Richmond, Vermont: Social Capital

Green and Haines define resilience as, “The ability of a system to respond to and adapt to disturbance or change.” (2016, p.60). In August of 2011 Hurricane Irene hit Vermont, which wasn’t anticipating being directly hit. After 24-hours of devastating wind, rain, and flooding; Richmond, Vermont’s community resilience was tested.  Social capital can build resilience by mobilizing resources and establishing social ties people can benefit from during times. Green and Haines define social capital as, “an asset that contributes to the development of other forms of community capital.” (2016, p.165) and define assets as “social structure (trust, norms, and social networks) that facilitate collective action.” (2016, p.167).

richmond-flooding

Volunteer’s Green flooded after Hurricane Irene.  Photo: Michael McKennedy

Social capital can increase social interaction in communities. However, circumstances like people having less free time and moving to suburbs more frequently has caused social capital to decline. Richmond is a rural town within Vermont’s largest county: Chittenden County. Their “Our Town, Our Future” website’s data page shows a survey on, “Population & Housing Density in Chittenden County Towns, 2010”, which reports “Richmond’s population density (126.6 people per square mile) and housing density (51.3 units per square mile) are less than Chittenden County on average.” The set of data indicates Chittenden County’s average is 291.7 people per square mile and 122.5 housing units per square mile. Regardless of being rural, Richmond has a plethora of existing cultural capital that provides opportunity for residents to create social capital.

The farmer’s market at the Volunteers Green and the Round Church, which hosts events and programs that unify residents are places where residents can gather and communicate. Another organization that continues to build social capital is The Community Senior Center.  A non-profit that serves Richmond and its neighboring towns Bolton and Huntington. Their mission is to” provide opportunities for seniors to connect with others, learn new things, pursue creative interests, be healthy and fit, and discover meaningful ways to contribute to the community.” (The Community Senior Center, 2016).

Sources:

Green, G .P. & Haines, Foster (2016). Asset Building & Community Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Community Senior Center. (2016). Home. Retrieved from http://www.cscvt.org/

Richmond: Our Town, Our Future. (2015). Richmond Data. Retrieved from http://richmondvtfuture.weebly.com/richmond-data.html