I had the pleasure this week to be the guest speaker at the
inaugural meeting of the Rutland Young Professionals, a new group
created by people interested in mixing, networking and the greater
Rutland community - and I left inspired by the energy and optimism
in the more than 60 people who attended.
My brief talk focused in part on the work Green Mountain Power
is doing in Rutland, including the Solar Capital initiative, Energy
Innovation Center, and socio-economic development in support of the
city's VISION Campaign. I also focused on what these
forward-thinking Rutland-area people can do to contribute to
Rutland's ongoing rebirth, which I grow more confident in every
A synopsis of my comments follows, including 10 things they, or
any local resident, can do to make Rutland a better place.
1) As a community, let's stop bad-mouthing Rutland. If you
care about the community, highlight its strengths - great schools,
outdoor recreation, local history, vibrant downtown, local music,
arts, good local colleges. When you hear unfounded negativity,
2) Become a mentor. With as little as an hour a week, you
can have a huge impact on a child's life. At least three local
organizations have mentoring programs than can have enormous
benefits for mentors and mentees alike, including the Mentor
Connector, Everybody Wins and the Rutland Boys and Girls Club.
3) Subscribe to and read local newspapers. Criticizing local
newspapers seems like a sport to some, and that's true in
communities across the country. But we have solid, locally
owned papers here, and when a community loses its local papers, it
loses an enormous tool for communication, commerce, and community
building. All local newspapers are vital to this
4) Help change the environment. Plant a garden, clean up your
street or yard, or pick up one piece of litter every day. It's
proven that if you change an environment, you can change behaviors
in that environment.
5) Shop downtown. If you can buy it in Rutland or Vermont, forgo
the Internet. Shop at the Farmer's Market or a local farm stand,
and eat at local restaurants.
6) Support GMP's Solar Capital effort. It's helping turn around
downtown, inspiring investment in Rutland, and it's already helping
boost Rutland's image. You can actually save money by adding a
small solar array or with NRG Residential Solar, and it's good for
the greater community, too.
7) Buy a house. Rutland and the surrounding towns have
incredibly inexpensive real estate, often making buying cheaper
than renting, and interest rates remain near record lows. You can
get a much nicer house for much less money in Rutland County than
in Burlington, Montpelier or other similar communities, and build
equity for yourself as you help strengthen our local economy.
8) Get to know your neighbors. Nothing builds a sense of
community better than building relationships one on one.
9) Vote. Think it doesn't matter? Bernie Sanders won his first
election, as mayor of Burlington, by 10 votes.
10) Donate blood at the Gift-of-Life Marathon and help put
Rutland into the national record book on Dec. 17. Just
imagine what that would do for Rutland's community spirit!
Steve Costello is vice president for
generation and energy innovation at Green Mountain Power.