- Who We Are
- What We Do
I listened to inspiring speakers and met thoughtful participants, all who are re-imagining a stronger economy and doing creative projects on the ground to prove it.
The common thread running through much of this work is the power of relationships—the relationships we have with each other and to the communities in which we live and work.
Take Vermont’s efforts to reinvent its food and energy sectors. Chuck Ross and Ellen Kahler presented on two innovative programs—Farm to Plate and Energy Action Network. In sharing the lessons they learned, Chuck said both efforts are grounded in the strength of the relationships that formed as part of the work.
Michelle Long of BALLE emphasized how important relationships are in building a culture of localism. It’s these familiar, place-specific connections that make people want to work together and support each other.
Relationships even matter in Washington, DC. Former Senator Tim Wirth spoke to how Congress’ schedule currently inhibits the development of the personal relationships that are essential to real dialogue and effective policy making.
The focus on relationships resonated with me as I thought about the work we do at Orton. Relationships are central to Heart & Soul Community Planning. People need to care about their community if they are going to participate in planning for its future, and they need to be able to work together to make that future come true. Recent research conducted by the Knight Foundation underscores this theory, showing the correlation between people’s emotional attachment to a place and its economic health.
So while there may be no silver bullet solution to community economic development, strong, cooperative relationships could mean the difference between failure and success.