On Wednesday night I went to the “Community Values Mapping Project” meeting, mainly to find out what the Hell it was. Normally, if you come up with a meeting name like that, I’d explain regretfully that I can’t possibly attend because I have to do something much more fun like de-mold my shower curtain.
But Harry Van Meter, the chair of the Pawlet Planning Commission kept telling everyone this was terribly important, and so I trusted him, without really knowing anything more. It turns out that the long, not-very-informative name of the meeting wasn’t Harry’s fault: the meeting was named and sponsored by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, as part of a statewide initiative.
But “Fish and Wildlife”? Strangely enough makes me think of fishing and hunting, neither of which I do. So what had this meeting to do with me?
Turns out a lot. Because this meeting really should have been called the “Keep Pawlet Awesome” meeting. Vermont Fish and Wildlife facilitator Monica Przyperhark explained that this meeting was all about identifying what aspects of our town we most loved, and communicating to both our town and the state that we’d like to see those aspects preserved.
It didn’t have to be about fishing or wildlife, although it could be. Ms. Pryperhark supplied large Pawlet maps and colorful markers with instructions to identify and label those things we most love about Pawlet.
Oh! Well that was easy! I circled our historic town center, and Haystack Mountain, and all of Route 30 with its beautiful rolling farm landscape, all aspects of our town that I can’t imagine it without. Others circled the Rail Trail, wildlife habitats and swimming holes. When all was said and done, we had marked our map up quite thoroughly.
The end result of this exercise will be to compile all the colorful lines and squiggles into a single report. This report then goes to the Pawlet Planning Commission, who will have the opportunity to incorporate it into the new Town Plan.
This isn’t just fluff. As Harry explained at the meeting, Vermont has impending clean energy initiatives that will require towns to incorporate renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. If we don’t identify the characteristics that make our town the wonderful place we want to live, we could- for example- wake up one morning and find our favorite view has been replaced by a solar array. I mean, solar power is great, but it isn’t always the prettiest thing to look at.
As our Planning Commission pulls together the road map for the future of our community, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will be providing them with lots of information to help that process, including statistics about our area’s wildlife, ecosystems, and migration patterns. But they will also provide us with this compiled report which is intended to serve as a sort of mirror: What do we want? What do we care about? What is worth preserving? What makes Pawlet the awesome place it is?
So if you’re like me, you are probably curious as to what this report will actually say. To find out, come to the Ms. Pryperhark’s presentation of it on Thursday, Nov. 14th at the Mettowee Community School. I THINK it is supposed to be at 7PM, but don’t quote me on that because it is possible I made that part up.
(When you arrive, you can tell them you’re there for the Keep Pawlet Awesome report. No one will know what you’re talking about, but I’m pretty sure it will feel much more exciting.)