“The most interesting agricultural experiment in the country is taking place in a small Vermont town where many of its citizens eat solely from foods produced by their neighbors.” This headline appears in the July/August issue of the Yankee Magazine.
Located on Route 15, north of Stowe, Hardwick is a small community (population 3,200) with a big vision and the world is taking notice. It has drawn a lot of attention over the past several months, generating numerous articles, interviews and a now famous and much cited book titled “The Town That Food Saved”.
When we think of urban or rural development, we often first think about laws, town meetings and a decision process that is not always necessarily easy or pleasant. Consider the current negotiations for a windmill project in Lowell, VT for instance. What occurred to me this morning, when I came across the Yankee Magazine article about Hardwick, was something that humbles and delights me every time I take notice: Human ingenuity and our ability, in the end, to expand activities, knowledge and community in the direction of common good.
Arguments against any proposed change to rules, infrastructure, commerce or neighborly relations usually take root in the need to preserve well-being, harmony and beauty. Arguments in favor take root in the same values. This is perhaps why it can be so arduous to defend a specific point of view. Essentially, we seek to protect and promote the same values by applying different strategies and focusing on different goals.
The diversity of a community provides far more than just conflicting opinions about development; it provides the synergy that ensures constant recycling of ideas, resources and outcomes. The status quo would be equivalent to placing a tourniquet on major arteries and leaving it there. Expansion and innovation are inevitable and reflect the common creativity and vision of the community. This is how roads are repaired, facades renovated, businesses expanded and the landscape transformed.
“Getting there from here” may be chaotic at times. I hear distant echoes of one of our wise leaders: “You cannot please all of the people all of the time”. Getting there from here also results in beautiful outcomes and these outcomes always reflect the intelligence and perseverance of the community.