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The Popolo Impetus | Why is Bellows Falls buzzing?

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Taste of the Landscape

Photographed by Daria Bishop.

Gary Smith likes to talk about connections. As a prolific music producer who helped shape the rise of alternative rock in the ’80s, working with such artists as the Pixies, Throwing Muses and many others, Smith’s solid connections allowed him to uproot his business from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and move it in 2002 to Bellows Falls. The one-square-mile village of about 3,500 residents on the Connecticut River was not an obvious location for a commercial music studio, but it appealed to Smith. “Bellows Falls is a town of connections,” he said, “where river meets train and train meets road. I just fell in love with that.”


Popolo means “people,” and the restaurant’s owners have worked to create a social hub where everyone feels comfortable.

Bellows Falls also captivated Smith in other ways. “It has the most beautiful architectural collection,” he said, referring to the Italianate, Romanesque and Queen Anne buildings that radiate out from an extra-wide Main Street called “the square.” Dating back to the paper mill boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s, these buildings earned the downtown a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, but they also serve as time-worn symbols of yet another New England mill town struggling to reclaim economic vitality. Even that challenge proved a draw for Smith. “There is community zeal here, a core group of people who each in his or her way is bringing the arts and artisanal work to this community to give it new life,” Smith said. “It’s small enough where you can make a difference.” He set up a music venue and recording space in a roomy corner of the Georgian Revival–style former Windham Hotel and got down to work with artists like Natalie Merchant and Juliana

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The Awakening | A young Vermonter sees the family business 
in a new light

Written by Vermont Life on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Taste of the Landscape

This article appears in the Spring 2015 issue of Vermont Life magazine. To enjoy more Vermont stories and photographs each quarter, consider subscribing to Vermont Life.

Editor’s Note: Maddie Baughman, an 18-year-old senior at Harwood Union High School, was asked as part of her college application process to write about “an event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community or family.” Though never intended for publication, her essay came to our attention at Vermont Life, and, with Baughman’s permission, we chose to share it with our readers. 

Click play to hear the author read her essay.

By Maddie Baughman

Many 13-year-olds are mortified if their parents so much as get out of the car to pick them up from soccer practice. After all, parents ruin the illusion of independence. When I was 13, my dad would pull up in a 25,000-pound, iguana-green hook truck, filled to the brim with foul smelling, steaming cow manure. As much as I tried to pretend that my parents were mere accessories to my independent life,

Maddie Baughman at her family business, Grow Compost, in Moretown. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Maddie Baughman at her family business, Grow Compost, in Moretown. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.


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