This fall, community members will have the opportunity to brainstorm and brainstorm ideas for Milton’s future.
The Vermont Council on Rural Development will travel to Milton from October to facilitate a series of gatherings that will invite residents to define common goals and visions. VCRD provides these sessions and resources free of charge.
Over the past year, VCRD has helped residents of Barre, Bradford and Richford imagine the future of their communities.
While serving in the Vermont Legislature, CEO Don Turner became aware of the work VCRD does in Vermont. In 2019, he contacted the group to visit Milton.
“I was looking for a way to involve more community members in our community and its future,” Turner said in a September 9 email to The Independent. “As a community leader, I want to make sure we have input from as many people as possible. “
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the VCRD’s visit to Milton has been delayed, but is now gaining momentum.
VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello and Community Policy Director Jenna Koloski met with the Milton Selectboard on September 7 to share a schedule and some logistics.
“We believe in the power of citizens,” said Costello. “We think that when they come together in a democratic process, they describe what they stand for, they describe what concerns them for the future.”
The proposed schedule
By October 13, a committee of local representatives, ranging from city officials to business owners and students, will be convened. This committee will work with VCRD staff to compile a list of topics for discussion in a subsequent session.
“This smaller committee meeting will help us define what the process looks like in Milton,” Koloski said.
In November, a large community launch event and dinner will be held at a location to be determined.
“Think of this as a great brainstorming session at the community level,” Koloski said.
Community members will be invited to share their thoughts on the topics identified by the Steering Committee, as well as ideas of concrete ways to make change in these areas.
Koloski said the goal was not to create a list of tasks for the Selectboard to undertake, nor a list of issues to be solved for Turner. Instead, he asks the community what they can do to make Milton a better place to live.
“What do you, as members of the community, want to stand up for, do you want to line up behind, do you want to work? Koloski asked rhetorically.
The VCRD will bring experts and resources to the launch event to help lead discussions and answer questions.
In December, the community will be invited to come together again to review the ideas that were brainstormed the previous month and to vote on the priorities.
“We put all the ideas on the wall and give everyone a chance to go through them and discuss what is most actionable, what has the most impact today,” Koloski said.
Three to five priority areas will be determined through a voting process, and then sign-up sheets will be distributed, giving community members the opportunity to join working groups that will delve into those priorities.
These working groups will meet for the first time in January and will be supported by VCRD facilitators and industry experts. The objective of these groups will be to develop an action plan.
For example, Koloski said, if Milton decides he wants to work on outdoor recreation, a task force will contact experts in that space to determine the steps needed to improve outdoor recreation in the city. .
At the end of the process, the VCRD will bring together all of the inputs, ideas and action plans into a report that can be used as a kind of blueprint for Milton’s future.
Engage the next generation
Costello already thinks Milton has many strengths – from Lake Champlain and Lake Arrowhead to mountains and woods.
“And yet,” he said, “people move to a city like this, and they might not feel invited to be so engaged. But this process says,” Everyone has a role to play. player. “
Turner said he hopes VCRD’s community visit will inspire more residents to join city boards and commissions. This is the opportunity, he thinks, to involve younger and more diverse people.
“Most of our volunteers are people who have been here for a long time,” said Turner. “We need new contributions. We are talking about inclusiveness and welcoming people. We have to figure out how to get them into the room.