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Second forum on Mount Abe set for Saturday

BRISTOL — A community group seeking creative solutions to address the needs of Mount Abraham Union High School will convene its second meeting this Saturday, March 31, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. at the school.
The mission of the 5-Town Community Forum is to foster vigorous but respectful debate, encourage diverse participation and create an environment where residents can develop their ideas, according to leaders of the forum.
“We’re not looking to instruct,” said Kristen Andrews, a member of the group’s steering committee. “We want to create a forum where people can be heard.”
Saturday’s forum is a follow-up to the Jan. 6 forum where more than 70 people gathered to brainstorm visions for the future of Mount Abraham.
“People were really excited after Forum No. 1,” Andrews said. “The plan for Forum No. 2 is to get more concrete with those ideas.”
One idea that has already begun to take shape is a nonprofit organization called the 5-Town Community Learning Network, created to support the school and develop community connections.
Ideas for that organization’s mission statement were drawn entirely from discussions at Forum No. 1, Andrews said.
This Saturday, one room will focus on learning and a second will focus on ways the school might better serve as a 5-Town community center.
In a departure from the first forum, Saturday’s event will set aside a third room for “emergent topics,” rather than discussions about Mount Abe’s physical campus and buildings.
“We’re trying not to choose the topics,” said Andrews, who predicted that school infrastructure, as well as the recently defeated renovation bond, will come up naturally.
At the end of the forum all the attendees will gather together to offer ideas about engaging the entire community.
Forum No. 2 is scheduled to be 90 minutes shorter than Forum No. 1, but Andrews said people will be welcome to stay longer to continue their discussions.
Those unable to attend this weekend should not lament: There will be more opportunities. The 5-Town Community Forum hopes to convene regularly, Andrews said, perhaps monthly.
Reach Christopher Ross at [email protected].

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