Gouldsboro sponsored a workshop and community conversation about the Town’s future in the cafeteria at Peninsula School last Sunday, May 21. It attracted 52 people interested in learning more about how the Town and volunteer organizations are addressing problems caused by change. In addition, 22 people staffed the 11 workshop stations where people learned and talked about the impacts of sea level rise, increasingly severe storms, rapidly rising house prices, increasingly inadequate communications infrastructure, and increasing food insecurity. A station was also dedicated to residents’ views about future uses of the former Maine Fair Trade Lobster facility. This large working waterfront parcel is scheduled for auction in June.
Where Folks Came From
As people came into the cafeteria, Sarah Hooper and our new intern, John Ayraik, greeted them, got their names, and gave them nametags and a map of the tables and topics distributed around the room. They also gave each visitor or family group a round sticker labeled “Home” to put on a big map to show where they lived.
It was great to see so many of the Town’s villages represented. When people signed in, they checked a box to tell us more about the area where they lived. Here is what they told us.
|Rt 1 Gouldsboro||1|
The Sea Level Rise and Storm Stations
After people signed in and recorded where they lived on the map, the next workshop stations engaged them in conversations about vulnerabilities that FB Environmental identified in their report last fall. Maggie Kelly-Boyd, Margaret Mills, and Lauren Caffe of the FB Environmental team joined us for the workshop and were the principal hosts for Stations 2 and 3, which focused on vulnerabilities around Corea Harbor. Gouldsboro residents Tom McKeag and Susan Bierzychudek hosted Station 4, which focused on the southern tip of Grand Marsh Bay and the area around Bunkers Pound. Below are the posters that FB Environmental prepared, which include maps, lists of vulnerabilities, and recommended actions for each area.
Elin and David Poneman, also of Gouldsboro, staffed the next station, titled “What Have YOU Noticed?” The FB Environmental Study drew upon mapping data and climate models that made it possible to look at what might happen over the next 30 years, but did not include the kind of “on-the-ground” knowledge possessed by folks who live here. The photo below lists the changes that workshop participants have noticed. Clicking on the picture will bring up a bigger version that will let you zoom in.
Broadband Access, Workforce Housing, Food Insecurity
The next table focused on the Schoodic Peninsula Broadband Committee’s work toward ensuring that everyone in Winter Harbor and Gouldsboro has reliable, affordable broadband access. Gouldsboro residents Mike Summerer and Sandy Fortin hosted the conversations. Workshop participants voiced support for the Broadband Committee’s work and listed needs such as remote work, online education, and telehealth that describe why improved access to bandwidth is necessary.
After the Broadband table, workshop participants sat down with Jackie Weaver to talk about Gouldsboro’s need for workforce housing and learn about the work underway in Gouldsboro to identify possible locations for workforce housing and alternative approaches to structuring the financial arrangments required to build and use it.
From there, participants moved to the table hosted by the Schoodic Food Pantry. Donna Harmon and Susan Burke, volunteers at the pantry, described how the face of hunger has changed in the past year. Sixty-five Gouldsboro households, including forty-five children, have used the pantry since last November. As Donna said at the workshop, “Food insecurity happens because of change.” Changes might be things such as less than expected snow in the winter that translated into less income from plowing, working less because of caring for a sick relative, increased rent and fuel costs, and so much more.
Future Use of the Former Cannery
At the next table, Deirdre McArdle and Becky O’Keefe listened to what people had to say about the former cannery in Prospect Harbor that is now scheduled to be sold at auction on June 15. Below is a word cloud made from a transcription of participants’ comments. It illustrates the diversity of viewpoints along with the ideas that were most widely shared.
Paying for the Future
We were concerned that, after looking at the projects and work necessary to prepare Gouldsboro for the changes coming its way, workshop participants would be worried about the impact on property taxes. So, Abby Roche of the Island Institute hosted a workshop station titled “Paying for the Future,” where she talked with participants about the following summary of supports the State provides through its Community Resilience Partnership program (CRP). Gouldsboro is working toward joining the CRP.
Abby explained that much of the work to be done is far from “shovel-ready,” which is why the next steps will be feasibility, engineering, and planning studies to understand what can be done, what needs to be done, and what it is likely to cost. Putting detailed plans in place over the next few years will put Gouldsboro in a position to start seeking support to implement the projects.
The CRP is not the only source of State support for planning. Because some of the larger potential projects involve the shoreline and harbors, the Maine Coastal Program within the Maine Department of Marine Resouces (DMR) is another important source of support for feasibility and engineering studies. For example, the Maine Coastal Program provided the funding for the FB Environmental report that was central to this workshop.
Abby also asked participants to share their concerns about funding this work and thoughts about high-priority needs that the town might address. Here are a few of those thoughts.
How It Went
This “open house” approach to stimulating conversations and capturing people’s thoughts about Goudsboro’s future was a new venture for the Town. We wanted to know how it went for the participants. So, before they left, there was one last table where Vicki Rea and Pauline Angione talked with folks and asked them to complete a brief survey asking them to tell us how much they agreed or disagreed with the statements in the table below. They chose among five options, “Disagree Strongly,” “Disagree Somewhat,” “Neutral,” “Agree Somewhat,” and “Agree Strongly.” We received 22 completed surveys. No one disagreed with any of the statements. More importantly, agreement was almost always strong.
|Statement||“Agree Strongly” Responses|
|I learned things I am glad to know||86%|
|I got to share my thoughts||86%|
|The Town should do more of these||86%|
|These are important issues||100%|
|This workshop was enjoyable||95%|
Why only 22 responses? Couples often filled out one survey together, and in some cases, we just missed catching folks before they left.
The Island Institute and the Maine Coastal Program provided financial support that made this workshop possible. We are grateful to Abby Roche, our liaison with the Island Institute, who helped plan the workshop, participated in it, and is working with Gouldsboro to help it become a member of Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership.
We also thank RSU 24, the Peninsula School, its principal Heather Dorr, and Bonnie Naumann of the Peninsula School maintenance staff for providing and facilitating the use of the school’s cafeteria. It was a lovely, bright, airy setting for the workshop.
Very special thanks are due to Donna Harmon, who not only has the nearly full-time job of managing, securing donations, and sourcing food for the Schoodic Food Pantry, but is also the owner of Corea Catering and Baking. Donna offered workshop participants a cornucopia of visually stunning baked goods and treats that tasted as good as they looked. This was so much more than “snacks for the workshop.” Her food and care in presenting it transformed the workshop into a special event. This workshop was not only about exchanging information; it was about bringing people together. Donna’s food helped make that happen. Thank you, Donna.
The team of volunteers involved in the Gouldsboro Shore initiative staffed tables at the workshop and were deeply involved in planning for the workshop. Most of them are mentioned in this article. Thank you, all. But there are Town employees and elected officials that I have not mentioned. Mike Pinkham, Harbormaster and Shellfish Warden, is a principal partner in everything we do in Gouldsboro shore. Eve Wilkinson, the Town Manager, provides advice and makes things work. Brianna Mitchell, Senior Deputy Town Clerk, was essential to making Gouldsboro residents aware of the event. Paul Shoemaker helped with logistics. Last but certainly not least, Ada Fisher, our high school intern, made the posters, put them around town, and was the one-woman communications network during the event that kept it running smoothly.
FInally, we thank the people of Gouldsboro for caring about the Town and its future.
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