Commercial Currents: Making Connections

For the past 37 years, the Island Institute has worked in, and become a part of, Maine’s island and coastal communities. Once you’ve lived in a small community for a period of time, the interconnectedness of everything and everyone begins to be revealed. If you grew up there, it’s simply in your DNA. If you move there from “away” like many of us, it takes some time to begin to understand. I’m a firm believer in the theory that those who understand it stay, and those who don’t leave.

Maine Primary Election: Please vote on July 14th!

The Maine Primary Election for several state and local offices is now on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. This election—originally scheduled for June 9, but delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis—is about choosing nominees for U.S. Senate and U.S. House seats, as well as seats in the Maine state legislature and local offices. If you don’t vote, you are leaving it up to others to make these choices for you.

Ticking the box or designing for meaningful change?

Equity. It’s a concept that many value but can struggle to put into practice. When it comes to the state of Maine’s efforts to develop strategies to aggressively respond to climate change, what does it look like to design with a commitment to equity and to meeting the needs of all Mainers at the center? While much of the world came to a screeching halt this spring, members of the Maine Climate Council’s working groups doubled down on their efforts to develop recommendations on how to reach the state’s climate goals.

An essential need: How islanders find lodging during the pandemic

With Maine’s Stay Healthy at Home mandate and an executive order in place closing hotels except for a few very limited purposes, what do you do if you live on one of the offshore islands with limited ferry service and need to go to the mainland to get food or other supplies or visit a doctor? The co-chairs of the Maine Islands Coalition (MIC), the heads of the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Mount Desert Chamber of Commerce, and the Island Institute recently sent a letter to Governor Mills requesting clarity on exceptions to the executive order’s closing of lodging operations.

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.

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.

Legislative Update: Maine Responds to Coronavirus Crisis

On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Governor Mills signed emergency legislation to help the state respond to the coronavirus crisis. The legislation included provisions for delaying town meetings and allowing remote meetings. A separate bill put a $15 million broadband bond on the June ballot. Learn more about the provisions relevant to Maine’s towns as well as all of the pieces recently passed.

State and Local Leaders Address the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis is ever-present along the coast of Maine, though it can be hard for many to see or pay attention to, especially during the busy summer season when our towns, peninsulas and islands teem with visitors. Not so for Dr. Jeanne Lambrew, Maine’s newly appointed Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) who, along with Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, recently spent a hot summer day touring the medical centers and elder care facilities on the islands of North Haven and Vinalhaven.