I Heart Rutland: I choose Rutland
By Shana Duval
Commentary | October 30,2013
In 2007, I returned to Vermont fresh from college. Four years spent outside Philadelphia strongly reinforced my decision to return to my roots. I craved the authenticity that defines the Green Mountain State.
When the decision to return to Rutland or relocate to Burlington arose, I chose Rutland. Allow me to share with you why.
As a Rutland area native and longtime resident, I am more excited about Rutland’s future now than I have ever been. There is something special happening here. A momentum of energy is flowing through our community, making Rutland an inspiring place to be, and to be part of.
For this reason, I choose Rutland.
There are incredible people doing incredible things in our community. We have a thriving agricultural movement that is second to none, led by an organization that continues to forge new ideas for growth. What were once empty spaces in Depot Park and the old Mintzer Brothers buildings are now booming gathering places connecting people with local food.
At the edge of our city lies a 300-acre recreational jewel, namely Pine Hill Park, which attracts thousands of outdoor enthusiasts each year. The park’s unique trail system continues to grow with projects like the Rutland Creek Path and the restoration of the old carriage route to Proctor. The trails are valuable because they connect people to places, but they also connect people to people in a positive and healthy way.
In the heart of our city we find another gathering place through the doors of the Paramount Theater. The Paramount offers varied cultural experiences and performances to our community. Last week I had the opportunity to watch Game 1 of the World Series on the Paramount Theater’s HD screen. Although the 24-by-30-foot screen was impressive, I was more amazed by the rows of faces behind me all sharing the same excited expression. True, it was a riveting game, but I believe that enthusiasm transcends the love of baseball and speaks to Rutland’s transformation.
It is important to remember, these vital community resources did not appear out of thin air. They were the result of countless, dedicated residents working together to address the well-being of our community. In Rutland, we do not sit and wait for solutions. We create solutions.
To be sure, Rutland is a work-in-progress kind of town. Let us use that to our advantage and paint the canvas how we see fit. Let us stand up and define our own future. I want Rutland to be a community that engages its citizens to take responsibility for what is ours; empowers its youth and recognizes them as the leaders they are today; creates opportunities for good health and personal growth; and uses its flaws as fuel for creativity and innovation. In many ways we are well on our way to achieving this vision, but there is more work to be done.
Simple physics tells us that momentum is the product of mass and velocity. Loosely translated, we need more people to join the cause to continue on this path. There are many ways to be active in your community. It could be coaching a team, serving on a nonprofit board or volunteering to build a playground. You decide how you want to get involved. The point is we must all do our part. We are all accountable. I look at what this town has accomplished in recent years, and I feel a sense of pride. It is that pride proclaimed by our community that puts Rutland on the map.
For this reason, I choose Rutland.
Shana Duval is the board chairwoman for the Boys & Girls Club of Rutland County and works for the Vermont Electric Power Company in Rutland.