History of VCRD’s Summits
The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) has been hosting a wide variety of Summits since 1999, relating to climate change, Vermont’s working lands, supporting local leadership, and more. Most recently, VCRD has hosted a yearly Vermont Community Leadership Summit with over 500 Vermonters in attendance.
From 1996 to 2003, VCRD Rural Summits were private retreats for state and federal officiates to elaborate common ‘action steps’ that would unite their efforts around topics as diverse as Youth Services, Water and Sewer Infrastructure, and Housing. These early Summits were designed as internal decision-making sessions around practical implementation of common goals.
After 2003, VCRD broadened the invitation to Summits and emphasized their role as “Roundtables”—meetings of equals from across governmental levels, non-profits, the private sector, and communities—where facilitated sessions would develop key ideas for responding to issues, build recommendations for action, and serve as a policy review of an area that VCRD defined as of critical importance to the community and economic development of towns, regions, or sectors in the state. In some cases, like “Local Power” and the analysis of the Planning Structure in Vermont, summits have served as key input sessions at the foundation of major policy development convenings by VCRD. In others, the Summit serves as the culmination of an effort (like the Creative Economy Summit) that brings together local leaders, shares best practices and models, and allows all participants to contribute and learn from each other. The results of these sessions are reported to the Governor, Legislature, and key stakeholders and often serve as the foundations for the next areas of VCRD initiative.