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Costello Commentary: Celebrating Rutland’s creativity, innovation


The city of Rutland has a proud history of economic innovation and cultural creativity — and has a tremendous leadership team of volunteers who are advancing that tradition today.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) announced this week that the Vermont Community Leadership Award for 2012 will be presented to the volunteers of the Rutland Creative Economy at the Merchants Row stage of Friday Night Live at 6 p.m. this Friday.

The award is given each year to an individual or group in recognition of “dedication, integrity, and honorable service to community and to Vermont.”

It was easy to choose the volunteers of the Rutland Creative Economy for the award this year.

Since the inception of the Rutland Creative Economy movement six years ago, more than 400 Rutlanders have contributed their ideas and energy to advance projects designed to make Rutland a more dynamic, exciting, and fun place to live and work.

The premise behind the idea of the creative economy is that the jobs of the future will locate — or be developed by entrepreneurs — in places where culture and ideas flourish, and where entrepreneurs and innovators want to live. Part of the global competition of our time is to build such centers. In Vermont, where we worry about the loss of youth, we need to build communities where creative young people want to be and where they can develop and engage all their talents.

It is exciting to see so many wonderful efforts advancing the cultural vitality, commerce and the economic development in Rutland City. The Vermont Council on Rural Development commends all the volunteers who are leading these efforts to advance Rutland’s Creative Economy.

Even the short list of their contributions is impressive:

  • Building Friday Night Live! It’s the biggest party in Rutland County.
  • Supporting the expansion of the Farmers’ Market.
  • Redesigning downtown places — especially contributing ideas for Evelyn Street
  • Revitalizing and redeveloping the Center Street Alley.
  • Planning and developing the bike and walking path through the heart of the city.
  • Developing a dog park.
  • Developing “Sustainable Rutland,” raising money for environmental projects, distributing reusable canvas bags, holding Trash 2 Art, setting up downtown recycling, leading localvore efforts, advancing energy efficiency and sustainability in Rutland.
  • Producing successful Art Hops.
  • Opening the Wonderfeet Children’s Museum — a museum without walls, so far.
  • Branding Rutland as “Connected Naturally!”

We have our share of problems in Vermont, but should have confidence in the strength of our communities. It’s a strength built from the willingness of people to put themselves on the line, a strength proven every day by the countless acts of committed citizens — led in Rutland by the Creative Economy volunteers.

At VCRD, we work with towns and small cities throughout Vermont. Today, when we want to encourage community residents to step up, work together, and line up to advance priorities, we point to Rutland and the projects that have flourished in recent years. Rutland’s Creative Economy volunteers are leading some of best work for Rutland’s future — and for Vermont’s.

Congratulations to Rutland, and to the hardworking team of Creative Economy volunteers.

Join us at Friday Night Live to celebrate the wonderful work they do.

Published in the Rutland Herald: By Paul Costello, VCRD Executive Director