Phillip Spensley, Chair of the Northfield Arts Commission, brought me back a copy of the weekly newspaper from Burlington, Vermont. I visited Burlington a couple of years ago when my oldest daughter was looking at colleges. I loved it. Seeing the ads for the David Grisman Quintet and Emmylou Harris concerts reminded me why I liked it so much. There’s quite a bit of cultural vitality in that town.
The article that Phil recommended to me was about the growth of the area’s creative economy. The steadily increasing number of studios, including many focusing on the carving of granite, appears to be fostering other economic development.
One of the small towns undergoing a renaissance is Barre, Vermont. Young entrepreneurs have opened new restaurants, a brewery, a coffee shop, and a bakery in town. Although some people are concerned about gentrification, Sue Higby, director of Barre’s Studio Place Arts, calls it “downtownification”.
“Downtowns are places where you can leave your car, stroll around and really enjoy a diverse selection of small businesses”, Higby offers. She goes on to identify what she calls Barre’s core businesses, “We have real jewelers who repair, a cobbler shop, two hardware stores…”
It sounds like an authentic downtown to me.