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Posts Tagged ‘VT’

Greensea’s Ben Kinnaman | Next, Summer 2016

Written by Sky Barsch on . Posted in Entrepreneurs, Q&A

Ben Kinnaman at Greensea headquarters in Richmond. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Ben Kinnaman at Greensea headquarters in Richmond. Photo by Jeb Wallace-Brodeur.

Ben Kinnaman develops technology (hardware and software) that controls multimillion-dollar underwater robotic vehicles. A former diver and a historical shipwreck enthusiast, Kinnaman owns Greensea Systems, a company whose technology supports cutting-edge research in the deepest parts of the ocean, studying sunken ships, land mines, marine life and other phenomena.

VL: Why are you based in Richmond, Vt.?
BK: We are based in a tiny little town, very deliberately so, because it matches the values that me and my wife have. We decided when were were going to grow the company, it was going to be in our town and our community.

VL: How did you land here?
BK: My wife and I were doing the two-dimensional lifestyle in Baltimore, and I had been developing the concept of Greensea’s core technology. It coincided with my wife and I being in the position to think about starting a family, and we sure as hell didn’t want to do it in Washington, D.C., or Baltimore. We’d been coming to Vermont for years: hiking in the summer, leaf-peeping in the fall, skiing in the winter and everything in between. I decided to pursue this technical concept. When we moved to Vermont we hadn’t started the company, I didn’t have a job. So off we came. It was lifestyle.

VL: How would you put that lifestyle into words?
BK: The values of the community, of preserving the natural world, of being able to live and work and play. My wife and I are pretty healthy people and we value what we do with our bodies and put in our bodies. And it’s just beautiful. It’s hard to describe, it just felt good [here]. When we were visiting we would come to towns like Richmond and at 2:30 in the afternoon when school let out, we saw kids walking down the street, not a grownup in sight. And we saw families and kids out at the parks and families together up on the ski hill. And my wife and I lived a lot of places and we felt like we just didn’t see that anymore.

VL: What do you get out of the Vermont workforce?
BK: You get well-rounded people. The best tech comes from big minds, and minds who engage in all aspects of life. The best technology does not come from sitting on an interstate for two hours a day transitioning from

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Big Calendar

Written by Vermont Life on . Posted in Web Exclusives

VL Spring 2016 260Our Spring cover story, “Seeing the Big Picture,” tells the story of Big Picture Theater and Café in Waitsfield.

The Big Picture is at once a restaurant, cinema, meeting place and watering hole, hosting a near-constant stream of locally oriented events such as art exhibits, farmers markets and literary presentations. When Waitsfield is coming up on an election, the town books its candidates forum at the Big Picture. In its plethora of roles, the enterprise has come to occupy both a new and a traditional part in the Mad River Valley: a town hall for the 21st century.

If our story inspired you to check out this community hub, this calendar of events will help you plan your visit.

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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