Land injustice is the inequitable distribution of land and land related wealth. The history of land injustice in Maine is extensive and has taken the form of land privatization, land theft from Wabankaki tribes, the evictions of Malaga island’s mixed race population, and exclusion of migrant workers from land ownership. Land justice is a proposed framework for addressing inequities in land ownership that are rooted in class and race. Land in Common is a community land trust that aims to transform the relationship between people and land, by seeking a world in which land is cared for in the common and out of the private market. Land in Common intends to develop a popular education curriculum, as one of many strategies, for addressing land injustice in Maine. Popular education is the form of education that encourages learners to critically examine their own lives and enables collective action to change social and political conditions. Land in Common plans to convene a diverse group of individuals from frontline communities fighting against land injustice in Maine to collaboratively create a popular education curriculum focusing on land justice. Our project supports Land in Common’s work to create this program by exploring the many models of popular education that could be used to promote land justice organizing in Maine. We interviewed representatives from six US-based organizations leading popular education programs on topics related to land justice, in order to better understand the range of approaches and strategies for rolling out and running a popular education program. We identified and compiled free online popular education curricula that could be used or adapted by Land in Common, and created a Wordpress website to house these materials. We then synthesized the findings of our research and interviews to determine what the most important themes of popular education are. The themes we identified were that popular education programs need to be listening based, democratic, action oriented, meeting the needs or oppressed people, and creating transformative social and political change. We then summarized our findings on the logistics of organizing a popular education curriculum, including finding an audience, funding the education, leading and facilitating learning, and training facilitators. We discussed some major challenges organizations doing popular education face, and summarize the methods organizations use for evaluating the success of a curriculum. To conclude, we have developed a list of recommendations based on some of the logistical themes of creating and running a popular education program. We have included recommendations based on the following themes: starting a program, audience, funding, governing, training and measuring success.
Bowen, Michaela; Saffeir, Jesse; and Sandford, Olivia, "Groundwork for Developing a Land Justice Popular Education Curriculum in Maine" (2020). Community Engaged Research Reports. 73.