Dear Ashland Residents & Friends:
The National Research Center (NRC) at Polco and the International City & County Management Association (ICMA) recently announced at the ICMA Annual Conference, that the Town of Ashland received two of this year's 2020 Voice of the People Awards (VOP)- including the winning award for Transformation in Natural Environment and the finalist award for Transformation in Community Engagement.
The Voice of the People Awards is the only national award that honors local governments based on feedback from residents. The awards, presented by the NRC at Polco and the ICMA, acknowledge local governments with the highest or most improved ratings on The National Community Survey™ (The NCS) and that take the best actions based on their data.
The Town of Ashland won two Transformation awards based on survey results from 2016 and 2019. The Award for Transformation in Open Space reflects the town's commitment since 2016, to protect and preserve hundreds of acres of open space. Since that time, the Town of Ashland purchased or protected through other means- like deed restrictions during that time, over 300 acres. Some of the larger preservation efforts include the Girl Scout Property, the Rail Transit District, and the Nicolo Property.
The award for Transformation in Citizen Engagement reflects the Town's efforts to be more inclusive and efforts to have more residents involved in the public process. Since 2016, the town has made concerted efforts to increase outreach through social media, regular newsletter updates, and new events such as the Diwali celebration in November.
It is rare that a town like Ashland receives national recognition like this. Personally, the part of this award that gives me the most pride is that it was accomplished through a collaboration of regular citizens and town government. The feedback was driven by the citizens. And while the policy proposals and work to bring things to Town Meeting falls largely on the shoulders of government, it is ultimately Town Meeting that decides on many of these decisions.