TO: THE PUTNEY COMMUNITY OCTOBER 19, 2022
FROM: STATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE OF THE PUTNEY LIBRARY
RE: SUMMARY OF LIBRARY POSTCARDS
In June 2022, the Putney Library surveyed the community about life in Putney post Covid. We did this as a form of community engagement and in preparation for the library’s strategic planning process. Though this was not a scientifically designed survey, the information garnered does offer the library and interested town entities significant qualitative data to consider, especially given the substantial unanimity on several points.
More than 160 post cards were filled out at the library, the Putney Diner, the Putney Coop, Next Stage, General Store, the Food Shelf, Farmers’ Market, and the Lantern Supper answering one or more of the four questions.
Many and varied topics were raised but the purpose of this summary is to identify just the broad themes reflected in the more than 160 responses gathered from June through September.
A full summary follows but we learned that, in general, respondents are happy with life in Putney and grateful for the way of life that the natural environment and sense of community affords them. Many are finding it difficult to socialize since COVID.
Respondents envision inclusive economic and housing development that makes Putney look and feel like a thriving small town, which serves and welcomes all who live and visit. They see a great need for a revitalization of downtown Putney with more amenities, esp. restaurants and pubs, and safer more attractive streets. There is significant support for a community green space downtown with a playground, and a call for more affordable housing for middle income residents and fewer Airb&bs.
There is also awareness that not everyone feels included in the Putney community and that there is a need to find a way to have safe inclusive conversations around our differences.
A dichotomy came up between the preponderance of respondents who value the “sense of community” in Putney and the few respondents who see a need to change the “divisions and separations” they see or experience in the financial, educational or ideological realms.
There seems to be a need to determine how people receive their information or want to.
It was clear that there were things respondents were not aware of such as, the many free music events, free passes at the library, the services of Putney Community Cares and the food shelf.
1. I’M GRATEFUL TO LIVE IN PUTNEY BECAUSE OF THE …
- NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
- SENSE OF COMMUNITY
- LOCAL STORES AND RESOURCES
Gratitude for the natural environment predominated these responses, which referenced not just the natural “beauty of the landscapes” but also the lifestyle of “peace and quiet,” “minimal industrial development,” and the “small town feel.” Putney was seen as a place where living simply is valued. Lantern Supper responders were particularly grateful that Putney was welcoming with friendly people and “great place for families.”
Another strong theme emerged around various aspects of community, which was recognized not as a static thing but more as a “commitment to the idea of community.” It was acknowledged that it wasn’t perfect but that people were ”trying to create a sense of community through various events (community suppers) and assistance (food shelf)” and that the “community was working hard to take care of each other. “ This “community support was described as “ authentic and strong.” One respondent described Putney as a small town with a big heart.
People are also truly grateful for all things local. There is real appreciation for our local businesses, (General Store, Swirl, COOP, the Gleanery), and services like the Putney Foodshelf; for the commitment to local artists, especially the Next Stage and Sandglass, and the availability of local produce and our farmers’ markets. Respondents especially valued the library and the Putney Central School. A few noted appreciation for the availability of the pool.
OTHER: A few respondents noted their gratitude for family connections, longstanding Putney ties, and local history.
2. SINCE COVID I’M RUSTY AT ….
Though we received only 20 responses to this question, the nearly universal response indicated that people missed opportunities to socialize and also felt a loss of interpersonal skills around socializing: whether feeling comfortable in group situations, making small talk, recognizing people, or feeling safe hugging people.
OTHER: Some respondents have difficulty traveling, concentrating, reading consistently, making time for themselves, and one cited a “loss of faith in the future” driven by how businesses and some people treated individuals during this time.”
3. & 4. ONE THING I WOULD CHANGE and IN THREE YEARS, I WOULD LIKE TO SEE A PUTNEY WHERE:
The answers to these two questions overlapped, so points are grouped together:
- Revitalization of downtown Putney was the most frequent response in both categories. Respondents want to see buildings restored and new affordable small local businesses developed, such as a hair stylist, bakery, hardware store, bars, and restaurants. In the short term, they envision a more attractive downtown with flowers or planters, more sidewalks and crosswalks as places for people to sit and gather. Many called for Putney Pizza to be torn down or rehabbed.
- Respondents want a public community green space and a play structure in the center of town; space for a gathering with trees and flowers.
- Respondents are concerned for their safety and want a larger police presence, more sidewalks, better signage and markings of crosswalks on Main St. especially in front of the library, and ways to slow the speeding on Main St and Kimball Hill.
- People want more amenities and thriving local businesses to offer stable employment and good wages.
- Some respondents want to change what they see as separation or divisiveness whether class, financial, educational, or ideological divides and create a more inclusive, accepting environment where community means everyone. There was a call for more understanding around issues like gun rights, racism, housing, and ways to have safe dialog.
- Respondents want more affordable rental and housing options for middle-income residents. Definitely want fewer Air B&Bs.
Other interesting and useful ideas envisioned:
High speed Internet for everyone Improved town website
More free music and art events Return of community suppers
More food trucks in town Senior housing with pets
Bike paths and trail systems Skate Park
Better maintained town buildings More action on climate change
More frequent and accessible opportunities for citizen input and information
Benches and small places to gather on Main St
Community means everyone with equity across race, class, and religion.
More support for local businesses like the Diner and G’Store
More free public/family events, such as (4th July, pancake breakfast, winter
holidays, chocolate festival, pumpkin festival as part of Halloween)
Free local veggie stand where home gardeners can share their excess stock
Continue to work on social and racial justice.
Town becomes carbon neutral and our forests are protected
PCS continues to excel with plenty of students
More and better access to the Connecticut River with boat landing developed as a space for all with rental and storage facilities.
Make zoning changes to allow yurts, tiny houses, and other alternatives to for people to live more affordably.
More vibrant local government and institutions reflecting a range of views