Donuts & Hogwarts: A Transit Travel Training Case Study

One thing a group of Millennial cartoonists doesn’t need is help using a smartphone app – especially an intuitive one that shows the real-time location of buses in the rural transit system, Advance Transit. No, a lack of tech savvy is not the barrier keeping these students off the bus. It’s more like,

“Cool, there’s an app, but how do I know the name of the bus stop out front?”
“Does the bus go to the theater where Black Panther is playing?”
“I’m just nervous to try the bus—what if it doesn’t show up?” 

Over Vital Communities’ two-year partnership with Advance Transit to promote their real-time bus system, we’ve learned that it often takes a little extra to get people confidently riding transit. “Travel training,” which traditionally only serves people who need special assistance, can be valuable to almost anyone.

Car ownership is low among the several dozen students at the Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) in downtown White River Junction—a Master of Fine Arts program in sequential art. The school has consistently promoted Advance Transit as a way to explore the Upper Valley. But in talking to several alums, we discovered that many CCS students were hesitant to try the free bus, and tended to stay close to campus.

We decided to change this by partnering with a recent graduate now employed by the school –who had never been on Advance Transit either but was eager to help. He distributed a simple graphic flyer (right and below) to students that promised a Friday afternoon bus trip to neighboring Hanover to get donuts from famed Lou’s Restaurant & Bakery and visit Dartmouth’s “Hogwarts-esque” Baker Library.

On a sunny February day, I met a dozen students and alums in the school’s lobby. I prompted them to download Advance Transit’s real-time app and gave them a bus system overview—how to find the bus stops, which routes run where, etc. Then we walked around the block to the bus stop and took the 15 minute trip from White River Junction to Hanover, New Hampshire.

Once in Hanover, we picked up an overstuffed bakery box of assorted donuts from Lou’s and walked across the Green to Baker Library. The students had a great time

digging into the comics and graphic novel section of the library “stacks” and then tiptoeing through the ornate Tower Room.

Many had never been to Baker before—even though CCS maintains a library card there for its students. But now this vast resource is only a short bus ride away.

Aside from giving a few pointers, I didn’t have to do much after the students boarded the bus in White River. That’s just it. Simply getting them on the bus that first time undid the majority of their concerns about the bus. After all, they had watched the bus’s movement on the real-time app while they waited at the bus stop, and then a knowledgeable and friendly driver picked them up on time and took them to Hanover, as promised. Sure, they still had to learn their way around town and get on the right bus, but the bus was now a known and trusted entity. Perhaps Robyn, an alum, put it best: “I just needed someone who knew the system to go with me the first time.” And remembering the impact of a coworker first taking me on Advance Transit almost two decades ago, I think she’s right.

– Bethany Fleishman, Transportation Program Manager at Vital Communities/Upper Valley Transportation Management Association

Market-Fresh Cooking Demos

Love to shop at the farmers’ market, and want to learn a new tip or recipe for cooking with all the great produce that is available this month?

Join local chef Holly Pierce for weekly cooking demos at the Hanover and Greater Falls Farmers’ Markets during the month of September!

Shop with Holly as she visits the market vendors to select ingredients from the bounty of local food available this time of year.  Then watch her create a dish that you get to sample. She’ll share the recipe as she goes and have other recipes to share that highlight enjoying the abundance of the Upper Valley late summer harvest!

Wednesdays at the Hanover Area Farmers’ Market from 3-6 pm
September 5, 12, 19, 26

Fridays in Bellows Falls at the Greater Falls Farmers’ Market from 3-7 pm
September 7, 14, 21, 28

The Norwich Bookstore is the BOM!

Celebrate The Norwich Bookstore as the September Business of the Month!

And as a founding Local First Alliance member, The Norwich Bookstore has been and an anchor business in downtown Norwich providing the community with expert service, diverse products, and keeping the local economy moving for 24 years! The Norwich Bookstore has been on a mission to deliver newly released titles or your favorite classics in whatever format you like: printed, ebooks, and now digital audiobooks.

For the month of September enjoy listening to books and get 30% off by using the code BOM2018. These audiobooks are available through our indie partner, Libro.fm, and all sales support our store. Choose from over 100,000 titles!

Audiobooks are easy to download through the store website: norwichbookstore.com. You can listen on your iPhone, Android device, or personal computer.

Liza Bernard and Penny McConnel

It has been said that Liza Bernard is a force of nature; at the very least, she’s certainly a force of the local economy.

Along with business partner Penny McConnel, Bernard opened the Norwich Bookstore in 1994 and has been a key player in the “Local First” movement in Vermont and the Upper Valley ever since. Read more about the bookstore that bucked the trend of online book buying in this Valley News Enterprise business magazine article.

As a locally-owned, independent business, we participate in many aspects of our community. We create jobs and pay local taxes. We support schools, libraries and a number of other not-for-profit organizations. We encourage you to help keep the Upper Valley a great place to live, work, and play: Think Local First when dining out, banking, hiring professional services, or shopping for anything — including audiobooks.  – Liza Bernard

Mascoma Bank is the BOM!

Celebrate Mascoma Bank as Business of the Month August 6-17 and support three nonprofits while you’re at it!

Mascoma Bank has put community first since 1899 and as their way of celebrating being the BOM, Mascoma Bank will 

donate $1 each to COVER Home Repair (another Local First Alliance member!), Monadnock Humane Society, and AHEAD (Affordable Housing, Education & Development

when you comment why you love local on the Mascoma Bank Facebook page. Share your favorite locally owned stores, restaurants, markets, bank, nonprofits, businesses, and services.

Let them know how local businesses support your community through donations, sponsorships, volunteering, and other good deeds. Love the quality products and service at the businesses owned by your friends and neighbors – share it and Masoma Bank will support three valuable nonprofits that strengthen the fabric of our community!

Congratulations to Mascoma Bank becoming a B Corp this year! Read more about what that means to the bank and our community below.

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For Mascoma Bank it was never a question of if, but more so, when would we become a Certified B Corporation. Joining the ranks of more than 2,500 businesses worldwide focused on doing business for the right reasons was a natural progression for us. Mutuality has always been the cornerstone of our culture. By joining forces with like-minded businesses, we can make an impact greater than we ever imagined. The vision and values of B Corp is the next chapter for a bank steeped in the tradition of neighbors helping neighbors, doing what we can to participate in making our communities an enjoyable, happy, healthy, safe places to live.

Certified B Corporations sign a Declaration of Interdependence identifying that together we can make a tremendous impact by expanding the traditions of giving back, sustainability, environmental protection, transparent business practices, and well-being for our employees and communities. It is not an agreement that is taken lightly. This global movement is dedicated to making positive change in a big way. We are not alone in our vision. Together with companies like King Arthur Flour, Boloco, Ben and Jerry’s and Cabot Creamery our impact will be felt right here in the communities we serve.

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Building a relationship with Mascoma Bank is more than opening accounts and securing services, it is active engagement in the many ways we give back. You become something much greater than just an account holder. We support countless organizations and non-profits, not just by monetary donation through internal committees and Mascoma Bank Foundation, but we roll up our sleeves and get to work with hands-on giving as well. By doing business with Mascoma Bank you choose to be a part of something that will make an impact for good, today and years to come.

Power of Produce Clubs

Power of Produce Clubs are fun, free, and filled with fresh local food. Fourteen locations are hosting Power of Produce this summer. Visit our POP page  or download the schedule here. Kids sign up at the POP Host table and learn about the day’s produce-based activity. It might be a scavenger hunt, a quiz, an easy salad recipe. When they’ve completed the activity (everyone’s a winner!) children receive $2-3 of kids-only market money to spend on produce. Kids can come once or come many times, during the hours listed below. No need to sign up in advance or come at a certain start time. It’s a wonderful way to connect children with healthy eating, healthy shopping, local farms, and fun! Get the details!

Farmers’ Markets are Truly Local

Download the printable area Farmers’ Market Calendar! See a full online area market schedule here! Farmers’ markets are truly local, and that’s as true today as it was 20 years ago. You don’t have to worry about reading labels or reading between the lines, because you can talk to the farmer. Get the real story behind your food, learn how it was made and why. These things matter to you, and hearing directly from the producer is best.With over 20 area markets you can meet hundreds of local producers and find the foods that make you smile.

Special activities for kids and the Friend of the Market card are just two of the exciting programs this summer at many markets. You can find details here.

So download the printable area Farmers’ Market Calendar. It’s handy for work, home, car, church, school… share your love of local with your communities.

Beautiful market photo by Molly Drummond!

Let’s get together to make something good happen

Re-making our transportation system will shift us toward better, cleaner, and more equitable living.

Imagine useful, affordable, and accessible village centers and downtowns with a variety of services, housing, and jobs. Where many people of all ages, socio-economic classes, and backgrounds could live and work, without needing frequent trips to a commercial strip or school complex accessible only by car and flanked by vast parking lots.

Imagine if cars weren’t king of our downtown streets. Instead, streets were a true common space, where kids could walk or bike to school or sports practice, people could engage with neighbors and nature on foot or human-powered wheels, and where transit, car-share and ride-share would foster strong social ties.

For people who live outside of town, imagine a robust public transit system where vanpools, buses, and trains bring elders, workers, and school kids in and out of village and downtown hubs, reducing our need for parking lots, highway expansion, and fossil fuels.

If that doesn’t sound like a future worth working for, here’s a reminder of what we have now—a system that gives people tough choices with their limited money, time, and mental energy, all causing a vicious cycle of physical and emotional stress and degradation of our Earth.

Our car-dominated transportation system is hard on our wallets. Vermonters collectively spend $1.38 billion on fuel every year – and most of those dollars leave the state. Add car payments, insurance, maintenance, and snow tires to the cost of gas, and how much of your pay goes to your commute, especially if you can’t or don’t live close to town?

Policy makers say there’s not enough funding for a region-wide transit system, but it’s worth looking into how much taxpayers spend on parking lots, highways, and subsidies to the automobile and petroleum industries.

Our car-dominated transportation system degrades our health and wellbeing. Many of us spend an hour or more driving to work plus more time running errands and shuttling kids. Many kids spend an hour on the school bus each way. Time sitting in a motor vehicle is inactive, cloistered, and adds to stress, plus drains time from exercise, healthy eating, and community engagement.

Also, the Upper Valley’s population is getting older. Soon, a large cohort of elders will stop driving. They will need affordable places to live and rides to critical services and social events so they aren’t isolated at home. How will we make this happen?

We hear that bike/pedestrian infrastructure and more efficient land use is too hard and expensive, yet how much money and energy do we spend on fitness regimes, health care, and sub-standard elder care?

Our car-dominated transportation system fuels climate change. Fifty-five percent of household carbon dioxide emissions are from transportation. And worsening climate change will likely contribute to a less stable economy, more volatile gasoline prices, and increased storm damage, exacerbating all the other issues we face.

Some see electric vehicles as a silver bullet for halting greenhouse gases from transportation, but will a new kind of car operating in the same old system just provide a stop-gap while maintaining other deep problems in our society?

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get together to change the future. We frugal people of New England specialize in people-sized solutions, simple, ingenious, and on a shoestring. Let’s get to work to combat climate change using those local values and make our community healthier, more vibrant, more prosperous, and more resilient for everyone. Get started today by checking out these resources:

Vital Communities “Commuter Calculator”
vBike
Advance Transit
Stagecoach
Connecticut River Transit (“The Current”)
Go! Vermont
New Hampshire Rideshare 

Then contact the Vital Communities Transportation Team to learn more!

– Bethany Fleishman, Transportation Program Manager

Giving Back to the Community

Local First Alliance members really know how to give back to the community. Year-round Local First Alliance members go above and beyond by putting the community and its residents first and giving back in any way they can.

This holiday season support the businesses that help make the Upper Valley so special by patronizing Local First Alliance members. When going out think local first and choose to visit local independent stores and services providers. Anytime of the year it is important to support local businesses but during the holiday season you can make an even bigger impact by also buying your gifts locally. Picking up gifts or gift certificates at Local First Alliance member businesses is easy and rewarding. Make a difference this year and Shift Your Shopping. Think Local First!

Continuing reading to see just how much Local First Alliance members have contributed this year to help make the Upper Valley a better place to live, work, and play.

Co-op Food Stores – Pennies for Change program collected more than $250,000 for area charities,2 tons of food donated each week to Willing Hands, and  proudly support organizations like Vital Communities, The Upper Valley Haven, LISTEN, and many more.

Mascoma Savings Bank – the bank gives to hundreds of organizations throughout the year through the Mascoma Savings Bank Foundation and Bank Sponsorships. Read More

Chippers – Vital Communities, David’s House Golf Tournament, Friends of Morrill Homestead, Howe Library, Lake Sunapee Region VNA, Marion Cross School PTO, Montshire Museum , New London Barn Playhouse, New Hampshire Humane Society, Northern Stage, Norwich Historical Society, Opera North, Our Lady of the Snows, Pomfret/Teago Volunteer Fire Department, Prosper Valley School, Thompson Senior Center, Woodstock Union High School teams, Upper Valley Haven, Upper Valley Land Trust, VINS, Woodstock Historical Society, Woodstock Recreation Center, Woodstock’s Spectrum Teen Center, Zack’s Place Turkey Trot, Quechee Public Library, Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, Hanover Rotary Club, Health Connection of the Upper Valley, Thompson Senior Center, Change the World Kids, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Greeley House, Hanover High School Project Graduation, Make a Wish Vermont, Thetford Elementary, Woodstock High School Project Graduation, Woodstock Food Shelf.

Great Eastern Radio – Central Vermont Salvation Army, Vital Communities, New Hampshire Food Bank, David’s House and Upper Valley Haven, and Lakes Region Children’s Charities.

King Arthur Flour – Hunger Free Vermont, Vital Communities, Upper Valley Haven, and their Bake For Good: Kids program, Vermont WARMTH (Home fuel heating assistance), Vermont Foodbank, Family Place, David’s House, Helping Hands, Vital Communities.

LaValley Building Supply – Northern Stage, David’s House, Upper Valley Haven, Vital Communities.

West Lebanon Feed & Supply – Upper Valley Humane Society, VINS, Lacey’s Fund & the VT Police Canine Assoc., Lebanon Varsity Sports, Willing Hands & Share the Harvest, Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society, Watson Upper Valley Dog Park, Shaker Field Dog Park, Local 4-H & GMHA programs, Local Police k-9 training, Local Boy & Girl Scout Troops, Vital Communities

A.B. Gile – Lebanon Opera House, Northern Stage, Colonial Theater. Staff members serve on the board of Visiting Nurse Hospice VNH, Second Growth, and Cedarcrest of Keene. Staff members volunteer for Lebanon High School Hockey, Special Olympics, and Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl

Jake’s Market & Deli and Jake’s Coffee Co. – West Central Services, Special Olympics, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Toys for Tots, Montshire Museum, Kilton Library, Lebanon Opera House, Good Neighbor Health Clinic, David’s House, WISE, AVA Gallery, Skip’s Run, New London Hospital, SPARK Community Center, Zac’s Place, Lebanon CCBA, Karp’s Classic, Visiting Nurse & Hospice for NH & VT, Dartmouth Athletics, Lebanon/Hanover/Hartford/Walpole/Springfield/Andover/New London Schools, Enfield Village Assoc., Upper Valley Haven, Lebanon/Hanover/New London/White River/Bellows Falls Rotary, Friends of Veterans NH & VT, Greeny Golf Tournament, DARE, New England Handicapped Sportsman’s Assoc., Norwich Lyons Club, Local Fire and Police Depts., Upper Valley Trails Alliance

Systems Plus Computers – Supports over 100 local organizations each year. Read more.

Ledyard National Bank – Ledyard giving 2017 Ledyard’s commitment to community support encompasses all that we do as bankers and as citizens responsible for the growth and vitality of the areas we serve. Our civic involvement is built upon a well-defined ongoing charitable giving program that allows us to impact our neighbors in ways that go beyond day-to-day business activities. Through both in-kind and cash donations, we help nonprofit organizations throughout the Upper Valley, Concord and Lake Sunapee Regions succeed.

As a community bank, Ledyard is aware of the hardships and challenges facing individuals, businesses and nonprofits. Thus a significant portion of our charitable donations support organizations that address the needs of those in the low-to-moderate income segment of our communities (we allocate at least one-third of our total contributions budget for this purpose).

Chase Brook Software – Hanover Conservancy, Hanover Trails Committee, Howe Library, Willing Hands, Hanover Conservancy, Hanover High Field Hockey, Hanover Community Gardens, Hanover Improvement Society, Storrs Pond Recreation Area, Campion Rink, Ford Sayre Memorial Ski Council, Hanover Rotary, Hanover High School Soccer Program

Copeland Furniture Company Store – Montshire Museum, AVA Gallery, Bradford Conservation Commission, Mentoring Project, Make a Wish, Connecticut Valley Fair

Dan & Whit’s General Store – ​The Norwich Lions Club, Hartford/Norwich Basket Helpers, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Norwich Women’s Club, Upper Valley Trails Alliance, Upper Valley Hostel, Upper Valley Reptile Group, COVER Home Repair, Norwich Child Care Center, WISE, AVA Gallery, Bayada Nurses for Veterans, Hartford Historical Society, Special Needs Support Group, Upper Valley Humane Society, Norwich Library, High Horses, The Upper Valley Haven​, White River Junction Rotary, VT Prevent Child Abuse, Alice Peck Day Senior Center, Grass Roots Soccer, Upper Valley Aquatic Center, High Horses, Windsor County Partners, Beaver Meadow & Root Dist. Schoolhouses.

ECFiber – Free upgrades to all schools, public institutions, and libraries in its coverage area.

Energy Emporium – Shaker Bridge Theater, Shaker Museum, Whaleback, The Mascoma Music Performing Arts,  Upper Valley Robotics Team #95, the Grasshoppers, Lebanon Opera House.

Got Weeds? – Rural Vermont, NOFA VT, VT Food Atlas, 350 VT, VT Food Bank, Royalton Community Radio, Farm to Ballet, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Upper Valley Haven, Vermont Food Bank

Henderson’s Tree Service – Vital Communities

Hubert’s Family Outfitters of West Lebanon  Hubert’s is a big supporter of  the communities they serve making annual donations to regional youth sports programs including several soccer programs , Lebanon basketball and baseball, and  Hartford, Claremont, New London, Newport, and Peterboro baseball.

Hubert’s is yearly supporter of Lebanon Parks and Recreation program, Newport Recreation Center, Claremont Recreation Centers, Arrowhead, CHAD, the Prouty, Good Beginnings, Valley Regional Visiting Nurses, New London Hospital Days, Valley Regional Hospital Golf Tournament, and many road races to foster the health of community members.

Support for the arts and education include: Lebanon Opera House, Claremont Opera House, New London Barn, Peterborough Players, Newport Art Center, concerts on the common, Newport Winter Carnival, Newport and New London Historical Society. Hubert’s supports library arts centers at Richards, Fisk Free, and Kilton libraries, and a variety of community events such as local school plays, honor society, yearbook, teams, organizations and class fundraisers, and Dollar for Scholars.

We are and have been proud supporters of Grafton County Senior Center, Claremont, Newport Senior Centers Wise, Listen, Turning Point Network, Claremont Soup Kitchen, Newport Food Pantry, United Way, Southwestern Community Services, Shelter From the Storm, Cornucopia, Livable communities, local farmers market, Sargent Land trust, friends of Mt. Sunapee, We have partner with Lebanon, Newport,Claremont Peterboro Rotary and Sunapee lions on specific fundraiser to support local communities

Some of the larger endowment renovation projects include: Twin State Maker Space, Eagle Block, New London Hospital Expansion, Claremont Community Center, The Brown Block, Grafton Senior Center Expansion, Corbin Covered, Newport Railroad covered bridges, Sullivan County Dental Program, Richard Library renovation, Library Arts Center endowment.

The Hubert family have donated countless hours on various committees and boards to support and improve our communities (Richards Library board, NH Fish and Game, Sullivan County Sportsman Club, Economic Corporation of Newport member, New London and Newport Chamber, Newport PTO, Richard School renovations committee, Newport Education Foundation, Citizens Leading for Environmental Responsibility (CLEAR),  Newport Recycling Committee, and ACTs.

Janson Law Office – Lebanon Opera House, Lebanon Rail Trail, Shaker Bridge Theater, City Center Ballet, Second Growth,  NH Charitable Fund, Vital Communities

Longacres’ Nursery Center – Wounded Warrior Projects

Molly’s Restaurant & Jesse’s Steak House – The Upper Valley Haven, Upper Valley veterans

Norwich Bookstore – We support the community in many different ways. Some are ongoing like the 1% of all books purchased through our Rewards Program that is donated to a variety of organizations. Others are event based such as our collaborations with The Book Jam to raise funds for the Norwich Public Library and several area school’s reading programs – Pages in the Pub and mutilple Book Buzz gatherings. Now in it’s 20th year, our Book Angel program collects hundred’s of books annually for local children, some of whom receive their first ever “very own” book. In addition, we donate books and gift certificates to auctions and other fund raisers – Good Neighbor, Norwich Women’s Club, Montshire Museum, AVA, and various libraries throughout the year.

Red Kite Candy – Many schools (Thetford Elementary, Thetford Academy, Oxbow, Bradford Elementary, Open Fields) for raffles, silent auctions, project grad donations, TA’s 7th grade DC Fundraising), Thetford Elementary PTO, area libraries (Strafford Library, Latham Library (Thetford), Peabody Library (Thetford), Bradford Library, and the Howe Library in Hanover.

South Royalton Market – Donates about $4,000, including fresh summer produce, to community meals and local organizations in the White River Valley.

Three Tomatoes Trattoria – CHaD, Vital Communities, Montshire Museum, LISTEN, AVA Gallery, Upper Valley Haven,Change the World Kids, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Lebanon Opera House, Opera North, VINS, Lebanon Farmers’ Market, West Central Behavioral Health Lebanon, Northern Stage

U.K. Architects – Owner is a board member of Plan New Hampshire (a statewide advocate of good planning, design, and responsible developement) and member of the West Wheelock Gateway Committee. Staff member is starting a nonprofit trails advocacy group in Woodstock

Woodstock Insurance –  Annual donations to non-profits is about $10,000 including the food shelf, the Woodstock Sr. Center, Pentangle  Council on the Arts, Project Graduation, Billing Farm & Museum, The Union Arena, The Library and many others. Serves on Boards for Woodstock Rotary and Thompson Senior Center.

And don’t forget our many members participating in the 19 Days of Norwich for the Upper Valley Haven organized by Local First Alliance member, Dan & Whit’s! To see all of the participating businesses go to the list provided by Upper Valley Haven, some members involved are:
We also have great non-profit members you can support directly:
To see all Local First Alliance members, please visit our local business directory.
If you are a Local First Alliance member not mentioned here, please tell us how you give back – Nancy@VitalCommunities.org – We want to know.

Giving Tuesday – A Global Day of Giving

Giving Tuesday is a one-day annual campaign that encourages people to contribute to their local communities. Celebrate #GivingTuesday this Tuesday, November 28, by making a donation or volunteering for an Upper Valley organization you believe in. Appreciate, support, and celebrate what makes the Upper Valley such a special place to live, work, and play.STACKED_0Look for #GivingTuesday posts on our Vital Communities Facebook page, where we’ll share some of our work from the past year and celebrate the impact of the community members who make it possible. Leading up to and on November 28, look for the #GivingTuesday hashtag for ideas on how to get involved and use it to share what you’ve done this year for your community.

#GT Heart (1)Learn more about #GivingTuesday.

Leasing Your Land to a Farmer Workshop

Leasing Your Land to a Farmer Workshop

Join Vital Communities and Land For Good to learn about leasing your land to a farmer. This workshop is for private landowners interested in making their land available to farmers for agricultural production, for members of community organizations interested in assisting local farmland owners to keep agricultural land in active production, and farmers interested in leasing issues. Assessing your land, crafting leases, legal, financial, tax, insurance, liability, and finding a farmer are some of the topics that will be covered in a panel discussion.

November 15, 2017

6-8 pm

Kilton Public Library, West Lebanon, NH

Register here.

Questions? Email Nancy@VitalCommunities.org

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