Herb Durfee had a very particular image in mind when he labeled his “come talk to the town manager” sessions a “cracker barrel.” People would sit around the cracker barrel at a country store, he says, an old Ben Franklin wood stove roaring nearby, and talk about whatever came to mind — often, town matters. “My goal was to pick up on that tradition,” he explains.
Durfee’s first cracker barrel had a set agenda. He wanted to talk to residents of Church Street about a proposed sidewalk and possible alternatives. That session drew some 30 people, who batted around traffic-calming possibilities — including a flashing beacon, which Durfee says at some point is slated to go up near the Congregational Church.
The second cracker barrel was held last August in the bandstand, and it had no agenda. It was a sweltering day, and only 15 people or so attended the two different sessions. Conversation focused on the town plan, affordable housing, and open space. Even with the low turnout, Durfee says, “I think those in attendance enjoyed just being able to have a discussion someplace other than Tracy Hall.”
The third “cracker barrel” will take place on Monday at the Norwich Public Library, in two different sessions: from 1-2 pm and again from 6-7 pm. There’s no particular agenda. “It’s just an opportunity in a non-traditional way to try to make the town more accessible,” Durfee says. “Let’s get together and talk about what you want. It could be something you hate, something you love, something that’s not working — or it could just be talking about the weather. I’ll take it all.”
So if the formality of "public comments" periods of Selectboard and other public sessions at Tracy Hall aren't for you, here's a chance to hear what's on fellow residents' minds, and to share what's on yours.