Category: CCON Outlook

OUTLOOK with Laura Bither

Outlook explores variables that shape and influence individuals relationships with nature and how they seek to inspire, adapt and reimagine what conservation can look like moving forward in a world where Climate Change is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.

Author: Laura Bither, Regional Youth Hub Coordinator with JustME for JustUS

OUTLOOK: How my passion for climate justice and outdoor accessibility for all plays out in my work.

SMCC: What are you passionate about and how does that play out in your work?

My passion is climate justice and outdoor accessibility for all. The Scarborough Marsh Climate Change Observatory (CCO) site is ADA-accessible, which is a necessary and obvious step in inclusivity. The restorative benefits of nature are especially vital for folks who are combating ableism, white supremacy, settler colonialism, and capitalism in their everyday lives because of the identities they present.

I’m thrilled about the participatory model of the Climate Change Observatory Network (CCON). In a place like the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center that gets a lot of tourists, visitors develop only a transient, transactional relationship with the land. Bringing in a program that fosters in visitors an intentional engagement with the land is crucial as we adapt to climate change and reframe our relationship to the land to be one of reciprocity rather than of extraction.

In my roles this past summer as the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center Environmental Education Intern and the Maine Environmental Changemakers Community Organizer I created and authored a project on climate change and sea level rise. By focusing on the stories of youth and fisherfolk – those typically left unheard in the traditional environmental movement – I centered on the challenges Maine coastal communities face and their visions for a climate-resilient future. A digital version will be posted to the Maine Audubon website, and a physical display will be mounted next spring on the front of the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center.

In my current role as the Regional Youth Hub Coordinator with JustME for JustUS I am driven by a mission to create a strong youth-led network of civic engagement and climate justice work in rural Maine. I feel incredibly lucky to work with an organization and leaders in the climate justice movement to shift power toward a shared goal of equity and justice for all Mainers. Through a series of political power trainings and micro grants to support youth projects, we are dedicated to supporting the awesome civic engagement and climate justice work that youth are putting forward. We must center youth voices in policy and planning as we reimagine our future with climate change.

POEM: vacationland by Laura Bither

OUTLOOK with Stephanie Smith

Outlook explores variables that shape and influence individuals relationships with nature and how they seek to inspire, adapt and reimagine what conservation can look like moving forward in a world where Climate Change is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.

Author: Daphne James, SMCC Summer Associate. A rising senior at Bates collage studying Environmental Studies with a concentration in human culture, gender and the environment.

OUTLOOK: A “WALK & TALK” with Stephanie Smith of Friends of Scarborough Marsh

I had the opportunity to meet up with Stephanie Smith, Board Vice President of the Friends of Scarborough Marsh (FOSM) to talk about FOSM’s Climate Change Observatory (CCO) sites and other projects they are involved in. Stephanie has been working with FOSM for 16+ years. FOSM is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to the protection, restoration, and enhancement of the Scarborough Marsh through conservation, research, and education.

FOSM is part of the Climate Change Observatory Network (CCON). This summer they built out two CCO sites located on the Eastern Trail in Scarborough that are crowdsourcing photos to create time lapse videos that monitor and document both the western view and eastern view of the ever changing Scarborough Marsh.

Stephanie grew up in South Portland and has witnessed first hand all the various changes occurring to the marsh over the years. She expressed how protecting and caring for the marsh has become increasingly more important to many people in light of climate change and the pandemic. Listening to Stephanie talk about the Scarborough Marsh and FOSM’s work, it is was clear that FOSM’s dedication to providing educational opportunities and stewarding the marsh  has contributed to making positive impacts for the community.

I was struck by the beauty and serenity of the Scarborough Marsh on my first visit to this area with Stephanie, as we walked north on the Eastern Trail from Pine Point Road to the bridge where the two CCO sites Scarborough Marsh-Western View and Scarborough Marsh-Eastern View are located for passerby to help contribute to monitoring the marsh. I learned about the many ways the Marsh enriches the community and surrounding ecosystem, and why it matters that investing time and resources to protecting it makes a difference. Peter Slovinski’s, FOSM Board Member and Marine Geologist from Maine Geological Survey, INFORMATIVE TALK ( click to watch) with Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca, illuminates the latest science on rising seas, and how we can work together to make our coastline and waters resilient to climate change.

Stephanie has worked on several projects with FOSM, including the signs around the town of Scarborough advocating for protecting the marsh. Another new project that she is excited about is called, Marsh Tapping, where local residents are encouraged to stop using pesticides in their gardens to protect the marsh, and encourage other’s to do the same by posting a sign in their yard. Stephanie shared how she really believes in citizens coming together to help protect their local environment. We talked about how the environment is all interconnected — and the importance of being mindful about our own impacts. Caring for and protecting the Scarborough Marsh is a community effort. As individuals it is important to recognize we are part of a larger whole and can choose to contribute in meaningful and positive ways to build stronger more climate resilient communities that benefit and serve this greater whole.

OUTLOOK with Sami Wolf

Outlook explores variables that shape and influence individuals relationships with nature and how they seek to inspire, adapt and reimagine what conservation can look like moving forward in a world where Climate Change is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.

Author: Daphne James, SMCC Summer Associate. Rising senior at Bates college studying Environmental Studies with a concentration in human culture, gender, and the environment. 

OUTLOOK: An afternoon chat with Sami Wolf, Stewardship Director, Scarborough Land Trust.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Scarborough Land Trust’s (SLT) stewardship director, Sami Wolf, to talk about her journey in conservation, SLT’s Climate Change Observatory sites, and how COVID-19 has impacted conservation in Maine.

Sami grew up in Vermont where her passion for nature was fostered by the changing seasons and open access to open spaces. It was threats of developing farmland in her hometown that inspired her to be involved in environmental training and conservation, leading her to be a summer associate at the Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative, grad school in Ireland, and eventually work back in Maine. Now at Scarborough Land Trust she applies her ecological training to strike a balance between the needs of wildlife and the needs of the community. 

We spoke about the importance of outreach and connecting with the local community and how being apart of the Climate Change Observatory (CCO) Network helps facilitate this connection. Sami expressed her love for the project and appreciation for the CCO site’s ability to help people visualize and better understand the environmental changes occurring in Maine due to a warming climate. She explained the visibility the project enables and that it emphasizes the importance of taking a “half step back to realize climate change is happening in Maine because [you] can see it happening right here in Fuller Farm.” Scarborough Land Trust currently has two CCO sites, one at Fuller Farm Preserve and one at Blue Point Preserve.

Sami engages with both sites frequently and believes they can help document climate change trends over time. She visited Fuller Farm in the spring and saw snowmelt, streamflow and a waterfall, but by the time she returned in June the stream was bone dry. Observations like Sami’s, are being captured by crowdsourced photos at the CCO site. An individual simply takes a photo by placing their device on the picture post bracket and emails the photo to Chronolog. Chronolog integrates the photo into the CCO site’s time lapse video, and instantly sends a reply email back to the individual with the time lapse video and information about the CCO site project. The observational data is made publicly available on a website for easy access, allowing people to witness for themselves the environmental changes occurring at the site.

As we spoke about the disheartening changes in the Maine landscape due to climate change, I asked Sami about what she is hopeful for in the future. Sami shared with me the spike in attention and acknowledgement of the crucial role conservation plays at the town level in Scarborough. She accredited this rise of interest to COVID and people noticing what is around them and wanting access and maintenance to those green spaces. Sami said, “The community has felt an electrified charge, there is a lot of fire behind it, everyone sees and feels the need for green space post COVID, and have seeked an interest in wildlife and conservation. Folks are coming to bat for climate change and conservation.” It is really exciting to hear about the increased interest in conservation and how after a long hard year people are eager to support and continue to protect green spaces, especially in functional ways. Sami shared that the attention is not just natural enjoyment, but “to mitigate the twists and turns of natural events”.

The Climate Change Observatory Network (CCON) is a photo monitoring program designed to work with environmental organizations and communities to assist with the observation, measurement and documentation of long-term climate change trends. Using participatory tools and collaborative partnerships, the program brings people with various perspectives and knowledge together to co-learn about climate change and adaptation. The CCON encourages participation in climate change study, develops an interest and community ownership in climate action, and inspires collaboration amongst community stakeholders to develop adaptation strategies and solutions.

Learn more about the Climate Change Observatory Network and how you can get involved.

If you are an organization who is interested in joining the CCO Network and developing a Climate Change Observatory Site and/or interested in partnering or collaborating on a project, please do not hesitate to get in touch