Rural Maine Reporting Project

The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

As a part of its strategic efforts in local journalism, Maine Public presents a year-long series of news reports on Maine Public Radio and digitally that highlight the benefits, challenges, and opportunities of life in today’s rural and western Maine.

Reporting on rural and western Maine is decreasing. Most local media outlets have diminished in size, capacity, and reach, to only cover the higher profile stories from Augusta, Portland, Lewiston and Bangor. This shrinking level of coverage widens the gap in what listeners, viewers, and readers know about their fellow Mainers. And the need to connect with our neighbors and understand people everywhere in our state is entirely evident now, more than ever.

This series will showcase the best that rural Maine has to offer, while also featuring the stories that show how these communities have challenges unique to each.

Jae C. Hong / AP Photo

More than 10 percent of students in Maine Public Schools have "chronic health conditions," such as asthma, type-1 diabetes and seizure disorders. Some local school officials say they believe the numbers of students with serious health needs is growing. This can lead to a particularly difficult problem in small, rural school districts, which may not have a full-time school nurse.

Nick Woodward / Maine Public

Maine winters can be long, cold and difficult for small businesses. But there’s one recreational pursuit that has been quietly — or loudly, as the case may be — putting money into some of the most remote tills in the state.

OUT Maine

Growing up is not easy. But for Maine’s rural LGBTQ youth, it can be even harder. While urban and suburban communities offer some resources for individuals in the LGBTQ community, like annual pride parades and support groups, help for young people in Maine’s less populated areas can be scarce or difficult to access. Some of the state’s rural schools are taking meaningful steps to change that.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

In a vast, rural state like Maine, social isolation is a part of life, especially so for seniors who are stuck in their homes because of physical and financial challenges. That isolation can lead to loneliness, which is considered by some experts a serious public health issue.

A long simmering debate over Skowhegan High School's use of an ‘Indian’ mascot is once again headed for a showdown.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Photo

School districts in Maine are in desperate need of bus drivers. The problem is particularly serious in some rural communities, where custodians and office assistants are being asked to get behind the wheel, and some districts are trying to avert a crisis.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

The school board representing MSAD 54 narrowly approved a motion Thursday night to hold a public forum in January to consider ending the use of Skowhegan High School's Indians mascot.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Every year on the first Saturday in December, hundreds of people flood the streets of Farmington, Maine to remember a man most never met.

http://www.celebrationbarn.com/

How can the arts contribute to rural community development in Maine? Some of our state's smallest and most isolated towns have found that promoting arts and cultural opportunities have brought them new life. In advance of the Maine Arts Commission's conference on this subject, we explore the role of the arts in rural development.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

Piscataquis County is Maine's least populous county with fewer than six people per square mile. And it's losing inhabitants.

Nick Woodward / Maine Public File

Did your parents ever order you to “just go play outside”? Studies show that kids are spending less time outdoors — far less than their parents and grandparents did.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Swimming lessons are in full swing around lakes, ponds and pools this summer. But even in a state like Maine, with so many bodies of water, getting access to lessons can be challenging.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

For more than 40 years, development proposals in Maine's unorganized townships have been handled in a fairly straightforward way: new construction had to be located within one road mile of a similar existing development, such as a group of cabins for rent or a canoe rental shop.

Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public

Across Maine, thousands of high school seniors are graduating and preparing for the next chapter in their lives. But for many, particularly students in rural Maine, the future is uncertain. Graduating seniors in the western Maine town of Rumford told Maine Public how they imagine their own futures, and whether that future might include returning to their hometown.

We’ll hear from experts and entrepreneurs about ways to bring high-speed internet to all of Maine. This is in advance of the statewide 2018 Maine Broadband Coalition Conference, in which Maine communities and national experts will share lessons learned to date, look at new ways for solving shared challenges, and identify what’s next for broadband funding and policy in Maine.

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