Chestertown, MD, January 13, 2004 — The Rural Communities Leadership Program —conducted by Washington College's Center for Environment and Society in collaboration with the University of Maryland's Institute for Governmental Service—will report results and initiatives from its inaugural year at the Grassroots 2 Public Forum, Saturday, January 17, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the College's Casey Academic Center Forum.
The program will feature opening remarks from Congressman Wayne Gilchrest, a report from Dr. Wayne Bell, the program's Principal Investigator, facilitated discussion, and an endnote talk on “Planning with a Vision” by Dr. James A. Segedy, Director of Community-Based Projects and Professor of Urban Planning, Ball State University. This is a free, public forum and lunch will be provided, but reservations are necessary. To reserve a seat, call Jean Sucharewicz at Washington College's Custom House, 410-810-7161.
“Rural Communities Leadership is reporting out to the general public in preparation for completion of the project's white paper,” said Bell, who directs the College's Center for Environment and Society. “Like never before, our region faces developmental pressures that threaten its rural character and natural resources. Through the Rural Communities Leadership Program, we have learned that communities on the Eastern Shore can better address these ‘working landscape issues' by developing their own, locally-based grassroots network of leaders and stakeholders. Who is better qualified to guide development that is more compatible with the Shore's special sense of place than the people who work, farm, fish and live here? We hope to share these ideas and invite input from a broad section of the public by means of this forum.”
The Rural Communities Leadership Program was launched in November 2002 with a grant from The W. K. Kellogg Foundation in order to create a model for encouraging and sustaining local leadership and initiatives to maintain the rural character, resource-based economy and heritage of the Eastern Shore. The pilot program hosted monthly meetings throughout 2003 for program participants, who deliberated on issues such as economics, community character, the environment and natural resources. In addition, participants visited several rural communities in the U.S. and abroad to see first-hand how they confronted and resolved similar challenges to those facing the Eastern Shore. Details of the project's activities are posted to the web site of the Center for Environment and Society, ces.washcoll.edu.