Rebooting Our Community After COVID

This fall, we will welcome back community economist Michael Shuman for a virtual visit to our region.  In 2016, Michael spoke about pollinator enterprises — self-financing businesses committed to boosting other local businesses. This time, he’s back to help us invest more of our savings into locally owned businesses and community.

“When the pandemic recedes, we all will be called upon to take extraordinary steps to revive the local businesses that serve as the foundation of our communities,” shared Michael. “One critically important step will be for you and other members of your community to move your investment capital from Wall Street to Main Street.”

The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock will host an online introductory webinar with Michael called “Rebooting Your Community After COVID – How to Invest Locally Using Self-Directed IRAs and Solo 401ks” on October 15, 2020, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This event is free, but registration is required.

Register today!

“There are real alternatives [to Wall Street], but few know about or consider them,” said Michael. “In fact, you can invest in everything that matters to you. You can put your money into that neighborhood grocery store you love, your little sister’s first house, or your nephew who needs to pay off high-interest student loans.”

Michael will offer us a way to make our community more resilient — to prepare for future global crises — and help us move more of our dollars into the businesses we don’t want to live without.  While this workshop targets community members with tax-deferred retirement accounts (401k or IRA), we encourage others to attend such as local business owners looking for new sources of capital and individuals looking for new ways to solve our local economic challenges.

“If you’re smart about local investing, you can do this in a way that provides substantial, stable financial returns and lowers the risk of Wall Street investments,” continued Michael. “Plus, these commonsense local investments wind up strengthening your community, your local resilience, and your tax base.”

If there’s enough interest generated at our introductory workshop, we’ll work with Michael to offer a full workshop on this topic in our region (hopefully live!).  The workshop would cover the twelve types of local investment opportunities available in almost everyone’s backyard (some that are likely to beat the returns from Wall Street).  It would also highlight what next steps we can take to shift millions of dollars of capital into local businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Workshop participants will learn a fundamentally new way of thinking about their world, their community, and their money,” stated Michael.  “And a fundamentally new way of acting.” 

Michael Shuman, a leading visionary on community economics, serves as Director of Local Economy Programs for Neighborhood Associates Corporation and Adjunct Professor at Bard Business School in New York City. He is also a Senior Researcher for Council Fire and Local Analytics, where he performed economic-development analyses for states, local governments, and businesses around North America. His three most recent books include “Put Your Money Where Your Life Is: How to Invest Locally Using Solo 401ks and Self-Directed IRAs”; “The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing Pollinator Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity”; and “Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street.”

Thank you to our event partners: Green Energy Options, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Monadnock Food Co-op, The Local Crowd, Vital Communities and Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship.  We hope you’ll join us!

Before we close, we wanted to share a few TLC Monadnock updates.  First, a really big thank you to everyone who contributed to our TLC 4WARD crowdfunding campaign that wraps up on August 31.   All six of our participating businesses surpassed their goals.  Collectively, we raised over $14,000 from 253 supporters for Archway Farm, CC&D’s Kitchen Market, Monadnock Food Co-op, Orchard Hill Breadworks, Prime Roast Coffee Roasters and Village Roots Permaculture Farm: tlcmonadnock.com/4ward.

Two full crowdfunding campaigns ran on TLC Monadnock during the pandemic.  The Keene Sentinel raised $46,986 to help local journalism thrive and Sharing Housing collected $10,203 to support the development of an online course that will teach people how to create healthy, happy shared homes (a great way to boost affordable housing options in our region).  View all our past campaigns at tlcmonadnock.com/tlc.

Please check out our latest live TLC Monadnock crowdfunding campaign from Friends of Public Art: http://c-fund.us/qb9.  They’re working to transform a negative space at the Keene Airport into a welcoming sculpture park.   They hope to raise enough funds to purchase their first sculpture, created by local artist Adam Schepker with reused materials from the airport.  They will place this sculpture next to the newly formed Mt. Monadnock Labyrinth by Katie Schwerin.

Finally, thank you all again for your support for these campaign teams and TLC Monadnock as a whole.  Together, we collected $212,584 for twenty-four crowdfunding campaigns — campaigns that build a more local, green and fair Monadnock Region.

Keene Sustainable Energy Plan

The City of Keene launched a new website on Keene’s Sustainable Energy Planning process. The website includes a roadmap of pathways, strategies, and tools to achieve Keene’s energy goals, and you can listen to stories to learn more about tools like Community Power.

The Keene Energy and Climate Committee and City staff are looking for your ideas and feedback. Please, take the survey on how Keene should define renewable energy as the City develops an energy plan, and tell them what you think of the draft vision statement for the planning process. You can visit KeeneEnergyPlan.com to learn more.

Organizations and Programs Helping Build the Local Cycling Community

Via MAST

Groups across the Monadnock Region and the State are helping build the local cycling community, through offering cycling-related programming, developing safe cycling infrastructure, advocating for cyclist needs, and more.

Local Groups

The Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) is a coalition of organizational and individual members focused on sustainable transportation solutions in the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire.  MAST recognizes the broad impacts that our transportation system has on individuals and communities – everything from jobs to cost of living, health and beyond.

The City of Keene Bicycle and Pedestrian Pathway Advisory Committee (BPPAC) promotes communication and exchange of ideas and concerns among users of the City’s bicycle/pedestrian facilities and local officials; makes reports and recommendations to the city council and city staff with respect to the development and management of bicycle/pedestrian facilities; serves as an advocate for the interest in bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure; assists with publicity for the bicycle/pedestrian system; and more. The BPPAC meets the second Wednesday of every month. Meetings are open to the public.

Pathways for Keene

Pathways for Keene, Inc. (PFK) is a non-profit, 501 c (3), group of volunteers promoting the development, maintenance and enhancement of active transportation in the City of Keene, NH.

Monadnock Cycling Club

The mission of the Monadnock Cycling Club is to “promote, organize, educate, and facilitate safe and enjoyable bicycling in the Monadnock Region with representation of all interests in the cycling community.” Check the MCC Facebook page for the status of group rides. You can become a member of MCC on the group’s BikeReg page.

New England Mountain Bike Association, Brattleboro-Keene Chapter (BK NEMBA)

Brattleboro-Keene NEMBA was founded in 2009 as a chapter of the New England Mountain Bike Association in order to better advocate for improved access to trail networks in the region. BK-NEMBA currently has 117 members.  The New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA) has 27 chapters and more than 5,000 members throughout New England. Its mission is to promote responsible mountain biking and to protect and preserve New England trails and open spaces.  Every year, NEMBA leads about a thousand recreational rides, runs hundreds of trail care events, and hosts about a dozen mountain bike festivals across New England.

BK-NEMBA has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Keene to maintain trails throughout City parks, and also steward other trails in the Keene and Brattleboro area, including Stonewall Farm, Living Memorial Park in Brattleboro, and trails on other private lands. Additional information can be found at https://www.nemba.org/chapters/bknemba

Keene Bike Park

The Keene Bike Park is a joint project of Brattleboro-Keene NEMBA and the City of Keene to build a fun, family-oriented park where people of all ages can learn, play, and enjoy bike-related activities. In 2020 BK-NEMBA will be designing, building, and donating a bike park to the City of Keene. This bike park will provide a safe, fun, and challenging place for bike riders of all ages to learn and develop their mountain biking skills. The Bike Park is still under construction and seeking donations.

Critical Mass Keene

A group bike ride to celebrate and promote cycling in Keene, NH.  Rides like this are held monthly in cities throughout the U.S. and around the world. Although group rides aren’t currently scheduled, you can sign up to receive updates about future rides.

Monadnock Rail Trail Collaborative

An informal group made up of representatives of local municipalities, non-profits and volunteers that recognize the value in collaborating on shared goals and interests for improving regional rail trails. The objective is to restore and maintain the Cheshire, Ashuelot, and Fort Hill Rail Trails throughout the Monadnock Region.

Green Bikes at Keene State College

Green Bikes at Keene State College provides bicycle transportation and education to the Keene area community, operates a community bike repair shop, a bicycle lending program, and education programs on maintenance, repairs, and safety.

BF Community Bike Project

A non-profit community bike center in Bellows Falls, VT that provides community access to reclaimed bicycles and bike repair skills, encouraging safe bicycling as a means of affordable transportation, self-sufficiency, and overall wellness.

Cycling without Age, Monadnock Chapter 

Would you like to see a Cycling Without Age chapter in the Monadnock Region? E-mail Todd Horner at thorner@swrpc.org if you’re interested in discussing and learning more.

Statewide Groups

Bike Walk Alliance NH

Bike-Walk Alliance of NH advocates for policies, laws and conditions that increase safety and accessibility for bicyclists and pedestrians. It also works to educate all road users about the responsible use of New Hampshire’s roadways, sidewalks, bike paths and rail trails. One of their goals is to become the statewide voice of bicyclists and pedestrians as well as serve as a clearinghouse for information and resources about biking and walking in the Granite State.

NH Rail Trails Coalition

A statewide group with a mission “to promote the development, maintenance and active use of trails constructed on New Hampshire’s railroad corridors.”

Commute Smart NH

CommuteSmart NH is dedicated to encouraging and assisting people to choose sustainable transportation options in place of driving alone. Partners actively support the development and provision of strategies and policies to reduce travel demand across the state including walking, bicycling, carpooling, telecommuting, and using public transportation. CommuteSmart NH is a partnership between the state’s regional planning commissions, state agencies, and various non-profit transportation-oriented programs, working in collaboration with transit providers and businesses.

Food & Gardens for a Resilient Monadnock

Yarden of Eatin'

GardenMonadnock Farm and Community Coalition (MFCC) recently launched Food & Gardens for a Resilient Monadnock — a new website providing gardening training and resources, information on programs making local food more affordable, as well as where to find free meals.

“We are experiencing an unprecedented moment with the COVID pandemic which has made us re-examine our supply chains and how we get our food. Many people in our region are feeling increased anxiety about how they are going to get food on their tables. Building resilience through gardening and better information on how to access food, can help,” says Roe-Ann Tasoulas, MFCC Director.

MFCC’s Food Access Working Group (FAWG) is one of three committees meeting regularly to help build the coalition’s mission to “build a sustainable, equitable, and robust local food system” and is the driving force behind the website. FAWG organizational members include UNH Extension Nutrition Connections, Community Garden…

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Open House: Greater Keene Intermodal Transportation Center

Open House and Public Discussion: February 4, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Keene Public Library at 60 Winter Street Street in Keene

Mark your calendar to attend an Open House and Public Discussion to learn about SWRPC’s Greater Keene Intermodal Transportation Center Feasibility Study. Explore project posters that will be on display in the atrium of the Keene Public Library from January 28th to February 4th. The posters will illustrate how different scenarios of future growth in the Keene area could affect the built environment, transportation options, and ITC design. SWRPC staff will be available on-site for informal discussion about the study on February 4th from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. A short presentation will follow from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the library auditorium, located in the basement.

ITC Phase III Public Meeting Flyer

Join the (Energy) Conversation

From the City of Keene Website

Attend a small group discussion led by a volunteer facilitator to learn about the City’s 100% renewable energy goals and share your thoughts, concerns, and ideas related to Keene’s energy future.  

The Keene City Council recently made a commitment that all electricity consumed in the City will come from renewable energy sources by the year 2030 and that 100% of all energy used for transportation, heating, and cooling will come from renewable energy sources by the year 2050 (Resolution R-2018-36).  This fall and winter, volunteers from the community will facilitate a series of small group discussions called “Community Energy Conversations” to provide individuals with an opportunity to learn more about the renewable energy goals, express concerns and hopes, and share ideas.

Each community energy conversation will be limited to ~10 people in order to ensure everyone in the group will get an opportunity to fully participate in the discussion. The discussions will be facilitated by volunteers, who will take notes and share feedback with City staff. Feedback from Keene citizens and others will be used to inform the vision, goals, and strategies of a community energy plan.

We want to hear from you! Please consider getting involved by registering for one of the meetings listed below.

 Tuesday, January 7th, 11 am – 12:30 pm

Tuesday, January 14, 7:00-8:30 pm

Wednesday, January 22, 6:30-8:00 pm

Friday, January 24th, 11 am – 12:30 pm

To learn more about the energy plan project or to get involved further, please contact Mari Brunner, staff liaison to the Energy and Climate Committee at (603) 352-5440 / mbrunner@ci.keene.nh.us.

2020 Call for Social Enterprise Project Proposals

Community-Based Crowdfunding Program Seeks Proposals From Social Enterprises

Top Proposal Will Receive Free Crowdfunding Campaign Video

The Local Crowd (TLC) Monadnock, a community-based crowdfunding program serving the entire Monadnock Region and state of New Hampshire, invites emerging and established social enterprises to submit project proposals.

For this proposal cycle, TLC Monadnock seeks projects focusing on affordable housing, farms & food or living wage jobs & equity.  While all for-profits, non-profits and community initiatives are welcome to apply, projects addressing these community needs will receive extra campaign support and resources — beyond what is currently provided to all TLC Monadnock campaigns.

All crowdfunding campaign teams receive hands-on technical assistance to help them launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. Campaign teams also receive a free crowdfunding assessment to ensure that they receive the coaching and training that best fits each team’s needs.

In addition, TLC Monadnock will award one proposal a free video, produced by 710 Main Films, to support their crowdfunding campaign.  Studies show that crowdfunding campaigns with videos raise four times more funds than campaigns without videos.

TLC Monadnock will select up to six social enterprises to participate in this crowdfunding cohort, based on the potential of each project to positively impact their local economy and community.  Accepted proposals will launch their campaigns in winter or early spring.

This request for proposals is available online at tlcmonadnock.com/rfp.  All proposals are due before 5:00 p.m. on January 17, 2020.

Crowdfunding is the process in which an entrepreneur, business, or organization asks a large number of people (usually through the Internet) to contribute a certain amount of money for a specific project. By leveraging the power of crowdfunding, TLC Monadnock’s fundraising platform offers an innovative way for community members to support the projects they care about.

For more information, visit tlcmonadnock.com or contact Jen Risley at 603-283-5401.

TLC Monadnock is one of five communities participating in a research project with the National Science Foundation and The Local Crowd designed to uncover the best ways to support social enterprises — mission-driven organizations that use business principles to make the world a better place.

Locally, this program is hosted by Monadnock Food Co-op and managed by a team of volunteer community economic development leaders and business advisors.  Program partners include New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce and Monadnock Economic Development Corporation.

The Local Crowd Monadnock is a community-based crowdfunding program helping start-up ventures, early-growth stage companies and community-focused projects find access to capital.  Since TLC Monadnock launched in March 2017, eighteen crowdfunding campaigns have collectively raised over $120,000 from 900 supporters.

Join the (Energy) Conversation

From the City of Keene

Participate in a group discussion to learn about the City’s 100% renewable energy goals and share your thoughts, concerns, and ideas related to Keene’s energy future.

The Keene City Council recently made a commitment that all electricity consumed in the City will come from renewable energy sources by the year 2030 and that 100% of all energy used for transportation, heating, and cooling will come from renewable energy sources by the year 2050 (Resolution R-2018-36).  This fall and winter, volunteers from the community will facilitate a series of small group discussions called “Community Energy Conversations” to provide individuals with an opportunity to learn more about the renewable energy goals, express concerns and hopes, and share ideas.

Each community energy conversation will be limited to ~10 people in order to ensure everyone in the group will have an opportunity to fully participate in the discussion. The discussions will be facilitated by volunteers, who will take notes and share feedback with City staff. Feedback from Keene citizens and others will be used to inform the vision, goals, and strategies of a community energy plan.

We want to hear from you! Please consider getting involved by registering for one of the meetings listed below. All meetings will be held at the Keene Public Library.

1.      Monday, November 18th, 12:00-1:30 PM

2.      Friday, December 6th, 3:00-4:30 PM

3.      Monday, December 16th, 12:00-1:30 PM

To learn more about the energy plan project or to get involved further, please contact Mari Brunner, staff liaison to the Energy and Climate Committee at (603) 352-5440 or mbrunner@ci.keene.nh.us.

A Decade of Plaid Friday Celebrations in the Monadnock Region

Yarden of Eatin'

For the tenth year, independent businesses and community members in the Monadnock Region will celebrate Plaid Friday on the day after Thanksgiving. This year’s event falls on Friday, November 29, 2019.

Individuals will wear plaid on Plaid Friday to show support for the local economy and their commitment to spending more of their dollars at locally owned businesses during the holiday season. Last year, nearly 400 community members pledged to participate in Plaid Friday.

To amplify this year’s event, Savings Bank of Walpole will host a Plaid Friday Week from Friday, November 29 to Tuesday, December 3.  The bank will set up information tables at each of their branches with Plaid Friday swag to inspire more people to participate in this year’s event.  Community members are encouraged to wear plaid throughout this week and stop by the bank’s Marlboro Street branch to take a selfie in front of the bank’s…

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Monadnock Region Food System Updates

NHEL Month Banner 2018

Each year, we shine a light on local food, farms and our entire Monadnock Region food system during New Hampshire Eat Local Month, a month-long celebration of our state’s harvest happening each August.

This year, the Monadnock Food Co-op teamed up with New Hampshire Food Alliance to coordinate this statewide promotion — and we’re thrilled to share we recruited over 100 partners to help us spread the word this year. Discover more at nheatlocal.org.

What do we mean by a food system?

Our food system includes all the pieces needed to bring local food from the farm to our plates: the soil, farmworkers, transportation networks, markets and more — everything needed to grow, harvest and distribute these goods to us.  These pieces come together to form our local food system.

Please dig in and enjoy part one of our bounty of updates!

Regenerating Soil

“Ultimately, the only wealth that can sustain any community, economy or nation is derived from the photosynthetic process — green plants growing on regenerating soil.”

Allan Savory, Co-Founder of the Savory Institute

Stonewall Farm in Keene embraced a new role in 2018 — they are now a Savory Institute Hub. One of 41 hubs globally and 15 in the U.S., Stonewall Farm uses regenerative farming practices to enrich their soil and improve the health of their dairy herd and vegetable crops. They also strive to spread these practices throughout New England by serving as a demonstration site, offering educational programs and supporting the adoption of bills like the New Hampshire Healthy Soil Legislation.

“We are contributing to the growing body of knowledge and new movement in agriculture that promises more than sustainability,” shared Julie Davenson, Executive Director of Stonewall Farm. “It promises to regenerate our degraded land, produce healthier food, build healthy ecosystems, improve our economy and combat the impacts of climate change.”

More than Books

Thanks to a new program called Monadnock Grows Together, you can now check out gardening tools at the Keene Public Library. Available tools include shovels, garden rakes, garden forks, hoes, a broad fork, small hand tools, hand trimmers, a push seeder and more. Borrow a tool for a week at a time.

You can also get FREE seeds from the library’s new seed library made up of nearly 50 vegetables and herbs varieties. Sign up for a membership and choose the seeds you want to grow. To support the continuation of the seed library, collect the seeds from the plants you grow and donate them back to “seed” the seed library for the next growing season! Not sure how to save seeds? Sign up for a free seed saving workshop at the library on September 28. Check out their full schedule of workshops.

Monadnock Grows Together is a partnership of the Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD), Antioch University’s Community Garden Connections, the Keene Public Library and the National Center for Appropriate Technology. If you have questions, please reach out to the Urban Ag and Gardens Coordinator, Rachel Brice at rachel@cheshireconservation.org. She will also answer questions at the library every Friday from 4:00-5:30 p.m.

“This is an awesome resource for the community. It directly addresses food security and engages more people in food production,” shared Amanda Littleton, CCCD District Manager. “It comes with weekly ‘office’ hours for one-on-one gardening assistance and a coordinator who is willing to do garden visits and offer advice.”

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Gleaning Program

The Community Kitchen builds the local food system through their six-year-old gleaning project that gathers leftover produce from farms after a harvest — fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. This year, the Community Kitchen will offer a four-part Food Preservation Workshop series to encourage more of us to make the most of our seasonal bounty.

These free workshops take place at their commercial kitchen at 37 Mechanic Street on alternating Sundays from 2-4 p.m. Explore “Zoodles, Purees, and Freezing” on July 28; “The Basics of Canning” on August 11; “Using the Whole Plant” on August 25; and “Drying and Fermentation” on September 8. These workshops are co-sponsored by Jack’s Crackers, a local value-added food business. Space is limited, so reserve your seat with Andrea at 603-352-3200 or tckgleaner@gmail.com.

“From the perspective of a food charity agency, The Community Kitchen recognizes the importance of local food in providing community food security,” shared Gleaning Coordinator Sarah Harpster. “We understand that without a food system that features strong and interdependent ‘nested ecologies’ of food sources, our community will be burdened with more neighbors facing food insecurity.”

Keeping Farmers Farming

Farmers spend their lives providing food and fiber to us. Their ability to do this depends largely on farmers gaining secure access to farmland. However, accessing land that is affordable is a top challenge for beginning farmers in New Hampshire and nationwide. Land For Good, a regional and national leader in farmland access, based right here in Keene, helps address this challenge.

“A strong regional food system and healthy rural communities require that we keep land in farming and continue to grow viable farm businesses,” said Jim Hafner, Executive Director of Land For Good. “If where your food comes from matters to you and your community, then you need to be concerned about keeping the farmers who produce that food on the land in a way that they can plan for the future of their businesses — and for how they will secure their farm’s legacy as a working farm for the next generation.”

Land For Good’s Land Access Project will provide education, training and technical assistance to over 2,500 beginning and established farmers across New England. Land For Good is working locally with the Monadnock Conservancy and other partners across New England.

Feast On This Film Festival Banner

Feast on This Expands

This year, two great events become one — the Feast On This Film Festival and the Monadnock Farm Tour. Monadnock Farm & Community Coalition (MFCC) and Monadnock Food Co-op invite you to the Monadnock Farm Tour & Film Festival, a 3-day celebration of local food and films on August 23 – 25. Visit 15 local farms and view a variety of films throughout our region including “The Need to Grow” that highlights innovative soil restoration efforts, shown at the Colonial Theatre in Keene on August 23 at 7 p.m.

Stay tuned for more Monadnock region food system updates! Great things are happening at the Cornucopia Project, Farmers Helping Farmers, Food Connects, Imagine That Honey, Monadnock Food Co-op, Monadnock Sustainability Project, The Sustainability Project, Village at Stone Barn, Walpole Mountain View Winery — and perhaps your organization? Please let us know if we missed someone by contacting me at marketing@monadnockfood.coop or 603-283-5401.

Thank you to all the individuals, programs, policies and initiatives that continue to build stronger local and regional food systems in our corner of the state and throughout New England. Together, we’re cultivating healthier citizens, communities and economies.