By Robin Smith, as seen in the Caledonian Record: http://www.caledonianrecord.com/news/local/brighton-brainstorming-session-encouraged-on-oct/article_9dca428b-fe04-5ace-972b-cebf74124bcf.html
BRIGHTON — The entire community around Island Pond is invited to kick off a Brighton community forum, a daylong event that begins the process of helping townspeople plan the town’s future.
The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) is coordinating the Brighton Community Visit, kicking off the exploration of the town’s future with a Community Day on Oct. 4.
The day features a free community pork and ham dinner at the American Legion and afternoon and evening brainstorming sessions led by community and state officials who have expertise in the topics on the agenda.
The idea is for the council to help Brighton focus on its pathway to the future, for greater posterity and opportunities in town.
“It gives the community a chance to come out and really have their voices heard … in an organized bull session,” said town administrator Joel Cope.
Brighton Select Board Chairman Doug Niles, the chairman of the Community Visit Process, wants everyone to come.
“Come engage in an exciting conversation about the future of our town and enjoy a free community dinner with your neighbors,” Niles said.
“This process will help us come together to recognize our greatest priorities, as well as the most critical challenges that we face.”
VCRD will return in December for a 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.
The forums at the town hall and Sunrise Manor begin at 2:30 p.m. and end at 8:30, with the dinner providing a break in between. Residents can attend the forums of their choice.
The schedule is:
2:30 to 4 p.m. Transportation & Infrastructure or Addressing Substance Abuse & Mental Health;
4:15 to 5:45 p.m. Growing Our Economy or Recreation and Natural Resources;
6 to 7 p.m. Dinner at the Legion;
7 to 8:30 p.m. Revitalizing Downtown or The Future of Our School.
There will be free child care and activities for children over the age of 3 at the Island Pond Library.
“There is no better way for townspeople to express their opinions and volunteer their ideas than VCRD’s Community Visit Program,” Cope said.
“This event will provide the opportunity for involvement of the public to visualize the town’s future and to learn about and connect with resources available to help realize that vision.”
Brighton invited the Vermont Council on Rural Development to facilitate the Community Visit process. The Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the advancement of Vermont communities.
In the past 15 years, they have worked with nearly 50 communities throughout Vermont to bring residents together through their facilitated and structured process to share ideas and move toward common solutions.
“For VCRD, it’s all about local leadership – we don’t know the priorities that will emerge, but we will be building a team of state, federal and nonprofit leaders who will think with the town and support the directions that residents set,” said Paul Costello, council executive director.
“Every town is different and we are eager to learn more about opportunities ahead to advance community and economic projects for the town and region.”
The town has mailed invitations to every address in Brighton, and to others, handed out flyers, had announcements in area media and been calling people individually to invite them to attend, Cope said.
VCRD will bring a visiting team of 20 Vermont state, federal, business, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders to listen to and reflect on the challenges and opportunities for action that residents identify.
The Visiting Team members will include: Ted Brady, state director of USDA Rural Development; Jenny Nelson, office of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders; Richard Amore, Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development; Dave Snedeker, Northeastern Vermont Development Association; Joe Segale, Vermont Agency of Transportation; Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup, Vermont Community Foundation; and many other key Vermont community and economic development leaders.
For more information, visit www.vtrural.org.