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BENNINGTON COUNTY RESIDENTS: Please REPORT FLOOD DAMAGE to the Bennington County Regional Commission for public safety and any potential hazard mitigation.

Information from Jim Sullivan, executive director of the BCRC:

“Public infrastructure damage reports can go to:

Jim Henderson:
jhenderson@bcrcvt.org

Michael Batcher:
mbatcher@bcrcvt.org

Towns should keep a record of any reports of damage to private property and we can help follow up with the appropriate agencies when more is known.”

Include whether it is residential or commercial property.

Stay safe, all!
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Curious to know what state legislators earn in all 50 states? The National Conference of State Legislatures has just published its annual nationwide survey. 

Here in Vermont, we earn $742 per week while were in session. For a typical 18-week session, that comes out to about $14,000 per year. We also receive an allowance for room, meals and mileage (one roundtrip from home to Montpelier per week) during the session, when were working in the statehouse every Tuesday through Friday. 

Most of us work hard on our legislative responsibilities year-round — and many of us have other jobs. For my part, Im a freelance grantwriter and communications consultant — a perfect fit with the legislature, since I can arrange my clients and contracts into a flexible schedule, and stack up work during the summer and fall.

Some of the higher-paying states, like New York and California and Pennsylvania, have full-time legislatures with staff, offices and the like. Here in Vermont, we have a citizens legislature that is essentially seasonal and part-time, with no staff or office beyond our committee room and assigned seat on the statehouse floor. Once we return to the statehouse in January, Ill be in a new seat: House 16. 

Its an interesting chart: Check it out!

https://www.ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/2021-legislator-compensation.aspx#table

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The most important thing to remember here in VT is that it’s actually far more than a part time job. Constituent needs exist throughout the entire year as do meetings to stay on top of issues and many other things. For middle income people it is very challenging to step away from decent paying jobs for the session. Outside of being retired, it’s reasonable to say the pay is a challenge for everyone. (Though we all signed up for it willingly.) Be well.

And it is not really a "citizen legislature" because it is not accessible to low income and many front line workers and communities to serve which means our representation can't be well rounded in the way we would hope.

Everyone look at the profits I have been able to generate from trading within just 2 weeks of associating with Mateo Sebastian who is a certified expert... .B*tches and N*ggas we gotta end this financial instability or brokenness now and together CONTACT MATEO SEBASTIAN ASAP 🚨🚨⏰ 👇👇 www.facebook.com/sebastien.mateo3572

On Sunday, Seth Bongartz - Vermont State Representative and I attended a very special event organized by community leaders in Sunderland to honor the 200th anniversary of the death of Lucy Terry Prince (1732-1821), the first known African-American poet. She and her husband Abijah, both formerly enslaved, lived and raised their children in Guilford — two of their sons fought in the Revolutionary War — and Lucy moved to Sunderland after Abijah's death. Her most-famous poem, "Bars Fight," which documented a deadly attack in a Massachusetts meadow (a "bar"), was passed down orally for 100 years before being published. It was great to learn more about her extraordinary life and so see her honored by current residents of her community, so many years later. Below I've posted comments from Rev. Claire Longtin North and a link to a letter from event organizer Jeff Dexter.

Rev. Claire North:

Poetry is our universal language. Through it we speak and sing our words, create sagas and blessings, and commit our stories to being carried through language down through the generations.

Lucy Terry Prince had an extraordinary gift with language. It empowered her to command the attention and audiences of the white men in power of her time, to self-advocate, to make her home a place where words were shared in their luminosity, where the inchoate could be spoken into life, where old and new stories were handed down, perhaps sung and chanted in community – I believe a place where everyone could be equal in having their say.

Lucy Terry Prince was potent in her words, she spoke truth to power, and this is her legacy that we celebrate today: through her poem Bars Fight, and through Kiev Rattee’s poem, inspired and written for this occasion. Two hundred years after her death, we are all here because her poem survived, as did the testimonies of her obituary and eulogy to her ability to commit words to memory as well as to express herself with radiant eloquence.

I’m inviting you all to make this blessing with me. It came to me today when I was imagining what it might have been like to have been invited to Lucy’s home, to listen and perhaps to take my turn at speaking my own words. When we open our mouths to speak, it is vital we communicate with the best of ourselves; energy follows thought, and thought midwifes our words and actions. So much in the time we are in depends upon our commitment to communicate from the Divine Spark we all embody.

I believe Lucy Terry Prince’s legacy is how we clothe our words with inspiration.

May our words be born in Love.
May our words hold Truth.
May our words inspire Wisdom.
May our words give and receive Forgiveness, Amends, and Reparations.
May our words be Whole and Holy.
May our words create Healing.
May our words give Solace.
May our words be our Sacred Path in Our World.

https://benningtonbanner.com/opinion/letters/…
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On Sunday, Seth Bongartz - Vermont State Representative and I attended a very special event organized by community leaders in Sunderland to honor the 200th anniversary of the death of Lucy Terry Prince (1732-1821), the first known African-American poet. She and her husband Abijah, both formerly enslaved, lived and raised their children in Guilford — two of their sons fought in the Revolutionary War — and Lucy moved to Sunderland after Abijahs death.  Her most-famous poem, Bars Fight, which documented a deadly attack in a Massachusetts meadow (a bar), was passed down orally for 100 years before being published. It was great to learn more about her extraordinary life and so see her honored by current residents of her community, so many years later. Below Ive posted comments from Rev. Claire Longtin North and a link to a letter from event organizer Jeff Dexter. 

Rev. Claire North:

Poetry is our universal language. Through it we speak and sing our words, create sagas and blessings, and commit our stories to being carried through language down through the generations.  

Lucy Terry Prince had an extraordinary gift with language.  It empowered her to command the attention and audiences of the white men in power of her time, to self-advocate, to make her home a place where words were shared in their luminosity, where the inchoate could be spoken into life,  where old and new stories were handed down, perhaps sung and chanted in community – I believe a place where everyone could be equal in having their say.  

Lucy Terry Prince was potent in her words, she spoke truth to power, and this is her legacy that we celebrate today: through her poem Bars Fight, and through Kiev Rattee’s poem, inspired and written for this occasion. Two hundred years after her death, we are all here because her poem survived, as did the testimonies of her obituary and eulogy to her ability to commit words to memory as well as to express herself with radiant eloquence.  

I’m inviting you all to make this blessing with me. It came to me today when I was imagining what it might have been like to have been invited to Lucy’s home, to listen and perhaps to take my turn at speaking my own words. When we open our mouths to speak, it is vital we communicate with the best of ourselves; energy follows thought, and thought midwifes our words and actions. So much in the time we are in depends upon our commitment to communicate from the Divine Spark we all embody.  

I believe Lucy Terry Prince’s legacy is how we clothe our words with inspiration. 

May our words be born in Love.
May our words hold Truth.
May our words inspire Wisdom.
May our words give and receive Forgiveness, Amends, and Reparations.
May our words be Whole and Holy.
May our words create Healing.
May our words give Solace.
May our words be our Sacred Path in Our World.      

https://www.benningtonbanner.com/opinion/letters/letter-community-pays-tribute-to-life-of-lucy-prince/article_1f00d25a-e351-11eb-a635-db5ae8d7ced2.html
GOOD NEWS: FREE FOOD-SCRAP DROP-OFF IN THE NORTHSHIRE AND SUNDERLAND:

The towns of Arlington, Dorset, Manchester, Sandgate and Sunderland have negotiated an  agreement with Casella Waste Management to subsidize the cost of food scrap collection at the Northshire (Dorset) and Sunderland Transfer stations. 

Residents of those five towns can use the transfer stations for disposing of a variety of materials. Recyclables (plastic, glass, cardboard) are accepted at no charge as the towns pay for transport to recycling facilities. Casella, had been charging for food scrap collection, but now that service will be offered at no charge.

Since July 2020, Vermont has banned the disposal of food scraps in the trash or landfills. Why? Keeping food scraps out of the trash saves landfill space and reduces methane greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing food waste also saves resources: Food donation has nearly tripled since the law was passed. 

Learn more here: https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/wmp/SolidWaste/Documents/Universal-Recycling/Food-Scrap-Ban-Guidance.pdf
Three cheers to the team at Shires Housing! Open house yesterday for the 20+ units they have rehabbed for low- and moderate-income residents at Torrey Knoll in Manchester — and more renovated units on Depot Street in Bennington, too! Great work by Stephanie Lane and all involved. 👏💥👏Image attachment

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Like the idea of rehabbing existing housing. Better for the environment.

Thanks for joining and celebrating quality affordable housing with us, Kathleen!

Vermont Conservation Voters has released its annual legislative scorecard. With many other colleagues, Im proud to have a 100 percent voting record — during the 2021 session and over my first three years in the  House of Reps — on issues like climate action, clean water, toxic waste clean-up, healthy farmland and forests, and health communities. 

At the link below, you can see how other legislators fared, and sort the list by name or score. 

https://vermontconservationvoters.com/legislative-scorecard/#house

Under bill descriptions, you can see which roll-call votes factored into this years scorecard, including:

S.20: Ban on toxic PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam, food packaging, rugs and carpets, and ski wax

H.175: Modernize the bottle bill to keep more cans and bottles off the roadsides and increase recycling

S.15: Expand universal vote-by-mail to make it easier for all eligible Vermonters to vote in general elections.

https://vermontconservationvoters.com/legislative-scorecard/#bills
Do you know a young person (age 11-21) who would be interested in joining the conversation around health equity for all youth in Vermont?

Invite them to apply for the State Youth Advisory Group, with stipends available for virtual meetings this summer!

This summer, Vermont Afterschool and VT RAYS are collaborating to involve youth in the discussion of health equity in Vermont. Although this health equity conversation is focusing on the healthcare system, third space opportunities, and mental health; it is important to recognize that at the intersection of health equity lies racial justice, disability justice, environmental justice, economic justice, and social justice.

The overarching goal is to create recommendations and strategies that will be used to inform various stakeholders and change policies to strengthen health equity in Vermont.

There are six meetings in total that will be held via Zoom, with the first on July 13th. To learn more about the agendas, meeting dates, and stipends see link below.

Applications due July 10, 2021

https://www.cognitoforms.com/VermontAfterschool/stateyouthadvisorygroupapplication
From the The Vermont Arts Council: ARTS GRANTS UPDATE

The Vermont Arts Council and Vermont Humanities held a Grantseeker Workshop on July 1 to assist organizations with applications to the new Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Grant. The recording is now available!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z2w5jxckvs
 
Download the slide deck presentation (pdf):
https://www.vermonthumanities.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/CulturalRecoveryGrantSeekerWebinarJuly12021.pdf

The Vermont Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Grant Program is a partnership between Vermont Humanities and the Vermont Arts Council with funding from the American Rescue Plan to provide support to arts and humanities organizations facing financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another informational webinar with an opportunity to ask questions will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 17. 

Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6rqDHL6pQ_qzdKdcx_lULA

Deadlines:
Round one deadline: July 21 by 5 p.m.
Round two deadline: September 14 by 5 p.m.

Visit the Covid-19 Cultural Recovery Grant Program web page for full details and the online application.

https://www.vermontartscouncil.org/grants/organizations/covid-19-cultural-recovery
Yesterday the Weighting Study Task Force convened for the first of 12 meetings between now and December. Ill spend a lot of time on this assignment in the coming months, as we consider our broad mandate — established by the legislature in 2021 in the bill S.13 — to recommend to the General Assembly an action plan and proposed legislation to ensure that all public school students have equitable access to educational opportunities, taking into account the Pupil Weighting Factors Report dated December 24, 2019 (Report), produced by a University of Vermont-led team of researchers. 

The weighting study examined many aspects of our education funding system, mostly notably how we account for the differing costs of educating students across districts — from students who are economicaily disadvantaged to English language learners. Led by Dr. Tammy Kolbe, the study concluded that Vermonts weights are outdated and inaccurate, and so they need to be revised.

At our committee page, you can follow meetings, submit public comments, and read the documents that will guide our work. Well also be hosting two public forums this fall. 

https://ljfo.vermont.gov/committees-and-studies/task-force-on-the-implementation-of-the-pupil-weighting-factors