A group of women meets Oct. 18, in the Burlington area for feasting and financial education during the second of a series of meetings arranged through the Financial Empowerment for New Americans Project, designed specifically for the needs of Somali women.

Parties bring financial knowledge to Somali women

BURLINGTON — The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity offers new Americans the tools to overcome obstacles when assimilating into a new culture, a new language, a new financial system. Through its Financial Empowerment for New Americans Project, more than 350 individuals will not just be given useful tools to navigate through their new and unfamiliar world, but given the tools for a new life. The initiative has been designed over the course of two years, and is now helping increase the organization’s capacity to host financial-education house parties for Somali women, provide training for community ambassadors, host interpreted classes, develop interpretation and translated material for financial coaching services, and present an annual Financial Wellness Day for New Americans, the second of which took place in September. “The clients that CVOEO serves are at the heart of all that we do,” said Kate Larose, financial futures program director. “We built this project from the ground up using a human-centered design.

Does market volatility scare you?

Halloween is almost upon us. Of course, on Halloween night, you may see a parade of monsters, demons, Transformers and other frightening individuals stopping by your house, exercising their right to demand candy. Fortunately, their appearance will be unlikely to cause you unpleasant dreams. But some people seem to have real fears about other things, such as what may happen in the financial markets. One way to keep those fears at bay is to avoid certain impulsive moves, such as the following:
— Avoid ducking out of the market. Consider this: In March 2007, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at about 12,275 points.

Contest promotes clean energy innovation in Vermont

To encourage climate-conscious entrepreneurs through a nationwide competition, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and associates are offering an opportunity starting in December for 12 entrepreneurs or startup companies from all over the country to participate in an intensive three-month program called Accel-VT. According to the Accel-VT website, winning applicants will “help solve the challenges related to the monitoring and control of distributed energy (e.g., storage, electric vehicles, solar, community-scale wind, combined heat and power) to improve their value while providing safe, reliable and affordable electric service to all customers.”
“All the electric utilities, including Washington Electric Co-op, are helping to fund and sponsor this — I would call it — this innovation center, this entrepreneurial effort,” said Patricia Richards, general manager of the co-op, which serves 11,000 customers with 100 percent renewable energy. Richards said the goal is to encourage some fresh thinking “about how we might do things differently to save money, save electricity and just improve overall service, cut carbon emissions.”
“If someone can think up some new way to do stuff, we’re open to hearing about it,” she said. Geoff Robertson, director of business assistance at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, said utility representatives and other corporate partners will serve as mentors to the companies selected to participate. Accel, which is a business accelerator course, is based on the Village Capital curriculum model that helps participants analyze their ideas among themselves with the additional goal of attracting investors.


Cautionary but entertaining tales from ‘Rossen to the Rescue’

“Rossen to the Rescue” by Jeff Rossen, 2017, Flatiron Books, $24.99, 256 pages

You know your rights. You’re well aware of what you can and can’t do legally because you’ve armed yourself with knowledge. You have rights, and the new book “Rossen to the Rescue,” by Jeff Rossen, makes clear one of them is the right not to be scammed, schemed, or unsafe. So, let’s say you’re on a cross-country flight. The attendant just handed you something with ice.

Participants get to work at the first meeting of a group planning a food "hub" for the Upper Valley at the King Arthur Flour and Cafe in Norwich on Sept. 26.

Farmers look to form Upper Valley agriculture hub

For the past year, farmers in the Upper Valley region have been considering the benefits of a shared food facility. This shared space might include an array of options, such as dry, cold and frozen storage; food processing; an all-season retail sales room; a commercial kitchen; and a community and education space. On Sept. 26, King Arthur Flour and Café in Norwich hosted the first Upper Valley food hub meeting, which was led by Vital Communities of White River Junction, in addition to six farmers leading a push to organize: Danielle Allen of Root-5 Farm, Geo Honigford of Hurricane Flats, Peggy Allen of Savage Hart Farm, Suzanne Long of Luna Bleu Farm, Niko Horster of Northshire Beef, and Andrea Rhodes of Sunset Rock Farm. “This project will (hopefully) do for farmers what King Arthur Flour has done for baking, and provide a place for farmers to sell directly to the community,” said Nancy LaRowe, local first manager and Upper Valley food and farm coordinator at Vital Communities, which hosts a slate of programs aimed at keeping the Upper Valley socially and economically vital.

The Three Stallion Inn in Randolph has been sold along with more than 600 acres to a Connecticut private school.

Boarding school buys Three Stallion Inn, surrounding land

RANDOLPH — The Brunswick School in Connecticut will purchase more than 600 acres at Green Mountain Stock Farm in Randolph that will serve as a “mountain campus” for students interested in sustainable living. The sale, announced in September, includes the Three Stallion Inn, a popular bed-and-breakfast retreat owned and operated by Jesse F. “Sam” Sammis III and his wife since 1971. “After nearly a year of study and careful consideration,” the school, located in Greenwich, purchased 650 acres and buildings for $2.1 million for use as a satellite campus, said Brunswick School Headmaster Thomas Philip. The purchase was funded entirely through two anonymous donors, he said. “Beginning in September 2018, in about a year, our Vermont campus will be home to a new and special program in which Brunswick students will visit in small groups to work together, learn ‘in the field,’ and experience life and friendships without constant connection to iPhones and other electronic devices,” Philip said.

Ventilation and refrigeration technician Gary Roberts runs the wood boiler system at National Life in Montpelier.

More wood heat in Vermont’s future

Vermont wants to double the use of wood-generated energy to better manage the forests and to move Vermont toward greater energy self sufficiency, according to Emma Hanson, the new wood-energy coordinator for the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. Hanson, who started the new job in August, was hired to boost the use of wood, especially the use of low-grade wood (trees that cannot be converted into high-grade lumber or veneer) for industrial heating systems.
“We are currently harvesting less than half of the annual net growth of live trees,” she said. According to Hanson, current wood usage for residential and institutional heat and process steam (industrial use) is about one million green tons (2.5 tons per cord) a year plus 130,000 tons of pellets, mostly for household use. Emma Hanson was recently put in charge of the state’s efforts to double its use of wood in residential and industrial heating. “The number-one goal for my job is to foster healthy forests.

Democratic Rep. Tommy Walz of Barre speaks during a panel discussion on climate change and economic opportunities Tuesday sponsored by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and held at the Old Labor Hall in Barre.

Conference digs into the economics of climate action

BARRE — Cashing in on climate change? About 60 people gathered at the Old Labor Hall in Barre on Tuesday for a presentation, “Everyone’s Economic Opportunity in Climate Action, ” to discuss strategies for slowing down climate change and making money in the process. Sponsored by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and Vermont Natural Resources Council, the proceedings were moderated by Daniel Barlow, public policy manager for VBSR.
Panelists included Rep. Mary Hooper, D-Montpelier; Dan Hoxworth, executive director of Capstone Community Action; Rep. Tommy Walz, D-Barre; and Tim Shea, vice president for facilities and purchasing with the National Life Group. Barlow explained the forum is aimed at bolstering planned legislative action to create a “carbon-pricing mechanism.”
Several bills have been introduced, including:
— H.394, an act relating to a carbon tax and cap and a trade study in the Joint Fiscal Office. — H.531, relating to a carbon pollution fee in Vermont.


Behind-the-scenes comic book battles and heroics

“Slugfest: Inside the Epic 50-Year Battle Between Marvel and DC” by Reed Tucker, 2017, Da Capo Press, $27, 286 pages

You know what your workplace needs? A superhero. Sure, a superhero! Someone who can leap tall problems in a single bound. An invincible mutant who can handle customers, recall conversations in great detail, dispense product in minutes and stop time in the break room.