August 2021 Newsletter – Engage & Feel Better

August 2021 Newsletter – Engage & Feel Better

I don’t know if you’ve been losing sleep about the state of current affairs like I have, but I hope you continue to find sparks of optimism in your days.

I have been thinking about the story of the little boy who is walking along the beach with thousands and thousands of dying, beached starfish. He is picking them up, one at a time, and throwing them back into the ocean. A man tells him not to bother. His efforts don’t matter. He will never save all the starfish. The little boy says, “It matters to the ones I can save.”

There are lots of charitable & religious organizations, government programs, and individuals focused on helping animals, the planet, and people when they are suffering. This work is critical and I am grateful for all these efforts.

MaineShare organizations are groups that are trying to stop whatever it is that is causing those starfish to end up dying on the beach (as well as a myriad of other suffering.) This work is equally critical, but results take time and at times like these, it may seem like all we can do is throw a few starfish back in the ocean.

However, hope springs eternal when we stay connected to others who are doing this long-term work. I attended the retirement party for the long-time leader of Friends of Casco Bay, a MaineShare member, this week and I was reminded about how important good leadership is to building the relationships, strategies, and movements that create long-term, positive change. Cathy Ramsdell was lauded for her commitment to building broad coalitions and empowering staff to become leaders in their own right. Because of the diverse groups of individuals Friends of Casco Bay was able to attract to their mission, they have been incredibly effective in moving public policies over the past 30 years that protect and improve the health of the Bay.

Another MaineShare member group, MOFGA, just celebrated their fiftieth anniversary. Because of their leadership, Maine has had an outsized role in the organic movement. MOFGA is preparing to host their iconic Common Ground Country Fair in-person September 24-26. Tickets need to be purchased ahead of time to reduce congestion and they are monitoring the COVID situation to ensure a safe environment. We encourage you to take MOFGA’s advice and “Visit Maine’s most extensive agricultural fairgrounds – complete with a working organic farm, sustainably managed woodlot, organic orchards and demonstration gardens – and hundreds of exhibitors, activities, dances, music and Maine organic foods that make this fair unique.”

Sarah Nichols of member group, NRCM, was recently quoted in a New York Times article about Maine’s newly passed Extended Producer Responsibility Act. NRCM has been part of a broad coalition working hard for at least two years to make this a reality.

But as you know, MaineShare members work on many fronts. These are just three examples of MaineShare members making a difference for the environment. MaineShare’s five areas of focus (Economic Opportunity; The Environment; Safety & Health; Education, Arts & Culture; Social Justice & Peace) feature 40 organizations working to make Maine a more just, equitable, and healthy place.

Read more from our fabulous members below & get involved if you can. I guarantee, you WILL FEEL BETTER!

July 2021 Newsletter – The Importance of Community-Minded Thinking

July 2021 Newsletter – The Importance of Community-Minded Thinking

I’m excited about my new summer read, x + y: A Mathematician’s Manifesto for Rethinking Gender by Dr. Eugenia Cheng. At first, it was because I’m a mathematician at heart and by education, and it seemed like a nice scholarly escape from the escalating climate and virus catastrophes eating away at my hopefulness from earlier in the summer.

I have only read the preface so far, and I’m now excited about the possibility of it being much more than a rejuvenating escape.  

Dr. Cheng writes that she is starting this book in the beginning of the global pandemic and has no idea what the world will be like when the book reaches our hands. She goes on to say, “…one thing that this worldwide crisis has grimly illuminated is a sharp opposition between those who think as individuals and those who think as a community. We see individuals deciding how much risk of infection they are going to take, as if this decision is their own private one, affecting them alone.”

The author believes that we need “individuals acting on behalf of the community, to reduce the risk to the community and protect our collective health. This contrast between individualistic thinking and community-minded thinking is the major theme throughout this book.”

 This calls to me in such a fundamental way and community-minded thinking is exactly the way MaineShare member groups approach the biggest issues of our day.

In this month’s newsletter, we share some great opportunities to get outside and support some wonderful community-minded organizations who are combining education, conservation, and supports for better living to help us all create a better normal. Read more.

June 2021 Newsletter – MaineShare Members are Building a New Normal

June 2021 Newsletter – MaineShare Members are Building a New Normal

For over 30 years, MaineShare has been helping our member groups create a strong foundation for a more just and equitable Maine. Now we have the incredible opportunity to build on this foundation.

Help us build a new normal from this strong foundation. Help us foster a new resurgence. Getting back to normal is not the goal of our recovery efforts. Getting a better normal is. More than 30 years of this work has uniquely positioned us to make a real impact and we invite you to take action today.

Many of you have been part of this foundation-building and we hope you will stay with us as we meet the challenges of this recovery and help our members focus on building a brighter future – as they always have.

Please donate generously today and ensure all this work promoting economic, social, and environmental justice is featured – front and center – in the recovery from the pandemic.

We thank you and our member groups thank you! Read more.

May 2021 Newsletter – Our Members Focus on a Just Recovery

May 2021 Newsletter – Our Members Focus on a Just Recovery

We seem to be rebounding, but the rebound is not the same around the world or from community to community.

Our members will be focusing on a Just Recovery – as they always have. Getting back to normal is not the goal. Getting a better normal is.

Please enjoy this selection of news and information from our member groups ranging from a better normal for victims of domestic violence and hate crimes, to a healthier environment and a safer, more natural food system, to thriving children, abundant art, and supportive communities. Read more.

April 2021 Newsletter – In Bloom with MaineShare

April 2021 Newsletter – In Bloom with MaineShare

Maine is in bloom and we’re racing to get everyone vaccinated before variants can set us back. We hope efforts to reach every person in Maine are effective including the reopening of the Maine CDC’s Health Equity Office; a recent set of grants made to groups like our member, Maine Access Immigrant Network (MAIN), to support community outreach; free transportation; and mobile pop-up clinics and mass vaccination sites

MaineShare is also in bloom! We just hosted a virtual member meeting with over 50 participants from our 41 member groups. During this meeting we were able to: celebrate strong financials, and a successful Fall 2020 Workplace Giving Campaign – in spite of the pandemic; welcome new board officers & say good-bye to two fabulous board members; and discuss and engage with our members about our talks with Maine Initiatives to acquire the MaineShare programs.

MaineShare is doing well, but during times of transition, it is always good practice to explore if strategic partnerships can improve the meeting of mission. Last Fall, we approached Maine Initiatives to begin discussions about a potential partnership. We felt that we have a lot in common and they agree. We both work to provide long-term unrestricted funding to Maine’s collection of nonprofits working to promote social, economic, and environmental & animal justice.

Talks are going very well and we are exploring the possibility that Maine Initiatives acquires MaineShare which will continue to run as a significant program of Maine Initiatives. Now we want your input! MaineShare member groups have already participated in a survey and many will also participate in focus groups and one-on-one interviews.

If you are a donor, represent one of our workplaces, or are another interested party, we want to hear from you. Please email me at bpeluso@maineshare.org for more information.

Please enjoy the following updates from some of our member groups. Good things are happening. Please consider supporting MaineShare & our incredible members. Read more.

2021 Changing of the Guard

2021 Changing of the Guard

Will Sedlack

Tracy Harkins

It was a bittersweet member meeting this April as we said good-bye to our Board Chair & Vice Chair.  Outgoing Board Chair, Tracy Harkins, Owner of Harkins Consulting, joined the board in 2017 and quickly assumed a leadership position.  She worked with the board and staff at the time to begin a deep exploration of the organization’s operations, mission, and finance.  Shortly thereafter, Will Sedlack, Civic Engagement Manager for Maine Conservation Voters, joined the board and took the Vice-Chair role.

Together with staff and new and existing board members, these two worked tirelessly and greatly improved MaineShare’s sustainability.  They also led the board through a thorough investigation of potential paths forward.  We are grateful to Tracy & Will for their incredible service to MaineShare and for leaving the place better than they found it.

Ryan Martin

Jodie Lapchick

Tracy & Will passed the torch to MaineShare’s new Board Chair, Ryan Martin, Executive Director of member group, Viles Arboretum, and our new Board Vice-Chair, Jodie Lapchick of Lapchick + Co.   Ryan is excited to lead the board in strategizing for the future and Jodie will continue to apply her talents to growing and improving our workplace giving program.