Conference looks to revitalize community
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | April 05,2013
POULTNEY — Organizers of a conference later this month hope it will motivate residents and college students to push forward with new revitalization efforts in town.
A new partnership between the Downtown Poultney Revitalization Committee, Green Mountain College, and members of the greater Poultney community has planned an all-day conference April 24 called “Poultney 2020: Creating a Vibrant Future Together.”
Organizer Matt Mayberry, professor of business and economics at GMC, said the conference’s title is intended to convey that this is a long-term effort and a look ahead to how Poultney can be taken to the next level.
“The ultimate goal is to identify the various areas of focus and different projects that the town can focus on developing,” Mayberry said. “Everyone is ready to take the next step.”
He added, “This is a long-term effort — it’s not just a conference.”
A handful of focus groups led by school and community leaders have been meeting to brainstorm before the conference so they don’t start from scratch. Mayberry said a few focus groups will continue into next week.
“The focus groups have been fun,” he said. “It has more of a grass-roots effort.”
The conference will start at The Gorge at Withey Hall at GMC before moving to St. Raphael’s Hall on Main Street.
The day will start with a panel by four Vermont community leaders who have worked on revitalizing their own towns. The panelists will be Tom Stearns of Hardwick, Robert McBride of Bellows Falls, Steve Ames of Morrisville and Doug Anderson of Middlebury.
“The reason we invited them was to hear from their experiences and to get their encouragement,” Mayberry said. “A lot of this is about helping each other.”
The keynote speaker is Stacey Adamson, who in her town of Cody, Neb., began the Circle C Market Project with high school students and community members. Mayberry said Cody did not have a supermarket and this group decided to build one from the ground up.
“It was the rallying point for the town,” he said. “It’s a very inspiring story for us to listen to.”
At the end of the conference, organizers hope they have some concrete ideas and volunteers to move forward with projects.
“It seems like the town is on the verge of something great,” Mayberry said. “There is so much going on beneath the surface. This is a change for the town to create an identity.”
For more information or to register for “Poultney 2020,” visit www.poultney2020.org, call Mayberry at 287-8295 or call Valerie Broughton at 884-8136.