What we want to achieve.
Sustain Southern Maine is a regional partnership of organizations, communities and businesses working together to make our economy, environment and sense of community stronger.
The kinds of jobs, housing, transportation and energy Mainers need are changing.
Higher technology, an aging population and rising energy costs all make for changes in the way we live. As a partnership, we’re working together to combine ideas and funding so these changes create more opportunities for everyone, now and for future generations of Mainers.
We are not starting from scratch.
Much good work has already been done in Southern Maine to find out what people want and need. For example, many people are looking to lower their transportation and heating costs, and to find good jobs closer to home. And young people and seniors need smaller, more affordable homes within walking distance of schools, shopping and parks or recreation. Finally, to many Mainers, keeping Maine’s farmland, woodlands and shorefront intact and available to the public is an important goal.
Knowing how to provide these options is challenging.
The Sustain Southern Maine partnership is working in promising pilot locations to develop innovative ways of planning and investment. These neighborhoods and corridors in Southern Maine communities are where people are excited about improving their ability to grow and prosper. These locations will be demonstration projects, showing how over time, coordinating housing, transportation, jobs, services and recreation provides a significant economic boost.
For more information about these pilot locations and the process we are using to choose them, click here.
Here’s more on what’s in the works right now:
Housing: A safe, affordable and healthy home is important to everyone. Sustain Southern Maine is creating a comprehensive housing report to more clearly understand housing needs in Southern Maine. We’ll be looking at Mainers’ financial ability to buy or rent. We’ll be working with communities to look at where needed housing could be built. This will benefit Mainers of all ages and incomes.
Transportation: The cost of driving a car continues to go up. And Southern Maine is a place where almost everyone needs a car to get to work, shopping and recreation. Sustain Southern Maine wants to give people the chance to drive a shorter distance to work and play. Or even to take a bus. Previous work in Maine has shown that these choices also lower traffic congestion and air pollution. One focus of work in the new pilot areas will be creating neighborhoods where walking more and driving less is a real choice.
Locally Grown Foods: Portland and Southern Maine are known for their great restaurants and local food culture. This national reputation brings millions of dollars into the state from tourists. It also provides a good living for the many people working in the farm and food industries. What do we need to do to make sure this good situation continues? Could Maine be a leader in New England food production? Members of the Partnership and a recent Sustain Southern Maine Knowledge Sharing Session are examining this question.
Protecting Recreational and Natural Resources: Most of us who live in Maine love the outdoors. Sustain Southern Maine wants to make sure that everyone has access to woods, parks, and beaches, and that our children’s children will too. This means thinking ahead so that we can grow and prosper while still keeping Maine’s natural beauty intact.
Energy: Most people in Southern Maine heat with oil. It’s generally not getting any cheaper. Making sure homes are built, insulated and heated with the most up-to-date materials is important. Sustain Southern Maine aims to make this easier by developing a clear picture of what works best to conserve energy – and making it easier for people to take those steps.
Climate Change: Scientists predict that sea levels will rise over the next century. For our coastal communities, being prepared is key. Much regional work has already been done planning for climate change. Sustain Southern Maine will help to focus these efforts and make information available to the public.
Policy Change: All the above ideas will work best if supported by local, state and federal guidelines. The Sustain Southern Maine partnership will look at policy changes that would help to reinforce Southern Mainers’ ability to grow and prosper. If you want to be involved with this effort, or have opinions, please let us know.