Middlebury College students discovered the intersection of academics and civics through a course entitled “Portrait of a Vermont Town,” led by Professor John Elder. In 2008, students documented the stories of Starksboro residents and presented those stories back to the residents at a community dinner and storytelling celebration. This Starksboro Stories project culminated the first phase of the Art & Soul Civic Engagement initiative – a partnership of the Orton Family Foundation, the Vermont Land Trust, and the Town of Starksboro. In the final phase of the project, townspeople identify concrete actions, policies, and choices to build a future based on values that emerge throughout all phases of the project.
Goddard College continues to offer the Goddard Model of non-traditional education by allowing adults to gain a degree while continuing their lives and careers. Located in the small town of Plainfield for 70 years, it enriches the region with 100+ different students every month. One of the greatest impacts has been the generations of students who moved to Vermont and are responsible for many central Vermont landmarks: Small Dog Electronics, Buch Spieler Music, Contemporary Dance & Fitness Studio, Catamount Arts, Magic Hat Brewing, Phish (band), Turtle Island Child Center, Artisans Hand Cooperative, Studio Place Arts, Winooski Hydroelectric, and Global Gifts, in addition to many writers, artists, and musicians.
The Vermont College of Fine Arts’ passion is to share the arts with the local Montpelier community. VCFA hosts a summer program called “Movies on the Hill” – a free outdoor film series for the public on the Vermont College of Fine Arts campus. For eight weeks, VCFA shows classic family-friendly films under the stars. In addition, this graduate school for art and writing opens all of its lectures, readings, and gallery shows to the local community. The college regularly hosts nationally known fiction writers, young adult writers, and visual artists.