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The Community Catalyst event was a wonderfully energizing time that created a commonly held vision, eight prioritized objectives and teams of people working on community initiatives that had been identified as important steps to meeting those objectives. Leaders of each team met often to discuss progress and identify obstacles. REM responded to the challenge presented by these obstacles and evolved, over the next several years to become an umbrella organization supporting, not only those initial community initiatives, but many more that were identified since then.

REM is made up of three divisions and has more than eighty teams, events and projects underway. Two of the divisions and all of their teams were developed to support the work of the Community Initiatives. All of these teams including their leaders, officers and Executive Directors are all volunteers.   The designer and presenters of the Community Catalyst process were very serious about the importance of prioritizing the objectives. All of the participants were asked to develop only those community initiatives that helped push the top objective to completion.

The REM Board and other REM leaders have observed that people come to REM to develop initiatives for which they have a deep passion and vision. The very first initiative to experience an outstanding success was a project under the last priority, Expand Fitness and Recreation. The people who came forward with this goal had a vision of establishing a system of trails throughout our community. This Community Initiative is now totally independent and has a life all of its own under a very strong leader and Board of Directors and enjoys it’s own 501(c)(3) nonprofit status and the name Kennebec Messalonskee Trails. This project has a great potential to positively affect our top objective which is to Develop a Vibrant Economy. Even if it was not successful in affecting this goal, it clearly fit within the objectives of our eighth priority, and REM supported their work just as avidly as we do every other.

It is our belief that it is the act of serving and building our community that matters and it is this that will have the biggest impact on our economy. REM is that place where people can bring the richness of their diversity and place their piece in our community jigsaw puzzle. Every hole leaves a void and our goal is to have every member of our community adopt our vision: that it is the right and responsibility of every citizen in our democracy to get involved locally in the creation of the community in which they choose to live. It is our goal to create a non-governmental sector of the democratic process.

REM leaders spent a day together and named our process holocracy…a word we created (with the assistance of several Colby professors) that stems from the Greek words kratos (power) and holos (whole). We chose this to signify that the power of our democratic process comes from the pooling of our resources, the joining of our hands and our ideas. In REM we value everyone’s ideas, passion, talents, energy, and willingness to share all of these things.

In 2016 REM’s plan is to replicate across Maine. There is much fine tuning that needs to be done before we can be sure that other communities will have all that they need to be successful. It is very important to us that we not set them up for failure. The better we do at presenting our organization structure and process the less energy we will have to expend helping them and the more we will have to continue our work in our Mid-Maine community. So let’s continue our work to build democracy in America. It was imagined in Jeffersonian thought that there would be a non-governmental sector of the democratic process. We may or may not be building that. It may or may not happen. But for us in Mid-Maine…it’s here now. Join us.

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