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McClaughry Commentary: Imagining Vermont

Submitted by John McClaughry

Four months ago the Council on the Future of Vermont released its report, Imagining Vermont: Values and Vision for the Future.

The report culminated an 18‐month, $400,000 process, during which some four thousand Vermonters attended over 100 meetings. Ably written and attractively produced, the report collected and transmitted the ideas and dreams of its participants of the possible Vermont of the future.

Higher ed: School costs are up — but so are student gains

Is Vermont’s ongoing fight over how to fund schools overshadowing gains in its classrooms?

When the Council on the Future of Vermont asked residents about their most pressing concerns, it heard fury about property taxes for education.

“We can’t pay $1.7 million for less than 50 students,” one Champlain Islands resident said.

The council heard fear about the fact the average college student-loan debt of $30,000 has leapt by more than 150 percent in the past 15 years.

Balance point

A statewide discussion among Vermonters about the environment and the economy has shown that the quality of the environment — the rural landscape of woods, farms, lakes, rivers — is a value deeply embedded in the identity and hopes of Vermonters. Simultaneously, Vermonters remain worried about economic prospects, particularly during a recession, and the opportunities that may or may not be available for jobs and housing.

Council studies Vermont’s priorities

After two years spent interviewing Vermonters young and old, blue collar and white, the Council on the Future of Vermont shared its findings on the hopes, aspirations and visions for the state as voiced by nearly 4,000 people who know it best.

The group had just one qualification for its sources -- of living within the Green Mountain State. "We wanted to speak with people who don’t normally have a voice," said Sarah Waring, who presented the Council’s findings at an open forum held at Southern Vermont College Tuesday.

Futurists worry that Vermont farms have become too reliant on milk

By KEVIN O'CONNOR Staff Writer
The Council on the Future of Vermont knows the state treasures its farms and forests. So why is it asking if there's too much of a good thing?

Surveying almost 4,000 experts and everyday folk at more than 100 meetings, the nonprofit, nonpartisan study group heard more talk about the working landscape than any other topic. Nearly 98 percent of those surveyed, in fact, said they valued the fields, woods and pastures more than any other of the state's features.

Final Findings of the Council on the Future of Vermont: Imagining Vermont

Imagining Vermont coverImagining Vermont: Values and Vision for the Future is the final report of the Council on the Future of Vermont. With the publication of this report, the findings of the Council are no longer ours alone. The report is a contribution toward action. It is for the people of Vermont to use to move Vermont forward as they see fit. It is a reflection of the 18 months of listening to Vermonters.

The full report is available here for download (6.5MB).



  • Part One and Part Two (2MB)
    Part One:
      Values Statement
      Concerns, Challenges and Opportunities
    Part Two:
      Conclusions of the Council on the Future of Vermont
      Vision Statement
      Reflections from the Council on the Future of Vermont
  • Part Three (4.3MB)

You can also download any chapter on its own by clicking below:


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