TEAM Guilford sets forum on issues

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
April 23, 2008

GUILFORD — After months of “community conversations” and input from hundreds of town residents, the organizers of TEAM Guilford are planning their final event for Sunday.

The community forum is open to all residents and will address a number of issues that people have identified as areas for improvement in town. It will also include drafting an updated covenant for Guilford, modeled on one that the town’s original settlers signed in 1639.

In October, the kickoff took place for TEAM Guilford, which stands for Tackling issues, Engaging citizens, Action planning and Moving forward. The goal of the project is to bring together municipal government, schools and community organizations to address areas in which the town seeks to improve.

Since the fall, organizers have held more than 20 “conversations” with Guilford residents to identify the issues important to the town, TEAM Guilford co-chairman Bo Huhn said. The most important, they found, were resources for young people, school facilities, isolated and uninvolved senior citizens, town development, town service delivery, municipal governance and community culture.

Sunday’s forum will allow people to discuss these concerns and then break into “action groups” to brainstorm future solutions.

“The idea that is behind it is that if we can get a cooperative effort by many different groups and individuals in the community to tackle a tough issue, that we can make a difference with the issue,” Huhn said.

For example, Huhn said, he is particularly concerned about drug and alcohol use among teenagers.

“It’s something that a single town agency can’t do it, a single church can’t do it, but if we have a collaborative effort with many different community groups sort of picking up a piece of it, and we work together on it, I think we can have a significant impact.”

The community conversations also identified values important to Guilford residents, which included respect, honesty, compassion and teamwork, First Selectman Carl Balestracci said.

The goal of rewriting the 1639 covenant, he added, is to incorporate those values into a document appropriate for 2008 Guilford. The original document was signed on board the settlers’ ship before they landed in the area.

“It’s a very short document (and) it has very simple but very strong statements about community: that people will stay together, that they will support (one another) to the best of each one’s ability, that they will work together,” Balestracci said. “We’re going to be asking one group (on Sunday) to rewrite the draft so we have a modern 2008 version for the Guilford covenant, but one that is more inclusive in today’s society.”

The community forum is scheduled to run from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Guilford High School. It will include performances by a children’s improv troupe and a chamber music group from Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School, as well as art work by local students. The final activity of the day will be the redrafting and signing of the Guilford covenant.

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