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

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.

Get Involved With Workforce Housing In Your Town

The workforce housing shortage is a challenge that impacts everyone in the Upper Valley. Many communities are working toward solutions—and you can get involved.

Upcoming Opportunities to Get Involved

  • Royalton, Strafford, Sharon, and Tunbridge have joined together to form a housing group for their four-town region. They are working together for mixed senior-family-student living in South Royalton to serve all four towns and a volunteer-supported home rehabilitation program that would help transform existing buildings into homes for more people. Join the next meeting Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 pm at the Sharon Congregational Church.
  • Mount Ascutney Hospital and Health Center sponsors a housing group for the 13 towns in their service area. The group is starting to work with residents and towns to reduce barriers to long-term rental. Join the next meeting Thursday, February 6, at 12:30 pm in the Mt. Ascutney hospital board room.

Contact Vital Communities Workforce Housing Coordinator Mike Kiess for more information.

Canaan Keeps FarmRaisers Alive

Kale. Carrots. Beets. Potatoes. Powerkraut!

These are just a few of the delightful local foods I’ve received from Root 5 Farm over the past few months as part of my fall FarmRaiser—a community-supported agriculture (CSA) fundraiser run by the Canaan Elementary School PTA that supports the school, the farm, and the idea of healthy, local eating in our community.

Vital Communities launched the FarmRaiser program in 2012 and coordinated it for several years before moving on to other projects. Canaan Elementary was among the first to adopt the program—and, according to Becka Warren at Vital Communities, who helped establish FarmRaisers in our region, it’s the very last school in the Upper Valley to keep the program going.

So why does Canaan bother?

It’s not a big fundraiser for the PTA—the school earned $600 for the 25 shares community members purchased this fall—but money isn’t the goal anyway, says PTA Secretary Hillary Gillies.

“The PTA loves it because it promotes local farms and foods and healthy eating,” says Canaan parent Kristen DeLeault, who for the past four years has coordinated the program. Kristen has worked hard to find partner farms—past partners Blue Ox Farm in Enfield and Autumn Harvest Farm in Grafton unfortunately went out of business. This year she coordinated a plan with Fairlee-based Root 5 Farm to personally pick up the FarmRaiser shares at their normal CSA pickup location in Lebanon and deliver them to Canaan Elementary. Her persistence and commitment have made the program possible.

“There aren’t many big farms nearby in New Hampshire that can sustain what we were hoping for,” Kristen says. “It’s not as local as we’d like, but it’s still in the Upper Valley.”

For Root 5 Farm, co-owner Danielle Allen says, the program just broke even financially. But it still made good business sense. “It was a great way to move product, especially in the fall when we have big harvests,” she said. “And we got exposure to a whole new set of customers without the farm having to do a lot of legwork.”

“It’s a lovely collaboration. It brings an awareness of farms and healthy food in our communities,” Danielle says. “It has all the good feels.”

“Canaan Elementary School continues to inspire us with its creative thinking about fundraising that is delicious, healthy, and local,” says Becka. “We love seeing the FarmRaiser continue all these years, and we hope other area schools consider whether it might work for their communities. It shows that eating local can take root at the earliest age (pun intended)!”

As a parent and FarmRaiser participant, I love that I can support my PTA and a local farm business all while getting something healthy and delicious for my family in exchange. My kids always look forward to FarmRaiser pickup day—and while they enjoy their fresh, local Kale Chips, I get to indulge in some delicious and simple Curried Carrot and Coconut Soup!

Want to start a FarmRaiser in your school? Get started with our online resources.

Celebrating our Volunteer of the Year

Ed. note: Vital Communities Executive Director Tom Roberts made the following remarks to honor 2019 Volunteer of the Year Bill Geraghty at our Open House on December 6.

We are delighted to celebrate Bill Geraghty as our Volunteer of the Year.

It is fitting that we honor Bill as we are celebrating our 25th.  As with many of the previous volunteers we’ve honored, their service to Vital Communities and the Upper Valley spans many years.

Bill has served on our board of directors for 11 of the last 13 years, coming back to serve again after his carefully laid out leadership succession plan fell apart due to a job change out across the country.

Bill has served twice as chair of the board, running prompt, efficient meetings and ably standing as our volunteer leader in the Upper Valley.

Jenny Levy, our outgoing board chair and VP of People, Community and the Environment at Hypertherm, said of Bill:

Bill’s calm, insightful, witty and wise character is a bedrock for the Vital Communities board. Like any real bedrock, it sticks around and allows others to grow around it – that’s Bill. He knows the history, knows the trials and errors and the successes, yet is eager for new ideas and to work with everyone. Like bedrock, you can always trust and count on Bill. He always does what he says he’s going to do, and signs up for way more than his fair share of work on behalf of our community.

Bill first got involved with Vital Communities 18 years ago when he was serving as the Vice President of Human Resources at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and joined our Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (TMA) as D-H’s representative. He was active in looking at alternatives to building more parking garages by improving transportation and housing options for D-H employees.

Over the years, Bill has served on nearly every committee we have here – with substantial service on our finance and nominating committees.

Because of his HR expertise, he was a key part of the search committee that hired both me and my predecessor, Mary Margaret Sloan; he was called upon for invaluable HR advice by both of us and has presented a set of trainings for the staff on HR matters.

Mary Margaret had this to say about Bill:

Bill was a lifeline for me. Often executive directors are isolated, but Bill wasn’t just the board chair, he was a true partner. If I needed advice — he was there. If I needed someone to share worries with — he was there. He is brilliant and kind, but my favorite thing about Bill is his sense of humor. We’d talk about something serious, and then he’d get a twinkle, and make me laugh. … Vital Communities… has been extraordinarily lucky to enjoy his leadership.

And Bill was on and chaired the Leadership Upper Valley Board of Governors and a key member of the Heroes & Leaders dinner planning committee, including serving as master of ceremonies for the event. Stacey Glazer, who ran LUV for many years used these words to describe Bill: “direct, super-helpful, wise, honest, caring, civic-minded, supportive and steady presence.” She summed it up well: “Bill was always there for Vital Communities when we needed him.”

And Bill did all this for Vital Communities while also serving as a member of the Hanover Selectboard, as well as being on other nonprofit boards.

I can echo Jenny’s, Mary Margaret’s, and Stacey’s sentiments and express my personal deep appreciation for Bill’s thoughtful, caring, and patient approach.

I am delighted to present Bill Geraghty our Volunteer of the Year Award for 2019.

Support TLC Campaigns Now!

Invest in your community and contribute to campaigns today!

Visit the TLC Upper Valley campaign page

The Local Crowd (TLC) Upper Valley is a community-based crowdfunding platform that empowers individuals to support the businesses, organizations, and initiatives that build community and economy. Learn about and contribute to one or more of the  exciting project below! Campaigns will be running through December 20.

     

Whaleback Base Lodge Energy Efficiency Updates, Enfield

You might not know this, but Whaleback is run by The Upper Valley Snow Sports Foundation (UVSSF), a nonprofit entity, with the mission to support and enhance an affordable, healthy, and sustainable snow sports experience in the Upper Valley of New Hampshire and Vermont. UVSSF members first came together in the spring of 2013 on the heels of Whaleback Mountain LLC shuttering operations. Like our fellow residents, we recognize the importance of Whaleback as a community asset.

Whaleback needs to perform repairs on the base lodge and want to invest in energy conservation practices. Our energy efficiency goals will help us become more environmentally friendly, improve comfort within the lodge, and to save money!

Support Whaleback Here!

 

Closing the Food Waste Loop with Willow Tree Community Compost, White River Junction

Our mission is to build community while creating compost. Similar to how a willow branch, when stuck in the ground, will grow into a tree, I’m hoping that each Willow Tree Community Compost member will become more strongly rooted in the community and share in a more sustainable lifestyle. The positive environmental impact of diverting waste from the landfill, reducing CO2 emissions and creating a nutrient-rich soil amendment for gardens, will go hand in hand with creating connections in the community. I envision gatherings and events that will bring members together and building business partnerships that benefit all parties. As we grow, we will also be creating local, green jobs.

To expand our operation and be able to serve more of our community, we need to grow! We need buckets, infrastructure, and a trailer to deliver the food waste to Sunrise Farm!

Support Willow Tree Here!

Close the Loop with Compost at Sunrise Farm, White River Junction

Sunrise Farm in White River Junction is creating an on-farm compost system that will take in food waste from the community and transform it into compost that will be incorporated into the farm’s soil to grow more vegetables that further nourish the community. Sunrise is working to build the physical infrastructure needed to compost food scraps from the community to build healthy soil on the farm, divert food waste from the landfill, and strengthen the connections between the farm and community.

Support Sunrise Farm Here!

Food for Thought: The Growing Peace Project, Topsham

We are a peacemaking, social justice, and youth activism educational nonprofit in Topsham, Vermont. Our youth collaborate in cross school teams to develop and implement action plans that address community issues they care about including food insecurity. We have a free food teaching garden that has been serving our food insecure neighbors for the past nine years.

We’re raising funds to support our Food For Thought free food teaching garden and youth activism programs. Funds raised will allow us to purchase equipment, hire help, add more workshops, and partner with local farms.

Support The Growing Peace Project Here!

Mascoma Friends Feeding Friends Expansion, Canaan

The Friends of Mascoma Foundation is committed to combatting food insecurity in the Mascoma Valley Regional School District (MVRSD) through the Friends Feeding Friends program. The program operates two food pantries in Canaan and in Enfield, plus is the primary source of food and personal hygiene items for the pantry located inside Mascoma Valley Regional High School. Pantry shoppers can come once a week for a three-day supply of food. We have refrigeration, so we focus on fresh produce, meats and dairy products as well as non-perishables. We also supply food for snacks, backpacks, family food boxes as needed and other pantry items to the elementary and middle schools. 

For the past several years a generous private donor has allowed us to use their vehicles, including a van and trailer, for food distribution. Use of these vehicles is essential to our Friends Feeding Friends program and it’s time for us to get our own wheels!

Support Friends Feeding Foodie Here!

 

Puppy Junction, White River Junction


The Student Rescue Project, Inc. is a Vermont 501(c)(3) that focuses on providing hands-on experiences in dog rescue for students. We believe that, if we’re able to nurture the empathy that young people have for animals, we can to develop a life-long dedication to animal welfare. At this time, we’re in the process of creating an adoption, volunteer and education center in White River Junction called Puppy Junction. This will serve as a new home-base for our organization and be a community space for dog-lovers. 

This funding campaign will be launching soon—please check back!

 

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.

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.

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