An Overview of Peninsula Tomorrow May, 2003
In March of 2002, a group of people living and working on the Blue Hill Peninsula were inspired by other efforts in Hancock County to bring a diverse group of neighbors together for dinner and conversation at the South Blue Hill Grange Hall. The organizers asked people what they valued about life here, and what they were concerned about. They heard lots of stories and views, but again and again what people seemed to be saying was that they appreciated the natural beauty of the region and the goodness of the people and community life. What they worried about was being able to protect what is good and at the same time creating a healthy economy.
Out of that meeting, Peninsula Tomorrow was created. Peninsula Tomorrow is a citizen’s forum, where people can get together to discuss issues, concerns and hopes. Peninsula Tomorrow is also a process to learn what people want for the future of the Blue Hill Peninsula. If it is successful in these two things, maybe Peninsula Tomorrow will also help people pursue various strategies to bring us closer to that "preferred future".
The ideas behind Peninsula Tomorrow are simple; they might be the same as the motivation of a family or a business to look at its future. We know the future will happen. We probably know what we would like for the future, and knowing that, we can follow strategies that bring us ever closer. But the first step is seeing if we can describe what we want.
The future of the Blue Hill Peninsula is really the future of all of the parts of the peninsula: individual families, businesses, organizations and towns. While there are certain functions assumed by town government, there are also concerns and opportunities that exist across town boundaries. No one town takes care of all of its own economic needs. And people live in one town and work in another. Promoting good health and providing health care and disease prevention services reach beyond town boundaries. While there is and will continue to be some concerns best addressed by a single town, there are other issues that are more easily managed through town to town cooperation or by organizations that serve the whole region.
The process of Blue Hill Peninsula Tomorrow includes several parts:
Much as we might like, these "steps" probably won’t happen in order! As long as the process continues, we’ll probably always be trying to engage people, we’ll always be learning about issues and opportunities, and good ideas and projects don’t have to wait until "the final analysis".
Since March 2002, the organizers held two other meetings of interested people from Castine, Surry, Blue Hill, Brooksville, Brooklin, Sedgewick and Penobscot. Based on interest, people worked on six inter-related issues: Economic prosperity, environmental issues, youth issues, community health, community "infrastructure" and housing. Each of these working groups was self-organizing, including a step that asked "do we have the right people involved? Is the group representative enough of diverse interests? If the people in our group eventually agree on outcomes and strategies, will something really happen?" At the same time the groups gathered information about their issues, listed "sub-issues" in some priority order and began to find out what people in the community wanted as outcomes.
To help keep the working groups coordinated, the organizers formed a steering committee. The steering committee assists with communications, serves as a point of contact for the media, and helps develop financial resources to support the work. Since its inception, the steering committee is made up of representatives of each working group who also represent Coastal Acadia Development Corporation, Hancock County Planning Commission, Blue Hill Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Blue Hill Heritage Trust, University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Healthy Peninsula Coalition. The members of the steering committee, for the most part, have justified devoting some of their organizational resources to the work of Peninsula Tomorrow.
What beliefs guide how Peninsula Tomorrow works
What have we heard so far about the Peninsula and living here?