By Rob Riley, Center President

“Local” is more important to us than ever before, as we hunker down to stem the spread of the coronavirus. As people, we’re good at adapting. Doesn’t mean we like it, but we can shift to support local restaurants through take-out or watch events on-line.

But is this enough to sustain community through this crisis? Of course not. We need to think about not only how to make it through, but how to come back better. This time of disruption begs bold responses. Top of my list would be ensuring that we can align our investments (literally, our retirement account or investment portfolio) with what’s happening in our own towns and communities.  

If you’re in the stock market, things look relatively good right now; if you’re not, things look quite uncertain. Likewise, some communities’ budgets are challenged by pressures from the pandemic, while others benefit from high property values based on second homes. Communities left behind in transitioning economies —where Covid-related budget crises lead to fewer basic services, limited investments in infrastructure, and lost potential — need investment and present unique opportunities.

It’s time to drive deep, meaningful community change.

By Rob Riley, Center President

The Center’s board and staff met for our third virtual board meeting at the end of June, and while we can take care of business this way, we are itching to get back to meeting face-to-face in the Northern Forest region. We’re eager to walk through the woods, communities, and businesses to hear directly from those we serve – entrepreneurs, community leaders, and other stakeholders – who are working for a New Forest Future.

Though we couldn’t be physically out in the region, we brought a sampling of voices and perspectives to our meeting, albeit virtually, through partners who shared the challenges and opportunities the global pandemic has created for them. We heard about concern of the unknown, the loss of daily community connections, and heart-wrenching decisions business owners have had to make to enable their businesses to survive long term, even at the near-term cost of people’s livelihoods. 

Andrew Pearce and bowlWe learned about entrepreneurial spirit from Andrew Pearce, owner of Andrew Pearce Bowls, a Hartland, Vermont-based wood products company, who immediately shifted his emphasis from wholesale and retail-store sales to web-based sales and promotion, realizing a dramatic increase in revenue for this May compared to May 2019.

By Rob Riley

The Spaces In BetweenSo much has changed over the past few weeks. We know people’s lives have been turned upside down and our friends and neighbors are doing what they can to put food on the table, stay connected with others and maintain a sense of hope for the future.
In these tumultuous times, our team is doing what we do best: asking questions, listening deeply, adapting our strategies, and continuing to work toward a vibrant future. Here are a few examples of how we’ve adapted our programs to serve immediate needs:

By Lianna Lee

2019 Gift Guide Web’Tis the season for us to help you find beautiful gifts that are as exciting to give as to receive! In the spirit of shopping local and celebrating the Northern Forest region, I gathered recommendations from my Northern Forest Center colleagues. Our staff spend hundreds of hours on the road to work with community partners, assist rural businesses, and help create bold possibilities that give rise to vibrant Northern Forest communities. Along the way they see some great gift ideas.

In the spirit of Living the New Forest Future, we hope you’ll consider shopping local and supporting family-owned businesses that help connect their customers and communities with our forested landscape this year.