Housing: Regional Challenge—Local Solutions

Housing: Regional Challenge—Local Solutions

We live, work, shop, and play across state and town lines, so it makes sense to work together to meet our shared housing challenge.

Here is what some towns are doing, and how you can be part of the change.

Tunbridge, Strafford, Sharon, and Royalton have launched a task group to work on creating more homes together. Contact Ken Wright to get involved.
Mt. Ascutney Hospital is sponsoring a work group to reduce barriers to housing in their service area—Barnard, Pomfret, Hartford, Killington, Bridgewater, Woodstock, Hartland, Plainfield, Plymouth, Reading, West Windsor, Windsor, Cornish, and Weathersfield. Contact Faye Grearson or Mike Kiess to be part of this effort.
The Lebanon Planning Board is hearing about ideas for hundreds of apartments near the DHMC campus and welcomes your participation to learn more and share your ideas. Find out about meeting dates and agendas, and let Jim Wasser or Billy Cioffredi know if you want updates.
The Woodstock Community Trust put a house into the market at a price targeting a resident working family. Bennington‘s Healthy Homes project is refurbishing abandoned houses for purchase at moderate prices. Contact Jill Davies or Kevin Dailey to see if these ideas could be adapted to your town.

Celebrate Our Independents!

July is a time to celebrate not only our independence as a nation but the entrepreneurial spirit and freedom that is embodied by our local and independent businesses. Independents Week is an annual opportunity to recognize the many valuable contributions our Upper Valley local businesses make to our communities including creating good jobs, supporting area nonprofits, and keeping our communities unique and interesting.

With the arrival of July, independence is top of mind – but are independents? The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) will celebrate Independents Weekduring July 1 through July 7, in order to make America’s independents known. Small and locally owned businesses, Main Street organizations and consumers can participate by declaring their independence and supporting their independents.

Think Local First this week and choose the many locally owned businesses (our friends & neighbors) that count on us to keep our economy and communities strong! Browse Local First businesses by category here or look for the logo when you are shopping for all your July 4 holiday supplies!

 

Cover photo: Molly Drummond

 

Stand in Your Circle of Strength and Lead

Ed. Note: On May 30, Vital Communities honored 12 community leaders who’ve added immeasurably to the vitality of the Upper Valley at its annual Heroes & Leaders Celebration. The following are the event’s keynote remarks from Jenny Levy, the immediate past board chair of Vital Communities and Vice President of People, Community and Environment at Hypertherm.

Congratulations to Vital Communities for 25 years of cultivating positive change in our 69 towns of the Upper Valley. It has been my honor to be part of caring for and growing that impact during my 5 years on the board, just a short part of the long history of this incredible organization.

Congratulations to the honorees this evening. I am humbled to be a part of your celebration tonight. You are joining another seven “classes” of heroes and leaders. Prior honoree categories include Olympians, Veterans, Women Leaders, Visionaries of the Upper Valley, Mentors, Young Leaders, and Long-Standing Stewards – some of whom are here with us tonight. Thank you all for being a critical part of what makes the Upper Valley such a special place.

When you listen tonight, read about past leaders, or, like me, work alongside two of them, Barbara Couch, a Woman Leader, and Dick Couch, a Visionary of the Upper Valley, it is easy, and frankly appropriate, to be in awe. We are quick to put them all on a pedestal.

This very event makes us pause and look up to these heroes and leaders and the heights they have achieved. We sit here and look at THEM up THERE. I start to wonder HOW did they do it? WHERE does a hero or a leader come from? Maybe it was the Wheaties they ate for breakfast, or, as Warren Buffet might put it, they got a winning ticket in the ovarian lottery. So, knowing I was going to have the opportunity to speak tonight, I did some homework. I reached out to heroes and leaders from this year and prior years and asked them this simple question: “What was a moment that set you on the path to becoming a hero or a leader?” The answers they each gave were varied and inspiring, and, lucky for all of us, instructive.

Vital Communities grew out of what we can think of as the Rabbi Hillel category of leaders. He was a first-century Jewish scholar who wrote, now translated, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” Reading a 1993 Valley News Sunday editorial is what sparked a prior honoree, Betty Porter, to start a conversation with the League of Women Voters, and then one meeting, and then another, and then a whole organization was founded that we all now benefit from greatly. Don’t forget it was one person reading one article that set this future in motion.

An honoree tonight, Stan Williams, was standing in his driveway years ago, watching his son bike down to the Norwich library to do his homework on their computers, which had internet speed the Williams family couldn’t get at home. His son had just asked him, “Dad, can’t you do something about this?” Stan’s neighbor, with whom he was chatting at the time, piled on, “Stan, don’t you know something about telecom? Maybe you could get us internet?” Lucky for all of us, Stan listened on that day. Now 3,000 rural customers are connected to ECFiber.

One of the Upper Valley Visionaries, Van Chesnut from Advance Transit, tells a similar story of being called to lead. Advance Transit had just completed a small pilot project for DHMC that found ridership significantly increased if their employees could get on the bus for free when they simply showed their badge. Seeing this positive result, Van wondered if he could figure out how to do that for all Upper Valley citizens. Lucky for all of us, our community now benefits from the largest, free, non-urban public transit system in Vermont and New Hampshire. Betty, Stan, and Van all answered Rabbi Hillel’s questions with “Yes, me” and “Yes, now.”

Next, there’s the ABBA category of leadership. The “Take a chance on me” set of stories. Julia Griffin, the town manager for Hanover and a Woman Leader honoree, describes when she was fresh out of grad school and was the assistant to the assistant of the City Manager in Santa Monica, California, John Jalili. Despite being low on the totem pole Julia describes John’s mentorship as critical to her future path. He took time to teach her some key principles: to wade in quietly, to not force things, to think of community as theater, and to be patient. Likely, many of us consider, “Where would Hanover be without Julia?” The real questions are, where would Hanover be if John hadn’t taken the time to teach these lessons to Julia? And where would Hanover be if Julia hadn’t stopped and listened and taken these lessons to heart?

Rob Taylor described his father, Steve Taylor, an honored Long-Standing Steward, going to work at the Valley News in his 20s and being made the managing editor at that young age. Steve’s own capabilities helped him earn that position, but it was also someone else who took a chance on Steve to run and grow our region’s source of news and insights, in fact the very one which decades later inspired the creation of Vital Communities.

Julia and Steve and many others like them had people who saw something, some spark, some ray of potential, and those people took a chance on them. In turn, Julia and Steve took full advantage of that chance – they didn’t back away, they trusted themselves and the person on the other side of the table.

There’s another category of hero and leader, the “You can run but you can’t hide” type. This became apparent when I was talking with Elyse Crossman about her honor as a Young Leader as the executive director of the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce. She grew up feeling like she was just known as “Ray’s daughter” and she resented it. You see, her father, Ray Gagnon, was on the Claremont City Council, was the Mayor and a Representative to the New Hampshire Assembly. Elyse’s turning point was when she stopped trying to run away from the legacy she was so lucky to be a part of and started to embrace the lessons of leadership and making a positive difference her father had been demonstrating her whole life.

One of the honored Women Leaders, Sara Kobylenski, former executive director of the Haven and ongoing change maker, told me she was recently given a stuffed giraffe by her friend Jill Lord (a Long-Standing Steward honoree by the way). The card with it said, “Because you always stick your neck out for others.” It was at that moment that Sara realized this is exactly how she has lived her life, snapping her back to a memory of being a 4-year old on the playground and sticking up for another child there. Elyse and Sara have embraced their greatest sources of strength and use that to fuel their ongoing impact.

Finally, are the seed-sowing moments of heroes and leaders. Edie Thys Morgan was in the first class of Olympian honorees as an Alpine skier in the crazy speed events. She was on the World Cup circuit for 6 years and participated in two Olympics. When asked what her moment was, she described that the biggest impact came from small precious doses of encouragement she received from her mother every night she tucked young Edie into bed. These small moments knit together to form enormous inner security and confidence that later fueled Edie.

When I asked one of tonight’s honorees, and my friend, Pru Pease, she knew exactly the moment when she saw herself as somebody. It was when she walked through the doors of the Family Place, another honoree as a Long-Standing Steward, looking for guidance. Pru was pregnant with her second child and her first was perched on her hip with two broken legs. Christie Binzen, the ED at the time, came walking down the stairs, looked directly into Pru’s eyes with warmth and knowing and simply said, “Welcome.” It was in that one look, that one word, that Pru knew she was being seen for who she was and could be and that she was strong, deserving, and powerful—shall we say, truly heroic? Earlier, you heard for yourself what that small seed grew for Pru and the countless people Pru has likewise empowered.

Will we all be patient and diligent to sow seeds, like tonight’s honorees Pooh and Anne Sprague from Edgewater Farm, and the half dozen other farmers honored in prior years? These heroes know how to plant a seed at the right depth, in the right light, and with the right nutrients so that we may all in turn be nourished. What seeds in our community are we each planting and tending to?

Will we all raise our hands like Betty, Stan, and Van and answer the questions, “If not you, then who? If not now, when?” In what area of your life could you be answering these questions in the affirmative? When will you take up the call to stand in your circle of strength and lead?

When will you take up the call to stand in your circle of strength and lead?

Will we all take a chance on someone? Are we in a position to see something in someone else and have the guts to act on it? Or, has someone tried to take a chance on you? Like Julia and Steve, did you put your faith in them and yourself and did you take it? What additional greatness could occur if we each did so?

Will we all be brave enough like Elyse and Sara to realize our calling? Will we ask ourselves the same question: What are we running from, that if we stopped, turned around, and faced it, we would find our greatest source of strength?

As you now know, the heroes and leaders before us and in years past all come from where you and I sit tonight. They are not far above or away from us. The very future of the vitality of our community, our nation, even our world, rests on all of us learning these important lessons and taking them to heart. Look at yourself. Look around this room. Look around your community. Who and what will we be celebrating next year and at the 50th anniversary? You see, we are all creators of heroes and leaders, indeed, we are all heroes and leaders.

Thank you.

Heroes & Leaders: Creating a Vital Upper Valley

Every spring, Leadership Upper Valley, a program of Vital Communities, hosts the annual Heroes & Leaders Celebration to recognize individuals who make significant contributions to the Upper Valley. In 2019, we are pleased to honor 12 Leaders who add immeasurably to the vitality of our region. Read about these honorees below.

Liza Bernard and Penny McConnel met at a book discussion group and years later opened the Norwich Bookstore in 1994. Liza Bernard moved to the Upper Valley in 1977. She managed the Vermont State Craft Center in Windsor before starting her own business creating handwoven and hand-knit clothing. She worked at art galleries and consulted for art exhibitions across Vermont and did a short stint at King Arthur Flour, where she helped compile their 200th Anniversary Cookbook. A founding member of Local First Vermont, Liza was also a founder and enthusiastic promoter of Local First Alliance. Liza has served on the board of League of NH Craftsmen, the Child Care Center in Norwich, and the Abbott Memorial Library in Pomfret, where she lives. Penny McConnel and her husband Jim Gold have lived in Norwich for 41 years. Penny has always worked in retail and became a bookseller in 1981 at the Dartmouth Bookstore. She was a buyer there and later at a bookstore at the Powerhouse Mall. Penny has served on the boards of the Vermont Public Radio Advisory, Vermont Humanities Council, New England Independent Booksellers Association, and is presently on the boards of the Norwich Public Library and Norwich Senior Housing.

Len Cadwallader started his professional career running an after-school tutoring program in Johnson’s War on Poverty program in Lackawanna, New York. He worked at the Farm & Wilderness Camps in Plymouth, Vermont, for 21 years, first as Business Manager and then as Executive Director for 13 years. After a brief stint as the Executive Director of Kendal at Hanover, Len was hired in 2000 to become Vital Communities’ first full-time Executive Director, a position he held for 11 years. Throughout his professional career, Len always took time to get involved with social justice issues. For example, Len accompanied the Guatemalan couple who had lived in Sanctuary for 10 years at the Benedictine monastery in Weston, Vermont, when they decided to repatriate to their homeland. For the past two years he has commuted to the Massachusetts prisons where he co-facilitates anger management workshops in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) program.

Delia Clark was Founding Director of Vital Communities, serving from 1993-1999. She is currently Principal at Confluence, where her work focuses on building sustainable communities through facilitating civic engagement, place-based learning, heritage interpretation, strategic planning, and community dialogue. She is a frequent trainer and facilitator in these areas throughout the United States and internationally, for organizations that include National Park Service, US Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance, Shelburne Farms, and International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Delia is the co-author of Questing: A Guide to Creating Community Treasure Hunts published by University Press of New England; Learning to Make Choices for the Future: Connecting Public Lands, Schools and Communities Through Place-based Learning and Civic Engagement; Building Skills for Effective Facilitation; and other manuals and chapters that have collectively been translated into six languages. Mother of three grown children, Delia lives in Taftsville with her husband, Tim Traver.

Ivy CondonIvy Condon is deeply involved in her community as a native of Claremont. There she helps to coordinate programs and events as the Center Coordinator at the Claremont Savings Bank Community Center. Ivy is also in her fifth year as the Stevens High School girls’ varsity basketball coach. She works with volunteers from the girls’ teams each week at the Community Center to teach young children the game of basketball. In her spare time, Ivy and her husband run a basketball club, the Claremont Lady Hornets, which includes girls from 3rd through 12th grade in the Claremont area. Ivy enjoys being a positive role model for the many youth athletes and young adults she has contact with in Claremont. Ivy has a strong passion for her community and is on the Healthy Vibrant Claremont Committee, which works to bring positivity and needed changes to Claremont.

Edgewater Farm is a family farm located along the alluvial plains of the Connecticut River in Plainfield. Originally a five-generation family farm owned by the Colby Family, Pooh and Anne Sprague have owned and operated Edgewater Farm since 1974. Although initially the Spragues maintained outside employment, they were encouraged by their county agents to try growing strawberries on the farm. The first strawberry crop was harvested in 1976, and from that point other crops were added to accommodate market demand. By 1983, both of the Spragues were working full time on the farm and, along with a few greenhouses, they opened their Route 12A Plainfield farmstand. Today they grow vegetable and ornamental bedding plants, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and vegetables. They sell products through their greenhouses, farmstand, and CSA, as well as at select locations in the Upper Valley. Edgewater Farm donates to area food shelves through the local nonprofit organization Willing Hands. Pooh and Anne—along with their children, Sarah and Ray, daughter in-law Jenny, and 36-year veteran Mike Harrington—are involved with managing the many different aspects of the farm. With their third generation growing up on the farm now, they continue to take a long view of land stewardship.

Jarvis Green is a director, performing artist, and cultural worker from Anderson, South Carolina. He moved to Vermont in 2011 from New York City and founded BarnArts Center for the Arts in Barnard in 2012. He is the Founding Producing Artistic Director of JAG Productions and the former Director of Theatre Arts at ArtisTree Community Arts Center in South Pomfret. Jarvis received his training at the prestigious Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City, as well as South Carolina’s Anderson University and Governor’s School for the Arts. Jarvis has developed work with The Public Theatre, Cherry Lane Theatre, Village Theatre, 5th Avenue Theatre, Intiman Theatre, Capital Playhouse, BarnArts Center for the Arts, ArtisTree, Northern Stage, and North Country Community Theater. In 2017, Jarvis accepted the New England Theatre Conference’s Regional Award for Outstanding Achievement in the American Theatre on behalf of JAG Productions, in recognition of sustaining theatrical excellence.

A strong work ethic, a passion for helping others, and a sincere love of animals have been at the core of Curt and Sharon Jacques’ life and their business. Curt’s background as a top-performing territory sales manager and nutrition specialist for a national feed company and Sharon’s professional training as a nurse combine to form a unique mix of technical knowledge, drive, and heartfelt compassion that conceived a remarkable destination retail location and valued home to some 35 employees. Curt and Sharon purchased West Lebanon Feed & Supply in 1995. In 2007, they opened an 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility that celebrates the human-animal bond. The business has since developed into a nationally and internationally top-awarded store in its industry. Now, Curt and Sharon’s vision of “Your Life, Your Style, Your Store” takes new shape through their venture GooberPick, as they continue to find innovative ways to serve the people and animals in their lives.

Tunbridge resident Prudence Pease created a career dedicated to advancing the lives of others in her local community and across Vermont and New Hampshire. She has been involved with many organizations in the Upper Valley including The Family Place, Orange County Parent Child Center, Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council, and Community Partnership of Orange-Windsor. Since 2014, Pru has worked for Granite United Way designing and implementing the Work United initiative in the Upper Valley. A journey that began with one full-time employee and five business has now grown to a team of three full-time resource coordinators serving 11 companies in the Upper Valley. Prudence is a certified Bridges Out of Poverty facilitator and has trained more than 16,000 individuals nationwide, drawing on her compelling personal story of growth and change. A graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute, she is a highly sought-after speaker on the topic of economic diversity.

Monique Priestley is a designer, gamer, geek, and connector. She founded The Space On Main in Bradford, Vermont, as a nonprofit in 2017 in hopes that it could promote a greater sense of community and connection for people living and working in the Upper Valley. Monique believes strongly that everyone has a responsibility to give back to their communities. In Bradford, Monique holds several elected positions and serves on a number of town commissions. She is a director for Vermont Council on Rural Development, Global Campuses Foundation, Cohase Chamber of Commerce, Cohase Rotary Club, and Little Rivers Health Care. Monique volunteers as a mentor and was a member of the 2018-2019 cohorts of Leadership Upper Valley and Changemakers’ Table. She was named Cohase Chamber’s 2018 Citizen of the Year and Vermont Attorney General’s March 2019 Vermonter of the Month. Monique also telecommutes full-time for CampusCE Corporation in Seattle.

Stan Williams is Chairman and CFO of ValleyNet, the nonprofit operating partner of ECFiber. ECFiber is a Vermont Telecommunications District formed by 24 towns seeking to provide high speed Internet to every location in its member towns using no taxpayer funds. ECFiber has raised $32M of institutional financing to date and is more than halfway to its initial goal of covering 1,400 “underserved” miles of the 1,700 miles in its towns. Stan’s prior career was spent financing and developing networks in the US, Italy, and the UK with Cellular Communications, Cellular Communications of Puerto Rico, Cellular Communications International, and NTL (now Virgin Media.) Stan and his wife Jenny live in Norwich. He is a member of the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation and Upper Valley Land Trust boards (and a former Vital Communities board member) and has been an Upper Valley devotee since his family bought a summer camp on Crystal Lake in Enfield in 1973.

Doug WiseDoug Wise has a lifelong passion for using his talents to make a positive difference in the community. Doug graduated from Dartmouth College in 1959 and then earned his MBA in Marketing from Columbia University. He spent his career working in international marketing for major multinational corporations, has been a visiting professor in Pace University’s MBA program, and has been cited as one of America’s top business leaders and thinkers. Throughout his career, Doug has also been an active community member in the Upper Valley. He has served on a variety of boards and councils, including for Leadership Upper Valley, Ledyard National Bank, the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce, Upper Valley Land Trust, AVA Gallery & Art Center, and numerous others. He continues to be deeply involved with Dartmouth College. Doug lives in Grantham with his lifelong partner Joanne, where together they have hosted more than 10 international Dartmouth undergraduate students.

Chuck Wooster and his wife Sue purchased Sunrise Farm in White River Junction in 1999, and Chuck brought the old farm back into production the following year as a seven-member vegetable CSA. Fast forward to 2019, and Sunrise Farm CSA has 300 members, has expanded to a second farmstead on Route 5, and, in addition to year-‘round organic vegetables, produces pasture-raised lamb, chicken, and eggs, and maple syrup, honey, and firewood. Chuck has been an active volunteer in Hartford, serving on the Selectboard, Conservation Commission, and as Town Moderator. He has also volunteered as a board member for the Upper Valley Land Trust and for Vital Communities’ Food & Farm program. Chuck writes on agricultural issues for the Valley News and other publications as time allows.

Have You Seen Our New Logo?

Have You Seen Our New Logo?

What do you think?!

Vital Communities brings people together to cultivate civic, environmental, and economic vitality in the Upper Valley—and after 25 years, it felt like time to refresh our look to match the impact and vibrancy of our work.

Vital Communities is an innovator, willing to test new approaches and share our learning. We focus on the unique challenges and resources of rural communities, specifically the Upper Valley—our laboratory for results-based community organizing. We are cross-disciplinary, collaborative, and ready to think and work in new ways. We build networks, bridge boundaries, and catalyze positive change in the Upper Valley.

We are Vital Communities.

Logo design by Nomad Communications

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.

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!

Longevity & Commitment: Keynote Remarks from Heroes & Leaders 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That engagement can manifest in several actions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Long-Standing Stewards: Heroes & Leaders 2018

Every spring, Leadership Upper Valley, a program of Vital Communities, hosts a Heroes & Leaders celebration to recognize individuals who make significant contributions to the greater Upper Valley region. This year, Heroes & Leaders is pleased to honor 12 Long-Standing Stewards who inspire us with their commitment to this community, their hard work, and their positive impact on this place we love and call home.


Bill-BoyleDr. Bill Boyle
Dr. Bill Boyle is emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and of Community and Family Medicine. He came to the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and Dartmouth Medical School in 1970, after completing his pediatric training and serving in the military. His career has had several twists and turns but has been devoted to children with chronic conditions and the effect on their lives and their families. This has included 40 years in the cystic fibrosis program, a concurrent 12 year stint in pediatric oncology, and four years in the pediatric diabetes program. He also spent six years serving on the national American Academy of Pediatrics Injury and Poison Prevention Committee, with four years as Chair. He served as Hanover Health Officer from 1986-2010, and director of the Hanover Water Company. In appreciation, the Town named the water filtration plant in his honor in 2007. In 1998 a grateful patient endowed the Community Pediatrics Program in his name. The program is devoted to teaching students and residents the burdens families bear when a child is chronically ill. It has fostered and championed the precepts of patient and family centered care in the institution and community. Dr. Boyle has received numerous awards and accolades from the American Academy of Pediatrics, New Hampshire Pediatric Society, and even the Hanover Youth Hockey Association. Bill and his wife Susan have four children and 10 grandchildren.

Dan Fraser - CropDan Fraser
Dan Fraser is the Vice President of Dan & Whit’s General Store in Norwich, where he has worked since he was 10 years old. An Upper Valley native, Dan graduated from Hanover High School followed by the University of Vermont and has a Master’s degree in special education from St. Michael’s College. For 14 years, he worked full time as a Special Educator in Hartford and Hanover in addition to his full-time work at Dan & Whit’s. He describes the store as “what Walmart would be if it were local and community-engaged.” He is delighted that Dan & Whit’s is a key meeting place for families from all over the Upper Valley and travelers from all over the world. Dan is a strong advocate for the local economy and dedicated to supporting the local nonprofit community, both financially and with his time. He founded The 19 Days of Norwich & Beyond 1% for the Haven program in 2013, through which almost every Norwich business and many in other towns now donate 1% of sales each December to the Upper Valley Haven. The effort is in its 5th year and has raised over $1 million dollars to support the Haven. Dan & Whit’s also supports the community many other ways. Dan is generous with his time, as well, serving as a board member for the Public Health Council of the Upper Valley, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, Norwich Affordable Housing Committee, Norwich Business Council, Valley Court Diversion, and Hemlock Ridge Condominium Owners Association. He is also a Justice of the Peace serving on the Board of Civil Authority in Hartford.

CCo-op Food Stores (1)o-op Food Stores
In January of 1936, 17 residents of Hanover and Norwich formed the Hanover Consumer’s Club—bringing the nearly 100-year-old cooperative movement to the Upper Valley. What started as a system for pooling orders for discounts within a year became the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society and opened a small retail store on Hanover’s Main Street. Annual sales that year reached $11,404. Today, the four Co-op Food Stores, service center, and commissary kitchen employ around 400 people, serving more than 20,000 member households with sales topping $70 million. In its first year, the Co-op’s Pennies for Change program raised more than $264,000 for community nonprofits including food access partners LISTEN Community Services, the Upper Valley Haven, and Willing Hands. The Co-op also supports local family farms, food producers, and crafters by stocking local produce, value-added food products, and other locally made goods.
Ed Fox -small crop

The Co-op Food Stores are represented at the Heroes & Leaders celebration by Edward W. Fox, General Manager of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society. In his role of chief executive officer for the cooperative, Ed uses his comprehensive leadership and business experience to lead a team of nearly 400 employees. The Co-op’s seven locations are owned by its more than 23,000 member owners. Among his priorities for the organization is to secure and expand Hanover’s commitment to socially responsible businesses practices while strengthening financial performance. Ed’s prior experience–executive and production–sharpened his ability to run profitable operations in highly competitive sectors. He holds a BA in Political Science and Religious Studies from Saint Michael’s College.

Harding CropLaurie Harding, MS, RN
Laurie Harding is the Co-Director of the Upper Valley Community Nursing Project and works closely with local Aging in Community initiatives. Laurie holds an undergraduate degree in nursing from Syracuse University and a Master’s degree from Boston University in community health nursing. She gained comprehensive direct care/care management nursing experience through her work with Visiting Nurse and Hospice of VT/NH. She has extensive teaching experience, including in Honduras and Kosovo. Laurie also served in the New Hampshire legislature for five terms, including in leadership roles for Health and Human Services committees. Laurie is chair of the Board of Directors of Headrest and serves on the Advisory Leadership Board of the New Hampshire Citizens Health Initiative. She is on the steering committee for the Tri-State Collaborative on Aging and is the co-convener for the Upper Valley’s Elder Forum hosted by Alice Peck Day Health Systems. She is a past member of the Advisory Council of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health and over the years has chaired the West Lebanon PTO and Project Grad, volunteered at Whaleback’s Learn to Ski week, served on the Lebanon Master Plan Committee, the WISE Board of Directors, the United Way Board of Directors and the Women’s Leadership Council. She was one of the 12 originators of Women Crossing Paths. In her free time, Laurie loves to “hang out” with her family and ski, sail, and walk with friends and dogs. In addition, Laurie loves making beautiful music with the Upper Valley Music Center’s Juneberry chorus.

Jill LordJill Lord, MS, RN
Jill Lord is the senior leader responsible for Community Health at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center. She holds a Master’s of Science in Human Services Administration from New Hampshire College and a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Vermont. She has been a nurse for 40 years. In 2001 and 2011, she was appointed to the Vermont Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Nursing. Jill was instrumental in creating the Vermont Nursing Internship Program in 1998 and has served as President of the Board since its inception. She served as Director of Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center for 24 years. As a nurse leader, Jill has a strong community health influence through Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center, leading the Windsor Area Community Partnership, the Blueprint for Health, the Windsor Area Drug Task Force, Mt. Ascutney Prevention Partnership, and Volunteers in Action, Chaplaincy Program, and the PATCH Network, in addition to myriad other community health initiatives. Under Jill’s leadership, MAHHC was selected as a national finalist in the prestigious Foster McGaw Award for Community Health in 2002 and the winner of the award in 2012. Jill works to foster high-quality patient-centered care through administrative supervision and support for staff and programs.  Additionally, she leads the local area Multi-facility Ethics Committee, the Windsor HSA Community Collaborative, and the Mt. Ascutney Hospital Community Health Committee.

MIKE Satzow WITH BACONMike Satzow
Claremont native Mike Satzow joined the family meat packing business after graduating from Middlebury College in 1970. He also became involved in a number of civic and nonprofit organizations. He has served as Chairman of the Claremont Police Commission, President of the local Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Clubs, and on the boards of numerous organizations including Valley Regional Hospital, New Hampshire Humanities Council, and as Chairman of the Claremont Economic Development Authority. Mike was also extremely committed to the revitalization of the Claremont Mill District and worked for years to bring the project to fruition. The family meat packing business evolved into North Country Smokehouse, a nationally renowned producer of specialty meats and cheeses. Mike has served on many national industry committees and as co-President of the North American Meat Association. He currently sits on the executive board of the North American Meat Institute. In 2015 Mike sold North Country Smokehouse to Quebec’s Breton Family with the stipulation that a new, ultra-modern, 65,000-square-foot meat processing facility be built in Claremont. This facility now processes the high-quality smoked meats the company is recognized for. Shortly after the sale, Mike created The Great Claremont Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation as a vehicle for local citizens to support deserving local nonprofits. The fund currently holds assets in excess of $100,000. Mike and his wife Sheila enjoy two children and four very active grandchildren.

Family Place logoThe Family Place
For 33 years, The Family Place has provided family-centered support to Upper Valley parents and children. One of 15 state-designated Parent Child Centers in Vermont, The Family Place offers programs and services that invest in better outcomes for families in the region. They partner with parents and with other professionals through a variety of services including an on-site skills-based program for young parents, developmental screenings, home visits and parent education, child care financial assistance, a Child Advocacy Center, and an on-site child care center for infants and toddlers.

Family Place NancyBloomfield2The Family Place is represented at Heroes & Leaders by Executive Director Nancy Bloomfield and Board Chair Posie Taylor. Nancy joined the organization in 2015 after years of experience working with families and children in the region. Nancy developed and coordinated Listen Community Services’ Teen Lifeskills Center “The Junction.” She worked with families involved with the Department for Children and Families through a position as Family Engagement Specialist with Easter Seals Vermont. She also was a founding staff member of COVER Home Repair. Family Place - Posie Taylor preferAfter a career at The Aloha Foundation in Fairlee, where she served a variety of roles from homesick camper to Executive Director, Posie Taylor  “retired” and wondered what was next. She searched for a nonprofit whose mission matched her lifelong passion for raising healthy children and found The Family Place, to her everlasting gratitude. Since 2010, Posie has loved working with the dedicated staff and with her wonderful colleagues on the Board to support the essential work of The Family Place and to help strengthen families with young children across the Upper Valley. Other volunteer commitments at Crossroads Academy and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation keep her engaged, but nothing is as nurturing to her heart as her amazing children and grandchildren!

Howe CropRob Howe, Howvale Farm & Tunbridge Fair
Rob Howe has owned and managed Howvale Farm in Tunbridge since 1983, when he acquired the operation from his father, who established it in 1953. The farm has been certified organic since 1995, marketing fluid milk under various brands and raw directly from the farm. Howe has been instrumental in the beloved Tunbridge World’s Fair since 1981, when he was elected to the board of directors. He served for 25 years as director and in other offices for another decade. He has also been superintendent of cattle for 22 years and works with the fair’s promotion committee. Howe is an active member of the Tunbridge Church as a Parish Council member, chair of the Tunbridge Democratic Caucus, and a Justice of the Peace for 15 years. He also sings with the Handel Society of Dartmouth, presently in his 13th year.

Dow Parker cropRobin Dow Parker and John Dow, Canaan Hardware & Supply
John Dow grew up in Canaan and after getting an architectural degree from Wentworth Institute returned to Canaan in 1975 to take over his grandfather’s—formerly his great-grandfather’s— hardware store. In 2006, John moved and expanded the store in a central location on the Canaan common. The store’s presence downtown has been a boon to both the store and the community. John has been an active participant in the Lions Club, American Legion, Eastern Star, Free Masons, Canaan Planning Board, Canaan Water Commission, and Friends of Canaan Village. He was also a member of the building committee for the Mascoma Community Health Center, as well as an umpire and coach. In 2011, Robin Dow Parker became the fourth generation to continue the family tradition when she took over for her dad, John. She has continued to expand the store—and she honors the history of the family business with old tools and photos on display. Robin enjoys being part of the community where she grew up. She organizes and supports numerous popular community events including Canaan Hardware’s Spring Expo Day, the Canaan Farmers and Artisan’s Market Fall Festival, and Christmas in Canaan.

Steve Taylor, Taylor Brothers Farm
Steve Taylor is a farmer, journalist, and longtime public official. He began his newspaper career at age 14 as Hanover High’s sports stringer for the Valley News, and following study at the University of New Hampshire and Army service he was managing editor of the Valley News for seven years. For a decade he was a freelance writer for various publications and was the founding executive director of the New Hampshire Humanities Council. Along the way he developed with his family a dairy and maple farm in the Meriden Village section of Plainfield. In 1982 he was appointed New Hampshire’s commissioner of agriculture, a position he held for 25 years. He served 12 years as a town selectman and for 31 years was Plainfield’s moderator. He has served on numerous civic and charitable boards and committees at the local and state levels and, as a lifelong scholar of New Hampshire’s rural culture, writes and speaks frequently on topics related to the land and its people.

Crossroad CropJanet & Tim Taylor, Crossroad Farm
When Janet and Tim Taylor started Crossroad Farm in Post Mills in 1980, it was sort of on an impulse—about to have their first child, Janet didn’t want to work in preschool every day and then come home to her own kids, and Tim knew he didn’t want to practice law despite having recently completed law school. They had a big garden and abundant courage, and they launched the first year with an acre of land, a card table, and a hopeful idea. Today, with 45 tillable acres acquired over time, 14 greenhouses, farm stands in Post Mills and Norwich, a number of wholesale accounts including local restaurants and summer camps, and around 40 full- and part-time employees in season, Crossroad Farm is one of the larger farms in the greater Upper Valley region and part of the fabric of the Thetford community. As farmers, Janet and Tim have been involved in building a vibrant agricultural economy in the region for decades. In their early farming days they helped coordinate mini-conferences for area farmers to learn from experts and each other—building knowledge and relationships that have helped them and many other local farmers over the years. Janet has served on the board of the Norwich Farmers’ Market and was involved in the development of local farm to school efforts, and Tim was president of the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers’ Association. They’re also very connected to their community beyond the farm; Janet served on the Thetford School Board and on the Vital Communities board of directors, and Tim is a member of the town’s Development Review Board, a longtime youth soccer coach, and for seven years has been Chair of the Act 250 District 3 Environmental Commission. Now in their 60s, Janet and Tim feel strongly about maintaining the farm as a working farm and teaching the next generation to keep it going. In 2016, Tim and Janet conserved Crossroad Farm with the Vermont Land Trust and also took on partner Phil Mason, who started working there 17 years ago as a young teenager. “Keeping it a farm for the next generation is a big deal to us,” Janet says. “The farm is very much a part of the community, and we never want to be too far from it.”

PrintThe Tuck School of Business
The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College combines the intellectual depth and reach of a large Ivy League university with the values of a close-knit community. Founded in 1900 as the world’s first graduate school of management, Tuck’s mission is to educate wise leaders to better the world of business. Tuck is distinguished by its collaborative, trust-based learning community and commitment to placing students at the center of discovery. In this environment, students learn to ask the right questions, build the right teams, and take the right risks to transform themselves and the broader world. This orientation to both do well and do good is one of the most enduring aspects of a Tuck education. Tuck’s Center for Business, Government & Society prepares wise leaders to better the broader context in which business operates. The CBGS believes business and governments exist to serve society and can work together for the common good. The 21st Century global economy faces acute social challenges from poverty, inequality, and climate change to health, education, and economic opportunity. No business or government can escape these challenges, and no organization or even sector can address them alone.
ginaTuck is represented at Heroes & Leaders by Gina des Cognets, Chief of Staff to the Dean of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Gina serves as a strategic adviser on institutional matters, oversees corporate relations, marketing and communications and institutional research, and partners with the senior leadership team to bring the Tuck mission and vision to life. At Tuck since 2006, Gina has held several in roles including Associate Director and then Director of Alumni Services, and more recently, Director of Marketing and Communications. Before joining Tuck, Gina was Director of Investor Client Services at Business Intelligence Advisors, and held chief of staff roles at both AOL Time Warner and Robinson, Lerer and Montgomery (RLM, a strategic communications firm in NYC). Gina is a proud 2001 graduate of Tuck and has a BA in Art History and minor in Psychology from Hamilton College. Gina is a trustee of the Norwich Public Library and the Montshire Museum of Science.

 

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