The “Sharon Connects” process brings community members together to actively participate in examining issues, decide top priorities and develop action plans for the future of the town. The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) provided the overall structure and neutral facilitation for the first two gatherings.
On June 8th, 80 community members came together to review action ideas and set priorities for the future. Through a dot-voting exercise, participants selected 3 priority areas for local task force action:
- Strengthen Community Connections and Cultivate Community Gathering
- Address Substance Abuse and Addiction
- Expand and Coordinate Outdoor Recreation and Trails
On July 24, VCRD facilitated the first meeting of the new task force groups. All community members present helped to define next steps with reflections and support from statewide experts and resource providers. The task forces prioritized the first five action steps to take and set future meeting dates. The final report pdf documenting the process can be found here.
You can also join at Task Force today by contacting one of the co-chairs below!
Task Force Details (as selected by community members on 6/8/23):
Strengthen Community Connections and Cultivate Community Gathering
A task force could form to build connections among all residents with a variety of knowledge, interests, ages, backgrounds and experiences. This task force could also inventory current community events and gathering places, identify what is missing, and develop a plan to fill the gaps. This task force could also create a space to tap into existing groups such as virtual and physical bulletin boards, and could establish a directory of residents with knowledge on diverse topic areas that community members can contribute to and search. Actions could be taken to connect long-term generational residents with new residents such as coordinating outreach and promotion of town events and services. This group could promote existing vibrant events and organizations, develop a town newsletter, or develop an area guide and directory. This task force will ensure all residents are empowered, valued, and essential parts to this community, and share and expand skills needed to survive and thrive. Additional action could be taken to highlight and utilize current spaces such as the library, Seven Stars, Sharon Historical Society, Sharon Church and other locations while work could be done to develop new gathering places such as a café and pub or a recreation and community center in a central location. While also promoting regular community meals and multigenerational gathering and support current activities such as Old Home Day, the Horseshoe Club, Green Up Day, Community Garden, Ashley Forest invasives pull, Sharon Sprouty, seasonal ice rink, repair fair, Sharon Health Initiative, holiday lights in the village, etc.
Address Substance Abuse and Addiction
A task force could form to identify and implement community-based strategies for addiction prevention and recovery such as organizing educational events, promoting wellness and prevention activities such as exercise or recreation programs, and identifying ways to make sure those affected by addiction have access to the services they need in a safe and judgment-free environment.
Expand and Coordinate Outdoor Recreation and Trails
A task force could form to build connections between existing community trails and expand trails and outdoor recreation including the White River and the work of the White River Partnership. The group could produce outdoor events and educational opportunities to promote existing recreational opportunities, build access and parking, and improve signage as appropriate. This group could make a deliberate effort to engage youth and students as volunteers and partners.
VCRD is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the advancement of Vermont communities. In the past 20 years, VCRD has worked with over 87 communities throughout Vermont to bring residents together through their facilitated and structured process to share ideas and move toward common solutions, including in Sharon in 2019 as part of the “Our 4-Town Future” Community Visit process.
This process is part of the Climate Economy Resilient Communities program made possible by VLITE, the Sharon Energy Committee grant funding, and other generous partners.