Report from Vermont E-State Event 5/29/08

May 29, 2008

The Snelling Center for Government sponsored a day long Vermont E-State Vermont on May 29th. Lou Feldstein of the New Hampshire Community Foundation gave the keynote address (covered here by blogger Bill Simmon) explaining the physical and social benefits of community engagement. How to do this in an increasingly wired state is the charge of the event.

After 23 years of meetings like this (Peter Smith, 1985), this event is a bridge between the analog natives and the digital natives. Comments from the Break-Out groups were positive and mentioned the value of mixing it up with young people.

This second panel of the morning speaks directly to how technology is supporting community building and engagement of differently abled people.

Michael Wood-Lewis of Front Porch Forum,
an email list serve that connect 9000 people in Chittenden County Vermont.

Deborah Lisi-Baker of the Vermont Center for Independent Living
stressed the vital importance of including all people in the promise of new technology. She

Dove and Ken of HO Wheeler School
discussed the promise and challenge of using technology as a bridge to the schools for the greater purposes of community connection. Examples of this: college partnerships, community partnerships, bridging the tecnology divide. Students used wikis, video, theatre, public access television and oral histories. In support of Burlington refugees, the technology provides a bridge to engage with the broader community (through skill building and story telling).

University of Vermont
freshman students participated in this "service learning" project as a way to start their relationship with community.

Rick Whitchurch of Middlesex Town Meeting Solutions Committee
set up a live video feed of their town meeting in March in order to expand the reach of the event to the broad community and those who are typically underserved by the democratic process. Internet virtual meeting service + broadband connection + 40$ cameras. They are concerned that this effort does not undermine direct attendance. Objective of project: committed to participatory democracy, preservation of community, resist the pressures toward interpersonal.

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