Conversations for Action: Strengthening Community Resilience in the Aftermath of Storms

Abby Roche & Brenna Cohen, Community Development Officers
Posted 2024-01-30

In the aftermath of three major storm events, one in December and consecutive occurrences in January, conversations across the state are now focusing on planning to enhance community resilience in anticipation of future storms. Residents are now actively seeking information and connections to prepare their communities to weather the anticipated challenges ahead. 

On January 24, Island Institute, the Gulf of Maine Research Institution (GMRI), and A Climate to Thrive (ACTT) collaborated on a resilience workshop tailored for the towns of Bar Harbor, Tremont, Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert, and the Cranberry Isles. With an impressive turnout exceeding 30 attendees and a distinguished lineup of nine presenters, the workshop attracted a diverse cohort of participants, ranging from community leaders to dedicated municipal staff, all sharing a commitment to bolstering planning efforts. 

Resilience in the face of rising sea levels and severe storms necessitates innovative approaches that foster collaborative capacity. Recognizing this necessity, the workshop was designed as an opportunity for participants to forge connections. Small-group conversations, networking opportunities, and informal group discussions created a dynamic and collaborative environment. This provided a platform for attendees to share knowledge and insights, promoting effective community planning and resilience. 

This highly interactive workshop was centered around important climate resiliency resources available to communities. Topics ranged from land use planning and community decarbonization to ecosystem health to mental wellness. Participants were eager to engage with presenters from Sunrise County Economic Council, The Musson Group, JustME for JustUS, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Schoodic Institute, A Climate to Thrive, EcoPsychology and Gulf of Maine Research Institute. 

Island Institute’s Brenna Cohen led an interactive session focused on the Resilient Leadership Framework, and Island Institute Fellow Brianna Cunliffe provided information on the Climate Ambassadors program she is supporting through her placement with A Climate To Thrive. 

The event was part of a four-year collaboration between GMRI and Island Institute, aligned with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) project called Community Resilience Training. This initiative aims to aid coastal communities in preparing for sea level rise. The three-part curriculum facilitates experiences for communities to develop essential knowledge, skills, and relationships crucial for community-based climate planning.