The Green Mountain State may just live up to it’s “green” status and perhaps there is a little bit of truth to Keep Vermont Weird as well.
In mid-October, I visited this lovely state. It was just as the leaves were starting to change in color. Therefore, I saw plenty of green with some pleasant pops of red, yellow, and orange as well.
My decision to take the trip was, ultimately, the result of two state-wide campaigns that went viral about mid-2018. One, a grant-funded remote-worker relocation incentive program that was passed by their state legislature and, two, a tourism campaign referred to as Stay-to-Stay which invited people to visit Vermont with the consideration of relocation and included a schedule of events centered around leading a life there.
In a nutshell, I just had to see about Vermont…
As a long-standing practitioner of green living, I have always been curious about things I had heard with regards to life in Vermont. Perhaps this has been partly a picturesque pipe dream of becoming a homesteader paired with another part desire to “get out of dodge”, however, it continued to stick in the back of my mind for some years. When I learned of the two programs, the notion re-emerged to top of mind and I simply could not let the thought pass without taking action.
I spent most of my time in the Burlington area. Coming from living primarily in a major urban environment, I felt it would give me a good sample of Vermont while also keeping a bit of an urban feel. (When I return to Vermont, I would also really like to visit the Rutland area).
So what did I learn from visiting this unique place?
There are many facets I could comment on, but the ones that stood out the most include the following:
Smaller sized population areas do NOT need to impede larger scale support for farmers markets and locally sourced food.
In fact, the Burlington Farmers Market, which is not the only one in Burlington, but is the most well known, could just about give Pike Place Market in Seattle a run for their money. There is so much enthusiasm for “Vermont made” and many options are organic and/or sustainable. Also, in the main center of Burlington, no big-box grocers reside. The primary grocery shopping center is a neighborhood co-op, City Market, Onion River Co-op.
Luck had it that a fellow alumni from where I received my undergraduate and Master of Business Administration degrees worked in leadership for this co-op and was willing to meet me. His enthusiasm for the place was invigorating. Also, he shared some impressive data points that reflect just how much Vermont seems to throw support towards local growers.
Social impact and business can co-exist… really, they can.
This theme was salient across my time there. From the presentations at Vermont Tech Jam, a meeting with a hybrid co-working/business accelerator space, VCET, to casual conversations with business owners residing there, it was evident that this is a priority.
“Vermonters”, be they those raised there or transplanted, seem to have strived to work sufficient and smart, yet not lose consciousness for the communities in which they operate and service. This is further illustrated by the number of Certified B Corporations there.
I gained a sense of small but mighty from the business community there. Successes originating and/or operating within Vermont, such as Jet Blue, Seventh Generation, Gardener’s Supply Company, Mamava, and Sustain Natural, only add to the tout that business can behave better, even if just a little.
Green and healthful living can be practiced on a regular basis anywhere, but a few small yet supportive infrastructures may help us to be mindful of doing so.
Perhaps it was the air of the place (pun intended), but there were certainly signs for support of health promotion. Even subtle reminders, such as attractive light pole banners reading “Smoke-free community” within areas where people work out and play outdoors were noticeable and seemed to be well-respected. More information in these links; Church Street, Burlington Parks
There were also consistent reminders to take the idea of a socially-supportive community into consideration. The lake monster themed change stands in downtown Burlington, for example, were fun and artistic but served a relevant charitable purpose.
It was also very easy to find recycling, which, believe it or not (…in 2018!), some municipalities still fail at royally!
Yoga really does help fuel the body, mind, and soul.
I was blown away by the number of yoga studios and the quality of instruction I received. Many private studios offer a range of classes and most include some sort of donation based class at least once a week with a charitable beneficiary designated.
Spaces calling themselves wellness co-ops or collectives housed an interdisciplinary range of allied health, wellness, and fitness professionals. These centers and shared spaces reflected both a mutual support for one another in business and presented convenience which seemed more patient-centric and nurturing by design. Some of them centered on social services. Almost all of them included a range of holistic services, including various yoga modalities and therapy.
Not to mention, this state has thrown their hat in the ring to support integrative healthcare, for example, naturopathic physicians (NMD’s) can operate as PCP’s (primary care physicians). In addition, as compared to other states in the U.S., Vermont policy is more supportive for the range of nutrition-related professionals.
I came back feeling a little more fresh and cleaner. The landscape was spectacular. With the scenic beauty and crisp “mountain air,” it’s hard to imagine not feeling a little more well after spending time there.
Vermont, like any state, is certainly imperfect. However, I have little doubt that the sense of community and cultural norms centered around green space, healthful living, and social-consciousness in Vermont have kept this a really, really great place to not just visit, but also live, work, or play!
For a little fun, more Vermont slogans available here.
I also would like to give a special nod to the yoga apparel store Yogarama Athletica. If in Burlington, it is definitely worth stopping in.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash