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June 30, 2017

Harnessing Civil Society

Filed under: SRDC — admin @ 3:23 pm

(This piece by SRDC Executive Director Bob Flint appears in SRDC’s Summer Newsletter)

I was at an EDA event in Burlington, Mass last month about “resiliency”. Frankly, I was dreading having to go, but figured I should make an appearance. It turned out to be a really interesting event with useful information that we’ll try to incorporate into our work at SRDC.

But what has really stayed with me was a comment that was made by the keynote speaker, a gentleman, Dr. Stephen Flynn, who was discussing the challenges of getting logistics and systems functional again in New York City after 9/11. It was a moving talk and he talked about how people pulled together, in an ad hoc way, because they cared and how powerful that was. In his words, it showed:

“The importance of harnessing the capabilities of civil society”.

That phrase has lingered with me over the past several weeks. Maybe it’s because of the turmoil going on with the national political scene (which has hit Federal agencies that SRDC deals with). Maybe it’s because another example of this that was discussed was the way Vermont responded to the challenge of Irene a few years ago.

But it was a timely reminder, as we are celebrating our nation’s 241st birthday, of the power of what we can accomplish together.

In that spirit, SRDC has a lot going on, from redevelopment work at the former Bryant Grinder property to assisting Windsor Improvement Corporation on considering the acquisition of the former Goodyear property. There’s a potential tech accelerator that’s gaining momentum, but there’s also the logistical challenges presented by the recent (temporary) closure of County Road, the main access to Precision Park.

There are also visible examples of collaboration, from the Better Connections-granted funded programs in the region. Springfield’s just crossed the finish line, Chester’s close behind and Windsor’s getting in the starting gates.

And, speaking of “Collaboration”, there is the “Collaboratory”, the “Makers Space” that SRDC has partnered with the River Valley Tech Center on, which is located at RVTC. This has turned into a wonderful success for students in the region and the Space has opened to the public this spring (and will be open again this August).

We hope your summer is going well and, as always, we are grateful for the continued support of our communities and our members!

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