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Rutland’s Creative Economy wins community leadership award

The Mountain Times | August 1, 2012

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) announced July 27 that the Vermont Community Leadership Award for 2012 will be presented to the volunteers of the Rutland Creative Economy. The award presentation will take place at the Merchants Row stage at Friday Night Live! at 6 p.m., August 3.

This leadership award is given each year to an individual or group in recognition of “dedication, integrity, and honorable service to their community and to Vermont.”

Bob Ackland, the chair of the VCRD Board of Directors, describes the purpose of the award: “Each year we present the award to highlight the work of community heroes who epitomize the best spirit of local community service, who are volunteers-not paid employees or elected officials- and who have had a transformative effect on their community. Their work makes the community a better place.”

The Rutland Creative Economy movement originated from meetings of over 400 Rutlanders with VCRD’s Creative Communities Program team in 2006. At that time the community established four major priority areas to advance:

1. Rutland as a Recreation Destination; 2. Open Space; 3. Sustainable Living; and 4. Rutland as an Arts Destination. All these efforts remain active and successful today, and in 2010 the community added two more working groups: 5. To develop a Children’s Museum; and 6. Branding Rutland.

The Rutland Creative Economy volunteers have accomplished great things some of which include:

1. Hosted Friday Night Live! the biggest party in Rutland County with over 1,000 people for eight weeks in the summer-the place to be and a real boost to the prosperity of Rutland’s Downtown.

2. Worked with the Farmer’s Market to close Evelyn Street on Saturday mornings, allowing the market to double in size and inspiring the momentum behind the soon-to-come Vermont Farmers’ Food Center.

3. Contributed to the strategic downtown plan especially on the future of Evelyn Street.

4. Led in the revitalization of the Center Street Alley and secured a $1 million earmark through the office of Senator Patrick Leahy.

5. Planned and developed the bike and walking path through the heart of Rutland City: Section 1 of the 2.1 mile path along East Creek will be done around the end of December: the team has led in raising nearly $1.2 million so far toward the completion of the project.

6. Are in the final stages of developing a dog park.

7. Are building a database of all conventional and unconventional recreation opportunities in the County.

8. Developed “Sustainable Rutland” as a non-profit which has raised $30,000 for environmental projects, distributed 2,000 reusable canvas bags, held three “Trash 2 Art” exhibits (with its fourth scheduled for October); worked with Casella Waste to get 12 zero-sort recycling bins downtown, sponsored the “Thanksgiving Localvore Challenge” and worked in many other ways to advance energy efficiency and promote sustainability in Rutland.

9. Produced 3+ years of successful Art Hop evenings in partnership with the library, Chaffee Art Center, and local businesses.

10. Opened the Wonderfeet Children’s Museum for Friday Night Live! and during Farmers’ Markets and Sidewalk Sale events. Staffed by volunteers and working toward developing a permanent space, Wonderfeet is currently becoming a non-profit organization. It has built exhibits on “Energy in Motion,” “Farm to Table,” and “Trashformers” attended already by 1,757 people. More…


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