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Meeting All Kids’ Needs: Vermont School Funding

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Equitable public education is the focus of a public program with Stephanie Yu, Deputy Director of the Public Assets Institute on Monday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m. at the Commons @ BALE, 35 S. Windsor Street in South Royalton.

Sponsored by BALE (Building A Local Economy), Yu’s talk, titled “Meeting All Kids’ Needs:steph yu Vermont School Funding” is the perfect opportunity for area school boards, Selectboards, teachers, school administrators and legislators to engage in this vital dialogue. The program includes discussion on the moral foundation of public education, how Vermont’s equitable education funding system works, the principles underpinning it, and how it can best serve all Vermont’s children. There will also be an opportunity to discuss what’s next for school funding in Vermont.

In its work on Vermont’s tax and budget policy, the Public Assets Institute, a nonprofit policy and research group based in Montpelier focuses on the areas of health care finance, education finance, and family economic security. They provide facts, analyses, and policy ideas to inform and stimulate public discussion about how Vermont can be a state that works for all of its residents

Stephanie Yu has worked as both a public sector fiscal analyst and a private sector financial analyst. She also has experience in the executive branch of state government, as the Budget Manager for the Michigan Department of Treasury and the Executive Director of the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service.

She has a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from the University of Southern California. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University. She currently resides in Burlington with her family. Despite her wandering past, as a native New Englander she has rooted for the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins all her life.

This program is free and open to all. For more information, contact Chris at 802-498-8438.

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Bow Thayer’s First-Ever Solo Show (of his Paintings)

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bow thayer 2“It’s What You Bring Back” is the title of the first-ever solo showing of the paintings of Bow Thayer, widely known for his musicianship with bands The Benders, the Euphorians, the Perfect Trainwreck and his collaboration with the likes of Levon Helm. The show’ s opening is Saturday, March 9 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the White River Gallery @ BALE in South Royalton.

The words “vacation” and “retirement” are not part of Thayer’s vocabulary. “I have always made art, and as long as I am alive and able, I always will, asserts the Stockbridge resident. “Traveling is also vital to my existence, but the intention is never to escape or getaway. For me, exploring different places is about learning and collecting material. Whether it is expressed through songwriting and music or a visual form, my journeys are defined by what I return with. That is what these paintings are all about.

Thayer’s interest in visual arts came very early on. As a youngster, drawing pictures played a critical role in his overall development, and a raw talent was recognizedbow thayer latest throughout his formative years as he received an award for excellence from the Boston Globe and several honorable mentions in scholastic art competitions.

Music, however, began to infiltrate his creative desires and Thayer found himself focusing more on composing and crafting songs with friends starting in middle school. Visual art was not left behind though – if anything, it went hand in hand with his musical exploration. Thayer pursued an academic career in music but after a summer program at the New England Conservatory, he realized this was not the path for him. He made a last-minute decision to apply to art schools, and ultimately chose Syracuse University to begin his studies, before moving to the much more intimate Art Institute of Boston which offered him the personal instruction and mentorship he craved.

After becoming disenchanted with commercial art, he settled in the Fine Arts department and began a love affair with painting that has since influenced all aspects of his life. Thayer’s practice of art has explored many different forms beyond painting, including sculpture, furniture making, and most notably, music.

As Thayer has often said, “I learned more about music in art school than I ever would have at music school.” In recent years, Thayer has actively returned to painting, and it is apparent that his music and visual art have found a thriving balance that is on display in this first-ever solo exhibition.

Many of these pieces on display were done “in the field” or “live.” “I keep a sketchbook and take thousands of photos, but when possible I bring a block of heavy paper and acrylic paint to keep the lenses focused on my current situation. The paintings usually are completed in less than an hour on the hood of a car, a picnic table, in a hotel room or simply sitting on the ground. It is my form of meditation but also provides me something tangible to bring home to my studio,” he says.

“Because my music studio and painting studio currently inhabit the same space, I am afforded the luxury of simultaneously creating both art forms. I can record a drum part, then organ, and guitar or banjo, and then turn to my easel and paint while listening back to the tracks,” he describes.

“I usually do these improvised exercises in 30-minute time frames so that both become intertwined in an ebb and flow of tightening and loosening. The music also helps me overcome a struggle that has persisted throughout my time as a painter… how to understand and appreciate when a painting is complete,” he asserts. “My hope is that these works, visual and musical, can be enjoyed and stand on their own without explanation. But it is also my hope that they provide a path to a more cosmic self-realization, as well as serve as a positive reinforcement in humanity.”

At the Saturday opening, the beautiful art gallery will feature music tracks that merged with his art-making process in his studio. The opening is free and open to all. For more information, contact Chris at BALE (Building A Local Economy) at 802-498-8438.

 

The Soil Series First Program Feb. 27

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Part One of The Soil Series: Grassroots for the Climate Emergency

“Ground to Body: Soil Health & Human Health”

Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 6:30-8:30 PM; Bethany Church, Randolph

with Presenters: Didi Pershouse, Grace Gershuny, Michael Denmeade

The foundation for human health and public health lies in the soil beneath our feet. Soil organisms and the plants they help to fill with nutrients are the conduit to building healthy humans and to holding our landscapes together. As our soil health declines globally so does human health and the health of all our planet’s ecosystems. But soil health can be regenerated, and our own health along with it.

Each of the six programs for this series opens with a social half-hour with great light food fare from Black Krim Tavern (Randolph). All programs are designed for an equal amount of time for panelist and active audience participation. A suggested donation of $5 is welcome but not required.

PANEL:

Grace Gershuny writes and teaches about soil, compost, and organic agriculture. Her grace gershunybooks include The Soul of Soil,The Rodale Book of Composting, and Organic Revolutionary: A Memoir of the Movement for Real Food, Planetary Healing, and Human Liberation. She has taught about organic and sustainable agriculture for the Institute for Social Ecology, Goddard College, Sterling College, and Green Mountain College. She got her start working with NOFA in the 1970’s, and has never looked back. Grace currently works as an organic inspector and serves on the Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition steering committee.

Didi Pershouse is the author of  The Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities and Understanding Soil Health and Watershed Function. She teaches participatory workshops both in person and online,Didi pershouse helping to connect the dots between soil health, human health, water, and climate resiliency.  She is the president of the Soil Carbon Coalition,  the founder of the Center for Sustainable Medicine, and a co-founder of the “Can we Rehydrate California?” Initiative. She was one of five speakers at the United Nations-FAO World Soil Day in 2017.  You can learn more about her work at www.didipershouse.com.

Michael Denmeade has worked in health care for over 33 years as a nationally certified therapeutic recreation specialist (CTRS). He currently works on a physical rehabilitation unit at Mt. Ascutney Hospital and Health Center. Michael is on the Wellness and Sustainability committees. His passion in health care is to provide patients with the highest degree of care thaMichael-Denmeade-head-shot-t includes and healthy environment free of pollutants and healthy food. Hippocrates the father of modern medicine, said “do no harm”, which everyone in healthcare has to adhere to known as the hippocratic oath. But he also said another but less famous thing, “our first medicine in our food”.  As part of the Sustainability and Wellness committee’s Michael has convinced the powers to be at MAHHC to provide antibiotic free meats and get a percentage of the food from local sources when possible. Michael has practiced microbiotics, organic gardening and healthy soil management researching and knowing explicitly the link between healthy soil, food and human health.

 

BALE’s Resilience U Offers Community Resilience Assessment for Randolph on Feb. 23

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CROsBALE and Resilience University are pleased to facilitate the kickoff of a community resilience assessment on Saturday, February 23 at Bethany Church in Randolph at 1 PM.. This invitation is open to everyone and anyone including town officials.

  • How resilient is Randolph to withstanding serious climate events?
  • How many people lost power in the aftermath of the snowstorm that hit late last November?
  • How many people had to rely on support from the town or neighbors to get through the outage?
  • Is there anything that can be done to mitigate the impact the next time something like that happens?

What resilience boils down to is being able to meet needs locally – and ultimately, the strength of community relationships. Humans have the same basic needs everywhere, but the actual characteristics to meet those needs are different in each community. Assessing resilience is important to help gauge where our communities are at right now and where we need to grow to become happier, healthier, and more resilient.

There is an organization here in Vermont that can help Randolph become better prepared for events like that outage. This group is the Community Resilience Organizations (CRO).

Using the Community Resilience Assessment tool CRO helps guides communities through examining local resilience across sectors and making connections between them to get a better sense for the whole picture. This comprehensive assessment helps communities identify key vulnerabilities and strengths that can be leveraged to address the vulnerabilities. It prompts discussions – community members share knowledge, learn more about local resources, and shines light on what it takes to be truly resilient. It can also help communities track progress over time as progress is made and resilience increases.

CRO has successfully helped local communities like Hartford, Waterbury, Jeffersonville, Londonderry, Richmond, and the Lower White River conduct assessments and assist local-volunteer based teams come together and setup teams to help improve their community’s resilience. Any community can setup a CRO so please put this important event on your calendar.

If you have more questions please contact: John Pimental, BALE RU john.pimental@gmail.com

Resilience University hosts a Spinning Workshop on March 3

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Come learn the art of transforming raw wool into spun yarn with a drop spindle.IMG_3830 Local yarn farmer and fiber artist Kristen Judkins of Gilead Fiber Farm in Bethel will provide instruction in this hands-on workshop. You will take home your own CD Drop Spindle and wool roving.
Materials Fee: $25 – You take home a spinning kit with high-quality wool.  BALE will cover the cost for anyone who cannot afford this fee: indicate if you need a scholarship when you sign up.
Date and Time: Sunday, March 3 at 1 PM

Location: BALE Commons, 35 S Windsor St, South Royalton
Sign Up: Email jessica.taffet@gmail.com

Dec. 8 Seed Saving Workshop at the Commons in South Royalton

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Please join us for a Seed Saving workshop hosted by BALE’s Resilience University.
Date: Saturday, December 8
Time: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Workshop, 12:00 -1:00 Break for soup, bread, and cookies, 1:00-2:30 Seed Swap
Instructor: Sylvia Davatz
Location: The Commons at BALE, 35 South Windsor St., South Royalton
Workshop Description: Since the turn of the 20th century we have lost over 97% of our commercial vegetable varieties. Saving seed from the vegetables in your garden offers the opportunity to reconnect with the richness of endangered history, culture, and flavor, and to preserve beloved varieties. This workshop will cover the basics of saving vegetable seeds, explaining issues of pollination, timing, spacing, annual vs. biennial varieties, isolation, and harvesting, cleaning, drying, and storing seed. Terms such as open-pollinated, hybrid, “selfer” and “crosser” will be explained, and we’ll talk about the philosophical as well as the practical benefits of preserving our irreplaceable vegetable and grain diversity.
Following the workshop, the Upper Valley Seed Savers are hosting a community seed swap. Whether or not you have your own seeds to swap, come share the wealth of (mostly) homegrown open-pollinated seeds. If you bring seeds to share, please be sure to label them with the variety name, your name, and the year you grew them out. We hope to see you on December 8.

October 2018 Resilience University – Enroll NOW for upcoming 2018/2019 workshops

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Just how do we build local wisdom, capacity and skills in the face of a dramatically changing climate and growing economic disparity in the rural communities of the White River watershed? 

Resilience University (Resilience U), launched by BALE in October 2018, is a series of programs aimed at just that: Call it continuing education for the life skills needed for the 21st century. Skilling and reskilling knowledge in a time when local strength and capacity will mean being more resilient.

Workshops, classes, and seminars will be conducted by area presenters in both Randolph and South Royalton from October 2018 through May 2019. Coming programs will range from skills for the kitchen, garden, farm and forest, transportation, energy, traditional wisdoms… and more. Anyone wanting to offer their wisdom is encouraged to seek a space in the programming. For more info, contact Jessica Taffet at jessica.taffet@gmail.com.

Resilience U Upcoming Workshops (please check back for additional programming):

November 14, 2018
Barbara Paulson – The Marionette Connection

Thinking creatively helps to develop grit, tenacity and an increased ability to navigate the unknown. Engaging our creative neural pathways amps up our Resilience! In this participant driven workshop, all ages are invited to explore a series of fun, interactive activities that reward experimentation. Have fun as you enhance your ability to collaborate creatively, all under the umbrella of art forms that make up the puppeteers’ trade.
Bethany Church, Randolph, VT

November 17, 2018
Cat Buxton & Henry Swayze – We Can Cool the Planet: Food, Water, Soil, Climate, Hope

The ripples of our daily choices directly impact climate change. Cat Buxton and Henry Swayze offer accessible, positive solutions that will help to cool the planet while restoring water, soil and public health. Henry covers the science of the natural systems that allow for planetary cooling and Cat digs in to understanding healthy soil and watershed function and how the average person can effect change in the backyard and in the marketplace.
BALE Commons, South Royalton, VT

December 8, 2018
Sylvia Davatz – Seed Saving
Since the turn of the 20th century we have lost over 97% of our commercial vegetable varieties. Saving seed from the vegetables in your garden offers the opportunity to reconnect with the richness of endangered history, culture, and flavor, and to preserve beloved varieties. This workshop will cover the basics of saving vegetable seeds, explaining issues of pollination, timing, spacing, annual vs. biennial varieties, isolation, and harvesting, cleaning, drying, and storing seed. Terms such as open-pollinated, hybrid, “selfer” and “crosser” will be explained, and we’ll talk about the philosophical as well as the practical benefits of preserving our irreplaceable vegetable and grain diversity.
BALE Commons, South Royalton, VT