Leadership Training 2014

Leadership training

“The Metta Earth Leadership training has been a beautiful whirlwind of learning and laughter. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life that has taught me far more than I can comprehend. My month here has been beyond amazing with Gillian and Russell’s immense warmth and groundedness.”
Amanda Chin,
2011 participant

Living at Metta Earth

Enjoy being at a retreat center with the magnificence and quietude of the mountains surrounding us, the stunning headwaters of the New Haven river with abundant waterfalls and pools for swimming, wilderness trails to walk or bike, and 158 acres of Metta Earth land to explore.

Description of Program:

In this time of massive cultural upheaval and accelerating climate change, we are profoundly called to awaken and create transformative solutions together. Out of this chaotic turbulence, remarkable initiatives are coalescing ⎯ with immense passion and energy an emerging generation of leaders is responding to this need.

During these leadership trainings, participants have the opportunity to deepen personal growth, while building skills to lead and empower others. Each of the three sessions offers an in depth focus as a response to the environmental, social, and spiritual crises manifesting on the planet at this time.

Although distinctive, these three trainings are strenthened by the additional core practices of yoga and meditationfarmstead living skillsleadership processes, and the arts. Within each of these, we highlight a variety of themes and practices relevant to the specific, individual trainings. The rich medley of these realms is offered intentionally to provide an enhanced vibrancy to our daily living and to stimulate possibilities for social and cultural renewal.

After the training, Metta Earth faculty will support you in catalyzing change backin your community with three mentoring calls to help clarify and activate the next steps in your leadership journey.

For more information go to - http://www.mettaearth.org/leadership-training.html

GMO Labeling Bill (H.112) up for Senate Floor Vote

Rural VT Action Update – April 13, 2014

GMO Labeling Bill  (H.112) up for Senate Floor Vote


If you are on the VT Right to Know GMOs contact list you have already heard that the GMO Labeling bill was passed last week by the Senate Appropriations Committee with a unanimous vote of 7-0. Now the bill is scheduled for a vote by the full Senate. ACCORDING TO THE INFORMATION WE HAVE AT THE MOMENT – the Floor Vote is likely to happen on Tuesday morning 4/15. The exact timing is difficult to predict as everything in the State House at this time of year is subject to change at the last minute. Right now the Senate is scheduled to convene at 9:30 and H.112 is the third bill on their agenda.

So here’s what we need you to do: Starting Monday morning and any time through about 10AM on Tuesday, PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS at the State House at 828-2228 or 800-322-5616. Be prepared to leave a brief message with the following information: Your Senator’s name - You can find that out here - Your name, town, and phone number, and the message: Please vote YES on H.112.

Everyone who has worked so hard on this bill is cautiously optimistic that, although there is likely to be some vigorous debate on the floor of the Senate, the support is there for it to pass. Vermont is poised to become the first state in the U.S. to require labels on GMO food with clear effective date for the law.

You are welcome to come to the State House to witness this historic vote. However, it is important to know that the Senate Chamber is very small with limited public seating and also, the rules are very strict including absolutely no use of electronic devices, including cameras, inside the Senate Chamber. You can however listen to the Senate proceedings on VPR through their live stream.

Rural Vermont and all the partners in the VT Right to Know Coalition will be providing updates via social media throughout the morning.

If you have questions or need assistance with contacting your Senator please contact Robb Kidd or Andrea Stander or call the Rural Vermont office at 223-7222.

UN Report Calls for Radical, Democratic Food System – from Common Dreams

UN Report Calls for Radical, Democratic Food System – Common Dreams.

Complete reversal, not reform, of global food system needed in favor of sustainable food sovereignty

- Jacob Chamberlain

The current global food system needs to be “radically” and “democratically” changed in order to alleviate global hunger and serve human rights over the profits of major agribusiness corporations, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

“At the local, national and international levels, the policy environment must urgently accommodate alternative, democratically-mandated visions” which go beyond the goal of profit maximization and instead rebuild local and sustainable food models, said Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter, while presenting his final report (pdf) to the UN Human Rights Council, finalizing his six-year term.

“Food democracy must start from the bottom-up, at the level of villages, regions, cities, and municipalities,” the rights expert said.

“Food security must be built around securing the ability of smallholder farmers to thrive,” he emphasized. “Respect for their access to productive resources is key in this regard.”

The current system, says De Schutter, has instead created a world monopolized by the big-agro “green revolution” of mono-cropping, industrialization and pesticide-heavy techniques, which has boosted agricultural production over the past 50 years but has “hardly reduced the number of hungry people,” the report states.

This system of large-scale export-based agriculture is most often “based on the exploitation of a largely dis-empowered workforce,” the report states

(full report linked in title)

Policy Update: GMO Legislation in VT (H.112)

Published on Mar 2, 2014

Join NOFA-VT’s Policy Advisor Dave Rogers as he discusses the past, present and future of the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients with VT Right to Know Coalition members Andrea Stander of Rural Vermont and Will Allen of Cedar Circle Farm. Recorded February 15, 2014.



A Vermont state bank comeback?

VT 3 DollarsWill the state of Vermont take control of its finances by creating a state owned Bank?

VTDigger  – Public banking advocates release economic study by Hilary Niles -  Nov. 5  2013

Excerpt – Advocates of public banking, so far unsuccessful in their quest to get the Vermont Legislature to study the possibility of setting up a state-owned bank, have taken the task upon themselves….

Flomenhoft said about $236.2 million of new credit could be created in the state, as well as 1,000 jobs and $100 million in savings. For the full report, see the document link below. )

The VT State Bank Study – vtbank-prelim11-4complete

Read VTD full article

Another interesting article on state owned banks from Mother Jones -

How the Nation’s Only State-Owned Bank Became the Envy of Wall Street —By Josh Harkinson  -  2009

Excerpt – The Bank of North Dakota is the only state-owned bank in America…. It was created 90 years ago, in 1919…. we have specifically designed programs to spur certain elements of the economy. Whether it’s agriculture or economic development programs that are deemed necessary in the state or energy, which now seems to be a huge play in the state.

What do private banks think of you?

The interesting thing about the bank is we understand that we walk a fine line between competing and partnering with the private sector. We were designed and set up to partner with them and not compete with them….

We also provide a dividend back to the state. Probably this year we’ll make somewhere north of $60 million, and we will turn over about half of our profits back to the state general fund. And so over the last 10, 12 years, we’ve turned back a third of a billion dollars just to the general fund to offset taxes or to aid in funding public sector types of needs.

Not bad for a state with a population of 600,000.

Read MJ  full article

Invite from VT for a new Economy – Join Vermonters for a New Economy!  We are a group of individuals and organizations who are working to design and enjoy all the new ways we can own and operate businesses, earn income, make exchanges, do our banking and investment, and measure the economy’s contribution to human and environmental well-being.  We support sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and energy efficiency, creativity and knowledge based enterprises, affordable housing, and healing arts as the economic drivers of Vermont’s future.  Click here to be added to our mailing list.

Rural VT update Nov. 5th

 In this update:
Dear Members & Friends:
> Today (Nov. 5), Washington state will tally up the votes for I-522, the citizens’ ballot initiative that, if passed, will require labeling of genetically engineered food. Right now, the vote is too close to call with the YES on I-522 campaign being outspent more than 3 to 1 by the bio-tech and industrial food companies. This has been the most expensive ballot initiative campaign in WA state history and the WA state Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for campaign finance violations. Here’s hoping the voters of Washington state can see through the fear and confusion that is being broadcast and grant themselves the right to know what is in their food!
> Sat Nov. 9th, I hope you’ll join me and other activists at the Vermont Environmental Summit at VT Technical College in Randolph. Regardless of the outcome in WA state, I will be working with other members of the VT Right to Know GMOs Coalition to share our strategy to pass VT’s GMO labeling bill in 2014. Stonyfield Yogurt founder and “Just Label It” spokesperson Gary Hirshberg will be the keynote presenter. With other organizers, I will also be offering tips on how you can be a powerful citizen advocate in the Vermont State House this winter. We’re expecting a full court press from the same interests who have been spending so much money to prevent labeling efforts across the country. PLEASE NOTE: Because we are a co-sponsor of the Summit,  members of Rural Vermont can attend the day-long event, which includes lunch, for just $15 if you register by Thurs. at 5PM.
> November 15 is the deadline for comments to the FDA on their proposed rules to implement the Food Modernization and Safety Act (FSMA). Why should you care about this? Well, it has become apparent, through careful reading of the draft rules (by others much smarter than me), that they contain confusing and in some cases obscure provisions that could make it virtually impossible for small diversified farms to sell good local food and be economically viable. Thanks to the work of UVM’s Vern Grubinger, as well as folks at NOFA-VT, New England Farmers’ Union and the VT Agency of Agriculture, we have pulled together some of the best analysis of what you need to know and what you CAN do to add your voice to the protest over how these proposed rules could devastate small scale agriculture in Vermont.
This is complicated and “wonky” stuff but I can’t stress how important it is for Vermont’s small-scale family farms to participate in this action now. See below for details and feel free to contact me with questions. 
Finally, to end on an upbeat note – we are grateful to the over 60 raw milk producers who joined us last Sunday (Oct. 27) at the Bethel Town Hall for a very productive and inspiring Raw Milk Producers’ Summit. I hope you will read on for Rural Vermont member and activist Katie Spring’s first-hand account of this great gathering.
Let’s get organized!
P.S. For some really inspiring words from our unofficial farmer “Poet Laureate,” I urge you to check out Bill Moyers’ recent interview with Wendell Berry. 


“FSMA” stands for Food Safety and Modernization Act and it is a law that was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2011. It represents the most comprehensive set of changes to food safety laws passed since the 1930s.

At the time it was being debated in Congress, Rural Vermont supported FSMA because the assumption was that most small-scale farms would fall under exemptions to its major provisions. As with almost all rules that come out of DC, things have changed.

Now, more than two years later, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which was given broad authority to implement FSMA, has set a deadline of November 15 for the submission of comments on two DRAFT rules it has prepared.

Although the purpose of FSMA was ostensibly to address post-Sept. 11 security concerns and the increasing frequency of food-bourne illnesses in the U.S. food system, it now looks like the proposed rules could radically restrict the kind of community-scale agricultural production and food processing that has been encouraged and is, in many ways, flourishing in Vermont and around New England. The rules, as currently proposed, have the potential to be very damaging to many farms – especially those who are focused on veggies and fruits.



It has become clear that only if a lot of potentially affected farmers weigh in with specific comments about how they will be impacted, will the FDA be convinced that they need to make changes to these rules. There is some hope that they can at least be convinced to issue another draft set of rules based on this round of comments before making the rules final.
We have assembled a list of informational resources on our website and we strongly encourage you to take some time to read these materials and then compose your own comments that relate directly to how your farming operation would be affected by the proposed FSMA rules.

VT Frack Gas-pipeline Public Hearing

VNRC Newsletter

In May 2012, Vermont became the first state in the nation to ban fracking for natural gas because of the dangers it poses to drinking water, clean air and livable communities across North America.

Despite this, Vermont Gas wants to expand Vermonters’ reliance on fracked gas. Its plan to build a pipeline to Middlebury is in front of state regulators right now and those regulators are holding a public hearing next Tuesday, September 10 at the Middlebury Union Middle School in Middlebury.

Please attend this important public hearing and voice your concerns.

Among other things, this pipeline would:

•    Increase our reliance on gas just when we need to be moving toward clean renewable energy.

•    Cut straight through wetlands and certified organic farmland.

•    Run counter to our energy goals. Vermont has a goal of getting 90% of our energy from renewable sources by 2050. Allowing this pipeline to be built would lock us into a non-renewable fuel source for decades to come.

Learn more about the hearing and a rally beforehand organized by our friends at VPIRG, Toxics Action Center, Rising Tide Vermont, 350VT as well as local citizens.

We hope you can make it.

Thanks for all you do!

The VNRC Team

F-35 in South Burlington

man102This post is a conglomeration of links and videos pertaining to the issue of basing the F35 fighter jets at Burlington International airport.  – VT4Evolution

Video of mock F35 sound demo 

Video via Youtube – Anne Galloway – Compressed F35 Video

Check out BFP video – The same sound demo at city hall park – HERE

Interesting article in the Burlington Free Press – Opponents of F-35 in Vermont outnumber supporters, Air Force says, acknowledging error in environmental report

Take action and find out about upcoming activities – http://www.stopthef35.com/

Decibel Comparison ChartHere

No elected Vermont political leaders have met with affected homeowners/concerned citizens. Those most affected demand a public hearing with our elected political leaders. They cannot keep running from the facts and only offering their half truths.

- Chris Hurd

full article – F-35 in South Burlington.

GMOs Innocents of Omission

The recent win by Monsanto will be appealed!

This is a biased ruling based on a paragraph on Monsanto’s web page. It is not based on public or environmental well-being, nor on the equal rights of farmers.

The courts ruling does not address the issue – “Monsanto’s representations unequivocally disclaim any intent to sue appellant growers, seed sellers, or organizations for inadvertently using or selling ‘trace amounts’ of genetically modified seeds.” (trace amounts = 1%)

If we only protect our organic farms with a 1% capacity (as the court is doing), we won’t have organic seed anymore, and even wild seed will be permanently modified. This is a crisis we can’t standby and watch, we need to put the pressure on our elected officials, and educate anyone who will listen. The future of our food relies on it.

Excerpt from Reuters article (linked above) - Monsanto filed 144 patent-infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against farmers it said made use of its seed without paying required royalties. Many U.S. farmers have said their fields were inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto’s biotech seeds without their knowledge.

Excerpt from The Guardian article – Monsanto sued small famers to protect seed patents, report says – In its report, called Seed Giants vs US Farmers, the CFS said it had tracked numerous law suits that Monsanto had brought against farmers and found some 142 patent infringement suits against 410 farmers and 56 small businesses in more than 27 states. In total the firm has won more than $23m from its targets…

From the institute of responsible technology - In 2006 GM rice grown for one year in field trials five years earlier was reported to have contaminated the US rice supply and seed stocks, and found in Africa, Europe, and Central America. US rice futures dropped immediately by $150 and exports dropped by about 20% from the previous year. The total cost could reach as high as $1.2 billion.

read more about the costs of gmo contamination – http://responsibletechnology.org/docs/gmos-inevitably-contaminate-and-persist.pdf

GMO trees, creating sterile forests that kill insects, is just another example of the scale of this issue. The implications of GMO trees cross-pollinating with our forests is ecocide.

See all our articles covering the GMO issue - https://vermont4evolution.wordpress.com/?s=GMO

5th Annual Village-building Convergence in Vermont

5th Annual VbC is on!

Reskilling workshops all weekend at AllTogethernow!  Camping, food, and celebration!  More than 20 workshops and discussions including: permculture design, root cellaring, rotational grazing, fruit & nut trees, a bunch more.

Starts 9am Saturday 22nd and goes until Sunday afternoon.

Ben Falk is kicking off the weekend at the Unitarian Church in Montpelier Thursday, June 20th, 7:30pm

via Village-building Convergence


Green Up Vermont Tradition with a History

Vermont was the first state to designate a day to clean up the entire state. Started in 1970 by Gov. Deane C. Davis, our unique tradition continues with thousands of Vermonters taking care of Vermont.
As described in the words of Governor C. Davis, on August 30, 1984
“GREEN UP DAY launched Vermont’s environmental ethic and has been a strong and continuing influence in generating support for the environmental movement in Vermont.
“The first Green Up Day was on April 18, 1970. The idea came from Robert S. Babcock, Jr., then a full time reporter for the Burlington Free Press. It had its genesis on a clear spring day in March 1969 when Babcock, driving to work in Montpelier from his home in Waterbury, became appalled at the devastation caused by spring snow run-off and the unsightly litter thus revealed. Upon arriving in Montpelier he came to my office in the State House and proposed the inauguration of a statewide effort, to be supported by the State Highway Department and large groups of volunteer citizens to clean up the highways of the state.
“The more we worked and planned the more excited we all became. When the big day came we were thrilled to see over 70,000 Vermonters out on the roads picking up trash, hauling trash and supervising the action. A large number were young people whose enthusiasm was contagious and their work invaluable.

“The results were far beyond our expectations. Four thousand truck loads were reported hauled by the Highway Department comprising over 20,000 cubic yards of trash removed from the Interstate and other state roads,

Twenty years after the first Green Up Day, Vermont Green Up’s president Leonard Perry noted that: Green Up is more than a day in May. It is an attitude for a lifetime—an attitude toward our environment that Vermont is a precious place deserving our care and respect.
Green Up can occur at any time, at any place.
Together we share the goal of keeping Vermont a clean, safe, beautiful place 
to live, visit and enjoy.

Green Up’s mission is to promote the stewardship of our state’s natural landscape and waterways and the livability of our communities by involving people in Green Up Day and raising public awareness about the benefits of a litter-free environment.

Read more and learn how to participate at – http://www.greenupvermont.org/history.php

Vermont: One Tiny State’s Movement to Ban Private Prisons

By: Jonathan Leavitt, From: Toward Freedom
Thursday, 24 January 2013

Vermont, the most progressive state in America, spent over $14 million last year to lock up Vermonters in for profit prison like Lee Adjustment Center, located in Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest. Private prisons like Correctional Corporation of America (CCA)’s Lee Adjustment Center offer no mental health, educational or rehabilitational services, but they do post massive corporate profits; CCA posted $1.7 billion in 2011 revenue alone. As best-selling author Michelle Alexander notes in her seminal book The New Jim Crow, more black men are under correctional control now than were enslaved in 1850. A recent New Yorker piece noted more Americans are now incarcerated than there were imprisoned in Stalin’s gulags.

Clearly a dialogue about mass incarceration, budget crises, and privatization is unfolding. A group of Vermonters working out of Church basements and living rooms is attempting to build a movement to push this conversation forward by passing a historic law banning Vermont’s use of for-profit prisons.

Behind the Profitable Private Prison Wall

Between 2002 and 2003, according to the Rutland Herald, the number of prisoners in Vermont increased at “nearly five times the national average.” The number of teenagers and young adults in Vermont jails surged by more than 77 percent. A racialized “get tough on crime” ideology, mandatory minimums, and harsher sentencing guidelines from the failed war on drugs left then Republican Vermont Governor Jim Douglas at a moment of departure: build new prisons, or start shipping Vermonters incarcerated under these controversial policies into the deep south to be warehoused without even the “rehabilitative” programs found in Vermont prisons.

Full article – http://vermontprisonwatch.blogspot.com/2013/01/vermont-one-tiny-states-movement-to-ban.html?m=1

Vermont Yankee Update

All petitions have been delivered to VY’s corporate headquarters in VT and we’ve finally got their attention. Entergy has four law firms and a pile of lawyers trying to throw out CRWC studies that debunk their case for thermal pollution of the Connecticut River.

CRWC’s four expert reports conclude that Entergy’s case is “significantly flawed” and relies on outdated science. The reports have been presented to all the decision makers in Vermont, including the Governor, and present a damning case for Entergy.

These reports are top notch. So much so that even the State of VT is using these reports in their own filings to the Vermont utility regulators who will decide later this year whether Entergy should get a new license to operate.

Thanks to the terrific legal support provided by the Vermont Natural Resources Council & VT Law School the fight’s not over yet, but it’s not a fair fight given Entergy’s deep pockets.
Make Your Voice Heard

Your support keeps CRWC in this fight, representing you and the River. Over the last year the Council – thanks to your support and that of members & friends – has put together a technically rigorous take-down of Entergy’s case. Legal & consultant fees, however, continue to accumulate. Your support is needed now more than ever.

Make a donation today to keep the pressure on Entergy and tell them that we won’t back down when it comes to protecting the Connecticut River.
Get Involved
Submit formal comments to the Vermont Public Service Board.
Read the four expert reports, testimony in support of these reports and more on CRWC’s website.
You can see all the filings in this case on the Vermont Public Service Board electronic docket.
Hearings in Montpelier, the next step in this process, are tentatively set for the weeks of February 11th & 18th. Stay tuned for more updates. As always, contact us with any questions or concerns.

For the River,

Andrew Fisk
Executive Director


Sterling College of Vermont Divests in Fossil Fuels

Decision Linked to Emphasis on Ecology and Sustainable Agriculture

Craftsbury Common, VT—Sterling College has announced that it is proud to be the first college in Vermont, and the third college in the United States, that will soon divest its endowment from the two hundred fossil fuel companies identified by 350.org in its effort to move higher education toward fossil free investment. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously at its February 2, 2013 meeting to instruct the investment team to take this action and to move swiftly to divest.
Bill McKibben, Sterling College honorary alumnus and the founder of 350.org, one of the organizations leading a nationwide campus divestment campaign, said of the college’s move, “Sterling College has always been a leader in sustainability and environmentalism. I am thrilled that Sterling has decided that divestment is an important tool for reversing climate change.”
Sterling College is committed to environmental stewardship. Everything about what it teaches, and how it teaches, is geared to building a world that works. In taking this important action, the College and its Board of Trustees is affirming its commitment to its mission to educate problem solvers.
President Matthew Derr said, “Sterling College is an incubator for those who care about Vermont, care about the natural world in which we all live, and who want to promote healthy and just food systems, and as such, it makes no sense for us to invest in companies that are wreaking havoc on our climate.”
Rian Fried, trustee, said, “With this action, not only will the social return of the portfolio increase, the safety of the long-term financial returns will also be significantly enhanced by shielding the College from direct exposure to companies whose production levels are unsustainable.”
President Derr continued, “Our legacy and our focus on food, water, health, energy, and governance through conservation, education, and sustainable agricultural practices absolutely compels us to take this action. We hope that we inspire other colleges and universities to take this important next step toward divestment in fossil fuels because higher education is an important bully pulpit, and we need to focus the nation’s attention on this critical issue for future generations of our students

More – http://www.sterlingcollege.edu/divestment.html