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

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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.


January 14

Paid Sick Leave: Has its time come?

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. Listen Now

To discuss paid sick leave:

*Jen Kimmich, co-owner, The Alchemist, member VBSR Policy Committee

*Paul Millman, president, Croma

Is your privacy protected?

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. Listen Now

January 7

When We Fight, We Win: Greg Jobin-Leeds on transformative movements

Greg Jobin-Leeds is the author of When We Fight, We Win: 21st Century  Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World. The book, rich with art curated by the activist art group AgitArte, chronicles the movements for same-sex marriage, Black Lives Matter, the DREAM Act, climate justice, mass incarceration, Occupy Wall Street, and others. Jobin-Leeds is the son of Holocaust survivors. He discusses what he has learned about how to successfully make transformative change in the 21st century. Listen Now

Ban the Box: Helping ex-prisoners

“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.

Listen Now


December 30: Waterbury’s Good Neighbor: Rev. Peter Plagge

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

Listen Now


December 30: #IAmMoreThanHomeless: ANEW Place for Vermont’s Homeless

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

Listen Now


December 23: From the Inner City to College

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

Listen Now


December 23: Kids in Prison

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

Listen Now


December 16: Fighting poverty & changing lives and Public artist Sarah-Lee Terrat

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.

Listen Now


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

Listen Now


December 9: Green loans for energy efficiency and the Vermont Spirts Revolution

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

Listen Now


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

Listen Now


December 2: Jitu Brown’s journey for justice

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

Listen Now

December 2: Biking to Paris for climate change

*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 (, 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.

Listen Now

November 18: Mike Donoghue on his half-century of reporting

*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.

Listen Now


November 5: What’s keeping Vermonters out of college?

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)

Listen Now


November 5: The next frontier of backcountry skiing

Vermont’s backcountry skiing community is organized and pushing ahead with new trails and projects around the state. From new trails to talk of hut skiing, we explore the backcountry skiing’s next frontier.

*Amy Kelsey, executive director, Catamount Trail Association

*Brian Mohr, SKI-EO, Vermont Backcountry Alliance

*Zac Freeman, Rochester Area Sports Trails Alliance (RASTA)

Listen Now


October 28: Taking the lead: Women & families in the workplace in Vermont

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of women with children under age 18 are in the U.S. workforce, and working mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners in 40 percent of households. Is Vermont a leader or laggard when it comes to providing opportunities for women and families in the workplace? We talk with people who have taken the lead in making workplaces women and family friendly.

*Bram Kleppner, CEO, Danforth Pewter (VBSR Member)

*Cary Brown, Executive Director, Vermont Commission on Women

*Russ Elek, Communication and Membership Manager, VBSR 

*Sarah Lord, Seventh Generation (VBSR Member)

*Sascha Mayer, CEO and Co-founder, Mamava (VBSR Member)

*Gwen Pokalo, Director of the Women’s Small Business Program at Mercy Connections (VBSR Member)

Listen Now


October 23: The unsung Holocaust heroine who saved thousands

During WWII, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social workers, organized a rescue network to save 2,500 Jewish children from death. Sendler was unknown until three high school girls from a poor town in Kansas stumbled upon the story and wrote a historical play about her for National History Day that they called Life in Jar. Their play was performed around the world and finally in Poland, where the forgotten Irena Sendler, in her 90s, was hailed as a national hero. Dr. Jack Mayer, a Middlebury pediatrician, wrote a book about this remarkable story and met Sendler before she died. He tells the story of the Holocaust heroine. More info can be found

*Dr. Jack Mayer, pediatrician and author, Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project

Listen Now


October 23: Bill McKibben: How Exxon covered up climate change

Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of, talks about his decision to get arrested in Burlington, Vt. last week to bring attention to the recent revelation that Exxon covered up what it knew about global warming from its own research. The expose was published in Inside Climate News and the LA Times. McKibben charges that Exxon should be prosecuted under organized crime statutes for lying about its climate change research. He also talks about where the climate movement goes from here, and the upcoming UN climate summit in Paris.

*Bill McKibben, co-founder, (VBSR Member)

Listen Now


October 14: Vermont’s craft beer revolution

In 1988, the Vermont Pub & Brewery opened for business as the first brew pub in the state. Today Vermont craft beers are taking the state, and world, by storm. Out of state visitors now flock to Vermont to bring back a sample of brews, such as The Alchemist’s Heady Topper and beers from Hill Farmstead, that have become cult classics.

All this is happening against a backdrop of consolidation in the beer industry. On October 13, the world’s leading brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, announced its plan to take over its main rival, SAB Miller. If the deal happens, it will be the biggest merger in brewing history, creating a company with sales of $55 billion. It means one mega brewer could soon own nearly half the world’s top beers.

But the microbrewers are posing a challenge to the megabrewers. In 2013, sales of craft beer (by volume) exceeded the sales of Budweiser, America’s top selling brew. And 44 percent of Americans between the ages of 21 and 27 have never tried a regular old Budweiser. We talk about Vermont’s craft brew phenomenon with its pioneers.

*Steve Polewazyck, owner, Vermont Pub & Brewery

*John Kimmich, co-owner, The Alchemist (VBSR Member)

*Dave Juenker, owner of Blackback Pub (VBSR Member), a craft beer pub in Waterbury, Vt.

*Steve Cook, deputy commissioner, Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing

Listen Now


October 7: Environmentalist Gus Speth: “Ultimate insider goes radical”

Nationally renowned environmentalist Gus Speth has come full circle: from working inside the White House as a top environmental adviser to Pres. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, to getting arrested outside its gates. Speth co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970. Under President Jimmy Carter, he was chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, then went on to found World Resources Institute, and was a senior adviser to Pres. Bill Clinton on natural resources, energy and the environment. He served as director of the United Nations Development Program, and was Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He now teaches at Vermont Law School and lives in Strafford, Vermont. In 2011, Speth was arrested, along with founder Bill McKibben and others, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline. He argues that the environmental movement has lost its way and now advocates for a new political economy to combat climate change.

*Speth’s recently wrote a memoir, Angels by the River, published by Chelsea Green. He talks about his life growing up in the Deep South under Jim Crow laws, his awakening to issues of civil rights and the environmental, how we went from insider to radical, and what gives him hope.

Listen Now


October 1: Employing the unemployable: Creating brownies & hope at Greyston Bakery

If you’ve ever purchased Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked or Chocolate Fudge Brownie, you have helped the unemployed. That’s because the brownies in the ice cream are from New York’s Greyston Bakery, which employs the most unemployable people in America. The bakery has an open hiring process, and does not do screenings or background checks. What began as a social experiment in 1982 has now helped thousands of people get back on their feet.

Greyston is located in Yonkers, New York. Its mission to hire ex-convicts, recovering addicts, the homeless, and others who have had trouble finding work. Among the benefits that its workers enjoy are childcare and subsidized housing. The bakery’s profits go to the Greyston Foundation, which supports local gardens, health clinics, and free job training programs. The bakery employs about 85 people.

*Mike Brady, president & CEO, Greyston Bakery

Listen Now


September 23: From Dave to Christine Hallquist: The journey of America’s first transgender CEO

During Vermont’s LGBTQ Pride Week in September, Dave Hallquist, CEO of Vermont Electric Co-op, the state’s second largest electric utility, came out as Christine, a transgender woman. Christine Hallquist is the first CEO in America to transition while in her job. In coming out, Christine has opened a window on a transgender journey shared by an estimated 1,400 Vermonters, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. She is using her public position to talk about the challenges faced by transgender people and encourage others to express their true self. She talks about her lifelong struggle keep her secret, her decision to come out, the reaction from her family and colleagues, and the future.

*Christine Hallquist, CEO, Vermont Electric Co-op

Listen Now


September 18: Duane Peterson: From LA cop to VT solar guru, with a scoop of Chunky Monkey

Social entrepreneur Duane Peterson is on his 7th career with stints as a medic, LA cop, political campaigner, justice department official, legislative director and values-led business practitioner. The common thread throughout all of these roles has been organizing people to take meaningful action towards positive change. Duane moved to Vermont in 1996 to help Ben use Ben & Jerry’s as a force for social change. After 12 years there as Ben’s Chief of Stuff, Duane left to launch his latest venture — SunCommon — to make it easy and affordable for homeowners to help repower Vermont with clean, safe, in-state energy. A Benefit Corporation and a Certified BCorp, SunCommon is Vermont’s largest solar business with almost 100 workers. In September 2015, Duane received VBSR’s Terry Ehrich Award for his commitment to the environment, workplace, progressive public policy, and community.

*Duane Peterson, co-founder, Suncommon

Listen Now


September 9: Tim DeChristopher, “America’s most creative climate criminal”

On December 19, 2008 University of Utah student Tim DeChristopher disrupted an oil and gas lease auction, effectively saving thousands of acres of pristine Utah land slated for oil and gas drilling. Rather than protest outside, DeChristopher entered the auction hall and registered as bidder #70. He outbid oil industry representatives on land parcels (some of which, starting at $2 an acre, were adjacent to Canyonlands National Park), winning 22,000 acres of land worth $1.7 million before the auction was halted. DeChristopher was removed from the auction by federal agents and taken into custody, Prior to his 2011 trial, DeChristopher toured the country, speaking to crowds of thousands. He co-founded the environmental group Peaceful Uprising. He eventually served 21 months in prison, including time in solitary confinement. He is the subject of the award winning documentary film Bidder 70. He is now a nationally known climate activist and frequent speaker.

*Tim DeChristopher, climate activist

Listen Now


September 2: Who is the Essential Bernie Sanders and can he win?

The Essential Bernie Sanders and his Vision for America (Chelsea Green) is a new book by veteran journalist Jonathan Tasini  that features speeches by and analysis of presidential candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Tasini is the former president of the National Writers Union and a political analyst. He is the publisher of Working Life, a popular progressive blog on work and the economy. In 2006, he ran against Sen. Hillary Clinton in New York. He talks about his new book, Sanders, Clinton, Donald Trump, the decline of the labor movement, and his own insights on what it takes to run a major campaign.

*Jonathan Tasini, author, The Essential Bernie Sanders and his Vision for America (Chelsea Green)

Listen Now


August 25: College for the 99%: New paths to a college education

Vermont students can now take two free college courses while in high school and enroll in a full year of college classes during their senior year of high school, thus saving a year of college tuition. These are some of the many new ways that college is becoming accessible and affordable to Vermonters. To discuss the new choices available for secondary education, including online education and new programs in renewable energy, nursing, STEM, and how VTC has achieved a 96% job placement rate, we speak with:

*Joyce Judy, President, Community College of Vermont 

*Dan Smith, President, Vermont Technical College

Listen Now


August 6: A Lifetime of Social Change and Service: Congressman Ron Dellums on Vietnam, Black Lives Matter, and Nelson Mandela

*Ron Dellums is an American political legend. A native of Oakland, California, Dellums was first elected to Congress in 1970 as an opponent of the Vietnam War. He became an expert in military and foreign policy, he rose to become chair of the powerful House Armed Services Committee. He was re-elected 13 times, retiring from the House in 1998.

*Dellums used his leadership positions to question US policy on weapons systems and foreign intervention.He also led the fight against apartheid in South Africa, winning passage of the US Anti Apartheid Act of 1986 over the veto of President Ronald Reagan. His efforts helped win the release of Nelson Mandela. In 2006, Dellums emerged from retirement and was elected mayor of Oakland from 2006 – 2011.

*Dellums reflects on his lifetime of social change and service, from Vietnam to helping free Nelson Mandela to his advice to Black Lives Matter activists today.

Listen Now


August 6: Lessons from the 2004 Dean for President Campaign

*In 2003, Heath Eiden, a Vermont filmmaker and director of Stowe Media Group, traveled through New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa to chronicle Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Eiden’s film, Lesson from an American Primary, recounts the meteoric rise and fall of the campaign. Dean’s campaign is generally considered the first presidential run to make effective and extensive use of social media as an organizing and fundraising tool. The filmmaker discusses the lessons that emerged from the campaign trail.

*Heath Eiden, director, Stowe Media Group

Listen Now


July 29: Champions of Change: Vermont’s Disability Rights Activists

*Vermont resident Max Barrows was recently at the White House to receive a “Champions for Change” award for his work to “uphold and expand the spirit of the Americans With Disabilities.” Barrows, 29, has autism and works for Green Mountain Self-Advocates (GMSA) as the Outreach Director. GMSA is a statewide self-advocacy organization in Vermont that is run and operated by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. GMSA has more than 600 members involved in 21 local self-advocacy groups. We talk with Barrows and two other GMSA members with developmental disabilities about their work, challenges and hopes.

*Max Barrows, Outreach Director, Green Mountain Self-Advocates (GMSA). Barrows, a person with autism, received a Champions of Change award from the White House.

*Nicole LeBlanc Advocacy Director, Green Mountain Self-Advocates. LeBlanc, a person with autism, completed a 10-week internship at the Washington Center in Washington, D.C., and earned a certificate of professional studies from the University of Vermont.

*Stirling Peebles, Advocacy Educator, Green Mountain Self-Advocates. Peebles, a person with Down syndrome, has produced videos about the life histories of several leaders of the self-advocacy movement in Vermont. She has attended the “Think College” program at UVM and done internships at WCAX-Channel 3 News and ORCA Media.

Listen Now


July 22: The Changing Face of Cancer Care in Vermont

*Cancer is the leading cause of death in Vermont. Each year, 3,600 Vermonters are diagnosed with cancer, and more than 38,000 Vermonters are living with a current or previous diagnosis of cancer. We talk with advocates, patients and physicians about the changing face of cancer care in Vermont:

*David Cranmer, coordinator, Vermonters Taking Action Against Cancer (VTAAC), and a cancer survivor

*Dr. Jim Wallace, medical director of radiation oncology, UVM Medical Center

*Theresa Lever, Patient Navigator for the cancer program at University of Vermont Health Network, Central Vermont Medical Center

*Beth Rusnock, president, National Life Group Foundation, sponsor of the Do Good Festival, which raises money for cancer support and treatment

*Amy, patient at Central Vermont Medical Center who, along with her husband, was recently diagnosed with cancer

Listen Now


July 8: Made In Vermont: The Marriage Equality Revolution

*On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples could wed throughout the country. The avalanche that swept America actually began as a snowball  high up in the Green Mountains in the late 1990s. In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in Baker v Vermont that the Vermont state legislature must craft a law granting all of the rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples. In 2000, Vermont legalized civil unions, the most sweeping grant of rights to same-sex couples up to that time. In 2009, the Vermont state legislature legalized same-sex marriage, making it the first legislature to do so. We talk about Vermont’s role in the marriage equality revolution with some of the pioneers of that effort:

*Former Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Amestoy, author of the groundbreaking Baker v Vermont ruling.

*State Representative Bill Lippert, who led the fight for passage of civil unions in 2000, and same sex marriage in 2009.

*Susan Murray, attorney with Langrock Sperry & Wool, who represented the plaintiffs in Baker v Vermont, along with attorney Beth Robinson (now a Vermont Supreme Court judge).

*Stacey Jolles & Nina Beck, a lesbian couple who were one of three same-sex couples who sued the State of Vermont in the late 1990s in Baker v Vermont, catalyzing the fight for marriage equality in Vermont, and in the U.S.

Listen Now

June 24: VBSR: A Quarter Century of Socially Responsible Business in Vermont

*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

Listen Now

June 17: “There is a war on whistleblowers and journalists” — Jesselyn Radack, attorney for Edward SnowdenClimate journey: Biking round the world for climate change

*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 (, 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.

June 11: Mark Bittman, NY Times food columnist: “Food is a social justice issue”

*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.

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May 21: “The Most Dangerous Man in America:” Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers leaker and peace activist, on war, conscience & whistleblowers

*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.

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May 16: VBSR 25th Anniversary Spring Conference, 5-13-15

*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

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May 7: Mary Powell, Green Mountain Power: Confronting cancer and leading Vermont’s energy revolution

*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.

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April 30: the promise of local economies & Taking mission-driven organizations from good to great

*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.

Michael Shuman, author, The Local Economy Solution: How Innvoative, Self-Financing ‘Pollinator’ Enterprises Can Grown Jobs and Prosperity (Chelsea Green)

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*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).

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April 9: Legendary activist Tom Hayden on SDS, Chicago 8, climate change, and still making a differenceDid electing Obama undermine progressive causes?

*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.

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*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

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April 1: The power of positive thinkingRacial justice after Ferguson

*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

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*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

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March 25: Inequalities: Civil Liberties Under Fire in Vt; Ending Inequality & Poverty

*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

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March 19: Beyond Austerity: An alternative to budget cuts; Marijuana legalization & a new app to engage citizens

*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


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.

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March 12: Saving Primary CareThe Socrates Cafe: How asking questions builds democracy

*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

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*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

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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.

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February 25: Donna Carpenter of Burton Snowboards on transforming workplaces for women, climate change, & life

*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.

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February 19: NPR “On Point” Host Tom Ashbrook on interviewing, living and grievingThe Fall Line: Author Nathaniel Vinton on Going Downhill Fast with Bode Miller and Lindsay Vonn

*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.

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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

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January 28: The Future: Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson; Leahy Center for Digital Investigations

*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

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January 23: State of the Arts: Conductor and violinist Jaime LaredoChristo talks about wrapping the world in fabric

*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

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January 7: Surviving in Avalanche Country and Health Care in Vermont

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

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