June 4 “Light River Junction”: A Night to Remember

Copyright 2021 Rob Strong

The June 4 “Light River Junction: First Fridays with WRIF,” subtitled “A Night to Remember,” promises more of the social, casual, interactive, FREE outdoors arts that were enjoyed by many on the first event in the series, with an emphasis on the live music by local musicians that the late Dave Clark so lovingly curated for past First Fridays.

Clark, in fact, is the subject of a tribute video, “A Night to Remember,” which will be debuted that evening at 8 pm, created by Clark’s friend and musical partner, Rob Oxford. There are also performances by Wrensong, Rob, and others, and a throwback First Friday jam to community home movies. Join in the community art-making and get your hands on some film in a cameraless film workshop. Get your moves on with DJ Skar from 5-7 and again from 9:30 onward, and sink into memories of time and place (and the rowdy jams) at our Currier St. Main Stage. 

See the full schedule of events below.

“Light River Junction: First Fridays with WRIF” aims to revitalize White River Junction’s “First Friday” celebrations, disrupted by COVID, by attracting people of all ages back to the village through film and media arts. From May to August, WRIF will transform downtown parking lots into an attractive forum for safe dining and cinema viewing the first Friday of every month. Film will be projected in novel ways in spaces enhanced by local visual artists, with live performances and extended hours at shops and galleries throughout the village. This project is made possible by a Better Places grant from The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), and the Better Places partners for the revival of social interaction and economic activity through the arts in reimagined and ongoing ways that can offer inspiration to other Vermont communities.

WRIF is now welcoming submissions from Vermont & New Hampshire film & media artists for exhibition at Light River Junction: First Fridays with WRIF.

Photos by Rob Strong.

Time Location Activity Descriptions
5-7 pm Coolidge Parking Lot 16mm Cameraless Filmmaking Workshop A community filmmaking workshop led by local analog filmmaker Quinn Thomashow!
5-7 Out on the sidewalks Musical Performances The best local buskers presented by Here in the Valley!
5-7 Behind Revolution DJ Skar On the loading dock behind the shop there will be music and food.
7-8 Main Stage at Coolidge Parking Lot Musical Performances By Wrensong and many more…
8-8:30 Main Stage at Coolidge Parking Lot Debut of Dave Clark Tribute Video “A Night to Remember” celebrates the great Dave Clark and his many lasting impressions with the debut of a lovingly crafted tribute by his friend and musical partner, Rob Oxford.
8:30-9:30 Main Stage at Coolidge Parking Lot Musical Performances A traditional First Friday jam, accompanied by community home movies and films of memory and place.
9:30-10:30 Main Stage DJ Skar Late night DJ performance with visuals
8-10 pm Standard Company Tattoo CATV Playlist Local Archives curated by Chico Eastridge
5-9 pm Revolution & Scavenger Window Movies Clips from the Dave Clark tribute, home movies and movies of time and place.
8-10 pm Lampscapes Short films Films of time and place by Berit Brown, Ethan WL
8-10 pm Bell Building Projections Films of time and place…

Light River Junction Community Partners

Coolidge Hotel

Town of Hartford Parks & Recreation


Here in the Valley + HiTV

Vital Communities




Silver Screen, Inc

River People Art Agency


Are you ready to help improve home availability and affordability in our region?

For decades, we’ve known and talked about the fact that homes in the Upper Valley are too few and too expensive for people’s needs. The pandemic has worsened the problem. A recent VPR report cited research finding Vermont to have the least affordable housing market of any state in the country, and a WMUR report found New Hampshire to have experienced a 23% increase in the median sales price of single-family homes has risen nearly since January 2020. More and more people are experiencing homelessness, living in unsafe homes, paying too much of their income for their housing, or are forced to settle far from jobs and services.

What can be done, by whom, to address this? Answering that multi-pronged question is the focus of the Vital Communities Housing Solutions Breakfast, Friday, June 11, 7:30 to 9 am, on Zoom!


At the breakfast, you will:

  • Join residents, employers, officials, and other leaders 
  • Highlight solutions in progress around us. 
  • Learn about Keystothevalley.com, an integrated framework of dozens of strategies and tools to help us meet this regional challenge.

“This is a time of opportunity to meet our shared housing challenge,” said Mike Kiess, Vital Communities’ Workforce Housing Coordinator. “I think everyone is aware of the impacts of the shortage of places to live. As we emerge from the pandemic, there is community will and federal funding to support us in changing our local housing systems and markets so they produce the results we want for ourselves and our communities.”

The virtual breakfast is part of the ongoing effort by Vital Communities and its partners to inspire Upper Valley people of all professions and life situations to provide more homes in our region for the benefit of themselves and their communities. The launch of the new Keys to the Valley website will be followed up starting this fall with mini-expositions on housing solutions in communities throughout the Upper Valley.

“Our housing breakfasts have a tradition of bringing together people who care about housing and can do something about it, creating a sense of community and collaboration, said Kiess. “This year we are purposefully widening that group to include not just folks who could launch larger-scale projects but individuals who might be able to add one or two new homes to their community through various means. We hope they’ll come to the breakfast and hear about ideas and projects that are a good fit for their communities. We look forward to staying engaged and supporting creative solutions in this effort’s next phase.”

Keys explores the “hows” and “whys” of housing solutions ranging from large-scale development to strategies that individuals can adopt, such as adding a unit to their home, rehabbing a rental unit, or sharing the home of an elder.

Projects and presenters at the breakfast are:

  • Accessory dwelling units (ADU) partnership – Tyler Maas, VT State Housing Authority: ADUs are a great way for residents to create more places to live. This pilot project provides help with pre-construction design and securing of finances, permitting and compliance, contractor procurement and project management, and finally, tenant selection and lease up procedures.
  • Homeshare – Deanna Jones, Thompson Senior Center, Woodstock, VT: Homesharing is two or more unrelated persons sharing a home. It can be that simple, and it can meet a lot of our individual needs.
  • Mixed-Use Zoning -Lori Hirshfield and Matt Osborn, Hartford, VT: Mixed-use will allow one- and two-family homes, commercial businesses and multi-unit homes in places that have been limited to parking and stores.
  • Capital for Affordability – Nancy Owens, Evernorth: Our region has places with the water, sewer, and transportation for multi-unit buildings. With some additional “patient” capital from employers, builders are able to create places affordable to employees with lower incomes.
  • Rental Rehabilitation – Paul Martorano, Windham and Windsor Housing Trust: The Re-Housing Recovery Program offered grants up to $30,000 per unit for repairs needed to bring vacant rental units up to Vermont Rental Housing Health Code guidelines. More than 60 units were added in our communities in just a few months.
  • Keys to the Valley – Kevin Geiger, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission

More About Keys to the Valley

Keys to the Valley is a joint project of three planning commissions – the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission, Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, and Mount Ascutney Regional Commission. It provides a framework for integrated action on housing by all stakeholders, including residents, towns, legislators, non-profits, employers, and developers. Keys includes goals and the tools to achieve them, woven together to meet individual and shared needs for home and community. The approach is not limited to a particular geography, town size, or politics, and can work all around our state, and for our neighbors. Below, a graphic from Keys shows the potential for adding homes along  a single stretch of road in Chester, Vermont, while not developing more land or extending utility services or roads – thus creating only minimal additional costs for the town.

Upper Valley Everyone Eats Hits $1 Million Mark

As it wraps up its ninth month of paying local restaurants $10/meal to prepare free nutritious meals for Vermonters in need, Upper Valley Everyone Eats (UVEE) is logging a big milestone: the 100,000th meal! At $10/meal, that’s $1 million in revenue for local restaurants. And we’re not stopping there either: thanks to the program’s stipulation that restaurants source at least 10% of their ingredients locally, area farms and food processors are seeing some of the benefit, too—$64,000 so far. That’s what we call a triple bottom line!

We’re in awe of our restaurant partners who prepare, package, and deliver these incredible meals every week to our many distribution partners (over 45 Upper Valley food shelves, community dinners, and schools!). These restaurants have shown, week in, week out, on top of everything else they have going on, that they are committed to serving our community with their culinary skills and neighborly compassion. Please join us in thanking them: Maple Street Catering (White River Junction), Global Village Cuisine (Windsor), the Windsor Diner (Windsor), Moon & Stars Arepas (Vershire), The Little Grille (Bradford), Tacocat (Randolph), Piecemeal Pies (White River Junction; past participant), Lake Morey Resort (Fairlee; past participant), Simon Pearce (Quechee; past participant), and the Newbury Village Store (Newbury; past participant).
We’re also grateful to our distribution partners, especially the Upper Valley Haven, Listen Community Services, and Willing Hands, who have helped coordinate this far-reaching program from day one, and a wonderful crew of volunteer drivers who have helped us get meals from Point A to Point B for the past few months. We wouldn’t have been able to serve some of the farther-flung food shelves and schools in our region without you!
Here are the numbers:
Total meal count: 100,000 (by the end of this week)
Individuals served: 65,000
Households served: 42,000
Seniors served: 22,000

In-Person Films and Fun at First “Light River Junction”

Friday, May 7, the skies cleared after a week of rain – just in time for the first Light River Junction First Friday event! Throughout downtown White River Junction, musicians busked, store windows were lit with projections, and people hung out, later gravitating to the parking lot behind the Hotel Coolidge where a giant inflatable screen held court. Mark your calendars for the next events in this series on June 4, July 2, and August 6! The series is funded by a grant from The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), and the Better Places partners obtained by a partnership centered on White River Indie Films (WRIF) and including the Town of Hartford, the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, Vital Communities, CATV (Community Access Television), the Briggs Opera House, the Center for Cartoon Studies, and local businesses and film and media artists.

Photos by Rob Strong
















Two New Tuck Fellows to Serve with Vital Communities Board of Directors

With hopes of learning new skills and having a positive impact on the Upper Valley, two new MBA candidates from the Tuck School of Business have joined the Vital Communities Board of Directors as one-year Fellows.

Mary Catherine Guay and  Lo Si Min (Allyssa) will serve as Fellows until May 2022, attending Board meetings and conferring with Vital Communities Executive Director Sarah Jackson in order to both learn aboutVital Communities and contribute their expertise. They take the place of previous fellows David Kenney and Stuart Price. This is the 12th year that the Vital Communities Board has hosted Tuck Fellows.

Said Vital Communities Board Chair Ron Shaiko, “The Tuck Nonprofit Board Fellows program is a win-win for the Tuck MBA program and the nonprofit community of the Upper Valley.  TheFellows gain from the experience of nonprofit board governance while organizations like Vital Communities gain from the analytical skills that the Fellows bring to the board.  In the past, Fellows have assisted in our assessments of programs as well as board and staff evaluations of our mission and governance structures.  We thank  David and Stuart for their service to Vital Communities and welcome Allyssa and Mary Catherine to the board.”

Tuck students can apply for the fellowship in their second year and are placed on the boards of various Upper Valley nonprofits through the Center for Business, Government, and Society, which matches selected students with nonprofits in the Upper Valley based upon their interests and experiences.

Mary Catherine Guay, who is also a candidate for a Masters of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, came to Tuck after working four years for the Massachusetts House of Representatives, most recently as a fiscal analyst for the Committee on Ways and Means. She applied for the fellowship, she said, ”to use the tools I have learned at Tuck to make a positive impact in the Upper Valley. After spending four years in government, I chose to come to Tuck to develop skills that would enable me to have a greater impact on the public good. Vital Communities’ collaborative approach to solving regional challenges is a perfect opportunity to combine my professional experiences and Tuck education to support an area I am fortunate to call home. I hope to use this opportunity to learn more about how different sectors approach similar issues.” Guay hopes to apply her academic learning to interests in economic development and the future of work.

Allyssa Lo, a native of Singapore, has more than six years of experience in innovation and digital transformation specializing in data analytics,  first at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, the national research agency in Singapore and more recently as an analyst at Accenture. Said Lo, “It is an honor to be selected to work with Vital Communities on advancing the important mission of creating a more equitable community, which is also a personal interest of mine and aligned to my long-term goal in social impact. I am excited to contribute to the board with my expertise and look forward to making a difference to the Upper Valley community in the year ahead.”