In cooperation with visionary private sector and municipal leaders, Engage spearheaded two community conversations in Amherst. Hundreds of people participated in workshops that resulted in the creation of six citizen-led groups tackling the issues that mattered the most to them.
LET’S FACE TOMORROW TOGETHER - PART I
February 17, 2016, 6:00–9:00 pm.
Amherst Fire Hall.
Mayor Rob Small, the Town Council, and staff invited everyone in the town to come out to the first meeting using a video, newspaper ads, radio spots and notices in the water bills.
All that attention paid off when on February 17, 2016, more than 200 people who live, work and play in Amherst spent their evening at the fire hall talking about the future of their town. This was a remarkable turnout for a community that size.
The event included interactive voting and group “open space” conversations about a range of challenges and opportunities that were identified during the evening. The voting results revealed that 96% of participants felt that Amherst was at a crossroads and that 79% said they wanted to be a part of the solution. The report captured their ideas and feedback. And plans were made to get together again to continue the work.
LET’S FACE TOMORROW TOGETHER - PART II
April 27, 2016, 6:00-9:00 pm
Amherst Regional High School
On the evening of April 27, more than 100 people from the Amherst area came together to follow up on the priorities they identified in the earlier session: i) business growth, ii) expanding tourism, ii) youth retention and attraction, iv) downtown revitalization, v) trails and recreation, and vi) ways to build an age-friendly community.
At the second event, people organized themselves into groups and identified available resources, hurdles, solutions and next steps for each topic. Everyone then placed themselves on a “commitment circle” to ensure that these initiatives would get traction moving forward. Follow-up meetings have been held in each of the six areas and projects are well underway. A report captures the results of the evening.
Since these meetings, Engage has stayed in close contact with the staff and council in Amherst. Many community members stepped up to do more for the community through the citizen-led groups. We were delighted to learn that several mayoral and council candidates had attended these events and were inspired to run for office. Newly elected Mayor Dr. David Kogon has noted that the Town priorities for 2017 will be based on citizen feedback offered during the events and during the elections.