Collaboration to Increase Social Resilience in Midcoast Maine

Summary

The project convenes municipal stakeholders with service providers in emergency  management, social services, and land conservation from the coastal communities of Arrowsic, Bath, Brunswick, Georgetown, Harpswell, Phippsburg, West Bath, and Woolwich. The desired outcome is to develop a shared vision for better regional coordination to address barriers to climate adaptation, reducing the threat to the region’s most vulnerable populations. The project team will help vulnerable residents prepare to adapt and recover from storm events. The intended outcome is for emergency managers, social service providers, conservation organizations, and municipalities to be more coordinated and connected at a regional scale, and empowered to address social vulnerabilities in each community.

The target communities are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of storms due to a combination of social and geographic vulnerability. The typical demographic characteristics of these rural coastal communities—such as an aging population, older residents living alone, high reliance on natural resource economies, and high levels of self-employment—all combine to create a population that is at higher risk when coastal hazards disrupt transportation and other types of infrastructure within a town. The project’s goal to connect providers, responders, and municipalities at a regional scale will lead to a coordinated network to serve the region’s vulnerable populations (short-term) and reduced disruptions to the regional economy, natural resources, and community social and physical infrastructure (long-term). The model developed through this project could be readily transferred to other small, rural communities throughout Midcoast and Downeast Maine.

Project Period

Ongoing from 2017

Activities

  • Interview stakeholders to learn about coastal adaptation work and challenges
  • Demonstrate the Maine Coastal Risk Explorer, a web application that highlights where infrastructure and social vulnerability co-occur
  • Meet with representatives from emergency management, social services, and conservation sectors from the southern midcoast region, to discuss their process, network connections, and resources used
  • Develop and carry out a tabletop scenario-planning exercise for a coastal hazard event

Products

Emergency Service Providers Meeting Notes (2/25/2019)

Social Service Providers Meeting Notes (5/20/2019)

Conservation-based Organizations Meeting Notes (1/14/2020)

Getting to Social Resilience: First it Starts with Listening (2020 Social Coast Forum)

Addressing Rural Vulnerability to Flood Events – Strengthening Response Networks Through Use of Mapping Platforms (2020 American Association of Geographers Conference)

The Social Resilience Project: Connecting Sectors to Increase Regional Community Resilience in Southern Midcoast Maine (2021 Maine Sustainability and Water Conference)

Resources

E. Johnson et. al., A lifeline and social vulnerability analysis of sea level rise impacts on rural coastal communities. Shore and Beach 86 (4), 38-44

Social Vulnerability Ranking within Coastal Risk Explorer

Partners

Blue Sky Consulting, Bowdoin College, Casco Bay Estuary Program, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Maine Sea Grant, The Nature Conservancy, Wells Reserve 

Advisory Committee

  • Amber Jones - Phippsburg Town Administrator
  • Jared Woolston - Brunswick Town Planner
  • Allison Hepler - Woolwich Selectboard 
  • Anne Fuchs - Maine Emergency Management Agency Director of Mitigation, Planning, and Recovery Division
  • Sarah Bennett - Sagadahoc County Emergency Management Agency Director (absent)
  • Celeste Stimpson - American Red Cross Coastal Maine Disaster Program Manager
  • Mary Turner - Good Shepherd Food Bank
  • Mary Ann Nahf - Harpswell Conservation Commission
  • Nathan Robbins - Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection Climate & Adaptation Program

Funding

Bowdoin College for focus group meetings (2019-2020); student project for Community Assessment planning (Jan-Feb 2021)

Maine Sea Grant to support an 8-week undergraduate research fellowship on scenario planning exercise development and implementation (2020)

Maine Coastal Communities Grant Program to develop and carry out a tabletop scenario-planning exercise for a coastal hazard event (2020-2021)

Island Institute to support the the development and implementation of the tabletop scenario-planning exercise (Sept 2020-2021)

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