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Chain Reaction | How used bikes are helping people out of poverty

Written by Tim Johnson on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Outdoor Rec and Nature

Photos by Bear Cieri

Two uncommon bike shops flourish in Burlington’s Old North End, less than a block apart. They’re both well-entrenched, but they’ve never been competitors, and their business models are quite different.

Bike Recycle Vermont operates out of a basement, relies on volunteers, sells everything at discount and serves a clientele that can’t always afford to pay. A cashless customer who shows up looking to get a flat tire fixed will likely be put to work on the repair.

Old Spokes Home, which occupies its own freestanding two-story building around the corner and across North Winooski Avenue, is more like a typical retail enterprise, with paid staff, market-rate merchandise and a conventional customer base: people with money.

BEACON OF HOPE | Bike Recycle Vermont, in Burlington's Old North End, works with people in need of basic transportation, often as a lifeline. Photo by Bear Cieri.

BEACON OF HOPE | Bike Recycle Vermont, in Burlington’s Old North End, works with people in need of basic transportation, often as a lifeline. Photo by Bear Cieri.

For years, the two shops maintained an amiable coexistence and had little to do with each other, but then something counterintuitive happened. The basement operation, a volunteer-driven nonprofit that started on a shoestring and came to depend almost entirely on grants and donations, took over its commercial counterpart across the street.

This was not a trivial acquisition. The purchase price was about half a million dollars. The result of this unlikely business deal, proudly announced in January 2015, was a new, combined enterprise, a nonprofit called Burlington Bike Project.

The new entity remains a work in progress, but its creation is a testament to the melting-pot neighborhood that gave rise to it and to its crew of visionary bike enthusiasts — including the shops’ two founders.

Glenn Eames set up Old Spokes in 2000, having left his job as service manager at a downtown bike shop with his eye on a niche market, secondhand bikes. What set Old Spokes apart was its sales focus on the used and the reconditioned. Eames’ venture soon attracted a loyal cadre of customers who relied on bikes as a practical alternative to cars.

“Old Spokes Home is not about sport,” Eames said recently. “It’s about transport.”

The business prospered, but in 2005, Eames learned something that gave him pause: another used-bike outlet would be starting up across the street.

That shop, called Bike Recycle Vermont, was a brainchild of Ron Manganiello. The recycling idea had come to him the year before when he heard from a friend that a Somali refugee in Burlington needed a bike. Manganiello found a castoff Raleigh three-speed that worked fine, so he passed it on. Then he realized that “a gazillion other refugees” resettled in Burlington also could use bikes to get around, so he soon was collecting unclaimed bikes from the police department, hauling them to a mechanic friend to be rehabbed and giving them away.

Before long,

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Farms, Food and Feeding the World | Vermont High School Students Tackle Food Issues in Summer Institute

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

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VTC agronomy professor Sosten Lungu explains to Governor’s Institute Food, Farms and Your Future participants how a combination of compost application and cover crops can reduce the amount of synthetic fertilizers needed to grow corn.

On a recent summer day, under a scorching blue sky, 15 Vermont high school students rotated between stations on Vermont Technical College’s Randolph campus in an activity named, “Follow the Carbon.”

In the fields of the college’s market garden, the teenagers pulled carrots to chomp on and dug up plant samples. They learned how growing cover crops like clover and soy, and applying compost can build carbon naturally and help reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.

At another station, they used stethoscopes to listen to the sound of a cow’s rumen doing its work, then toured the campus bio-digester, which uses bacteria to break down organic matter including farm and food waste. It then captures the methane that is produced to provide power for the college campus. “We do in one month what it takes a cow to do in a day,” VTC professor Joan Richmond-Hall noted, directly linking to the animal “bio-digester” which they had just heard in action.

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The Arts | Summer 2014

Written by Bill Anderson on . Posted in The Arts

The Deadly Genetlemen.

The Deadly Gentlemen play in Huntington on Aug. 9, 2014.

BURLINGTON DISCOVER JAZZ FESTIVAL
Burlington
May 30–June 8

Now in his late 70s, Ron Carter has appeared on more than 2,000 jazz recordings — a staggering figure if you pause to think about it — but his reputation is built on quality, not quantity. “Among the greatest accompanists of all time,” wrote music biographer Ron Wynn, “the epitome of class and elegance … close to being the bass equivalent of a Duke Ellington.” Carter appears on a double bill with venerable saxman Benny Golson, and the festival, as always, astutely covers the rest of the spectrum, from safe-and-sound to fearlessly progressive. Among many highlights, look for legendary singer Tony Bennett, violin star Regina Carter, soundscape trio Dawn of Midi, a Belizbeha reunion, and Linda Oh’s Sun Pictures Quartet. For total immersion, consider the festival’s many meet-the-artist sessions, art exhibits, street concerts and nightclub spinoffs.
www.discoverjazz.com

SHELBURNE MUSEUM
Shelburne
Spring/Summer 2014

Impressionist works by Monet, Manet, Degas and other French masters will be on view June 14 through Sept. 1 in “In a New Light,” an exhibit drawn from the Shelburne Museum’s collection as well as loans from private sources and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In other new exhibits, both showing May 11 to Oct. 31, “Nancy Crow, Seeking Beauty: Riffs on Repetition” presents works by the renowned contemporary quilter; and “Trailblazers: Horse-Powered Vehicles” looks at parallels between 19th-century transportation and modern automotive culture.
www.shelburnemuseum.org

ROGER KATZ: A LIFETIME OF PHOTOGRAPHS
Vermont Center for Photography
Brattleboro
June 6–29

Born in Detroit in 1947, Roger Katz moved in the ’60s to Brattleboro to attend Marlboro College, and he never left, making the town his home, owning various photography shops or studios, and becoming an unassuming patron of the photographic arts in the community. Katz died of cancer in 2013, and though he never had an exhibit of his work during his lifetime, the Vermont Center for Photography is honoring their friend with a display of more than 100 vintage gelatin silver prints, which cover a span of time from the 1970s through 2012. The Center says Katz “had a distinct ability to capture portraits on the street. His humble and quiet approach to his surroundings lent itself perfectly
to acting as a ‘fly on the wall’ as life played out in front of him.”
www.vcphoto.org

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