I should start by saying that the Magnetize Maine 2019 Summit is doing important work. They are attempting to “stimulate the conversation” and “transform Maine’s future work environment and inspire younger workers to remain in our great state.”

This is a necessary undertaking; Maine’s workforce is rapidly aging (statistically – our individual Mainers are, of course, aging slowly and in a stately manner, like a beautiful oak tree). Maine’s deaths are outnumbering births; I’ve never been good at math, but even I know those numbers should be reversed.

But I’m looking at the keynote speakers of this conference, which is taking place in Auburn at the end of March, and they don’t inspire me to move to Maine – and I already live here. It’s four white dudes: three be-bearded craft beer brewing bros and a VP from Bangor Savings Bank who, I’m extrapolating from his college graduation years on his LinkedIn profile, isn’t a millennial, but who will be talking about what millennials are seeking from their work. (Answer: A fair paycheck, and a sense that they aren’t helping to actively destroy the planet.) The beer bros might be millennials, but beards make it harder for me to estimate a person’s age. (Does anyone else have that problem? No? Just me?)

Craft beer is going to be an important part of Maine’s future economy, to be sure, but it’s not an economic sector that I or other recovering alcoholics can fully participate in. And you can’t talk about millennials in Maine without me, of course, The Maine Millennial herself.

When I think of the future of Maine and its economy, I think of some of the neighbors we used to have in Buxton. One was a family who lived across the street – the dad worked from home for Google, and the mom home-schooled their three young boys, in addition to being a yoga teacher, volunteering at Sunday school and raising chickens. (I have no idea how she did it.) And next door, we had two young couples who started an organic farm together. After a few years, they outgrew our backyard, and moved to a larger, permanent home in Windham (they’re Bumbleroot Farm, and everything they grow is good). We need more folk like them.

I’m very much in favor of rural broadband internet expansion – we absolutely want to grab that share of young tech professionals who can work from anywhere with a laptop, but who want to get out of the city and raise some kids in a place with fresh air and low crime rates. I’m also hoping that federal agricultural subsidies will stop going to giant farms that only raise corn to smaller, local farms that grow a mixture of food crops. Maine has a lot of relatively cheap land; perfect for idealistic millennials. It’s the “back to the land” movement, but with Instagram.

I see two things, primarily, as key to Maine’s future: immigration and green-collar jobs.

We need immigrants, including asylum seekers and refugees, to come to Maine – not only for the population growth and economic contributions, but also to diversify enough so that idiots like that former town manager in Jackman don’t come to Maine with their white-separatist crap. And we need to create green-collar jobs – work for people with all kinds of education and skill levels; jobs that are environmentally friendly or actively part of America’s conversion to renewable energy.

Building floating turbines off our coast and windmills on some of our rolling hills to generate clean power – our winds already fill our sails and push us forward; they can push us forward in other ways. Building solar farms and energy-efficient homes. Organic, local farms to fill our plates and our pockets. And, of course, eco-tourism and the outdoor industry: We have so many places to hunt and ski and sail. Maine has every body of water you could possibly want – raft down a river? Fish on a lake? Stroll by the seaside? We’ve got it all!

And, of course, we need to advertise. Maine is tucked way up in the upper right hand corner of America; and as we all know, the best food is found at out of the way, hole-in-the-wall diners. I want my Maine to be a state where people can come, work hard and make their dreams come true. I pine for a land of opportuni-trees.

We can all raise a glass of craft beer to that.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial


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