Making it in Maine

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Maine might be open for business, but too often, the business being discussed and the deals cut by our fearless leaders in Augusta bypass Main Street for the malls and retail models better suited for a “Happy Motoring” utopia running on borrowed time. That belief sadly still holds sway, along with the presumption that excess consumption can be maintained into perpetuity.

Don’t get me wrong—consumerism will continue to drive our economy for the next decade at least, but true sustainability and local and regional economies built for the long haul are going to have to be led by locally-owned storefronts and production rooted in Maine, not corporate big boxes.

I like the concept that we can create the world we want. Let’s not leave it up to the politicians, think somehow that some deity can save us, or rely on legal smoke and mirrors. It’s up to you, John or Jane Q. Public. You have the power!

Today at noon, Alex Steed, Maine provocateur and current BDN blogger was the guest on Keith Shorthall’s Maine Calling program. The topic, Made in Maine holiday gifts, as Alex has written not one, but two recent columns/posts about how Mainers can forgo foreign-made, sweatshop produced junk for the real deal—authentic Maine-produced gifts.

The other guests on the MPBN daily call-in program were Sean Wilkerson, president of AIGA Maine and Jenna (last name?) , a local entrepreneur and owner of a small boutique in Hallowell. She also heads up the Maine Etsy team.

A few weeks ago, I was in Brunswick at a new shop called Local. I stopped counting when I got up around 30 locally-produced items, ranging from candy and whoopee pies, to beer, granola, sauerkraut, hand-crafted cards, pasta, cheeses, etc. More and more everyday items are being produced by our neighbor’s right here in Maine. Then there is the amazing Brunswick Winter Market held every Saturday at Fort Andross. Are you supporting these local business owners?

As we ready for the closing out of another calendar year, there seems to be energy around change and finding a new way forward, at least with the people I’m spending my time with. Care to come along with us?