WRC Project Showcased at the 2019 Leahy Summit at the ECHO Center

On Friday, April 5th, 2019, staff planner Emily Davis lead a panel discussion with her project partners at the 2019 Leahy Center Environmental Summit at the ECHO Center in Burlington. Hosted by the VT Clean Water Network, the Leahy Summit is a biennial clean water networking event designed to pull together clean water partners involved with community resilience, policy, funding, project development, and clean water implementation. Starting in response to the need for a more holistic approach to watershed planning following Tropical Storm Irene, each Leahy Summit has a theme. The theme for 2019 was: "The Alchemy of Arts & Science."

Emily Davis and Sara Coffey of Vermont Performance Lab were asked to present "The Confluence Project," a collaboratives creative placemaking project that began in 2017 and provided community programming through the summer of 2018. The Confluence Project was an ambitious experiment in creative placemaking that brought together the arts, youth, community groups, regional planners, and educational institutions at a civic dialogue table to take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of our rivers, our land, and our watersheds.

The work linked Vermont Performance Lab's artist residency program with the community development and watershed planning work of the Windham Regional Commission. Through public programs and integrated art-science residencies and curriculum, The Confluence Project supported three local schools, built understanding of our local watersheds, fostered a new model for civic engagement, and helped create deeper engagement around watershed planning and place-based identity.

During the Leahy Environmental Summit, Emily and Sara were joined by their core project partners: teaching artists Judy Dow, Gowri Savoor, and Lida Winfield; along with Steve Libby of the Vermont River Conservancy and Kathy Urffer of the Connecticut River Conservancy. Emily opened the panel by setting the stage of how the project was started, and the foundational support the Windham Regional Commission and the Vermont Performance Lab were able to provide for this innovative work.

The group shared their stories and experiences of linking the arts and environmental science as a powerful way to promote watershed study and civic engagement around environmental issues. The panel was held in the morning, as a way to ignite enthusiasm, provide inspiration, and be a model for what is possible in Vermont. Emily was able to use this project success story as a way to promote the good planning work of the WRC, and advocate for continued resources to support these efforts in the Windham Region municipalities.

Last Updated: 07 January 2021
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