WING celebrates one-year anniversary (5/7/09)

Potluck dinner planned for Friday

May 7, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

It’s been more than a year since WING lifted off the ground in Williston. But in that time period, the community-driven activist groups organized under WING have made an effort to improve the community and truly bring the town into the next generation.

WING, short for Williston Into the Next Generation, will host a one-year anniversary potluck dinner on Friday evening at the Williston Central School dining room. Williston Planner Jessica Andreoletti said all residents are invited to bring a dish and join neighbors for the community event.

The five subgroups that emerged from the inaugural WING gathering in April 2008 will display their accomplishments from the past year and rally people to join the groups, Andreoletti said.

The first WING event was a two-day, weekend-long meeting for residents to discuss the future of the town. Five committees formed to continue WING’s work: a “green,” or environmental issues group, a group for scheduling more potlucks, a community center group, a transportation and paths group, and a group researching representative town meetings.

Andreoletti said the potluck group has been scheduling community events, as evidenced by this Friday’s dinner. WING also sponsored a potluck in conjunction with a concert at the Old Brick Church in October.

The group in charge of researching representative town meetings in Williston also had a recent event in March. The group hosted an informational meeting about how town meetings work in Switzerland. A representative town meeting typically has representatives from different neighborhoods or districts meet to decide important issues.

Committee member Ben Rose said the March meeting garnered some interest in representative town meetings, but no follow-up events are planned. He said he doesn’t see a “groundswell” of support for changing Williston’s Town Meeting format at this time, but that could change.

“I think these things start to germinate at WING potlucks,” Rose said.

The committee in charge of organizing a Williston community center has been making progress, according to group member Sharon Gutwin. Gutwin said in an e-mail to the Observer that the Selectboard has given the group clearance to create a plan. She said she’s contacted the Small Business Association, which said it would help create a community center business plan. Once the plan is created, Gutwin said her committee would work to get grants and other funds apart from town money.

“The center will most likely be a stand-alone building sharing space with like minded businesses to their mission statement,” Gutwin said.

One of the busiest WING subgroups is the green initiatives committee. The group has met twice monthly, brainstorming different ways to get Williston residents to protect the environment.

“Most of what our group is about is the global warming issue,” said Dennis Bates, a member of the green initiatives committee.

The group has sponsored workshops on composting and is currently hosting a seed-starting workshop. Bates said the group wants to create more community garden space in town, as well.

One of the biggest achievements of the green initiatives group concerned the energy audit of Town Hall, released in January. Experts found the building is not energy efficient and Town Meeting voters agreed to spend money to change that fact. Bates said the group plans to sponsor further efficiency tests in other town buildings, such as the library and the schools.

“Basically places where the town spends a lot of money on heating and fuel,” Bates said.

The group is also working with the Williston Historical Society for its July Fourth ice cream social. Bates said they’re working to make the holiday social a “zero waste event” by switching to compostable utensils.

“We’re a pretty good group,” Bates said of the green initiatives committee. “We have some very dedicated people.”

The potluck dinner celebrating the one-year anniversary of WING will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 8 at Williston Central School.