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BRATTLEBORO — Brattleboro is up against Dunellen, N.J., in the first round of the Strongest Town Contest.

Lauren Ronnander, communications manager for Strong Towns, said voting opened Monday and will close 1 p.m. Thursday for the eighth annual competition. Voting can happen at

“What’s really cool,” Ronnander said, “is that it’s not about towns that have figured it out, that have become resilient. It’s towns that are working on becoming more resilient, usually by applying the Strong Towns approach.”

Strong Towns updated its mission statement last year to include five core campaigns. This year’s contest focused on those campaigns, which involve building safe and productive streets, creating more housing opportunities through incremental development, drafting budgets that serve residents and are transparent to the public, fighting highway expansion and doing away with needless parking mandates.

Before the contest begins, nominations are submitted by anyone. Then a team at Strong Towns reviews the applications and selects which communities best exemplify the group’s approach to resiliency.

In the style of March Madness, 16 towns are participating in the starting brackets. Winners will face off against winners until one is left.

“Strong Towns promotes the contest to an international audience of millions, encouraging our audience to vote and help the best candidate move forward to the next round,” states a news release.

The publicity is meant to reinforce local efforts to build resiliency and provide participating communities as examples for others across North America to emulate.

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“This year, we upped the stakes a bit,” Ronnander said.

Strong Towns is hosting a national conference in Charlotte, N.C. for those interested in urban designs and practices. Ronnander said the hope is to bring people together and spark “awesome ideas.”

Strong Towns is going to pay for a representative of the winning town to attend the conference, receive an award and be an honored guest. Also, the winning town is going to be the subject of a professionally produced video about its resiliency-related efforts.

“My favorite thing about Brattleboro is it’s the best of both worlds,” said Sarah Lang, Brattleboro Planning Commission member. “You get an awesome mix of urban and rural, artsy and gritty, progressive and traditional, vibrant and sleepy.”

Lang wrote the application. She submitted on behalf of herself, Planning Commission Chairman Tom Mosakowski, Planning Director Sue Fillion and Planning Technician Stephen Hayes.

Strong Towns told Lang it received 40 submissions for the contest.

“So that’s pretty neat,” she said. “I think my motivation for submitting for Brattleboro is just the promotion of our town. I think we have a lot of really amazing things to offer residents and visitors, and Strong Towns is a really great platform to showcase what we have to offer because the people who are reading or are involved in Strong Towns care about things the people in town care about. So whether we get some residents or at least new visitors, both would be beneficial.”

Her answers to questions from Strong Towns can be read by visiting the voting page.