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Social Resilience Project

Project Goal

Strengthen connections between emergency management, conservation, social service, and municipal sectors to better prepare, respond, and recover from storms and to better serve residents whose circumstances make them more vulnerable to storm impacts.

Project Summary

With changing climate conditions, coastal Maine faces more frequent and more severe weather events, bringing flooding, high wind impacts, and damage to road and electric infrastructure to our communities. There are community members and groups who, due to economic and/or social circumstances, will be at greater risk and have less resources to respond to and recover from storm impacts. The Social Resilience Project creates dialogue and connections between the groups that play a role in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from these events as well as supporting and reducing the impacts on our most vulnerable community members.

Final Report (November 2023)

Social Resilience Planning Guidebook

Project Activities

Midcoast Maine Scenario Planning Exercise to Improve Community Resilience to Coastal Storms

On January 26, 2022, 56 invited participants representing the sectors of emergency management, conservation, municipal, and social services attended a 4 hour virtual event built around preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a hypothetical storm.

Scenario Products

Central to the projects vision is looking beyond the physical impacts of coastal hazards such as power outages and washed out road culverts, and instead focusing on how these physical impacts pose risks to certain members of our communities. These are community members and groups, who due to their economic and/or social circumstances, will be at greater risk and have less resources to respond to and recover from storm impacts.

Focus Area

This project is focused on strengthening regional connections in eight communities: Harpswell, Brunswick, West Bath, Bath, Phippsburg, Georgetown, Arrowsic, and Woolwich.

Why Here?

Our southern Midcoast Maine communities face unique challenges in response to climate change impacts. We are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of storms due to a combination of social and geographic conditions. Geographically, our communities are located on narrow peninsulas and islands where there is often a single access roadway. Demographic characteristics such as an aging population, older residents living alone, high reliance on natural resource economies, and high levels of self-employment, all combine to create a population that is at higher risk when coastal hazards disrupt transportation and other types of infrastructure within a town.

Other Activities

  • Interview stakeholders to learn about coastal adaptation work and challenges
  • Demonstrate the Maine Coastal Risk Explorer, a web application that highlights where infrastructure and social vulnerability co-occur
  • Meet with representatives from emergency management, social services, and conservation sectors from the southern midcoast region, to discuss their process, network connections, and resources used.

Notes, Reports, and Presentations (2019-2023)

Emergency Service Providers Meeting Notes (2/25/2019)

Social Service Providers Meeting Notes (5/20/2019)

Conservation-based Organizations Meeting Notes (1/14/2020)

Getting to Social Resilience: First it Starts with Listening (2020 Social Coast Forum)

Addressing Rural Vulnerability to Flood Events  Strengthening Response Networks Through Use of Mapping Platforms (2020 American Association of Geographers Conference)

The Social Resilience Project: Connecting Sectors to Increase Regional Community Resilience in Southern Midcoast Maine (2021 Maine Sustainability and Water Conference)

What is Social Vulnerability? (Nov 2021)

Southern Midcoast Maine Social Resilience Project Briefing Book (Jan 2022)

Social Resilience Project Scenario Planning Exercise Final Report (Feb 2023)

Social Resilience Project: Building Resilience in Rural Coastal Communities Poster (2023 Maine Sustainability & Water Conference)


E. Johnson et. al., A lifeline and social vulnerability analysis of sea level rise impacts on rural coastal communities. Shore and Beach 86 (4), 38-44

Social Vulnerability Ranking within Coastal Risk Explorer

Project Team

  • Jeremy Bell, The Nature Conservancy
  • Victoria Boundy, Casco Bay Estuary Program
  • Annie Cox, Wells Reserve
  • Kristen Grant, Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension
  • Liz Hertz, Blue Sky Planning Solutions
  • Ruth Indrick, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
  • Eileen Johnson, PhD., Bowdoin College

Advisory Committee

  • Allison Hepler - Woolwich Selectboard
  • Anne Fuchs - Maine Emergency Management Agency Director of Mitigation, Planning, and Recovery Division
  • Grainne Shaw - Sagadahoc County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director
  • Jared Woolston - City of Brunswick Planner
  • Mary Turner - Good Shepherd Food Bank
  • Mary Ann Nahf - Harpswell Conservation Commission
  • Nathan Robbins - Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection Climate & Adaptation Program

Project Period

Ongoing from 2017


Bowdoin College for focus group meetings (2019-2020); student project for Community Assessment planning (Jan-Feb 2021) and StoryMap creation (July-Sept 2021)

Maine Sea Grant to support an 8-week undergraduate research fellowship on scenario planning exercise development and implementation (2020)

Maine Coastal Communities Grant Program to develop and carry out a tabletop scenario-planning exercise for a coastal hazard event (2020-2022)

Island Institute to support the the development and implementation of the tabletop scenario-planning exercise (Sept 2020-2022)

The Nature Conservancy to support Blue Sky Planning Solutions involvement as a Project Team Member

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