GrowSmart Maine Statement: Black Lives Matter.

November 2020 Action Statement: 

As 2020 continues to be emotionally, physically, mentally and financially taxing to Maine’s people and organizations, GrowSmart Maine has maintained a steady commitment to finding our organizational niche and expanding our individual personal awareness around racial equity. A board and staff committee came together to think critically about the intersection of race and smart growth as well as to lift each other up in our pursuit of greater knowledge and understanding of the complicated nature of racial disparities in our nation. This dual learning has demanded time and attention on top of our day-to-day operations and is under-resourced. Instead of tabling it, we understand the importance of this moment and are applying ourselves, as a board and staff, to weaving it into our work. 

To date, the actions that have been taken include outlining a collaborative webinar series for 2021 highlighting the history and intersection of race and land use in our state, holding ourselves accountable to our communal continued learning by sharing resources that have moved us forward along our own racial justice knowledge journeys, building racial equity into existing strategic and work plans, and kindling new and refreshing existing relationships with people of color throughout Maine and beyond. We certainly do not have all the answers and are delighted to be able to collaborate with and give stage to pathfinder organizations and leaders already working in this space.

We are glad to be part of a growing movement in Maine and beyond to both elevate the voices, experiences, and expertise of Black, Indigenous, and people of color while also expanding the stakeholder and leadership opportunities for BIPOC in GrowSmart Maine. As a historically and currently white-led organization, we are taking this issue very seriously. Please let us know if you would like to join us in our efforts.

June 2020 Statement: 

GrowSmart Maine is committed to doing our part to end racial inequality throughout Maine and our nation. Reflecting on the chaotic and heartbreaking events of recent weeks, we have heard the call to prioritize racial equity in our work to build lasting prosperity without sacrificing the quality of life that defines Maine.

We know that conventional land use, housing and transportation policies, and inequitable school funding have often contributed to destructive divides in our country, producing sprawling places while marking a stark separation of both uses and people. We also know that these practices have the power to promote racial and social equity by providing housing choices for all, safe, inclusive built and natural environments, environmental justice, access to economic and educational opportunities, and celebration of culture. It is time for all of us to take a hard look at who is included in our leadership, opportunities and communities, and who is being left out.

Our internal work has begun with shared reflection on ensuring that equity is centered in our 5-year strategic plan and annual work plans. As a small staff working statewide, we commit our limited capacity to fully investigating both how we do our work and how that work must change to dismantle these destructive systems. We will take action to ensure that GrowSmart Maine is helping Maine communities make meaningful strides in addressing underlying racism and inequity in their everyday operations, policies, and work such as transportation policy, land use and community planning.

Current events remind us that addressing racial inequity is an essential component of smart growth and GrowSmart Maine is committed to supporting and building communities that are just, safe and provide opportunities for ALL. We invite you to join us in this journey. You can expect to hear from us again about our progress and how you can participate at the end of the summer.