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. Scroll down to listen to recent shows or Tune into WDEV at 1:00 PM every Wednesday!
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*This year marks the 25th anniversary of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility. From early efforts by business people who dubbed themselves “socialists for capitalism,” Vermont has been at the forefront of the socially responsible business movement. VBSR is now the largest statewide socially business association in the country. As home to iconic socially responsible brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, Gardener’s Supply and Seventh Generation, Vermont businesses have pioneered the idea of businesses with a “triple bottom line:” measuring success in terms of people, profits and the environment. We speak with Vermont business leaders who have nurtured this movement since its inception:
*Dave Barash, co-founder of VBSR, longtime social entrepreneur who worked for Ben & Jerry’s, currently Director of New Ventures for Vermont Energy Investment Corp.
*Allison Hooper, co-founder of Vermont Creamery, early VBSR board member and on the original board of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
*Bruce Seifer, VBSR founding member, appointed by Burlington Mayor Bernie Sanders to lead the City of Burlington’s economic development efforts, which he did for three decades
*Julie Lineberger, former VBSR board chair, co-owner with her husband of LineSync, an architectural firm
*Will Patten, former VBSR executive director, co-owner of Hinesburgh Public House, a socially responsible restaurant
*Jesselyn Radack is an attorney who was a rising star in the U.S. Justice Dept. In 2002, she revealed ethics violations by the FBI in the case of John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban.” As a result of her revelations, she was forced out of the department, investigated and smeared. Today she is the director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project, where she is an attorney for Edward Snowden and other leading whistleblowers including Thomas Drake of the NSA and John Kiriakou of the CIA. Radack talks about her own experience resisting the “full weight of the government” when she became a whistleblower, why Edward Snowden can’t return to the U.S., and says there is an unprecedented “war on whistleblowers and journalists.”
Jesselyn Radack, director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project,attorney for Edward Snowden. Listen Now.
*Recent college graduates Morgan Curtis (Dartmouth ’14) and Garrett Blad (Notre Dame ’15) are riding their bikes 10,000 km from Vermont to Paris (climatejourney.org), where they will finish at COP21, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, in December 2015. As they bike across New England, eastern Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, and the UK, they “are writing, photographing, filming, collaging and painting, telling stories of individuals and communities mobilizing for a just transition to a climate-stable future.” They talk about what motivates them to ride, how they will deal with fatigue and saddle soar, and what they hope will come of their climate journey.
Morgan Curtis (Dartmouth '14) and Garrett Blad (Notre Dame '15) are cycling 10,000km around the world for Climate Change Listen Now.
*Mark Bittman writes (mostly) about food for the NY Times Opinion pages, and is The NYT Magazine’s lead food columnist. He is the author of the bestselling cookbooks, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 and How To Cook Everything, has published over 15,000 recipes. But Bittman also writes about a variety of social justice issues, from police brutality, inequality, the fight for a living wage, to climate change. Bittman talks about his background as a community organizer, his love for food and his insistence that “fast food is poison,” and how food is a social justice issue. He also discusses his articles about Vermont’s innovative eateries and the local food movement.
*This spring marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg was a key figure whose revelations contributed to the war’s end. Ellsberg is a former Marine and adviser on the Vietnam War to President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. He is best known for provoking a national political crisis in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papersto The New York Times, and other newspapers. The Pentagon Papers revealed that top US government officials had been lying about the Vietnam War to the American people.
For leaking the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was charged with theft, conspiracy and violations of the Espionage Act, but his case was dismissed as a mistrial when evidence surfaced about the government-ordered wiretappings of his phone and break-ins of his psychiatrist’s office.
Henry Kissinger referred to Ellsberg as “the most dangerous man in America,” but many view Daniel Ellsberg as hero who risked his career and even his personal freedom to help expose the deception of his own government in carrying out the Vietnam War.
Daniel Ellsberg is now 84 years old and remains active in the peace movement. I spoke with Ellsberg earlier this month at a conference in Washington DC about the lessons of the Vietnam War which featured a number of key leaders from the antiwar movement.
Live broadcast from the VBSR Spring Conference: we speak with three women with different perspectives on socially responsible business:
*Markey Read, president, Career Networks, on leadership styles and changing careers
Rachel Jolly, Vermont Works for Women, on creating an inclusive workplace
*Sara Newmark, Director of Sustainability for New Chapter, VBSR board chair, on creating family friendly and socially responsible businesses
*Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power since 2008, has transformed the company from traditional utility to clean energy pioneer. One of the nation’s few women to lead an electric utility, she was recently named Woman of the Year by an industry trade group. Powell recently confronted a new challenge: cancer. She discusses how undergoing genetic testing and having a double mastectomy earlier this year has changed her outlook on life and work. She also describes Vermont’s energy future beyond “twigs and twine” (electric poles and wires) toward communities powered by small micro-grids, how GMP will be the first utility to offer home batteries made by Tesla Motors, as well as her views on nuclear power, resistance to renewable energy, and her advice to young women entering the work world.
*Taxpayer subsidies of large companies in the name of development have often been a rip-off, losing both jobs and money. Michael Shuman argues that investing locally has far greater benefits. He also offers his thoughts on how local reinvestment could be a solution in riot-torn Baltimore, which has suffered from massive disinvestment from the inner city.
*Author David Grant discusses how mission-driven organizations can go from good to great. And he discusses his experience with reconnecting high school students with the land at Vermont’s famous Mountain School, a semester program which he co-founded in the 1980s. Grant ends with a re-enactment of Mark Twain, which he formerly performed to worldwide audiences.
David Grant, author, The Social Profit Handbook: The Essential Guide to Setting Goals, Assessing Outcomes, and Achieving Success for Mission-Driven Organizations (Chelsea Green).
*Tom Hayden was a leader of the student, civil rights, peace and environmental movements of the 1960s. He went on to serve 18 years in the California legislature. He was a founder of Students for a Democratic Society and was described by the NY Times as “the single greatest figure of the 1960s student movement.”
During the Vietnam War, he made controversial trips to Hanoi with his former wife, actress Jane Fonda, to promote peace talks and facilitate the release of American POWs. He helped lead street demonstrations against the war at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, where he was beaten, gassed and arrested twice. Hayden was indicted in 1969 with seven others on conspiracy and incitement charges in what became the Chicago Eight trial, considered one of the leding political trials of the last century.
Hayden is Director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, California, he organizes, travels and speaks on a variety of issues. He helps advise Gov Jerry Brown on renewable energy, and He is the author and editor of 20 books, his current one is Why Cuba Matters.
Tom Hayden is now 75 years old. I caught up with him last week at the U of Michigan Ann Arbor, where Hayden was speaking at the 50th anniversary of the first Vietnam War teach in held on a US college campus.
*Did the election of President Obama undermine the antiwar movement and other progressive causes? What can we learn from the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street? The new book Party in the Street tackles these questions.
Michael T. Heaney, co-author, Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11, assistant professor of organizational studies and political science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
*Declan Coyle has gone from being a priest in the poorest communities of the developing world to preaching about the power of positive thinking to global business leaders and the top-ranked University of Kentucky men’s basketball team. How does positive thinking help businesses succeed and teams win?
Declan Coyle, management consultant and motivational coach, author, The Green Platform
*More than three people per day were killed by police in America in the last month. The majority of the victims were men of color. What hope is there for progress on racial justice in this deadly environment? How can we shut off the school-to-prison pipeline, where school students are being sent to jail instead of the principal’s office? What are the lessons of Selma, Alabama, for the post-Ferguson America?
Dennis Parker, director, ACLU Racial Justice Program
*Does Vermont have a racial profiling problem? Is your privacy at risk? Are your civil liberties being violated by drones, license plate readers, and other new electronic surveillance?
- Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the ACLU, talks about the state of civil liberties in the Green Mountain State
Today, 47 million Americans live in poverty, while middle class incomes are in decline. The top 20 percent now controls 89 percent of all wealth. Can poverty be ended?
- Scott Myers-Lipton, author of Ending Extreme Inequality: An Economic Bill of Rights to Eliminate Poverty and professor of sociology at San Jose State University
*Is there an alternative to austerity? As the Vermont legislature considers over $100 million in cuts to close a budget gap, One Vermont, a group of social service advocates and businesses, proposes to balance the budget without budget cuts.
- Jack Hoffman, Public Assets Institute
- Andrea Cohen, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
- Karen Lafayette, Vermont Low Income Advocacy Council
- Julie Tessler, Vermont Council of Developmental and Mental Health Services
GRASSROOTS ACTIVISM and TECHNOLOGY
We talk with the founder of New Grassroots, a new web app that aims to connect legislators with concerned citizens, and advocates of marijuana legalization, who are among those trying out the new approach.
- Benjamin Brown, chicken farmer, founder and CEO, NewGrassroots
- Matt Simon, New England Political Director, Marijuana Policy Project
*Is primary care endangered? That’s the contention of some who are concerned about the Medicaid cost shift, in which providers make so little money on Medicaid that some health care providers are refusing to treat Medicaid patients altogether. Discussing this and possible solutions:
- Dr. Joseph Haddock, family practitioner in Williston, Vt.
- Leslie Nulty, owner of Focal Point Advisory Services in Burlington, Vt.
- Russ Bennett, owner of Northland Design & Construction, Waitsfield, Vt
*Christopher Phillips believes that dialogue is good for people and essential for a democratic society. He travels the world and leads what he calls a Socrates Cafe and Democracy Cafe to encourage people to engage in Socratic dialogues to tackle difficult issues in more productive ways.
Christoper Phillips, author and founder, Socrates Cafe
March 4: The future of education in Vermont
*Vermont education leaders explore the future of education in Vermont and analyze Town Meeting 2015 results, in which 20 school budgets failed.
- Paul Cillo, founder and president, Public Assets Institute (first half-hour)
- Jeff Francis, Executive Director, Vermont Superintendents Association (second half-hour)
- Stephen Dale, Executive Director, Vermont School Boards Association
*Donna Carpenter and her husband Jake Burton Carpenter founded Burton Snowboards in 1977. Donna has worn many hats in the business, including building snowboards, answering phones and expanding Burton’s market to Europe. She is now the company President. Donna also heads Burton’s non-profit Chill Foundation, bringing snowboarding to underprivileged youth, and is the mother of three sons. Donna Carpenter talks about transforming a male dominated business to be female-friendly, the importance of women in her business, surviving Jake’s cancer, the threat that climate change poses to her work, and her future.
*Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s On Point, a 2-hour daily call in show heard on 286 radio stations around the country, talks about his journey from growing up on a farm in Illinois to covering global hotspots as a journalist for the Boston Globe and NPR. He also reflects on life and grieving after the recent death of his wife of 42 years. LIsten Now.
*Nathaniel Vinton, a sports reporter for the New York Daily News, talks about ski racers Bode Miller and Lindsay Vonn and how climate change has made ski racing more dangerous, in his new book, The Fall Line: How American Ski Racers Conquered a Sport on the Edge. LIsten Now.
February 11: Childcare: Crisis & Opportunity
*In Vermont, more than 26,000 children under the age of 6 are in need of childcare. According to Building Bright Futures, licensed childcare providers have the capacity to serve only 40 percent of these children. Up to half of children are not sufficiently prepared to enter kindergarten. Vermont Gov. Shumlin has called for the formation of a Blue Ribbon Commission to research financing options for high-quality, affordable childcare .
We have four perspective on childcare:
- Parent: Alison Maynard, Director, Center for Leadership and Innovation at The University of Vermont Continuing Education, mother 4 and 5 year old.
- Provider: Sonja Raymond, Owner of Apple Tree Learning Centers in Stowe, and Quality Project Coordinator for the Vermont Association of the Education of Young Children (VAEYC), mother of 16 yr old.
- Business person: Benjamin (Ben) Wilson, President of the Better Middlebury Partnership, an organization dedicated to making the greater Middlebury area a better place to live, work and play. Ben is active in the BMP’s efforts to recruit telecommuters and new businesses to the Middlebury area. Dad of 5 & 7 yr old.
- Robyn Freedner-Maguire, Campaign Director of Let’s Grow Kids, public education campaign that aims to raise awareness about early childhood development, mother of 3 yr old twins and a 6 yr old.
February 2: Livable jobs
*What is a livable wage in Vt?
First, let’s look at what isn’t livable: The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. A person working full-time with two children at the current $7.25 minimum earns $14,500 annually, which is below the federal poverty line. In Vermont, the minimum wage is $9.15 an hour, and is scheduled to rise to $10.50 over the next 3 years. So a full time minimum wage earner in Vt makes about $18,000 per year, which is still below the federal poverty line.
A recent Vermont legislative report put the livable wage in Vermont for a single person living in shared housing at $13.48 an hour, rising to $32.41 for a single wage earner in a household with two adults and two children. Many small businesses insist they can’t pay such high wages.
Four Vermonters talk about their vision of “livable jobs” in Vermont:
- Jen Kimmich, the co-owner of The Alchemist in Waterbury
- Liz Holtz, the founder and CEO of Liz Lovely in Waitsfield
- Russ Bennett, the owner of NorthLand Design & Construction in Waitsfield, and chairman of VBSR Policy Committee
- Ellen Kahler, the executive director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
*How can we change the future? What is the future we want, and what future should we avoid? These are some of the questions posed by Brian David Johnson, an expert in “future-casting” for Intel Corporation. He discusses the most powerful tools for changing future outcomes, the “Internet of everything,” and “wearable technology.”
Brian David Johnson, Chief Futurist and principal engineer, Intel Corporation and founder of the Tomorrow Project
The future is now at the Leahy Center for Digital Investigations, an innovative “center of excellence” at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. We discuss how the Leahy Center functions as both a school and consulting firm, its program for students, and how the Center helped crack complex criminal cases, including the Brooke Bennett murder case in Vermont.
Jonathan Rajewski, assistant professor of Digital Forensics at Champlain College, and director of the Leahy Center for Digital Investigation
Alexandra Santiago Reyes, Digital Forensics major at Champlain College
*The Vermont Symphony Orchestra–the oldest state-supported orchestra in the country–celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, and leading it will be a familiar figure: the world renowned violinist and conductor Jaime Laredo. Laredo has been conductor of the VSO since 2000. He has had a storied career, recording close to 100 discs and been awarded seven Grammy nominations. He taught for 35 years at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and was a principal figure in Vt’s Marlboro Music Festival, and he is now on the faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He divides his time between his homes in Cleveland and Guilford, Vt.
Laredo talks about his life in music, reflects on the state of classical music, its meaning and its value. Listen Now.
*Christo, the world renowned artist, has created massive and controversial public art works, including wrapping the German parliament in fabric, the 24-mile-long artwork called Running Fence in California, and The Gates in Central Park. He talks about his newest projects: Over the River, in which he plans to cover nearly 7 miles of the Arkansas River in Colorado, which has sparked lawsuits by local groups, and Mastaba, a pyramid-like structure built from oil barrels that will stand in Abu Dhabi, his first permanent structure. He talks about the meaning of his art and his lifelong partnership in art and life with his late wife Jeanne-Claude, who died in 2009. Listen Now.
January 14: Education Funding; Preventing Suicide in Vermont
Education funding: Does Vermont have an education funding crisis? We discuss this issue, school consolidation, and the effectiveness of the Act 60 education funding reform law with:
*William J. Mathis, managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and the former superintendent of schools for the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union in Brandon, Vermont. He was a National Superintendent of the Year finalist and a Vermont Superintendent of the Year. He currently serves on the Vermont State Board of Education and chairs the legislative committee.
Suicide Prevention: Why does Vermont have a higher suicide rate than the national average? What are the warning signs, and what prevention resources exist?
*Corey Gould, president of board, VT Chapter the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, licensed psychologist, Gifford Medical Center
*JoEllen Tarallo-Falk, director, VT Suicide Prevention Center, Executive Director, Center for Health and Learning
Surviving: In the aftermath of the death of two US Ski Team members in an avalanche in Austria this week (including 20 year old Burke Mountain Academy graduate Ronnie Berlack), there is renewed interest in the science and art of staying alive in avalanche country. We speak with the journalists behind The Human Factor, Powder Magazine’s new groundbreaking 5-part series on surviving avalanches:
*John Stifter, editor, Powder Magazine, who survived an avalanche in 2012 that killed three friends
*David Page, author, The Human Factor, Powder Magazine
Health Care Reform in Vermont After Single Payer: What’s next for health care reform in Vermont now that single payer has been abandoned? Four experts weigh in:
*Rep. Bill Lippert, chair, House Health Care Committe
*Neal Goswami, Vermont News Bureau Chief
*Dan Barlow, VBSR public policy manager
*Bram Kleppner, CEO, Danforth Pewter, and supporter of single payer