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About Susan McDowell

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So far Susan McDowell has created 13 blog entries.

November 2017

Planting the Root of Vermont Food

The Rooted in Vermont grassroots movement celebrates the ways in which all Vermonters acquire and enjoy local food. It also intends to increase consumer demand so more Vermont food can be available and accessible where most Vermonters shop.

Vermonters farmed, gardened, fished, and hunted long before craft beers and gourmet burgers entered the scene. These traditions are as core to Vermont’s local food movement as purchasing food from Vermont’s farmers, restaurants, schools, and stores. Rooted in Vermont celebrates and empowers all of the ways that Vermonters are part of the local food movement. […]

October 2017

New Platform for Those on Stage

Dominic Spillane reached out to the Creative Network this week. He has been working on a promotional platform for the performing arts. Asking for help in testing the beta site, Dominic wrote:

“I’ve been working in theater for the last 15 years as an actor, director, producer, and finally, as administrative staff at a nonprofit theater in Manhattan. Frustrated by the lack of online promotional tools available as an individual artist, and as a producer marketing a show, my family and I moved to Vermont to pursue the construction of TheaterEngine, a crowd-sourcing platform for the performing arts. Think of it as a mix between Fandango, IMDB, and Facebook … but all for theater.

TheaterEngine is a listing site for current or future shows in your area, a database of production history, and a promotional tool for theater professionals and companies. […]

August 2017

Rooting for Rural

Dr. Joshua Kim, director of digital learning initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL), recently reviewed Richard Florida’s newest book, “The New Urban Crisis: How Our Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class — and What We Can Do About It.” Some readers may find Florida’s assertions almost contradict his previous views. In a new blog post on “Inside Higher Ed,” Kim takes the position that we are simply not doing enough.

He points out, “…the book may convince (young professionals) that they need to pay attention to the needs of everyone in the city – and not just other people they work with in their technology/design/medical/legal/publishing companies.” […]

June 2017

Digging Deeper

A year ago, the Vermont Arts Council published the results of the 2016 Vermonter Poll. The study made clear that art matters to us in our public life, schools, and homes. A full 85% of Vermonters agreed with the statement, “I value the arts as an important element of life in my community.”

We shared this data with Paul Costello, executive director of the Vermont Council on Rural Development since 2000. He said, “This statistic doesn’t surprise me. It mirrors what we hear from Vermonters all around the state. In all the years I’ve been involved in work with Vermont communities, the arts turn up time and time again as key local assets, as a driver for the local brand, and as one of the crucial points of attraction for entrepreneurs, youth and new residents.”

How do words become action? How do we continue to make arts and culture a part of community life? […]

February 2017

Never Stop Learning

Nonprofit leaders know the value of a good support system. Resources that offer flexible levels of participation and connect us to a strong professional network can be hard to find. When we do find them, they’re worth holding on to.

The Center for New Leadership (CNL) at the Marlboro College Center for Graduate and Professional Studies is one of those resources. The Marlboro approach embraces systems thinking and collective impact; it applies these methods to teaching and coaching. Consultants, practitioners, and students create a learning community focused on making the social benefit sector tick. […]

The Funding Question Arises

Federal and state government investments form one tributary of the creative sector’s funding stream. With January’s change in the U.S. administration, potential trouble has arisen about this support for arts and cultural institutions.

Complete elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has been suggested. While this is unsettling, the longer view advises that these discussions have been hashed through before (some may recall the national conversation of the 1990s, resulting in dramatic budget reductions for some national cultural organizations. This thorough historical review was published in 1998.) […]

December 2016

A Community Center for South Burlington?

Since early 2016, a group of passionate arts professionals — in cooperation with the City of South Burlington — have been exploring the possibility of developing a creative arts complex in South Burlington’s new central downtown district. Now incorporated as a Vermont nonprofit, the South Burlington City Center for the Arts, has conducted focus group interviews, hosted a City Council meeting, and had several meetings with potential stakeholders. […]

November 2016

Vermont Creative Learning Forum Convenes in Woodstock

Vermont is taking an ambitious lead among states in prioritizing creativity in learning.

Ninety-five educators, students, and their community partners recently gathered at the Woodstock Inn for the first Vermont Creative Learning Forum. For two days, they dedicated themselves to deeper understanding and practice of the ways in which PreK-12 schools and community groups can use creative engagement as a catalyst for advancing student-centered learning initiatives. […]

October 2016

USDA Recognizes the Importance of Arts and Culture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently awarded Rural Business Development Grants to the Barre Opera House, the Friends of Dog Mountain, and the Foundry in Lyndonville. In choosing these creative-based nonprofits, the USDA recognized the significant community development role played by arts and culture institutions.The USDA’s Rural Business Development Grant program provides support to Vermont organizations seeking to increase the economic vibrancy of their community through supporting businesses and cultivating job creation. Arts and culture establishments are anchor institutions in many Vermont communities, attracting visitors to downtown businesses and helping to fuel the creative economy. These attributes align them with the mission of the USDA’s grant program. The year, the USDA provided over $1 million in grant support to 19 Vermont community organizations through the Rural Business Development Program. Learn more about the 2016 awardees. […]

August 2016

Leadership: Conference Expands Sector Conversation

The inaugural New England Maker Spaces and Creative Places Conference (the Maker Places Conference) was held August 8-9 in Burlington. More than 40 people attended, from as near as Waterbury and as far as Sydney, Australia. This new conference represents one of many ways the maker movement has been expanding in Vermont since the first Champlain Maker Faire in 2012.

Speakers representing universities, manufacturing companies, and maker spaces shared on culture shift, community engagement, and inspiring young makers. Many discussions made the case for integrating arts, nature, and technology into the movement. […]