GMP launches campaign to plant millions of flowers across Rutland
By Gordon Dritschilo
STAFF WRITER | April 09,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
People attending the “Rutland Blooms” press conference Monday take flowers to be planted around City Hall.
It’s springtime in Rutland.
In an announcement seeded with metaphors about renewal, Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell stood in front of City Hall on Monday and described the utility’s latest initiative, “Rutland Blooms” — a campaign to plant “millions and millions” of flowers around Rutland.
“What could be more beautiful, what could be more symbolic of the changes Rutland is going through, than having millions of blossoms everywhere you look?” she asked.
GMP has already recruited about 40 local organizations in the effort, according to Powell, in which seeds and plants will be distributed to people in the city through a variety of networks.
“This is not going to be GMP planting millions of flowers by itself,” Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation, told the crowd outside City Hall. “It’s up to you and the organizations you represent.”
Costello said the utility will provide “support, flowers and seeds.”
Mayor Christopher Louras said Rutland Blooms has the potential for engaging the public in ways many previous renewal efforts in the city have not.
“With each iteration of new projects, new initiatives, the public has wanted to know, ‘What can I do?’” he said. “Not everyone can get to meetings at night. Not everyone is a law enforcement professional. Not everyone is a social services professional. ... Mary’s talking about, literally, millions of seeds. It’s going to take bodies to plant those seeds.”
Louras, Costello and Powell stood on the freshly dug-up lawn in front of City Hall. A crew from Stafford Technical Center had just removed the bushes which had grown there for years and which, it turned out, were on the state’s list of invasive species.
“I didn’t find out until Friday,” Louras said of the shrubbery’s undesirable status. “I said, ‘Let’s solve two problems at once.’”
Azaleas and other plants will replace the bush in a garden funded through donations by the Vermont Country Store. Karen Hill, a gardener who works for the Downtown Rutland Partnership, will design it.
GMP will hand out seeds as part of the effort at the annual seed exchange, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Rutland Free Library. Costello said other parts of the initiative would be announced as they took shape.
Participants thus far include area businesses, Castleton State College, Rutland Regional Medical Center and a wide variety of governmental and nonprofit organizations.
Costello said the idea was inspired by a discussion at a city Police Commission meeting on the effort to address quality of life issues in Rutland.
Organizations or businesses that wish to join in can contact Chuck Piotrowski at GMP at 770-4088 and donations to the effort can be sent to the Downtown Rutland Partnership.