A message from our president Walter North
The Orleans Citizens Forum (OCF) and our community owe a great debt of gratitude to past President Bill Stoeckert for his deft leadership during unprecedented times. While little seems as it was two years ago, the mission of the Forum – ‘to provide public forums on topics important to the quality of life’ has not changed. That aspiration includes a commitment to a respectful discussion of sometimes controversial topics, a willingness to engage with the entire community in an inclusive manner and an ambition to try to anticipate, focus and adapt to emerging challenges.
Our programming over Bill’s tenure reflects this vision. With the advent of the pandemic, he smoothly helped us to pivot to new ways of delivering our substance and managing our efforts. Thankfully, the town has been extraordinarily supportive of that transition. With Bill’s leadership, the hard work of our Board and the town’s help we were able to provide a steady series of excellent programs on a variety of timely subjects.
One important component of the eco system that has historically informed town decision making is the presence of a strong, locally rooted media. OCF and Orleans have benefitted from the fair-minded coverage by our local media, especially the excellent pieces by the Chronicle’s Ed Maroney. Ed has just retired. We thank him for his hard work and wish him all the best.
This summer the Board met in person to plan for the next year. We want to believe that we will be able to get to a new normal that will allow us to safely host live, indoor programs. But we will be attentive to emerging issues and guidelines. Going forward, we are committed to expanding access to our programs by using some of the new skills we’ve developed around remote programming.
The fall looks like it will be a busy season. We are expecting a special town meeting and an election to fill a Select Board seat in October. If the Board race is competitive, we will try to have a candidate’s forum. And we expect there will be a discussion on the warrants for the special town meeting.
In recognition of just how strange this summer has seemed and, indeed, how odd these times seem, the Board discussed a community stock taking forum in September. This is a concept under development, but initial thinking is focused on looking at the impacts of the extraordinarily hot real estate market on the town’s special character, how businesses and the town navigated the triple whammy of the pandemic, labor shortages and record setting tourist arrivals and what it all might mean for our future. And, for November, we are considering a program that looks at how Orleans and some of our neighboring towns are addressing the challenges many families are struggling with around housing, food insecurity, income volatility and child care.
As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. And we appreciate your generous contributions. Please consider renewing your support for the Forum.
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