Cultural capital is one of the most defining features of a community, mostly because it is so fragile or subject to change as other forms of community capital change. In Sharon, VT, the cultural capital is easily felt and seen. There are many forms of embodied capital such as holding the door at the post office or general store, but the institutionalized capital is more susceptible to change due to changes in other forms of capital. Much of the institutional capital is being redefined as the local elementary school is transforming to focus on new topics such as energy sustainability and farm self-sufficiency following the school putting solar panels on the roof and a garden that supplies the lunch program next to the playground. The 7-12 school in the town, The Sharon Academy, is well known for encouraging their students to be socially aware, open their world view, and develop “soft skills” that are ever important during this time and age. This system of institutionalized cultural capital is much different that it may have been in the past, and will soon shift to embodied cultural capital, as the generation of students who learned these values in the classroom pass them along through the community and home.
One of the biggest forms of cultural capital that touches all members of the town is the annual celebration of Sharon Old Home Day. This is a tradition that many New England towns have, but is unique in Sharon because it’s the longest running event of its kind. Sharon, VT was the only town in the country to celebrate old home day before, after, and during WWII. I can’t speak to the exact reason they chose to sustain the event, but I can only imagine that it was because the BBQ behind the church, the daily opening of the historic society, the games of horseshoes and softball, the parade, and the picnic on the green were all too important to the fabric of the town to cease. The day is a celebration of who we are and a display of the values of the community. Last year, my grandmother made over 70 pies for the old folks supper and the food drive, a testament to the hard work that old Vermonters value.