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Community Resilience Forum

Good Evening Community Resilience Forum Focus Group!

Thank you for registering to participate in the First Annual Bennington County Conservation District Community Resilience Forum.  By taking part in this innagural experiment you are helping craft a brighter future for Bennington County. 

Some of you might be wondering why we're offering a $40.00 stipend. The answer is simple. We value your time and recognize that spending an entire saturday at the tail end of summer is quite the ask. I won't sugar coat this, it'll be a long, and hopefully interesting, day. But at the end it is my sincere hope that you'll all walk out of that room empowered to begin the work of taking ownership over the future of this beautiful place we all call home.

The best resources we all have at our disposal are our community and our own determination. The Forum is designed solely to empower those assets with knowledge.

Knowledge of the work that is being done. Knowledge of why it is being done. Knowledge of the work that isn't being done that needs doing. 

And, most importantly, building community around finding solutions and achieving results.

We've worked tirelessly to bring you an amazing panel of experts from a wide range of perspectives to bring you the best possible information to answer one simple question, what should we start doing as a community, right now, to increase our resilience to Climate Change.

This year, we'll be focusing the discussion on flood resilience and have constructed the panel to reflect that topic.

Nothing is set entierly in stone, but as of this writing you'll be hearing from  the following folks: 

Natural Resources Conservation Service: Phylicxia Moore

Department of Environmental Conservation/Agency of Natural Resources: Marie Caduto

Vermont Agency of Agriculture: Unassigned but committed

Bennington County Regional Commission: Jim Henderson

White River Natural Resources Conservation District: Jennifer Byrne

Vermont Council on Rural Development: Laura Calvin Bailey

The Land Care Cooperative: Abe Collins

Now for some housekeeping...

I'll be sending along materials for you to review in advance of the event over the coming days as the panelists finalize their submissions. But in the meantime, I'll be posting resources as they come in to the event page on our website, which you'll find attached in this email. The Community Information Session that was initially scheduled for tonight has been moved to Wednesday, location and exact time TBD, if I'm able to pull one off at all (it's the first year, cut me some slack!).

In the meantime, if any of you want to schedule office hours to discuss any of the resources I'm sending along you can book that time by clicking here.

Those of you who indicated the need for transportation will recieve another email tonight to discuss those arrangements. 


Here's how the day is going to go: 

1. Set the Stage (15 minutes)

Introduction (5 min): Briefly outline the day’s objectives: To identify and prioritize the ten most relevant and actionable objectives for the community to pursue to increase Climate Change Resilience over the coming fiscal year.

Icebreaker (10 min): Short introductions among participants.


2. State Agency & Expert Panel Session (2 hours)

Panelist Introductions (20 min): Each panelist briefly introduces themselves and their agency.

Relevance Presentations (1 hour 20 min): Panelists present how their work and the concepts underpinning that work and explain why they feel it is relevant to the community and what problems their work is designed to solve. Panelists are also encouraged to highlight areas of concern or potential future endeavors that the community can pursue independently or in partnership with the groups represented by the panel.

Q&A (20 min): Participants ask questions to clarify their understanding.


3. Break (30 minutes)


4. Understand & Define (1 hour 30 minutes)

Reflection and Listing (45 min): In smaller groups (7-10), participants discuss the presentations and list potential issues or areas of interest. Panelists will be made available to these groups to provide clarification and context where needed. 

Group Sharing (30 min): Each group shares a summary of their identified issues. 

Issue Curation (15 min): Combine and display all the issues mentioned by groups.


5. Diverge & Decide (1 hour 45 minutes)

Voting on Issues (45 min): Participants vote on the issues they find most pressing.

Top Ten Issues Identification (30 min): Identify and display the top ten issues based on votes. The intention is to host separate deep dive events for these where future community focus groups can work with the District and Agency Reps/experts to pursue work centered on community needs using the resources described.

Initial Reaction from Panelists (30 min): Panelists give a brief reaction or acknowledgment regarding the top issues, potentially hinting at the value or challenges they foresee in each.


6. Expert Panel Feedback (30 minutes)

Feedback (15 min): Panelists provide further insights or feedback on the selected top issues.

Commitment/Next Steps (15 min): Panelists indicate potential steps their agency might consider or how they might engage in the subsequent deep dive events and any community led initiatives that stem from those events.


7. Wrap-Up & Next Steps (15 minutes)

Reflections (5 min): Participants share takeaways.

Next Steps for Community (10 min): Outline the plan for the subsequent ten deep dive events on the identified topics. Stipend Distribution.


That's all for now, please feel free to reach out to me directly if need be. 

If not, I'll see y'all on Saturday!


All the best,


Michael Fernandez

District Manager; Bennington County Conservation District

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