Arnie Gundersen is a nuclear engineer who defended the nuclear industry for 20 years, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants in the US. In 1991, after complaining about lax nuclear safety to his superiors, he was fired, and the industry turned on him. That’s when he and his wife Maggie Gundersen, who worked as a sponsesperson for the nuclear industry, became leading critics of nuclear power, forming FaireWinds Energy Education. Arnie Gundersen now consults on nuclear power issues for the Sierra Club, the State of Vermont, the New England Coalition. This spring Arnie visited Fukushima, Japan, the site of a 2011 nuclear meltdorn. The Gundersens discuss their lives in the nuclear industry, the high personal cost of whistleblowing, the future of nuclear power, and their advice to young people interested in working on energy issues. (August 17, 2016 broadcast)
Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer and nuclear industry whistleblower
Maggie Gundersen, former nuclear industry spokesperson, founder, FaireWinds Energy Education
Vermont has produced many Olympians, including some of the world’s top senior athletes. We talk with two of the world’s top senior athletes about the joys and challenges of competing into their ninth decade, and how it has prepared one of them to confront a life threatening cancer. These athletes compete in the Vermont Senior Games and the National Senior Games and encourage others to join them. (August 3, 2016 broadcast)
Flo Meiler, 82, Shelburne, Vt., participated in 13 National Senior Games (formerly the Senior Olympics), winner of over 702 medals, holds 26 world records in track & field
Barbara Jordan, 80, So. Burlington, Vt., holds several world records in track & field
Elliot Burg, photographer who documented senior athletes, gallery here
The last few weeks have seen police killings of African American men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, and the killings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge. These incidents have shined a harsh new spotlight on the issue of race, policing and reform. Mark Hughes, founder of Justice for All, discusses race and racism in Vermont, and how “to ensure justice for ALL through community organizing, research, education, community policing, legislative reform, and judicial monitoring.” (July 20, 2016 broadcast)
Mark Hughes, founder and director, Justice for All
Mountain biking has taken off in Vermont, with estimates that there are as many as 50,000 riders in the state. We discuss the explosion in popularity in mountain biking, its implications for recreation and the economy, and what the future holds for riders with two leaders of the sport in Vermont. (July 20, 2016 broadcast)
Tom Stuessy, executive director, Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA)
Sabra Davison, founder and director, Little Bellas, a mentoring and mountain bike group for girls
Wynona Ward grew up in poverty on a rural back road in Vermont where family violence was common. She and her husband drove long-haul trucks. She began to realize she could combine her vocation as a trucker with the desperate need for victims of domestic violence in rural communities to have access to legal and other services. In 1998, Ward founded Have Justice-Will Travel (HJWT) with a grant from the Vermont Women’s Fund and a fellowship from Equal Justice Works. The idea was simple: HJWT would provide free legal services, with Ward traveling rural backroads in her 15 year old Dodge pickup truck. HJWT is now an innovative, mobile, multi-service program that assists victims of domestic abuse through the legal process, from the initial interview and relief from abuse order through self-sufficiency and independence. Ward speaks about her personal journey growing up with domestic violence and the work that does today throughout Vermont to end generational cycles of abuse. (July 13, 2016 broadcast)
Wynona I. Ward, founder & director, Have Justice-Will Travel
Between 1994 – 2014, half of all Vermont homicides were a result of domestic violence. Steps Against Domestic Violence — formerly known as Women Helping Battered Women — provides services to those affected by domestic violence in Burlington and Chittenden County, Vermont. Established in 1974 as Women’s House of Refuge, StepsVT fielded 4,800 hotline calls in 2015 and provided services including housing, counseling, and education to many more. StepsVT executive director Kelly Dougherty discusses the warning signs of an abuse relationship, the changing face of domestic violence in Vermont, and the four decades of work of her organization. (July 13, 2016 broadcast)
Kelly Dougherty, executive director, Steps Against Domestic Violence
On July 1, 2016, new bias-free policing policies were enacted for all police in Vermont. This followed charges of racial profiling leveled against multiple Vermont police agencies. Capt. Ingrid Jonas of the Vermont State Police is the highest ranking female police officer in the state. She is the Director of Fair and Impartial Policing and Community Affairs at the VSP, a new position. Jonas is blazing a new path in state’s largest police agency. Until 1977, VSP was an all-male institution, and early efforts at integrating the ranks with women and minorities went badly. Jonas speaks about her own journey from domestic violence activist to police officer, the challenge of diversifying the police and confronting bias, her desire to see more LGBT officers, and how to change the traditionally macho culture of the police. (June 22, 2016 broadcast)
Capt. Ingrid Jonas, Director of Fair and Impartial Policing and Community Affairs, Vermont State Police
In the wake of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, 1,000 people marched in Burlington, Vermont — and in numerous other cities — in solidarity with LGBTQ people. Achieving marriage equality was a milestone, but the struggle for LGBTQ rights continues. As the New York Times reports, “Since the marriage ruling, several Republican-led state legislatures and Republican governors and federal lawmakers have redoubled their fight against legal protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. So far this year, more than 200 anti-L.G.B.T. bills have been introduced in 34 states.” Kim Fountain, executive director of the Pride Center of Vermont, a “comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and the health and safety of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Vermonters,” speaks about larger effort to achieve safety, dignity and acceptance of LGBTQ people. (June 15, 2016 broadcast)
Kim Fountain, executive director, Pride Center of Vermont
There are approximately 1,500 migrant workers on Vermont’s farms, especially in the dairy industry. Often working up to 80 hours per week, many migrant workers live in isolation on rural farms and earn less than minimum wage. Migrant Justice is an advocacy organization with a mission “to build the voice, capacity, and power of the farmworker community and engage community partners to organize for economic justice and human rights.” On June 13, 2016, Migrant Justice scored a major victory when the Grand Isle Sheriff’s Department agreed to pay nearly $30,000 to settle a case regarding discriminatory treatment against an immigrant dairy worker, Lorenzo Alcudia, who was turned over to Border Patrol after a traffic stop in which he was a passenger. We talk with farmworkers and activists from Migrant Justice. We also speak with a representative from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a nationally known farmworker’s organization that has won landmark agreements with Taco Bell and other major restaurants. (June 15, 2016 broadcast)
Will Lambek, Enrique Balcazar, Gilberto Lopez Morales, Migrant Justice
Gerardo Reyes, Coalition of Immokalee Workers
There is a Vermont connection behind national brands of skin care products such as Estee Lauder, Burt’s Bees, Neutrogena, and Whole Foods. Twincraft Skincare makes soaps. lotions, sunscreen and other products from its manufacturing facilities in Essex and Winooski, Vermont. Twincraft has become a booming business with a special story: the numerous New Americans, many of them refugees who have been relocated to Vermont, who are part of the 200-person workforce. We go on location to company headquarters in Winooski to learn how Twincraft’s commitment to employ a diverse workforce — including senior citizens, non-English speakers, ex-convicts, and others — has translated into success in business, and changed lives.(June 7, 2016 broadcast)
Pete Asch, CEO and owner, Twincraft Skincare
Joel Marquardt, VP Operations
Angela Ibragamova, employee from Azerbaijan
Kaji Rai, employee, refugee from Bhutan
[Part 1 features Asch & Marquardt; Part 2 includes all 4 interviewees]
Paul Bruhn went from becoming a UVM dropout, to managing Sen. Patrick Leahy’s first campaign, to the job he holds now as the executive director of Preservation Trust of Vermont, an organization known nationwide. He has served as director since the nonprofit’s inception in 1980. Under his leadership the Preservation Trust has worked with Vermont communities to preserve nearly 2,000 structures and properties, from churches, barns, and general stores to hotels, town theaters and county courthouses. These formidable efforts have saved and solidified the essential character of Vermont and are revitalizing Vermont villages and downtowns, a critical aspect of the smart-growth framework for the state’s future.
This year Bruhn finally received his degree from UVM — an honorary degree, which notes: “Bruhn has used his talents as an advocate and adviser to preserve the most unique and defining aspects of Vermont and to advocate for a future based on smart land-use development and vibrant community centers. It would be difficult to find a nook or cranny, village or gore in Vermont that has not felt the influence of Bruhn’s vision.”
Bruhn discusses how he engineered Sen. Leahy’s victorious first statewide campaign, to preservation, sprawl, and what he is proudest of. (June 1, 2016 broadcast)
Paul Bruhn, executive director, Preservation Trust of Vermont
Andrew Solomon, Ph.D., is a writer and lecturer on politics, culture and psychology, a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center, and President of PEN American Center.
Solomon’s 2012 book, the best-selling Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Scribner, 2012), tells the stories of families raising exceptional children who not only learn to deal with their challenges, but also find profound meaning in doing so. Far from the Tree has received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction; the J. Anthony Lukas Award and numerous other awards.
Solomon’s latest book is Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change – 7 Continents, 25 Years, which collects his writings about places undergoing seismic shifts — political, cultural, and spiritual. From the barricades in Moscow in 1991 to the rubble of Afghanistan in 2002 to the cautious optimism of Myanmar in 2014, Andrew Solomon provides a unique view into some of the most crucial social transformations of the past quarter-century. (May 25, 2016 broadcast)
Andrew Solomon, author
VBSR Spring Conference 2016
Sonia Kowal is the president of Zevin Asset Management, where she incorporates sustainability issues into investment decision making. Kowal spoke about about impact investing in her keynote talk .
Strategies to Improve Workplace Culture & Include ALL Employees — Dawn Ellis, President of Dawn M. Ellis and Associates, and Vermont Human Rights Commission
Taming the Monster in the Machine: Engaging Employees Around Cyber Security — Kerin Stackpole, Paul Frank + Collins
How to Train Anybody to Do Anything — Andy Robinson, Trainer, Consultant, Author
[May 11, 2016 broadcast — No audio]
A new report, “Where Women Work and Why It Matters,” developed by Change the Story VT paints a disturbing picture of the plight of working women in Vermont. 43% of VT women who work full-time do not make enough to cover basic living expenses. Women who work full-time are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs – across every age group, at every level of education. And Vermont women are especially vulnerable in their senior years, when their median annual income from Social Security ($10,000) is half that of men ($20,000). The report was backed by the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Commission on Women and Vermont Works for Women. We discuss the state of working women in Vermont and potential solutions. (May 4, 2016 broadcast)
Tiffany Bluemle, director, Change the Story VT
Marybeth Redmond, director of development & communications, Vermont Works for Women
David Bronner is Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s, the top-selling brand of natural soaps in North America and producer of other organic body care and food products. The iconic soap brand is noted for its famous label that espouses a philosophy of world peace it calls ALL ONE.
David Bronner is a grandson of company founder, Emanuel Bronner, and a fifth-generation soap maker. Under David and his brother Michael’s leadership, the brand has grown from $4 million in 1998 to just under $100 million in annual revenue in 2015.
David has been a high profile activist on hemp legalization, organics, drug policy reform, GMO labeling, and livable wage. Dr. Bronner’s soap currently features a label advocating “Fair Pay for All People.” Bronner has been arrested in front of the White House for protesting about restrictive hemp laws.
David Bronner talks about his grandfather’s legacy, his company, and his activism. (April 27, 2016 broadcast)
David Bronner, CEO, Dr. Bronner’s
On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets across the country to demonstrate for a sustainable environment. “By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.” [earthday.org]
On Earth Day 2016, activists and sustainable businesses came to the Vermont State House for a People’s Lobby Day. We speak with participants from two leading Vermont businesses about the role of businesses in advancing environmental goals and the challenges that their own companies face in trying to meet them. [April 20, 2016 broadcast)
Ashley Orgain, Manager of Mission Advocacy, Seventh Generation
Chris Miller, Manager of Social Mission & Activism, Ben & Jerry’s
Shay DiCocco, brand manager, Seventh Generation
In the second half of the show, we discuss the carbon tax and other initiatives to address environmental and climate change goals:
Daniel Barlow, Public Policy Manager, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
Johanna Miller, Energy Program Director, Vermont Natural Resources Council
Should communities have more say in where renewable power is located? A group of farmers wrote to the Vermont Legislature this week to defend their ability to locate renewable power on their farms. We talk with a farmer and a solar power provider about some of the challenges in siting renewable power. (April 6, 2016 broadcast)
James Moore, co-founder, Suncommon
Meg Armstrong, sixth generation Essex Junction farm family
When fast food workers walked off their jobs and launched the Fight for $15 in late 2012 in New York City, few people would have predicted that a few years later, the $15 minimum wage would become law. We discuss how the fight for $15 caught fire to become law in California and New York, and beyond. (April 6, 2016 broadcast)
Yannet Lathrop, Researcher and Policy Analyst, National Employment Law Project
In honor of Sunshine Week, a national campaign to promote transparency and freedom of information, we speak with Jenifer McKim, a senior investigative reporter the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.
Since starting in the fall of 2013, her stories on child welfare and homeowner debt have been the recipient of both a 2014 and 2015 “Publick Occurrences” award issued by the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Before joining NECIR, McKim, worked as a social issues and business reporter at the Boston Globe.
Jenifer McKim is the recipient of the New England First Amendment Coalition 2016 Freedom of Information Award, for her series “Out of the Shadows,” which investigated the failings of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Her investigation found that children were dying because of a lack of oversight by this government agency. Her reporting required months of negotiating with public officials, dozens of public records requests and thousands of dollars in fees for those records. McKim also discusses her investigation of Darrell Jones, who has served 30 years following a murder conviction, but has now won a new hearing based on evidence that he did not receive a fair trial. (March 16, 2016 broadcast)
Jenifer McKim, senior investigative reporter, New England Center for Investigative Reporting.
“What would greet President-elect Bernie Sanders after the victory parties die down and residents of Burlington, VT awaken to their first cup of coffee? …The economics of ‘capital strike’ would threaten to trump the verdict of democracy.”
That’s the dark warning from William F. Grover, professor of political science at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. He is the co-author (with Joseph G. Peschek) of the book, The Unsustainable Presidency: Clinton, Bush, Obama and Beyond (December 2014).
Grover discusses the forces that will rise up if a progressive leader such as Bernie Sanders is elected president — and what it will take to counter them. (March 16, 2016 broadcast)
William Grover, professor of political science at Saint Michael’s College, co-author, The Unsustainable Presidency: Clinton, Bush, Obama and Beyond
The Slow Money movement aims to “bring money down to earth” by linking local food initiatives with local investors. Nationally, over $45 million has been invested into 450 small food enterprises around the United States. Twenty-four local networks and 13 investment clubs have formed. We speak with representatives of several different groups in Vermont that are dedicated to investing locally and making money slowly. (March 9, 2016 broadcast)
Will Belongia, Vermont Community Loan Fund
Jeannine Kilbride, Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt
Janice Shade, Milk Money Vermont
In his book Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority, author Steve Phillips argues that “many progressives and Democrats continue to waste millions dollars chasing white swing voters. In fact, explosive population growth of people of color in American over the past 50 years has laid the foundation for a New American Majority consisting of progressive people of color (23 percent of all eligible voters) and progressive whites (28 percent of all eligible voters) — comprising 51 percent of all eligible voters in America right now.”
Steve Phillips was the youngest person ever elected to public office in San Francisco and went on to serve as president of the Board of Education. He is a co-founder of PowerPAC.org, a social justice organization that conducted the largest independent voter mobilization efforts backing Barack Obama. He discusses the new American majority, and the forces behind Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and prospects for the 2016 election. (March 23, 2016 broadcast)
Steve Phillips, author, Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority (The New Press, 2016)
Tom Stearns launched High Mowing Organic Seeds in 1996, and in its first year sales were $2,000 and he was the sole employee. Twenty years later his company has grown to be one of the top organic seed companies in the U.S., and today has more than 60 employees.
Stearns was named Vermont’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year by the Small Business Administration. He was recognized for growing his company, increasing sales, employee growth and contributing to the local community.
High Mowing Organic Seeds is a farm-based company that produces and distributes vegetable, flower and herb seeds throughout the U.S. and Canada. High Mowing Organic Seeds is the first organic company guaranteeing all of its seeds are non-genetically modified organism verified.
Stearns talks about his journey from being a teenager fascinated with seeds to being part of a burgeoning national local and organic food movement. (March 23, 2016 broadcast)
Tom Stearns, owner and founder, High Mowing Organic Seeds
What is the state of education and reform in Vermont? We review results of Town Meeting Day 2016. Eleven Vermont school budgets failed to pass (compared to over 30 budgets that were rejected two years ago) this year. We look at how education reform is faring, talking about new initiatives around universal pre-K, flexible pathways, Act 46 and school mergers, and how marijuana legalization might affect schools. (March 2, 2016 broadcast)
Nicole Mace, executive director, Vermont School Boards Association
Jeff Francis, executive director, Vermont Superintendents Association
In the midst of one of the warmest winters in memory, how can Vermont adapt to the new realities of climate change? Paul Costello of the Vermont Council on Rural Development has been exploring this issue with community leaders all around Vermont. He has helped lead the Vermont Climate Change Economy Council, which recently issued a five-year report, Progress for Vermont. He argues that Vermont can be a national model for how states and communities thrive in a climate-changed world. (Feb. 24, 2016 broadcast)
Paul Costello, executive director, Vermont Council on Rural Development
Hamilton Davis has been a journalist and policy analyst for more than 50 years. He covered the 1968 and 1972 presidential campaigns for the Providence Journal, and served as an editor at the Burlington Free Press in the 1970s. He lives in Vermont with his wife Candace Page, a retired veteran reporter at the Burlington Free Press. Davis regularly writes about health care reform for vtdigger.org. He reflects on some of his biggest stories: covering the presidential campaigns, Pres. Richard Nixon, his book about corrupt Burlington “super cop” Paul Lawrence, and his advice to young journalists today. Davis also blogs on topics ranging from health, politics, to the Red Sox. (Feb. 17, 2016 broadcast)
Hamilton Davis, journalist
MIT Professor Thomas Kochan argues in his new book, Shaping the Future of Work: What Future Worker, Business, Government, and Education Leaders Need to Do For All to Prosper, that the social contract has broken down, and he offers a vision of how to create more productive businesses that also provide good jobs and careers and build a more inclusive economy and shared prosperity. (Feb. 10, 2016 broadcast)
Thomas Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations, MIT Sloan School of Management and co-director, MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research
More than one million refugees poured into Europe in 2015, the greatest migration of people since WWII. Most of the refugees are fleeing war, especially from Syria, but many are Iraqis and Afghans fleeing violence. Most are smuggled by boat onto the Greek islands from Turkey, which now hosts more refugees than any other country. Seventh generation Vermonter Jane Dwinell, a registered nurse and Unitarian minister, recently returned from the Greek island of Lesvos, where she volunteered with Lighthouse Refugee Relief to assist refugees arriving in overflowing boats. She discusses the crisis and why she helped. She also wrote a daily blog account of her volunteer work in Greece. [Feb 10, 2016 broadcast]
Jane Dwinell, RN, Unitarian minister, refugee volunteer
The Vermont legislature passed the Farm to Plate Investment Program legislation in 2009. On its fifth anniversary, the Farm to Plate program has issued an annual report touting remarkable results: 5,300 new jobs in the food sector and $10 billion in annual sales. We discuss the impact of Farm to Plate and Vermont’s food sector with two of its leaders.
Erica Campbell, Farm to Plate Network Director
Jake Claro, Farm to Plate Network Manager
Should Vermont divest? A recent study argues that Vermont’s state pension funds have given up $77 million in gains due to investments in fossil fuels. Gov. Peter Shumlin has also recently called for the state to divest, causing a rift with State Treasurer Beth Pearce, who opposes divestment. We speak with a Vermont investment manager about why he advocates for divestment.
Eric Becker, Chief Investment Officer, Clean Yield Asset Management
Drones. Computer hacking. Cell phone location services. These are just some of the threats to privacy that citizens face on a daily basis. Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, discusses new legislation aimed at protecting privacy, and why he feels that Act 46, Vermont’s new education law, violates the Vermont constitution and will likely result in a lawsuit from the ACLU.
Allen Gilbert, executive director, Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union
More than 57,000 working Vermonters lack any kind of paid time off. In 2015, a paid sick leave bill passed the Vermont House but failed in the Senate. The Healthy Workplaces Bill currently in the Vt. Legislature would enable many Vermonters to be eligible for paid sick days. Gov. Peter Shumlin endorsed the call for paid sick leave in his 2016 State of the State address. To discuss paid sick leave:
Jen Kimmich, co-owner, The Alchemist, member VBSR Policy Committee
Paul Millman, president, Croma
“Ban the Box” refers to the policy of removing the conviction history check-box from job applications. If employers must ask about convictions, they can ask later in the hiring process. The call to “ban the box” has become a powerful movement for fair hiring.
Today, over 100 cities and counties have adopted “ban the box” and a total of 19 states representing nearly every region of the country that have adopted the policies
Last April, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed an Executive Order to implement a ‘ban the box’ state hiring policy. Vt’s ‘ban the box’ Executive Order removes questions about criminal records from the very first part of job applications for state employment. Agencies will continue to conduct background checks, but only after an applicant has otherwise been found qualified for the position. The policy will prevent applicants from being immediately screened out of state jobs because of a criminal conviction. The policy will not apply to law enforcement, corrections, or other sensitive positions.
We talk about the effort to get all Vermont employers to ban the box with:
Russ Bennett, from NorthLand Design & Construction, chair of the VBSR Public Policy Committee
Chris Curtis, staff attorney, Vermont Legal Aid
Manuel La Fontaine, who was formerly incarcerated, and now works to ban the box nationally with the group All of Us or None.
We dedicate our last show of 2015 to going beyond the headlines to talk with folks on the frontlines of working with some of the most vulnerable Vermonters. For 15 years, Rev. Peter Plagge has been pastor of the Waterbury Congregational Church and director of the Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund, an emergency financial resources for Waterbury area residents. He talks about the hidden face of poverty, how to help, and the power of listening.
Rev. Peter Plagge, pastor, Waterbury Congregational Church, Director, Waterbury Good Neighbor Fund
ANEW Place is a homeless shelter in Burlington, Vt. that aims to create long term solutions for homeless men and women. The ANEW Place shelter used to be called the Burlington Emergency Shelter, but it rebranded last year to reflect its focus more on long-term solutions, in which shelter is just the first component. ANEW Place recently launched a video, #IAmMoreThanHomeless, to challenge stereotypes of homeless people
Michelle Omo, director of development, ANEW Place
We often hear stories about the cutthroat competition among high school seniors applying to elite colleges. But the experiences of low-income students of color are too often reduced to grim statistics. Joshua Steckel is an inner-city high school guidance counselor and the co-author with Beth Zasloff of Hold Fast to Dreams: A College Guidance Counselor, His Students and the Vision of a Life Beyond Poverty (The New Press). His book traces the intimate narratives of ten different students in a Brooklyn public high school as they strive to get to—and through—college. He is joined by one of his former students, Maya Ennis, who talks about the challenges of leaving the inner city to attend Wheaton College and Carnegie-Mellon University.
Joshua Steckel, college counselor and co-author, Hold Fast to Dreams: A College Guidance Counselor, His Students and the Vision of a Life Beyond Poverty
Maya Ennis, graduate student, Carnegie-Mellon University
More than 2 million children are arrested each year— and predictions are that one in three American schoolchildren will be arrested before the age of 23. Award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein’s Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison (The New Press) takes a personal look at America’s hidden children.
Bernstein is a former Soros Justice Media Fellow in New York, and winner of a White House Champion of Change award. Her articles have appeared in Newsday, Salon, Mother Jones, and the Washington Post, among other publications. Bernstein has spent more than 20 years listening and bearing witness to the stories of incarcerated kids.
Nell Bernstein, author, Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison
Leaders of two Vermont anti-poverty organizations talk about the scope of the problem and what works.
Duncan McDougall, founder and director, Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF). CLiF has provided free literacy programs and brand-new books to low-income, at-risk, and rural children up to age 12 in almost 85% of the communities in New Hampshire and Vermont.
Mark Redmond, executive director, Spectrum Youth & Family Services. Founded in 1970, Spectrum is a nationally recognized leader in helping youth ages 12-26 and their families turn their lives around, serving 2,000 teenagers, young adults, and their family members annually.
On Dec. 14, 2015, Gov. Peter Shumlin cut the ribbon on the new state office complex in Waterbury. As visitors enter the building, the first thing they will see is a striking mural that rises up a stairway. The mural tells the story of Vermont and of the former Vermont State Hospital that occuped the buildings of the state complex for over a century.
The mural was created by Sarah-Lee Terrat of Waterbury Center, one of Vermont’s leading public artists. She was chosen in 2001 to design the Vermont State Quarter, part of a national state coin series. She also designed many of the original Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops.
Her iconic brightly colored murals can be seen all around Vermont, and the country. Her bright, fantastical artwork can be seen at the Vermont Children’s Hospital, in the floors of NRG Systems in Hinesburg, in the children’s bedrooms inside the homes of Phish musicians Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon, on the walls of Arvad’s Restaurant in Waterbury, and at the Bonaroo Music Festival in Tennessee. Samples of her work can be see on her website
In 2015, Terrat received a $50,000 Arts in Public Buildings Grant from Vermont Arts Council for a mural project in the Vermont State Office Complex. She spent two years in the State Archives doing original research about the former psychiatric hospital and its patients. The mural captures the lives and stories of the former patients and staff.
She discusses the former state hospital, her roots in art, and her advice to young artists.
Sarah-Lee Terrat, artist, owner, Yelodog Design
There is a revolution in spirits going on in Vermont — not (just) the new age kind, but the kind you drink. The craft beer revolution has spawned a sister act. To talk about the explosion in popularity and varieties of Vermont spirits:
Mimi Buttenheim, President, Mad River Distillers, vice president of Distilled Spirits Council of Vermont
Ryan Chistiansen, distiller, Caledonia Spirits
There are new ways that homeowners can pay for energy efficiency improvements–including no-cost loans. A conversation about Green loans for Vermonters:
Laurie Fielder, Program Director for VGreen loans, VSECU
Mark Kelley, Efficiency Vermont
Jitu Brown is a national leader on civil rights and defending public education. He recently undertook a 34 day hunger strike to protest the closing of Dyett High School on the South Side of Chicago, where he lives. He talks about threats to public education, the Black Lives Matter movement, and his advice to his young African American son
Jitu Brown, national director, Journey for Justice Alliance
In June 2015, recent college graduates Morgan Curtis (Dartmouth ’14) and Garrett Blad (Notre Dame ’15) came on the Vermont Conversation to talk about the bike ride they were about to embark on: riding 10,000 km from Vermont to Paris (climatejourney.org), where would finish at COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Morgan and Garrett arrived in Paris for COP21 on November 25th, 2015 after 5 months, 3 days, 27 rainstorms, 91 homes, 18 ferries and 4979 kilometers of bicycling through New England, Atlantic Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland & the UK.They join us from Paris to talk about their journey, and the UN climate summit.
Mike Donoghue is a veteran reporter who’s covered just about every story big and small in the state of Vermont — and lots of sports games in between. He has just retired after nearly a half century of reporting for the Burlington Free Press.
Donoghue has been named to five halls of fame. They include being selected by the New England Press Association for its Community Journalism Hall of Fame in 2000. Three years later he was named one of three charter members selected nationwide by the Society of Professional Journalists and The National Freedom of Information Coalition for their National Hall of Fame for Local Heroes. Other honors include the Yankee Quill Award in 2007 for a lifetime commitment to outstanding journalism in New England and beyond; selected the New England Journalist of the Year for print or electronic media in 2013; and voted by Gannett employees nationwide to receive “Greater Good Award” from the company in 2013.
Earlier this year Donoghue received the Matthew Lyon Award from the the Vermont Press Association for his lifetime commitment to the First Amendment and the public’s right to know the truth in Vermont.
Donoghue reflects on the stories he’s done that have changed policy, the state of journalism today, and shares some of the highlights of a storied career.
Mike Donoghue, reporter, Burlington Free Press
Two-thirds of all new jobs will require postsecondary education by 2020. And the Vermont Department of Labor projects that by 2022, Vermont will have nearly 10,000 new job openings — due to both growth and replacing retiring workers — that require at least a postsecondary certificate. Yet Vermont has one of the country’s lowest rates of students continuing their education after high school. And 1 in 7 Vermont students who do enter college end up dropping out. These are the results of a new study by the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation. We look at causes and solutions to the problem.
Scott Giles, president, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC)