Work begins for Dorset Tomorrow task forces

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DORSET — Four resident-led task forces dedicated to previously identified town priorities met Monday night at The Dorset School as part of Dorset Tomorrow, a process broadly focused on strengthening the town's economic future amid

climate change.

The task forces — dedicated to increasing affordable housing and attracting new residents, building community unity, transforming the town's energy usage and improving its transportation options, respectively — identified and sequenced action items, selected chairs and scheduled follow-up meetings.

The housing task force, for instance, selected action items that include crafting a case statement for the value of diverse housing, conducting a housing needs assessment and compiling a list of other, similarly sized New England towns that have overcome, or at least mitigated housing crunches.

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The nonprofit Vermont Council on Rural Development, which is overseeing the process as part of its Climate Economy Model Communities Program, allocated to each task force subject matter experts to support their efforts.

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The experts attended the Monday night event and will be available on an as-needed basis moving forward, according to program director Jon Copans.

Experts who met with the housing task force Monday night included Ted Brady, deputy secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development; Ludy Biddle, executive director of NeighborWorks of Western Vermont; Jonathan Cooper, a community and economic development specialist with the Bennington County Regional Commission; Stephanie Lane, executive director of Shires Housing; and Mia Watson, a research and communications coordinator with the Vermont Housing Finance Agency.

Paul Costello, VCRD's executive director, and Elisabeth Marx, a senior philanthropic advisor with the Vermont Community Foundation, met with the unity task force.

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The energy task force received support from Jeffrey Monder, who leads new product development at Green Mountain Power, and Becca White, community engagement manager with Efficiency Vermont.

Deb Sachs, president of NetZero Vermont; Bruce Lierman, a cycling advocate; Brian Maroney, executive director of the Green Mountain Community Network; and Jim Sullivan, executive director of the Bennington County Regional Commission, met with the transportation task force.

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