November 21, 2018
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Changing Culture of Government in Bar Harbor

Community Author: Nina St.Germain
Post Date:


Town Council sets new standards for engagement and participation.

BAR HARBOR — Bar Harbor Town Council voted unanimously to change the norms and expectations of how Board and Committee meetings are run. Each public meeting will begin with an intentional one minute meet and greet with the purpose of acknowledging each other first as fellow townspeople before engaging in political discussion and decision making, and by pointing out the new meeting ground rules poster that came from the Civility Workshop that was held in the spring.

Nina St.Germain, Engagement Coordinator for the Town of Bar Harbor, said at Tuesday night’s meeting,

“We come into meetings tight, thinking only of the reasons that brought us here in the first place. Acknowledging each other first is a reminder that on the other ends of these ideas are our neighbors and that we are all here at this meeting to make Bar Harbor better.”

This is another step in the Town of Bar Harbor’s consistent effort to increase civility and participation.

Council has already adopted Polco ( )  an online method of gaining insight into the wishes of residents, with the understanding that civic participation should happen outside of meeting times too. During Tuesday night’s meeting Councillor Gary Friedmann agreed to participate on a panel to help generate questions for this online polling platform. Questions on Polco have been used to gather information on such topics as Ferry Terminal Visioning, Marijuana, Housing, Recycling, and Traffic Patterns.

Finally, Council voted to add a Conduct Code section to the Bar Harbor Handbook which is being created to help define the roles and responsibilities of Town Government.

4 Actions Made by Council:

  • Meet and Greet to prioritize humanity over ideas
  • Meeting Ground Rules announced at each meeting
  • Councillor Gary Friedmann will participate as a member of the 4 person Polco Question Recommendation Panel along with Martha Searchfield, Cornell Knight, and Nina St.Germain
  • Added a Conduct Code section to the Handbook which is being created to help understand the roles and responsibilities of Town Government.

Media Contact:

Nina St.Germain