Over the last couple months, The Vermont Council on Rural Development has been working on an initiative they’re calling the Vermont Proposition: an effort to engage thousands of Vermonters in articulating priorities designed to optimize the best of Vermont – for our economy, environment, communities, and people – and then build a non-partisan partnership to help drive them forward.

VCRD is a non-profit organization charged by the federal farm bill to act as a neutral convener to support the progress of Vermont communities. Over the last 30 years, they’ve engaged thousands of Vermonters in hundreds of towns throughout the state, bringing residents together to prioritize action for the future, and connecting them to the resources and technical support they need to succeed.

The Vermont Proposition builds on decades of input from these community conversations, and VCRD’s policy convenings. In 2009, they helped to facilitate the Council on the Future of Vermont (CFV), a far-reaching initiative that gathered ideas to articulate a common set of Vermont’s values and goals for the future.

The working draft of the Vermont Proposition (which can be seen at www.futureofvermont.org) builds off of the points of unity identified through the CFV and from ideas gathered more recently through dozens of interviews and the input of hundreds of Vermonters working to address Covid issues throughout the state.

“We know that what we have isn’t perfect,” says Paul Costello, “but we’re hoping that over the next couple of months we can engage a broad array of Vermonters to help refine the ideas we’ve gathered. This initiative is about adding up as many voices as we can, and leveraging action toward a future that works for all of us.”

The current draft of the Proposition includes ten recommendations for action to be taken in the next five years that would have significant long-term pay-offs for the state over the next thirty. These range from investments in broadband infrastructure and Vermont’s child care system, to actions to respond to political polarization and renew civic engagement, plus a call to expand the Vermont identity, build equity and inclusivity, and welcome new Vermonters.

In addition to a series of meetings with a diverse variety of Vermont groups and organizations planned in the coming months, the Vermont Council on Rural Development invites public feedback on the current draft at www.futureofvermont.org, an online hub which provides a summary of the initiative and an opportunity to share ideas. For more information, please contact [email protected].