According to Green and Haines, social capital is, “The Social Relationships and ties that facilitate collective action in a community.” (Green, Haines 2012) Social capital in the town of Alburgh, VT is very hard to measure. In the town, there are three notable places were the small population comes together to exchange ideals and discuss local and world issues, but for the most part, the majority of the population is working-class families that spend all day working, and then come home and spend time with their kids after school. There aren’t really a lot of places to really sit down and have a discussion with friends, but some have shown up throughout the years.
First, there is the Maplefields located on the corner of US Route 2 and Truck Route. If the days are warm and there is no precipitation in the air, you can count on a group of 5-10 local men to be standing dri
nking their coffee’s outside by the trashcan. If the weather gets too cold, they take harbor inside by the hotdog machine. Their conversations range between local issues to what’s happening internationally. No matter what day it is, you can always count on these men to be shooting the breeze, and supporting the local gas station (and Green Mountain Coffee) all at the same time.
Another location where people will have conversation is the Alburgh Beverage Mart. It’s located on the corner of Industrial Ave.
and Main St., and it’s a liquor store that also sells a variety of off-the-grill food and deli items. The family who owns the establishment has been friends with my family for years, and their daughter is in 8th grade with my little brother. If you enter the establishment at any random hour of the day, you can always count on a few locals sitting down eating food, shooting the breeze in a similar fashion to the men at Maplefields. Most of the people who meet up are older and retired folk, as the majority of the working population is out of town all day.
When there parents are working, the children of Alburgh associate at the local school, Alburgh Community Educational Center, which is Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school has a baseball field, soccer field and playground, so it makes it an ideal location for kids to hang out together, even when they aren’t in school. When I was younger, the playground was in very rough shape, and kids didn’t want to spend time there after school. In an initiative to bring kids back to socialize at the playground, the December 2010 Alburgh school budget approved construction of a new playground that took place in June of 2011 as a means to bring the kids back, and it worked for sure. (Goodrich, 2010)
The playground still remains almost six years later as a place kids can come and spend time together in the community, much similar to the older folks at the liquor store, and at Maplefields.