Giving Tuesday – A Global Day of Giving

Giving Tuesday is a one-day annual campaign that encourages people to contribute to their local communities. Celebrate #GivingTuesday this Tuesday, November 28, by making a donation or volunteering for an Upper Valley organization you believe in. Appreciate, support, and celebrate what makes the Upper Valley such a special place to live, work, and play.STACKED_0Look for #GivingTuesday posts on our Vital Communities Facebook page, where we’ll share some of our work from the past year and celebrate the impact of the community members who make it possible. Leading up to and on November 28, look for the #GivingTuesday hashtag for ideas on how to get involved and use it to share what you’ve done this year for your community.

#GT Heart (1)Learn more about #GivingTuesday.

Gift Thoughtfully this Season!

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Every dollar spent at a local, independent business returns 2-4 times more to be re-spent in the community than a dollar spent at a non-local business. With consumers reporting that they will spend an average $967 for holiday shopping this year, according to a 2017 National Retail Federation survey, a shift to local purchases represents a significant contribution to local jobs, taxes, and community support.

This season make sure your gift giving matches your community values and keep your money here at home by patronizing locally owned services and businesses. Search the Local First Alliance directory and shop at stores owned by your friends and neighbors, and enjoy expert service, unique product selection, and know that you are strengthening the Upper Valley by keeping your money circulating in our community.

To encourage shopping locally this season, the Shift Your Shopping campaign highlights the value and importance of thinking local first. Support this effort and visit our wonderful and diverse community of local businesses on these special days:

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Plaid Friday, November 24

Turn Black Friday on it’s head and take part in Plaid Friday events this year! Our community is stronger when we all engage with our community (plaid is made up of interwoven fabrics!). Visit these businesses during their Plaid Friday events:

Dan & Whit’s General Store

West Lebanon Feed & Supply

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Small Business Saturday, November 25

Shop Small and keep your dollars here at home when shopping at these businesses:

The Country Cobbler, Fat Hat Clothing (free socks with $50 purchase!) West Lebanon Feed & Supply, Dan & Whit’s General Store, Revolution, Norwich Bookstore

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Cider Monday, November 27

Appreciate the personal service and community aspects of shopping locally during this special day aimed at combating Cyber Monday. Visit these locally owned businesses and enjoy cider and community cheer as you make shopping a joyful fun event:

The Co-op Food Stores, all locations

Revolution, White River Junction

Norwich Bookstore

Yankee Bookstore, Woodstock

Dan & Whits’ General Store, Norwich

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Give the perfect gifts this season: gift certificates to Local First Alliance businesses!

Support our community while giving the perfect that your friends and family will  appreciate AND that strengthens our Upper Valley economy. Make a difference this year and Shift Your Shopping. Think Local First!

 

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Come to Our Open House Dec. 1!

Join us for our annual Vital Communities Open House!

Friday, December 1, 5–7 pm

Enjoy
~ Local snacks and beverages
~ Door prizes and Super Quest prize
~ 6th Annual Volunteer of the Year Award

And in case that’s not enough, it’s a great time to learn more about our work and get to know our staff and other Vital Communities supporters!

Brought to you in conjunction with the biggest White River Junction First Friday Celebration of the year, featuring food, live music, demonstrations, and more.

Find us at:
195 N. Main St.
White River Jct., VT 05001

Second Floor of the Upper Valley Food Co-op building.

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Fall Business Leaders Breakfast

Over 130 Upper Valley business leaders attended this fall’s breakfast on Friday, November 3. The event, hosted jointly by Vital Communities and Upper Valley Housing Coalition, featured presentations from Vital Communities and others on the current state of workforce housing in the Upper Valley. For those who missed the event, an agenda and slides from the morning’s presentations are linked below.

Many thanks to our generous event sponsors

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The Skinny Pancake is the October BOM!

Celebrate our wonderful, community-building, locally owned businesses with

Local First Alliance Business of the Month (BOM)

The Skinny Pancake will be our October featured business with a delicious promotion and engagement opportunities.

Our friends and neighbors are the people behind the amazing locally owned business and the BOM program is a way to learn about all the ways they support our communities (job creation, charitable giving, civic engagement, economic impact) and to thank them for all they do to make the Upper Valley a great place to live, work, and play.

Visit the BOM during the promotion and learn about the often overlooked value that locally owned  businesses contribute to our communities while taking advantage of the personal attention,  expert service, and unique products they provide.

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Join the Celebration October 10-27 and enjoy a delicious bonus!

Visit The Skinny Pancake October 10-27 and  thank them for being such valuable community members and get a free group munchie with purchase of two meals (crepes, salads, and dinner plates)!
Learn about Local First Alliance , snag a Love Local bumper stickers,  and enjoy a locally sourced meal at Skinny Pancake.

Keep your dollars circulating through our economy and support our locally owned businesses!

Future BOMs:

November – West Lebanon Feed & Supply

December – Hubert’s of West Lebanon

January – Norwich Bookstore

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Local First Business of the Month

Introducing a new way to celebrate our wonderful, community-building, locally owned businesses:

Local First Alliance Business of the Month (BOM)!

Throughout the year we will be highlighting specific Local First Alliance members by celebrating with in-store promotions and engagement opportunities.

Our friends and neighbors are the people behind the amazing locally owned business and the BOM program is a way to learn about all the ways they support our communities (job creation, charitable giving, civic engagement, economic impact) and to thank them for all they do to make the Upper Valley a great place to live, work, and play.

Visit the BOM during the promotion and learn about the often overlooked value that locally owned  businesses contribute to our communities while taking advantage of the personal attention,  expert service, and unique products they provide.

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Join the Celebration September 18-30 – Free Stuff!

Visit King Arthur Flour Bakery + Cafe from September 18-30 to thank them for being such valuable community members and pick up a free baguette! Learn about Local First Alliance , snag a Love Local bumper stickers and a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase from King Arthur.

Keep your dollars circulating through our economy and support our locally owned businesses!

Future BOMs:

October – Hubert’s Family Clothing & Skinny Pancake

November – West Lebanon Feed & Supply

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Upper Valley Food Hub Meeting

Does the Upper Valley Need a Shared
Farm & Food Facility?

Join us on September 26

to share your ideas at an

Upper Valley Food Hub Meeting

King Arthur Flour Bakery + Cafe
Route 5 South, Norwich
4:30-6 pm

Would a shared facility push the Upper Valley’s food & farm businesses to the next level? Or is the existing system working? The question regularly comes up and we want YOUR opinion and experience at the table as we discuss the possibilities.

Join Vital Communities, Willing Hands, and farm partners from Luna Bleu, Root 5, Hurricane Flats, Savage Hart, Shire Beef, and Sunset Rock Farm to seriously consider the viability of a cooperative venture. Share your business needs, prioritize facility uses, and eat snacks.

Nancy@VitalCommunities.org
802.291.9100 x106
RSVP here
https://bit.ly/2wldRsc

Follow & share the event on Facebook!

Can’t make it to the meeting or want to be involved in this project? Reach out to Nancy@VitalCommunities.org (802.291.9100 x106)  or answer these survey questions.

NE SARE Farmer Partnership Project Background:

For several years now a consistent topic of conversation among our regions farmers and other food system partcipants is the need for and feasibility of a food hub-type thing in the Upper Valley. The desired functions vary: storage, aggregation, distribution, value-added processing, year-round retail sales venue, commercial kitchen, community space, and the list goes on.

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Vital Communities has funding from a SARE Partnership grant to work with farmers and others stakeholders to pursue this idea. With our vibrant and expanding agricultural community and specialty food businesses, loyal and increasing consumer base, and our ideal location at the junction of two major interstates, the Upper Valley is a logical location.

One farmer familiar with the SHED, a project with that descriptor in Healdsburg, CA (http://healdsburgshed.com/) thought the Upper Valley might be ready for a similar space. Though owned by a single farm family, SHED combines retail, private/public events, consumer education, eateries, and a range of local produce and crafts. From this came our concept of a flexible model that could be adapted to our region’s needs.

Project Summary/Overview and Notes

Vital Communities will work with farmers to address a continuing challenge to farm growth in the Upper Connecticut River Valley (Upper Valley) region of New Hampshire and Vermont. According to our 2014 Local Foods Market Assessment, 56% of 116 farmers surveyed seek increased direct-to-consumer sales, yet established channels are no longer ensuring consistent income growth. One recommendation from the assessment was to “explore creative solutions to capital and infrastructure limitations.” In response, farmers have begun to envision a unique year-round direct-sales outlet with a strong community engagement focus.

Farmers have asked Vital Communities to support creation of this new model by facilitating conversations among interested farmers while providing educational workshops to determine mission, organizational structure, and business model. Farmers are excited about a hybrid co-op/farmers market that could eventually include aggregation and gleaning hubs, a commercial kitchen for value-added processing, shared winter crop storage, and more. SARE funding will leverage Vital Communities’ strength as a neutral convener and trusted farm service provider to support farmers in their desire to develop a collaborative space that would increase sales and strengthen connections to the wider community.

Our goals for the coming year are to facilitate conversations within the community with determine need, function, viability, and required resources,  form a steering committee of people interested in working on this project, conduct a SWOT analysis, and produce a mission and work plan for moving this concept from casual conversation at farmers markets to a blueprint for a unique farmer-owned and operated community market and operations facility.

Your opinion is needed! Would your farm-based business, or the Upper Valley, benefit from a shared facility? What type of shared facility would help your business grow? Would you support a year-round farmers’ market? Would you use aggregation and distribution facilities? Are you interested in a farmer cooperative?  Please share your ideas, needs, suggestions, etc. via phone (802.291.9100 x106) or email Nancy@VitalCommunities.org. 

This is a farmer driven project, and we are looking for more farmers to take an active role in moving this idea forward. Farmers already signed on to be part of a working group on this project are: Danielle Allen-Root 5 Farm, Geo Honigford-Hurricane Flats, Peg Allen-Savage Hart Farm, Suzanne Long-Luna Bleu Farm, Niko Horster-Northshire Beef, and Andrea Rhodes-Sunset Rock Farm. The bulk of this work will be happening in the late fall and winter, so check back for updates or let Nancy@VitalCommunities.org know if you want to be added to a mailing list.

Community support is critical to the success of a venture like this, so we will also be holding community listening events in the coming months. These sessions will be open to farmers, food system partners, and the wider the Upper Valley community. Stay tuned for dates and locations.

Thank you King Arthur Flour for your support with this project!

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Watershed Quest Challenge

This summer we launched our 2017 Watershed Quest Challenge, designed to encourage YOU to get outside and explore your favorite Upper Valley pond, stream, river, or swimming hole—and write a Valley Quest! Watershed Quest submissions will have the chance to be featured in the 2018 Super Quest, and the author of the winning Quest will receive a grand prize.

For many, the idea of writing a Valley Quest can be daunting, but fear not—anybody can write a Quest! We encourage you to get outside your comfort zone and learn about the history of the special places in your backyard.

For those of you interested in the Watershed Quest Challenge but unsure where to start, we have a ton of resources online, as well as a short video series! Check out the first video below:


Many thanks to our Watershed Quest Challenge sponsors:

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Barbara Duncan checks out a Smart Electric Vehicle at the 2014 EV EVent at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

Plug-In to Electric Vehicles at the Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Expo

Vital Communities, Upper Valley Sierra Club, and volunteers from several Upper Valley energy committees are joining forces to host the Upper Valley Electric Vehicle Expo on Saturday, September 9, from 12 to 4 p.m. (rain or shine) at the Dothan Brook School in White River Junction, Vt. as part of National Drive Electric Week. The Expo is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register online at UVEVExpo.org for a chance to win $250 and other prizes.

Ariel Arwen with the Upper Valley Sierra Club at the New London Electric Vehicle event. Photo Credit: Allyson Samuell

Ariel Arwen with the Upper Valley Sierra Club. Photo Credit: Allyson Samuell

Electric vehicle owners from across the region will show off their wheels, with several local car, bicycle and motorcycle dealers bringing the latest all-electric models for visitors to explore. Vehicles will include the popular Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt, as well as the Tesla Models X and S, Tesla Roadster, BMW i3, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Smart Fourtwo and others. The Dartmouth Racing Team will also bring their electric race car. Free test rides will be offered throughout the afternoon.

“Our 2016 event in New London had over 300 attendees and dozens of electric vehicles. This year’s event in White River Junction will be even bigger,” said Jamie Hess, a volunteer from New London. “Electric vehicle technology keeps getting better. I’m seeing more and more people making the switch.”

An attendee learns about charging plug-in vehicles. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

An attendee learns about charging plug-in vehicles. Photo Credit: Dave Roberts

It’s true. Most new fully electric vehicles can drive more than 100 miles, with some current models going more than 200 miles on one charge. Driving electric is cheaper, too—comparable to paying $1.50/gallon at the pump. Not to mention great acceleration and increased traction thanks to efficient electric engines and heavy batteries.

According to Drive Electric Vermont, the number of electric vehicles in Vermont has increased by 40 percent over the last year alone. That trend is expected to continue in the Upper Valley and across both Vermont and New Hampshire as vehicle ranges increase and more charging stations are installed.

Ted Dillard with electric bike at the event at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Karl Kemnitzer

Ted Dillard with electric bike at the event at the Montshire Museum. Photo Credit: Karl Kemnitzer

The September 9 Expo will feature more than just cars—electric motorcycles, bicycles and even lawn equipment will also be available for visitors to see, touch and try. Drop-in presentations from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. will cater to both electric-vehicle enthusiasts and those who are new to the technology.

Families are welcome and there will be free refreshments. Event sponsors include Catamount Solar, Cyclewise, Energy Emporium, Green Mountain Power, Lyme Green Heat, Newport Chevy, Nissan of Keene, Norwich Technologies, Omer and Bob’s, ReVision Energy, Solaflect Energy, SunCommon, Twin State Ford, Zoom Bikes, Building Energy and Anne’s Country Store.

Watershed Quest Challenge & Quest Writing Workshop

Sign up now for our FREE Quest Writing Workshop—you’ll get the tools you need to write your own Valley Quest for our 2017 Watershed Quest Challenge!

With August just around the corner, we are halfway through Valley Quest season! We’ve had a wonderful season so far, but we have so much more on the horizon…

Last month, we launched our 2017 Watershed Quest Challenge, designed to encourage YOU to get outside and explore your favorite Upper Valley pond, stream, river, or swimming hole—and write a Valley Quest! Watershed Quest submissions will have the chance to be featured in the 2018 Super Quest, and the author of the winning Quest will receive a grand prize.

For many, the idea of writing a Valley Quest can be daunting, but fear not—anybody can write a Quest! We encourage you to get outside your comfort zone and learn about the history of the special places in your backyard.

For those of you interested in the Watershed Quest Challenge but unsure where to start, come to our FREE Quest Writing Workshop on August 11 with internationally renowned educator and author Steve Glazer! We will go through the basics of Quest writing, all while putting together a Valley Quest about the Mascoma River in Lebanon, N.H.

We will meet a bit before 9 am at Eldridge Park in Lebanon on August 11. If you plan to attend, email Carrie@VitalCommunities.org by August 7 to register. Dress to spend the day outside, and pack a lunch (snacks will be provided).


Many thanks to our Watershed Quest Challenge sponsors:

Vermont Conservation department logo Farm-Way Logo

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