Ideas to Attract Technology & Knowledge Workers to a Small Town

Published Work
  • Draft: In Process: Major work in February 8th through August 2012.
  • By Caleb Clark: Director, Educational Technology Program, Marlboro College Graduate School. Town Meeting Representative, Brattleboro District #2.  cclark@gradschool.marlboro.edu, 917-703-5580
  • About: Results of a survey of 50+ high tech professional knowledge workers from New York City, San Francisco, and Vermont, that asked what would get them to move to Brattleboro, Vermont, USA.
  • Grammar: Responses in quotes are copied exactly from emails sent to the author. These emails were not intended for publication and often contain typos. Bracketed [comments] may be added to clarify.

Contents

  1. My Recommendations
  2. Data

 



Recommendations

  • Embedded Evangelist: Embed a blogger in the digerati as the town’s evangelist. Geeks understand evangelists from their use by software companies. The become the direct person to contact for help moving here. They post in online forums about moving to Brattleboro, like: www.city-data.com (See “Brattleboro, intellectual life?). Find a person that does this naturally (see: www.innbrattleboro.com, and www.brattleborology.com), or use Mondo Media Works here in town. This might even make the news. “Town hires evangelist to attract geeks.” This would be good.
  • CCV VTC: Aggressively support the CCV and VT Tech new campus. Push for more focus on foundation skills in the areas of: technology, media, programming, project management, marketing, and graphic design.
  • Conference: Many small towns attract tech workers with unique conferences that offer great networking, and a chance to have their company pay for them to travel to the country. Consider during leaf season, ski season, or late summer. This could be on a subject that is technical, or a unique Art, Circus, or Burlesque-like subject that attracts the geek culture. Consider heavily backing “TEDxSIT” that already happens here, hosting a popular Maker Faire in the region, doing a geeky version of the http://www.wwoof.org/ farm work program, or combine a new tech conference with the Northern Roots music Festival, and the Women’s Film Festival to make a “North by Northeast” to play off of the famous “South by Southwest (SXSW) conference.
  • “Telecommuter-Ready” Houses: Real estate listing have a “telecommuter-ready house” badge and search parameter that guarantees extra fast bandwidth (5mb/s down and up). Relocating telecommuters need to know before before they buy and the perception is that Vermont doesn’t have good bandwidth. The current information provided by Internet Providers is not nearly accurate enough. If a telecommuter is going to commit to buying a house and moving, they need specific address verification, not area availability.  Direct links to providers would be included. After a local test, the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) could be applied to for inclusion of this needed search option in national listings. I have a leading local agency ready to test the idea on their listings.
  • Farmer/Geek: The area is unique in the amount of techies here who also work sustainable gardens, farms etc. And it could attract more. They don’t usually have traditional resumes, and they don’t want full-time office work. A company that could give benefits , and ½ or ¾ time modestly playing work could capitalize on this.  
  • Co-Working: Dedicate a space for coworking with rental desks that are in the $100/mo range with excellent bandwidth. Give the first year free to those who can show how they will help market the town to other tech workers.
  • Fab Lab. Build it and the will build: www.techshop.ws/ or www.fablabhouse.com/en/
  • Satellite Offices: Prove to big companies that they can save money by opening a satellite office here. [a]They save money by retaining their best employees who would otherwise quit when they want to get out of the city and raise a family. See Accelerating Economic Growth through Advanced Telecommunications Infrastructure 6-1-12 – In Progress
  • Former Residents: Find BUHS, Marlboro, and Bennington alumni communities and offer incentives to “come home to nest.”

 


Sources

 

Alumni: NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Interactive Technology Masters Program.

The first generation of tech entrepreneurs are getting older, and maybe they’re realizing that all-night code jams and living in a warehouse with 5 other artists isn’t going to work so well once they have a family and settle down.  If you positioned Brattleboro as a place that was tech friendly and a great place to raise a family then you might get the older tech generation that is as equally concerned about their kids as they are about their start-up.  If I could get a great tech community, fast cheap internet, and I could have a safe supportive place where my (hypothetical) family could thrive then I’d move to Brattleboro, no question.”

“Having spent the last month considering a move to either New Mexico, LA, or Indonesia, I can tell you the following:

  1. Infrastructure.  Have good, fast, possibly wireless connections to the internet.  They don’t need to be free, but they do need to be able to push code from anywhere in town, preferably from a gourmet coffee shop that won’t kick you out, and they do need to be able to have a fat pipe into the home.
  2. It would be *nice* if you didn’t need a car.. esp if you’re pulling people from New York.  So walkability, bikeability to the store for milk is a good thing to point out.  I get that it’s Vermont.  OTOH, driving is a pain in the ass.  How centrally organized are the homes to the center of town?  Is the local store willing to deliver?
  3. There should be a way for people to transition into living there. So, can you get them to come up for 4 to 6 months to work on a personal project and then get them to decide that they want to live there? Studio space on the cheap.  A place with insulation and a window and a bathroom, that’s not attached to your house.
  4. What’s the affordability compared to the city?  If a two bedroom house is two thirds of the cost of a one bedroom apartment, how much more space do you get?
  5. How close are you to getting off your ass and getting out into the woods?  Can you do that from your front door?  Can you light a fire in your back yard?
  6. Gym.  A real gym with pilates and yoga and personal trainers.
  7. Who can you learn from while you’re there?  Is there a knitting circle?  A monthly throwdown?
  8. What’s in the surrounding area to explore?  The city is two hours away, sure, but people live in Jersey and never come to the city. What’s in Vermont / New Hampshire that you might want to spend some time checking out?
  9. Taxes.  What are the taxes like?”
  10. Also, how easy is it to find out information about your town?  I think the real thing here is that you want to make it easy for smart people to imagine themselves having a less stressful and more productive life living in your town than wherever they do now.  What comes up when you search for images of the town?  What does it look like in street view? Is there an easy way to find out how much a rental would be?  Is there anything for rent, for that matter?  How long does it take for you to reconstruct a budget of your life when you google around for local businesses?  Stuff like that.”

“Brattleboro is awesome! I went to undergrad at Bennington and we would drive to Brattleboro sometimes for fun:)Anyway, this is obvious I’m sure but I didn’t see it listed above: jobs. I would move to VT in a heartbeat if a good job was waiting for me. Michael’s (ABOVE) answers are all really great too and I second them”

“Vermont (the whole thing) is one of my absolute favorite places.  I haven’t been in a few years, but I would use virtually any excuse at all to go there.  So… invite us, we’ll come.”

“I currently work for NYU as a web developer (Ruby, Javascript), but if I could find IT work in VT, I would seriously consider this.”

“Organise a really cool conference/workshop/event there. People go, then fall in love with the place. One of those almost got me to move to Switzerland. Example: http://designinquiry.net/archive/01-2/”

“My brother went to Putney.  I too would move to Vermont in a heartbeat if there was a decent job.”

“Maybe a video to show them how beautiful it is up there?”

“I am sure you can convince ski and snowboarders to move up there and have the best of both worlds!”

“Organize a geeky conference there, which will get geeks in the front door. Attend geeky conferences and tell people how awesome your town is.”

“But my question is: do you need a car to live in Vermont? how is public transportation?”

“I went to Middlebury and would love nothing more than to further cultivate the geek scene in Vermont. As an added bonus, I’m a Brattleboro baby (my folks met there!).  If I can be of any help, let me know. I’d be more than happy to brainstorm some ideas, put you in contact with some people in other parts of the state that might be beneficial, and participate directly in any way I can! One idea I had right off the bat was some sort of incubator funding? I have a couple of friends from VT originally and we all dream of being able to move back up north and start up a company together. I mean, I’m being selfish, but as they say necessity is the mother of invention :)….[post 2] I forwarded your thread to a couple of my friends that grew up in Vermont that dream of moving back up there but expressed many of the same concerns discussed on the alumni list. We’ve all wanted to move back for quite some time, so we’d love to keep up with what’s happening on your end.” [Ari Joseph ari.l.joseph@gmail.com]

“I’d suggest research grants or residencies which are well funded from the city or local universities.. a really nice fabrication lab perhaps where you bring in great artist to teach workshops and people come as a sort of retreat/workshop etc setting.. sort of pitch it like a ‘rural retreat’ (think Anderson Ranch but built in VT). I assume real estate is cheap? Another option would be incubation programs which fund artist/start ups to come to the area but again the money would have to come from somewhere.. “

It would be nice if there were a cheap bus (Mega, Bolt, Fung-wah) that stopped in town and if the train station had park-and-ride and some bike racks.  Transportation would be my biggest hesitation and I would want to know that I could get down to the city whenever needed.  I was able to survive in Western Mass for a few years because the public bus system was very good (PVTA) and free (paid for by the schools in the area); that really helped those of us who didn’t have cars.  A couple of a nicer bars and a small club helped too. Another thing that helped in Northampton/Amherst is that they have a couple solid music venues, so it was always a north-east tour stop for popular musicians.  A lot of the time it as more fun to see people play up there because the venues were less crowded than they would have been in NY. Would it make sense to work on getting a company or two to set up shop there and be a draw? Perhaps there are tax incentives already on the books that would help start-ups or maybe provide a grant from the town to cover some costs?  Make sure that ppl know that Gay marriage is legal there now..Host screenings of Baby Boom in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Once you have Ari Joseph signed up you’ll be all set.  If you hire him, we will come ;)”

“This is a really interesting question. This is more of a roundabout way to attract the workers you need, but keep working on make it a great cultural scene. You could start a great artist residency akin to Eyebeam out there, to draw tech-geek artists to come to your town on a regular basis.  Some of them might stay. One of the expenses and difficulties you have in setting up a new business is not having a workspace. You also miss  being around other entrepreneurs, being an artist is off course similar.  So take a large, older building in town, set up high fi internet,  renovate it a bit.  Then offer work spaces for with low rents to starts ups, artists, and designers.”

“I have an artist friend who lives in Brattlebro. She’s a performer and a choreographer and is able to scrape together some teaching gigs and performance opportunities there because it seems the economy is cheaper there (easier & less expensive to rent studio space, housing is less expensive, etc.). She also comes to New York often to meet with a little artist support group we have through Creative Capital because she doesn’t have anyone peers nearby with whom she can work through things like grant proposals or ideas for new shows. She seems to be simultaneously frustrated by the lack of opportunities but also too comfortable in a less competitive environment to leave. She’s also married, and I think her and her husband are committed to staying there. This is all to say that many people come to a certain point in their life/career where they want to leave a booming metropolis such as New York or any other major city because they want to escape the noise, the expense, the stress, the competition, etc. Jobs are obviously key to luring those people to your town as opposed to any other lovely town, but it seems you also need to find a way to target those who are looking for that type of change. I lived in the Hudson Valley for a good part of last year because of my job, and while I love it up there, I’m personally not at a point in my life or career where I’m ready to abandon city life and move there permanently.  I think getting “geeks” to VT is less about acquiring gourmet coffee, grocery delivery and Pilates. (No offense, Michael. I enjoy these things, too.) It’s more about figuring out how to make your town known to those who are already in a transition in their lives and who are looking for a good opportunity or incentive to move your way. A couple of people suggested residency-style project spaces, and I echo those suggestions. If people come there, fall in love with the place and know there’s a way for them to keep working in their field and moving forward in their careers while living there, you’ve nailed it.”

“+1 on this paragraph, well said [Refers to last part of above paragraph that starts with “I think getting geeks to VT…”]

“This thread is fascinating. I think the revitalization of small towns in America is a worthy collective design challenge for this group to tackle. Riffing off some of the other suggestions in this thread, it makes sense perhaps do some research to create some specific personas (like in the UX sense) of the types of geeks you would attract, so you can be more targeted in your messaging     and be more specific than just “geeks” in general. Also, what are your towns competitors, and what makes your town unique? Some sort of comparative analysis would be helpful too.  A festival or event seems like a good place to start depending on the infrastucture of the town. I have never been, but it seems that a conference like PopTech puts Camden, Maine on the map each year. I live in a small (population ~50K) town in southern Japan for 3 years after college. A group of my friends, mostly expat musicians and artists, put together an annual summer music festival that attracted people from all over. Thinking about my own life, living in that small town in Japan, or a place like Brattleboro, would make sense right out of college, when cheap rents and relative isolation was good for developing myself and my creative endeavors. At this point in my life (early 30s), with my job in NYC and my teaching gig, small town life makes less sense for me to do so. The location between NYC and Boston is attractive though since my partner is based in Boston for his work. In a few years down the line in our careers, if we have more flexibility over our work schedules, it would make sense to move to a small town and commute in to NYC or Boston once or twice a week and perhaps keeping a pied-à-terre apartment in one of those cities.  Who knows, but just trying to create some scenarios for you to explore for your personas.”

“Agree with those who have said that there is always a demographic in New York that’s ready to bail.  [http://youtu.be/5lS_hNUhGnk] One of Vermont’s biggest selling points in my mind is its social safety net. At least when I lived there a few years ago, they had a great state-sponsored health care system, and a tax code that redistributed real estate taxes to improve schools across the state, instead of just keeping the money in the high tax bracket towns. Not having to worry about healthcare or insane private and/or public school admissions processes are huge draws for the young family person. I think you could definitely highlight these benefits to make the argument that while lots of places have open spaces, Vermont offers real quality of life.”

“What’s a knowledge worker? And why does that immediately mean “geek”? Maybe there’s another group that you could more easily attract than “geeks”. On another note, here’s some stuff that I’ve enjoyed out of the small towns that I’ve visited or lived in: Nice exercise/hiking trails, parks, and outdoor spaces. Other small towns to easily visit – for instance the next town is know for that specialty craft/food/liquor/animal/scenery…etc. General attractiveness of the town and friendliness of the people Semi-frequent access to “big city” amenities – i.e., theater/dance/movies/festivals – and that not all shops that close at 9pm. Good, authentic food – it can be done! even if it’s only one type, like good sushi. Stuff to keep visitors/tourists happy – something entertaining when your big city neighbors come to visit and will make them want to come back. A good nearby university and community college – and by extension, good public schools.”

 


Professional Technologists from San Francisco Bay Area

Responses from old time geeks on the San Francisco NoEnd Group, a technology email list since the mid 1990s.

“Infrastructure- you need to have some serious bandwidth to allow folks to telecommute.  And maybe some sort of shared office space type area where startups/small business can make a home?”

“I agree … Serious Bandwidth and a Tech Hub space …Doesn’t even need to be a dedicated spot.  A hackerspace or some hacker events might get people together … Think the current version of Homebrew =) What big local tech companies can you tap into?”

Maybe explore partnering with with Google?  They’ve been championing high-speed internet. Also, you should get in touch with Tom Evslin (ex-AT&T broadband, Vermont tech czar).  He’s be a powerful force on your side. <http://blog.tomevslin.com/>http://blog.tomevslin.com/

“Brad Feld’s blog has some good thoughts about how to get critical mass for Internet Entrepreneurs, at least, and how he thinks they achieved it in Boulder: http://www.feld.com/wp/archives/tag/entrepreneurial-communities-2”

“It would seem that “outdoor lifestyle” and “families” are two of the big draws.  Even in the North Bay of California, one of the challenges is attracting younger single knowledge workers because of the pull of SF Also, see http://www.netjeff.com/humor/item.cgi?file=DeveloperBees  how can you create a hive that will attract developers. Who do you already have in town that fits the bill?  What attracted them? What cities would you like to emulate?  Can you contact the people who made it happen there?”

“+1 on bandwith/infrastructure. [means they are adding their support to bandwidth infrastruture mentioned by a previous post]

“One idea is to target some folks who might give useful input like this and if they pay to travel to Brattleboro, find funds to cover the cost of the rest of it. It was just a long weekend, not a week. It will probably be a great learning experience and it could end some debates because when folks from the outside come visit and all tell  you the same thing, it’s hard to reject that information.”

“i’d find a way to show you have a vibrant community — one of the advantages of “silicon valley” or any other hub is the human/ real time possibilities… you have to show that they will find a community that is worth participating in — beyond their own work, although that is important too. i’m not sure i’m being clear… but the idea of a summit or focus group or the trips (not one at a time)… and then introduce them to your local “relevant, forward thinking, knowledge” movers + shakers….”

“Whilst looking for workspace while in Melbourne I came across HubMelbourne.  They at first glace I thought were tech related but as it turns out were much more about sustainability and ethical businesses. Anyhow it didnt stop me joining the party. Possibly worth capturing more than one audience for the sake of profitability and longevity. There is certainly symbiosis. And act as some lubricant between multiple sectors.”

“Here in Australia they are building a “Fast Network” titled NBN aka National Broadband Network …The politics and technologies aside, they are rolling it out first in Tasmania which happens to also be a huge source of renewable energies, and makes it appealing for the likes of Google etc who want to offset their carbon footprint by staying green … Probably mentioned already, but another thought and selling angle. Seems like you are a good slot … Reminds me of Silicon Motorway …So titled because of the M4s quick access into Heathrow … and the companies peppered along it all the way to South Wales which would be a 4 hour drive from London. What are the airport links like?  Int he US they always seem to be awesome … The tech hub in Denver practically had it’s own airport right next door … Perfect for the Sun execs and their private jets.”

“The trick is this for Brattleboro too – you need to sell the town and not just the state. Everyone’s heard of Vermont and you can brand around that, but then you need to pitch Brattleboro. Why there instead of Burlington for example? You gave some reasons … proximity to Boston and New York. Is it less significantly less expensive? The more you understand your unique selling points, the more likely you can build a marketing and PR plan around it and know who is best to target. Boulder does a good job of getting articles in the national press about it. A lot of smaller cities are effective at doing this … the kinds of articles you read in the Sunday NY Times magazine. Getting on any top ten lists and stuff like that is good. Boulder’s always coming in high on those kinds of lists. So a PR person who knows how to do this well and is current on social media as well could be helpful in reaching your town’s goals.”

Tie in with the college/education infrastructure (& with the proposed Hub Space)[b] to develop a kind of entrepreneurial degree &/or “MediaLab” type program. Have the usual promotional contests, endowments, “visiting fellowship awards” etc. where you attract people for the day/events/workshops/festivals, semester (to teach or learn) &/or for years to graduate. Just created prestigious sounding awards & programs (& maybe affiliate with MIT, etc. or other big name programs – that won’t steal your talent) to attract people. Any Healthcare or education “anchors” should be leveraged to the hilt (& connect in any other art/media/tech/science resources you can.”

“How about a geek conference? Either in the summer to get away from heat elsewhere or in the fall to enjoy the colors? NXNE ? combine the geek conference with a bluegrass festival and choose a genre of film to focus on and have a small film festival Take Ashland OR … small town compared to Portland but it also near the southern border of California. It has had a Shakespeare Festival for many years. Think big!”

“But not too big – I live in a rural area, which has great appeal to me because it isn’t too big. I have great internet connectivity, and can order most of the necessities of life online. As a lifelong Californian, I’m dismayed at how driving has turned from an adventure to sheer misery and anxiety, as even the freeways have become parking lots. And its not that big of a tipping point for this to happen anywhere. If things got too big, the community would lose much of its charm, and many of its advantages. So this is a rather delicate balance. Part of the infrastructure planning discussions must include transportation. It does sound like you’re well served with train and bus, but keeping things from getting paved over for more cars will be a challenge. Many communities (Davis, CA comes to mind) have worked hard in including this in their planning. For much of California, this has been an expensive aftersight, which has reduced the quality of life here. Darned physical world! I like what I’m hearing, and Brattleboro sounds like a wonderful place. Maybe I’ll swing by sometime and check it out. Good luck with all this.”

“As long as there was an affordable place to stay, and I didn’t need a car, I would totally come up for a mini-fall-festival with fall leaves, a geeky movie or two, games, and crafting/making/fooding.  Think Geek Jam Session.”


Vermonters

Matt Dunne Head of Community Affairs at Google Inc. “I highly recommend the research Richard Florida is doing for a start. The second is modern infrastructure. Broadband being key, but so is the ability to get to business hubs by train or plane fairly easily which probably means ensuring the rail service between Guilford and Springfield, MA is significantly improved. Authentic places to work and live are also important to attracting tech business. The final piece is more difficult.  People want other tech companies or tech types to collaborate with, hire and provide options in case one job doesn’t work and/or to have a job for a spouse.  Burlington is actually getting to a critical mass because of a few anchor tech companies (first IBM then MyWebGrocer and Dealer.com) but as much as anything Champlain College starting to churn out people who can program and design for HTML has created a pool of talent to support a cauldron of start ups, interesting bar/coffee conversations and the ability for companies that hit a good stride to staff up quickly.  Marlboro is a start and SIT offers an interesting complement, but there may need to be a new source of that pool of talent to allow the community to turn the corner.”

Jed Leslie: West Brattleboro homeowner and 100% telecommuter for the technology wing of a small Boston based finance company. “First thing off the top of my head – Lowest hanging fruit is remote workers (like myself).  It’s paradise here.  Many many web people would work here if they felt secure about bandwidth, etc.  I have another friend who works on the web who also moved back to VT to work remote.  This wasn’t possible a few years ago because of bandwidth.  I’m not sure if remote workers actually help VT (tax wise), but they certainly help local businesses.  Promoting the “remote lifestyle” in VT (coupled with bandwidth improvements) could go a long way. 2nd thought is a collection of offices for these remote workers.  Perhaps an old building that is developed to be a meeting space for remote people to have access to phone services, print/fax, bandwidth, meeting rooms etc.  Many remote people would welcome working in an “office” with others even if everybody is working for different companies. Notice I’m clearly avoiding the “get tech companies to come to VT” option.  I’m not sure If I see this as a possibility for a variety of reasons (and also don’t like the idea of small economies being propped up by a large corporation who can choose to leave at any time).”

Higher Ed program director at Marlboro Graduate School. Excellent wifi, public transportation, 4G cell. Good meeting spaces like The Works. Coworking, Coop.

Kate Jellema. Marlboro Non-Profit Management Program Director. “Get them here to visit, so they can see the quality of life”. 

Adam Provost. Marlboro College EdTech alumnus, VITALearn board member, EdTech K-12 teacher. “Here’s an approach Dartmouth UK tried…(Search “Firms urged to relocate to beautiful South Hams”) sales pitch for ‘move to the area’ sort of thing. If it’s businesses… Brattleboro, often threatening to secede from the VT Union, could offer some serious, non-traditional Vermont tax incentives to entice some industry to move in. Not sure… but rumors were moving that Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was looking for a new base. That’d be a coup. The trick for the survival of the full-time job based locale is to avoid big boxes… home dept, Walmart, etc. Revitilazation of the local school programs… better marketing… give it a brand. That’s a great way to attract folks to move their. An unorthodox approach would be to build a ‘green community / neighborhood.’ Some areas have had some luck with that sort of thing. It’d be a series of initiatives I’d think… unless it can be expedited with a ‘fell swoop’ sort of business moving in…GE stock is way up and they are still struggling for space in Burlington ; ) Some other revitalization threads: University of Richmound: http://www.solutionsforamerica.org/viableecon/downtown-revitalization.html Community Revitalization Guide from PA: http://www.newpa.com/strengthen-your-community/redeveloping-your-community/community-revitalization-guide Article: “Rebuilding a School, Revitalizing a Community: School Improvements Enhance a Desire to Learn”  – Edutopia

Michael Roberts.I’m in my late 20’s, works in nonprofit new media communications at World Learning and as a musician (folk, rock, honky tonk, experimental, jazz), and music promoter. renting in brattleboro, building a house mostly unassisted with wife in Guilford. Came to southern Vermont (Jamaica) 6 years ago for a job in international education, moved to Brattleboro 4 years ago – met spouse here and decided to stay. interested in building/supporting community through performing arts.”

Ben Riseman. “I am an aspiring entrepreneur and light-weight techie with aspirations for sustainable living and making a sustainable living. Early 30s homeowner and dad-t0-be who has high hopes for a robust technology-entrepreneurial community taking root in Brattleboro – my motivation being that I want to have a strong, local and sustainable economy in the area. Also, I see an underutilization and an under-developed potential within the artistic and creative communities in the town. I also see a lot of growing potential in the groundswell of farming and agricultural movement and possibility of a new-agricultural paradigm taking place here. I think technology and knowledge work can play an important role in assisting and facilitating these (seemingly unrelated) developments.”

Joan Bowman.  “Woman turning 60 years old looks up from her desk one day in Connecticut and decides to pack up  her entrepreneurial skills and move her talents and insights to the work she really loves in a state where she wishes she had been born: Vermont.   She finds a partner with great knowledge and awareness of Prevention and health care that is focused on ‘self-care’ and the two create Vermont Wellness Education (VWeD). This  start up, with a mission to bring Wellness Education to all members of the community regardless of socioeconomic circumstances, teaches the importance of self care utilizing a Wellness Model that is an effective tool for teaching Prevention .  She gives spirited talks about surviving the stresses of daily life with resilience, sustaining with a positive attitude, properly feeding the body and nurturing the space inside your mind, which is essential to feel released from the stressful energy that drives our unhealthy habits. You learn from her writings and workshops that stress- and fear-release  is achievable for every person in our market driven culture. Businesses and non-profits alike experience pressure to perform at or above “market expectations.” This motivation, however, produces a deeply unbalanced view of productivity; it may also assume that everyone on staff is resilient, while ignoring what is sustainable for long term health and compatibility.  Being on ‘ The Bridge’ with its collegial atmosphere is a perfect place for my professional ambitions for VWeD to be nurtured in the company  of professionals who come  together at different times of the day with different needs to practice self-care for their own work.  This  group, however loose the connections among us, offers a feeling of respect, enthusiasm and kindness that encourages the growth of VWed in the Brattleboro community.”

Maggie Foley. “I am in my early-30s and self-employed as a nonprofit development consultant.  I have worked with local nonprofits on staff and in consulting roles for nine years.  I live in Guilford w/ my husband (self-employed stone mason) and two-year-old son.  I am a Windham County native who intended to return just “briefly” after college, but found a terrific employment opportunity and a unique and fun town that was much, much different from my high-school perceptions.  So I chose to stay.  When I started my business working out of my Guilford home in 2010, I quickly began missing Brattleboro as a part of my day-to-day life, so I rented space in The Bridge.  This allows me to keep some boundaries between work and home, be close to my clients and meetings, utilize conference room space for meetings with clients and colleagues, and look out over downtown while I work.  Maggie Foley 802/579.6528  word by word writing and consulting services 218 Bullock Road Guilford, Vermont 05301”

Debra Loevy-Reyes:  “I am in my early forties and work as a civil rights appellate attorney out of an office in Chicago.  I moved to Brattleboro with the intention of telecommuting because the pace of life in Chicago felt too hectic and I wanted to raise my children in a progressive, small town community someplace beautiful.  I still travel back to Chicago regularly, but the proximity of several airports has made that easy.  In Brattleboro, I have found excellent schools for my kids, a wonderful community, a great home that is rural, but close to town, and a surprising number of other telecommuters.”

Christine Takacs. “I am a one-woman creative agency, Rapt Creative, focused on a small group of clients. Shares hats with local subcontractors to provide full suite of agency services. We chose Vermont over Manhattan as a great place to raise a family. Somewhat isolated, I miss opportunities to brainstorm with passionate, ethical, smart and dedicated people. Perhaps monthly odysseys up Mt. Wantastiquet would keep ideas fresh and motivation high.”

Meeting, May 29th, 2012

Added from meeting at grad school May 29th, 2012.

Andrea Livermore. Building a Better Brattleboro. Moved here because (notes coming)

Idea: Use the River Garden! More coming…getting notes from her.

Aaron Michal. Co-owner, Green River Software in downtown Brattleboro. Moved from Boston for the country farming life with Geeking as well. Ran t! to his own house at his expense.

Idea: Someone help people who want to move here how to tap into the local word of mouth community that it takes to find jobs. They are not on Monster. Geeks are here, but they want to work part time in tech, and part time usually in some area like farming or sustainabilty.   Likes Burlesque conference idea.

Brant. Owner, Logic Branch Productions, Brattleboro. Grew up here, came back for lifestyle and family.

Idea: Go for getting more higher end programming jobs here

Caleb Clark. Director, EdTech program at Marlboro College Graduate School, downtown Brattleboro. Was looking to move and for jobs with girlfriend in favorite towns of Brattleboro, Portland ME, and Burlington VT. Brattleboro happened first.

Idea: Embed an evangelist for the town in geek culture online. Move CCV/VTC to more basic technology/media curriculum. Have a conference that attracts  geeks who are ready to settle down and have kids, either as telecommuter or to bring their business here.

Erik Cooper. Industrial Design, fabrication, theater tech, solar technician by day. Farmer.  Moved from NYC.

Idea: Get a well-run Fab Lab here.

Joan Bowman. Brattleboro. Rents a desk on The Bridge, Coworking space at Grad Center. An active Marlboro College parent and since graduating with an MBA in 1975 has been a, consultant, dotcom worker, and is now a turnaround specialist.

Idea: Housing and transportation has to be affordable and effecient.

Junio Anthes-Moody. Brattleboro. Energy auditor by day, self-taught techie by night. Family connections in town. Moved back with his wife because tired of Brooklyn hustle. Wife is a full time telecommuter.

Idea: Attract geeks by having a conference on an non-tech subject they like, such as a “Circus, Burlesque, Gastronomy Conference.”

Matthew Flego: Industrial Designer, fabrication, mechatronics. Moved from NYC to add sustainable farming to geeking.

Idea:

  1. Supports town blogger idea.
  2. Having a well-run Fab Lab here for more experienced types of fabricators, such as (http://www.techshop.ws/) or (http://www.fablabhouse.com/en/).  
  3. Host a Maker Faire for this region.
  4. Work with Farming / Living programs such as (http://www.wwoof.org/) in order to help geeks live an inexpensive, part time agricultural life style while providing farmers intelligent labor.  

Michael Knapp. Co-owner, Green River Software in downtown Brattleboro. Moved in 1994 to be a geek farmer type. This was as far as his wife would move from NY family.

Idea: Use our existing strengths of Art, Gallary walk, theater, circus, food and especially sustainable technology to market a “Green Valley” as in Silicon Valley.

Pete Biolsi. Principal at Mondo Media Works in downtown Brattleboro. Grew up in the area. Went to UVM. Returned to be nearer snow and outdoor activities.

Idea: Supports conference, blogger, and part time work ideas by others.

Timberly Hund. Architect/techie. Brattleboro Planning commission member. Inn keeper on weekends. Moved because?

Idea: Co-working space, leverage that there are great part time workers here already. Work with Brattleboroology and InnBrattleboro.com folks to have them blog for the town.

/end

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