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Empower Pownal invites the full community to a free lunch and kick-off to set direction for the future


On Saturday June 24th all members of the Pownal community are invited to the Empower Pownal kick-off event at the American Legion. This event is kicks off a process for residents to identify and advance priorities that improve economic opportunity and affordability in the face of climate change.

The Empower Pownal kick-off event will feature forums on six different topics and a free community lunch (see the full schedule below). A town steering committee including nearly 25 people from many occupations and parts of town decided on the forum topics to include: Home Efficiency Opportunities; Small Business Development; Local Grid Resilience and Residential Renewable Energy Development; Recreation, Trails, Health and Wellness; Getting Around Pownal and Connecting to Other Communities; and Local Agriculture and Forestry.

This process presents a great opportunity for the citizens of Pownal to preserve what we love about this community and to envision what an economically vibrant future might look like. The Kick-Off provides a great chance to gather, see old friends, make new connections, and begin the process of working towards a stronger future. We also will welcome a great Visiting Team to learn more about our town and to help us reflect on where we may want to focus our efforts,” said Nelson Brownell, Selectboard Chair.

Based on an application from local citizens, the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), with partners Green Mountain Power and Efficiency Vermont recently selected Pownal to be the first community to participate in the new Climate Economy Model Communities Program.  This program will help communities build and implement plans that model state-of-the-art rural development in an age of climate change.

Empower Pownal is an opportunity for all residents, from all walks of life, to come together to brainstorm and prioritize ideas to secure Pownal’s future,” said Jon Copans, VCRD’s Model Communities Program Director. “We are excited to help facilitate a process that will help families and businesses, strengthen the local economy and improve affordability and sustainability in the community.

The Visiting Team for the event will include:

Ted Brady, Deputy Secretary, Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Ben Doyle, Community and Economic Development Director, USDA – Rural Development
Jennifer Hollar, Director of Policy and Special Projects for the VT Housing and Conservation Board
Haley Pero from Senator Sanders Office
Jim Sullivan, Bennington County Regional Planning Commission
Dotty Schnure, Senior Energy Advisory, Green Mountain Power
Paul Markowitz and others from Efficiency Vermont
Christopher Callahan, UVM Extension
Elisabeth Marx, Senior Philanthropic Advisor, Vermont Community Foundation
Bhima Nitta, Power Guru 

Others will be added to the Visiting Team in the coming weeks. This team will join with the community to identify Pownal’s strengths and opportunities and brainstorm ways to create a secure and vibrant future for the town and residents.

ALL members of the community are invited to participate.

For more information, visit or contact VCRD at 802-225-6393 or or visit the event Facebook page at

Empower Pownal is part of the Climate Economy Model Communities Program, a collaboration of the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD), Efficiency Vermont, and Green Mountain Power. Support for this program comes from the Vermont Low Income Trust for Electricity (VLITE), the High Meadows Fund, and VCRD's members.

VCRD is a non-profit organization supporting the locally-defined progress of Vermont’s rural communities. To learn more, visit us at