Maine Rural Development Council
Island Community Listening Program
Great Cranberry Island
Thursday, September 21, 2000

Representatives from the Maine Rural Development Council came earlier than expected to Great Cranberry Island today because their planned first stop at Frenchboro was cancelled due to the unexpected illness this morning of Frenchboro Selectman David Lunt.

So, instead of stopping at Frenchboro first, the Council and their guests from various state and federal agencies came on the Sunbeam directly to the Great Cranberry Island Town Dock around 10:45 a.m.  It took quick thinking on behalf of Beverly Sanborn and her helpers to meet this sudden change of plans.

Members of the MRDC delegation included representatives of USDA-Rural Development; Department of Economic and Community Development; Maine Center for Women, Work, and Community; Coastal Enterprises, Inc.; Eastern Maine Development Corporation; and the Island Institute, as well as Community Action Program agencies from the coastal counties.

After everyone was transported to the Fire Hall for a quick orientation, different groups set out to visit the Affordable Housing Project's two houses, the Stainton's Cranberry Island Boatyard, the Library, and the Historical Museum.

Around 12:30 everyone converged on the Fire Hall again for a delicious lunch of haddock chowder (or chicken soup) with lasagne and salad -- followed by some scrumptious home-baked desserts.

Bob HoThen the group set to work in earnest.  To a house filled with both Great Cranberry and Islesford faces, MRDC executive director Bob Ho summarized the intended purpose of the meeting:

  1. To deepen undertanding of the issues and needs confronting Maine's island communities.
  2. To think strategically about what the Council and the Islanders can do together, and
  3. To identify immediate opportunites to better serve these communities.
When Mr. Ho threw the floor open to discussion, two Islesford School students read cogent essays on the future of the islands; both emphasized the need for more (affordable) housing, and better transportation and emergency health care on the islands.

After the ice was broken, one by one islanders took the microphone and spoke of their own hopes and aspirations for the future of the islands.  Some foresaw the islands as future "bedroom communities" -- if only earlier morning boats and later evening boats could be put on.

Others spoke of the encouragement of work-at-home type "cottage industries" such as bookkeeping, writing, or merchandising via the Internet, which would require improved telephone and Internet connectivity.

Others again wanted outside venture capital to start a fresh industy on the island, such as frozen lobsters, while yet others pointed out that a combination of all of these would be the wisest course.

The meeting was not without a little excitement when one or two islanders doubted the use of having any meeting at all, and saw no future other than "like now, only worse."

In the end, of course, everyone who wanted to speak had their say, and some positive results will come from this meeting -- first because it got most participants to thinking about their island's future instead of just letting it happen, and second because it shows that there IS hope and effective assistance available, both advisory and monetary, if only we can determine just what it is we want to do for our island's future.

-Commentary by Bruce Komusin

Literature distributed by the
Maine Rural Development Council

Maine Rural Development Council
Fact Sheet

Maine Rural Development Council (MRDC) is a statewide coalition of federal, state, regional and community-based organizations active in rural development work. Council members are policy makers, community and economic development practitioners, federal, state county and local government representatives, and educators.

Its mission is to shape policies to meet the complex and changing needs of rural Maine; promote collaboration and partnerships among local, state and federal agencies; maximize the effectiveness of rural programs and resources throughout the state; and undertake the development and demonstration of innovative rural projects.

MRDC is governed by a 24-member Board representing federal, state, and regional development organizations as well as the private sector and the non-profits. Its members in Year 2000 are: Richard Baird of USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service; Seth Bradstreet and Janice Kremin of USDA-Rural Development; Joe Michaels of U. S. Forest Service; Mary McAleney of Small Business Administration; Robert Spear and Howard Jones of Maine Department of Agriculture, Aaron Shapiro of Maine Department of Community and Economic Development; Diane Steward of Maine Senate President's Office; Becky Boober of Maine Department of Human Services; Mike Bush of Eastern Maine Development Corporation; Hancock County Commissioner Dennis Damon; Sue Lessard of Vinylhaven; George Finch of the City of Eastport; Doug Babkirk of University of Maine Cooperative Extension; Deb Burd of Western Mountains Alliance; Chuck Davis of University of Southern Maine Small Business Development Center; Don Flannery of Maine Potato Board; Brett Doney of Growth Councils of Oxford Hills; and Brenda Fields of Penobscot Indian Nation.

A Framework for Thinking about Rural Development

Maine Rural Development Council

Building "OneMaine"

From "Building OneMaine - a Rural Development Strategy Working Paper,"
Prepared by Maine Rural Development Council
for Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, October, 1998

Two Perspectives

First, we must have the will and belief that rural America, rural Maine, rural economies, are really important. We must believe in them, value them, and in fact really want them to be part of our lives .... Second, we need to measure our progress. Identifying and documenting the problems and opportunities in a rural economy have to be part of our development strategy .... The last thing for me is really a simple one.... Life is just not any fun without a ferry ride, a corner store, without a local basketball game where you know the names of all the players, and know who their parents are. ... So as far as I am concerned, the whole question is, "Would life be any fun if we did not have small towns?"

(From "Rural Communities are Worth Saving," Chellie Pingree, State Senator and Co-chair of Maine Economic Growth Council, Rural Connections, Winter/Spring, 1996.)

Rural Maine is ... wonderfully diverse, with classic industrial mill towns, prosperous commuter areas, booming tourist attractions -- and chronically depressed remote areas. Many rural economies have distinct seasonal rhythms and many rural people are more deeply concerned about sustaining a distinctive way of life in a special place than about pursuing a particular career path. An effective development strategy should take account o fall these factors. It should respond to different regions' varied economic assets, cultural values, potential and obstacles. And it must be woven from many strands, including a realistic assessment of the present, a shared vision of a desired future, a clear understanding of impediments to fulfilling the vision, and a set of effective measures to overcome impediments and bring the vision to reality.

(From "Taking the High Road: Human Resources and Sustainable Rural Development in Maine," David Vail, Bowdoin College, and Michael Hillard, University of Southern Maine, Maine Center for Economic Policy, February, 1997.)

Maine Rural Development Council

Island Community Listening Forums
Great Cranberry and Frenchboro
September 21, 2000

Roster of Participants
(MRDC Board Members and Guests)

Richard Baird
USDA Natural Resources
Conservation Service
Phone: 207- 990-9554

Seth Bradstreet
USDA-Rural Development
Phone: 207-990-9161

Deb Burd
Western Mountains Alliance
Phone: 207-778-7274

Deb Burwell
Organizational Consultant (MRDC)
Phone: 207-338-2162

Mike Bush
Eastern Maine Development Corp.
Phone: 207-942-6389

Charlie Charlton
Coastal Community Action Program
Phone: 207-596-0361

Anne Cogger
Maine Center for Women,
Work and Community
Phone: 207-621-3432

Loren Cole
U.S. Dept. of Housing &
Urban Development
Phone: 207-945-0468
E-mail: Loren_Cole@HUD.GOV

Alan Daigle
USDA-Rural Development
Phone: 207-990-9168

Gary deLong
Maine Sea Coast Mission
Phone: 207-288-5097

Louise Fogelman
The Next Step
Phone: 207-667-0176

Jill Goldthwait
State Senator
Phone: 207-288-5461

Sandy Grimes
USDA-Rural Development
Phone: 207-990-9161

Tom Heels
U.S. Small Business Admin.
Phone: 207-622-8242, xl0

Dail Hersey
DHS-Bureau of Family Independence

Robert P. Ho
Maine Rural Development Council
Phone: 207-581-3192

Sherman Hoyt
Knox-Lincoln County
Cooperative Extension
Phone: 207-832-0343

Sue Inches
Dept. of Marine Resources
Phone: 207-624-6558

Howard Jones
Maine Dept. of Agriculture,
Food & Rural Resources
Phone: 207-287-9072

Meredith Jones
Maine Community Foundation
Phone: 207-667-9735

Patricia Kontur
Maine Rural Development Council
Phone: 207-581-3193

Janice Kremin
USDA-Rural Development
Phone: 207-990-9161

Paul Lariviere
Federal Highway Admin.
Phone: 207-622-8487

Sue Lessard
Town of Vinalhaven
Phone: 207-863-4471

Ron Lisnet
University of Maine, Office
of Public Affairs
Phone: 207-581-3779

Stefan Pakulski
Island Institute
Phone: 207-594-9209

Nancy Peasly
The Next Step
Phone: 207-667-0176

Theresa Savoy
Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
Phone: 207-621-0245 x4

Joyce Scott
Waldo County Committee for
Social Action
Phone: 207-338-6809

Aaron Shapiro
Dept. of Economic &
Community Development
Phone: 207-287-8476

Keith Small
Washington Hancock CAP
Phone: 207-546-7607

Diane Steward
Maine State Legislature
Phone: 207-287-1501

Eloise Vitelli
Maine Center for Women,
Work and Community
Phone: 207-621-3432

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