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The Vermont Conversation

The Vermont Conversation

VBSR's "The Vermont Conversation," hosted by David Goodman, airs live every Wednesday from 1-2 pm on WDEV Radio Vermont. The show features interviews with people who are making a difference locally and nationally in the worlds of socially responsible business, politics, education, the environment and activism, as well as serves as a way to keep current on VBSR's events, policy work and program happenings.

Join the Conversation! The Vermont Conversation welcomes call-ins at (802) 244-1777 or comments and questions via email.

Scroll down to listen to recent shows or Tune into WDEV at 1:00 PM every Wednesday!

Special Thanks to "The Vermont Conversation" Underwriters

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Did you miss an episode? Scroll down to hear the most recent shows. OR, view the archives to see past guests and topics.


December 11: Journalist and author Adam Hochschild

*We spend the hour talking with the award winning journalist and author Adam Hochschild about his writings on the soldiers and deserters from WWI, his writings about the past and present of Congo and South Africa, his recent op-ed on “why no one remembers the peacemakers,” his thoughts on despots, justice and CIA torture, and the future of journalism.

Adam Hochschild is a journalist and author and the co-founder of Mothers Jones magazine.His books include:

Hochschild has also written for the New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, The Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, and The Nation and other publications.

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December 5: Truth tellers: Walking out of the Army and across America; A Vermont journalist reflects

*We speak with two truth tellers:

  • Rory Fanning was an Army Ranger who fought alongside Pat Tillman in Afghanistan before leaving the military as a conscientious objector. In 2008-2009, he walked across America partly to heal, and partly as a protest against the Army’s coverup of Tillman’s death. He wrote about his experiences in Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America.
  • Sam Hemingway recently retired after 37 years as a reporter at the Burlington Free Press. He talks about the stories he’s covered that have made a difference: Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, heroin in Vermont, the case of an apartheid-era sanctions buster. He also reflects on the changes in media and recent upheaval at the Burlington Free Press.

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November 19: Women and Sustainable Business: Allison Hooper and Sara Newmark

*We talk with two Vermont women who are leaders in sustainable businesses about the challenges faced by women in business and the unique voice that they bring: They join us from the VBSR Fall Conference at Mt. Snow:

Allison Hooper, co-founder, Vermont Creamery

Sara Newmark, Director of Sustainability, New Chapter, the Brattleboro-based national brand of organic vitamins and herbal supplements.

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November 6: The $4 billion election: Elections, dark money & democracy

*The 2014 midterm election was the most expensive in history, with $4 billion spent on campaigns around the country, including massive amounts of “dark money” from groups that do not reveal their donors. Robert McChesney sheds light on dark money as he discusses his new book (co-authored with John Nichols), Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

*Zephyr Teachout, who grew up in Vermont and is now a professor at Fordham Law School, ran for governor of New York this year against incumbent Andrew Cuomo. Despite Cuomo’s $30 million war chest, Teachout won one third of the vote in the Democratic primary and forced Cuomo to campaign furiously against her. Teachout talks how she did so well against a powerful incumbent, her roots in Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, women in politics, and her future.

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October 29: Alternative economies: Time banks and barters; Red Scare in Vermont

*Vermont’s alternative economies are bustling: Onion River Exchange members have made over 10,000 work exchanges, sharing more than 30,000 service hours in 80 categories. VBSR Marketplace facilitates bartering good and services between members. To talk about it:

  • Heath Kralick, Outreach coordinator, Onion River Exchange
  • Michael Arnowitt, ORE member and concert pianist
  • Neily Jennings, Common Ground Center and VBSR Marketplace participant


In 1950, Vermont had a little known McCarthy Era anti-communist witch hunt. Rick Winston discusses his article about the incident, which appeared in Vermont History.

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October 22: The Renewable Revolution

*Renewable energy has gone from pipedream to reality. Two leaders look at how renewables are powering us today and future prospects:

  • David Hochschild, Commissioner, California Energy Commission, co-founder Vote Solar Initiative
  • Gabrielle Stebbins, executive director, Renewable Energy Vermont

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October 16: Vermont’s Farm to Plate Movement

*Vermont has been a national leader in the farm to plate movement — connecting farmers with food providers to build sustainable local economies. We talk with three leaders of that movement in Vermont:

  • Mark Curran, co-founder and co-owner, Black River Produce, winner, 2014 VBSR Terry Ehrich Award for Excellence in Socially Responsible Business
  • Ellen Kahler, executive director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
  • Robin Morris, founder, Mad River Food Hub

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October 8: Hidden Voices: Porn criminals and women in prison

*Can pornography ruin your life? Possession and distribution of Internet child pornography is one of the fastest growing prosecuted crimes in the U.S, increasing 150 percent every year since the mid-2000s.  End of Love is a documentary film that shines a light on how adolescent boys and others are being arrested and charged as sex offenders for downloading porn. We speak with filmmakers Deb Ellis and Alex Halkin about this issue and their film about it.

*In our second half, we hear from incarcerated women who write. There are now 200,000 women behind bars in the U.S. Sarah Bartlett talks about writinginsideVT, a writer’s group inside Vermont’s women’s prison. She is also co-editor, with Marybeth Redmond, of Hear Me, See Me: Incarcerated Women Write, a collection of essays by incarcerated women in Vermont. We also talk with Angela Avery, who discusses her time in prison and reads from her writings.

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October 1: Can business be a force for good?

Can capitalism solve the problems of capitalism? Can business be a force for good? Two pioneers of socially responsible business hold a public conversation and offer their experiences and views on these and other topics with The Vermont Conversation host David Goodman. This is an edited version of the VBSR sponsored Vermont Town Hall public conversation held on Sept. 26, 2014, at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe, Vt.

*Jeffrey Hollender, founder of Seventh Generation and Sustain Condoms

*Tom Chappell, founder of Tom’s of Maine and Rambler’s Way

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September 24: The People’s Climate March: An audio postcard

*On September 21, 2014, some 400,000 people rallied at the People’s Climate March in New York City in an historic protest to demand that global leaders take action to slow climate change. Vermont sent 22 buses with over 1,000 people, and many more Vermonters traveled to the march on their own. Six alumni of the Narrative Journalism Fellowship at Middlebury College Bianca Giaever, Ian Stewart, Kiya Vega-Hutchens, Luke Whalen, Veronica Rodriguez, and David Fuchs, along with teacher Sue Halpern created an audio postcard featuring the voices of Vermonters at the march.

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September 24: The slow money revolution

*Woody Tasch, founder of the national Slow Money movement, talks about his evolution from being a venture capitalist to investing in sustainable food and agriculture and supporting a nonviolent economy. Eric Becker, co-founder of Slow Money Vermont, talks about how even small investors can help support sustainable food ventures in Vermont.

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September 17: Can we save the planet? The many faces of the climate change movement

*On the eve of the People’s Climate March in New York City, we speak with people involved in fighting climate change on different fronts:

  • Bill McKibben, author, activist, founder,, on building a global movement
  • Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, on what VT is doing to move to renewable fuel sources and his view on fossil fuel divestment
  • Jonathan Lash, president, Hampshire College, on being one of the first colleges to divest of fossil fuel stocks
  • Clayton Thomas-Muller, co-director, Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, organizer with Idle No More, on native resistance

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September 4: Let’s Grow Kids: Improving early childhood in Vermont

*About half of Vermont’s children arrive at kindergarten unprepared. Children who are not prepared for school are less likely to graduate from college and more likely to need special education, depend on social services, have health concerns, and commit crimes. Let’s Grow Kids is a campaign to educate Vermonters about giving children the support and preparation for success in life. Discussing early childhood initiatives:

  • Julie Coffey, Building Bright Futures Early Childhood Advisory Council
  • LouAnn Beninati, Vermont Birth to Three
  • Dr, Johana Brakeley, MD, pediatrician
  • Robyn Freedner-Maguire, Let’s Grow Kids

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August 20: "Are Vermont schools really failing?" AND "Conflicts from Missouri to the Mideast"

*Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe discusses why she has been hailed as “a hero of American education” for pushing back against the the “test and punish” policies of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

*James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, talks about what is driving conflicts from Missouri to the Mideast, and his reflections on being chief speech writer for President Jimmy Carter.

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July 31, 2014: Governor Phil Hoff: Changing Vt. from Red to Blue

*Gov. Phil Hoff, the first Democrat elected governor in Vermont in over a century, permanently changed the politics of the Green Mountain state during his tenure, 1963-1969. Hoff — who pursued sweeping initiatives in civil rights, education, and was the first Democratic governor to break with LBJ and oppose the Vietnam War — is widely recognized as the founder of progressive politics in Vermont. Hoff celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2014. He talks about his victories and defeats, his relationship with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, his struggle with alcoholism, his views on universal health care and education, his legacy, and he offers advice to today’s leaders.

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July 23, 2014: Can Sustainable Food Save Vermont & the World?

*We look at how sustainable food and agriculture has transformed the Northeast Kingdom community of Hardwick and Vermont, and the lessons this holds for the world.

  • Sarah Waring, executive director, Center for an Agricultural Economy
  • Tom Stearns, High Mowing Seeds (VBSR Member), and board president, CAE
  • Todd Hardie, Caledonia Spirits (VBSR Member)
  • Terry O’Brien-Reil, Eden Ice Cider and Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center, Newport

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July 16, 2014: Thinking Globally: Journalist David Dobbs; Institute for Sustainable Communities

*Vermont journalist David Dobbs discusses his stories for the New York Times and other publications about science, politics and society. In the second half hour, we look at the global work of Montpelier-based Institute for Sustainable Communities with founder and president George Hamilton and Bangladesh country director T. Adil Chowdhury.

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July 2, 2014: Freedom Summer at 50

*On the fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Summer, Vermonter Gail Falk recounts her work as a civil rights volunteer in Mississippi in 1964 teaching in Freedom Schools, registering African American voters, dealing with violence, being jailed, and the historic legacy of that summer.

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June 25, 2014: Vermont's Clean Energy Economy

*Gov. Peter Shumlin released a report this week showing that Vermont’s clean energy industry now employs over 15,000 workers at some 2,600 locations and comprises about 4% of the state’s workforce. We discuss the state of and prospects for Vermont’s clean energy industry with Gabrielle Stebbins, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont, Duane Peterson, founder of Suncommon (residential solar); Karl Bissex of Clean Edge Energy (biomass/wood heating); and George Twill of Efficiency Vermont (efficiency).

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June 11, 2014: How to do business in a radically changing world

*Green business guru Andrew Winston, author of the bestselling book Green to Gold, discusses his new book, The Big Pivot: Radically Practical Strategies for a Hotter, Scarcer, and More Open World.

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June 4, 2014: Can giving away money help your bottom line?

*Melody Badgett, managing director of 1% for the Planet, Esbert Cardenas, CEO of Image Outfitters and, and Roy Tuscany, founder of High Fives Foundation, talk about innovative ways to do charitable giving, and how giving away money is making businesses money.

*Scott Buckingham of VBSR talks about the new edition of VBSR's Buy Local Book. 

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May 28, 2014: Breaking the corporate media sound barrier

*Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now!, talks with her brother, journalist David Goodman, about her life, work, the importance of independent media, and "going to where the silence is." This is a broadcast of a Vermont Town Hall public conversation held on May 17, 2014 at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe, Vermont.

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May 21, 2014: Vermont's quiet health care revolution

*While Vermont is getting national attention for its plans for universal health care, a quiet revolution is already underway in doctor's offices. Vermont Blueprint for Health is improving health care delivery at lower cost and already serves half the state's population. Dr. Craig Jones, director of Blueprint, Dr. Jennifer Gilwee, Dr. John King, and patient Patty Orgain Wood discuss their experience and outcomes with Vermont's innovative and nationally acclaimed primary health care program.

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May 14, 2014: Worker Ownership and Green Business - LIVE! FROM the VBSR Spring Conference

*Alternative ownership & worker-owned co-ops: Daniel Shearer, worker/owner, Tamarack Media Co-op; Bekah Mandell, worker/owner, Webskillet Co-op, and Kelsy HenneBarrows, worker at Webskillet describe the benefits and challenges of co-op businesses. Alisa Gravitz, CEO & president of Green America, talks about "The Greening of America - Everyone's Business."

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May 7, 2014: VBSR Spring Conference Preview, Sexual Assault on Campus

*Is there an epidemic of sexual assault on campus? Dartmouth College students and activists Jillian Mayer and Becca Rothfeld and Dartmouth Professor Peter Hackett discuss the prevalence and impact of sexual assault both personally and on their campus. The students outline the changes that they are demanding, including why they sat in at the president's office and why they are calling for ending the fraternity system. UVM vice provost for student affairs Annie Stevens talks about sexual assault at UVM.

*Scott Buckingham of VBSR previews the upcoming VBSR spring conference and Dan Barlow recaps the status of legislation at the State House.

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April 30, 2014: Fighting Poverty with Jobs & Recycling

*ReSource is reducing poverty in Vermont by training low income people how to fix recycled household goods and computers, and training high school dropouts to weatherize homes and install solar systems. We talk about this unique poverty reduction program with Curtis Ostler, development director of ReSource, Tom Hughes, CEO of Sunward Systems solar, and members of YouthBuild, a job training program for high school students at risk of dropping out.

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Champion Members!

Sponsor: All Earth Renewables Sponsor: Ben and Jerrys Sponsor: Dinse/Knapp/McAndrews Sponsor: Gardeners Supply Sponsor: Green Mountain Power Sponsor: Keurig Green Mountain Sponsor: Main Street Landing Sponsor: New Chapter Sponsor: NRG Systems Sponsor: Seventh Generation Sponsor: Villanti & Sons, Printers, Inc.