Champlain Initiative 'closes up shop' after 16 years
Martha Maksym, Executive Director of United Way of Chittenden County recently announced that after 16 years of helping create multi-sector solutions to our community’s most pressing challenges, the Champlain Initiative has wrapped up its activities. Created in 1996, the Champlain Initiative proved to be a unique and successful effort to demonstrate how economic security, environmental soundness, and health and well-being all contribute to a healthy, sustainable community.
“Throughout its history, the Champlain Initiative examined the causes that shaped our challenges, connected people who created innovative solutions and explored how our community could become stronger for the coming changes,” said Maksym, the Champlain Initiative’s first staffer. “The community is indeed stronger and better prepared to meet our challenges,” she went on to say.
“As a result of the Champlain Initiative’s work, positive systems changes are now embedded in the way our community comes together around improving conditions for all people,” commented Penrose Jackson, a former Chairperson and Director of Community Health Improvement for Fletcher Allen Health Care, a loyal funder and partner of the Champlain Initiative.
The successes of the Champlain Initiative include:
• 1-800-GET-INFO grew into the Vermont 2-1-1 informational and referral service;
• The Sustainability Committee’s report on The History of Sprawl in Chittenden County led to the creation of the Vermont Forum on Sprawl/Smart Growth Vermont (now part of the Vermont Natural Resources Council);
• Get Moving Champlain Valley was adopted by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and became Get Moving Vermont;
• The Our Children Our Future’s effort to mobilize the community around the importance of a coordinated mentoring strategy resulted in the creation of Mobius, the Mentoring Movement;
• Our Healthy and Just Community Initiative was instrumental in the formation of the United Way’s Working Bridges program, an employer collaborative dedicated to improving workplace productivity, retention, advancement and financial stability.
Most recently the Champlain Initiative’s Changing Face of Chittenden County project made connections between the complex issues of health, energy, IT & communications and demographic change, told stories of people embracing changes in these areas, and provided people with resources to take action.
“The project’s YouTube Channel’s FIRST PERSON video interviews capture how leaders and others in our community are preparing for these changes,” said Barry Lampke, the former Champlain Initiative Director. “They also show the challenges we still face every day,” he adds. “In light of rising gas prices, some of our interviews sound like they could have been recorded yesterday.”
A new sustainability strategy for the county is underway through the Chittenden County Regional Planning Committee. ECOS (Environment, Community, Opportunity, Sustainability) is continuing the work started by the Champlain Initiative to find multi-sector solutions to our now 21st century challenges. Many of the same partners that developed the Champlain Initiative are continuing the healthy community discussions at this new table.
A PowerPoint presentation highlighting the accomplishments of the sixteen-year partnership of the Champlain Initiative can be reviewed or downloaded at http://www.unitedwaycc.org/about-us/champlain-initiative/ -- scroll to the end of the page.
June 4, 2012 (South Burlington, VT): United Way of Chittenden County