Vital Communities Seeks New Board Members

Do you want to make a difference in the Upper Valley?

Vital Communities seeks new board members who share our commitment to inclusive, equitable, and long-term community engagement that cultivates the civic, environmental, and economic vitality of the Upper Valley. With 17 full- and part-time staff, a $1.4 million budget, and a service area covering 69 towns in NH and VT, we work with partners to lead projects in the areas of climate, economic resilience, energy, farming, food security, housing, leadership training, place-based education, and transportation. 

We are actively seeking to diversify our Board as part of our commitment to identify, include, engage and connect with residents of all ages, genders, races, cultures, faiths, abilities, professions, documentation status, income levels, sexual orientation, and geographic locations within our Upper Valley service area. Previous Board experience is not required.

With a new Executive Director building on our 25+ year history and crafting a vision for growth that enables the organization to bring more diverse voices to the table to inform the design and implementation of our projects, this is an exciting time to join the Vital Communities Board of Directors. Board members will be guiding the organization’s next strategic plan (2022-2025), ensuring that it aligns with community needs. They determine Vital Communities’ mission and purposes, ensure that programs align with the mission, and assess progress toward annual and multi-year goals. “The staff are doing amazing work,” said one Board member recently. “It’s so important…I get so excited about the programs being implemented and about Vital Communities overall.” 

Board members serve in a volunteer capacity for two- or three-year terms starting on June 1. Board member roles and responsibilities (listed on pages 3-4) include attending six meetings per year which are conducted either via Zoom or in person. Reimbursement for mileage and other expenses is available, and orientation and training are provided.

If you are interested in applying, please complete the application at the link by March 31, 2021. If you would like further information, please contact Barbara Barry, Board Member (bbarbellb@gmail.com) or Sarah Jackson, Executive Director (sjackson@vitalcommunities.org).

Apply here

 

BOARD AND MEMBER RESPONSIBILITIES

Expectations of Board Members:

  1. Understand the mission, policies, and programs of Vital Communities as well as an understanding its current and future needs;
  2.  Understand the financing of Vital Communities as well as its regularly circulated financial statements, as scrutinized and presented to the Board by the Finance Committee;    
  3. Share information about Vital Communities’ goals and accomplishments with diverse networks throughout the Upper Valley;
  4. Identify and secure individual donations for Vital Communities, and support Vital Communities staff as needed in identifying and securing other financial resources to further the cause of Vital Communities;
  5. For those in a financial position to make donations to organizations, contribute annually to Vital Communities’ fundraising appeals by including the organization among your top three nonprofit giving opportunities, thereby enabling Vital Communities to report 100% Board giving, as required by many donors;
  6. Identify and assist in facilitating new professional and social connections with Upper Valley individuals and nonprofit organizations that would be mutually beneficial;
  7. Assist the Nominating Committee in creating a board that reflects the diverse geographic, demographic, socio-economic and professional composition of the Upper Valley;
  8. Prepare for, attend, and conscientiously participate in board meetings (five 2-hour meetings per year plus one day-long retreat) and  serve on at least one committee of the board (variable schedules for committees, depending on focus and time of year);
  9. Participate in personal / professional development around key issues such as racial justice and in topics related to nonprofit Board best practices
  10. Identify and engage with at least one Vital Communities program and its staff members and, if the program has an advisory committee associated with it, attend at least one advisory committee meeting per year; and  
  11.  Attend at least one public Vital Communities event annually, apart from board meetings.     

Expectations of the Board as a Whole:

  1. Determine and approve the mission and purposes of Vital Communities;
  2. Select and evaluate the performance of the Executive Director of Vital Communities;
  3. Lead the strategic planning process, drawing on staff input and identifying emerging and evolving community needs, ensuring that programs align with Vital Communities’ mission and creating measures by which progress toward goals may be assessed and documented;
  4. Ensure strong fiduciary oversight and financial management of Vital Communities;
  5. Assist in fundraising and other resource development efforts;
  6. Share information about Vital Communities’ goals and accomplishments with diverse networks throughout the Upper Valley;
  7. Approve new programs; 
  8. Participate in annual Board self-assessment;
  9. Maintain a regular and open line of communication with Executive Director through the Chair and Executive Committee of the board; and
  10. Gratefully acknowledge and support the hard work and dedication of the Vital Communities staff members.     

Expectations of Vital Communities:

To support Board Members, Vital Communities will:

  1. Send an agenda and board materials in a timely fashion, prior to Board meetings;
  2. Provide new Board Members with an orientation to Vital Communities;
  3. Keep Board Members informed of organizational issues, financial challenges, etc. so that Board Members are able to make informed decisions during meetings;
  4. Provide information needed to participate in Vital Communities activities, advisory committee meetings, etc.;
  5. Offer ongoing Board Member education and training opportunities; and
  6. Provide Board Members with Directors and Officers Liability insurance.

Climate Partners Summit Resources

Climate Partners Summit Resources

On February 25, 2021, over 70 interested partners and citizens joined the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) for a virtual Climate Partners Summit, featuring brief presentation from a variety of organizations working to address the effects of climate change in our community.

Click here for a video recording of this 90 minute event, or look for the “video clip” links in the text below to skip directly to a specific presenter.

UVAW co-chair Erich Osterberg, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College kicked off the afternoon event with an update on the latest climate science (slides | video clip). Another UVAW member, and host of the Summit, Kevin Geiger from Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission, then provided a helpful explanation of what we mean when we talk about “Climate Adaptation” versus “Climate Mitigation” (slides | video clip)

The highlight of the event was a series of presentations from partner organizations, each presenting for roughly four minutes, aided by four slides. Their contact information, along with slides and video clips, are linked below.

Michael Caduto, Director – Sustainable Woodstock (slides | video clip)
Matt Cahillane, Program Manager – NH Department of Public Health Services (slides | video clip)
Kate McCarthy, AICP, Sustainable Communities Program Director – Vermont Natural Resources Council (slides | video clip)
Peg Merrens, Vice President, Conservation – Upper Valley Land Trust (slides | video clip)
Ron Rhodes, Director of Restoration Programs – Connecticut River Conservancy (slides | video clip)
Jack Spicer, Clerk, Climate Advisory Committee for the Town of Hartford (slides | video clip)
Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist – Green Mountain Power (slides | video clip)

Attendees were encouraged to subscribe to the Upper Valley Climate Action discussion list, an email-based service allowing anyone in the Upper Valley to share and discuss opportunities related to local climate action. Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup, the host of the Summit, encouraged organizations in attendance to consider joining the workgroup, which meets monthly to discuss and coordinate climate adaptation activities throughout the Upper Valley.

A follow up event will be held at Noon on March 24, 2021. This virtual Climate Connections lunch will feature casual, small group discussions on what we’re all doing to address climate change in the Upper Valley. Following an “Open Space” facilitation format, participants will propose topics at the start of the hour, then break out into small groups to discuss and make connections. This event is free an open to the public. Click here to register.

“Put Your Money Where Your Life Is”: Reclaiming Our Local Economy

“Put Your Money Where Your Life Is”:
Reclaiming Our Local Economy

Event series focuses on local investment as a tool for rebuilding our region’s economy

“When the pandemic recedes, we all will be called upon to take extraordinary steps to revive the local businesses that serve as the foundation of our communities. One critically important step will be for you and other members of your community to move your investment capital from Wall Street to Main Street.”                                       

– Michael Shuman, Community Economist  

After a year of COVID shutdowns, bankruptcies, deaths, and economic despair, how can we, as individuals, help rebuild our economy and community? A series of events and workshops over the next several months aims to provide information and resources about local investment AND opportunities for action. Yes, opportunities−in addition to the economic disruption and heartache, the pandemic has brought opportunities for relocalizing our economy, catalyzing innovation, and shifting capital to where we live to fuel the entrepreneurs, businesses, and projects our communities need to be more sustainable, vibrant, and resilient.

The Upper Valley Indie Impact Study reported that businesses rooted in the Upper Valley keep up to 4 times more money circulating in the region’s economy than national chain stores, and that remote online retailers suck hundreds of millions of dollars from our economy each year. Local businesses create stable jobs, enhance community character, and support our communities with donations of time and money, and have proven to be critical resources during the pandemic emergency. Browse resources on how to invest locally!

Increasing the development and success of more locally based businesses and innovations will make our region more resilient and strengthen our economy so that we can better handle future disruptions and challenges. Investment in these enterprises is critical to their success. Reclaiming our economy will require that we all “invest” in our future−whether by committing to shop locally more and click less, or by actually investing some retirement savings in the sectors, businesses, or projects that will make the Upper Valley a better place to live, work, and play for generations.  The goal of this series is to build awareness of the ways we can currently invest in reclaiming our economy as we recover from economic disruption, and to find new and creative tools and networks to move money from Wall Street to Main Street.

Many thanks for the sponsors of this event series: Mascoma Bank, King Arthur Baking Company, Savings Bank of Walpole, Hanover Co-op Foods Stores, Valley News, Monadnock Food Co-op, Green Energy OptionsNorwich Solar Technologies, LaValley Building Supply, The Local Crowd, The Keene Sentinal

Learn more about local investing on our resource page

Local Investment 101: How to Reboot the Region’s Economy After COVID-19

March 4, 11, 18, 25, 2021

5:30 to 7:00 pm

A four-session virtual workshop designed to help grassroots investors and community groups develop practical, local investment strategies, to fuel innovation and resilience in the community.  
Presenter: Michael Shuman, Community Economist and Author of Put Your Money Where Your Life Is

Small businesses throughout Vermont and New Hampshire have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns, as have the local economies that depend on them. One readily available solution—one that does not depend on government bureaucracies—is to mobilize grassroots investment. Americans now have $56 trillion in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, pension funds, and insurance funds—nearly all of it invested in global corporations. Here in the Upper Valley, one conservative estimate is that there are $5-6 billion in locally managed investments; this figure does not include the untold billions invested by local residents but managed out of state. 

Recent changes in the law (around investment crowdfunding, for example) make it cheaper and easier for nonaccredited investors to put money into local businesses. However, most of us believe we have no choice but to continue to invest our money in the stocks and bonds of the world’s biggest companies, even if we barely understand them. There are real alternatives, but few of us know about or consider them. In fact, you can invest in everything that matters to you. You can put your money into that neighborhood grocery store you love, your little sister’s first house, or your nephew repayment of high-interest student loans. If you’re smart about local investing, you can do this in a way that provides substantial, stable financial returns and lower risk than for Wall Street investments. Plus, local investments come with social returns on investment and wind up strengthening your community, local resilience, and the tax base.

Local Investment 101 aims to help participants answer three essential questions:

  1. How can I rebuild my community and the local economy after the ravages of COVID-19?
  2. How can I make my community more resilient to better prepare for future global crises?
  3. How can I move my money into the businesses, projects, places, and people I know and love?
Workshop structure:
Four 90-minute Zoom sessions built around 15 videos (20-40 minutes each) with homework assignments to be completed prior to each scheduled session.

Session 1

  • Introduction of the class objectives, materials, and assignments.   
  • Introductions of classmates to one another.  
  • Introduction to the first eight videos.

Session 2 

  • Review of the first eight videos.
  • Preparation for assignment #1 (a personal investment strategy).
  • Introduction to the final seven videos.

Session 3 

  • Presentation and discussion of assignments.  
  • Review of seven videos. 
  • Preparation for assignment #2 (a community strategy).

Session 4

  • Presentation and discussion of assignments.
  • Next steps.
Who should attend?

The Local Investment 101 series is intended to help grassroots investors, businesses looking for capital, and policymakers committed to facilitating local investment.

Cost:

$100 fee for the entire four-part series. Scholarships are available upon request (contact nancy@vitalcommunities.org).

About the presenter: 

Michael Shuman is an author and leading visionary on community economics, serving as Director of Local Economy Programs for Neighborhood Associates Corporation and Adjunct Professor at Bard Business School in New York City. He is also a Senior Researcher for Council Fire and Local Analytics, where he performs economic-development analyses for states, local governments, and businesses around North America. His three most recent books are:

  • Put Your Money Where Your Life Is: How to Invest Locally Using Solo 401ks and Self-Directed IRAs
  • The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity
  • Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street

Register for Local Investment 101 Workshop Series

 

Local Investment: An Introduction

February 23, 5:30-7 pm

What is local investing? What can it do for a community? Why is it important? Who can do it, and how? Join us for a panel discussion with local and regional entities that are mobilizing local capital for local businesses, projects, and people. 

Panel participants:

  • The White River Investment Club – Peter Reed and Charlie Page
  • New Hampshire Community Loan Fund – John Hamilton
  • Vermont Community Loan Fund – Will Belongia
  • The Local Crowd – Jen Risley
  • Norwich Solar Technology Community Investment Impact

A virtual conversation to learn more about local investing from the people already doing it, and learn how you can put your money to work right here at home.  Watch this event recording.

Learn more about local investing on our resource page

Thank you to the Series Sponsors:

   

Mascoma Bank is a Certified B Corporation® which means we use “business as a force for good.” Practically speaking, being a B Corp™ inspires us to consider the impact of our business decisions on our communities, our customers, our employees, and our environment. It is helping us to discover new ways we can deliver positive change in the cities and towns where we work and live. For 120 years, Mascoma Bank has put community first. Our status as a B Corp™ is just the latest example of our commitment to the communities we serve.

   

King Arthur Baking Company is an employee-owned company, every one a bakers at heart. There mission is to be the ultimate resource and inspiration in the kitchen, to inspire connections and community through baking, and to use our business as a force for good.

  
The Hanover Co-op Food Stores‘ vision is a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation. With locations in Vermont and New Hampshire, the Co-op Food Stores is owned by more than 20,000 families, and is one of the oldest and most successful co-ops in the United States. Serving the good folks of the Upper Valley since 1936! Anyone can shop, member or not.

 

The Valley News is the Upper Valley’s source for news, sports, and more serving 22 western New Hampshire communities and 24 communities in eastern Vermont.

The Monadnock Food Co-op is a community-owned food store offering a diverse selection of local, organic, and natural foods to the Monadnock Region. The Co-op is located at 34 Cypress Street in Keene, NH.

 

For more than 145 years now, Savings Bank of Walpole takes very seriously the responsibility that comes with being our community’s truly local bank. We’re here to provide financial products that are in our customers’ best interest, not ours. It is and always has been the very foundation of our existence. More importantly, as the only bank headquartered right here in our community, we know that we are in business because of our community and for our community. This is our only home – and we know we cannot continue to thrive or survive without a strong local economy.

 

 

The leader is commercial, municipal & institutional solar solutions. Norwich Solar Technologies‘ mission is to continue to advance the integration and deployment of affordable solar power for regional organizations – enabling them to improve their bottom line while reducing their carbon footprint. Our clients include municipalities, community services institutions, schools, businesses large and small, and community solar residential clients.

 

Green Energy Options is a mission based certified B Corporation that supports the use of cleaner, more efficient, and renewable sources of energy. Specializing in residential solar, home heating and cooling, our team of energy experts provides friendly advice, quality products, and excellent installations to homeowners in the Monadnock Region and beyond. We listen carefully to our customers so that we can offer the best products for their needs. Our goal is 100% customer satisfaction. Please stop in, meet the team, take a tour of our showroom and talk about our shared vision for a healthy local economy and environment.

      

 

Series Partners:

       

Climate Partners Summit February 25

Climate change has the potential to affect everyone on the planet and virtually every aspect of our lives, including here in the Upper Valley.

The good news is that many throughout the Upper Valley are working to combat climate change and help our communities adapt—from utilities switching to low-carbon power sources to communities creating riverside buffer zones.

The public is invited to find out the range of ways climate change impacts our region, who is doing what, and how individuals can get involved, at a Climate Partners Summit on Thursday, Feb. 25, 3 to 4:30 pm.  

Hosted by the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW), the summit starts with an update on the latest climate science followed by a panel of UVAW partners sharing how climate adaptation weaves through many areas of work. Speakers are:

  • Michael Caduto, Director – Sustainable Woodstock
  • Matt Cahillane, Program Manager – NH Department of Public Health Services
  • Kevin Geiger, AICP – Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission 
  • Kate McCarthy, AICP, Sustainable Communities Program Director – Vermont Natural Resources Council
  • Peg Merrens, Vice President, Conservation – Upper Valley Land Trust  
  • Erich Osterberg, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences – Dartmouth College
  • Ron Rhodes, Director of Restoration Programs – Connecticut River Conservancy
  • Jack Spicer, Clerk, Climate Advisory Committee for the Town of Hartford 
  • Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist – Green Mountain Power

Founded in 2011, UVAW is a bi-state group representing state and regional environmental and health organizations, universities, regional planning commissions, municipalities, and employers. Vital Communities is an active UVAW member and provides administrative support for the workgroup. UVAW meets monthly to focus on building climate-resilient communities in the Upper Valley and holds semi-annual information sessions addressing broad aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

UVAW and Vital Communities also run the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA),  a six-session program aiming to educate, inspire, and prepare participants to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities. 2CLA is accepting applications through February 14 for its 2021 sessions, which run March through June.

Summit organizers hope the event will offer attendees a sense of how climate change impacts their work and communities, and which other individuals and organizations they could team up with, in their own efforts. 

“Anyone attending this event will see the breadth and depth of the work that’s going on,” said Kevin Geiger, Senior Planner for the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, long-time UVAW member, and moderator of the summit panel. “Oftentimes it’s easy to be reading the paper and think, ‘Gosh, this is a really big problem. Why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?’ When in fact, people are doing something about it. You just need to tune into the right channels.”

Geiger said he hopes people will make new connections. “I don’t think it’s obvious to people that conserving farmland might be a climate adaptation move, that streambank buffers and other measures around  water quality are also a climate adaptation moves.” The summit will look at what’s already happening in the Upper Valley through the lens of climate adaptation. “We’re hoping those partners can make connections during the event and discover new connections and partnerships around our shared climate goals.”

 

 

 

The 2021 Climate Change Leadership Academy is Recruiting!

Combatting climate change depends not just on major national and global policy, but also on action within our local community.

Promoting citizen-driven, community-level action is the goal of the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA), which is accepting applications from January 11 through February 14 for its 2021 session. The program from March to June.

2CLA is a program of the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW), a group of leaders and partner organizations striving to make the region more resilient to climate change, coordinated by Vital Communities.

The organizers seek a diverse class of 25 participants from across different social groupings (age, town, socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, gender identity, etc.), with each participant bringing a unique perspective to the cohort. UVAW believes that a learning environment rich in diversity and full of opportunities to engage with unfamiliar ideas, perspectives, cultures, and people will prepare participants to become change agents in their communities. Prior knowledge of climate change is not required. Tuition is $30, and scholarships are available.

Those 25 participants will attend six sessions that will include expert presentations, group discussion, and collaborative work sessions on climate change, including what is happening globally and locally, and what can be done about it. The 2CLA curriculum will teach participants how to use a design-thinking approach to develop solutions to climate change problems. The program is based on the belief that climate solutions must be accessible to individuals who are most directly affected by climate change, so participants will learn how to seek and incorporate input from climate-vulnerable populations into project design. By the end of this program, participants will be expected to apply their learning and develop a community service project that promotes climate resiliency.

“The impacts of climate change have never been so clear and concerning; record-high wildfires, hurricanes, and temperatures, another summer drought here in New England, and rising sea levels,” said Erich Osterberg, UVAW vice chair and associate professor of earth sciences at Dartmouth. We need to empower citizen leaders to help our local communities reduce greenhouse gases while also becoming more resilient to the climate changes that are already happening.”

Sessions will take place every other Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, starting March 24, 2021, with the graduation taking place June 16, 2021. The sessions will be held virtually via zoom until it is safe to meet in person. Any in-person meetings will follow COVID-19 safety precautions and participants can opt for remote participation. Attendance is expected at every meeting and a light dinner will be provided for any in-person session.

Session topics are as follows:

  • Wednesday, March 24 – Session 1: Understanding Climate Change
  • Wednesday, April 2 – Session 2: Mitigation
  • Wednesday, April 21 – Session 3: Adaptation
  • Wednesday, May 5 – Session 4: Opportunities for local action
  • Wednesday, May 19 – Session 5: Project Development
  • Wednesday, June 2 – Session 6: How to be a leader
  • Wednesday, June 16 – Graduation

Questions? Contact Caroline Wren, Vital Communities Climate Change Leadership Academy Coordinator, at 2cla@vitalcommunities.org or 802-291-9100 x114

The 2CLA program was previously offered from October 2019 through May 2019. This year’s Climate Change Leadership Academy is made possible in part by support from the New England Grassroots Fund, Vermont Communities Foundation, and The Cotyledon Fund.

Calling for Civil, Inclusive Communication & Interaction: Thoughts on January 6

As an organization that brings people together, bridging boundaries and engaging our whole community to create positive change, we were shocked and saddened by the images that came to us from Washington, DC, on Wednesday. Watching a violent mob overrunning the Capitol,  recognizing the contrasts in how these protestors were treated compared to those calling for racial justice in the summer, seeing the violation of two of our nation’s most important institutions: fair and free elections and the peaceful transfer of power—all were ugly reminders of the deep divisions and systemic racism in our country.  This is not the nation we want to be. 

How do we pull back from this brink? At Vital Communities, we are reminded of our founding by members of the Upper Valley League of Women Voters. Nationally and locally, the League strives to involve people in the electoral process, especially the disenfranchised. We value the work done by the League, Fairfight in Georgia, and others to make the electoral process more truly democratic. 

The local League members who founded Vital Communities in the early 1990s believed it wasn’t enough to increase people’s access to voting; voters needed to be informed about important issues and understand the region as a whole. They saw the need for conversations and problem-solving among people from a spectrum of experiences, identities, and political outlooks. 

Nearly three decades later, that sort of deep, civil, inclusive conversation remains one of our guiding ideals. We believe this kind of community interaction can be, in its way, an antidote to the cynicism, misinformation, divisive rhetoric, and racism that is harming our nation. This week’s events at the U.S. Capitol were a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done. We’re hopeful that others will join us as we work to bring people together and build true community. 

The Vital Communities Staff

2020 Volunteers of the Year: The Upper Valley’s Mutual Aid Groups

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the Upper Valley, it brought an ever-lengthening list of questions and concerns. Would supplies of food and other essentials hold out? Where would those suddenly without income get help? Who would support those at greatest risk from the coronavirus so they could stay home and stay safe? Where could people get the best information about testing, public health measures, and social assistance programs?

Seemingly overnight, an answer sprang up: the “mutual aid groups,” an interconnected array of community-based volunteer groups that reached out to residents and shared information with each other. Those Upper Valley mutual aid groups, numbering close to two dozen, have been chosen as Vital Communities’ collective 2020 Volunteers of the Year.

“We usually choose an individual for this honor, but this year it seemed fitting to shine a light on the incredible network of people who stepped up for their neighbors with such ingenuity and resourcefulness,” said Sarah Jackson, Vital Communities Executive Director. “The mutual aid groups have been a great demonstration of how to be resilient in the face of challenges. They used online tools like surveys, meetings, spreadsheets and community listservs to reach those in need and to share information among other groups. The volunteers are people from within each community, who understand their town’s people and their needs.  The networks represent a true grassroots effort.”

Mutual aid groups constitute an ever-changing and not sharply defined list, but below is a representative list of some of the Upper Valley mutual aid groups, with contact information in the links:

Much help has also been provided by the Central Vt Council on Aging and local “aging in place” groups as well as through various communities’ boards of selectmen, town clerk’s offices, churches, village stores, schools, food shelves, and libraries.

Rehab Grants Create 68 Housing Units

Grants to landlords and property owners to help fix up vacant, unused rental properties have resulted in 68 new housing units in Windsor and Windham counties, according to recent figures from the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Downstreet Housing

Property owners could receive up to a $30,000 grant per rental unit from the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development, which was utilizing CARES Act funding to improve the overall quality, availability, and affordability of rental housing throughout the state. The application deadline was November 1. Read more about the program here.

“A safe place to call home is an essential part of staying healthy, especially during this COVID pandemic,” said Mike Kiess, Vital Communities’ Workforce Housing Coordinator. “This program was a smart investment of public funds. The relatively small grants helped transform vacant properties into quality places to live. No new public infrastructure was required, and the additional residents provide more tax revenue for communities.”

The program added units to the following communities:

South Royalton (4)
BellowsFalls (7)
Bradford (1)
Brattleboro (15)
Hartford (9)
Newbury (1)
Norwich (1)

Springfield (9)
Williamstown (6)
Wilmington (1)
Windsor (14)

Upper Valley Everyone Eats and Vermont Everyone Eats is Put on Pause

The following is a press release from Vermont Everyone Eats, for which Vital Communities is the Upper Valley hub, operating as Upper Valley Everyone Eats.

SPRINGFIELD, December 29, 2020 —The innovative Vermont Everyone Eats program that has provided free restaurant to-go meals to COVID-impacted Vermonters since August is being put on hold as of December 31. Everyone Eats has engaged over 170 Vermont farms and food producers, played a key role in keeping over 150 restaurants in business, and provided over 500,000 meals to members of communities in all 14 Vermont counties. This creative program was made possible in 2020 with CARES Act funding through a grant from VT Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) and partnerships with 14 Community Hubs around Vermont. All program partners would like to continue and are working to identify new sources of funding to continue in 2021.  

As we continue to live with this health pandemic and economic crisis, the need in Vermont is significant. From one recipient: “Everyone Eats has been a lifeline. In addition to providing us with amazing food, it has also given us a much-needed break. We are living in difficult times and every little bit of connection with our community is invaluable.” From another: “The quality, time, and care that has been put into these meals is nothing short of outstanding. Finding a way to be resourceful and still feeding us as if we were eating in a restaurant means so much.”

Vermont Everyone Eats is on pause starting December 31st while the partners work tirelessly to explore funding options through various channels. Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic and its impact upon our local economies, there is effort and great hope that funding will be available to restart the program.  As Jean Hamilton, Everyone Eats Statewide Coordinator, says: “This program was born through a collaboration of lawmakers, state agencies, non-profits, and grassroots organizers. Our partnerships continue to be strong and we are optimistic about relaunching Everyone Eats with a new funding source ASAP.” 

Hamilton adds, “It has been an honor to work on Everyone Eats with so many caring partners across the state and heartening to see our community weave closer together, supporting one another through this difficult time. We will do everything we can to keep supporting Vermont restaurants, farms, and our vulnerable neighbors. If you need help right now, please dial 2-1-1 to learn about numerous programs that are available to support you. And if you have help to give, please support your neighbors in need, including local restaurants. Remember, if you want them to be here tomorrow, please buy local today.”  

### 

Vermont Everyone Eats provides nutritious meals to Vermonters in need of food assistance as well as a stabilizing source of income for Vermont restaurants, farmers, and food producers. Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action 

For more information visit www.vteveryoneeats.org or email vee@sevca.org 

Climate Change Resources

Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup and Vital Communities present:

Upper Valley Climate Change Leadership Academy

RESOURCES

Session Goals:

Our shared question for this session: What role can we play, as Climate Change Leaders, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

We have three goals for Session 2:

  1. Develop common language, framing, and context around the topic of “climate mitigation” in the Upper Valley. Where do our emissions come from and what will it take to reduce them?
  2. Compile a library of what works to reduce emissions, especially examples where Climate Change Leaders (like you!) can take action and make a difference.
  3. Discuss what we can do as Climate Change Leaders in the Upper Valley to make an impact with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. Together you will begin to capture ideas for possible Leadership Academy projects.
Session Materials:
Resources:

State Climate and Energy Goals/Plans

Vermont:

New Hampshire:

Carbon Calculators & At Home Tips

Carbon Offsets

Best Practices for Sustainable Development (International)

Carbon Sequestration

Food / Agriculture

Transportation

Adaptation Session

AGENDA:

  • Climate Change Adaptation Presentation Sherry Godlewski, Resilience and Adaptation Manager, NH Department of Environmental Services
  • Stakeholder Activity 1- (Notes)
    • Objective: From your stakeholder group’s perspective, discuss the climate impacts that we are/will be experiencing, and adaptation opportunities to become more resilient.
  • Climate Scenario Roleplay Activity 2-(Notes)
    • Objective: Gain an understanding of what’s important to other stakeholders, and how you might address a climate impact in your community.
  • Wrap Up
    • Evaluations
    • Community Projects
    • Next session preview

HOMEWORK Due January 3rd:

 

 

LINKS:

AGENDA

Welcome & Introductions 

Dartmouth Student Project Announcement

Project Idea Pitch 

  • Fill out project idea template
  • Anyone who has an idea will give a 1 minute pitch
  • If you don’t have a project idea in mind, listen to other ideas and see if there is interest in partnering with other 2CLA leaders on their project

Project Pitch Discussion/Convergence 

  • Participants self-select into groups around the room
  • Opportunity to find potential partners and form project teams, ask questions about project ideas

Project Charter: Specifics on action plan (2CLA Project Charter Template)          

  • Instruction on how to fill out charter
  • Workshop time
  • Takeways

Wrap up

  • Evaluations
  • Preview of next session: Leadership & Skills development
  • Post session HW: Complete project template, give feedback to another group

2019 Leadership Academy Meeting Dates

October 9, 2019
November 13, 2019
January 8, 2020
February 12, 2020
March 11, 2020
April 8, 2020

Participants are expected to attend all meetings, and must attend at least five meetings to graduate.

Questions?

Contact Ana Mejia
ana@vitalcommunities.org
802-291-9100 x114

What is the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA)?

2CLA, a new project of the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) and Vital Communities, will educate, inspire, and prepare 25 Upper Valley participants to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities. Participants will:

  • Learn what is happening globally and locally and what can be done about it.
  • Participate in presentations, group discussions, and collaborative work sessions.
  • Design and launch a project as a climate leader to make a difference in their own community.
  • Graduate ready to inspire, motivate, and encourage others to take action.

Each participant will develop a project individually or as part of a small team. Each project will have support and input from the rest of the class. These projects may take any form and might involve art, public education, community work days, or any other activity that generates positive community impact related to climate change. Projects will be shared at a public celebration at the end of the program.

Special Thanks

The 2019 Climate Change Leadership Academy is made possible in part by support from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences at Dartmouth.

About the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup

The Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) is a bi-state, multi-stakeholder working group of leaders and partner organizations. Started in December 2011, the workgroup meets monthly to focus on building climate resilient communities in the Upper Valley.

Our Working Definition of Climate Resiliency

Climate Resiliency is the ability of a community to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate impacts in a way that minimizes significant disruption to our lives and impacts on our shared resources. This includes our health, safety, built environment, food availability, natural resources, wildlife, and financial strength.

Climate change is not some distant problem – it is happening here and now in the Upper Valley. In recent years, we have seen climate disruptions affect our communities in the form of droughts, deluges, ice and hail storms, intense cold snaps, and sudden heat waves. We must recognize these increasingly frequent extreme weather events for what they are: our new normal. 

Stay up to date for our upcoming forums & events and connect with adaptation resources and experts.

UVAW Members

Sherry Godlewski
NH Department of Environmental Services, Co-Chair UVAW
sgodlewski@des.state.nh.us

Alice Ely
Public Health Council of the Upper Valley
alice.ely@uvpublichealth.org

Michael Simpson
Antioch University New England
msimpson@antioch.edu

Gregory Norman
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
gregory.a.norman@hitchcock.org

Alex Jaccaci
Hypertherm, Co-Chair UVAW
alex.jaccaci@hypertherm.com

Kevin Geiger
Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission
kgeiger@trorc.org

Julia Griffin
Town of Hanover
julia.griffin@hanovernh.org

Lizann Peyton
Nonprofit Consultant
lizann.peyton@gmail.com

Ana Mejia
Vital Communities
ana@vitalcommunities.org

Sarah Brock
Vital Communities
sarah@vitalcommunities.org

Meghan Butts
Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission
mbutts@uvlsrpc.org

Mark Goodwin
City of Lebanon
mark.goodwin@lebcity.com

Rosi Kerr
Dartmouth College
rosalie.e.kerr@dartmouth.edu

Beth Sawin
Climate Interactive
esawin@climateinteractive.org

Lisa Wise
UNH Extension and NH Sea Grant
lisa.wise@unh.edu

Erich Osterberg
Dartmouth College
erich.c.osterberg@dartmouth.edu

Jenny Levy
Hypertherm
jenny.levy@hypertherm.com

Cameron Wake
University of NH, Carbon Solutions New England
cameron.wake@unh.edu

Need to Contact Us?

Ana Mejia, Climate Projects Coordinator at Vital Communities | ana@vitalcommunities.org, 802-291-9100 x114

Alex Jaccaci & Sherry Godlewski, UVAW Co-Chairs | alex.jaccaci@hypertherm.com and sherry.godlewski@des.nh.gov

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