Vermont Everyone Eats Serves Its One-Millionth Meal!

On Thursday, April 29, Vermont Everyone Eats, an innovative COVID-19 response program, is celebrating 1 million restaurant meals served to Vermonters experiencing food insecurity. The program was launched in August 2020 with an allocation of $5 million of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund contracted by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action Agency. The program would have expired in December, but widespread community support and advocacy empowered program and state partners to secure additional funding through FEMA and the program has been extended through the state of emergency.

Of that 1 million meals, about 90,400 will have been served by Upper Valley Everyone Eats (UVEE), the Upper Valley hub for the program, coordinated by Vital Communities in partnership with numerous social service agencies. More recently, Vital Communities and partners obtained funding to create a pilot program modeled on UVEE in Claremont, NH, called Claremont Everyone Eats.

“Everyone Eats is an example of what we as a society can do when we think outside the box and use our resources in innovative ways,” said Vital Communities Executive Director Sarah Jackson. “It has helped restaurants survive by paying them to do make delicious, healthful food for those who need it most, and has strengthened relationships among social service agencies and the food community. It’s been a privilege for Vital Communities to coordinate Upper Valley Everyone Eats.”

This week, UVEE welcomes three new restaurants into its fold, according to UVEE Coordinator Lauren Griswold: The Newbury Village Store & Thistle Cafe (Newbury), The Little Grille (Bradford), and Tacocat (Randolph). It says farewell and thanks to Simon Pearce (Quechee) and Piecemeal Pies (WRJ). Other participating businesses are Maple Street Catering (Hartford), Global Village Food (Windsor), Lake Morey Resort (Fairlee), Moon and Stars (Vershire), and the Windsor Diner (Windsor).

Vermont Everyone Eats program design draws on many of Vermont’s strengths. It puts Vermont’s independent restaurants and robust local food system at the center of feeding their communities. Over 200 Vermont restaurants have contributed to the one million meals, which have contained nearly $1 million of Vermont ingredients.

UVEE is “beyond phenomenal,” said Mel Hall, co-owner of Global Village Foods “I was shocked at how fast it came together, how comprehensive it was, and how it brought in a steady revenue stream for those of us in production.”

The program was created and has developed through powerful, cross-sector, public-private partnerships. Fourteen community “hubs” execute the programming on the ground in all 14 Vermont counties. These hubs represent hundreds of community organizations who are working together to contract meals from participating restaurants, manage delivery logistics, promote the program, and ensure the meals are delivered safely to meal recipients. Jean Hamilton, Vermont Everyone Eats Statewide Coordinator acknowledges the important role of the community hubs, “Vermont is well-known for its community organizations and thank goodness for them. In less than 9 months, our program was launched from a concept to this moment, 1 million local meals delivered to neighbors all across our state. We were able to do this because of the community organizations that stepped up and got right to work. They are the backbone of our community resilience.”

Hamilton sees this moment to celebrate the collective action of the program: “It is the people behind VEE that we are really celebrating today. Starting with the individuals who were courageous enough to step forward and ask for help, the meal recipients and the restauranteurs, to the farmers and food producers, the lawmakers and agency staff, the members of our statewide taskforce, and especially the hub organizers and volunteers – Vermont Everyone Eats is a model of how our communities can rise up together holding our shared vulnerability as an inspiration for progress. Who is your Everyone Eats hero? Please join us in celebrating them today.”

“Light River Junction” Kicks Off May 7 with “Toons and Tones”

The celebratory summer series Light River Junction First Fridays with WRIF kicks off May 7 with a fantastic line-up called “Toons and Tones.” Throughout downtown White River, there will FREE outdoor arts to inspire and amuse, with an emphasis on young local artists: a filmmaking workshop, live music, selected footage from the creative minds of CATV, projected short films (such as Formation of a River, above), and even an audio-visual beat set to get us moving after a long pandemic year of isolation.

In the words of the organizers, “We are celebrating the bright, colorful days ahead with a vibrant showcase of music and movies by local artists. Downtown White River Junction is set to become a canvas for light and sound! Throughout the night, on every corner in WRJ, there will be space for discovery. Local musicians, including Jakob Breitbach and Rob Oxford, will be playing acoustic sidewalk sets. Projections and movie screens of every size will be showing myriad images from CATV’s extensive local archives, curated by Chico Eastridge. In shop windows, on walls, you can revel in the little delights of curated short films, hand-picked to color the sonic canvas of the night. Swap the digital for the physical and get hands-on in a “cameraless filmmaking” workshop with local analog filmmaker Quinn Thomashow. After handling the real substance of film we’ll watch a program of shorts made on 16mm and Super 8 film, with live accompaniment. Plainfield’s Rah Zen will perform a swirling beat set while Lana Real transforms the historic Bell Building into a fantasy of ‘Electric Dreams.’ It will be a journey in sound and color from start to finish.”

As always, be sure to follow the latest COVID-19 protocols!

Light River Junction First Fridays with WRIF aims to revitalize White River Junction’s “First Friday” celebrations, disrupted by COVID, by attracting people of all ages back to the village through film and media arts. On White River Junction First Fridays (May 7, June 4, July 2, and August 6), WRIF will transform downtown parking lots into an attractive forum for safe dining and cinema viewing. Film, including work by local filmmakers, will be projected in novel ways in spaces enhanced by local visual artists. The project is expected to revive social interaction and economic activity through the arts in reimagined and ongoing ways that can offer inspiration to other Vermont communities. The project is made possible by an $18,000 grant from The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), and the Better Places partners.

The grant was obtained by a partnership centered on White River Indie Films (WRIF) and including the Town of Hartford, the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, Vital Communities, CATV (Community Access Television), the Briggs Opera House, the Center for Cartoon Studies, and local businesses and film and media artists.

Time Location Activity Descriptions
5-7 pm Behind Revolution 16mm Cameraless Filmmaking Workshop With Quinn Thomashow
5-6 Out on the sidewalks Music Performances Acoustic street performances by local musicians including Jakob Breitbach and Rob Oxford
8-11 pm Town Crier CATV Playlist 8 hours of Local Archives curated by Chico Eastridge
5-9 pm Revolution & Scavenger Window Movies Selected visual music films, Here in the Valley highlights
8-9 pm Lamphouse Micro-cinema Short films Curated short films
8-9 pm Main Stage at Coolidge Parking Lot Short film program

Visual Music Short Films 

Scream Tone – (Joe Dery)

Glistening Thrills  (Jodie Mack)

Films by Rich Fedorchak 

With live accompaniment 

by Amy Garapic et al…

Brief Glimpses on the Way to Joy, Part 1 (Rich Fedorchak, 19 mins, color, sound)

8-9 pm Bell Building Projections

Aged in Wood (Bruce Posner)

Strafford/Tunbridge One Planet Cameraless Film

Formation of a River (JE Crawford)

Vacationland (Matt McWilliams)

9-10 Bell Building Projections Electric Dreams – A projection mapping performance by Lana Real
9-10 Main Stage at Coolidge Parking Lot Performance Audio-visual beat set by Rah Zen

 

Putting Your Money to Work Locally

More Free “Local Investment” Events starting April 8!

“Market forces” got you down? Does it seem like Big Finance keeps putting resources toward things that create more environmental damage and human inequality?

Maybe it’s time you took the reins of your own financial resources and made them work for positive change where you can see it: right here in your community. Why fund Wall Street when you can direct your money toward Main Street?

Vital Communities and its partners (including The Local Crowd Monadnock) have added four more free events in our series entitled “Put Your Money Where Your Life Is”: Reclaiming Our Local Economy“:
  • Investing for Home Creation, Thursday, April 8, 5:30 pm: Your savings can help create more lower cost homes. Learn how even small amounts can bring financial, social, and environmental rewards.

  • Put Your Money to Work Locally: Investment Clubs 101, Thursday, April 15, 5:30 pm: Interested in investing locally but don’t want to do it alone? Investment clubs pool money to collectively invest in local businesses and bring a social aspect to the process – they make investment fun! Join Matt Cropp from the Vermont Solidarity Investment Club to learn the ins and outs of starting your own investment club, as well as some ideas about what to look for if you want to join an established club and increase your power to do good by investing as a group.

  • Seeding Change: The Power of Conscious Commerce (2021), viewable on demand April 22-24: a documentary on how consumers can help save the world “one purchase at a time” and “triple bottom line” businesses that consider the social, environmental and financial impacts of their companies and address some of today’s most challenging issues. This award-winning documentary empowers viewers to be part of the solution by voting with their dollars and supporting the brands and products that align with their environmentally conscious values.
    Part of the Monadnock Region Earth Day Film Festival.
  • Put Your Money to Work Locally: Community Loan Funds 101, Tuesday, April 27, 5:30 pm: Community loan funds are a home grown solution for investing in our communities, energy independence, and working lands. Join us for a deep dive into impact investing with Vermont and New Hampshire community loan funds.

Sign up here to receive lively weekly email companion pieces to these events, starting March 30!

These events and material are educational in nature and should not be construed as specific legal, accounting, or investment recommendations.

Check out resources on our new “Invest Local page!

Don’t miss these great opportunities to increase your financial IQ!

Our Vital Economy

The series is part of Vital Communities’ ongoing “Vital Economy” program—initiatives that teach people the importance of buying and investing locally and offer how-tos and incentives. One step was sponsoring the Upper Valley Indie Impact Study (2020), which found that businesses rooted in the Upper Valley keep up to 4 times more money circulating in the region’s economy than do national chain stores, and that remote online retailers suck hundreds of millions of dollars from our economy each year.

Local businesses create stable jobs, enhance community character, and support our communities with donations of time and money, and have proven to be especially critical during the pandemic. Now, after a year of COVID shutdowns, bankruptcies, deaths, and economic despair, it’s all the more important to channel our resources to the local businesses and organizations that sustain us. In fact, it’s an opportunity to relocalize our economy—catalyzing innovation and shifting capital to where we live to fuel the entrepreneurs, businesses, and projects our communities need to be more sustainable, vibrant, and resilient in the face of future disruptions and challenges.

Crowdfunding Available for NH Projects

New Hampshire businesses, farmers, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community initiatives: Do you have an incredible project just waiting to happen? Want to grow your organization, our community, and the local economy, but don’t have access to capital?

The Local Crowd Upper Valley is a rewards-based local crowdfunding platform that helps communities invest in local businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and initiatives that are mission-driven social enterprises. If your organization contributes to the community and could use a lift, apply to be part of a Route 11 Corridor cohort of campaigns.
Vital Communities is partnering with TLC Monadnock to bring local investment and capital access to the Route 11 Corridor of New Hampshire thanks to funding from USDA Rural Development.

Selected Route 11 Corridor proposals will receive a $500 stipend to produce a crowdfunding campaign video. Studies show that crowdfunding campaigns with videos raise four times more funds than campaigns without videos.

All crowdfunding campaign teams receive hands-on technical assistance to help them launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. Campaign teams also receive a free crowdfunding assessment to ensure that they receive the coaching and training that best fits each team’s needs.

Submit a proposal for 2021 crowdfunding campaigns if:

  • Your organization is based in Claremont, Newport, Kearsarge Region
  • Your project is budgeted for under $10,000 .
  • Your project is simple, achievable, and will generate excitement in your community (and, if part of a bigger project, has stand-alone value.)
  • Your project will create an economic and/or social benefit to your business and the community
  • You are able to invest time to build a successful fundraising campaign

Sample project ideas: Farm infrastructure, renewable energy installation, community garden or art project, vehicle to expand nonprofit service, capital to launch a new rural enterprise, food business equipment

Submit your project proposal by May 7, 2021

The Local Crowd Upper Valley will select up to eight projects to participate in this crowdfunding cohort, based on the potential of each project to positively impact their local economy and community. Selected proposals will launch their campaigns in 2021, with support and guidance from The Local Crowd Advisors.
The Local Crowd Upper Valley FAQ here.
 

The Local Crowd details:
You (project/campaign creator) will need to:

  • Form a Campaign Team to actively promote your fundraising project
  • Work closely with the The Local Crowd team to leverage training, marketing, and community outreach tools
  • Adhere to the keys of success promoted by The Local Crowd platform:  YOU share with your personal network. YOU make it happen.

You will receive:

  • Support from The Local Crowd team to run a successful funding campaign
  • Access to business development support from project partners including NH SBDC and SBA
  • Marketing and outreach support to spread the word about your project
  • Free Crowdfunding Readiness Assessment ($85 value)
  • Funds raised via the crowdfunding campaign for the designated project (less platform and credit card fees)
  • Opportunity to reduce platform fees if you meet campaign milestones

Questions? Contact 

nancy@vitalcommunities.org

Community. Connection. Capital.

Everyone Eats Comes to Claremont!

Thanks to a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Upper Valley Everyone Eats model is crossing the Connecticut River: Vital Communities is working with Claremont, NH, partners to pilot a program in that city that will provide restaurant-made meals to people in need.

Beginning March 25, three participating restaurants (The Hitchin’ Post, Sunshine Cookshop, and The Common Man) will each prepare 65 meals per week for the Claremont Soup Kitchen, for a total of 195 meals per week. The restaurants will receive $10.90 per meal ($10 plus a 9% New Hampshire rooms and meals tax) and are asked to allocate at least 10 percent of their ingredient budget to New Hampshire farms and food processors. These nutritionally balanced meals are intended for anyone experiencing food insecurity or whose food insecurity has been impacted by the pandemic. The program is currently slated to run for 10 weeks. Partners hope this pilot will inspire enthusiasm for a larger-scale adoption of this model in New Hampshire.

“The Claremont Soup Kitchen is truly blessed to be chosen to participate in Everyone Eats,” said Cindy Stevens, the kitchen’s executive director. “This program is one more example of how amazing our community is and their willingness to look out for their neighbor. It is heartwarming to know that not only can we provide for those needing food assistance but also those who are struggling to keep their staff working.”

The Claremont program is modeled on Vermont Everyone Eats, for which Upper Valley Everyone Eats (UVEE) is the Upper Valley hub, administered by Vital Communities. Begun in August 2020 and slated to continue through June 2021, Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA). UVEE is a partnership of Vital Communities, LISTEN, the Upper Valley Haven, Willing Hands, and numerous Upper Valley restaurants and social service providers.

The Claremont program is also inspired by other programs around New Hampshire that connect restaurants to people facing food insecurity due to COVID, such as Community Kitchen of Keene, Community Meals to Go in Portsmouth, and the Monadnock Restaurant Project.

“This model, this pandemic response, has cropped up around the state, around New England, and the country because it’s so efficient and impactful,” said Lauren Griswold, Vital Communities’ coordinator of UVEE and the Claremont program. “With one source of funding it supports an economic sector and boosts community food security.”

As of March 14, UVEE had accomplished the following:

  • Meals served: 70,000
  • Individuals served: 68,300
  • Seniors served: 15,000
  • Revenue for restaurants: $700,000
  • Revenue for farms and food businesses: $46,500

For information about UVEE and Claremont Everyone Eats, check out the UVEE web page or email uvee@vitalcommunities.org.

The hottest spot in White River Junction this summer? A parking lot!

An underutilized parking lot behind the Hotel Coolidge in downtown White River Junction will become a vibrant, pandemic-safe place to eat, visit, and watch films and projection art this summer, thanks to an $18,000 grant from The Vermont Community Foundation (VCF), the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD), and the Better Places partners.

The project also helps re-start the downtown’s First Friday celebrations, suspended due to the pandemic, with community arts projects and light and sound installations to re-animate the entire downtown and celebrate the arts community centered there.

The grant was obtained by a partnership centered on White River Indie Films (WRIF) and including the Town of Hartford, the Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce, Vital Communities, CATV (Community Access Television), the Briggs Opera House, the Center for Cartoon Studies, and local businesses and film and media artists.

Light River Junction First Fridays with WRIF” aims to revitalize White River Junction’s “First Friday” celebrations, disrupted by COVID, by attracting people of all ages back to the village through film and media arts. From May to August, WRIF will transform downtown parking lots into an attractive forum for safe dining and cinema viewing. Film, including work by local filmmakers, will be projected in novel ways in spaces enhanced by local visual artists. The project is expected to revive social interaction and economic activity through the arts in reimagined and ongoing ways that can offer inspiration to other Vermont communities.

“The vision originated in WRIF’s experimental ‘Light River Junction Festival of Cinema Light,’ a weekend of outdoor projection in downtown White River Junction,” explained WRIF Board Member Samantha Davidson Green. “In December 2020, we shouted out to local filmmakers, who shared their work freely for the public to enjoy safely—whether by car or through snow on foot—projected on buildings and in shop windows. Its success revealed how much the community craves the shared experience of art and the potential for re-imagining cinema and media arts events to draw people back to our hurting downtown businesses. The Better Places grant enables WRIF to partner with an amazing team of local organizations and the Town of Hartford, many of whom pioneered the First Friday celebrations years ago, in our efforts to revitalize our local economy and heal our community fabric through the arts.”

The project’s main site is the parking area at 40-50 Currier Street, behind the Hotel Coolidge and Gates-Briggs building, which owns the lot and supports the project. The lot is bordered on several sides by white-sided buildings that will serve as projection surfaces for cinema and moving image installation art. In addition, a portable screen will be erected in one end of the lot for screening high-resolution feature film content after dark. The site is adjacent to the Wolf Tree Bar and in walking distance from a half-dozen restaurants, making it convenient for outdoor dining.

The project also involves a number of other aspects, including community art projects and smaller film and video projections and sound installations at spots throughout downtown, with changing content by local filmmakers and sound artists.

These activities will be part of White River Junction First Fridays, which are scheduled for May 7, June 4, July 2, and August 6.

The project’s organizers see its impact as three-fold:

  • Boosting the local economy by stimulating downtown shopping and dining;
  • Helping our recovery from the social isolation of COVID with programming that is welcoming to all and accessible by public transportation; and
  • Supporting the creative economy—which has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic shutdowns—by drawing people back to arts-rich White River Junction and showcasing works by local and emerging film and media artists, including participants in the Vermont- and New Hampshire-wide Freedom & Unity Young Filmmakers’ Contest and a CATV-sponsored Film Slam/festival.

The White River Junction project was one of only eight chosen from among 63 applications representing 54 communities across the state from Canaan to Pownal and Alburgh to Brattleboro. A total of $129,275 was awarded.

These grants will help communities reimagine and reopen public spaces for safe dining, shopping, and recreation, while showcasing the state’s unique sense of place. The community-driven projects ranged from village green and park improvements, to public art installations, alley activations, community arts centers, music and performing arts series, as well as other grassroots projects that bring people together safely in public spaces.

“Better Places grants are an important tool in our toolbox to help revitalize our communities as we recover from the pandemic,” said Governor Phil Scott. “I want to thank the Vermont Community Foundation, the National Life Foundation, the Vermont Arts Council, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, and the Vermont Department of Health for their work on this program as we support improvements in towns and villages across the state.”

“Public spaces can tell a story about our communities—they bring us together when accessible or leave us isolated when they aren’t,” says Vermont Community Foundation President and CEO Dan Smith. “The Community Foundation is committed to working with other state leaders to support projects that bring people together safely and contribute to the recovery and resilience of our economy, culture, and sense of connection.”

“First Fridays” started more than ten years ago through the collaboration of local businesses such as Revolution with the Center for Cartoon Studies, Main Street Museum, and others to celebrate downtown, becoming a community ritual gathering around the arts and local commerce.

With the exception of the past year, WRIF has presented an annual film festival and special screenings since its 2004 founding, in various downtown locations, at times in conjunction with First Fridays. WRIF and CATV have also partnered for film slams and screenings.

Climate Partners Summit Resources

Climate Partners Summit Resources

On February 25, 2021, over 70 interested partners and citizens joined the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) for a virtual Climate Partners Summit, featuring brief presentation from a variety of organizations working to address the effects of climate change in our community.

Click here for a video recording of this 90 minute event, or look for the “video clip” links in the text below to skip directly to a specific presenter.

UVAW co-chair Erich Osterberg, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College kicked off the afternoon event with an update on the latest climate science (slides | video clip). Another UVAW member, and host of the Summit, Kevin Geiger from Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission, then provided a helpful explanation of what we mean when we talk about “Climate Adaptation” versus “Climate Mitigation” (slides | video clip)

The highlight of the event was a series of presentations from partner organizations, each presenting for roughly four minutes, aided by four slides. Their contact information, along with slides and video clips, are linked below.

Michael Caduto, Director – Sustainable Woodstock (slides | video clip)
Matt Cahillane, Program Manager – NH Department of Public Health Services (slides | video clip)
Kate McCarthy, AICP, Sustainable Communities Program Director – Vermont Natural Resources Council (slides | video clip)
Peg Merrens, Vice President, Conservation – Upper Valley Land Trust (slides | video clip)
Ron Rhodes, Director of Restoration Programs – Connecticut River Conservancy (slides | video clip)
Jack Spicer, Clerk, Climate Advisory Committee for the Town of Hartford (slides | video clip)
Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist – Green Mountain Power (slides | video clip)

Attendees were encouraged to subscribe to the Upper Valley Climate Action discussion list, an email-based service allowing anyone in the Upper Valley to share and discuss opportunities related to local climate action. Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup, the host of the Summit, encouraged organizations in attendance to consider joining the workgroup, which meets monthly to discuss and coordinate climate adaptation activities throughout the Upper Valley.

A follow up event will be held at Noon on March 24, 2021. This virtual Climate Connections lunch will feature casual, small group discussions on what we’re all doing to address climate change in the Upper Valley. Following an “Open Space” facilitation format, participants will propose topics at the start of the hour, then break out into small groups to discuss and make connections. This event is free an open to the public. Click here to register.

“Put Your Money Where Your Life Is”: Reclaiming Our Local Economy

“Put Your Money Where Your Life Is”:
Reclaiming Our Local Economy

Event series focuses on local investment as a tool for rebuilding our region’s economy

“When the pandemic recedes, we all will be called upon to take extraordinary steps to revive the local businesses that serve as the foundation of our communities. One critically important step will be for you and other members of your community to move your investment capital from Wall Street to Main Street.”                                       

– Michael Shuman, Community Economist  

After a year of COVID shutdowns, bankruptcies, deaths, and economic despair, how can we, as individuals, help rebuild our economy and community? A series of events and workshops over the next several months aims to provide information and resources about local investment AND opportunities for action. Yes, opportunities−in addition to the economic disruption and heartache, the pandemic has brought opportunities for relocalizing our economy, catalyzing innovation, and shifting capital to where we live to fuel the entrepreneurs, businesses, and projects our communities need to be more sustainable, vibrant, and resilient.

The Upper Valley Indie Impact Study reported that businesses rooted in the Upper Valley keep up to 4 times more money circulating in the region’s economy than national chain stores, and that remote online retailers suck hundreds of millions of dollars from our economy each year. Local businesses create stable jobs, enhance community character, and support our communities with donations of time and money, and have proven to be critical resources during the pandemic emergency. Browse resources on how to invest locally!

Increasing the development and success of more locally based businesses and innovations will make our region more resilient and strengthen our economy so that we can better handle future disruptions and challenges. Investment in these enterprises is critical to their success. Reclaiming our economy will require that we all “invest” in our future−whether by committing to shop locally more and click less, or by actually investing some retirement savings in the sectors, businesses, or projects that will make the Upper Valley a better place to live, work, and play for generations.  The goal of this series is to build awareness of the ways we can currently invest in reclaiming our economy as we recover from economic disruption, and to find new and creative tools and networks to move money from Wall Street to Main Street.

Many thanks for the sponsors of this event series: Mascoma Bank, King Arthur Baking Company, Savings Bank of Walpole, Hanover Co-op Foods Stores, Valley News, Monadnock Food Co-op, Green Energy OptionsNorwich Solar Technologies, LaValley Building Supply, The Local Crowd, The Keene Sentinal

Learn more about local investing on our resource page

Local Investment 101: How to Reboot the Region’s Economy After COVID-19

March 4, 11, 18, 25, 2021

5:30 to 7:00 pm

A four-session virtual workshop designed to help grassroots investors and community groups develop practical, local investment strategies, to fuel innovation and resilience in the community.  
Presenter: Michael Shuman, Community Economist and Author of Put Your Money Where Your Life Is

Small businesses throughout Vermont and New Hampshire have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns, as have the local economies that depend on them. One readily available solution—one that does not depend on government bureaucracies—is to mobilize grassroots investment. Americans now have $56 trillion in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, pension funds, and insurance funds—nearly all of it invested in global corporations. Here in the Upper Valley, one conservative estimate is that there are $5-6 billion in locally managed investments; this figure does not include the untold billions invested by local residents but managed out of state. 

Recent changes in the law (around investment crowdfunding, for example) make it cheaper and easier for nonaccredited investors to put money into local businesses. However, most of us believe we have no choice but to continue to invest our money in the stocks and bonds of the world’s biggest companies, even if we barely understand them. There are real alternatives, but few of us know about or consider them. In fact, you can invest in everything that matters to you. You can put your money into that neighborhood grocery store you love, your little sister’s first house, or your nephew repayment of high-interest student loans. If you’re smart about local investing, you can do this in a way that provides substantial, stable financial returns and lower risk than for Wall Street investments. Plus, local investments come with social returns on investment and wind up strengthening your community, local resilience, and the tax base.

Local Investment 101 aims to help participants answer three essential questions:

  1. How can I rebuild my community and the local economy after the ravages of COVID-19?
  2. How can I make my community more resilient to better prepare for future global crises?
  3. How can I move my money into the businesses, projects, places, and people I know and love?
Workshop structure:
Four 90-minute Zoom sessions built around 15 videos (20-40 minutes each) with homework assignments to be completed prior to each scheduled session.

Session 1

  • Introduction of the class objectives, materials, and assignments.   
  • Introductions of classmates to one another.  
  • Introduction to the first eight videos.

Session 2 

  • Review of the first eight videos.
  • Preparation for assignment #1 (a personal investment strategy).
  • Introduction to the final seven videos.

Session 3 

  • Presentation and discussion of assignments.  
  • Review of seven videos. 
  • Preparation for assignment #2 (a community strategy).

Session 4

  • Presentation and discussion of assignments.
  • Next steps.
Who should attend?

The Local Investment 101 series is intended to help grassroots investors, businesses looking for capital, and policymakers committed to facilitating local investment.

Cost:

$100 fee for the entire four-part series. Scholarships are available upon request (contact nancy@vitalcommunities.org).

About the presenter: 

Michael Shuman is an author and leading visionary on community economics, serving as Director of Local Economy Programs for Neighborhood Associates Corporation and Adjunct Professor at Bard Business School in New York City. He is also a Senior Researcher for Council Fire and Local Analytics, where he performs economic-development analyses for states, local governments, and businesses around North America. His three most recent books are:

  • Put Your Money Where Your Life Is: How to Invest Locally Using Solo 401ks and Self-Directed IRAs
  • The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity
  • Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street

Register for Local Investment 101 Workshop Series

 

Local Investment: An Introduction

February 23, 5:30-7 pm

What is local investing? What can it do for a community? Why is it important? Who can do it, and how? Join us for a panel discussion with local and regional entities that are mobilizing local capital for local businesses, projects, and people. 

Panel participants:

  • The White River Investment Club – Peter Reed and Charlie Page
  • New Hampshire Community Loan Fund – John Hamilton
  • Vermont Community Loan Fund – Will Belongia
  • The Local Crowd – Jen Risley
  • Norwich Solar Technology Community Investment Impact

A virtual conversation to learn more about local investing from the people already doing it, and learn how you can put your money to work right here at home.  Watch this event recording.

Learn more about local investing on our resource page

Thank you to the Series Sponsors:

   

Mascoma Bank is a Certified B Corporation® which means we use “business as a force for good.” Practically speaking, being a B Corp™ inspires us to consider the impact of our business decisions on our communities, our customers, our employees, and our environment. It is helping us to discover new ways we can deliver positive change in the cities and towns where we work and live. For 120 years, Mascoma Bank has put community first. Our status as a B Corp™ is just the latest example of our commitment to the communities we serve.

   

King Arthur Baking Company is an employee-owned company, every one a bakers at heart. There mission is to be the ultimate resource and inspiration in the kitchen, to inspire connections and community through baking, and to use our business as a force for good.

  
The Hanover Co-op Food Stores‘ vision is a well-nourished community cultivated through cooperation. With locations in Vermont and New Hampshire, the Co-op Food Stores is owned by more than 20,000 families, and is one of the oldest and most successful co-ops in the United States. Serving the good folks of the Upper Valley since 1936! Anyone can shop, member or not.

 

The Valley News is the Upper Valley’s source for news, sports, and more serving 22 western New Hampshire communities and 24 communities in eastern Vermont.

The Monadnock Food Co-op is a community-owned food store offering a diverse selection of local, organic, and natural foods to the Monadnock Region. The Co-op is located at 34 Cypress Street in Keene, NH.

 

For more than 145 years now, Savings Bank of Walpole takes very seriously the responsibility that comes with being our community’s truly local bank. We’re here to provide financial products that are in our customers’ best interest, not ours. It is and always has been the very foundation of our existence. More importantly, as the only bank headquartered right here in our community, we know that we are in business because of our community and for our community. This is our only home – and we know we cannot continue to thrive or survive without a strong local economy.

 

 

The leader is commercial, municipal & institutional solar solutions. Norwich Solar Technologies‘ mission is to continue to advance the integration and deployment of affordable solar power for regional organizations – enabling them to improve their bottom line while reducing their carbon footprint. Our clients include municipalities, community services institutions, schools, businesses large and small, and community solar residential clients.

 

Green Energy Options is a mission based certified B Corporation that supports the use of cleaner, more efficient, and renewable sources of energy. Specializing in residential solar, home heating and cooling, our team of energy experts provides friendly advice, quality products, and excellent installations to homeowners in the Monadnock Region and beyond. We listen carefully to our customers so that we can offer the best products for their needs. Our goal is 100% customer satisfaction. Please stop in, meet the team, take a tour of our showroom and talk about our shared vision for a healthy local economy and environment.

      

 

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The 2021 Climate Change Leadership Academy is Recruiting!

Combatting climate change depends not just on major national and global policy, but also on action within our local community.

Promoting citizen-driven, community-level action is the goal of the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA), which is accepting applications from January 11 through February 14 for its 2021 session. The program from March to June.

2CLA is a program of the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW), a group of leaders and partner organizations striving to make the region more resilient to climate change, coordinated by Vital Communities.

The organizers seek a diverse class of 25 participants from across different social groupings (age, town, socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, gender identity, etc.), with each participant bringing a unique perspective to the cohort. UVAW believes that a learning environment rich in diversity and full of opportunities to engage with unfamiliar ideas, perspectives, cultures, and people will prepare participants to become change agents in their communities. Prior knowledge of climate change is not required. Tuition is $30, and scholarships are available.

Those 25 participants will attend six sessions that will include expert presentations, group discussion, and collaborative work sessions on climate change, including what is happening globally and locally, and what can be done about it. The 2CLA curriculum will teach participants how to use a design-thinking approach to develop solutions to climate change problems. The program is based on the belief that climate solutions must be accessible to individuals who are most directly affected by climate change, so participants will learn how to seek and incorporate input from climate-vulnerable populations into project design. By the end of this program, participants will be expected to apply their learning and develop a community service project that promotes climate resiliency.

“The impacts of climate change have never been so clear and concerning; record-high wildfires, hurricanes, and temperatures, another summer drought here in New England, and rising sea levels,” said Erich Osterberg, UVAW vice chair and associate professor of earth sciences at Dartmouth. We need to empower citizen leaders to help our local communities reduce greenhouse gases while also becoming more resilient to the climate changes that are already happening.”

Sessions will take place every other Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, starting March 24, 2021, with the graduation taking place June 16, 2021. The sessions will be held virtually via zoom until it is safe to meet in person. Any in-person meetings will follow COVID-19 safety precautions and participants can opt for remote participation. Attendance is expected at every meeting and a light dinner will be provided for any in-person session.

Session topics are as follows:

  • Wednesday, March 24 – Session 1: Understanding Climate Change
  • Wednesday, April 2 – Session 2: Mitigation
  • Wednesday, April 21 – Session 3: Adaptation
  • Wednesday, May 5 – Session 4: Opportunities for local action
  • Wednesday, May 19 – Session 5: Project Development
  • Wednesday, June 2 – Session 6: How to be a leader
  • Wednesday, June 16 – Graduation

Questions? Contact Caroline Wren, Vital Communities Climate Change Leadership Academy Coordinator, at 2cla@vitalcommunities.org or 802-291-9100 x114

The 2CLA program was previously offered from October 2019 through May 2019. This year’s Climate Change Leadership Academy is made possible in part by support from the New England Grassroots Fund, Vermont Communities Foundation, and The Cotyledon Fund.

Calling for Civil, Inclusive Communication & Interaction: Thoughts on January 6

As an organization that brings people together, bridging boundaries and engaging our whole community to create positive change, we were shocked and saddened by the images that came to us from Washington, DC, on Wednesday. Watching a violent mob overrunning the Capitol,  recognizing the contrasts in how these protestors were treated compared to those calling for racial justice in the summer, seeing the violation of two of our nation’s most important institutions: fair and free elections and the peaceful transfer of power—all were ugly reminders of the deep divisions and systemic racism in our country.  This is not the nation we want to be. 

How do we pull back from this brink? At Vital Communities, we are reminded of our founding by members of the Upper Valley League of Women Voters. Nationally and locally, the League strives to involve people in the electoral process, especially the disenfranchised. We value the work done by the League, Fairfight in Georgia, and others to make the electoral process more truly democratic. 

The local League members who founded Vital Communities in the early 1990s believed it wasn’t enough to increase people’s access to voting; voters needed to be informed about important issues and understand the region as a whole. They saw the need for conversations and problem-solving among people from a spectrum of experiences, identities, and political outlooks. 

Nearly three decades later, that sort of deep, civil, inclusive conversation remains one of our guiding ideals. We believe this kind of community interaction can be, in its way, an antidote to the cynicism, misinformation, divisive rhetoric, and racism that is harming our nation. This week’s events at the U.S. Capitol were a stark reminder of the work that remains to be done. We’re hopeful that others will join us as we work to bring people together and build true community. 

The Vital Communities Staff

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