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The Commons
Town and Village

Town seeks to qualify as 'Living Community'

Originally published in The Commons issue #416 (Wednesday, July 12, 2017). This story appeared on page 0.



GUILFORD—Four nonprofit groups serving Algiers Village are working together on a project, the Living Community Challenge, that may bring economic development money and national attention to the town.

The LCC (living-future.org) is a certification program developed by the nonprofit International Living Future Institute.

According to its website, it works “to build an ecologically-minded, restorative world for all people. Using principles of social and environmental justice, ILFI seeks to counter climate change by pushing for an urban environment free of fossil fuels.”

If Algiers gets certified, they will be the first rural community to participate in the program, which helps town planners create a place that is “good for everyone,” according to Selectboard Chair Sheila Morse.

As she explained, the LCC addresses seven areas in community planning: place, water, energy, health and happiness, materials, equity, and beauty.

According to the LCC website, the goal is to have “living communities” that are “nurturing and generous places that promote healthy lifestyles for everyone,” and are “net positive with respect to water and energy."

Morse introduced the project to her colleagues at the June 26 regular Selectboard meeting. The Board doesn’t need to take any action at this time, but Morse said she wanted to notify her colleagues about the process.

In late winter, members of the nonprofit groups Guilford Preservation, Inc., Friends of Algiers Village, Community Collaborative for Guilford, and the Guilford Community Church, met with representatives from the Windham Regional Commission and Building Green to talk about the project. Morse is a member of Friends of Algiers Village.

As Morse explained, the first step was to find out “if there was interest among these four groups” to apply to the ILFI for the first hurdle: “to see if Algiers would be considered as a rural LCC applicant."

Officials with the ILFI accepted Algiers as an applicant.

Now, Morse said, “the town goes through a visioning process and [we] look at whether or not we can begin to create a master plan for Algiers Village that involves these four nonprofits."

Although each nonprofit gets to keep its own goals, they had to come up with shared goals and find “sort of a common ground,” Morse said. So far, the goals include controlled development, community well-being, social and economic equity, and environmental stewardship, she said.

The next step, Morse said, is to open up the topic to the greater community in a facilitated discussion that will likely happen in October, once the Broad Brook Bridge is complete.

She said it’s also time to involve the town’s Planning Commission in the conversation.

“The Planning Commission is critical to this process,” Morse said. “We invite input, criticism, and further engagement.”

The group will then integrate public comments and put together a “vision plan to see if it’s sufficient to qualify Algiers Village for the LCC master plan process,” Morse said.

The benefit, Morse said, is that certification will give Algiers access to “major grant sources for community and economic development work.” It will also “get national and international focus on the leadership role that Algiers Village — and Guilford, by extension — takes, which could result in increased visits, tourism, and economic growth,” she added.

Board member Verandah Porche asked Morse what the geographical boundaries were for the project. Morse said they are “not fixed” and “we can determine them."

“Is this a done deal? No. It’s a vision that could come to fruition over several years,” Morse said, “and could bring a fair amount of money into the community.”

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