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Vernon Community Visit program invites the full community together to set direction for the future

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2016-05-10

All members of the Vernon community are invited to come together on May 18th to kick off the Vernon Community Visit process, an opportunity for residents to actively participate in examining issues, decide their top priorities and develop concrete action plans for the future of the town.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) was invited by the Town of Vernon to facilitate the Community Visit process. VCRD is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the advancement of Vermont communities. In the past 15 years, they have worked in over 40 communities throughout Vermont to bring residents together through their facilitated and structured process to share ideas and move toward common solutions.

This first step in the Community Visit Process will be “Vernon Community Visit Day,” an opportunity to come together to discuss assets, challenges, and opportunities for action within 6 focus forums being held throughout the day. Everyone is invited to join in on the Community Visit Day on May 18th.  Step 2 will be a Community Meeting in June when all residents will be invited to champion action ideas, set priorities, and have the option to sign up for task forces to take on each priority initiative. VCRD will return in July for Step 3, Community Resource Day, with a visiting resource team of Vermont leaders to help support the work of the new task forces as they create action plans to move their priorities forward.

A youth forum will be held on May 11th from 6:30-7:30pm at the Vernon Elementary School. All Vernon middle and high school aged children are invited to attend to share their perspective and discuss action steps for the future of the town. Free pizza will be provided.

Art Miller is a Vernon resident, farmer, and pastor, who has agreed to serve as the local chairperson for the Vernon Community Visit process. Art is eager to invite everyone in the Vernon community to come out and join the conversation on May 18th. He says, “Get the sense our town is at a critical juncture? Willing to help give it a sense of direction? The community visit program is your opportunity!  This is an all-inclusive forum to help co-ordinate our efforts to not only cast a vision but to realize it. Please bring your dreams and energy as we plan and create our future!”

The Vernon Community Visit Day will include focus groups on six different topics at meeting rooms at the Town Office and at Vernon Elementary school and a free community spaghetti dinner at Vernon Elementary School (see the schedule with details below). Forum topics were decided by a town steering committee representing people from varied occupations and parts of town. The topics they set as starting points for the sessions on May 18th include: Community Events: Arts, Culture & Multi-Generational Activities; Village Center & Gathering Place; Recreation, Trails & The River; Economic Development; Youth; and Vernon’s New Identity.

Jenna Whitson, VCRD’s Community and Policy Manager, believes that real progress happens when people come together in a community to unite around a common cause. She says, “The Vernon Community Visit process is an opportunity for all residents to come together to select priorities and action steps that will move the town forward, and to connect with experts and resources that can help them succeed. At VCRD, we recognize that Vernon residents know what is best for the town- the process is really about local leadership and giving everyone the opportunity, as equals, to join the discussion.”

VCRD will bring with them a Visiting Team of 20 Vermont state, federal, business, non-profit, and philanthropic leaders to listen to and reflect on the challenges and opportunities for action that residents identify. The Visiting Team members include: Pat Moulton, Secretary of VT Agency of Commerce and Community Development; Jon-Michael Muise, USDA Rural Development; Haley Pero, Office of Senator Sanders; Nick Richardson, Vermont Land Trust; George Twigg, Office of Congressman Welch, Adam Grinold, Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation; Chris Campany, Windham Regional Commission; Alex Aldrich, Vermont Arts Council; and many other key Vermont community and economic development leaders.

The Community Visit is an important opportunity for people to think forward about Vernon’s future, to exchange ideas, to meet Vermont leaders, and to take steps toward positive change. VCRD welcomes diverse perspectives and encourages

ALL members of the community are invited to participate.