Opinion
July 21, 2016

Reimagining Rutland

By Steve Costello and Terry Jaye

We’re writing today because we share a deep, abiding love for Rutland–and urge all who share that affection to embrace it in the coming days and weeks.

Regardless of where anyone falls in the current debates, we know one thing to be true: the greater Rutland community is filled with caring, compassionate people who love the city and region, and are willing to give deeply of themselves to benefit others.

For the past 15 years, we have worked together to create, promote and organize blood drives, food drives and other events for our greater-Rutland community. Together we have seen the very best of Rutland.

The greater-Rutland region has challenges, no doubt, just as every community has them. But the Rutland we know bears little resemblance to the image described by some of late, and tearing it or each other down has no place in the public discourse.

The Rutland we know ignored the naysayers who said it couldn’t be done and raised $3.5 million to restore and reopen the Paramount Theatre and bring world-class entertainment to the region.

The Rutland we know put collaboration first to quickly restore normalcy after the Nor’Icane.

The Rutland we know created Vermont Strong and Restoring Rutland within hours of Hurricane Irene’s arrival–organizations focused on helping victims of the storm.

The Rutland we know addressed crime and Rutland’s part in the national heroin epidemic directly, coming together through Project VISION to slash crime rates, help addicts and improve quality of life.

The Rutland we know turned a police department mired in problems into a professional, respected and effective community asset, now sought out by departments across the country for advice and ideas.

The Rutland we know bucked national trends to reinvent its historic downtown and create a thriving, lively and welcoming microcosm of the larger community.

The Rutland we know recruited, financed and embraced a spectacular independent bookstore, and inspired dozens of entrepreneurs to make Rutland their home.

The Rutland we know carved a world-class bike park out of a largely forgotten forest, drawing thousands of area residents and tourists to the city.

The Rutland we know used a love of the arts and a commitment to education to grow and expand galleries, excellent public schools, two colleges and a university within the city core.

The Rutland we know created, supported and embraced what has become the preeminent public access television system in Vermont, earning national awards.

The Rutland we know built a hospital and health care system that is the envy of cities and towns of our size across the country.

The Rutland we know took a dream and crafted a fun, inviting and beloved children’s museum with attendance vastly exceeding expectations.

The Rutland we know included nine of the 40 Rising Stars selected statewide by Vermont Business Magazine in 2015. The Rutland we know spawned Rutland Young Professionals, a force for networking and personal growth.

The Rutland we know created new energy, revenue, businesses, a title (Solar Capital of New England) and city revenues by embracing the sun.

The Rutland we know took an ordinary blood drive, and through grit, determination, competition and unbelievable collaboration, set an example for the nation.

The Rutland we know, through all these things, changed the way people across the state looked at the city, from a reputation as a downtrodden community to an example of how a community can reinvent and rebuild itself.

Just imagine what Rutland can do if it really focuses on its positives.

Terry Jaye is director of programming at Catamount Radio. Steve Costello is a vice president at Green Mountain Power.

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