Green and Haines define political capital as, “the ability of a group to influence the distribution of resources within a social unit.” (2016, p. 283). Local governments can contribute to political capital, but so can residents that hold positions of power or influential community organizations. Although it can be time consuming to identify these key players the small, rural town of Richmond, Vermont has political capital resources that make it easier for residents to unify towards shared goals.
Richmond’s local government is split between a town manager and a select board. The town manager oversees administrative and infrastructural operations, and implements policies, which are created by the select board. Richmond also has a “Town Meeting Day”, a New England tradition that allows residents to come together, voice their opinions, and identify shared issues or goals. A 2013 survey on, “Industry by sex and median earnings in the past 12 months (in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars) for civilian employed population 16 years and over”, estimated that 96 out of the 2,449 employed work in public administration. The same survey estimated only 65 out of 2,439 people worked in public administration in 2014 (U.S. Census Bureau), who are residents that have skills that can contribute to Richmond’s political capital.
The Richmond Land Trust is a non-profit organization working with residents to accomplish common and shared goals. Their about us says, “as Richmond grows, its working landscape, natural areas, and historic sites will be protected for the benefit of generations to come.” (The Richmond Land Trust). Their board of trustees has twelve members and their mission is, “To preserve the rural character and quality of life in Richmond, Vermont and its surrounding communities through land conservation, historic preservation, land stewardship, and community service and education.” (The Richmond Land Trust). Their accomplishments include conserving over 650 acres of farm, riverbank, and woodlands, and turning existing historic buildings into functional buildings for the community.
Green, G.P. & Haines, Foster (2016). Asset Building & Community Development. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
The Richmond Land Trust. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from http://www.richmondlandtrust.org/about/
The Richmond Land Trust. (n.d.). Our Mission. Retrieved from http://www.richmondlandtrust.org/about/
U.S. Census Bureau; American Community Survey, 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-year Estimates, Table S2403; generated by Ralph Kucharek; using American FactFinder; http://www.factfinder.census.gov ; (28 October 2016)