By Jessie Forand, ECHO Graphic note-taking brings Summit keywords to the forefront. (Jessie Forand/ECHO) The Leahy Center Environme...

Leahy Summit: Group Projects Recap

By Jessie Forand, ECHO

Graphic note-taking brings Summit keywords to the forefront. (Jessie Forand/ECHO)

The Leahy Center Environmental Summit brought to ECHO inspiring guest speakers, great networking opportunities, and also dedicated regional leaders working together to create real, long-term change in order to become more floodwater resilient. 

Before wrapping up the weekend's events, the teams presented their ideas using informative, and funny, skits. 

Here are a few impressions from the presentations: 

Franklin County: Bouncing to the front of the room to the Beatles' "Come Together," the team members represented varying potential partners and explained how to connect people to help in their mission (through social media outlets, newsletters, and more). 

The Franklin County crew is "all in" to help with resiliency efforts. (Jessie Forand/ECHO)

Upper White River: Posing as visitors at a local volunteer fire department gathering, this team explained the importance of using approachable and effective language to communicate with communities. As the presenters discussed post-Tropical Storm Irene water work, the "firemen" held up signs reading "WTF?" (to roars of laughter from their audience, of course). When the "agency representatives" used everyday language instead of industry jargon, the "community members" nodded understandingly. 

The takeaway? Everyone knows the issues at hand, but those who aren't involved in the agency side of things may not be familiar with the insider terms, turning them away from long-winded talks. 

The Upper White River Valley team's "firefighters" are confused by "agency rep" jargon. (Jessie Forand/ECHO)

Mid-Winooski River: The scene was set at a "pie for breakfast" event, with watershed group members presenting a flume diagram to explain to locals what happens to their property when major storm events hit. After demonstrating the seriousness of flood damage, they offered up mitigation strategies to prevent future problems.

A flume table shows the harsh realities of flooding. (Jessie Forand/ECHO)

Lewis Creek: After the rain, a local's driveway looks great, she receives compliments from a group of passing cyclists and takes the opportunity to speak with them about how she is working to maintain her land and benefit it has had for native species (one member, dressed as a monarch butterfly, seemed appreciative). 

Statewide CRO: This Community Resilience Organization spoke to one another via "text," posing as young community members. They decided that public engagement was pretty "cool," and had a funny conversation about what they were learning.

South Windsor County: This team transformed into "theatre troupe" the Romeos - the Retired Old Men Eating Out. Their Romeo and Juliet-style performance invited different community members to care about the river by viewing a stream table.

"Juliet" calls out to fellow townsfolk for help. (Jessie Forand/ECHO)

One memorable couplet? "Oh Juliet, oh Juliet, wherefore art thou? We've learned from your table and now we are able."

Dog River: At a community gathering, neighbors affected by Tropical Storm Irene (some supportive, some not) met with an engineer to discuss plans for a berm while at a barbecue.

Neighbors near Dog River plan for their town's future. (Jessie Forand/ECHO). 
South Lake: At a farmers' market in Poultney, public outreach teams asked a newcomer to Vermont, a tourist, and a member of the local road crew if they new about the area's watershed group, contacting them in a friendly, casual setting in hopes of growing their network.

Barre: A city manager spoke with locals about buyout programs and how they might benefit from checking out their options.

Thanks to all the teams for their hard work! See more photo at ECHO's Flickr page.

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