Local First Business of the Month

Introducing a new way to celebrate our wonderful, community-building, locally owned businesses:

Local First Alliance Business of the Month (BOM)!

Throughout the year we will be highlighting specific Local First Alliance members by celebrating with in-store promotions and engagement opportunities.

Our friends and neighbors are the people behind the amazing locally owned business and the BOM program is a way to learn about all the ways they support our communities (job creation, charitable giving, civic engagement, economic impact) and to thank them for all they do to make the Upper Valley a great place to live, work, and play.

Visit the BOM during the promotion and learn about the often overlooked value that locally owned  businesses contribute to our communities while taking advantage of the personal attention,  expert service, and unique products they provide.

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Join the Celebration September 18-30 – Free Stuff!

Visit King Arthur Flour Bakery + Cafe from September 18-30 to thank them for being such valuable community members and pick up a free baguette! Learn about Local First Alliance , snag a Love Local bumper stickers and a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase from King Arthur.

Keep your dollars circulating through our economy and support our locally owned businesses!

Future BOMs:

October – Hubert’s Family Clothing & Skinny Pancake

November – West Lebanon Feed & Supply

Closing Remarks for Heroes & Leaders from Markell Ripps

Thank you all for joining us to celebrate the young leaders who are being honored tonight, and thank you to Vital Communities for recognizing their important contributions to our community. It is so important to make a point to pause in our busy lives to recognize those around us who make our community what it is—the Upper Valley. As we all know, each year Vital Communities honors a different category of heroes and leaders. So the natural question that I am tasked to answer tonight is “Why are young leaders important?” It just so happens I have been asking myself this question since I first joined the Upper Valley Young Professionals in 2012, the year the group was founded. After five years being on the group’s board, and serving as its co-chair and chair for several years, I find that while I don’t feel as young as I did back then, through furthering the group’s goal of supporting young leaders by connecting them to one another and to their community, I have learned quite a bit about this subject.

The first thing I have learned is that the Upper Valley is especially scant on young professionals. If you are under 40 and accidentally walk into any non-profit board meeting in the Upper Valley, you will almost certainly be sweet-talked into joining. My own fiancé made the mistake of missing just one Grafton County Bar Association meeting, and—oops—he was voted onto the board and was deemed the group’s website guru! Now that isn’t to say that young professionals don’t want to join non-profit boards—they certainly do, like many of the leaders being honored tonight. The problem is that there just aren’t enough young leaders to go around. In the 2015 census, the populations of both New Hampshire and Vermont had a higher average age than almost all the other 50 states.

Perhaps partly due to this fact, being a “young person” in a field or community where your colleagues are usually in a different demographic category than you are can be quite challenging. Many young people in the Upper Valley’s workforce find themselves here to take on a new career opportunity or start a new educational program, and many are moving from more populated areas around the country. Our young professionals group would hear that many in this category arrive in our area feeling somewhat isolated. Many of the Upper Valley’s workers not only live in one town and work in another, but they don’t congregate in the same city center during the day, as is the case in metropolitan areas. This means that there is less chance to strengthen social interactions among members of our workforce unless we make those chances more readily available ourselves. We also often hear that many of our young professionals may be the only ones under 40 in their offices, and sometimes even in their whole fields. Once they get here to the Upper Valley, they are faced with being not only a newcomer, but also someone in the dreaded “young” category.

We all know being in the “young” category often does not have positive connotations when you are trying to be successful in your career or be a leader in your community. We have heard how our honorees tonight have been quite successful in their fields, but I also wanted to give a voice to our other peers, who may have trod a more difficult path. “Young” is often associated with “inexperience,” which means it can be difficult to have one’s voice be heard and taken seriously in some scenarios. I have heard from several of my peers that even though groups and businesses are eager to welcome young people, those peers then often face challenges when offering a new idea or solution, when it has been done the same way for a very long time. However, it is imperative for young leaders to be able to contribute to the cause they are interested in, because when they can, in turn they will feel invested in the business or group’s success. Likewise, professionals in the mentor class can pass down their experience and expertise. This helps a business or group remain relevant and resilient, and by including a young person in your business or group, it builds in continuity and succession planning for the future.

How can we help a young person to succeed? As an example, when I first joined Dan Grossman in law practice, he made a specific point to encourage everyone in the office to refer to me as just another lawyer in the office—not a young one; not a new one. You don’t want your brain surgeon to be introduced as the young, new brain surgeon. That does not instill confidence. Words matter. Just this week, a colleague and I were referred to as “girls” in a professional setting. I know it was not intended to be a slight, but when you speak to someone who is a professional peer, it doesn’t make them feel like one if terms such as “young” or “girls” or “boys” are used. Often, the person using these terms doesn’t even realize the effect this can have, but that’s exactly why I wanted to talk about it. Our young professionals group has even considered that maybe including the word “emerging” professional in our mission would be more accurate than “young.” We all know what is meant by the term “young,” and if used correctly, it can be worn as a badge of pride, like it is tonight for our honorees, who are in a special class of leaders that deserves to be celebrated due to that specific circumstance and the challenges they face because of it. However, in certain contexts, it can be used in a way that is not helpful to promoting one’s sense of confidence and ability. All of us of all ages need to think about how we can best support this special type of leaders and professionals.

So why are emerging leaders important to a healthy and vital community? Well, let me tell you another quick story. When I first became a lawyer in my mid-twenties, some fellow professionals and clients would tell me that I looked too young to be a lawyer, or that I couldn’t possibly be a lawyer because I was the same age as their own children. To which I would respond, “Old lawyers don’t grow on trees.” And guess what—experienced professionals, those who create jobs and pay taxes, they don’t grow on trees either. They have to ripen over time. In other words, seasoned professionals just don’t show up out of nowhere. The community has to plant the seeds that encourage young leaders to move here. As a community, we have to provide them with affordable shelter and affordable education; we have to mentor them, listen to their ideas, and support them in their goals. If we are lucky, they will decide to put down their roots here, contribute to our economy, populate our schools, pay taxes, shape local policy, stabilize our community, and plan for its future. This takes work on all of our parts.

Young leaders reinforce why the Upper Valley is such a great place to live. If you ask the person sitting across from you at the table today why they chose, out of the whole country, to live here, you will most likely get a response identifying the area’s work/life balance, natural beauty, community cohesiveness, availability of social services, opportunity to be involved in local government, or friendly corporate environment. When you work here at a local business, most of us can call up any one of our competitors if we need help. You can call your neighbors when your car gets stuck during mud season. Or when your neighbors find your goats in their own yard, eating their flowers, they will bring them back to you—an experience I can personally attest to. These qualities just don’t happen by accident. They are created by a balanced community that strives to take care of all the needs of its members. A community where every little bit can go a long way and a new idea can spark real change. Our region provides fertile ground for fostering this cohesiveness, and with the right amount of care, our young leaders have demonstrated for us the amazing results that can be grown from it.

Our honorees today help to weave these very intangibles together to provide the fabric that is our sense of place. Some of them have overcome moving from across the country, far from their own families and friends; have started a new career or new educational program; have developed a new business; and even started new families, all while taking what little precious personal time they have left to give back, for the benefit of all of us in this room. Despite these challenges, our honorees today have made amazing contributions to our community’s health care, environmental, economic development, finance, technology, corporate social responsibility, disability awareness, international advocacy, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, athletic, and education spheres. They were not afraid that they didn’t have enough experience. They were not afraid that their voices wouldn’t be listened to. They were not afraid of trying something new that perhaps hadn’t been thought of before. They were not afraid that they couldn’t make a difference, or that it wasn’t worth trying. They started by giving back a little bit a time, and their success and impact grew and grew.

We celebrate your hard work, your perseverance when facing these obstacles, and your dedication to an idea greater than yourself. An idea that connects all of us in this room together. An idea we call the Upper Valley.

You should all be proud to be called a “young” leader, and we know you will give back to whatever community you live in—even though we truly hope you will continue to make the Upper Valley your home.

Delivered at Heroes & Leaders celebration 5.24.2017 honoring Young Leaders by Markell Ripps

Spring Into Bike Riding Season…

…with practical skills training to get you riding more!

What is Everyday Bicycling?

It’s using your bike for those everyday trips that we all make — grocery shopping, getting to work, or even picking up the kids from school. It’s about making the choice to leave your car behind when you can, in favor of getting outside, exercising, and saving gas!

How can I get involved?

Vital Communities offers a range of bike skills trainings for groups of adults (and mature teens). We can hold one workshop or a whole series at your workplace, community center, or town park.

What kinds of workshops are offered?Pumping tire

Basic Everyday Bicycling (practical tips on everyday bicycling) 60 minutes long (indoors)
On-Street Bike Skills (build your street riding skills) 60-90 minutes long (outside, with your bike!)
Basic Maintenance (tire change, basic adjustments and troubleshooting) 60-90 minutes long (inside or outside, with your bike!)

What does a workshop provide?

• Practical tips from experienced Everyday Bicyclists on incorporating bike travel into any lifestyle
• Expert advice and guidance
• Low-cost gear: bells, lights, helmets, reflective vests, and more!
• Free informational resources

tom-bikeWhat is the time investment?

• We strive to make hosting a workshop very easy for you.
• We offer highly flexible scheduling.
• We provide all of the marketing and promotional materials that you need.

How much does it cost?

• FREE for Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (UVTMA) members. (If you’re not a UVTMA member, give us a call!)

• FREE for Vermont communities and workplaces, thanks to support from Local Motion and Go! Vermont.

How do I get started?

Contact Bethany Fleishman at 802.291.9100 x111 or Bethany@VitalCommunities.Org

30 Community Leaders Graduate from Leadership Upper Valley

Leadership Upper Valley Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Largest Class Ever

The largest class yet – 30 participants – graduated from Vital Communities’ Leadership Upper Valley program on June 8 in Windsor, VT. The year-long program aims to inspire, educate, and engage established and emerging leaders to better serve their communities.

“This program changed the very way we think and interact with one another and with our community,” said graduate Markell Ripps, an attorney at Grossman & Ripps PLLC, who spoke on behalf of the Class of 2016 at the ceremony. “We entered this program as individuals, bankers, nonprofit employees, lawyers, educators, entrepreneurs, CEOs, family care givers, business owners, Vermont and New Hamphsire residents, and we leave as volunteers, future public servants, board members, questioners, and best of all classmates, fellow Upper Valley community members, and friends.”

Established in 2007, Leadership Upper Valley engages participants in 10 day-long sessions from September through June focused on key aspects of community life in the region. Topics include Economic Development, Education, Government and Politics, Arts and the Creative Economy, Communication, Health and Human Services, Environment, Transportation, and Justice.

Including this year’s graduating class, there are now more than 200 Leadership Upper Valley alumni. The Class of 2017 will begin in September.

This year’s graduates include:

Addy Mae Williams, Mascoma Savings Bank

Ayeshah Al-Humaidhi, Upper Valley Humane Society

Brent Edgerton, Kendal at Hanover

Christopher Coughlin, Dartmouth Printing

Cynthia Twombley, West Central Behavioral Health

Daniel McCarthy, Sage Dining Services

Diane Reinhardt, COVER

Elizabeth Long, Twin Pines Housing Trust

Emily Rogers, Hanover Consumer Co-op

Frank Gould, Mascoma River Greenway Coalition

Georgie Sawyer, David’s House

Irene Green, Northern Stage

Jeremy Coylewright, WISE

Jessie Farnham, Frazer Insurance Agency

Kyle Fisher, Listen Community Services

Lindsey Klecan

Lyn Miller, Our Hybrid Lives, LLC

Margaret Monroe-Cassel, TLC Family Resource Center

Marion Steiner, Lake Sunapee Bank

Markell Ripps, Grossman & Ripps, PLLC

Michael Baymiller, Hypertherm

Rachel Abendroth, Dartmouth College

Ron Miller, Sustainable Woodstock

Sadie Wells, Mascoma Savings Bank

Shawn Bard, Ledyard National Bank

Sue Nadeau, Southwestern Community Services

Terri Decker, Claremont Savings Bank

Tim Condon, Cook Little Rosenblatt & Manson, PLLC

Tina Stearns, City of Lebanon

Wendy Farnsworth, Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Planning the Parking Future of White River Junction

Hartford Awards Contract for White River Junction Parking and Transportation Plan; Vital Communities and RSG to Lead Project

Vital Communities and neighbor RSG have been selected by the Town of Hartford to develop a Downtown White River Junction Parking Management Plan. Using a combination of Town funds and a Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development Municipal Planning Grant, the study will examine ways to improve current parking conditions and to manage future demands for parking in the historic downtown.

Over the past 15 years, downtown White River Junction has experienced a significant economic revival and now finds itself a vibrant arts and business center. With the downtown’s resurgence, there is concern that the existing supply of public and private parking could eventually hinder revitalization efforts or result in demolition of historic buildings to increase the supply of parking. In response to this concern, Hartford’s parking plan will evaluate ways to maximize existing parking resources, make parking more user-friendly, and encourage the use of non-personal vehicle travel to the downtown.

“We are excited to take on this project and develop long-term solutions to the parking and transportation challenges facing the village where we work. It’s a great opportunity to combine the expertise of Vital Communities and RSG with our daily experience using parking and transportation options in White River Junction,” said Aaron Brown, transportation program manager. The project will analyze current town regulations and actual parking use, but will also rely heavily on input from local businesses and residents in crafting solutions for White River Junction’s needs.

“We take pride in researching and designing transportation plans to support vibrant downtowns across the US,” said RSG’s Dr. Erica Wygonik, Senior Engineer. “However, this project is particularly important to us because our headquarters are located in downtown White River Junction. We are honored to contribute to the planning process.”

The White River Junction-based nonprofit Vital Communities, which focuses on catalyzing solutions to regional issues, has advocated for sustainable transportation options since 2002. RSG has specialized in the planning, analysis, and design of transportation systems since its founding in 1986.

Honoring 12 Upper Valley Mentors

Vital Communities will honor a dozen Upper Valley mentors at its 2016 celebration on May 19. The annual event, now in its fifth year, recognizes community leaders who have made significant positive impacts in the region and serves as a benefit for the Leadership Upper Valley program of Vital Communities.

“The Upper Valley is a special place because of the people who care so deeply about our community,” said Vital Communities Executive Director Tom Roberts. “The 12 mentors we’re pleased to honor this year have invested their time and energy to provide guidance and inspiration to our region’s current and future leaders.”

Beth 2012Keynote Speaker: Elizabeth Sawin is Co-Director of Climate Interactive. A biologist with a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Beth trained in system dynamics and sustainability with Donella Meadows and worked at Sustainability Institute, the research institute founded by Meadows, for 13 years. Beth’s work increasingly focuses on Multisolving, helping people find solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while producing multiple benefits in health, justice, equity, resilience, and well-being. She writes and speaks on this topic to local, national, and international audiences. In 2014 she was invited to participate in the Council on the Uncertain Human Future, a continuing dialogue on issues of climate change and sustainability among a select group of humanities scholars, writers, artists, and climate scientists. Beth’s work also focuses on capacity building – helping leaders achieve bigger impact. She has trained and mentored global sustainability leaders in the Donella Meadows Fellows Program, and provided systems thinking training to both Ashoka and Dalai Lama Fellows in recent years. Beth lives in rural Vermont and is a member of Cobb Hill Co-Housing along with her husband, Phil Rice, and their two daughters.

Chief Alexander and carJim Alexander has spent his career helping and uplifting people both in his community and his work. Jim began his 25-year police career in the Upper Valley, culminating in the role of Chief of Police of Lebanon. He has a BS in Criminal Justice Administration and had a unique opportunity to graduate from the FBI National Academy in 2004. During his tenure as the Lebanon Chief of Police he was integral to several community programs, including the Grafton County Drug Court, which seeks to provide treatment and break the cycle of recidivism for repeat, non-violent offenders. Jim was one of a handful of local officials who launched the program, which has become a key part of the local criminal justice system. He is now the Emergency Management Coordinator for Dartmouth-Hitchcock and serves on the New Hampshire and Vermont Emergency Manager Hospital Association Boards. In addition he has been on the board for the Friends of the Drug Court and Lebanon Outing Club and is active in the Christ Redeemer Church in Hanover. Jim lives in Canaan with his wife Deb.

Barnes Boffey Barnes Boffey head shothas many passions, significant among them his love for the work and the vision of the Aloha Foundation. Summer 2016 will be his 24th and final summer as the Director of Camp Lanakila, and his 55th all together. He uses his Middlebury College drama major skills in all facets of his professional life, primarily teacher training, including directing the UVTTP (now UVEI) in its early adolescence and then as Director of Teacher Training at Dartmouth. He has maintained a private counseling practice since 1977, specializing in “Success Counseling.” As a long-term faculty member of the Institute for Reality Therapy, he worked closely with one of his primary mentors, Dr. William Glasser. Barnes credits much of his perspective in helping others to his own struggles with addiction and recovery, and his book Reinventing Yourself shares some of that journey. His true passion is helping people find their best selves and bringing those into being. He thanks Aloha for giving him the opportunity to do that as a way of making a living.

Tommy ClarkTommy Clark is a pediatrician and former professional soccer player. He conceived the idea for Grassroots Soccer after living and playing soccer in Zimbabwe. Tommy was born in Scotland and moved to Zimbabwe at age 14, where his father Bobby Clark was coach of the Highlanders Football Club. He attended Dartmouth College, where he was captain of the soccer team. Following graduation, Tommy returned to Zimbabwe to teach English and play professional soccer. He attended Dartmouth Medical School and was twice named the Resident Teacher of the Year during his residency in pediatrics at the University of New Mexico.  Following residency, Tommy was a research fellow at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California at San Francisco. Tommy has been awarded the American Academy of Pediatrics Annie Dyson Child Advocacy Award, the Dartmouth College Martin Luther King Junior award, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care Nkosi Johnson Award, and the Peach Abbey Courage of Conscience Award.

Carol DunneCarol Dunne has directed many acclaimed productions as the Producing Artistic Director of Northern Stage. She joined Northern Stage in 2013 and has helped to reimagine and reshape the company in its new home, The Barrette Center for the Arts. Under Carol’s leadership, Northern Stage has successfully launched a new works festival whose first play, Orwell in America, will transfer Off-Broadway in the Fall of 2016. A Senior Lecturer in Theater at Dartmouth College, she has forged an official partnership with Dartmouth offering a groundbreaking collaborative program called Shakespeare in the Schools for area schoolchildren, and creating an Experiential Term for Dartmouth theater students. Carol also introduced musical theater into the curriculum at Dartmouth and has directed half a dozen musicals there. She received the Distinguished Lecturer Award from the College in 2010. Prior to joining Northern Stage, Carol was the Producing Artistic Director of the New London Barn Playhouse, where she produced over 50 plays and musicals and is credited with dramatically transforming a struggling yet beloved institution into an artistically excellent, fully professional and financially successful company. She lives in Etna with husband Peter Hackett and children Ellie and Jamie.

 

PETERPeter Faletra received a Ph.D. from Boston University, where he was a teaching fellow in the accelerated medical school program. During his Ph.D. years he co-founded a successful biotech company and invented a novel method of producing large amounts of antisera for medical and scientific use. He spent 10 years at the Office of Science in the Department of Energy, where he was the Director of Workforce Development. In 2012, he was awarded an AAAS fellow for his many years as a mentor to students from middle school through medical school. Dr. Faletra is the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Academy of Science that has a mission to help secondary school students perform extensive scientific research and become members of the scientific community. He is now semi-retired and teaching science at Crossroads Academy where he and his wife Elaine take great enjoyment mentoring students from the Upper Valley and helping to inspire them to be the sort of scientists our world needs to address some of the most challenging issues facing the human race.

 

Dan JantzenDan Jantzen has been a member of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock management team since 1990 serving in a variety of leadership positions. In his current role as Executive Vice President for Operations and Chief Operating Officer, he oversees operations across the D-H system. In 2012, he was named one of the “100 Hospital and Health System COOs to Know” by Becker’s Hospital Review. A Certified Public Accountant for over 30 years, Dan was previously a Senior Manager in the Audit Department of KPMG Peat Marwick, primarily serving clients in the health care, public utilities, and financial services industries. He graduated from Northeastern University with a BS in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting. Dan has served on the Boards of a variety of Upper Valley organizations including David’s House, Crossroads Academy, New London Hospital, and Mascoma Savings Bank. He is a guest lecturer at Tuck, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI), and the Geisel School of Medicine and enjoys passing on what he has learned to the next generation of leaders. Dan lives in Etna with his wife, Deb. They have three adult children and a new grandson.

Shirley's head shotShirley Jefferson, a Selma, Alabama native, received her BS in Public Administration from Southeastern University and a JD degree from Vermont Law School. As the law school’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity, she provides leadership and guidance for individual students and student organizations, administers the VLS Code of Conduct, serves as chair of the Student Services and Diversity Committee and serves as an advisor to the President and Dean and other Deans and Directors on student and diversity issues. Shirley is also an adjunct professor teaching Race and the Law and Non-Profit Organizations and was appointed by Governor Jim Douglas to the Vermont State Police Advisory Commission. She is known for her motivational speeches on diversity for many different audiences. Shirley lives in Sharon, VT, with her son Jamaal and her granddaughter Liyah.

JoeJoe O’Donnell has been an Upper Valley resident for most of the time since 1969, when he arrived in Hanover to attend Dartmouth Medical School. He trained in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute from 1976-78, but soon returned to become chief of oncology at the White River Junction VA Hospital. He and his oncology colleagues were very involved in the development of the care of patients with cancer in the region, and the programs and outreach of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. He has also been influential in coordinated efforts aimed at preventing illness and developing palliative care programs. He has been in the Dean’s Office at Dartmouth Medical School since 1985 and is currently Senior Advising Dean. He has led award-winning efforts to involve students in service to the community, and nurtured efforts to embed compassion in medical care and to create a focus on wisdom in medicine. Joe and his wife Janice raised four children and now have four grandsons. They live in Grantham, N.H.

PeggyPeggy O’Neil  has been the Executive Director at WISE since 2003, working to support Upper Valley people and communities impacted by domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking. She also serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. With an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Antioch College, Peggy has worked in nonprofits focused on crisis services and mental health for over 25 years. She is a trained domestic and sexual violence advocate and received her crisis worker certification from the American Association of Suicidology. Peggy is also a 2005 graduate of Leadership New Hampshire and the 2015 recipient of the Deborah Aliber Award for Community Service from the Women’s Network of the Upper Valley. She lives in Cornish, N.H.

 

Susan Reeves colorSusan Reeves is Professor and Dean at the School for Health Professions at Colby-Sawyer College. A retired employee of Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital, she served the organization for 35 years, specializing in oncology nursing. Susan joined the adjunct faculty at Colby-Sawyer in 2003 teaching Biomedical Ethics. After serving in a part-time role as the Chair of the Nursing Department, in 2007 she was asked to lead and re-build the Nursing program where she has served since. She also led the development of the College’s Health Care Management, Health Promotion, and Public Health programs, as well as both an online bachelor degree completion program for registered nurses and the College’s first master’s program, which will be in nursing.  Susan is the Chair of the Board of Trustees for New London Hospital and is a Director for the Crotched Mountain Foundation. She also works closely with faculty of the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth to offer interprofessional education sessions to nursing and medical students as well as electives in the medical humanities. Susan and her husband David live in New London, N.H.

gayGay Sabin has been a beloved teacher for over 47 years, and also an award-winning supervisor and mentor, and an active leaders in many educational associations. Although she has officially retired, Gay is still serving as a substitute teacher at the Grantham Village School, where she has taught since 2002. Nominated by her 1965 classmates, Gay was awarded the 2015 Touch the Future Award by the Independent Alumni Association of Framingham State University honoring teachers who teach teachers and demonstrate and instill an enthusiasm for teaching. Among other accomplishments, Gay was awarded the national Thanks to Teachers Excellence Award in 1990. Gay began her teaching career in Deerfield, MA, where she and her husband, Chris, raised their daughter Kate. They moved to NH (Eastman) in 2002 and she began to work at the Grantham Village School.  In 2013, Gay was awarded the Eastman Recreation Volunteer Award for her work mentoring the teen business project, “Peppermint Patty’s.”

fwt photoFred Thomas, at age 89, personifies the mission of SCORE, an organization dedicated to providing counselors, advisors, and mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners and for which he often volunteers five days a week. Since 1984 Fred has served as a mentor for the Lebanon Chapter of SCORE, offering advice and encouragement to countless Upper Valley business owners. He served as President of the Lebanon Chapter for four years and has also been the Chair and President of the SCORE National Board of Directors. He has served as a past Board Member of both the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Vital Communities. In addition, he served as a Board member and Treasurer for the Upper Valley Land Trust. Fred holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Brown University. He and his wife Marjorie live in Thetford and have three daughters, Laurie, Kathryn, and Barbara.

Another Great Flavors of the Valley

The 45+ Upper Valley farms, food businesses, and non profits shared tasty treats, seedlings, and information with more than 1000 people Sunday (April 10, 2016) at the 15th annual Flavors of the Valley. The crowd enjoyed maple candies, artisan cheeses, crepes, farm fresh meat, fermented veggies, and so much more. Flavors celebrates our vibrant local food economy and is a great place to connect with farms and local food.

Skinny Pancake crew

Root 5 Danielle Ben Powerkraut

Field Acres Farm

Sweetland Farm Norah Flavors crowd attendees Thistel Hill cheese Putnam

Complete list of 2016 vendors.

 

Thank you to our event sponsors!

The Co-op Food Stores, Mascoma Savings Bank, Skinny Pancake, Yankee Farm Credit, King Arthur Flour, and New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food.

Big News: SERG Joins Vital Communities

Big news from the Vital Communities Energy Program:
Sustainable Energy Resource Group (SERG) is merging into Vital Communities.

The Sustainable Energy Resounce Group (SERG) is an Upper Valley nonprofit with a strong legacy of local energy action in the Upper Valley. Since its founding in 2002, SERG has pioneered many innovative local energy projects that have since been replicated throughout the Northeast.

After 14 years as an independent nonprofit organization, we are thrilled to announce that SERG has decided to combine forces with Vital Communities’ growing Energy Program. Vital Communities and SERG have been close allies since Vital Communities first began work on energy issues in 2009, collaborating on many projects and working together to support our region’s expanding network of town energy committees. In combining our two programs we are confident we can accomplish more together than we ever could on our own.

Just a few highlight’s from the long list of SERG accomplishments over the past 14 years:

  • Established the first town energy committees in Vermont and New Hampshire in 2002 (there are now more than 200 across both states)
  • Inspired and helped develop the “Button Up” weatherization workshop series that has been presented dozens of times throughout the Upper Valley
  • Led an effort that tripled the number of weatherized homes in Thetford in one year, and helped launch a Vermont Home Energy Challenge to get other towns to do the same
  • Created an online resource library and e-newsletter to help residents in the Upper Valley improve their energy footprints
  • Organized and hosted dozens of public forums on everything from solar hot water to electric vehicles

In the coming year, SERG Founder and Executive Director Bob Walker will work directly with Vital Communities as a consultant and mentor to ensure a strong transition.

We’re seeking partners and supporters in this exciting transition – make a gift today to support Vital Communities in carrying forward SERG’s legacy of inspiring sustainable energy action in the Upper Valley.

The move will be official as of January 1, and we’re planning a big old party in February to celebrate SERG’s accomplishments and kick off our exciting new work together. Stay tuned!

Have questions, comments, or well wishes? Email Sarah@VitalCommunities.org.

New Study on Funding Local Transportation

Vital Communities is pleased to release a new study that examines an optional vehicle registration fee used by over a dozen New Hampshire municipalities. The fee, authorized under RSA 261:153 VI, allows municipalities to collect up to $5 per registration to establish local transportation improvement funds for projects as diverse as basic road maintenance, sidewalk construction, and public transit.

Vital Communities Transportation Program Manager Aaron Brown, the report’s author, concludes that a growing number of communities are interested in the fee and that towns and cities have benefited greatly from their local transportation funds.

“The municipalities that collect the fee range in population from under 2,000 to more than 100,000, but they share a common theme: the revenue collected under this program is essential for maintaining good local transportation options.” —Transportation Program Manager Aaron Brown

Representative Patricia Higgins, a Democrat who represents Hanover and Lyme, recently introduced a bill that would raise the maximum amount that a municipality may add to their vehicle registration fee from $5 to $10, but only if the voters of that municipality decide they want to raise more revenue.

“Towns and cities can no longer rely on state funds to meet their important transportation needs, be it repairing a bridge so goods can reach a market, funding public transportation so commuters can get to work, or making a bike route safer for students to get to school. This fee, totally optional, allows localities to identify and solve their own problems. I’m grateful for the work of Vital Communities in educating towns and cities all over the state of the existence of this enabling legislation, and I hope my bill will allow local residents more flexibility to arrive at local solutions.”

Read the full report: A Look at the Municipal Vehicle Registration Fee

And the Winners Are…

Caption: Paul Coats, director of Recreation and Parks for the City of Lebanon, discusses the Mascoma River Greenway at the TMA 13th Annual Meeting.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock, Resource Systems Group, Advance Transit, and a Hartland bicycle commuter were honored at the 13th annual meeting of the Upper Valley Transportation Management Association (TMA), a program of Vital Communities. The annual awards recognize organizations and individuals making it easier to bike, walk, carpool, and ride the bus in the Upper Valley.

“This year’s award winners demonstrate our region’s commitment to healthy, affordable, and sustainable transportation options,” said Aaron Brown, Vital Communities’ transportation program manager. “Though we live in a rural region, the Upper Valley serves as a model for providing access to good transportation in small-town America.”

The TMA honored one individual and three organizations:

  • Commuter of the Year: Bicycle commuter Jesse Hills of Hartland was honored for his commitment to biking year-round to his job at Mt. Ascutney Hospital.
  • Large Workplace of the Year: Dartmouth-Hitchcock was recognized for its years of support for public transit and its new sustainability council, which features a transportation team.
  • Small Workplace of the Year: Resource Systems Group was honored for innovative programs including co-locating near transit and offering subsidies to employees who purchase homes close to the workplace.
  • Project of the Year: Advance Transit’s Green Route expansion, which improved service to every 30 minutes and increased the route’s ridership 50 percent.

Keynote speaker Paul Coats, director of Recreation and Parks for the City of Lebanon, discussed the unique fundraising success that will make the Mascoma River Greenway a reality in the coming years.

The Upper Valley TMA is a program of Vital Communities that works to reduce reliance on driving alone. The TMA’s members include local municipalities, transit agencies, major employers, and three regional planning commissions.

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