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Cambridge Community Visit program invites the full community together

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2014-09-12

Cambridge community members will be coming together over the next few months to review challenges and opportunities before the town, set priorities, and advance action plans to ensure the future vitality of the community. The process kicks off with a series of forums on Cambridge Community Visit Day on September 30th. This community gathering is the first of a three-month “Community Visit” process that will allow residents to actively participate in examining issues, deciding their top priorities and developing concrete action plans. Everyone is invited to join.

The Selectboard invited VCRD’s Community Visit process to Cambridge. The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) which will facilitate the Cambridge process is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the advancement of Vermont communities. In the past 15 years, they have worked in over 35 communities across Vermont to bring residents together to share ideas around issues of concern and to move toward common solutions. Selectboard Chair Larry Wycoff shared that “the Town of Cambridge Select Board is excited to start the Community Visit process. Our community has a tremendous amount of energy, as demonstrated by the numerous organizations that operate within our town. We believe that this process will help to focus their energies into a more concerted effort. We are encouraging everyone in the community to partake in this project, not just the current active organizations. We need as much community participation as possible in order to identify issues in our community that folks would like to see addressed.”

This first community gathering, the Cambridge Community Visit Day, will include focus groups on nine different topics at meeting rooms throughout the town and a free community dinner (see the schedule with locations below). Forum topics were decided by a town steering committee representing people of all ages, occupations and parts of town. The topics they set as starting points for the sessions on September 30th include: Senior Issues; Community Center; Traffic, Parking, & Pedestrian Infrastructure; Youth; Natural Resource Issues; Health & Safety; Education; Economic Development & Tourism; and Creating Community Unity. VCRD will bring a 30-person team of federal, state, business and non-profit leaders who will sit in on sessions throughout the afternoon and evening, facilitate strong dialogue and join community members at the free community dinner at the Cambridge Elementary School cafeteria.

VCRD Visiting Team members include Alex Aldrich, VT Arts Council; Tom Berry, Senator Leahy’s Office; Ted Brady, USDA Rural Development; Steven Dale, VT School Boards Association; John Fischer, Agency of Education; Steve Jeffrey, VT League of Cities and Towns; Jenny Nelson, Senator Sanders Office; Brian Searles, VT Agency of Transportation; Megan Smith, VT Dept. of Tourism and Marketing; and many other key Vermont community and economic development leaders.

According to Paul Costello, Executive Director of VCRD, “It’s all about local leadership. At VCRD, we know that the best decisions are made locally, and that local leadership and the participation of residents is the real key to progress. The Community Visit will allow people of Cambridge to build on their assets, prioritize their ideas, and connect with experts and resources from around Vermont to get things done.”

April Tuck has agreed to serve as the Chairperson for the Cambridge Community Visit process: “I think this process is so important because like many small communities, we are at a crossroads in preserving what was best in the past and moving forward to integrating what works in the present to create the future. I encourage everyone in town to help craft our brilliant future.”

The Community Visit is an important opportunity for people to think forward about Cambridge’s future, to exchange ideas, to meet Vermont leaders from many professional realms, and to take steps toward positive change. VCRD welcomes diverse perspectives and encourages ALL members of the community to participate. Everyone is invited to join the conversation on September 30.

Click HERE for the schedule of the day. For more information, visit www.vtrural.org or contact Margaret Gibson McCoy at 802-223-6091 or Margaret@vtrural.org or visit the event Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VtCRD/events.