Party Time! Annual Open House & a Concert!

Join us at The Engine Room to celebrate 25 years of Vital Communities making a positive difference in the Upper Valley! Get to know our staff, board, and other supporters while you enjoy wine and abundant refreshments from great local businesses. We’ll also honor our Volunteer of the Year and Super Quest Grand Prize winners. Plus door prizes!

Vital Communities Open House & 25th Anniversary Celebration Kick-Off
PLUS Concert by The Conniption Fits

Friday, December 7
5:30 pm—11 pm (Remarks at 6 pm)
The Engine Room, White River Junction

After the socializing, stay for a FREE concert by local favorite The Conniption Fits starting at 8 pm (21+, cash bar). Donations welcome to support Vital Communities.

RSVP here!

Crossroad Farm is the BOM!

Crossroad Farm is the Local First Alliance November Business of the Month and to celebrate they are raffling off all the fixing for a Thanksgiving feast – a Misty Knoll turkey and basket of local veggies!

Visit the stand on Route 5 in Norwich, congratulate them for being the BOM,
and enter for a chance to win your holiday meal!

For more than 35 years Crossroad Farm has been growing food for our community! The farm was started by Tim and Janet Taylor on 10 acres with just family labor. They now have grown to over 40 acres with 20+ employees. You can find their produce in our community at their two farm stands, Post Mills and Norwich, the Co-op Food Stores, and a variety of local restaurants.  At their Norwich farm stand, Crossroad also sources many fruits and veggies from other area farms – increasing the diversity of locally available produce while strengthening and expanding our food economy!

Commitment to Community
Crossroad Farm’s fruits and vegetables are sold within a 40 mile radius from the farm to establishments that include local restaurants, food markets, summer camps, and schools. Crossroad also offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, based on a pre-paid share system available at both of their farm stands! Sign ups could still be made for the month of November so you can fill your holiday table with locally grown produce from this Local First Alliance member. The 2019 CSA season will open mid-January.

For seven months of the year, they harvest and market seasonal produce, all to the local Upper Valley community. This includes donations to local food shelves, schools, Willing Hands, and The Upper Valley Haven with the commitment to give back to the community. Willing Hands visits the Norwich stand daily to pick up vegetable seconds, while gleaners visit the farm in Post Mills frequently to harvest thousands of pounds  of produce for donation.

Crossroad encourages everyone to “think local” through eating, purchasing, and hiring locally. Over the last 35 years the farm has hired over a hundred local high school students from Thetford, Rivendell and Sharon Academies, as well as Hanover, Chelsea, and Oxbow High Schools.

Show Your Love of Local this Season
The winter holidays are a time for giving gifts and eating meals with friends and family. In other words, a perfect time to add a little more local to your shopping! When planning your gift list or holiday meals this year, commit to buy just a few more things from local vendors. Ten more things? Ten dollars worth of food? Ten percent of your budget? Whatever you decide, rest assured those dollars are also a holiday gift to your neighbors, keeping our downtowns alive, businesses open, and farms thriving. Find more places to shop for your holiday table and gifts in the Local First Alliance Directory and the Valley Food & Farm Online Guide.

Bringing ‘Visions of a Better World’ to Your Community

Join Vital Communities for a community discussion on “Visions of a Better World: Social Movements for Transformation.” We will consider how millions of people across the U.S. and around the world, stirred by visions of a better world, are daring to rethink and reinvent institutions on local, regional, national and international levels. Often unnoticed by the mainstream media, they are establishing new possibilities in the shadow of dysfunctional and collapsing systems.


Historian/educator Ron Miller, coordinator of the Woodstock Learning Lab, provides an overview of these diverse new visions, including movements and concepts such as the “new economy,” agroecology, permaculture, transition towns, food sovereignty, relocalization, reclaiming the commons, Slow Food and Slow Money, and others. This presentation and conversation will discuss the key concepts, leading thinkers, and origins of these evolutionary trends.

Join us for a vital dialogue that digs into the contemporary shifting landscape of our time. Thursday November 8, 5:30–7:30 pm at Vital Communities, White River Junction.

Business Leaders Housing Breakfast

We had a packed house at the Fall Business Leaders Housing Breakfast, with more than 180 community members registered to attend.

We gained insights on the housing challenges facing the Upper Valley from Dartmouth College geographer Garrett Dash Nelson, plus got an update on the region’s real estate market from Buff McLaughry of Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty and Lynne LaBombard of Housing Solutions Real Estate. Find the morning’s presentations on our Workforce Housing page, and contact Mike Kiess (Michael@VitalCommunities.org) for more information.

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.

Mascoma_Logo_Horizontal_Tagline_CMYK (1)

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.

FB cover CHAD

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.

1 2 3