In the 17 years Kim Gibbs has lived in North Hartland, Vermont, she has become increasingly concerned about Route 5 traffic. “Our village has some wonderful assets—two covered bridges, a green, playing fields, a playground, beach, post office, an old schoolhouse—but it’s hard to get to them on foot. As soon as you turn onto Route 5, it’s pretty darn scary.” One of five Dartmouth-Hitchcock employees in last year’s Leadership Upper Valley training, she was inspired to take action. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to just sit here and “wish upon.” I’m going to make a movement and see what we can do as a village.’”
She organized a meeting in June for residents to brainstorm village needs, resulting in a proposal to the town Selectboard. While many items remain on the wish list, Gibbs got permission to erect several “Please Slow Down” signs, and the town donated two picnic tables for the green. “Traffic already seems calmer,” Gibbs said.
Even more importantly, the movement has introduced village residents to each other. “That guy down the street you’ve never seen—he writes to you and says, ‘This is amazing, thank you.’ We need to see each other, know who we all are. That’s what makes a community.”