MIDCOAST— Do you have a great idea to help your community but just need that leg up to find more support and collaboration? New England Grassroots Environment Fund, an organization dedicated to inspire, connect, and support community-based environmental projects throughout New England, is coming to Maine with a series of “pop-up offices.”
Based in N.H. with satellite offices in Vermont, the Grassroots Fund services all of New England. A number of free pop-up office events are coming to Maine this week with help from Tess Beem, their program manager, who is Maine-born and raised. Before her work with the Fund, Tess worked on the coast of Maine, helping to sustain Maine's year-round, island communities through the Island Institute.
“The whole concept of the pop-ups, which we’re piloting for the first time, is to hit the road and bring our programming to the communities, instead of continually asking folks to come to us for events and trainings,” said Beem.
For the Grassroots Fund, pop-up offices are a way to lower barriers to funding for groups that have traditionally had a hard time accessing resources.
Other pop-up events will be held in Ellsworth and Bangor, as well as in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
“Given my connections to Maine, we decided it would beneficial to meet up with people who are doing some great work in this state,” she said.
Along with meeting their grantee and partner organizations from Maine, the Fund will be holding drop-in office hours at the local libraries to support current applications or dream up new ideas, as well as hosting social gatherings after at local restaurants.
On Wednesday, February 5, they’ll set up at the Rockland Public Library from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.with social networking to follow at Ada’s Kitchen from 5 to 7 p.m.
The next day, Thursday, February 6, on multiple stops, they’ll set up at the Belfast Free Library from 2 to 5:30 p.m. with social networking to follow at Three Tides from 6 to 7 p.m.
“The time in the library is more office-hour style, but afterwards, this will give participants a chance to connect with others and find out more about what members in their communities are doing,” she said.
Setting up each day like office hours, a Grassroots Fund staff member will be available for support and discussion of people’s work and ideas. Beem will be scheduling times to meet one-on-one and individuals can indicate what they are looking to get out of the time.
People are welcome to come to the Pop-up Office before and after their time slot, to engage with other groups or continue working on their own. Each person will come away with a better understanding of the different resources the Grassroots Fund offers and ways to participate.
This is ideal for people who have ideas and want to brainstorm the project with collaborators, who want help looking over a grant application or want to learn about upcoming trainings and events in 2019.
“This is also a great way for people who are interested in what we do to put a face to name rather than through email or a voicemail,” said Beem.
While it’s not so much a pop-up for entrepreneurs or micro-businesses looking for business help for their product or services, it is a good way to network with other like-minded individuals in social and environmental justice work.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org