Burlington, VT – Political Capital

Political capital can be defined as “the ability of a group to influence the distribution of resources within a social unit… Investments in political capital can yield future benefits that can shape the distribution of resources in the community ” (Green and Haines, 2016). One community based organization in Burlington that is very relevant to political capital is the Department of Planning & Zoning. The Department of Planning & Zoning is responsible for community planning. “Community planning is a process that combines objective information about community resources and trends with more community needs, goals, and aspirations into a road map for how the community will grow and evolve over time” (City of Burlington, Vermont, 2016).

The South End of Burlington is characterized by its love for the arts, enterprise and innovation. In recent years, the South End has been rapidly growing and changing. So, in 2014, the Department of Planning and Zoning began a planning initiative called planBTV. PlanBTV aims to protect and preserve what is most loved about the South End, while proactively preparing for its continued growth and change. From arts-based community engagement projects to parties to focus groups, planBTV South End has given a voice to many community members who want to engage in the planning process! Some of the events include the Artists’ Meeting, the Community Workshop, and the Draft Plan Release Party. For the Artists’ Meeting, commission members met with about 30 artists to “brainstorm ways to design creative community engagement in the planning process” (City of Burlington, Vermont, 2016). The Community Workshop was a multi-day event in the South End with a variety of large and small discussions on all aspects of planBTV South End. Lastly, the Draft Plan Release Parties invited the community to provide feedback and ask questions following a presentation on the draft plan. As we learned in lecture, citizen participation is the process that provides private individuals with the opportunity to influence public decisions. So, PlanBTV encourages citizen participation, because all the members in the South End community have to opportunity to participate in the public planning process.

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Works Cited:

“Comprehensive Planning Overview.” City Of Burlington, Vermont. (2016). Retrieved October 28, 2016, from https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/PZ/Comprehensive-Planning-Overview

“Get Involved.” City Of Burlington, Vermont. (2016). Retrieved October 28, 2016, from https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/planBTV/SE/Get-Involved

“South End.” City Of Burlington, Vermont. (2016). Retrieved October 28, 2016, from https://www.burlingtonvt.gov/planBTV/SE

Green, G. P., & Haines, A. (2012). Asset Building & Community Development. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.