The Working Waterfront

The Maine coast and islands will continue to lead

The work that succeeds starts with relationships

Rob Snyder
Posted 2021-02-26
Last Modified 2021-02-26
Field Notes by Rob Snyder

Eighteen years ago, I sat for the first time on the rugged granite backside of Frenchboro, marveling at the power of the tides and the open water extending to the horizon.

I appreciated then, as I do now, that I was there because of the relationships that preceded me and that will last beyond me.

I learned early on that the opportunity to serve the islands and the coast was a privilege made possible through island and coastal leaders’ shared commitment to work together and with the Island Institute. We share a passion for looking to the horizon and figuring out what it will mean to prepare for change.

The pandemic that is devastating island and coastal communities is the latest of many challenges that will impact the coast. Climate change, mitigating the threat of right whale extinction, offshore wind development, and an increasing lack of affordability are just a few of the many more issues that will challenge the coast.

Time and again, community leaders have shown their courage, creativity, and willingness to adapt and innovate in the face of seemingly terrible odds. The Island Institute has and will continue to focus on working with those who seek to innovate in the face of these challenges. And as a result, the coast will thrive.

This is how we help build community from the sea up.

Coastal communities are providing a roadmap for high-speed broadband for the state. Energy efficiency and micro-grid solutions for highly remote communities are being developed in Maine and exported to remote communities across the U.S. Our coast showed the nation the importance of preserving working waterfronts. The examples are endless and inspiring.

The Island Institute has been an essential partner in bringing these solutions to life. When these issues are complex and impact multiple communities, we build the networks, host the conversations, educate legislators, access our funding base, translate the data, share information, and provide technical assistance and seed funding. This is how we help build community from the sea up.

In May, I begin a new career as the first culture and sustainability officer on ACME Smoked Fish’s executive team. ACME SF is a fast-growing global seafood company based in Brooklyn, N.Y. At ACME SF, I will be working with stakeholders from across the U.S., Chile, and Denmark to address climate change, ocean conservation, and community goals in each place in which the company has a presence.

It is a big, complicated new challenge, as exciting to me as the goal I set long ago of creating a world-class community development organization to serve the coast and islands of Maine.

The Maine coast and islands benefit from deep, meaningful and trusting relationships. These relationships extend across communities; they are generations deep and supported by a global network of families who experience the Maine coast as home. I am excited to see how the islands and coast continue to emerge as a symbol for making the world a better place for all to live, work, and raise children.

Please accept my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to serve as the president of the Island Institute. Thank you for the time and commitment you made to help me learn all that was required to contribute to your vision for a vibrant coast.

The Island Institute board of trustees is conducting a national search to determine the next president. Rob Beams, the organization’s COO, will act as the interim president until the search concludes.