Town and Village

Windham World Affairs Council, Brooks Memorial Library to partner on ‘America 250’ events

Windham World Affairs Council (WWAC) recently received a three-year Vermont Humanities partnership grant to work with Brooks Memorial Library and Meg Mott, Ph.D, to help convene a townwide initiative for public dialogue leading up to the statewide and national "America 250" semiquincentennial anniversary of the founding of the United States in 2026.

The grant of $7,500 annually over three years will help support ''Examining America's Identity and Leadership in a Changing World," a series of lectures and town hall gatherings that organizers say "aims to provide opportunities to pause and learn from our nation's past, examine the long-term impacts of domestic and international policy choices, and build understanding across divides leading up to 2026."

The series focuses on the founding ideals in the Declaration of Independence - equality, safety, and happiness - and how those ideals can guide us in strengthening our democracy at a time when the appetite for authoritarianism is on the rise.

"At the heart of the 1776 Declaration is a bold assumption: The people have the capacity to form a government that, in the words of the Declaration, 'seems most likely to affect [our] Safety and Happiness," Mott said in a news release. "'Most likely' is an important element; self-government is a dynamic process. We have to talk with each other as we determine how best to affect our need for safety and our desire for freedom. The answer for one generation may not be the answer for the next."

WWAC, Brooks Library, and Mott held the first lecture of this America 250 multi-year program with Ambassador Peter Galbraith's October 2023 talk, entitled "Is the American Century Over?" This talk, which encapsulated the trajectory of U.S. power over the past several decades, can be viewed at

Working with Mott and other community members, WWAC hopes these town halls and other public gatherings will explore America's capacity for self-creation through robust deliberation.

"I'm especially excited about the role youth will play in this work," said Starr LaTronica, director of Brooks Memorial Library and a WWAC Board member. She went on to say that WWAC has worked Jody Williams, a member and Nobel Peace Laureate, to form a PeaceJam club at Brattleboro Union High School that provides insights inside and outside the school using engaging speakers, film, and music to explore topics like hate speech/free speech, immigration, income inequality, and climate.

Brooks Memorial Library also has a teen-led program, which "supports the intersection of this energy for such America 250 programming," LaTronica said.

"WWAC plans to reach out to a diverse group of Brattleboro organizations and entities, from town government to media to groups whose rights feel under fire right now,' said WWAC board chair Tamara Stenn. "We want to hold gatherings in unlikely places and really reach into the community to identify shared values and a vision for the future."

Groups and individuals interested in participating in this America 250 effort, joining WWAC, or serving on the WWAC board are welcome and encouraged to contact WWAC at [email protected] or to call Administrative Director Susan Healy at 781-422-9485.

This Town and Village item was submitted to The Commons.

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