Second Draft: VISION FOR VERMONT
August 29th, 2019
What you see below is the second iteration of an ongoing process of learning to listen to each other and articulate what matters to us. It is a springboard for engaging with each other and enriching all of us by attracting a widening variety of life experience and wisdom. Consider how you see, hear and feel this vision and how you would change and add to it.
Toward a Vision for Vermont
What forms of symbolic visioning and ethical imagining can call forth a transformation... for our Earth community? Have we arrived at a point where we realize that more scientific statistics on environmental problems, more legislation, policy, or regulation, and more economic analysis, while necessary, are no longer sufficient for the large-scale social transformations needed?
–Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grimm
What do we mean by “a vision”?
A vision is what kindles our deepest hopes and releases our energies to pursue new possibilities. A felt vision has the power of creating a new reality when it captures our imaginations and speaks to a
deeper reality. This is a call to newly held aspirations for a society that ensures the well-being and
happiness of all.
Before we articulate our vision for Vermont, perhaps we should start by opening ourselves to the whole Earth community with its myriad potentials and limitations, and by listening for what the land has to say to us.
Why we need a new vision
We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history. As a result of a global economic system that demands exponential growth and unquestioning faith in endless material “progress,” human activities have been overshooting the carrying capacity of the natural world at least for the last half century. Our current legal and economic structures and cultural belief systems—cultures of power over others and competition for resource—are blinding us to other ways of being. Much of what we call progress has been an unsuccessful attempt to fill the spiritual and psychological void left, in part, by our diminished connection with the natural world.
An Invitation to a shared vision
We need to master the art, it seems to me, of asking questions which address the gravity of our situation, yet which also create longing, which evoke a deep and rich sense of the wonders we can create, rather than shutting it down and putting it into a deep sleep of complacency.
The future also holds great promise. Many of us are beginning to recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and interdependent life forms we are one Earth community. We see a way forward through the potent combination of taking seriously what deeply matters to us and the emerging understanding of how to make changes in deeply ingrained habits.
We have been coming together to forge a shared vision of an ethical foundation for Vermont and the world community.
• The sun is the source of energy for all life on Earth and nature is the primary reality; and
• All life on Earth has evolved as one interdependent community and will continue to thrive only if all life forms have the food, shelter, and supportive communities they need; and
• Earth has finite non-renewable resources and can generate renewable resources only at a limited rate according to natural laws; and
• Resource limits vary regionally with geography and climate; and
• Nature is resilient and is constantly changing and adapting; and
• Humankind is a part of nature and not apart from nature; and
• Modern civilization, to the extent that is has become alienated from nature, has been rapidly diminishing Earth’s ecosystems and destabilizing its climate.
• Let us celebrate the abundance and beauty that Vermont offers to all that dwell within her borders; and
• Let us respect the unique qualities, limits, and potentials in the bioregions in which we live; and
• Let us recognize the rights of nature, protect what is healthy, and restore what has been harmed; and
• Let us join the interdependent communities of life as respectful, caring member-participants;
• Let us acknowledge that everyone who lives in Vermont belongs here; and
• Let us respond with everything we’ve got—art, music, film, literature, festivals, liturgies,
celebrations, social experiments, and much more—to help us imagine what a transformed way of living would look like. True art invites full participation from all parts of ourselves.
• Let us nurture the arts and community bonds that provide meaning and satisfaction and fill the
emptiness that often leads to boundless material consumption.
• Let us begin an equitable transition away from our dependence on fossil fuels and the high levels of energy use they encourage, to a reliance on renewables; and
• Let us recognize that the good of all depends on everyone’s having a living wage and a basic
income; adequate and healthy food; affordable, safe, and secure housing; affordable education, and affordable basic healthcare; and
• Let us continue to develop our network of healthy and creative local relationships and
• Let us practice regenerative agriculture that enhances the land as a biological community; and
• Let us protect and expand Vermont’s healthy forests and expand and preserve wilderness; and
• Let us set the highest possible standards for clean air, clean water, healthy soils, wholesome
food, and waste reduction; and
• Let us balance the need to honor the population carrying capacity of Vermont with our felt need to help our fellow human beings; and
• Let us promote a democratic Vermont, governed by local, regional and state leaders who are informed by citizen assemblies; and
• Let us seek a Vermont where every child is able to thrive; and
• Let us open our minds and imaginations to wildly creative thinking, inviting in, at least at first, all ideas in an uncensored manner and moving beyond rational thinking.
This is a living document that will continue to evolve as we do. As we study, learn, interact, and dialog with each other, other Vermonters, and groups beyond, acting on what we learn, we have the potential, by our participation, to be transformed to a life enhancing presence within the entire Earth community. Our intention is to make an ongoing contribution to imagining, exploring, and practicing this profound transformation.
First Draft: VISION FOR VERMONT
As Vermont moves through a time of transformation, we envision a future where Vermonters care for each other, their communities, and the earth; where the issues, that matter to all of us are resolved in a way that protects our environment and combats further climate change; and where access to health care, and economic, racial, and gender equity are assured for everyone. We are committed to a future where everyone has access to the best that Vermont has to offer.
Justice and Equal Rights for All
Every Vermonter is afforded the same fundamental rights, regardless of race, ethnic origin, religion, gender expression, age, or sexual orientation. Our justice system is fair for all, our seniors and people with disabilities are respected and protected, immigrants feel welcomed and accepted, and people with disabilities have support. Our education system includes the history of indigenous people and people of color.
Responsible and Effective Government
Vermont’s state government is transparent, efficient, effective and accountable to the voters. Our revenue system is fair, stable, and adequate to fund our state’s priorities.
Ongoing Action to Stabilize Climate Change
We follow land use practices that protect our communities, both human and non-human, our forests, agricultural lands, waters, and wildlife habitat, from the adverse effects of climate change. We prepare our state against natural disasters. We have a clean, renewable energy infrastructure. We have sustainable practices of production, consumption, and human reproduction that respect the limits of nature.
A Healthy Environment
We protect our environment and the natural resources we depend on for our economy, food production, and health. We defend Vermont’s natural beauty and diverse landscapes and habitats.
A Strong and Fair Economy
We support creative entrepreneurship and the arts at all levels and encourage living-wage job growth in every part of the state. For all Vermonters, we level the economic playing field, protect workers’ right to unionize and bargain collectively, support working families, and ensure a healthy, job-ready workforce. Our transportation system is accessible, reliable, safe, and energy-efficient.
Right to Health Care and Food Security
Every Vermonter has access to high-quality, affordable health care, and healthful food. No Vermonter goes hungry. Every Vermonter has access to prescription drugs, mental health care and treatment for substance use disorder.
Universal Quality Public Education
We recognize that people are our best investment. We provide universal early childhood programs, tailor class size, achieve universal high school graduation rates, and make post-secondary education available for all. We support the expansion of high school equivalency programs, as well as modern career-technical education and vocational training opportunities for all ages. We have a revenue system that provides stable financing for our schools.
Affordable Housing and Safe Communities
We have human-scale communities that are welcoming, accessible, and safe through policies that reduce violence and harassment. All Vermonters, throughout their lifespans, have access to an affordable, healthful, stable place to call home.