UVM Wins Grant to Establish Vermont Natural History Museum

This is pretty awesome. UVM announced today that they’ve won a $470,000 grant to establish a Vermont Natural History Museum from the National Science Foundation. According to their release, it’ll allow the university to consolidate three major collections which they currently house: plants in the Pringle Herbarium and invertebrate / vertebrate collections from the Thompson Zoological Collections.

The award will be used to improve specimen storage conditions for each of the collections, reducing the chance of damage from fire, water and pests. It will also enable the university to significantly expand digital imaging efforts currently under way of both the animal and plant collections and of data retrieved from the specimen labels and collection archives.

The museum, a joint project of the Department of Plant Biology and the Department of Biology, will be located in Torrey Hall, where the collections currently reside.

Read the full release here.

Vermont isn’t hurting for scientific museums: the Fairbanks Museum of St. Johnsbury is a fine Natural History museum, although it isn’t state-specific, and the Montshire Museum of Science of Norwich is a great introductory location. It’ll be cool to see what comes of this, and hopefully, it’ll be open to the public.

Vermont Edition: Power And The People: Citizen’s Role In Energy Projects

Today’s Vermont Edition will look at the role of individuals and energy production:

When an energy project like wind turbines or large-scale solar arrays are proposed to be built, affected landowners find they need to get a deep education on regulatory processes, and fast. On the next Vermont Edition, we look at the quasi-judicial process for reviewing and approving those projects from the citizen’s perspective. Our guest is Annette Smith of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, who says there ought to be a less complicated, less litigious and less expensive way for people to play a role in deciding where energy projects are located.

Post comments here, and listen at noon and 7pm today on VPR.

Update from Tilt Classic Arcade and Ale House

The folks behind South Burlington’s Tilt Classic Arcade and Ale House has been hard at work getting it ready for opening. Here’s the latest update from their Facebook page:

The folks at Vermont Frames are working hard getting the mezzanine constructed this week at Tilt! Had to reinforce the whole structure to hold all of the games that will be up there- 3000+ lbs worth. It is going to look great with another 3000lbs or so on the main floor. Hope we will be seeing you in just a little more than a month.

It’s pretty impressive, and so far, they’ve added pictures of South Park, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Metallica, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones and other pinball games, as well as other classic games such as The Golden Ax, Centipede, Operation Wolf, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter II, and others!

It looks like they’re still slated to open at the end of May.

The Wizard’s Cave of Comics and Games – Reopening?

Last week, we put out a call for updates on a bunch of gaming and comic stores, and we had a nice background comment on some of the gaming stores in Barre. There’s been a couple of them, and around 15 years ago, there was a store called The Wizard’s Cave, which existed for a couple of years before going under.

We ran a Google search, and found that one of the stores might be returning: The Wizard’s Cave of Comics and Gaming. According to the new owners, they’re currrently finalizing a business plan and working to acquire funding for the new store. However, their plan is to eventually find a downtown Barre location. They’ve set up an LLC , along with a facebook page:

Setting up a meeting to (hopefully) get the business plan worked out and the financial projections taken care of. We’re still working on funding and keeping an eye out for the right building. Thank you to everyone for the support!

This is pretty interesting, because there’s few offerings in Central Vermont. In the outskirts of Barre, you’ve got Wonder Cards and Comics, which isn’t the best of places for games (you certainly can’t easily host a games night there – it’s too cluttered), and it’s not located in any place that’s easy to get to if you’re in the center of town.

Hopefully, we’ll see a new venue open in the not-to-distant future. Barre’s on a bit of an upswing, and there’s certainly plenty of open slots in downtown for a gaming / comic store. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, go ‘like’ their page on Facebook.

Vermont Senate votes to label GMO foods

One of the more high-profile political issues has been voted on in the Vermont Senate: they passed a bill that requires GMO foods to be clearly labeled.

From the Burlington Free Press:

The Senate gave a decisive 26-2 vote Tuesday for a bill that would require labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, a strong indication that Vermont could become the first state in the nation to enact such a law.

“We are saying people have a right to know what’s in their food,” said Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Windsor, adding that he thinks lawmakers have done the best job they can to make the bill legally defensible.

Now, it remains to be seen whether or not Vermont is sued into oblivion by major corporations. Apparently, the state is bracing itself to such an action.

The Vermont Library Association Statement on Paul Ryan Budget

The Vermont Library Association released a statement last week about the passage of the budged authored by Rep. Paul Ryan:

The Vermont Library Association joins American Library Association President Barbara Stripling in rebuking the budget plan by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI). This budget plan seeks to eliminate federal funding for multiple programs dedicated to the public good that directly benefit Vermont libraries and their patrons.

Ryan’s budget resolution effectively calls for the dissolution of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency that administers grants to libraries and museums, including the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) state funding program. In Vermont, LSTA funds represent approximately 25% of the state’s $3.8 million Department of Libraries budget for fiscal year 2014.

President Stripling writes, “Libraries depend on the support they receive from IMLS to help patrons learn new skills, find job opportunities and access reading materials that they otherwise could not afford. More than $180 million has been appropriated to the Institute for Museum and Library Services through September 2014 to help libraries make information and services available to the citizens they serve. In Rep. Ryan’s own state of Wisconsin, more than 65 percent of libraries report that they are the only free access point to Internet in their communities.”

Vermont libraries serve the same critical role in ensuring equitable access to the Internet, books, and other educational materials. In Vermont LSTA funding has allowed libraries to create summer reading programs, offer adapted resources to blind and physically disabled patrons, provide Vermonters with reliable access to online databases, enhance public programs, train librarians, and much more.

The Vermont Library Association commends Vermont’s Congressional delegation for their unanimous support for LSTA. Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Congressman Welch all signed on to “Dear Colleague” letters in support of the program. Ryan would like to make similar cuts in federal funding to agencies such as the National Endowment for the Arts, Public Broadcasting Service, and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a move that would result in the loss of cultural heritage on an epic scale. In Vermont, the NEH has funded $1,118,552 toward identifying and preserving nearly 1,000 historic Vermont newspaper titles through the Vermont Newspaper Project. Most recently NEH funded digitizing over 200,000 pages through the Vermont Digital Newspaper Project.

Vermont Library Association President Amber Billey says, “In a budget that also proposes the elimination of community block grants and the drastic reduction of anti-poverty measures such as food stamps, perhaps it should be no surprise to see such disregard for America’s libraries. Vermont’s most recent libraries statistics indicate widespread use of services – nearly 4 million visits to our facilities, over 20,000 public programs offered, and 4.5 million items such as books circulated. Paul Ryan’s budget would seriously impact our ability to provide these critical services to Vermonters.”

South Burlington Writer Lands SyFy Show with The Expanse

News just broke: James S.A. Corey’s (Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) Expanse series is headed for the Syfy channel, written by South Burlington writer Hawk Ostby (co-writer with Children of Men and Iron Man).

This, needless to say, is awesome. The Expense series is composed of three books at the moment: Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War and Abbadon’s Gate, with a fourth, Ciabola Burn, due out later this year. Here’s the short blurb from Entertainment Weekly:

A thriller set two hundred years in the future, The Expanse follows the case of a missing young woman who brings a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain together in a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.

Read the full article here.

Syfy has greenlit a direct-to-order series with ten episodes in the first season. It looks like they’re going the Game of Thrones route, by adapting each volume as a season. This is excellent to see, because Syfy has been on the ropes for a couple of years now: this would bring them thundering back with a space show. They’ve done some good stuff in the past, such as Battlestar Galactica, and this could be just as excellent. Otsby is a fantastic writer, and he’s been attached to some of the best SF projects to hit the screen in a while.

Hopefully, they’ll keep the mention of Vermont Cheddar Cheese in the series.

Fragmented, Galaxy’s Edge Magazine


I just got the cover for this the other day: my short story, ‘Fragmented’ will be appearing in the May 2014 issue of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, alongside such authors as Kristine Katheryn Rusch, David Brin, Nancy Kress and Robert Silverberg, among others.

I wrote the story a couple of years ago, and last fall, gave it a real work-over before the inaugural VT SF Writer’s Series event with the Renegade Writer’s Collective. Stay tuned for details on the issue’s release, or subscribe here.

Green Up Day to Continue Beyond 2015



Earlier this year, Green Up Vermont announced that their funding would run out after the 2015 event. The event, run since 1970, has relied on corporate donations over the years to help shoulder the cost of cleaning up Vermont roads and riversides. The early-May event is an important one for the state, and it was unfortunate to see companies such as Green Mountain Coffee pull their funding as they realigned their corporate giving.

Fortunately, others have stepped in to fill the void. From VPR News:

Dwindling support from Vermont companies had threatened to end the 44-year tradition. But a slew of contributions in recent months has helped right the ship. Meredith Vieux, executive director of the nonprofit group that puts on the event, celebrated the rejuvenation of her organization at a press conference Tuesday on the steps of the Statehouse.

“We met our budget this year,” Vieux said. “We are in the black, which was not in the looks before we started this raising of awareness.”

The day is an important one for the state. It helps reinforce a sense of community as we pick up after ourselves, and it helps to really make Vermont’s roadsides more appealing. Consider volunteering this year.

Landmark College To Build $10 Million STEM Center

VPR is reporting that Landmark College of Putney is planning on building a $10 Million Dollar STEM center. The college is a school designed to aid students with disabilities such as ADHD and Dyslexia.

From VPR:

Eden says that’s the reason Landmark is building a science and technology innovation center. With help from a two-million-dollar private gift, construction of the center is expected to begin in August. The building will also house Landmark’s research division, where educators and scholars study and disseminate strategies for teaching students with learning disabilities.

Abigail Littlefield has taught life sciences at Landmark for 26 years. She says teaching ‘neuro-diverse’ learners is often a matter of presenting material in a variety of ways, to accommodate multiple learning styles.

Listen to the entire article here.