Orton Family Foundation Art & Community Planning

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Resource Details
Publication Date: 
April 2013
Ann McQueen
Number of Pages: 
Animating Democracy resource
PDF icon funderportait_ortonfoundation.pdf1.52 MB

The Orton Family Foundation integrates art and artists into its community planning work with small towns in New England and the Rocky Mountain West. As foundation staff helps small town residents plan for and control future growth through their signature Heart & Soul Community Planning grants, they’ve found that using art projects—radio stories, intergenerational sculpture projects, illustrated recipe books—to discover and highlight stories about what makes their town special is an effective civic engagement and community building strategy. As residents are engaged through art, they define the town’s core values. What do you value about your town? What, if lost, would change its character? What is the heart and soul of your town? This becomes the basis for master plans, economic development plans and numerous small projects that protect, beautify, and enhance the quality of life and unique character of their place. Lyman Orton, Proprietor of the Vermont Country Store, launched the operating foundation and its planning work in 1995 with profits from the Vermont Country Store. Today, these profits support offices in Vermont and Colorado and an annual operating budget of about $2.8 million.

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