first_imgWILTON – In an effort to revamp Franklin County’s artistic and cultural offerings, Greater Franklin Development Council in collaboration with Arts Farmington are spearheading the Franklin Hills Rural Cultural Plan.Facilitated by Reinholt Consulting and grant funded by the Maine Arts Commission, the process aims to gather input from local residents, organizations, businesses and community leaders before creating a detailed action plan for the county to implement. The plan will act as a guide for local communities to enhance the artistic, cultural and recreational initiatives within the next five to ten years.“We focus on quality of place- making a community an attractive place to move to and work in which is how the economic development happens,” GFDC Executive Director Charlie Woodworth said.An enhanced economy is a by product of efforts such as the Cultural Plan, Woodworth said. By shining a light on the creative offerings in a community, and boosting those offerings, the plan will ideally attract more visitors, as well as new residents, to the county. Th initial phase of the project brought together community members for discussion on what makes the area great, what could use attention and how people envision arts and culture playing more of a role.“It has been really exciting to see the enthusiasm with this,” Reinholt consultant Emily Reinholt said.Leaders of the initiative have put a strong emphasis on community input, noting that local residents’ thoughts are one of the biggest ways to make the project a successful one.“This is often called innovative economic development. But we also hope to bring a sense of community empowerment by creating these meetings for networking,” consultant Saskia Reinholt said.The third community discussion, held at Life’s Perks Coffee Company on Main Street, brought a roomful of varied listeners interested in partaking in the conversation. Two previous meetings were held in Farmington and Livermore Falls.Participants voiced what they see as the area’s assets: Wilson Lake, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Public Library, and Calzolaio Pasta Co to name a few, followed by what they feel needs more attention: the outward appearance of the town, a lack of good paying jobs and few options for community engagement.“People are hungry for something to do,” one resident said.Another person said that the lack of leadership when it comes to community activities could be a driving force to the problem. Many people in the room agreed that a comprehensive events calendar for the area would provide the much needed connectivity and coordination of all of the area’s offerings. Many noted Wilton’s thriving ‘shop local’ feel with the town’s hardware and grocery store.“You don’t have to go to Farmington or WalMart if you know where to look,” one person added.Following the community discussions, Reinholt Consulting will release a series of surveys for the public to partake in. The surveys will be available on their website as well as at various locations in the community.For more information on the Franklin Hills Cultural Plan, contact Saskia Reinholt at (207)218-2072 or Charlie Woodsworth at (207)778-5887.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *