Favorite Upper Valley Bicycle Rides

For Get Out & Bike” Week we asked the Vital Communities network to submit their favorite hometown bike rides, ideally 10 miles and under. Here are some of the submissions!

ENFIELD: Around Mascoma Lake (7 miles)

Start in downtown Enfield, ride south on Main Street and take a left on Route 4A. Follow Route 4A along the shore of Mascoma Lake, then take a left on Shaker Boulevard. Shaker Boulevard winds around the north shore of Mascoma Lake until it hits Livingstone Lodge Road, which will take you back to Main Street. If you are concerned about traffic on Route 4A, riding out-and-back on Shaker Boulevard is a nice alternative to doing the full loop. With either option you’ll be treated to many views of the lake.

– Submitted by Alex Belensz

 

CORNISH TO PLAINFIELD: Wide shoulder, fairly flat, some rolling hills and picturesque Connecticut River Valley (up to 10 miles)

Start in Cornish NH on Route 12A just north of the Windsor/Cornish cover bridge. There is a place to pull over and park. If you prefer, you can park at the boat landing further up the road on the opposite (river) side.

Head North to Plainfield, passing turn off for Saint-Gaudens and Blow-Me-Down Grange. When you get to the town line of Plainfield you will be at 5 miles, and return for 10 miles. You may shorten the route by turning around at any point in the ride. Almost any time of day is good with the wide shoulders, lunch time is a good time during the week, the speed limit zones range from 35 to 50 MPH. Beautiful views of the Connecticut River and Mount Ascutney.

– Submitted by Alex Coombs

 

PLAINFIELD TO CORNISH: Cornish Loop or Cornish Out-and-Back (9.5 miles)

Here’s a great ride that’s under 10 miles, has two options, and works for both experienced and newer riders alike.

Unless you live in Meriden or Plainfield, you’ll need to drive your bikes to the start. There is easy parking at the start. Just come to the Plainfield School on Bonner Road in Meriden. (Bonus tip: There’s a great mountain bike trail that starts from here, too.)

Take a right out of the school back onto Bonner Road. At the stop sign, take a right onto Route 120 South. You’ll only be on Rt. 120 for about 100 feet, as your next turn is another right onto Stage Road. As of May 2020, Stage road received new coat of asphalt, so it is super smooth.  There is some traffic on this road, but visibility for drivers and riders is generally good.

Ride 1.7 miles, then take a left onto Penniman Road (at municipal town sheds). Penniman Road is quieter and winds along past meadows, bogs, and farm fields.

As you ride along, you will cross over the Cornish town line, and Penniman Road becomes Cornish’s Stage Road.  Along the latter half of Penniman and onto Cornish’s Stage Road, you’ll be biking up a few hills that rise gently (for the most part). At the top of the rise in Cornish, you’ll be rewarded with a nice view overlooking farmland and the distant ridge of Corbin Park (aka Blue Mountain Game Reserve). Continuing southward on Stage Road, a swift downhill leads to a long coast into the village of Cornish Flat, and meets up again with Route 120. Riders experienced at riding with fast moving traffic (some sections of Route 120 posted at 50 mph) can head north on Route 120 and back to Bonner Road and the Plainfield School. The pavement and “shoulder” along this section of Route 120 is about as good as it gets…for Rt. 120.

For those wanting a more relaxed ride, just turn around and return the way you came; new views await heading in reverse. No matter if you ride the loop or go out-and-back, the ride is about 9.5 miles. After leaving the Plainfield School, there are only three turns between there and Cornish Flat.

– Submitted by Allan Reetz

HANOVER: Trail riding on Trescott Water Supply Lands 

My favorite local mountain biking destination; it has only been open for recreation the last couple of years, and is becoming ever more popular. I like the Dogford Road entrance; starting from there, take the right fork onto the porcupine trail, which will eventually bring you to a major intersection with Knapp road. From here I like to head north on Knapp and do the Paige Hill loop, bringing you back to the same intersection, but this time head across and let it go for a grassy and scenic downhill, which will eventually bring you to the Stone Hill loop. Right now only the southern trail is open, due to extensive recent logging, but no complaints, it is a delightful woods single track that pops out into an open slope with a sinuous dirt track. At the bottom, take a left on the 1772 trail to Mason’s four corners and follow that to the Mason trail and Poor Farm back to parking. Its is very important to observe the rules here, i.e. no unleashed dog, in order to maintain recreational access. I particularly like that every time I go here, I see a hunter, hikers, birdwatchers, runners, and mountain bikers in roughly equally proportions. Also, great views to Mount Ascutney and beyond.

– Submitted by Gretchen Stokes

 

HANOVER: BONUS LONG RIDE to Hanover Center (15 miles)

Starting anywhere in Hanover, the route starts at the turn off 120 onto Greensboro Road (note this light does not change for cyclists, unlike the ones in town). Head out to Hanover Center Road, and from there to the first left on Dogford Road, which you follow in a clockwise direction to make a loop back to Hanover Center and then to the start. Most of the 15 mile ride is a gentle undulating uphill, meaning you don’t realize how much elevation is sneaking in. Lovely views here and there, nice gardens and flowers, a couple farms, as well as the Hanover Center parade grounds and “downtown” Etna. Very popular with bikers, and although there can be a moderate amount of car traffic, it tends to share the road quite politely if you return the favor.

– Submitted by Gretchen Stokes

 

HARTLAND TO WINDSOR: Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge (8.2 miles or 10.4 miles)

Start from Hartland Three Corners (Damon Hall) down Route 5, across I-91, past the brewery and Artisans Park, down into Windsor. Turn left in front of the Armory and cross the amazingly long covered bridge to New Hampshire, then return. The ride is only 8.2 miles if you start from the Hartland park and ride at Exit 9 on I-91.

– Vital Communities Staff

 

HARTLAND: BONUS LONG RIDE Clay Hill Loop (15 miles)

Start in downtown Hartland, go up the Hartland Quechee Road to Clay Hill Road, then turn right and follow Clay Hill to Route 5. Turn right on Route 5 S and bike back to downtown. There are rolling hills, the cars are driving fast on parts of it, so this is a great ride for experienced road cyclists, first thing in the morning on a weekend, when there are no commuters or dump runs.

– Vital Communities Staff

 

LEBANON: Mascoma River Greenway and the Northern Rail Trail 

The Mascoma River Greenway is a paved multi-use path from downtown Lebanon extending along the old railroad bed toward West Lebanon. It crosses the Mascoma River several times and goes through open and forested areas. It’s often busy, especially on nice days, so please follow appropriate physical distancing measures. You can access the trail at several locations:

  • near the intersection of Mascoma and High Streets
  • across from Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital
  • at a gravel pull-off on Glen Road

The Northern Rail Trail spans 57.6 miles from Lebanon to Boscawen. It’s a wide gravel multi-use path, and like the Mascoma River Greenway, it can be busy especially on nice days, so please follow appropriate physical distancing measures. You can access the trail from near the CCBA in Lebanon and by Mascoma Lake in Enfield.

– Vital Communities Staff

LEBANON: Sunset Rock (8 miles)

From downtown Lebanon, head east on the Northern Rail to Bank Street Extension. Turn left on Bank Street Extension, follow road uphill. Cross under interstate and keep climbing Hardy Hill all the way to Sunset Rock Road. Turn right on Sunset Rock and follow it all the way down to its end at Route 4. Turn right on Route 4 (wide shoulder here), then right at Mill Road where you can hop on the rail trail and head west back into town.

It’s a great loop with a good hill climb and wonderful views. Includes gravel / hard pack road descent and flat trail. Be cautious on the uphill section, very narrow shoulder, best during lighter traffic times of day.

– Submitted by Marie McCormick

 

PLAINFIELD: River Road (up to 14 miles)

River Road is a quiet and scenic local road that runs along the Connecticut River. The road is mostly flat with a few short hills. The road can be ridden as an out-and-back (up to 6 miles one way) or as part of 14-mile loop using NH Route 12A. Route 12A is popular with more experienced cyclists, while families will likely want to stick to River Road. There are no formal parking areas on River Road, but there are some informal pull-offs. Please respect local traffic regulations and landowners when parking.

– Submitted by Alex Belensz

 

STRAFFORD: Strafford Loop (10 miles)

This route combines paved and unpaved roads, but the steep stretches are mostly paved, which helps a lot! Start at the Strafford Green (and admire the Town House, one of Vermont’s most photographed buildings!). Take the Brook Road, which climbs steeply at first and then levels out. Take a left onto the Cross Road and ride until its junction with 132. Go left and climb a bit then ride a long descent into South Strafford. At the T, go left on Justin Morrill Highway (or go right if you want to get a snack from Coburns’ General Store), and ride back to the Strafford Green. On really warm days, you might want to take a footpath along the river to this bridge over a swimming hole. The water stays cool all summer.

– Submitted by Becky Bailey

Isolate and Create: Local restaurant recipes, right from your kitchen

Ever wanted to cook a meal from a local restaurant in your own kitchen? Now you can! Released last Friday, the “Isolate and Create” digital cookbook features delicious recipes from 15 Vermont restaurants. All profits go to the Vermont component of the Restaurant Strong Fund, a national effort to provide grants to restaurant workers who have lost income due to the pandemic.

Creator Jenna Rice (above, left), who runs her own business as a freelance photographer, web designer and graphic designer, was inspired after seeing a friend in Boston start a similar project. She reached out to restaurants she knew for recipes and was connected to more by her friend Zea Luce and the Vermont Fresh Network

For help on the culinary side, she enlisted her sister, Nora Rice (above, right). Nora, who graduated last year from Ashburton Chefs Academy in the United Kingdom, had been working at the Herb Farm, a renowned restaurant in Woodinville, WA. Back in Hartland, Vermont to stay home and safe, the two teamed up to cook and photograph each dish.  

The digital cookbook has been an immediate success, with over $2,000 earned already. “I was surprised just by how willing everyone was to contribute a recipe and how many people have purchased it so far,” Jenna said. “I think it shows that we live in a pretty special and giving, supportive, community.” 

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The Isolate and Create digital cookbook can be purchased for $20 and includes delicious recipes from Putney Mountain Spirits in Putney, Mad River Distillers in Waitsfield, Kate Wise Cocktails and Spruce Peak in Stowe, Skunk Hollow Tavern and The Hartland Diner in Hartland, Public House Pub and Chef Brad’s Crazy Side in Quechee, Odyssey Events in Bridgewater, Michael’s On The Hill Restaurant in Waterbury Center, Bistro de Margot in Burlington, Piecemeal Pies in White River Junction, Richmond Community Kitchen in Richmond, Artisan Eats in Windsor, and Let’s Pretend Catering in South Hero.

All profits go to the Vermont component of the Restaurant Strong Fund, a national effort to provide grants to restaurant workers who have lost income due to the pandemic. 

Upper Valley Housing Update

A quick update on Upper Valley housing from our Workforce Housing Coordinator, Mike Kiess:

Support for people experiencing homeless and housing insecurity has been expanded on both sides of the river. In Vermont, the state has provided vouchers for 130 people without housing to stay in hotels. Thanks to the Super 8, South on Five, White River Junction Inn, and Comfort Inn for being partners in this effort. At the same time, organizations like the Upper Valley Haven that help with homelessness and housing insecurity are expanding services and outreach. Another example is LISTEN Community Services, which is providing free meals to those sheltering in White River Junction.  

There is concern moving forward that economic disruption from the pandemic will increase homelessness and housing insecurity. NH and VT advocacy groups are asking Concord and Montpelier to allocate CARES funds to continue expanded shelter and service support. Local organizations, such as Continuum of Care and Upper Valley Strong’s housing committee, are also working towards long term solutions. The goal is to help connect community members with available housing, possibly by working out deals with landlords or providing rent assistance. 

It is still too early to predict what the consequences for housing and housing finance markets will be. While a rise in joblessness and a fall in incomes is expected to hurt the housing market, demand among those who live in urban areas for “get away” locations could cause prices to rise. March real estate data did not show any decrease in transactions, which had started the year on a strong note. April data shows that prices have risen and supply has diminished as potential sellers are waiting to enter the market.

Going forward, housing affordability and availability is expected to remain a challenge, and the pandemic may be shifting our solutions. It does not seem that development costs will be reduced by the economic disruption, while public and business investor development funds are likely to be impacted. At the same time, there seems to be increased openness to creative partnerships for incremental creation of workforce housing through smaller projects and renovations.

New Partners and the Vermont Telecommuting Guide

One significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is the sheer number of people now working from home. Though telework is now normal for many, we are still trying to find the answers to many questions. How can collaboration occur without shared space? How can employers be sure their employees are actually working? What are the implications for health and wellness? If your office is your home, can you ever leave the office?

Vital Communities and the Chittenden Area Transportation Management Association (CATMA) are answering these questions with a statewide telecommuting guide. The guide, now in development, will provide resources for both employers and employees to make sure that a shift to working from home isn’t accompanied by a loss of structure and support. 

The collaboration is a new type of partnership between our organizations. We haven’t collaborated before on a project like this,” says Vital Communities Transportation Manager Bethany Fleishman, “but it’s something we both need. We thought, ‘This is so obvious. We should be doing this together.’ It’s nice to know that we’re producing something that will be useful, not just for the Upper Valley, but for people all over the state.”

On Tuesday, Twitter announced that its employees will be allowed to work from home “forever.” It’s a signal that telecommuting isn’t just relevant in a pandemic. There are permanent advantages, from reducing fossil fuels, to reducing barriers for those who live in rural areas as well as folks who have disabilities or illnesses that make it hard to leave the home. Hopefully this upcoming guide, as well as the new partnership formed in its creation, will have an impact that lasts beyond our current situation. Stay tuned!

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Image (“Working vs Chores”) by Charles Deluvio

UV Strong: what is it, what’s it doing, and how can we help?

In the wake of 2011’s Tropical Storm Irene, Upper Valley organizations and volunteers scrambled to identify and support emergency needs in their communities. To better coordinate and serve, a coalition of over 45 human service agencies and faith-based organizations formed Upper Valley Strong. UV Strong is active only in times of crisis, and this spring the coalition came back together to respond to the pandemic. UV Strong works to determine the needs of the community, to increase coordination between those trying to help, and to gather and distribute funds to aid their efforts.

A simple, powerful example of the coordination efforts is the Childcare and Family Resources page on the UV Strong website. Well-organized resources for locating childcare for essential workers, financial assistance for families needing childcare, baby supplies, COVID-specific parental education, and child abuse and domestic violence support are collected together. By facilitating a dialogue between the organizations who work to support families, UV Strong helps ensure that needs are effectively met while avoiding the duplication of services. Even more importantly, having everything in one place makes it easier for parents to find and utilize the resources.

UV Strong also collects and distributes funds. Over $60,000 dollars, donated by community members and organizations such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, have already gone out to support local efforts. These funds have helped the Upper Valley Haven set up a new outdoor food tent and Willing Hands to put an additional truck on the road, bringing food to the people and organizations that need it. Another grant has allowed LISTEN to add a paid kitchen staff in order to meet a 125% increase in demand for its community dining program.

Barbara Farnsworth, manager of community health improvement at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and co-chair of UV Strong, says we all can be part of UV Strong by checking in with our neighbors. “See how people are doing and if they need help. Many folks can’t get out right now to get their groceries or medications. Or maybe they’re at an age where they are high-risk, so they’re not comfortable getting out. Neighbors helping neighbors is one of the really essential ways for us to get through this.” She recommends using the UV Strong website to familiarize ourselves with the broad range of services available in our communities, and then reaching out to neighbors.

As the first peak of the pandemic recedes but its impact persists, UV Strong’s work remains vital. By giving time and/or money if we are able, we can ensure that support services reach the people who need them.

Pandemic Small Business Navigator Available

Call Our Small Business Navigator!

In response to the extreme stress and economic disruption small businesses are experiencing, a new temporary service at Vital Communities to support small businesses is available. The Pandemic Small Business Navigator can answer questions and connect businesses with resources related to the impacts of the pandemic on their small business. Denise Anderson, an experienced business advisor with expertise in labor management, has joined Vital Communities until June 30 to provide free consultation and advising services.  Denise will work with business owners to assess the unique needs of your small business, provide assistance and connection to resources, and help you plan your next steps.

The Navigator can help you with:

● Navigating federal relief programs (Small Business Administration–PPP and EIDL)
● Crisis business planning
● Financial planning/ cash flow management
● Labor management/human resources
● Employee return to work offers and unemployment payments
● Seeking alternate market channels
● Shifting to online/retail sales
● Marketing & communications
● Connecting health & wellbeing resources in the work environment

All Upper Valley-based small businesses are eligible for this free service. Email Denise Anderson – with your questions or to set up a consultation.

Pandemic Small Business Navigator services are meant to help businesses navigate immediate
challenges, stabilize, and plan next steps to build a foundation for recovery.  Denise may make referrals
to other permanent programs or consultants for additional services depending on specific needs. Long-
term business advising is also available through the Grafton Regional Development Corporation,
Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation, and partners at the Small Business Development
Centers in both New Hampshire and Vermont.

Please visit our COVID-19 Resources page for links to guidance, tools, and additional resources.

 

 

Farmers Markets are Opening: What to Expect

Local as usual, and safe in new ways. Many farmers markets will be operating this summer, but it’s not business as usual! Vendors and market staff are required to follow state guidance to ensure the safest environment for shoppers and vendors alike. (See here for Vermont guidance and New Hampshire Emergency Order details). Please be patient with vendors and market staff. They are doing their best to comply with the guidance and still be able to offer local products to their communities. As the public health situation evolves over the season the rules markets must follow may change. Please be flexible as markets work to adapt.

Find an up-to-date list of open farmers markets at the Vital Communities Online Guide, and follow our Facebook and Instagram feeds for updates. Here is what you can expect at markets this season:

Everyone will be happy to see you! Despite all the changes and new rules, markets will still be the place to see smiling eyes, from a safe distance, and get fresh local products.

SNAP/EBT will still be accepted! Other forms of market currency will vary market to market.

There will be a way to pre-order products in advance, and pick them up at the market site. Check the market website/social media to learn how to order in advance. In some cases there will be a list of vendor contacts, in others an online ordering system.

Bring a face mask, and wash your hands when you get there. Vendors and market staff are required to wear protective equipment. You can help by bringing your own mask to wear while you shop. Markets will have hand washing stations or sanitizer available at the market entrance.

Vendor booths will not be self-serve. Only vendors are allowed to handle their products. You will verbally tell the vendor your choices and they will place it in a bag for you.

Most produce will be pre-bagged to limit the number of people who have handled your food. Vendors may also be packaging products and pricing them in such a way that they do not have to make change.

Prepared food, beverages, and yummy things will be sold, and may be made at the market, but will be packaged and must be consumed off-site. This includes coffee, ice cream, kettle corn, etc.

Markets will not have entertainment, activities, music, or other things that might tempt people to linger and congregate. However, keep an eye out on social media for fun kids activities and other socially distant ways to connect with your market, as many markets are planning this type of activity.

Send one person to shop whenever possible. Please leave children and pets at home if you are able to. This will help ensure social distancing and allow vendors to serve more customers.

The layout of the market will be different. Each market has worked hard to arrange a new layout that ensures safe distance between booths and between vendors and shoppers. There will be one entrance, one exit, traffic will flow one-way through the market.

Stay home if you are unwell or may have been exposed to the virus. We must protect each other during these challenging times. Send someone to the market in your place.

 

Thank you to Molly Drummond for the beautiful photos.

School Food Workers Ensure Local Kids are Fed

“Food is nourishing,” said Craig Locarno, food service director for the Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union, when asked why it’s so important that students continue to have access to school meals during the shutdown. “I always say this, and I’m gonna continue to say it until I stop working in school food service. Food is just as important as English and math and history. It’s part of our culture, and we need to provide them something great.” 

Last Friday, May 1st, was National School Lunch Hero Day. This year the name feels especially apt, as school food employees have continued to go to work so that local kids can stay safe and well fed at home. Vital Communities spoke to three local food service directors about the challenges of providing food during a pandemic. For all of them, the solutions came through collaboration between food employees, teachers, bus drivers, and volunteers.

When schools shut down in March, quick adaptations were needed to keep producing food in a safe way. “Both of our kitchens [in Bethel and Royalton] are older-style kitchens, so there’s not a lot of extra room,” said Willy Walker, food service manager for the White River Valley School District. “We had to take a real strong look at how to break that up, how to reschedule people, split up their times in the kitchen, times in our cafeteria, and set up separate prep stations outside of the kitchen.” 

Employee safety goes beyond maintaining physical distance. Gretchen Czaja, food service director for the Windsor Central Unified District, added that staying healthy is just as important. “Masks and gloves, that’s the easy stuff. The hard stuff is making sure that you’re sleeping and staying hydrated, and making sure we’re taking care of each other.” She ensures that her employees, who are currently all working together out of Woodstock Union High School, understand that by staying healthy themselves they are keeping students safe.

Once the food is prepared, the final hurdle is getting it to families. Every district is finding a unique solution. In Windsor, Hartland, and Weathersfield, meals are packaged centrally and then sent out to families on school buses. In Bethel and South Royalton, parents pick up the meals at the schools, which operate as “open sites,”  free for anyone under 18. For students in Woodstock, Killington, Barnard, and Reading, there is now an “open site” at the Woodstock Elementary School. Additionally, paraeducators have been using their own cars to deliver meals to students enrolled in free and reduced breakfast and lunch. “We put a big spreadsheet together and then they figured the routes out on Google Maps,” said Gretchen. “It’s just amazing, the massive team effort that went on to switch gears during this crisis and be able to get food out to our most vulnerable families. And it was the relationships between the special education department and the food service department that really allowed that to happen.” 

“It’s truly been a community effort,” echoed Willy, describing the process in Royalton and Bethel, where volunteers have been helping to package while his teams prepare the meals. “I’m always so moved by that. If it wasn’t for my staff and the volunteers and the teachers that come in to help out, none of this would have ever happened.” 

It’s not only physical nourishment they are supplying, either. By providing food, schools are also providing stability, an important and elusive commodity in the midst of a crisis. “When people get back to me, they’re thankful for the normalcy that we’re giving them,” Willy said. “The routines for the kids, even just of having the milk cartons, are so important.” 

Craig added that he thinks the work being done now will have a lasting effect. “It’s all about community. And I think this is a huge opportunity to build trust in our students and in our community that we’re here for them and we care for them. The struggle we always have in school food service is getting the buy-in that we have a quality product. So they’re gonna see that we’re serving them good quality and good tasting food, on a daily basis. And I think that’s gonna have an impact.”

For many families in the Upper Valley, the impact has already been felt. So although National School Lunch Hero Day has passed, keep thanking the folks who make sure Upper Valley kids have a daily meal, and a milk carton too.

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By Henry Allison. Photo of food prep at Woodstock High School courtesy of Gretchen Czaja. This and other similar stories can be followed at #communitiesfeedkids.

 

Dan & Whit’s Takes a Central Role in Norwich COVID-19 Response

Dan Fraser, owner of Dan and Whit’s general store in Norwich, is posting often on the Norwich Discussion List these days, usually opening with an inspirational quote. “‘Leaders never use the word failure. They look upon setbacks as learning experiences,’  (Brian Tracy).” “‘The true test of leadership is how you function in a crisis,’ (Brian Tracy).” “‘The three C’S of leadership are consideration, caring and courtesy. Be polite to everyone,’ (Brian Tracy).” Who is Brian Tracy? Dan says, “I have no idea who he is. He just has a lot of motivational quotes that seem to apply.”

Dan’s dry sense of humor is obvious on the phone as well as List posts. “I think it’s good to poke fun at ourselves, a little bit,” he told me, “to give some sense of normalcy to this time when there is no normalcy.” The List posts are more than motivational, though. They keep Norwich updated on the many projects Dan & Whit’s has undertaken for the community.

They’ve started a grocery delivery fund for folks who have lost their jobs, and a Feed the Front Lines fund through which people nominate medical professionals to receive free dinners. Another program allows community members to anonymously buy lunch for police officers, firefighters, and postal workers. Dan is collecting milk bottles for McNamara Dairy  and Strafford Organic Creamery, and raising money for a Victory Gardens Fund, which will help community members establish gardens. More donations have been used to purchase groceries for the Haven. Dan & Whit’s is also encouraging Norwich residents to display unity by putting white ribbons up in their yards, and eggs in their windows for a local Easter egg hunt. For many, the crisis has only emphasized the importance of a town general store. “People are realizing that we are here for them, and that as much as they need us, we need them,” Dan said.

As for what folks can do to support their local businesses, Dan told me the most important thing is shopping locally and helping others if you are in a position to do so. “We’re all in this together, and sometimes you’re gonna need some help. And if you can help someone else, that’s great too. So it just depends which side of the coin you’re on at the time.” Step aside, Brian Tracy, because Dan’s sentiment would be a great motivational quote for a Community Discussion List post.

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Vital Communities will be posting periodic updates on local businesses who have adapted to continue providing services for the Upper Valley. If you have a story for us to share, please email info@vitalcommunities.org.

Family Project: Write a Quest For Your House!

Over these past few weeks I have experienced waves of anxiety and sadness, and at the same time such gratitude. I can’t imagine going through this crisis in any other part of the world. The Upper Valley is an amazing place filled with amazing people and places. I have the ability to walk out my door and witness first-hand the coming of spring as the buds emerge and the mud slowly dries. We invite you to take this coming week as a chance to celebrate the Upper Valley and our bonds to it. As part of this celebration consider discovering a local Quest or creating a Quest on your own.

We may not be able to leave our property much and we may not be able to visit our favorite Quest, yet we can find our own special places on our property or in our neighborhoods. This past week my kids and I decided to create a Quest of all the places that are special to our family on our property. It took us a couple of hours and once we were done we sent my husband out to follow our newly formed Quest clues.

Developing the Quest was fairly easy. First, we each made a list of  our favorite spots on the property. We decided where the Quest would start and walked to each of our favorite spots, figuring out the best sequence to follow. Once we had the sequence, we headed back inside to write our clues. The clues made us practice lots of rhyming as well as decide if we wanted to teach a few things along the way. We also created a map with illustrations and directional arrows. Once it was pulled together, we sent my husband out to test it. The kids loved watching their dad read their Quest and discover their special places on our property. They are also excited for their cousins to try the Quest (when they are able to visit again).

Try this out with your own family. Even if you don’t have a few acres you can do the same thing around a neighborhood, or inside your apartment. We all have a spot or two that we find special and everyone loves a treasure hunt. Send along a picture of your maps, clues, or Questing, or tag @vitalcommunities. We would love to see how you are celebrating your special places.

Steps:

  1. List your special spots.
  2. Walk the route you would like to take.
  3. Write your rhyming clues. Try to add some teaching points along with directional clues.
  4. Draw a map of the area.
  5. Test out the Quest.
  6. Save your Quest to share with others who visit once social distancing is relaxed.

Also check out our website for step-by-step videos on how to create a Quest.

Collier Quest April 2020

Start your adventure on a seat that swings.
Don’t wait too long and head to a place that could sting.

Head out to the deck.
Hang a compass around your neck.

South you will head as you leave the house.
Cross a field that certainly has a mouse.

Stop at the place honey is made.
In the hive you could find workers and drones that she laid

With the bees at your back
Compass you should not lack.

Go 60 east till you come to a tree with trunks of six
This white pine has lots of sticks.

Go down the hill to the fourth apple in the row.
How many apples do you think it will grow?

Move 28 steps to walk on water.
Check in the pond. Do you see an otter?

With your back to the dock walk north to the water that runs.
Your kids visit here and come home with wet buns.

Move upstream till the house is near.
You are almost done. Do not shed a tear.

Stop at the newly fallen tree.
Up the hill to the compost you see.

Go up hill to the place where veggies are grown.
You are almost there, don’t start to moan.

Look for your treasure where the hose hangs.
End your quest with the Collier gang!

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