critical service for both medical emergencies and supply chains for island grocery stores.

Commercial Currents Podcast: Business in Uncertain Times—44 North

Small businesses everywhere are struggling to make sense of the current world. To understand how these businesses are doing, we are launching a series of short conversations with Maine's island and coastal small businesses as a way to check in with local businesses and find out what's working well and where the bright spots are in this confusing world. In this first interview with Deer Isle-Stonington's 44 North Coffee, owners Melissa Raftery and Megan Wood talk about the changes they've made to keep business going.

Stimulus resources and support for Maine's island and coastal communities

We live in new times. The recently approved $2.2 trillion aid package (CARES Act) is more than two and a half times the size of the 2008 stimulus package, the largest in history at that time. With money flowing out to communities hit by the pandemic at an unprecedented level, we are here to help make sense of how to access funding and do our best to connect you, your business, and your organization to those resources. We want Maine communities and businesses to get their fair share of these funds.

Staying connected in unprecedented times

Staying connected during this unprecedented time is crucial. Whether it is attempting to continue your work from your home, keeping your child learning by connecting them to resources or to their teachers virtually, or staying in touch with family, now is the time when we have to shift away from in-person interactions to the virtual realm. But with at least 85,000 households in Maine lacking broadband, connecting can be more of a challenge for some than others.

Commercial Currents: How Are You?

How are you? We don’t ask that enough these days, and it’s the most important question we can ask in troubling times. This is a hard time for everyone, but we know as Mainers we will get through this. It won’t be easy, but we will come out on the other side. As you work through the impact of this international shutdown on your business, know that there are resources available at the federal, state, and local level. In this blog, we highlight some of these and invite you to contact us with any questions regarding access to funding, what might be right for you, or what type of assistance you should be looking for.

In times of crisis, activate networks, listen, and act

In times of crisis, those most prepared can quickly activate established networks to deploy resources and provide support. As the COVID-19 pandemic began to reach Maine, the Island Institute turned to the Maine Islands Coalition (MIC), a network with a 17-year history of helping to solve problems in the year-round islands of Maine. While there are always one or two remote participants in the coalition’s quarterly meetings, Friday, March 20th was the first time in MIC history when the entire coalition came together virtually. The MIC Representatives, joined by other island officials, were asked to answer the questions, “What is your community doing well in responding to the threat of COVID-19, and what resources do you need?”