As The Herald noted, April 10, in its name and function, the new
Rutland beautification effort known as "Rutland Blooms" is about a
lot more than flowers.
The idea blossomed during a difficult discussion about crime,
poverty and drug abuse at a Police Commission meeting, and in the
span of less than three weeks it has grown to include more than 50
groups, businesses and local leaders, all intent on making
Rutland's future a bright one. Nearly a dozen have signed on
in just the past couple of days, and many, like the Rutland Garden
Club, have been beautifying Rutland for years.
Having spent the past 16 years becoming ingrained in city life,
activities and challenges, and having visited family here my entire
life, I have what I think is a unique view of Rutland, that of an
insider and an outsider.
I see Rutland as a great community, with spirit and selflessness
abundant in the people who live and work here. I see a city
surrounded by stunning landscapes, with historic architecture, good
schools and local colleges, low-cost housing and a strong and
improving downtown with great restaurants, entertainment, locally
owned retail stores and a mix of services.
We have a vibrant core of businesses that understand the
importance of supporting their community. We have a
spectacular historic theater that presents world-class talent - and
opportunities for local artists and students to display their
skills as well. We have strong, locally owned news outlets.
We have the attributes of a rural community - people know each
other, their elected officials and how to pull together in times of
trouble, like they did following hurricanes Irene and Sandy. We
have the East's best skiing at our doorstep, and some of North
America's biggest cities within easy reach.
We also have our share of challenges, no doubt, including crime
and poverty, which the city's extensive VISION Plan is already
targeting. Unfortunately, even as the community works to solve
its problems, we've historically had a habit of highlighting them
far more than our attributes. We rarely toot the community's
own horn, and for some, it seems the negatives have become like
So what's the point of Rutland Blooms? Well, it's definitely
about working together and planting millions of flowers, but it
goes way beyond that.
It's about how we view Rutland locally, and how we want others
to view the community from outside. It's about harnessing the
incredible spirit of this community to build on the existing beauty
of Rutland, including the beauty of its buildings, people,
landscapes and existing gardens.
It's about supporting and increasing the sense of community that
will be necessary to solve the issues the city faces.
And it's about celebrating Rutland's ongoing transformation, and
building on the momentum that has already begun to grow.
So how can you help? Plant a garden at your home or business.
Donate to "Rutland Blooms" through the Downtown Rutland
Partnership. Volunteer a few hours to plant flowers for a
non-profit, or an elderly neighbor, the opportunities to help are
Steve Costello is vice president of
generation and energy innovation at Green Mountain Power.