Southern Midcoast Maine Social Resilience Project

Southern Midcoast Maine Social Resilience Project

Focus Area

This project is focused on strengthening regional connections in eight communities: Harpswell, Brunswick, West Bath, Bath, Phippsburg, Georgetown, Arrowsic, and Woolwich.

Our southern Midcoast Maine communities face unique challenges in response to climate change impacts. We are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of storms due to a combination of social and geographic conditions. Geographically, our communities are located on narrow peninsulas and islands where there is often a single access roadway. Demographic characteristics 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.

Needs Assessment

The project started with a needs assessment that included focus groups and interviews with members of the emergency management, social services, conservation, and municipal  sectors. These were designed to learn about each sectors’ process, network connections, and resources used to address the needs of socially vulnerable community members during storms. These meeting also demonstrated the Maine Coastal Risk Explorer, a web application that highlights where infrastructure and social vulnerability co-occur. Below are the notes from the EMA, Social Services, and Conservation focus groups.

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

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

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

Scenario Planning Exercise 

On January 26, 2022, 56 invited participants representing the sectors of emergency management, conservation, municipal, and social services attended a 4 hour virtual scenario planning exercise built around preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a hypothetical storm. The purpose of the exercise was to provide an opportunity for sector members to work in small groups to learn from each other about how each sector provides services to help communities, in particular those most vulnerable to impact, to prepare for, respond to, and recover from storm events in an effort to improve regional resilience. Below are the Story Map, Briefing Book, and Final Report associated with the exercise. 

Social Resilience Scenario Planning Exercise Final Report (Feb 2023)

Southern Midcoast SRP Project Team

  • Jeremy Bell, The Nature Conservancy
  • Victoria Boundy, Casco Bay Estuary Program
  • Annie Cox, Wells Reserve
  • Kristen Grant, Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension
  • Liz Hertz, Blue Sky Planning Solutions
  • Ruth Indrick, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
  • Eileen Johnson, PhD., Bowdoin College

Southern Midcoast SRP Advisory Committee

  • Allison Hepler – Woolwich Selectboard
  • Anne Fuchs – Maine Emergency Management Agency Director of Mitigation, Planning, and Recovery Division
  • Grainne Shaw – Sagadahoc County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director
  • Jared Woolston – City of Brunswick Planner
  • Mary Turner – Good Shepherd Food Bank
  • Mary Ann Nahf – Harpswell Conservation Commission
  • Nathan Robbins – Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection Climate & Adaptation Program

Southern Midcoast SRP Funding Sources

Bowdoin College for focus group meetings (2019-2020); student project for Community Assessment planning (Jan-Feb 2021) and StoryMap creation (July-Sept 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 (2020-2022)

Island Institute to support the the development and implementation of the tabletop scenario-planning exercise (Sept 2020-2022)

The Nature Conservancy to support Blue Sky Planning Solutions involvement as a Project Team Member

Southern Midcoast SRP Presentations

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)Social Resilience Project: Building Resilience in Rural Coastal Communities Poster (2023 Maine Sustainability & Water Conference)