What Gives You Hope?

As we say goodbye to another Maine summer and look ahead to a fall and winter full of uncertainty, what is giving you hope?  

I know that I am hopeful for sound practices, policies, affordable care, and medical breakthroughs that keep COVID-19 at bay and provide for those of us most impacted by the pandemic. If not, the long Maine winter will be an incredible challenge for both the isolated and those who cannot isolate.

I am also hopeful for an election season where honest policy debates and a free and fair election outshine the dark forces of misinformation and voter suppression.  

Why am I hopeful?  I’ve had the privilege and honor to dig deeply into all that is MaineShare, where the collective power of our amazing member groups and the workplaces and employees that support them are making real positive change. Our member groups are engaging long-time advocates as well as young people, New Mainers, and native Mainers to advance justice - from animal rights and the health of the planet, to women’s & immigrants’ rights, to economic opportunity, to the promotion & protection of our democracy.
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Here are some examples from our member groups that are giving me hope:
New Ventures Maine helps people all over the state venture in new directions by offering tuition-free programs for career, business, and financial education.

Many of New Ventures-supported small business participants were impacted by COVID-19 and New Ventures pivoted quickly to provide extra support. As a part of that effort, in May, seven small business participants were awarded mini-grants to help move their services and sales online and help them stay open.
Marketing Mini-Grant Winner, Molly Thompson owner of Pretty Flours
Genesis Community Loan Fund is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) whose mission is to provide innovative financing to nonprofit organizations developing affordable housing and community facilities for underserved people and communities throughout Maine and beyond. Genesis recently worked with the Cooperative Development Institute, the owner of Mountainside Park in Camden and its residents to form an owner cooperative for this mobile home communityFinancing from CDFIs like the Genesis Fund is often essential to making these deals work, because traditional banks may be hesitant to finance an inexperienced member-owned cooperative making such a large purchase. 

Liza Fleming-Ives, Executive Director of the Genesis Fund, says this type of financing is central to their mission and is one of the best examples of what Genesis can do to build equity in Maine communities. “To date we have financed 10 mobile home park cooperatives, collectively preserving over 500 units of housing for Mainers, and each of them is successful and thriving using their cooperative governance model and ensuring access to that affordable housing for their residents into the future.”
The Environmental Health Strategy Center works daily to protect our health and our environment from toxic chemicals such as phthalates. EHSC is conducting research and requests your help. These toxic chemicals are in many bottle cap liners, which are used to form a seal against the bottle rim. These bottle caps may leave a toxic residue on the bottle rim. Then, when you take a sip from that bottle, you're drinking that residue—taking a sip of toxic phthalates. Please send in your bottle caps for testing by September 4th to contribute to their study.
Maine Citizens for Clean Elections works hard year-round to get money out of politics (among other things!) Join them and their partners, The League of Women Voters of Maine, to make sure everyone can vote safely and confidently this November. Learn more and request an absentee ballot at lwvme.org/absentee. Want to help register voters, research local election information, or get out the vote? Go to lwvme.org/volunteer. Let’s all volunteer and make sure everyone’s voices are heard!
Maine Organic Farmers & Grower Association (MOFGA) celebrated their 49th birthday this month. They are the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country and they educate about and advocate for organic agriculture, illuminating its interdependence with a healthy environment, local food production, and thriving communities. MOFGA has also run the Common Ground Fair since 1977 which started as a harvest celebration, in Litchfield. "A group of hippies, back-to-the-landers and organic zealots gathered in Litchfield to welcome 2,000 fairgoers and got 10,000 instead!" This year, the fair will be an online event. They are busy pulling together the content for this unique annual event and intend to have three days of live programming online September 25-27, 2020. As always, they welcome volunteer support and are welcoming educational content submissions.
Sierra Club Maine has added a new Climate Action Organizer to their team. Ania Wright will be working across the state to support Climate Action Teams in their fight to implement climate solutions such as developing community solar, creating town energy efficiency plans, advocating for public transportation, launching recycling and composting programs, opposing dirty energy projects, and much more. 

“Ania’s experience as an organizer will help support and strengthen our actions to combat climate change across the state. We look forward to having her help in this very important work,” says Sarah Leighton, Chapter Director. If you are interested in getting to know Ania or learning more about our Climate Action Team work, please email Ania at ania.wright@sierraclub.org.

The Maine Women’s Fund, whose mission is to make bold investments that transform the lives of Maine women and girls, granted nearly $140,000 to 16 Organizations in June. Here is a sampling of those investments that extend beyond the MaineShare membership and give me hope:

  • The League of Women Voters of Maine Education Fund will enhance the ability of women from underrepresented communities to impact the decisions that affect their lives, and support the role that women continue to play in securing democratic rights for all.

  • Maine Children's Alliance advocates for policies to support the 12,000 female-headed households and 14,000 children living in poverty in Maine, such as expanding access to education, job training, and improved work-family policies and food security.
Maine Animal Coalition is educating the public about the root causes of pandemics. Most infectious diseases are zoonotic diseases, which are caused by harmful germs that spread between animals and humans. Deforestation, the consumption of exotic wildlife, and factory farming have increased the spread of diseases between animals and humans. A simple way to reduce zoonotic diseases is the adoption of a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Such a diet reduces the need to destroy wildlife habitat to graze cattle and to engage in factory farming in already developed areas. And countless studies have shown that a whole-foods plant-based diet can prevent, arrest and even reverse most of the fifteen leading causes of death in America. For more information about the tie between zoonotic diseases and factory farms, read this article in the Guardian.
Maine Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (a program of MaineShare member group, MECASA) is partnering with the Good Shepherd Food Bank to help address food insecurity by distributing food and grocery gift cards to families they serve at all seven locations. With donations from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, the Children’s Advocacy Centers are able to address child hunger in a population who already has many barriers to healing from the trauma of child sexual abuse.

Children and their non-offending caregivers who are working through abuse and learning to heal should not have to face hunger too. This partnership gives me hope because this type of collaboration, within our network and outside, creates real hope for the people they are serving and the systems they are working to change.
Maine Peace Fund/Peace Action Maine is holding its events virtually this year and invite all of you to join them on September 12th for a talk by Professor Elaine ScarryProfessor Scarry will speak at 7 PM on the topic: Nuclear Weapons & Democracy. Professor Scarry is an essayist and professor of Literature and Language and the Walter Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard University. She is also the author of Choosing between Democracy and Doom: Thermonuclear Monarchy. The talk will be preceded by their annual business meeting for members. Do we dare hope for a nuclear-free planet? Peace Action Maine advocates give me hope!
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM) launched Slow ME Down in mid-June. This statewide campaign aims to help change people’s attitudes about speeding in cars by encouraging motorists to drive slower, as well as striving for road design that calms traffic. Speeding endangers cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. Studies show that even small increases in speed increase the lethality of a crash. Add your name and join the Slow ME Down campaign today! And listen to this excellent episode of Maine Calling featuring BCM’s executive director, Jean Sideris.
 & Help us support the work of these hope generators. Thank you!
This is just a small sampling of the critical work MaineShare members do to generate hope. Please join us in supporting and learning from the great work of ALL our member groups.

In Solidarity,
Brenda Peluso, Interim Director
On behalf of the The Board of MaineShare
MaineShare | 207-622-0105| giving@maineshare.org | www.maineshare.org