Stowe – Social Capital

Social Capital is defined by Green & Haines as “social relationships and ties as a form of capital that facilitates collective action in communities.” Stowe has the unique characteristic of being the tallest mountain in Vermont, this characteristic is important to the local community as it provides recreation, livelihood, and a place for local community members to interact. It is the mountain, its’ beauty, and the outdoor lifestyle culture which have sprung up in the surrounding valleys which create considerable Social Capital. Some local organizations that contribute to the level of social capital are the Mount Mansfield Ski Club, and the Stowe Mountain Bike Club. Both activities involve large investments in time and energy and help build strong social relationships while simultaneously serving as a place of meeting. While Stowe’s unique characteristics contribute positively to its’ level of Social Capital, it’s uniqueness is also what causes it to lack Social Capital.

Green & Haines stated that one of the most frequently used indicators of social capital is voter turnout. According to the Town of Stowe Statistic’s report, over half (54%) of the local mailing addresses reside outside of Stowe, meaning that over half of the community are seasonal residents and likely do not participate in local organizations that contribute to the level of Social Capital. According to the Town Meeting Task Force, voter participation in comparison with voter registration has declined from ~16% in 2000 to ~5% participation in 2016. To combat the issue of declining participation in the annual town meeting, a CBO known as the Town Meeting Task Force was created. It is currently surveying community members to gain ideas and opinions about Town Meeting and Civic Engagement and results will be produced in a report in December 2016.

 

Citations:

Green, G. P., & Haines, A. (2012). Asset building & community development. Los Angeles, Calif.: SAGE.

Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://www.townofstowevt.org

Jaqua, T. P. (2016). Town meeting task force tackles troubling trends. Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://www.stowetoday.com/stowe_reporter/opinion/opinion_columns/town-meeting-task-force-tackles-troubling-trends/article_4fc44856-80da-11e6-b7d3-672315b7031d.html

Town Meeting Task Force. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2016, from http://www.townofstowevt.org/index.asp?SEC=051CDD30-D6CB-424E-BFA5-D33B4DCF406E