We bring creative engagement, placemaking, communications and planning to communities and organizations across North America.
Word on the Street
How do you honor a town’s poetic past while adding vibrancy to its sense of place? Engraving poems onto sidewalks is a great place to start. We’re creating Word on the Street — a new placemaking project in Middlebury, Vermont, that will crowdsource poems from the community and set them into concrete sidewalks all over town. Funded by the Vermont Arts Council’s Animating Infrastructure program, this project will also serve as a model public art initiative.
DIY Placemaking Recipe Book
Sometimes the best things come in small packages. That’s true for community projects, where the most impactful actions can be very simple, quick, and inexpensive. We’re partnering with AARP Vermont to write a “recipe book” with how-to instructions, templates and practical tips for some of the most popular community placemaking projects, from wayfinding signs to parklets, guerrilla gardening to play streets. Stay tuned! We’ll be sharing the book and resources soon.
Exchange Street Art & Community Greenway
Middlebury, VT's Exchange Street is a bustling junction, home to dozens of entrepreneurial business, local food producers, service providers and more. But you'd never know it to visit - they are isolated islands on a dangerous industrial strip. We led a team - finalists in the Art Place America competition - to create an arts-based engagement and design process that would transform Exchange Street into a safe, connected and vibrant place.
Bethel Better Block
Revitalizing a downtown usually takes many years, many plans, and many thousands of dollars. But what if you could do it in a weekend? We collaborated with the Bethel Revitalization Initiative, Team Better Block and AARP of Vermont to temporarily transform Bethel, VT's Main Street into a vibrant, walkable, livable space through Bethel Better Block. This community-driven project built enthusiasm, tested our permanent changes, and showed the community what real change can feel like. Less than three years later, there are a half dozen new businesses in the 1-block stretch, buildings sold and renovated, public art projects, street improvements and more.
Bethel University is the only free community pop-up university of its kind. For one month each year, anyone can take - or teach - classes on any topic under the sun. With more than 800 registrations in just its third year, "BU" has brought new life and momentum to a small town - and visitors from dozens of towns. We've collaborated with the Bethel Revitalization Initiative to create and grow this one-of-a-kind community development program.
Planning, Visioning + Engagement
Vermont State Hazard Mitigation Plan
FEMA requires all states to have a Hazard Mitigation Plan — but those are often thick documents that sit on a shelf. We worked with the Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security to make Vermont's next Hazard Mitigation Plan very different. We used a broad stakeholder engagement process to draw in hundreds of stakeholders, redefine what climate change means to Vermont, and work together across sectors to take action.
Richmond: Our Town, Our Future
Richmond, Vermont has it all - great schools, beautiful landscapes, convenient location and close community. But Richmond residents want to be proactive in protecting and enhancing their community, and they saw their town planning process as an opportunity. We helped the town gather more than 1,000 surveys, comments and interviews; create a broadly-supported community vision; and learn how to use that vision to make decisions about the future.
Animbiigoo Zaagi’igan Anishinaabek First Nation Strategic Plans
Ontario's AZA First Nation is widely dispersed and needed to find common ground. In collaboration with our partner organization EcoPlan International, we led an award-winning strategic planning process to engage the community and develop a village design for newly acquired land.
Our Woodstock, Our Future
Woodstock, Vermont has a thriving and beautiful village center, an engaged and committed community, dozens of non-profits and volunteer organizations, and funding for economic development and community projects. But Woodstock realized that it needed a common community vision in order to help all of those groups pull together and prioritize actions. We’re working with Woodstock on a visioning and action planning process that is helping different community groups listen to each other, find common ground, and identify what matters most.
Master plans can be a lot more than just documents that sit on a shelf. We worked with the city of Laconia, NH to ensure their planning process brought new people to the table and broke through old barriers. Their Heart & Soul Community Planning approach used everything from storytelling to pop-up parks, text polling to interactive forums. Together, the community ensured that Laconia's next plan is a plan for the people, by the people.
Gardiner Heart & Soul
Like many older New England Towns, Gardiner, ME needed a boost. It found that boost with a creative community development process and new local coordination. Through the Orton Family Foundation, we coached Gardiner through a community visioning and planning process that brought new energy to the city, helped coordinate the actions of local non-profits and city departments, and helped residents start working as a team.
Cowichan Tribes Transportation Plan
With our partner organization EcoPlan International, we worked with this community on Vancouver Island to develop new plans for improving mobility, transportation systems, streetscape and pedestrian facilities, priority actions and strategies for implementation.
Community-based Asset Mapping for St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Libraries, churches and many other community institutions are reinventing themselves today - finding new ways to connect with the larger community, partner with other groups, and make use of their facilities. We're working with this historic church in Vergennes, VT and Partners for Sacred Places to conduct a community asset mapping process, identifying what they church can offer the community and how it can best change with the times.
Social Marketing, Outreach + Network Building
Ridge to River Initiative
The towns of Vermont's Mad River Valley know that rivers don't care about municipal boundaries. They're collaborating as a watershed to increase awareness of stormwater and runoff issues and take action to improve their resilience. We helped them to develop a creative, high-impact communications and engagement plan for the Ridge to River Initiative, which will reach residents and change behavior. The focus is an integrated program called "Storm Smart" that will encourage property owners to address stormwater issues on their own land, saving money while protecting their property, watershed, and quality of life.
Community Resilience Organizations (CROs)
There’s no way to prevent disasters like Irene. But a new statewide pilot program – Community Resilience Organizations (CROs) – aims to make sure that Vermont towns are ready for whatever comes next. CROs brings together community leaders across multiple disciplines to plan and work together and build social capital. We helped to design the program and capacity building activities to help towns prepare for whatever challenges are ahead.
Resilient Vermont Network
The Resilient Vermont Network is a statewide collaboration of organizations and agencies in Vermont that are working to advance climate resilience. The Network is working to improve alignment, coordination, communication and strategic impact across a range of issues related to climate resilience. We helped to launch the Network in its first phase, and then helped backbone organization Norwich University create a plan for ongoing Network sustainability and leadership.