Update on Making Headway in Your Community: Will We Be in Your Town Next?

Making Headway in Your Community is wrapping up its first full year as a community engagement program, a partnership of the Maine Downtown Center and GrowSmart Maine.

GrowSmart Maine and Maine Downtown Center are engaged with communities on the public meeting components of Making Headway.  Projects are underway in several towns while the rest are nominating theirs.  Use of money to build skills, instincts and abilities is in process as well as communities consider how best to invest in their people.

We are making improvements to the website makingheadway.me and to the community worksheet.  Our goal in both these efforts is to provide a fun, easy way for community members to describe what matters most in their towns and to define and research what assistance they need, and finally to provide a place to brag, yes brag, about the work they are doing.

At a recent event sponsored by MDF, the SBA and the Economic Development Council of Maine, we presented makingheadway.me to a convening of roughly 200 economic development organizations from across Maine.  As a result, additional organizations have signed up to be listed on the website.  Additionally, the SBA is willing to review this tool perhaps to include it in the tools and resources they promote across Maine!

We’ve designed a one page overview of the program with a flow chart showing the overall process and connections between the various public events.

In Lubec, three community members and one non-profit has donated funds for the projects. Truly this level of grassroots community engagement is inspiring many, just as the film “Reviving the Freedom Mill” has.

With Lorain Francis’ pending departure from Maine Downtown Center, we are confident Making Headway will continue to be a priority for both GrowSmart Maine and the Maine Development Foundation.

The power of this program to invigorate Mainers as they devote themselves to their communities is just beginning to be realized.


Movie Night (January 25, 2016 with 27 attendees)
Community Conversation (February 15, 2016 with 39 attendees)
Project Name and update: Improvements to Suddy Field: basketball court, exercise stations and toddler play area. Site has been measured and seeded and plans are being finalized. Cash and In-kind donations are being collected.
Skills, Instincts and Abilities: Community researching and discussing
Community Celebration: Date to be determined.

Movie Night (January 26, 2016 with 23 attendees)
Community Conversation (February 16, 2016 with 13 attendees)
Project Name and update: Welcome Center signage, kiosk and printing a map with community highlights of businesses, hospitality amenities and historic houses. Work is well underway.
Skills, Instincts and Abilities: Community researching and discussing, some plan to attend GrowSmart Maine’s July forum on Arts and Culture as Economic Drivers.
Community Celebration: Tentatively during Milbridge Days, July 30th

Movie Night (February 17, 2016 with 41 attendees)
Community Conversation (April 27, 2016 with 25 attendees)
Project update: The three project finalists were merged into a single Beautify Lubec project. Lubec navigators are working with the local organizations to develop a priority list of tasks, budget and timeline.
Skills, Instincts and Abilities: 3 community members attended the May 13th Maine Downtown Conference in Bar Harbor, presented by the Maine Downtown Center.
Community Celebration: Tentatively July 29, 2016


Movie Night (April 27, 2016 with 27 attendees)
Community Conversation (May 16, 2016, with 23 attendees)
Project update: A small area adjacent to the library will be fenced in, allowing for additional and more diverse programming.  It will expand the current events and programming. It provides a downtown
gathering space and green space and enhances Wilton’s Blueberry Festival.
Skills, Instincts and Abilities: Community researching and discussing.

Movie Night: May 9th with 20 attendees
Community Conversation: scheduled for May 23, 2016
Project update: Project will be voted on at Community Conversation Meeting
Skills, Instincts and Abilities: Community researching and discussing


May 17, 2019 Morning Sentinel

May 9, 2016 Morning Sentinel

April 25, 2016 Morning Sentinel

March 1, 2016 Bangor Daily News