UVM has published the first research to address Vermonters’ responses to the state's pioneering food waste laws. (photo courtesy UVM)

VBSR Member News Roundup 03/01/23

These member news highlights were first featured in the 03/01/23 newsletter

The University of Vermont: UVM just completed and published the first research yet to address Vermonters’ responses to our pioneering food waste laws – Act 148 (food scraps) and Act 69 (single-use plastics) – since coming into effect on July 1, 2020. Researchers expect the new findings will help policymakers here, and in other states, learn from the first few years of experience and make adjustments that improve outcomes. The research shows that businesses and consumers have been surprisingly supportive of these laws even as new costs have been introduced. Learn more here.

Vermont Professionals of Color Network (VT PoC): If you want to engage and connect with prospective BIPOC employees, then VT PoC has a new opportunity for you. Their inaugural VT PoC BIPOC Job Fair is seeking VT-based organizations to participate in the event on April 1 at The Flynn in Burlington. Learn more here. Not familiar with all the incredible work VT PoC is engaged in? They recently released their annual report – a fantastic overview of their efforts. Learn more here.

NOFA-VT: The 41st Annual NOFA-VT Winter Conference, sponsored and attended by VBSR and many VBSR members, recently returned after a COVID hiatus. The two-day event for organic farmers, food system thinkers, and activists connected on an economically viable food and farming system for Vermont’s future. The goal is for people to build connections and communities through Vermont’s agriculture culture. Congratulations to NOFA-VT for the biggest crowd they have ever had for this gathering: over 1,000 attended. Learn more here.

Champlain Housing Trust and Scott + Partners: The Ho-Hum Motel in South Burlington has seen a lot of change over the years since its construction in 1950 – and more change is on the way thanks to Champlain Housing Trust. The hotel’s most recent incarnation was as an isolation and quarantine residence for anyone with Covid-19 symptoms, especially those experiencing homelessness. Next up? The Ho-Hum will start a new life as 20 long-term apartments for people who are homeless. Architects for the project are fellow VBSR members Scott + Partners. Curious about how a “permanently affordable housing” project actually works? Learn more here.

The Vermont Arts Council: The Vermont Arts Council works to ensure all Vermonters have access to the arts and creativity in their lives, education, and communities. That access can happen in galleries, of course, but it can even happen in the State House. This March, Vermonters can experience works by Vermont Arts educators in the Vermont Arts Council Spotlight Gallery in Montpelier – and then walk across the street to view Vermont Art Educators Association’s biennial Youth Art Month exhibit at the Vermont State House. In this way, the community can see the creativity of both Vermont’s youngest artists and the arts educators who support their growth. Learn more here.

Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op: Interested in helping to create new community energy projects? You may be a fit for Acorn Renewable Energy Co-op’s Board of Directors. After significant changes at both the state and federal levels in renewable energy project support, 2023 will be a year of reassessment for the organization. It will be an exciting time for the board to consider new community energy models. To learn more, contact Benjamin Marks, current Board President, here.

Vanguard Renewables and Cabot Creamery Co-operative: During the last few decades, many multi-generational dairy farms have been at the epicenter of the climate change debate – and its solutions. Whether through anerobic digesters or closed loop processes, Vanguard Renewables and Gold Member Cabot Creamery Co-operative are organizations that have led the way to reimagining what “waste” is (and isn’t) for dairy farmers. David Darr, Chief Sustainability Officer at Vanguard Renewables, makes the case for lifting up innovative farmers in a recent Sustainable Brands “CleanTech” blog. Learn more here.

Working Fields: Mickey Wiles, CEO and founder of VBSR Gold Member Working Fields, has received the 2023 Tammy Bushell Award for making substantial contributions to creating recovery-friendly workplaces in Vermont. Bestowed by Recovery Vermont, the award is a celebration of Wiles’ personal journey and “all that Working Fields does for people in recovery, workplaces, and work cultures.”

Mickey himself says it best: “I am definitely honored to get this and, quite honestly, I am proud of my team here at Working Fields that is out there day in and day out placing our Associates into jobs and providing support to them along the way. The award represents the work we have been able to do to impact many of the employers we work with: to help them understand why our model works, how it is good for their business, and their role in creating the supportive work environment that educates their teams on stigma and other issues. It is gratifying to have spent the last six years building this business and to see the results.” Learn more here.