Vermont Council on Rural Development
PO Box 1384, Montpelier, VT 05601-1384
802-223-6091 email@example.com www.vtrural.org
Board Meeting Notes
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Federal: Molly Lambert, Bob Paquin
State: Roger Allbee, Pat Moulton Powden
Local: Catherine Dimitruk, Steve Patterson
Non-Profit: John Bramley, Hal Cohen
Private: Joe Fusco, Marie Houghton (left after budget discussion)
Non-Voting Liaisons: Jenny Nelson (came before working landscape discussion), Chuck Ross
Staff present: Paul Costello, Margaret McCoy
Unable to Attend: Bob Ackland, Alex Aldrich, Greg Brown, Tricia Coates, Kevin Dorn, Tony Elliott, Thomas Hark, Christine
Hart, Jonathan Wood, Mark Young
Minutes: Margaret McCoy
Next Meeting: March 17, 2010
Approval of Minutes of November 17, 2009.
Motion to approve: Hal; second: Pat. All voted in favor of approving annual meeting minutes.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR REPORT
Follow up work on the CFV – been working through some of the priorities:
Short term job creation: We built a panel to look together at strategies. We came up with 3 core elements
that everyone agreed on; the other strategies were offered as ideas for future consideration and are on the
‘Good Ideas” list. It’s not a revolutionary platform but people felt it was a good exercise to go through
together and that we should have more efforts like this.
Steve said it doesn’t have the “sizzle” but it is core. Even though the group couldn’t come to consensus on all ideas,
there are some good ideas on the ‘Good Ideas’ list. Fiscal limitations and some organizational positions that
anything that would raise a tax would be a no go to start with.
Pat made distinction on statute of training money starts at 200% of minimum wage. Jobs being created in the
green sector that has utility in any industry sector. Makes an analysis of skill sets that will be needed – a tool
to look at that is funded with a grant and will be ready in 18 months.
Bob says USDA has been charged with following up with jobs forum. One question asked was how can we change
USDA programs and create jobs. The feedback is going right back to the White House and is an opportunity.
Paul says this has been submitted to them already.
Chuck notes that on page 5 – need to define what a strategic business is. It would be informative to find out who
knocked certain things off the table and why. Paul noted that the group wasn’t trying to set up the E.D.
strategy for VT, but look more at short term job creation strategies. Chuck would like to have that
conversation of what is a strategic business. Should frame the issues where we can’t find a resolution. What
are the criteria that will define a strategic business?
Pat says you are identifying winners and losers – how do you tell some industries they won’t get tax breaks, etc.
Steve says it is addressed in doing the sector analysis. So what’s next? We would be doing the state a service to
follow up and push the conversation about what constitutes strategic business in the state. VT needs to pick
areas that will be winners. We can’t do it all and let’s pick what will take us where we need to go.
Community Visits: Shoreham/Marlboro/Fairfield –
o We just finished up with Shoreham. Residents set task forces for 3 priority areas to move forward:
Economic Development, Building and Energy Committee, and Increase Civic Participation and
Volunteerism. Will Stevens is the chair there.
o We’ve started the process in Marlboro. The Community Visit day will be March 25th.
o The board decided to go to Fairfield after that. Fairfield is an agriculture community near the
Canadian border with 2 downtowns.
o In Rutland, they are following up to the creative community process which led to successful efforts like
the Friday night live series, a 4-seasons farmers market, and Center Street alley development. Now
they want to have a full community meeting to pick the things to focus on to take to the next level.
ANWSU schools facilitation: We worked with the Addison Northwest Supervisory Union board to facilitate 4
public forums in the district around school board unification. The conversation built from one to another,
starting with fear and by the last one had a lot of vision. We built a platform and the SU is taking that to
create their proposal to be voted on at town meeting day by all towns in the district.
Pat: do you think this process (if commissioner and board is successful moving their platform forward) is it a
facilitation opportunity for VCRD?
Paul: Yes. The idea of having “transformation of public education” without a public process is absurd. We’ve been
talking to Jeff. We’re situated to carry the conversation with the commission. They should look for $200,000
grant to do it with neutrality and credibility to move forward. Doesn’t need to be a VCRD process, but it could
be. Will have future discussion with Commissioner.
Growth Centers facilitation: We worked with the Vermont Planners Association to help them with Growth
Center statutes and practice. They come to a set of 4 positions through 2 retreats with our facilitation.
eVermont: We still haven’t heard whether our Sustainable Broadband Adoption grant proposal will be
awarded an ARRA grant. They are making awards on a rolling basis through February. If funded it would be a
major piece of work and we’d have to ramp up immediately.
NEK Connect e-Business Contest: We have created a contest with remainder of the USDA funded eNEK
broadband grant. NEK businesses will enter a contest to receive training and cash prizes to ramp up their use
of the Internet. We’ve raised $7,000 to give out in cash prizes and we will offer $15,000 in services. Contest
winners will be announced on March 17.
Partners for Rural America: 2010 NE Regional Rural Convening – The Partners for Rural America are
convening 4 regional rural Summits across the country to bring partners together to come up with plans to
advance common strategies in their region. The Northeast Regional Convening will be April 12-13 at the
Burlington Hilton. The 4 tracks for discussion are: food systems, broadband, economic development, and
energy. What it means to USDA is uncertain. PRA will add up what we can in terms of policy positions
nationally and do national analysis of what we’re hearing from regional partners. We will want to involve
the whole board in the Convening with some facilitative assistance and other tasks. USDA is partly looking at
this as a test of SRDC’s. Regarding the $10 million request for state councils, doesn’t look like it’s going to
happen but still waiting to hear. Paul is going to the PRA conference in DC to build and advance a platform of
work with USDA and congressional supporters.
Snelling Center Partnership: VCRD and the Snelling Center for Government are looking at ways we might
partner. Snelling has come into a funding crunch and have a debt of $100K. They had to sell their building in
Burlington and the let staff go but holding them as independent contractors. Mark Snelling took on as
President. Their Leadership Institute is going strong and is funded. We have similar points of missions and
skills, community development leaders. A small group from our Executive Committee met with Mark
Snelling and board reps to see if there are areas that would be beneficial to us to either take over or take on
certain programs. The Snelling name needs to be retained. Their key areas are training for legislators, the
school program, and the Leadership Institute. They also identified their policy work as strong point to carry
forward. We’d have to have staffing and they would have to commit to raise funds to move it forward. They
do have some money budgeted to hire a half-time Development Director. If we had a Development Director
it would help us build capacity on both the community and policy sides. We left it that we would mull it for a
couple of weeks. If we are interested in proceeding we could ask them for more structural information like
who their donors are. How to get there with the limited resources we have is a question.
Chuck: hang on to our policy work and just take on the leadership training piece.
Catherine: can see in 5 years it helping at community visits.
Paul: let’s be mission driven in terms of making the decision and not do anything to endanger us fiscally.
Pat likes the way Catherine is thinking about it in terms of leadership piece. Concerned that if we form a
relationship but isn’t workable if Snelling retains their policy piece. Don’t think we should layer this on. Build
on each others strengths and worth carrying on the conversation.
Molly wonders the benefit to them in giving up their name. We would only do this if we completely absorbed
rather than try to divide. There’s a real advantage to VCRD to have the leadership institute connected.
Advantage in services we offer and perhaps in our fundraising capacity.
Hal says keep options open in terms of partnership structure. There are other ways to do it than a take over. Their
board has to make decision about whether they are going to hire an ED. If they don’t, they are just hanging
out there with one program without sustainability of overall leadership. Their timeframe is more immediate
Chuck: Let’s be strategic in telling them what we are willing to do if they want to move quickly.
Hal: To move quickly to merge is very difficult.
Chuck says no-brainer. Keep it alive as long as it’s fundable and build it rather than allow it to crash. Having Snelling
name associated as a component of what we are isn’t a bad thing. But as long as the name is associated with
Dick and not Mark. Don’t know what the future politically will look like.
Paul: The neutrality is important. Mark is ahead of his board. They haven’t had a conversation yet. This is on our
terms. They don’t have many choices.
Joe: Anything that doesn’t come with money is diluted. No synergies unless there is money. Mergers don’t work
unless someone goes away completely. If they are willing to bring it in and their money for it, great. No
Chuck: if the money goes away there is no obligation on VCRD’s part to keep it alive. If the Snelling family wants to
keep it alive, they have a new philanthropic interest and that is VCRD. Key is development leadership to
sustain that program and VCRD operations.
The board recommends we lay out the options to them and what we’d do based on different scenarios. If you’re in
a pinch right now, this is what we’ll do right now. We don’t have enough info yet to know how to proceed. To
proceed quickly you’re going into this funnel.
Board in favor of continuing the conversation.
2010 VCRD WORKPLAN
Paul presented the 2010 Workplan. If the school facilitation will be pursued it would be an add-on to the
workplan. It would have to be based on more money and capacity building. Paul will have the discussion with
Armando to push forward the conversation. We are situated with them. They also have other consultants that
could facilitate. Everyone gets that this is essential and they are worried that school consolidation/unification
will hit a wall.
Motion to adopt the 2010 Workplan: Pat; Second: Joe. All voted to adopt the workplan as presented.
FISCAL REPORT AND 2010 BUDGET ADOPTION
This budget includes the eVermont program. If we don’t get the grant we will rework the budget. Without it, there
would a 28% hole in core operations, about $78K. We are depending of money from the state but it’s an unknown.
Bob, our treasurer, has been doing a great job and has been hands on. Center for Rural Studies (through Leahy) has a
$40K line item for Community Visits and to match e-Vermont; would have to renegotiate if e-Vermont doesn’t
happen. As an organization we haven’t found major federal support, or other support, for our operational budget.
We do have a 2 year commitment for Working Landscape work. For the Community Visit work we are looking for
foundational partners, mostly from the business community, at $5000 a year for 5 years.
Motion to adopt the 2010 Budget: Pat; Second: Steve. All voted to adopt the budget as presented.
FUND DEVELOPMENT AND MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN
3,000 membership letters will go out to our network of partners and friends. Will send the annual report to
everyone on our list to reach out and tell our story. We have a goal of 200 members. We will send a separate
letter out to make Leadership level requests of certain organizations and will make personal phone calls to
follow up to the letter. We’re looking at new category “Foundational supporters” to think in terms of 5 year
support. We are looking to the board for recommendations of others we can go to and for board help to come
to meetings and support requests. Those board members who volunteer to make calls will get giving history of
groups they will call.
o Add Jolinda and NECI.
o Vermont Yankee?
o What about young successful entrepreneurs: David Winslow, the Adler boys, involved in social
o VBSR. How about those that are here for quality of life. Maybe 10-20 people like that we haven’t
made contact with. Leadership in the young digital economy crowd. Bruce Seifer, Chittenden
County. Competitive computing. Pete’s Greens. Burgeoning groups. Software developers? Software
developers alliance. Introduce ourselves to that crowd through Bruce Seifer.
Paul will send an email out to everyone to think of how to expand our list.
WORKING LANDSCAPE COMMITTEE REPORT
This is a 2-year project with a different structure that other policy councils we’ve done. This effort starts with a
steering committee that will come up with starting platform, then we’ll have a Summit for input changes to the
platform and then we’ll build a partnership of stakeholder groups that will take elements to advance working
landscape policy in VT from within their organizations. The steering committee includes: Bob Ackland, Roger
Allbee, Jonathan Wood, Gil Livingston, Deb Brighton and is staffed by Paul and Margaret. We’re looking for one
more board member to join the group so let us know if you are interested. We’ve met a number of times and
are looking at the history of policy around the working landscape in Vermont for the past 30 years; what the key
recommendations and issues have been; what’s left to do. We will also analyze international models to
incorporate into it and we’re looking to hire a researcher who knows the models out there to do that piece for
us since we don’t have capacity in house.
Bob: is a Summit the best way to get input? Is it valuable to hear again what we already know?
Catherine mentioned how the small working group will develop the policy and then we’ll have the Summit to get feedback
and to build momentum and galvanize a partnership of lead stakeholders to carry the recommendations forward.
Chuck: when there isn’t consensus, make people accountable to why they oppose something so we know what we will run
up against and be able to problem solve toward it. If can solve the problem, can advance the policy item. If ideas will be
controversial doesn’t mean they are not the right way to go. Let’s frame it that way. If want consensus will get stuck.
Pat agrees with 90%. Key to know what’s the consenting viewpoint but doesn’t think should identify the person that said it.
Chuck says that is probably right but people need to be accountable to what they say in public.
Molly says emphasize that this is an outcome from the CFV. This is a continuation of the dialog that has already started.
Paul says that building the partnership team that can broker and move toward implementation is new to us. Have a rough
draft of a platform very much in process.
Roger: The choices we come up with won’t be easy for the public but have to present it with what will happen if we don’t
WORKING LANDSCAPE POLICY DISCUSSION
Board input of key elements that should be part of a WL policy.
Joe: are downtowns part of the WL? How they are planned How to attract well paying jobs built around community
or developed. The use of that land? and food, restaurants.
Pat: building on Land use policy – traditional settlement Chuck: analysis of those businesses where there is economic
patterns and growth center concept in terms of DT and opportunity for the operator. Raw milk farmer on my
its environs of supporting the WL. How do we do Land farm can now produce 50 gallons a day, up from 12,
use planning. Consider a statewide land use plan. which is huge in terms of viability. What are the
John: interesting, it’s a clear part of it. That’s why activities where you can earn a living?
international models look different. What haven’t we Steve: people want to go to Hardwick. That model can be
done? What are the objections that were raised to used throughout the state. It doesn’t work unless we
doing a statewide land use plan? In VT gets so quickly have a strong dairy base to work from. Value added is
into an invasion of private rights. our poster child but without dairy it doesn’t work. How
Pat: put in context of successes and failures in local to make it viable?
planning, the local control piece. Are we good at that at Bob: it’s all about acreage when talking about WL. A lot of
local level? current action is in diversification of a small operation.
Chuck: define goals or features of a WL. If know what are Is there a crop or critter that can transition us to mega
aiming to achieve then we can know what vehicles will business? Also look at ecosystem services, how can the
get you there. What does a WL look like or are we still trees pay the property taxes? How to keep the farms
endorsing village/countryside landscape pattern. What going?
are the strategic businesses with a rate of return that Roger: we know the issues on the dairy side but won’t
will promote extensive land use that we should look at? happen overnight. A 1975 finding said that VT needs
Also, need to recognize that we had the septic value added to compete.
regulations in place forever and everyone accepted John: have a lot of people close by that want our products.
them and now we’ve undone them – new leniency in But have to encourage other avenues.
septic regulation – and with technology now can put in Paul: The fact that due to global warming and that other
septic where we couldn’t before. parts of the country could be drying could create
Molly: with old regs. it encouraged 10.1 acre lots because opportunities for VT.
then they weren’t subject to the regs. Chuck: for it to work economically, need to create demand
Pat: haven’t closed the gap. (raw milk farmers to sell their milk) – the marketing and
Chuck: we have unleashed new problems. Can pipe ¼ mile demand side is huge. The work of the Sustainable Jobs
so can put a house wherever you want – it’s a prob if Fund to have institutions generate demand is important
want a WL. – generating demand is just as important as the other
Molly: infrastructure regulation is a part of a WL. side. With demand people are willing to pay somewhat
Roger: even Act 250 doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. more.
We’re still carving up the landscape. Pat: infrastructure capacity again, dairy processing and
Pat: branding VT products and VT’s WL. Expanding branding municipal sewer systems don’t always get along well.
of wood products and encourage more value-added Do we have the capacity to support more value added
and successful entrepreneur piece. processing? Still thinking about the wood side; how to
Chuck: What are the supporting business activities required create more value added capacity. What can we make
for land extensive use? here? Canadians subsidize. Better than dropping the
Pat: some aren’t pretty like slaughterhouses. trees and shipping them out of state.
Chuck: what needs to be in place in order for them to Hal: Role of universities and colleges in educating in the
survive and thrive? industry. We’re not there.
John: we’ve had success with the cooperative model – you Paul: Bill Shubart’s recent commentary is charging the
bring milk to us, we’ll process it and make the cheese. university to step up.
We can store it and market it for you. Examples like that Bob: How much can we ask of the university? We’re just a
will be key. Incubation for start ups. Can create hubs little state with a lot of initiatives and have to meet the
that will support the infrastructure. interests of incoming students.
Chuck: what’s the policy framework that will enable those Hal: a matter of where you set priorities and mission.
businesses? Jenny: when look at state policy, current use has played
Catherine: identify strategic businesses that will support and major role and could do more. There’s a mindset of
conserve the WL in VT. farmers that the liens on their farms are keeping them
John: important the WL discussion gets connected to the from taking part in current use. That is one way for the
economic vitality of the state of VT. It’s timely, and key. state to support the farms. Having current use be at
different levels depending on public access, etc. Hear management. Small farm can’t build a digester but if
farmers lament the fact that a beautiful house is built in work in concert with the community. The more ways
beautiful field. Could assess the value on the productive can think about the synergy between community and
farmland that wouldn’t allow that. If want to keep open farm community around it. The distance between them
WL that’s one way to do it. Goes against people’s right has grown. Can power a number of houses, etc.
to do what they want. Molly: recreation? Skiing, golf, jobs, income that accrues as
Paul: goes against current zoning. We value land at a result of those industries.
development assessment, how about valuing land as Paul: Where to find resources to support quality of life
farm and forest and start there? benefits to WL in terms of recreation and tourism.
Roger: Current use is complex. Towns have been throwing Roger: Andrew Pizzagalli wants to do something about the
funds back at the state and the planning group. WL. Had discussion with him, ski industry, dave donath.
Catherine: planning struggle, hear same thing – We hear How to put that energy together.
laments from farmers, but then they oppose the zoning Paul: Ideas from a 1 cent quality of life tax, volunteer tax on
proposals. ski pass. A challenge we’ve found, the type of
Roger: historically farmers have based their retirement on infrastructure that can support – expensive. Europe
development value of their land. funded them by saying they are essential public goods.
Catherine: need to solve income needs. How to bring the conversation to Vermonters in a
Pat and Catherine: back to land trust and land conservation systematic conversation as a long term mission of the
policies and procedures to tie them to implementation state? Difficult process.
of local land use decisions. Molly: if it makes good economic sense brings people to the
Jenny: in VT they wait until someone’s willing to sell but not table that wouldn’t generally be there.
a connection based on VT strategy. Pat: Ecotourism: people who volunteer to work on a farm
Joe: affect of property tax on WL. Is it outdated? Gather for a week. Opportunity to expand that?
wealth for schools off of land. Does that cause decisions Jenny: Sen. Leahy just brought $ for the ag innovation
to be made that don’t connect with the WL? Look at it center. Bernie got another appropriation.
fully, not just tweaking. Midevil – land as wealth. Paul: keen interest in food systems. May situate ourselves to
Jenny: American Farmland Trust had statistics on tax of farm pull some of those resources into Vermont. Meridian
land compared to non-farm land. Institute convening leading philanthropic enterprises in
Paul: making sacrifice elsewhere because others have to talking about how food systems are advance nationally.
bear the burden. The WL committee is formed to force Think about VT as a model with $20 mill investment to
a hard choice and build a platform that forces people to take the work to scale. Add up work of food hubs
be uncomfortable. statewide.
Pat: cost of doing business for farmers and loggers – WC Catherine: national geographic where’s our coordinated
costs in particular. Juxtaposed with the fact that they response to turn that into advantage to support VT’s
are the most hazardous industries and places to work working landscape. Take advantage of those.
which may affect whether kids choose the line of work. Bob: didn’t fund Quadricentenial so working hard to close
WC rates are going down with fewer accidents and the gap. WL into what they mean: Lake Champlain,
injuries. All it takes is one catastrophic injury to affect Connecticut River, Lake Memphromagog, hot juice close
the whole industry. Farming isn’t regulated unless they to the CT. Have to look at environmental threats.
are of a certain size. How to make it a less hazardous Protection of Lake Champlain not factored. CT Valley
and more profitable? and Champlain Valley.
Bob: the northern VT rcd with an osha grant found if can Pat: water is the new petroleum. What are we doing to
lower incidents can get an agent. VT Wood Products protect our water resources and because there is a
Association could only take a certain number of loggers, connection to our WL.
went ballistic when other things started. Something to Bob: If VT can take advantage of opps as they come up. If
build on. Limited on wood side. Some is policy and the miss the moment it’s gone. When’s the next moment.
way we distribute benefits. Get rating based on Need to situate ourselves.
generosity of the benefit or the claim. Pat: Biomass presents an opp? Is that a next moment?
John: putting 3000 gallons away in a digester. Concept of
small town with rural community around it. May be
interactions with energy generation and waste
Add another board member to the WL committee. Paul will send out an email with list of who is currently on it
with the attached workplan as board members consider whether they want to join the committee.