Susan 4 VCN

/Susan McDowell
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About Susan McDowell

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So far Susan McDowell has created 11 blog entries.

August 2017

Rooting for Rural

Dr. Joshua Kim, director of digital learning initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL), recently reviewed Richard Florida’s newest book, “The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class — and What We Can Do About It.” Some readers may find Florida’s assertions almost contradict his previous views. In a new blog post on “Inside Higher Ed,” Kim takes the position that we are simply not doing enough.

He points out, “…the book may convince (young professionals) that they need to pay attention to the needs of everyone in the city – and not just other people they work with in their technology/design/medical/legal/publishing companies.” […]

June 2017

Digging Deeper

A year ago, the Vermont Arts Council published the results of the 2016 Vermonter Poll. The study made clear that art matters to us in our public life, schools, and homes. A full 85% of Vermonters agreed with the statement, “I value the arts as an important element of life in my community.”

We shared this data with Paul Costello, executive director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development since 2000. He said, “This statistic doesn’t surprise me. It mirrors what we hear from Vermonters all around the state. In all the years I’ve been involved in work with Vermont communities, the arts turn up time and time again as key local assets, as a driver for the local brand, and as one of the crucial points of attraction for entrepreneurs, youth and new residents.”

How do words become action? How do we continue to make arts and culture a part of community life? […]

February 2017

Never Stop Learning

Nonprofit leaders know the value of a good support system. Resources that offer flexible levels of participation and connect us to a strong professional network can be hard to find. When we do find them, they’re worth holding on to.

The Center for New Leadership (CNL) at the Marlboro College Center for Graduate and Professional Studies is one of those resources. The Marlboro approach embraces systems thinking and collective impact; it applies these methods to teaching and coaching. Consultants, practitioners, and students create a learning community focused on making the social benefit sector tick. […]

The Funding Question Arises

Federal and state government investments form one tributary of the creative sector’s funding stream. With January’s change in the U.S. administration, potential trouble has arisen about this support for arts and cultural institutions.

Complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has been suggested. While this is unsettling, the longer view advises that these discussions have been hashed through before (some may recall the national conversation of the 1990s, resulting in dramatic budget reductions for some national cultural organizations. This thorough historical review was published in 1998.) […]

December 2016

A Community Center for South Burlington?

Since early 2016, a group of passionate arts professionals — in cooperation with the City of South Burlington — have been exploring the possibility of developing a creative arts complex in South Burlington’s new central downtown district. Now incorporated as a Vermont nonprofit, the South Burlington City Center for the Arts, has conducted focus group interviews, hosted a City Council meeting, and had several meetings with potential stakeholders. […]

November 2016

Vermont Creative Learning Forum Convenes in Woodstock

Vermont is taking an ambitious lead among states in prioritizing creativity in learning.

Ninety-five educators, students, and their community partners recently gathered at the Woodstock Inn for the first Vermont Creative Learning Forum. For two days, they dedicated themselves to deeper understanding and practice of the ways in which PreK-12 schools and community groups can use creative engagement as a catalyst for advancing student-centered learning initiatives. […]

October 2016

USDA Recognizes the Importance of Arts and Culture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently awarded Rural Business Development Grants to the Barre Opera House, the Friends of Dog Mountain, and the Foundry in Lyndonville. In choosing these creative-based nonprofits, the USDA recognized the significant community development role played by arts and culture institutions.The USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant program provides support to Vermont organizations seeking to increase the economic vibrancy of their community through supporting businesses and cultivating job creation. Arts and culture establishments are anchor institutions in many Vermont communities, attracting visitors to downtown businesses and helping to fuel the creative economy. These attributes align them with the mission of the USDA’s grant program. The year, the USDA provided over $1 million in grant support to 19 Vermont community organizations through the Rural Business Development Program. Learn more about the 2016 awardees. […]

August 2016

Leadership: Conference Expands Sector Conversation

The inaugural New England Maker Spaces and Creative Places Conference (the Maker Places Conference) was held August 8-9 in Burlington. More than 40 people attended, from as near as Waterbury and as far as Sydney, Australia. This new conference represents one of many ways the maker movement has been expanding in Vermont since the first Champlain Maker Faire in 2012.

Speakers representing universities, manufacturing companies, and maker spaces shared on culture shift, community engagement, and inspiring young makers. Many discussions made the case for integrating arts, nature, and technology into the movement. […]

July 2016

Community: Swanton on the Move

The arts are alive and growing in this small Franklin County town.

In the first two months of 2015, the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) had the privilege of working with the Swanton community through the Community Visit Program. In an initial public forum, facilitated by Alex Aldrich of the Vermont Arts Council, it became clear that there was a strong desire to grow an arts presence in the town. The conversation led to the idea of creating an arts council. The founding members of the Swanton Arts Council took it from there.

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June 2016

Leadership: Collective Impact Models Inspire VCN Structure

One model the Network will use to effectively configure Vermont’s creative sector is Collective Impact. Introduced in 2011 by the “Stanford Social Innovation Review,” Collective Impact is a disciplined, cross-sector approach to solving social and environmental problems on a large scale

In a 2014 blog post, the Review discussed the central conditions for collective impact: a […]