Maine Rural Development Council|
Island Community Listening Program
Great Cranberry Island
Thursday, September 21, 2000
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.
Then 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:
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
|A Framework for Thinking about Rural Development|
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
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.)
Island Community Listening Forums
Great Cranberry and Frenchboro
September 21, 2000
Roster of Participants
(MRDC Board Members and Guests)
USDA Natural Resources
Phone: 207- 990-9554
U.S. Dept. of Housing &
DHS-Bureau of Family Independence
Robert P. Ho
Federal Highway Admin.
Washington Hancock CAP