Selectman Dan Dunn and a youngster pored through an oversize bound volume of maps of Arlington dating from the 1920s to '50s.Selectman Dan Dunn and a youngster look through an oversize bound volume of town maps from the 1920s to '50s.

UPDATED, March 21: No EcoFest this year, so residents -- and anyone, really -- were invited to Town Hall, the stage for 104 years of the town's public history. An estimated 200 people showed up over four hours on Saturday, March 18.

What did they see? In short, they saw a variety of ways in which local government is your friend.

Just outside Robbins Auditorium, a greeter provided an I Heart ARL button. That's one friendly way town employees kept track of attendance.

Inside, a buzz of activity filled the floor where more than 200 Town Meeting members will sit in April.

A series of photos document some of the areas of town government represented >>

On your right, ACMi, the town's cable-TV station. On your left, the table for Vision 2020, a network of volunteer town committees that support such goals as fiscal health, diversity, the Reservoir and sustainability. Upfront and in the middle, a table for Town Meeting, where A. Michael Ruderman, running for reelection in Precinct 9, held forth, touting neighbor Neal Connor, who is seeking votes as a write-in.

Next to him was Tim Lecuivre, the town's tree warden since last May. He affably explained the demonstration tree at his table, a Serviceberry with its roots exposed and a Gator Bag (for watering). A town native and resident, he took time to explain where how deep to plant a tree.

He said the town plants about 200 trees a year, some coming this spring to Scannell Field, next to Spy Pond.

Nearby, children bustled about tables strewn with materials, the province of the Green Team, town public-school students involved in environmental efforts. At one, Gabriel Marin, 9, a third grader at Dallin Elementary, displayed how a small shirt saying "All Nighter" is recycled into a small bag. The belly end is cut into short strips, which are tied, enclosing the base of the bag.

For a story about the Green team, click here >> 

The town's Police Department had healthy representation, with a table inside and a K-9 demonstration with Officer Brian Hogan on the chilly parking lot of a key community-policing tool -- police dogs Dasty and Eiko. 

Near the Town Hall stage, Selectman Dan Dunn escaped briefly from his board's table, where colleague Joe Curro spoke with a constituent. Dunn portrayed a picture of changing technologies: A high-tech exec, he looked through an oversize bound volume of maps of Arlington dating from the 1920s to '50s. The scene put into relief how far the town has progressed in map making when you consider the digital possibilities of GPS.

We move on to a town agency, among those out of step with the president's budget -- the Arlington Youth Counseling Center. Known as the AYCC, it subsidizes the costs of counseling services to income-eligible households. AYCC clinicians provide individual and/or group counseling services in each of the elementary schools, Ottoson Middle School and Arlington High School.

Colleen Leger, AYCC director, said $10,000 had been requested for the next fiscal year, but $5,000 was expected. This money is part of $1,022,830, the budget for the Community Development Block Grants, pending receipt from the federal government. The president's proposed budget calls for cutting those grants.

See the whole list that selectmen recommended funding Oct. 13. 

Another friend overseen by town government is the Arlington Food Pantry. At two locations -- 117 Broadway and at Church of Our Saviour, on Marathon Street -- the pantry collects and donates food to the needy.

At the table for the Council on Aging, which provides services for senior citizens, joining Executive Director Susan Carp was Hannah Plasker, who offered a ready smile. The intern is working on a master's degree in health management at Regis College.

Few organizations sheltered by the town represent participatory Arlington more than Vision 2020. Supporting it since the early 1990s are a spirit of volunteerism and an urge to help shape our future. Guarding the table was former Selectman Annie LaCourt, a former selectman.

Upstairs, in the Lyons Meeting Room, Allan Tosti, longtime chairman of the Finance Committee, brought more than 40 years of town financial background as he explained how Arlington dollars are spent to all five people in a room set up for many more. The prime responsibility of the volunteer body is to present a balanced and responsible budget and financial plan to Town Meeting.

In what may be a signal about potential cuts in arts funding from the federal government, two of those listening were musicians who also teach at Berklee.

Charlotte Milan, the town's recycling coordinator, who was active presence throughout, offered an anecdote: A couple who had come to Town Hall specifically to hear Tosti ended up staying and having a conversation with Sandy Pooler, the the deputy town manager, about town finances.

"Their impression was that it was incredibly interesting and informative," she wrote, "and they thought more people in town should attend talks on these subjects."

This news announcement was published Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, and updated March 20, to provide a news summary.