Focus and action: reporting back on priorities

Sue Bernier
Posted 2020-12-21

In March, as the entire nation began to adapt to what it meant to work, study, and stay at home, the Island Institute began to take action.

In a March 25th Field Notes article in The Working Waterfront, Island Institute President Rob Snyder outlined our immediate response to the urgent needs of our communities, including how to support those in need of food and shelter. Many of our own donors responded to the request to support local food banks and related social services, and we extend a shared sense of gratitude from the nonprofit organizations along the coast and in our state.

That same article also outlined three priorities for minimizing potentially catastrophic community and economic disruptions to Maine’s coast:

  • Pass Maine’s $15 million broadband bond question in July.
  • Catalyze resilient community leaders.
  • Support small businesses, including influencing policy making and leveraging technology.

We delivered. We made—and continue to make—a very real difference on the islands, in our coastal communities, and throughout Maine. Below you will find several short, casual conversations between Rob Snyder and a few of our strategic leaders, addressing the accomplishments above and the challenges ahead.

I invite you to click, watch, and listen to the stories from our people on the ground—and in your community—working to build resilient communities and mobilize courageous leaders.

These short videos help report back on our promises made in March and share our optimism for 2021.


Nick Battista, Senior Policy Officer, shares our excitement about winning the broadband bond vote in July and what’s next for broadband in Maine.

Climate Change

Despite the pandemic, the state’s leading experts created a Climate Action Plan for Maine. Suzanne MacDonald, Chief Community Development Officer, discusses how we turn climate plans into climate action at the Island Institute. Read the full plan here.

The Marine Economy

Fourth-generation lobsterman-turned-academic, Sam Belknap, Senior Community Development Officer, gives a brief overview of what we learned from this year’s fishing season and reasons to be optimistic for our marine-based economy.


Our work includes a mix of immediate priorities and long-term solutions, all oriented toward mobilizing leaders to confront change. Karen Burns, Chief Leadership Officer, talks about the new challenges facing community leaders.

How you can help

Finally, I share the two things you can do today to support our work to build resilient communities in Maine.