As you are preparing to present the Declaration of Inclusion to your town or group, you might consider some of the reasons and suggestions below and put these thoughts into your own words.
I believe that this town has always treated people respectfully and fairly so we should say it with a forceful statement. By stating it, it then becomes a message that we welcome all people and we thrive when we have a diverse population. Think of the Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants who came here to work in the marble and granite industries and the important heritage they brought with them. Vermont would not be the culturally rich state it is without these immigrants and many more. These people all brought skills, ambitions, religious traditions, interesting food, unique customs, and so much more.
The United States as a whole is the most diverse country on earth and the most successful by almost any measure. And, it is no coincidence that Burlington and Chittenden county have the most dynamic economy in Vermont, as well as the most diverse population. Diversity brings creativity that leads to solutions and a richer life for all.
Historically Vermont has been one of the least diverse States. In its annual poll of 50 states, a July 2022 CNBC survey of 50 states rated Vermont as the top place to live in in the United States. It highlighted Vermont’s voting rights, child care, health care and air quality as major attractions. It noted, not surprisingly, that Vermont’s inclusiveness did not measure up to its other assets. By encouraging and promoting diversity in our towns, schools, public and daily lives, we can prepare our children to comfortably thrive in a community of people of all cultures, backgrounds and beliefs.
We all want our cities and towns (and our state) to grow in a healthy way, to increase our tax base, and fund our schools and roads. To make this happen we need to welcome all people. We need to reach out, proactively, to the world at large, with the message that WE WELCOME ANYONE who wants to live, work and add richness to our state. Currently, the population in Vermont is static or declining with low fertility rates and young people leaving the state. The remaining population is aging and putting a strain on underfunded state resources.
With remote work becoming well accepted, people are moving to Vermont, bringing with them jobs, new skills, and capabilities. They embody the way our world will look in 10 to 20 years and their presence may inspire other talented folks to move to our town and state. These new residents will be remodeling homes and building new ones, their tax dollars paying for better-funded services. With a more vibrant and interesting economy, more of our young people will want to stay, work, and raise their families in Vermont.
A Declaration of Inclusion is another tool in the “toolbox” of those responsible for the town’s economic development, that is, their toolbox of reasons why someone should locate a business here, perhaps choosing our town (or state) over another.
A Declaration such as this would mark the town and its leaders as a forward-thinking community of people, stepping out in front for what we know is right and deeply rooted in the values that America and Vermont say they champion.
America has been built by people of many diverse origins, cultures, races, appearances, customs and practices, many of them not initially welcomed with open arms. Let’s take this small but affirmative step towards the American ideal as stated in our Constitution.
Add your own thoughts to these reasons and end by urging adoption of the Declaration of Inclusion or something similar and making it an integral part of the guiding principles of the town.
Be prepared to provide copies of the Declaration to Select Board members, town managers, and others.