Last week the Mad River Valley Planning District held its annual Mad River Valley Town Leadership meeting, a tradition that dates back over a decade. The annual meeting included members of the planning district steering committee, representatives from the Warren, Waitsfield, Moretown and Fayston select boards and planning commissions as well as representatives of conservation commissions.

There were representatives of the local libraries, community organizations and nonprofits, the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce and the public on hand. The meetings were first initiated as a way for select board members to stay updated on tri-town issues. They have become an important annual event where local elected and appointed officials come together and share a wealth of critical information.

What stands out clearly as these folks hear from the Mad River Valley transit service provider, Green Mountain Transit, and Friends of the Mad River’s Ridge to River and the Mad River Valley Recreation District and others is how very connected we are.

We have three towns (Warren, Waitsfield and Fayston) in the Mad River Valley Planning District and in the Mad River Valley Recreation District (with representation from Moretown), but five towns share one watershed, one narrow valley and two mountain ranges. We recreate from one end of The Valley to the other. We need transportation from one end of The Valley to the other. We need housing throughout The Valley. We share schools from one end of The Valley to the other (for now).

As those in attendance heard from Sugarbush president Win Smith about plans to sell the resort to Alterra Mountain Company, it’s clear that the fate of Sugarbush affects all of us regardless of which town we live in. We are connected in more ways than we are segregated by the somewhat arbitrary town boundaries.

In an era when bashing government is a sport and when distrust for politicians is high, it’s refreshing so see such a display of shared local interests, shared ideas, shared concerns and a sincere commitment to listen.