Virtual summit to lay groundwork for Vermont’s future 30 years from now

Vermont

Next week, hundreds of Vermonters including state leaders, business owners and advocates will gather virtually for a summit on the future of the state.

Their discussions will center around the recently-released ‘Vermont Proposition,’ which outlines a set of bold goals for the economy, environment and inclusiveness in Vermont. The Summit on the Future of Vermont will be held virtually on May 26 – 27 from 1-5 p.m.

Thousands of Vermonters gave feedback for the report, which peers 30 years into the state’s future and identifies the following goals:

  • Ensure affordable high-speed broadband and cellular access for all Vermonters, while using digital tools to promote community connection and democracy, and to advance local commerce and economic opportunity.
  • Combat racism, celebrate diversity and welcome new Vermonters of color.
  • Advance creative solutions to climate change. Creativity in answering the challenges of climate change will provide one of the greatest economic opportunities for Vermont.
  • Reduce economic disparities, address poverty, and promote opportunities for prosperity for all Vermonters.
  • Ensure all children have access to affordable, quality child care and education.
  • Strengthen local business, entrepreneurship, investment, workforce and rural innovation.
  • Advance efficiency and foresight through state planning and regional coordination.
  • Conserve our lands and waters and advance our working landscape.
  • Renew civic engagement and strengthen trust, civility, community connection, democratic decision-making, and empower new leaders.

Paul Costello is the executive director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development, which worked to gather the feedback that lead to the Vermont Proposition. That process included personal interviews, survey submissions, statements from partners and policy councils.

“All Vermonters have something to say about the future, from young to old, Republicans, Democrats and Progressives,” Costello said. “Everyone has a role to play.”

Costello said the proposition attempts to weave its various initiatives together, and recognize that many of the issues are intertwined.

“Vermont is at a moment where we can think across the board at some of the systemic stuff that we could be doing that would lift any number of these issues, and maybe answer others as it does so.”

An issue like Vermont’s lack of affordable childcare, for example, is almost inevitably brought up in broader discussions on the workforce and Vermont’s economy. Just ask Let’s Grow Kids CEO Aly Richards.

“Let’s Grow Kids doesn’t exist because we all have childcare as some sort of background or hobby, we actually decided ‘what’s the one thing we can work together on with the biggest possible impact on the future of Vermont?” Richards said. “High quality affordable 0-5 childcare continued to be the answer because it goes upstream, because its a root cause.”

The Vermont Proposition and next week’s summit will gather more than 100 leaders in their respective fields to lay the groundwork for what Vermont should look like in the year 2050, and Vermont Community Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith said it’ll be a good opportunity for everyone to learn something new.

“I encourage people to plug in to the proposition or element about which they might know the least in order to expand their knowledge of the moving parts that might define Vermont in the future,” Smith said.

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