Overall Rating Gold - expired
Overall Score 76.45
Liaison Ryan Ihrke
Submission Date Oct. 17, 2014
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Green Mountain College
IN-4: Innovation 4

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Aaron Witham
Director of Sustainability
Sustainability Office
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Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Thanks & Giving

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:

The Thanks & Giving program is an annual one-day service initiative stemming from a much larger community building effort. The first annual Thanks and Giving day in November of 2013 wedded the College and the Town in a collaborative effort to build social capital among the community and lay the groundwork for countless projects and partnerships throughout the year. The planning of the event involved a team of 20 students working with various community leaders to identify problems in the community and on campus that could be addressed by extensive volunteer service. Unlike many service events, this one made it possible for community members to work on the campus at the same time that students could work in the town.

The event embodied a full integration of College and Town, starting with a community breakfast on Main Street served by college students, followed by several hours of service, followed by a community lunch at another location served by local high school students, followed by more service, and culminating in a community dinner at the campus dining hall. Service efforts including clearing trails, cleaning out college storage closets, picking up litter from natural areas, painting, volunteering at the food shelf and senior center and many other activities. The meals were served in a festive environment to cultivate celebration and stimulate bonding between groups.

The event represented a larger context than simply a day of service and therefore exceeds the requirements for related STARS credits. The program supported advancement of the town-wide effort to build the vibrancy of the community. The effort is called Poultney 2020, and is a critical element of the College's strategic plan. It is meant to provide a venue to cultivate long-term partnerships and collaborations beyond normal town-gown relations. The collaborations are meant to be deep and long-lasting, resulting in accomplishment of large, shared community goals, as well as building a strong base of social capital. The first set of goals, established democratically by community meetings leading up to the event, include establishment of a downtown public park, revitalization and promotion of an extensive recreational trail system, creation of a localvore restaurant, and creation of a community organization for the arts. Moreover, the process allows for other spontaneously generated collaborations not dictated by a specific town-gown agenda.

As a follow-up to Thanks & Giving day, which took place in the fall of 2013, there was a Green Up and Celebrate Poultney day on May 3rd, 2014. The event consisted of a town-wide cleanup for most of the day, culminating in a large celebration from 2:00 to 5:00 pm with live music, free food, displays from all four project-oriented groups, running games, activities for kids, and a long list of artistic workshops and performances.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):
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A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of five):
Yes or No
Curriculum Yes
Research No
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate No
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy No
Grounds No
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste No
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance Yes
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work Yes
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.