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Two Old Friends, One New and Improved Energy Program

VITAL SCHOOLS Make Vital Communities

Matching Challenge!

FALL 2015 CONTENTS Working together, we make the Upper Valley region a great place to live, work, and play.


Letter from the Executive Director

1 195 North Main Street White River Junction, VT 05001 Phone: 802.291.9100 Email: Staff:

Staff Tom Roberts, Executive Director, x101 Aaron Brown, Transportation, x111 Stephanie Carter, Database, x108 Bethany Fleishman, Transportation, x113 Emily Gardner, Events, Corporate Relations, Local First Alliance, x115 Stacey Glazer, Leadership Upper Valley, Web Media, x102 Ron Hiser, Finance, x104 Nancy LaRowe, Valley Food & Farm, x106 Carole Petrillo, Bookkeeping, x103 Allison Rogers Furbish, Communications and Energy, x114 Beth Roy, Valley Food & Farm, x105 Sarah Simonds, Energy, x109 Becka Warren, Valley Food & Farm, x112 Lauren Whittlesey, Valley Quest and Volunteers, x107 Printing: Compliments of Dartmouth Printing Company of Hanover, New Hampshire. Printed on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper. Design: Nomad Communications of White River Junction, Vermont.


Short Takes


Two Old Friends, One New and Improved Energy Program

• Jon Gilbert Fox, Patricia Higgins on page 2



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• Becka Warren, ice cream and apple on page 3 On the Cover: Energy Program Manager Sarah Simonds and SERG Founder/Executive Director Bob Walker will work closely together in the coming year. See story on page 10.


Upcoming Events

Photography: Staff unless indicated otherwise. • Molly Drummond, Tom Roberts on page 1, Local First Alliance on page 2


Vital Schools Make Vital Communities

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Letter from the Executive Director The Upper Valley is a special place we call home. With its folding landscape, its various towns, cities, and villages, the Census Bureau says our region comprises the largest micropolitan rural community in the country—defined as a region with over 100,000 in population but no one city or town with more than 50,000. But it’s not the numbers, the composition of the population centers, or our quirky geography alone that make this a unique and special place. It’s how we greet each other, how we welcome newcomers, how we meet together, and the kindnesses we offer to each other, to visitors, and to strangers. It is the local purchases we make, our choices in how we get to work or run our errands, what we eat, how we heat and power our homes. We bring thoughtfulness, caring, and love for this place, the environment around us, and each other– that is what makes this a unique and special place. Our work at Vital Communities is not just to preserve this special place, but to help it grow and develop—to be the best place it can for people to live, work, and play, every day. To do this work together, it takes resources. Thanks to your time as volunteers, as members of our advisory committees and board, and as participants in our programs, you invest in Vital Communities’ success and so in turn our communities’. It also takes financial resources—and as you’ll see on the back cover of the newsletter, thanks to a matching challenge from two generous donors we have a tremendous opportunity to broaden our financial base if you can give to Vital Communities. What a great opportunity to help maintain and build this special place.

Tom Roberts, Executive Director 802.291.9100 x101 P.S. I’m delighted that Sustainable Energy Resource Group is merging with Vital Communities’ Energy Program. Learn more on page 10. Fall 2015



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Leadership Upper Valley was a valuable learning experience for Patricia Higgins, LUV class of 2011. Patricia notes, “It was inspiring to be in a group of people who embodied a sense of real civic engagement; it gave me a bigger picture of what possibilities were out there.”

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Participants in the 10-month Leadership Upper Valley (LUV) program discover the rich diversity of the Upper Valley region. They gather in municipalities across the bi-state region, grapple with regional issues, connect with local service organizations, and establish a strong, collegial network. Upon graduation, program participants often step into leadership roles as a natural outgrowth of their learning experience.

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In the program, Patricia met classmate Randy Heller, owner of Upper Valley Ride, for whom she later worked as a driver. She and classmate Aaron Brown, worked together when she served as steering committee chair for the Upper Valley Transportation Managment Association (UVTMA), which Brown runs as transportation program manager at Vital Communities. During Leadership Upper Valley’s Government and Politics session, Patricia was struck by one of presenter Karen Liot Hill’s questions: “What effect can you have on a bigger scale in your community?” As a driver for Advance Transit, Patricia learned about regional transportation issues from the provider’s side. A year after graduating from LUV, she ran for office as a New Hampshire State Representative, serving the communities of Hanover and Lyme. Patricia is currently a member of the Public Works and Highways Committee. “I want to take my experience with the UVTMA to a ‘bigger scale’ to try to answer Karen’s question,” she said. Patricia was moved to serve. What are you moved to do? How can you positively impact your community, region, and state? Consider applying to Leadership Upper Valley program class of 2017.

Learn more at LeadershipUpperValley.


LFA MEMBER MIXER Three Tomatoes Trattoria owner Robert Meyers has a laugh with Eric Janson of The Law Office of Eric W. Janson PLLC at the first annual Local First Alliance member mixer held in September at the Lebanon Co-op’s Culinary Learning Center.



Short Takes


per Quest 2015

GENERAL STORES GENERAL STORES: These hubs of our communities are bustling centers of commerce and a small-town tradition.

This year’s Super Quest takes participants to 12 General Stores and historic downtown areas throughout the Upper Valley. Stops like the historic Brick Store in Bath, N.H. (it’s been in business since the 1790s!) and the nationally recognized Vermont Country Store in Rockingham help Questers get to know some of the farther-flung parts of the region—and get to do some fun shopping and tasting while they’re at it! We are excited to feature these quintessentially New England treasures, as well as Valley Quests and Local First Alliance member businesses in close proximity to the stores. And we’re thankful to our sponsor Farm-Way for helping to make the Super Quest possible. Register and complete the Super Quest by November 1 to be eligible for prizes—and follow the quest any time for a fun way to explore the Upper Valley!

Barnard General Store

Learn more at













Short Takes

Do you want to ensure that Vital Communities will have the resources to sustain itself into the future? You can do that through a bequest in your will or trust, by naming Vital Communities as a beneficiary of your retirement plan or life insurance policy, or through another planned gift. We are grateful to those who have already made a planned gift: • Mary Ann and Len Cadwallader • Carola Lea • Betty Porter • Tom Roberts • Anne and Peter Silberfarb • Mary Margaret Sloan • Jenny and Stan Williams

If you’d like to join our Legacy Circle, please contact Executive Director Tom Roberts at 802.291.9100 x101 or

GET VALLEY FARM FRESH Finding and enjoying local foods from Upper Valley farms is easier with Valley Farm Fresh, a new buy-local campaign we launched this summer. Valley Farm Fresh connects consumers with local foods from the region’s many farmers through an improved, mobile-friendly Valley Food & Farm Guide, recipes and educational materials, and increased social media outreach to help connect consumers with fresh, local food year round. See a sample ad on page 9. Supported through a grant from the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program, the Valley Farm Fresh campaign is a multi-channel effort to raise the visibility, accessibility, and sales of local food within the Upper Valley. Visit our website to find upcoming events, useful recipes for the local harvest, and new ways to connect with our local farms.

Learn more at

ENERGY WEBINARS If you’re interested in energy issues in your community, check out two new webinars we presented with the New Hampshire Local Energy Work Group. Launching a Solarize Campaign: Double the Solar in Your Town in Just 15 Weeks shares the secrets to a successful Solarize campaign based on our experience coordinating campaigns in 24 Upper Valley towns. Strategic Energy Action Toolkit: Increase the Effectiveness of Your Local Energy Group helps energy committees find the right balance of strategy and action for maximum impact and success through a new tool developed by Vital Communities and our partners.

Find more information and links to both webinars at 4


GEAR UP FOR EVERYDAY BICYCLING DO YOU WANT TO BIKE MORE? WE CAN HELP. In just one short hour, participants in our Everyday Bicycling workshop learn practical tips to stay safe and active on the road:


• W  hat gear you need (and don’t need) to stay safe and comfortable • H  ow to make sure your bike is in good shape for getting to work, school, the grocery store, or wherever

“I’M NOT SO SURE ABOUT THE NEW ZONING REGULATION FOR THE VILLAGE— LET ME SHARE MY CONCERNS....” Thousands of people around the Upper Valley stay connected to their communities through email community discussion lists (“listservs”). The lists offer a forum for discussing community concerns, sharing events, selling unwanted items, and more. This service is provided for free by Vital Communities. To complete the transition of management from ValleyNet to Vital Communities, we recently made a minor change to the way users submit messages to the lists. It’s still as easy as sending an email—but now the email must be sent to Listname@Lists. (e.g. UpperValley@...).

To learn more, visit or contact Stacey@

• H  ow to map out a route that fits with your time and comfort level • H  ow to “read” the street and ride safely under a range of conditions These workshops are available to workplaces and community groups at no cost thanks to support from Go! Vermont.

Email to learn more. HEROES & LEADERS: CELEBRATING VALLEY VISIONARIES In May we hosted our fourth annual Heroes & Leaders celebration, recognizing 10 people whose long-term visions have helped make the Upper Valley the vibrant community it is, rich with local agriculture, arts organizations, nonprofit services, world-renowned businesses, and more. Former Vital Communities Executive Director Len Cadwallader provided the keynote address as we honored these visionaries: •  Barbara Ragle Barnes, Founder, Upper Valley Educators Institute

•  Robert Dean, Founder or Co-Founder of 11 Upper Valley companies

•  Matt Bucy, Developer, White River Junction

•  David Goudy, Former Executive Director, Montshire Museum

•  Dick Cyr, Founder, David’s House

•  Jake and Liz Guest, Owners, Killdeer Farm

•  Van Chesnut, Executive Director, Advance Transit

•  Carol Langstaff, Founder, Revels and FLOCK Dance Troupe

•  Dick Couch, Co-Founder, Hypertherm

•  Jim Varnum, Retired President, Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital (D-H)

Learn more about the honorees at LeadershipUpperValley. Fall 2015


Vital Schools Make Vital Communities

Vital Schools Make

Programs at Vital Communities take a variety of approaches to bringing people together around regional challenges. One common thread is our work with schools. From school gardens to student-designed quests, we enjoy getting kids involved in efforts to strengthen our community. Read on for highlights from the first half of this year.

Students Develop PSAs for Local First Local students got practical marketing experience this spring, and Local First Alliance has great new public services announcements to show for it! Seniors in the Hartford Area Career & Technology Center Media Arts class designed media campaigns answering the question: “Why is it cool to shop at a locally owned business?� The Local First steering committee chose winners in three categories: television, radio, and print. Local First members Chippers, Co-op Food Stores, Great Eastern Radio, and Mascoma Savings Bank donated prizes and scholarships. Congratulations to radio winner Tess Johnson of Hartford, TV winner Damien Murray of Lebanon, and print winner Becky Kelecy of Hartford.

The winning print PSA submission from Becky Kelecy.


See their work at LocalFirstAlliance and throughout the Upper Valley.

Vital Schools Make Vital Communities

Vital Communities

Left to Right: Tess Johnson records her PSA with Bob Sherman at Local First Alliance member Great Eastern Radio studios; Hartford students participate in their first Bike/Walk to School Day; Valley Quest offers students a fun approach to interdisciplinary, place-based learning; students enjoy making local food connections through farm-to-school programming.

Getting to School the Fun Way

Farm-to-School Lunch

More than 150 students arrived to class more alert and ready to succeed thanks to the first bike/walk to school event on May 6 at Hartford Memorial Middle School. Vital Communities organized the event, with support from teachers, parents, student council leaders, and the Hartford Police Department.

Back-to-school time means back to packing school lunches. Give yourself a break this year and try your school lunch program—you might be surprised to know that many schools are using local foods in the cafeteria.

We want to partner with more schools to create events that get students and school staff biking and walking. Email us at UVTMA@VitalCommunities. org to organize a great biking and walking day for your school!

Through our farm-to-school programming, we work with amazing school food service professionals who bring local foods to their menus. Tunbridge Elementary’s Taco Tuesday features local ground beef; Newbury Elementary has a local salad bar; Chelsea Public School built its own wood-fired oven to make local pizza from scratch; and Unity Elementary celebrates the Harvest of the Month with goodies like rainbow coleslaw and kale chips. These are just a few of the schools making the school lunch program worth buying into. So take the night off from packing lunches, and support your local farmer without even making a trip to the market.

Learn more about our farm-to-school programming and find great recipes for local foods at Fall 2015


Vital Schools Make Vital Communities

Farm-to-School Goes Home

Bring Questing to Your Classroom

During the fall, our farm-to-school programming in many schools focuses on the bountiful apples that are ready to pick from local orchards. Bring a little farm-to-school home by focusing some time on this favorite fall fruit. Try experimenting with the different varieties available. Pick an assortment of apples at your local orchard and hold a family taste test. Use secret ballots so everyone’s vote gets counted equally. The winning apple variety gets to be highlighted in your next family meal.

As students head back to school this fall, we are excited to make our newly revised Valley Quest curricula available to educators. We have three themed units on the Civil War, the Colonial era, and Watersheds, as well as an adaptable Questing curriculum, all free to download from our website.

Wrap up your apple evening with some apple reading. There is an abundance of books on this popular fruit. Here is a list of a few of our favorites and a great apple recipe to get you started. •  My Apple by Kay Davies and Wendy Oldfield •  The Life and Times of the Apple by Charles Micucci •  The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple by Gail Gibbons •  Albert’s Field Trip by Leslie Tryon •  Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson •  How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

Questers use hand-carved stamps to mark their accomplishments.

The revised curricula are Common Core-aligned and give teachers all the tools they need to write a Quest with their students. Questing provides opportunities for interdisciplinary learning and critical thinking. It turns students into producers of content, encouraging them to make observations, ask questions, construct new knowledge, and share their finished product with questers all over the Upper Valley. And it’s a fun way to learn!

Download the free curricula—and more than 200 quests—at


Recipe from

INGREDIENTS:  cups butternut squash, peeled and sliced 3 3 cups tart apples, sliced ½ cup all-purpose flour ½ cup whole wheat flour 1 cup brown sugar or honey

¹⁄ ³ cup chopped nuts 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice ½ tsp. salt ¹⁄8 tsp. ground cloves

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9-inch baking dish. Combine squash and apple with ½ cup brown sugar or honey, lemon juice, cinnamon, and cloves. Spread evenly in the prepared pan, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes. Combine flour, remaining ½ cup of brown sugar or honey, and salt. Stir in butter, until crumbly, then add nuts. Spread over squash-apple mixture. Bake another 40 minutes uncovered.


Vital Schools for Vital Communities

Fall 2015


Improved Energy Program

Two Old Friends, One New and Improved ENERGY PROGRAM SARAH SIMONDS

The Sustainable Energy Resource Group (SERG) was founded by Thetford resident Bob Walker in 2001 and has been a local energy leader in the Upper Valley ever since. Fourteen years later, the nonprofit has decided to merge into the Vital Communities Energy Program. Since Vital Communities launched its Energy Program 2009, our two organizations have been partners in driving the Upper Valley toward energy independence. We are proud to expand this important work by joining forces.

SERG’S LEGACY OF LOCAL ENERGY ACTION Town Energy Committees The first town energy committees in Vermont and New Hampshire were founded by SERG in Norwich, Thetford, and Hanover. Since then, more than 100 energy committees have formed in both states. Both SERG and Vital Communities have been active in helping form and support local energy committees.

“The legacy of SERG is strong throughout our region. We look forward to carrying on this great work” Top to bottom: Solarize volunteers get ready for their launch event; A volunteer helps weatherize a home as part of SERG’s Volunteer Weatherization Assistance Program.


Sarah Simonds

—Sarah Simonds

Improved Energy Program

Attendees find out how much energy is required by different types of lightbulbs at the Upper Valley Sustainability Expo.

Education From the start, SERG specialized in education, outreach, and community organizing. In 2007, SERG Director Bob Walker organized home weatherization workshops in Thetford, Putney, and Montpelier. They were so popular that Bob helped create the “Button Up” workshops and train presenters across Vermont and New Hampshire. These workshops have been presented dozens of times and are still held in communities across both states.

Bob Walker moved to the Upper Valley in 1979. He has been a social, environmental, and community organizer ever since, including serving as program director for EarthRight Institute, coordinator for the Elizabeth Mine Study Group, and running his own arts production business. Bob founded SERG in 2001 and plans to stay in Thetford and work part-time as a private consultant on local energy projects. For the next year, Bob will work closely with Vital Communities to develop new projects and ensure SERG’s work continues at its new home.

Action When SERG helped Thetford reduce electric usage for street lighting by 85 percent, their success was used as a model to help other towns follow suit. After SERG helped Thetford triple its weatherized homes in just one year, they helped Vermont launch a statewide Home Energy Challenge to get other towns to do the same. The list of successful community energy programs that got their start with SERG in the Upper Valley is a long one, and Vital Communities looks forward to adding to it in the years to come.

“I look forward to SERG’s good work continuing on through Vital Communities. Together we will lead the way for local energy organizing in the Upper Valley and set an example for towns throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and New England.” —Bob Walker Fall 2015


Improved Energy Program

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OUR NEW ENERGY PROGRAM New Website will be your go-to resource for energy news and information in the Upper Valley by the end of the year. Over the years, SERG has compiled an extensive online resource library. We’re re-organizing and updating those resources to make them even easier to use.

Upper Valley Energy e-Newsletter

A participant at the Upper Valley Energy Committee Roundtable, hosted by SERG and Vital Communities, marks his town on the map.


= Energy Group

= Interest

Vital Communities will take over management of SERG’s longstanding energy updates list and continue the tradition of sharing energy news and events with more than 1,500 subscribers. To sign up, visit

Public Energy Forums SERG is well known for hosting forums to educate the public about energy issues and technologies. This spring’s forum on heat pumps drew an overflowing crowd to the Porter Community Room at the Montshire Museum. A forum this fall on modern wood pellet heating also packed the room. Vital Communities will continue this tradition as well.

More Programs like Solarize Hundreds of homes went solar over the past two years thanks to Solarize Upper Valley, an innovative program connecting community volunteers with local energy businesses to help residents go solar. Now it’s time to help our communities take action in other ways, like modern wood heating, home energy efficiency retrofits, and heat pumps. Look for opportunities to get involved as a volunteer or participate when these new programs come to your town.

Sign up for our e-news to stay in the loop,


Upcoming Events


Get to know our Executive Director and the rest of the Vital Communities staff. Enjoy wine and snacks from great local businesses. Volunteer of the Year, Super Quest Grand Prize, and door prizes awarded! when: Friday, December 4, 5–7:30 pm where: Vital Communities, White River Junction, VT SEASONS MID-WINTER CELEBRATION DINNER what:

Our annual fundraising dinner celebrates local foods and the work of Vital Communities. Email to reserve your seat. when: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 6 pm where: Hanover Inn, Hanover, NH FLAVORS OF THE VALLEY what:

The Upper Valley’s premier tasting expo for locally grown and produced food. Interested in being a vendor? Email when: Sunday, April 10, 2016, 11 am–3 pm where: Hartford High School, White River Junction, VT

For more information, see the calendar at or sign up for our e-newsletter at

Fall 2015


195 North Main Street White River Junction, VT 05001 802.291.9100 To correct your contact information or duplicate mailings, please contact or x103.

HELP US BUILD VITAL COMMUNITIES! Triple your impact! Vital Communities has received two challenge gifts totaling $175,000! Upper Valley T M A Working to Reduce Reliance on Driving Alone

Thanks to a loyal anonymous donor and the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, your gift can be doubled or even tripled!

Use the enclosed envelope or visit

Vital Communities - Fall 2015 Newsletter  
Vital Communities - Fall 2015 Newsletter