What If We Asked The Question ‘What if…?’

July 27, 2011

in News,Woodstock

By Christopher Bartlett
Special To The Standard
“What if…?” It’s a question that has provoked some of the world’s most profound changes and its most important innovations. So let your imagination run free for a few minutes.
What if Woodstock’s residents, businesses, government, and nonprofit organizations came together to honor our heritage as the birthplace of conservation by making our town a model of sustainable living? What if, after much collaborative effort, Woodstock became widely recognized as having achieved its goal to be “The Greenest Historic Town in America”?
What if the sense of shared commitment in achieving that objective created new bonds across our community and new pride in our town? And what if the positive image we created energized the local economy by making Woodstock a place that people wanted to visit, to invest, and to live?
There’s been a quiet movement gathering momentum among Woodstock’s nonprofit organizations over the past few months that has been raising just such “what if” questions. It began early this year at three lunches where Sustainable Woodstock hosted 28 representatives from the town’s business, government, and nonprofit organizations.
The agenda of those lunches was to engage in a free-form, open discussion to explore how our collective efforts might make Woodstock a more sustainable community. The lunches generated some animated discussions that those present described as “lively, productive, and inspiring.”
Then, last month, Sustainable Woodstock convened a follow-on lunch meeting to talk over how some of the best thoughts could be converted into collaborative action. Lots of ideas emerged about how the town’s nonprofit organizations could cooperate to achieve common sustainability goals – starting with making their own organizations more sustainable. Then the conversation took a new direction.
“We discussed lots of small sustainable measures that could make an impact,” said Jack McGuire, a trustee of the Norman Williams Public Library. “But eventually we began to think about sustainability with a capital S – a big goal that could have visibility and impact.” It was a conversation that resulted in the “what if” discussion about Woodstock becoming the “greenest historic town in America.”
“It was a wonderful discussion,” said Anne Macksoud, co-chair of Sustainable Woodstock. “We certainly want to pursue the many good ideas about collaborating for sustainability and we’ve captured these in a document entitled “Going Green for Good.” But we also want to pursue capital S sustainability, and we are continuing conversations about an aspirational goal that can inspire and engage our community.”
So the conversation about “what if” has begun. We hope you’ll join us in finishing the thought. You never know where it might take us.
As Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, “What if you slept? / And what if, in your sleep You dreamed? / And what if, in your dream, / You went to Heaven And there plucked A strange and Beautiful flower? /And what if, When you awoke, / You had the flower In your hand? / Ah… what then?”
For more information, call us at 457-2911, email us at spm@sustainablewoodstock.com visit us online at www.sustainablewoodstock.org or follow us on Facebook.


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