Madison County Heart & Soul

You may have heard about Madison County Heart & Soul in the past few years, but do you really know what it is? 

Madison County Heart & Soul is a volunteer effort to help determine what really matters to folks about their communities, so that information can be used in planning. The H&S method was created by the Orton Family Foundation (from the Vermont Country Store mail-order business) to strengthen communities. It has been used across the country to great success. The three basic principles of Heart & Soul are: involve everyone, focus on what matters, and play the long game.

Several far-sighted citizens heard about Heart & Soul in 2017 and were convinced that it would help Madison County in planning as we face the future. The H&S method is usually used in individual cities, so figuring out a way to use the program for the whole county was a challenge. The group decided to organize individual community groups under the umbrella of the Madison County group. They got the blessing of the County Board of Supervisors and a grant for expenses from the Greater Madison County Community Foundation and then developed a logo, web site and Facebook page. With great care the group created a survey which can be used by different communities across the county. The survey asks open ended questions about what matters most to residents about both their community and the county. 

Individual community Heart & Soul teams are at different stages in the process. The St. Charles group has been analyzing survey data for their community. The Earlham group was just organized this spring. Other community groups are looking for volunteers to help with their teams. In Winterset Heart & Soul has worked with the Winterset 7th grade to organize interviews by the students with adults from the community to learn what people do throughout the community and what matters most to them. 

No matter where you live in Madison County, you can help the Heart & Soul effort by letting your voice be heard! If you have already taken the Heart & Soul survey, thank you and stay tuned! If you haven’t taken the survey, please do. It takes just 10-15 minutes to complete and your voice is important! Find the survey online at Just click the Take the Survey button. 

If you prefer paper and pencil you can use the survey printed in the Sept. 10 issue of The Shopper. You can also find paper copies in your local library or City Hall. There is an address where the completed surveys can be mailed or they can be dropped off at H&S collection boxes at your library, City Hall, or Montross Pharmacy.