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Stevens Commentary: Future of Agriculture

WILL STEVENS
As Vermonters, do we want to live in a theme park - full of characters we've heard of but never met? Or would we rather engage, through agricultural activity, with our families, our neighbors, and our communities in meaningful ways? As chairman of Shoreham's Planning Commission in the 1990s, I signed off on a lot of letters of support for farmers who wanted to conserve their farms and sell their development rights. The "working landscape" was a prominent termused in those letters to evoke an image that conveyed the essence of Vermont.

A rich future? Public wants plan for Vermont economy

By KEVIN O'CONNOR, Times Argus Staff Writer
Long before last autumn's financial fall, the Council on the Future of Vermont found stunning agreement on residents' top concern: the economy.

The only thing more surprising: People's worry over a perceived lack of state fiscal planning. More than 80 percent of those surveyed in the winter, spring and summer of 2008 pointed to Vermont's cost of living - the ninth most expensive in the country - as its No. 1 challenge.

Funding may slow Internet expansion

With the help of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - otherwise known as the Obama stimulus package - all Vermonters might soon have access to highspeed broadband.

The state plans on applying for at least $50 million for broadband expansion, said Tom Evslin, the chief recovery officer for the state's Office of Economic Stimulus and Recovery.

"If we had $50 million landing on our doorstep, we could make sure that every Vermont resident has good broadband," he said.

Summit on the Future of Vermont Report - 2009

The 2009 VCRD Summit on the Future of Vermont marked a watershed point. It served as the official “report out” to Vermonters on the findings of the Council on the Future of Vermont. It turned their findings into a challenge to Vermonters, and especially the leaders gathered together for the day, to consider specific ways to work together to advance a positive vision for the future of the state.  It shared ideas and directions with state, federal, non‐profit and private sector leaders with the power to work together to advance them. It articulated the beginning elements for a five‐year plan of work for the Vermont Council on Rural Development (and our many partners) toward developing working teams of Vermonters at both the local community and state level to address fundamental challenges ahead.

Over 500 Vermonters participated in the Summit process on May 11, 2009, coming from all parts of the state, from all sectors of government, business, non‐profits and communities. Participants considered the values, visions and conclusions of the two‐year Council on the Future of Vermont project and worked together in fourteen task forces to define concrete action steps that could advance key elements from its final report, Imagining Vermont: Values and Vision for the Future. Read the Summit Report (pdf).

Study: Bright future for Vermont

In 20 years, Vermont will be more affordable, more energy self-sufficient, have better public transportation and will offer more economic opportunity.

At least that's the vision set out in a new report on the state's future. After 18 months of gathering input from nearly 4,000 Vermonters, the Council on the Future of Vermont presented its findings Monday, marking the "midway point" of the study.

Leaders develop priorities for Vermont’s future

(Host) More than 500 Vermont leaders met at the University of Vermont on Monday to develop priorities for the future of the state.

The conference was the final part of a two-year study looking at whether Vermonters' values are reflected in state policies.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development asked leaders from business, nonprofit groups, education and government to consider questions raised during the study. They developed a series of recommendations in areas ranging from education to agriculture and forestry to economic development.

Summit starts search for state's future

BURLINGTON – Vermont, said Paul Bruhn of the state's Preservation Trust, "is a great place for the most part — and for the moment. But will we increasingly become Anywhere, USA?" Gather 500 leaders for a Summit on the Future of Vermont and you might expect to get some answers. On Monday, Bruhn and a wide spectrum of experts instead planted more questions: Can we balance the environment and the economy? Spending for schools and seniors? The needs of natives and newcomers?

The ‘Future of Vermont’ could be history

A Summit on the Future of Vermont is scheduled for May 11 at the University of Vermont. The summit is the final step in a nearly two year long effort by the Vermont Council on Rural Development to take the temperature of today’s Vermont and plan for tomorrow’s Vermont. VCRD created the Council on the Future of Vermont to accomplish this task. I was one of the members and truly enjoyed the opportunity to listen to Vermonters talk about Vermont. The Council heard from some 4,000 Vermonters in one form or another.

‘Imagining Vermont’ Can state’s future bring freedom and unity?

By KEVIN O’CONNOR Staff Writer
Surveying residents from northernmost Alburgh to southernmost Vernon, the Council on the Future of Vermont found on-the-spot agreement: Everyone loves the state. They just differ on same-sex marriage. And issues of the environment vs. the economy. And school spending vs. the needs of seniors. And the value of natives vs. newcomers.

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