December 30, 1997
The degree of contact with the outside world is an important matter to an island people; too much destroys the unique island atmosphere, too little impedes development. This quote from the Grand Manan Museum speaks to the balance that island and other small rural communities strive to attain in order to stay vibrant.
Sustaining Island Communities is a publication that intends to address this balance and provide insight on how these communities can and do maintain healthy economies. It is written as a sequel to Exploring Limits, published in 1994, which looked at the other side of the issue, how do communities live within the natural limits of their islands.
The stories that underpin our understanding of community unfold in the chapters of this book, as told by island residents: how the school, accessible medical services, reliable transportation and healthy fish populations, for example, all contribute to the overall welfare of the community and its residents. No single aspect defines a community's viability; yet through stories about community life we can understand the essential connections.
This book is designed to be a handbook for people living on the year round islands of Maine as well as for the agencies who provide services to support the economies of these communities. People from other rural places who are faced with choices about ways to sustain their communities will also find this book relevant. It can be used by communities as a broad planning tool as well as individuals trying to establish businesses.
The Island Institute and the Maine State Planning Office collaborated on this project, though the bulk of the writing material has been produced by islanders themselves. We are grateful for their contributions and support. It is hoped that this book will resonate with the island residents who understand the interrelated nature of their economy and the importance of the community for survival.
We imagine this book tattered and dog eared, in your home or office, as a result of being a good and useful reference. Please let us know if you will need additional copies or how well you believe the book has served you. We have mailed this book to the school teachers, local library, town office, planning boards, selectmen, community civic groups, and of course, the authors on each island. Our thanks to the many islanders who are the inspiration behind the pages.
Annette Naegel, Marge Kilkelly and Katrina Van Dusen
Island Institute Maine Coastal Program