TO PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE LIVING PRACTICES IN THE MID MAINE REGION

The Sustain Mid-Maine Coalition

January 12, 2016

Even though Sustain Mid Maine Coalition (SMMC) started having a column over a year ago,

perhaps some of you are unfamiliar with who we are. Sustain Mid Maine Coalition is a

grassroots group comprised of volunteers who are concerned about the environment. We began

with a Catalyst during MLK weekend in 2009. In 2015, we revised our Mission Statement as

follows: “Sustain Mid Maine Coalition [SMMC], recognizing the challenges of climate change,

works to increase sustainable practices in the mid-Maine region through education,

programming, and projects focused on energy conservation, fossil- fuel alternatives, local

agriculture and sustainable food systems, and waste reduction. Sustain Mid Maine Coalition is a

501(c)3 non-profit organization that is a collaborative partnership of major stakeholders

(engaged citizens, municipal leaders, educational institutions, businesses, and service agencies)

working to build the systems and infrastructure for a thriving community and a sustainable

economy.”

Sustain Mid Maine Coalition’s Energy Team was fortunate to obtain an EECBG grant in 2010

for $170,000. This money was used to provide Waterville & Winslow residents with free

energy consultations as a first step to possibly having a home energy audit. In the winter of

2013, we received more grant funds to educate area residents about various ways to reduce their

fuel consumption. Our WindowDressers program joins residents together to build inside storm

windows at very low cost. Currently we are sponsoring Solarize Mid Maine, a solarization

project that will reduce costs for homeowners who decide to install solar panels.

Educating and engaging the community is a critical aspect of SMMC’s mission. The task of the

Education and Community Outreach Team is to provide readily available information on

sustainability to the community at large. Our current program “Adapting to a Changing Planet”

offers free programs to help people understand the environmental issues we are facing.

What began as the Grow and Support Local Foods Team has morphed into the Farm and Food

Team. One objective decided in 2009 was for people who want to grow their own food to have

space and support to do so. In 2010, North Street Community Garden in Waterville was built.

Shortly thereafter, Moor Street Community Garden was created for residents of Waterville’s

South End. Community Gardens have also been established in Winslow and in Oakland. In

2012, we created a garden at the Alfond Youth Center. In 2014, two students from the Maine

Academy of Natural Science along with our volunteers added a garden for residents of the Mid

Maine Homeless Shelter. Members of this team are also on the Winslow Agricultural

Commission, a group looking to preserve farmland in Winslow.

The Public Policy Team was approved by the Board of Directors in early 2013. Throughout the

legislative sessions, members of this team appear before legislative committees including the

Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology, the Committee on the Environment and Natural

Resources, and the Transportation Committee.

Our newest team is Permaculture, which was added in 2015. Permaculture can be defined as a

way to integrate land, resources, and people to provide solutions for sustainable development.

Currently this group is working on a demonstration garden at Railroad Square Cinema.

As the name implies, the Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Team encourages people to recycle

and reduce their waste. Annually during The Taste of Waterville, team members and volunteers

staff composting stations to help the consumer sort out the compostable materials. In 2015, we

collected 900 pounds of materials that were converted to energy at Agri-Cycle Energy in Exeter.

The team has done composting displays at Inland Hospital’s Women’s Wellness Fair and at the

Waterville Farmers’ Market.

Developing an infrastructure to encourage bicycles and pedestrian alternatives is one key to

reducing our carbon footprint. The Transportation Team combined efforts with other area

groups to further promote transportation choices. The creation of the Kennebec Explorer a low-

cost, convenient public transit system is a huge asset for area residents. The Kennebec

Messalonskee Trails group has worked diligently to build over 30 miles of recreation and fitness

trails in our area.

If you would like to learn more about us, I invite you to join us for our annual meeting on

Saturday, March 19 from 8:30 to noon in the Diamond Building at Colby College. At this

meeting, you will have the opportunity to meet Vaughan Woodruff from Insource Renewables in

Pittsfield. Vaughan will be administering our Solarize Mid Maine program. Kevin Bright,

Colby College Sustainability Coordinator, will be speaking about “Colby College's Energy

Management Strategy and Progress to Date.” Dan Dixon, Climate Change Institute at UMO,

will address "Regional Climate Change: What Can We Expect in Maine?"

Linda Woods currently serves as the coordinator of Sustain Mid Maine Coalition. She can be

reached at sustainmidmaine@gmail.com or 680-4208.

Last modified: March 7, 2017

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