Pownal was the first community to participate in VCRD’s Climate Economy Model Community Program (CEMCP), named Empower Pownal. 150 Pownal community members participated with support from 31 visiting resource team members. Through the process, community members identified 5 priority areas for future action and over 40 citizens joined task force groups that will work to:
- Develop a Network of Farm and Food Producers in Pownal to Share Resources, Market Together, and to Connect Unused Land with New or Expanding Farmers, Foresters, and Other Producers;
- Develop More Trails and Rejuvenate the River to Provide Better Outdoor Recreation Opportunities in Pownal;
- Reduce Barriers to Starting and Growing Businesses and Agriculture in Pownal;
- Grow Jobs in Pownal through Business Incubation and the Redevelopment of Underutilized Properties; and
- Build a Community-Wide Green Up Process in Pownal to Address Roadside Litter and Illegal Dumping.
Task force groups are already making progress:
- The Task Force on recreation, trails, and the river has identified a parcel of town property that they hope to transform into a park and path with Hoosic River access. The Recreation Task Force has already secured financial support from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board for assistance with grant writing in association with this project. This Task Force is also receiving assistance from Williams College students in mapping their recreation resources.
- The Task Force focused on economic development and the redevelopment of existing sites in town successfully hosted a business networking event. They have posted a new website listing many of the active businesses in town. A subgroup is also working with one property owner to transform an old gas station into a new retail location with the potential to feature local farm produce and other goods.
- The Green-Up Task Force hosted their first clean-up at a dumping site in town. Over 30 volunteers participated including many students. Over 3 tons of refuse was removed from the site. Read a story about this effort here.
- The Task Force formed to convene local food and farm producers in Pownal is planning community dinners, many hosted at farms, as a way to increase cohesion and collaboration within the local agricultural community in town. The group is pursuing some small seed funding from the Vermont Community Foundation as they plan for their first community meal.
As the task force groups move priorities to action they are supported for up to a year by VCRD and on an ongoing basis with resources from federal, state, regional, local, non-profit, and business leaders who participated in the process in their communities. For more information about the Empower Pownal program, read the Empower Pownal Report and Action Plan, check out the Facebook album of photos from the process, and visit the Pownal page on our website that captures news and the many ways we have worked with Pownal throughout the years.