The Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative was founded in 2012 as a service center to assist conservation organizations in southern Maine with hands on assistance specific to organizational needs. Because our theory of change is rooted in the idea that solutions forged together and in partnership are more lasting and effective, we also serve to build connections within the conservation sector, and between conservation and broader community issues.
In service of connection to the land and justice for people, we advance the growth edge of the modern conservation movement.
These are the things we believe to be true about the world and our place in it.
- We believe that the land and all that is on it and in it is important and essential to life. It is the thing on which, through which, and by which we come together and are fully human.
- We believe our treatment of the land must be based in reciprocity, as it has a direct effect on public health, climate resiliency, justice and equity.
- We believe that conservation organizations are more effective when they have access to technical assistance, shared resources, administrative support, and networking.
- Modern conservation is rooted in colonialism and white supremacy, which erase the many ways to relate to nature while systematically preventing access to and dispossessing Indigenous, Black and communities of color of land.
- Power needs to be shifted in conservation because it is exclusive, primarily of and for the white dominant culture without reflecting or attending to the needs of people who make up communities, especially those of marginalized identities.
- Human actions are driving climate change. The conservation movement must play a role in response to this change by monitoring the change, making lands more resilient to change, and managing carbon capture.
- Biodiversity is an essential measure of the health of the land and all life on it. The conservation movement must contribute to maintaining adequate biodiversity by conserving land, caring for the land using indigenous and modern management practices, and educating communities on the value of healthy, diverse ecosystems.
- We believe all things are interconnected, and people can better understand the ripple effects of their actions and shift behavior through education and engagement.
To work collectively in Maine to create mutually beneficial relationships with the earth, communities, and people through the conservation movement.
Conserved, restored and stewarded lands provide climate resiliency, community health, justice and equity for generations.
Our relationship with the earth is primary in society, restoring sovereignty to the earth and Indigenous people, benefiting all.
These are the ways of being in the world and with each other that guide our actions as an organization.
We commit and hold ourselves accountable to the following:
- CONNECTION: to be aware of and rooted in our connection to nature and each other as the foundation of systemic change; and to be active in ensuring that those that are most often excluded are included.
- HUMILITY: to listen and be open minded; be accountable; change our path based on new information; accept that we do not know it all; acknowledge and trust that some next steps will present themselves in time.
- COURAGE: to tell the truth, to try new things, to make mistakes, to seek out and listen to voices that haven’t been listened to, to persevere when faced with challenges.
- JUSTICE and EQUITY: to ensure our work is not perpetuating the biases and disparities that disproportionately burden communities of color, indigenous communities, people with physical and mental disabilities, and low-income communities with legacies of environmental damage and on-going harm; to work toward fixing inequitable systems, including the nonprofit sector and those that exist in our own organization. See our full statement of equity HERE.
These four work as a system – they are interconnected – multi-dimensional
Key Framework for the Future
- Strengthen organizations: our technical services will add capacity and expertise where needed, along with resources and opportunities for continued learning.
- Build a cohesive network of organizations: we will provide opportunities for networking and access to programs to engage and take action on a number of key issues. These opportunities will result in partnerships within the conservation sector, and between conservation and broader community issues including climate resiliency, justice and equity, and community health.
- Be a catalyst and partner in transformational change for the conservation community: we will push the edges of what has always been and will lean into a conversation of what has not happened yet through partnership, commitment, and growth.
Strategic Priority Areas
- Improve the coordination and effectiveness of numerous organizations that work on protecting land and water by providing professional support services, collaborative learning, and networking opportunities.
- Facilitate projects to tangibly illustrate the power of partnership and regional collaboration that will enhance ecological connectivity between the organizations and within the region.
- Clearly communicate trends in land and water conservation, current and future threats, and solutions to member organizations, citizens, and community leaders in the region.
- Leverage additional private and public investment in conservation to provide the greatest benefit for current and future generations of the region’s residents and ecosystems.
- Build relationships with community partners to connect land and water conservation with different sectors so that local projects on the ground can illustrate relevance and interdependence.
- Work toward fixing inequitable systems, including the nonprofit sector and those that exist in our own organization.