As a planning team member, how do you think it went tonight?

Expectation-wise, it probably exceeded our expectations. We had really good turnout. We were a little concerned about a lot of griping, but the forums took a really positive view. The fact that the high schoolers came out was huge. That contributes so much. We’re talking about the future and they are the future.

What did you talk about?

We had a hard time separating the eight main topics that we took out of the last forum. And I think every group did because they’re so intertwined.

We talked a lot about jobs and education, and they definitely go hand in hand. You need the education to fill those jobs, but you need the jobs to encourage the education.

So I think the solution, and what we came up with, is you can’t focus one single thing. Everything has to work in tandem. A big part of our conversation was partnerships with the schools and businesses, and I think that was an overarching theme in a lot of groups was high school internships, job preparation, and making sure we have the workforce that businesses and employers are looking for to attract them to come here.

And I think that ties in with everything else in terms of our housing stock and our green space, tourism, marketing, and having this be a place that people want to come to.

One of the high schoolers said kids nowadays pick where they want to live first, and plan their career out of what opportunities are there. So I think it’s important that we look at our cities and towns and ask, is this a place where people want to be and live?

What would you like to happen next?

I would love to see more conversations and to see the community continue to come out. It’s great to have these talks but if nothing gets done afterwards, it doesn’t have too much value. And just continuing to keep that momentum and that excitement going. I think it’s important to go after those first small steps so that people can see something happening from these forums, to encourage them to continue.