By Mia Ambroiggio
Residents are the most affected by changes made to their own city or town. For example, a new bike path could provide an easier, safer route to work or school; the addition of a well-planned park could provide space for community events and give neighbors a place to gather; or the addition of a community garden could provide programming opportunities and food security to neighborhoods where people struggle with food scarcity. Because residents are so directly impacted by physical and operational changes in their community, their input is extremely meaningful at every stage of local and regional projects.
Municipalities and planning agencies hold the power to mold neighborhoods into better places for residents. But residents have power to wield, too. Planners need input to make sure that their changes are truly making our cities and towns more livable and connecting community members to opportunity, and to each other;this is only possible with the direct input of community members. These plans especially need input from low-income residents and communities of color, who have historically been prevented from having a seat at the table.
Today, multiple projects are in progress or on the horizon in Maine. Leaders of those projects are looking for diverse voices that accurately represent the communities where they work.
Moving Maine Network
The Moving Maine Network is a statewide, multi-sector collaborative that is working to improve access to transportation for all, with a focus on people who experience barriers. The network envisions a Maine where all people have access to transportation regardless of background, destination, or geography. To join a working group, become a mobility liaison, and learn more, visit www.movingmaine.org/.
Connect 2045 is an update of the Portland region’s long-range transportation plan. The plan aims to improve and expand the Greater Portland regional transportation system. It considers all modes of travel and identifies how to spend investments in the future.
For updates and opportunities for engagement, visit www.connect2045.org/pages/get-involved
Transit Together is a study to identify opportunities for increased coordination and integration among the seven public transit providers in the Portland area. The plan aims to improve the experience of current riders, attract new riders, and make the system more effective and efficient.To share feedback on the routes, visit www.transittogether.org/route-profiles.
GPCOG Rapid Transit Study
The Greater Portland Council of Governments Rapid Transit Study looks at developing public rapid transit options (such as commuter rails or street cars) to connect southern Maine’s major market centers. The study is just starting. For project updates and ways for the public to provide feedback, visit www.gpcog.org/.
GOPIF Community Resilience Partnership
The Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future Community Resilience Partnership assists communities in reducing carbon emissions, transitioning to clean energy, and becoming more resilient to climate change effects. Communities across Maine are joining the partnership to implement resilience projects. To join, communities need to hold a workshop to receive public input. Check with municipal offices for information about whether a town or city plans to enroll.