Donuts & Hogwarts: A Transit Travel Training Case Study

One thing a group of Millennial cartoonists doesn’t need is help using a smartphone app – especially an intuitive one that shows the real-time location of buses in the rural transit system, Advance Transit. No, a lack of tech savvy is not the barrier keeping these students off the bus. It’s more like,

“Cool, there’s an app, but how do I know the name of the bus stop out front?”
“Does the bus go to the theater where Black Panther is playing?”
“I’m just nervous to try the bus—what if it doesn’t show up?” 

Over Vital Communities’ two-year partnership with Advance Transit to promote their real-time bus system, we’ve learned that it often takes a little extra to get people confidently riding transit. “Travel training,” which traditionally only serves people who need special assistance, can be valuable to almost anyone.

Car ownership is low among the several dozen students at the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) in downtown White River Junction—a Master of Fine Arts program in sequential art. The school has consistently promoted Advance Transit as a way to explore the Upper Valley. But in talking to several alums, we discovered that many CCS students were hesitant to try the free bus, and tended to stay close to campus.

We decided to change this by partnering with a recent graduate now employed by the school –who had never been on Advance Transit either but was eager to help. He distributed a simple graphic flyer (right and below) to students that promised a Friday afternoon bus trip to neighboring Hanover to get donuts from famed Lou’s Restaurant & Bakery and visit Dartmouth’s “Hogwarts-esque” Baker Library.

On a sunny February day, I met a dozen students and alums in the school’s lobby. I prompted them to download Advance Transit’s real-time app and gave them a bus system overview—how to find the bus stops, which routes run where, etc. Then we walked around the block to the bus stop and took the 15 minute trip from White River Junction to Hanover, New Hampshire.

Once in Hanover, we picked up an overstuffed bakery box of assorted donuts from Lou’s and walked across the Green to Baker Library. The students had a great time

digging into the comics and graphic novel section of the library “stacks” and then tiptoeing through the ornate Tower Room.

Many had never been to Baker before—even though CCS maintains a library card there for its students. But now this vast resource is only a short bus ride away.

Aside from giving a few pointers, I didn’t have to do much after the students boarded the bus in White River. That’s just it. Simply getting them on the bus that first time undid the majority of their concerns about the bus. After all, they had watched the bus’s movement on the real-time app while they waited at the bus stop, and then a knowledgeable and friendly driver picked them up on time and took them to Hanover, as promised. Sure, they still had to learn their way around town and get on the right bus, but the bus was now a known and trusted entity. Perhaps Robyn, an alum, put it best: “I just needed someone who knew the system to go with me the first time.” And remembering the impact of a coworker first taking me on Advance Transit almost two decades ago, I think she’s right.

– Bethany Fleishman, Transportation Program Manager at Vital Communities/Upper Valley Transportation Management Association

EPA Recognizes Hanover Co-op Food Stores with National Award

Congratulations to The Co-op Food Stores! 

EPA Recognizes Supermarkets Across America for Smart Refrigerant Management

WASHINGTON — Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized 13 organizations in the supermarket industry for their achievements in protecting human health and the environment under its GreenChill Partnership Program. The GreenChill Partnership works with food retailers to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer by supporting a transition to environmentally friendlier refrigerants, lowering charge sizes and eliminating leaks, and adopting green refrigeration technologies and best environmental practices.

For the second straight year, the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society’s four food stores earn the environmental Protection Agency’s award for Most Improved Emissions Rate.

Ed Fox, general manager of the Hanover Co-op Food Stores put the award in context of the grocery industry. “For the Hanover Co-op, we may be the nation’s second largest food cooperative, but we’re tiny compared to the largest grocery chains in the world. So it is especially noteworthy to earn such an award along with mammoth retailers.”  Fox also commended City Market (Onion River Co-op), in Burlington, Vermont for its top honors for Best Corporate Emissions Rate, an award won by the Hanover Co-op last year. “It’s so great to see food cooperatives recognized for their long-standing work on issues of environmental responsibility.”

Read more here.

Market-Fresh Cooking Demos

Love to shop at the farmers’ market, and want to learn a new tip or recipe for cooking with all the great produce that is available this month?

Join local chef Holly Pierce for weekly cooking demos at the Hanover and Greater Falls Farmers’ Markets during the month of September!

Shop with Holly as she visits the market vendors to select ingredients from the bounty of local food available this time of year.  Then watch her create a dish that you get to sample. She’ll share the recipe as she goes and have other recipes to share that highlight enjoying the abundance of the Upper Valley late summer harvest!

Wednesdays at the Hanover Area Farmers’ Market from 3-6 pm
September 5, 12, 19, 26

Fridays in Bellows Falls at the Greater Falls Farmers’ Market from 3-7 pm
September 7, 14, 21, 28

The Norwich Bookstore is the BOM!

Celebrate The Norwich Bookstore as the September Business of the Month!

And as a founding Local First Alliance member, The Norwich Bookstore has been and an anchor business in downtown Norwich providing the community with expert service, diverse products, and keeping the local economy moving for 24 years! The Norwich Bookstore has been on a mission to deliver newly released titles or your favorite classics in whatever format you like: printed, ebooks, and now digital audiobooks.

For the month of September enjoy listening to books and get 30% off by using the code BOM2018. These audiobooks are available through our indie partner, Libro.fm, and all sales support our store. Choose from over 100,000 titles!

Audiobooks are easy to download through the store website: norwichbookstore.com. You can listen on your iPhone, Android device, or personal computer.

Liza Bernard and Penny McConnel

It has been said that Liza Bernard is a force of nature; at the very least, she’s certainly a force of the local economy.

Along with business partner Penny McConnel, Bernard opened the Norwich Bookstore in 1994 and has been a key player in the “Local First” movement in Vermont and the Upper Valley ever since. Read more about the bookstore that bucked the trend of online book buying in this Valley News Enterprise business magazine article.

As a locally-owned, independent business, we participate in many aspects of our community. We create jobs and pay local taxes. We support schools, libraries and a number of other not-for-profit organizations. We encourage you to help keep the Upper Valley a great place to live, work, and play: Think Local First when dining out, banking, hiring professional services, or shopping for anything — including audiobooks.  – Liza Bernard

Vital Communities on NHPR’s “The Exchange”

GoingLocal_1Did you catch us recently on New Hampshire Public Radio’s weekday call-in show “The Exchange“? Their ‘Going Local‘ series explores the different regions of the state, and in early August they focused on the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee region (the New Hampshire side of the Upper Valley!).

Vital Communities was honored to have Energy Program Manager Sarah Brock join as a panelist, along with Hanover Town Manager Julia Griffin, Lebanon Planning and Zoning Director David Brooks, and Valley News Reporter Tim Camerato. They talked about everything from traffic congestion on Route 120 to a bi-state parade from Orford to Fairlee—give it a listen!

Mascoma Bank is the BOM!

Celebrate Mascoma Bank as Business of the Month August 6-17 and support three nonprofits while you’re at it!

Mascoma Bank has put community first since 1899 and as their way of celebrating being the BOM, Mascoma Bank will 

donate $1 each to COVER Home Repair (another Local First Alliance member!), Monadnock Humane Society, and AHEAD (Affordable Housing, Education & Development

when you comment why you love local on the Mascoma Bank Facebook page. Share your favorite locally owned stores, restaurants, markets, bank, nonprofits, businesses, and services.

Let them know how local businesses support your community through donations, sponsorships, volunteering, and other good deeds. Love the quality products and service at the businesses owned by your friends and neighbors – share it and Masoma Bank will support three valuable nonprofits that strengthen the fabric of our community!

Congratulations to Mascoma Bank becoming a B Corp this year! Read more about what that means to the bank and our community below.

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For Mascoma Bank it was never a question of if, but more so, when would we become a Certified B Corporation. Joining the ranks of more than 2,500 businesses worldwide focused on doing business for the right reasons was a natural progression for us. Mutuality has always been the cornerstone of our culture. By joining forces with like-minded businesses, we can make an impact greater than we ever imagined. The vision and values of B Corp is the next chapter for a bank steeped in the tradition of neighbors helping neighbors, doing what we can to participate in making our communities an enjoyable, happy, healthy, safe places to live.

Certified B Corporations sign a Declaration of Interdependence identifying that together we can make a tremendous impact by expanding the traditions of giving back, sustainability, environmental protection, transparent business practices, and well-being for our employees and communities. It is not an agreement that is taken lightly. This global movement is dedicated to making positive change in a big way. We are not alone in our vision. Together with companies like King Arthur Flour, Boloco, Ben and Jerry’s and Cabot Creamery our impact will be felt right here in the communities we serve.

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Building a relationship with Mascoma Bank is more than opening accounts and securing services, it is active engagement in the many ways we give back. You become something much greater than just an account holder. We support countless organizations and non-profits, not just by monetary donation through internal committees and Mascoma Bank Foundation, but we roll up our sleeves and get to work with hands-on giving as well. By doing business with Mascoma Bank you choose to be a part of something that will make an impact for good, today and years to come.

Power of Produce Clubs

Power of Produce Clubs are fun, free, and filled with fresh local food. Fourteen locations are hosting Power of Produce this summer. Visit our POP page  or download the schedule here. Kids sign up at the POP Host table and learn about the day’s produce-based activity. It might be a scavenger hunt, a quiz, an easy salad recipe. When they’ve completed the activity (everyone’s a winner!) children receive $2-3 of kids-only market money to spend on produce. Kids can come once or come many times, during the hours listed below. No need to sign up in advance or come at a certain start time. It’s a wonderful way to connect children with healthy eating, healthy shopping, local farms, and fun! Get the details!

“Friend of the Market” Deals

The food is fresh, the market is fun, and the deal is sweet! 

Support Your Farmers’ Market with the
NEW Friend of the Market Card! 

Buy a Friend of the Market card ($20) at your participating farmers’ market and take advantage of weekly vendor specials just for Friends.
Lebanon FOM
Visit the market manager booth at your farmers’ market to buy your card. Each week select vendors will offer Friend of the Market specials. Show your card and get a special deal. Participating markets are listed below, and click here for a full calendar of area markets and summer activities!

Use your Friend of the Market card at any of these markets:

Hanover Area Farmers’ Market
Hartland Farmers’ Market
Greater (Bellows) Falls Farmers’ Market
Lebanon Farmers’ Market
Newport Farmers’ Market
Norwich Farmers’ Market
Royalton Farmers’ Market
Woodstock Market on the Green
 Card valid May-October 2018 

 

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Photo credit Molly Drummond

Farmers’ Markets are Truly Local

Download the printable area Farmers’ Market Calendar! See a full online area market schedule here! Farmers’ markets are truly local, and that’s as true today as it was 20 years ago. You don’t have to worry about reading labels or reading between the lines, because you can talk to the farmer. Get the real story behind your food, learn how it was made and why. These things matter to you, and hearing directly from the producer is best.With over 20 area markets you can meet hundreds of local producers and find the foods that make you smile.

Special activities for kids and the Friend of the Market card are just two of the exciting programs this summer at many markets. You can find details here.

So download the printable area Farmers’ Market Calendar. It’s handy for work, home, car, church, school… share your love of local with your communities.

Beautiful market photo by Molly Drummond!

Longevity & Commitment: Keynote Remarks from Heroes & Leaders 2018

Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Kevin Peterson, Director of Economic Development for the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, who offered the keynote speech at our May 3 Heroes & Leaders celebration. Read his complete remarks below. You can watch the entire event courtesy of CATV8. PHOTOS BY MOLLY DRUMMOND.

I am humbled to share the stage tonight with this year’s Heroes & Leaders, and given their longevity and commitment to the Upper Valley, it’s no surprise that I have a direct connection with nearly all of them, as I’m sure many of you do, too.

Bill Boyle was part of the pediatric oncology team that treated my 12-year old daughter for leukemia, and I helped manage the Boyle Fund for Community Pediatrics.

In the fall of 1978, before starting my freshman year at Dartmouth, my father and I drove across the river to Dan & Whit’s so he could buy a couple of gallons of Vermont maple syrup to take back home to Michigan. I’ve been a customer ever since.

That same fall, inspired by my mother’s membership in a small cooperative food-buying club, I ventured to the far southern end of campus—WAY down Lebanon Street—to shop at the Hanover Coop and the old Food Bin, and I’ve been a member since the mid-1980s.

Laurie Harding and I have talked many times over the years about management issues facing Headrest and other nonprofit organizations.

Earlier this week, I received an email from Jill Lord asking for input on the 2018 Community Health Needs Assessment, and grants from New Hampshire Charitable Foundation helped to fund previous needs assessments.

My favorite breakfast is fried eggs and Fruitwood Smoked Uncured Bacon from North Country Smokehouse, and I worked with Mike Satzow on the Fund for Greater Claremont.

I chair the advisory committee for my Dartmouth class project, which placed a Dartmouth student at The Family Place to serve as a year-long social-entrepreneurship fellow who helped develop a marketing plan for their Jewelry-O’s program.

Rob Howe and I sang together for several years with Zephyrus, a community choral group.

While I have never been inside the Canaan Hardware, based on what I heard tonight, I need to pay a visit!

I first met Steve Taylor in 1986 when he was leading a presentation on the New Hampshire Land Conservation Investment Program. After I joined the staff of New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, he helped me develop a list of the “100 Things to See, Do or Experience to Get to Know the Upper Valley,” and, since 2007, we have co-presented a seminar to the opening session of the Leadership Upper Valley program called on “What is the Upper Valley?”

The Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund, which I administered at the Charitable Foundation, provided a grant for a permanent conservation easement on a portion of the Taylor’s Crossroads Farm property along the Ompompanoosuc River in Thetford.

Across a 15-year partnership with Tuck, I’ve engaged MBA interns, advised student leaders of the Tuck Social Venture Fund, and worked with John Vogel and the team at the Center for Business, Government and Society to co-host the Upper Valley Nonprofit Exchange, a series of professional-development seminars for area nonprofit leaders.

Each of these individuals and institutions represents a strand in an intricate web that is woven together to form a healthy, vibrant, strong and resilient Upper Valley community and economy. Let me share with you what I think are some other characteristics they all share.

The first is a sense of Place—as Dartmouth alum and author Norman MacLean wrote, “If you don’t know the ground, you’re probably wrong about nearly everything else.” Each person or institution honored here tonight knows the ground. They are deeply rooted in a geographic niche of the Upper Valley—a town, a facility, a subset of our region. They get to know their key audience or their core clients. They understand and have a deep and abiding sense of place and their role in it.

The second characteristic is Longevity—every day, we see the time scale of our world getting shorter and shorter. We live in a culture of ever-decreasing attention spans. News and information comes to us in sound bites, 240-character Twitter rants and Snap Chat posts. We have come to expect immediate response and reward in so many aspects of our lives. Even our politics are short term—New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two states with a Governor who is elected for a two-year term. By contrast, tonight’s honorees take the long view. Each has an extended history in our community. One of my favorite books is Staying Put by Scott Russell Sanders. In it, he describes the joys and benefits of staying close to home—wherever that is. These honorees have chosen to stay in their place, serving as anchors in the collective life of the Upper Valley. They embody the idea of durability and consistency that extends beyond the span of an individual lifetime.

The third characteristic is Stewardship—the people we honor tonight are deeply committed to the health and vitality of our region. As the anchoring strands in the intricate web of our vital communities, they are people who think not primarily of themselves, but of the greater good, of broader societal and community benefit, of the commonweal—not a term we hear so often in our current national dialogue. What they do has larger meaning than simply running a store, serving an individual client or providing a service. While they may not even realize it, they are important stewards of this place we all call home.

I think we can all agree that the web of economy and community in the Upper Valley is pretty strong and resilient. The Heroes & Leaders honored tonight are emblematic of that strength and resiliency, and they are some of the strongest strands holding that web together and thus maintaining our sense of place. But that strong web will only remain so if we all remain connected to it, as well. If one or two strands are removed or broken, the web may remain, but it’s not nearly as strong and durable. Thus, we all need to engage with, build, and maintain that web in regular and meaningful ways.

That engagement can manifest in several actions.

#1. Buying stuff on Main Street. According to author and researcher Michael Shuman, every dollar we spend locally results in two to three dollars of additional economic activity in our area. That includes jobs for our neighbors, local tax revenue, vibrant downtowns, more shopping choices, and on and on. I know we all love our Amazon Prime account—and, true confession, we’ve got one too. But I think we—and our entire Upper Valley web—are much better off if we buy local first—at Canaan Hardware, the Co-op, Dan & Whit’s, or at LaValley’s or Farmway. The few pennies or dollars we might have saved buying online are just not worth the cost of weakening our local economic and community web.

#2. Banking with a community bank or credit union based here in the Upper Valley. That ‘bank on the corner’ is likely the one lending to our neighbor who is expanding a local business, or to Twin Pines Housing to develop affordable apartments near an Advance Transit bus line, or to a young family purchasing their first home. Our money, deposited in a local financial institution, provides the capital that makes this kind of community investing possible.

#3. Getting involved in community. The institutions honored tonight, all of our towns, and the many, many nonprofit and community organizations working in our region are always in need of people: to serve on a board, to participate on a committee, to help with a project, to provide financial support. Their health and vitality depends on strong and enduring civic and community engagement, which begins with all of us. Tonight’s honorees offer plenty of these types of opportunities, and the Valley News publishes a monthly listing of volunteer jobs, so there is no shortage of good choices for getting involved.

All of these relatively small and seemingly inconsequential actions, taken together, help to strengthen our web of community and economy, and our sense of place.

In 1999, Tom Slayton, who at the time was editor of Vermont Life magazine, gave the keynote address to the annual meeting of the Upper Valley Community Foundation—in this very room. I’ll close with a quote from that presentation:

“A sense of place is created by a thousand-and-one specific things—an accretion that, over time, creates human interconnections, myths and stories, folklore and—a place. But just as place is created by specifics, it can be lost by specifics. Hayfields and historic buildings, downtowns and mountain tops, swimming holes and the cool, ferny depths of the forests that line the hillsides—all these specific things are important, as are the lives of all the people who live here, their memories of the place, and the stories they tell. If one important museum has to close, if one vital village center becomes run-down and deserted, if one old man or woman with a good story never gets to tell that story to a listening younger ear—then in every case, a region’s sense of place is weakened. By the same token, every single local artist who can afford to keep working, every stretch of the Connecticut River that is cleaned up and re-opened to fishing, every traditional bridge that is maintained and kept open, every town that stays vital—all of those things strengthen a region’s sense of place. Ultimately, a strong sense of community results in a strong sense of place.”

Thank you to Vital Communities for hosting this wonderful event, and congratulations again to this year’s Heroes & Leaders.

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