How does a Community Visit work?
VCRD’s Community Visit program actively connects grassroots community building efforts in towns across Vermont with state-wide resources, expertise and opportunities. Each Visit brings together a broad mix of community members with a visiting resource team, made up of Council members and statewide providers (state, federal, non-profit, and philanthropic), to create intensive partnerships and tailored work plans for long-term local success. The Visit process is designed for community members to prioritize and choose strategic goals and vision for their community and for the state-wide visiting resource team to provide advice and expertise to help them get there.
The program takes place over four months with a series of public meetings, facilitated discussions and community events. To be successful, a broad spectrum of community members must be involved; invitations sent through schools, businesses and through town offices to residents are very important. The Vermont Council on Rural Development raises funds for this program; there is no cost to the community except time and energy.
What Does a Community Visit Produce?
The Visit begins with a series of focus groups and a community wide discussion where residents champion their ideas for the future of their town. A local chairperson will help to keep the community informed and involved as the program progresses. It is important that the community decides together what their priorities are through discussion and dialogue, which VCRD will help facilitate. Then the visiting resource team brings their best knowledge and most appropriate resources to advise and help construct work plans for local volunteers.
Once priority areas are established, volunteers form Task Forces to advance the identified strategies; such as youth activities, economic development, infrastructure development or communications and events. Each Task Force has chairperson who will manage meetings and keep work moving forward. Local leaders have direct access through the process to state-wide resources, grant opportunities, non-profit, state and philanthropic partners through the Resource Team.
Past Community Visits
Since 1996 VCRD has conducted 26 Community Visits, usually working in two communities each year from the northern border in Troy and Jay, south to Pownal. For details on specific communities and their accomplishments, goals, and resources, please visit our Reports Page.
What will success mean for your town? For some towns, the Visit creates community goodwill and celebrations, such as Rutland’s Friday Night Live series; outdoor summertime events each week with live music, food and shopping opportunities. For others, it is used to leverage funds or planning resources, such as Pownal’s affordable housing project or Johnson’s downtown redesign. And for others, the Visit provides a mechanism to talk about important issues and begin long term work for the future, as in Killington’s 4-season tourism planning, or Poultney’s downtown revitalization work. See a list of some of projects towns have begun as a result of a Community Visit process in their community.
VCRD raises funds from business, private, philanthropic and state sources to be able to sustain this program. Communities are asked to contribute their time, energy and skills to make sure the process is well-attended and capacity is built locally to follow through on the identified priorities.
Reports and Documents
For More Information
If your community would like more information about this program or is interested in hosting in a Community Visit, please contact us at 802-223-6091 or firstname.lastname@example.org.