Art & Soul Civic Engagement Pilot Project

The Orton Family Foundation and the Vermont Land Trust believe that by getting in touch with deeper community values and connections to place, citizens will be able to improve on traditional approaches to planning and make better decisions about the future of their communities.   

In the Spring of 2008, the Orton Family Foundation and the Vermont Land Trust issued a Call for Community Proposals to Addison County, Vermont, towns eager to collaborate on this new approach to community engagement.  

More than 50 people from eleven towns responded by attending two information sessions.  At one of these information sessions Starksboro residents, Jan McCleery, Vera Ryersbach, Frank Spina, and Robert Turner, found themselves sitting next to each other.  Working together they crafted a proposal that won the attention of the Foundation and the Land Trust.

"Starksboro has been using the arts to broadly engage students in their elementary school for years," said Betsy Rosenbluth, Orton's Northeast Projects Director.  "Now, they'd like to apply that successful model to engage an entire community in conversation about future directions for the town, and then use that information to celebrate their local heroes and inform the town planning process."

The Art & Soul project has three components:

1. Gathering stories in the community around what residents value most about their connections to each other, their community and the land. (Fall 2008)

2. Creating art for local residents to explore and reflect on the values and aspects of their community that they cherish most and wish to pass on to future generations. (February 2009 to November 2009)

3. Putting the stories and art into action to implement and sustain the values identified through community art and storytelling dialogue as the town grows and develops. (Fall 2009)

Art & Soul Video
Documenting the first phase of the Starskboro Art & Soul Project