New Community Leaders Move to Action


As our grant period comes to an end, we would like to take the opportunity to recognize some of our newest community leaders and the great work they are doing to keep our values front and center as we move forward.Last fall we gathered close to 200 community members to share what we learned through the Heart & Soul process and to get ideas for moving to action.  On December 7th we brought interested community members together again to focus on three specific action ideas: A Community Calendar and hub for all the goings on in and around Essex, School Community Partnerships, and a Multicultural Potluck and Cultural Exchange.We’d like to introduce you to our new leaders:

Erin Maguire and Kyle Riester (School Community Partnerships)

Erin Maguire, the Executive Director of Student Support Services for CCSU and Kyle Riester, a sophomore at EHS are co-leading this group.  This group recognizes that as schools continue to move towards experience based learning, and personal learning plans for all students, the need for effective school community partnerships will continue to grow.  This group will begin its work by talking with Essex educators to find out what partnerships exist now, what is working well and how we can build on that as we move forward.

Lara Keenan (Community Calendar)

Born and raised in Essex, Lara has spent her lifetime connecting community members of all ages with a wide variety of resources. She worked in an independent bookstore, taught high school English at Colchester & Essex, worked as a librarian at the Essex Free Library, and currently directs the Pierson Library in Shelburne. In addition to being a resource-and-community-enthusiast, Lara also serves on the Artistic Direction Committee for the Essex Community Players and as secretary of the Friends of the Brownell Library. Bringing people together to help one another has always fed her soul, and so the Heart & Soul project fit perfectly. She recently took the lead on the Essex Community Calendar Committee, as it presented the perfect combination of connecting people with one another and with community resources.

Jen Bostwick (Multi-cultural Potluck and Cultural Exchange)

I have lived in Essex Junction for 11 years now and love it.  We made a choice to renovate our home and stay here for “the long haul”.  I became involved in Heart and Soul because I am very interested in building a stronger and more connected community.  There have been some great events that have been added to the village over the last few years that I hope continue for years to come – Farmer’s Market, “pop up” coffee shops…  I decided to help lead the Multicultural Potluck Dinner group because my family always loved the International Dinner that Summit Street School put on every year.  My youngest son has now moved to Fleming so I was interested in expanding the experience to the entire community.

Thank you to everyone who is stepping up to make these community ideas a reality and PLEASE JOIN US!

On February 10th 2014, Heart & Soul of Essex will meet simultaneously with the Essex and Essex Junction Planning Commissions, the Essex Selectboard, and the Essex Junction Trustees.  This type of meeting with so many movers and shakers is unprecedented in Essex history!  Join us while we discuss what is most important to the citizens of Essex, and make sure that your voice is heard in the process.  The goal of this meeting is for all in attendance to fully understand the Heart & Soul of Essex values, and how they can be incorporated into decisions that affect our lives and communities.

When: February 10th, 2014 5-7 p.m.
Where: Essex High School Cafeteria
Why: To present what we’ve learned through the Heart & Soul process, explore how to embed those values in decision making and continue to improve civic engagement in Essex.
Who: Essex Selectboard, Essex Junction Board of Trustees, Essex and Essex Junction Planning Commissions and YOU!

Stay tuned for more information.



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