Brattleboro, VT: Around the Town

On Saturday morning we headed into Brattleboro and found Amy’s Bakery (as recommended by Megan). We enjoyed a steamy cup of coffee and a pear scone. They had a beautiful view of the river…through huge windows, in the back room. Brattleboro is somewhat of a tourist destination…so we were not the only people downtown on a beautiful, sunny weekend. We walked up and down the quaint streets and checked out all the cute shops. A couple of my favorites:

Sprout: A natural parent’s dream store. Holy moly. It’s a good
thing shopping isn’t in the budget and that we don’t have any more space because there were so many neat things. They had more cloth diapers than I’ve ever seen in a retail store (and all the new, cool ones too). They had a wall of slings…it’s so great to see traditional babywearing coming back into “style”. I lead a babywearing group when we lived in Des Moines, so I was excited to see them readily available to moms and dads in that area. They had every kind of maternity/nursing apparel you could want…natural toys…organic kids clothing. Buying these things may seem like traditional consumerism…but all of those products help the environment, each in their own way. There were many organic items (no pesticides poisoning the earth). Cloth diapers are a HUGE savings on the environment (and your finances). Higher quality toys do not have to be replaced as often…and are usually made from wood instead of plastics.

Save the Corporations: This cute little store had mostly hemp clothing, and some other natural fibers. Hemp is an amazing material (and no, hemp is not the same thing as marijuana!). It doesn’t require any pesticides to grow it, it can be made into many different products…clothing, rope, oil, paper..and more. Plus, hemp is so luxurious to wear…and it lasts forever and ever. It gets softer with time and doesn’t wear out. Always buy used clothing if possible, but if you are going to buy new, buy hemp or other natural fibers.

The Brattleboro Food Coop was another highlight. It’s a true coop, with a heart for activism. They have a large selection of local foods…I was able to get cheese, bread, potatoes, and onions…all locally grown/produced right in Vermont.

Overall, there is just a strong sense of environmentalism and local flavor flowing from Brattleboro. There were several free publications in town detailing all of the “green” organizations and businesses in the state and in neighboring New Hampshire. It’s a really great “small town”. So far, Vermont has been one of the highlights of our trip!

Photo album here.

It’s Cold Up Here!

After we left SIT, we headed over to Vermont RV and had our heater looked at. Now Matt is a really handy guy…but we didn’t have time to order a part ourselves and figure all of it out. So, we went to a professional. Apparently, the computer in the furnace blew out and we had to get it replaced if we ever wanted to be warm again! So we had the repairs done and headed back to our slab of cement in front of Home Depot to relax and go to bed. All was going well…until we tried to turn on the heat. It wouldn’t work! We eventually figured out that our battery bank was too low to kick it on. We have been “camping” in a lot of parking lots lately (otherwise known as “boondocking”)…and we’ve been running down our battery. Our solar panels charge it during the day, but we just don’t have enough batteries to keep up with it. We are in need of a few more batteries…but they are about $200 a piece and that’s not really in the tour budget right now. If you’re interested in helping out with this specific need…please click the donate button found here and designate it for “solar power”. We are still looking for a solar power company to sponsor the tour as well (to provide us with an inverter/charger)…if you know of someone with these resources, please let us know.

Needless to say, it was a little chilly in the RV that night. It got down to 32 degrees outside and it was about 45 degrees inside. Oh my. We hung quilts over the windows in an attempt to block the breeze coming through our bedroom, but it didn’t help much. I froze all night. Matt seemed fine. And Bella…well, she is cold-blooded for sure…she kicks those covers right off. I’m a Midwestern girl…and went to college in freezing North Dakota (Go Sioux!) so I’m not afraid of the cold.:) I just like to be warm when I’m sleeping!

We have slowly figured out how to keep our heaters running…just like everything else on the tour, we learn as we go! The RV was definitely not made for winter climates…the veggie system is fine to -20F, but the blue beast is not insulated well and is cooooold! I’ve been wearing layers of clothing, a stocking cap, and fleece pants to bed. I’m looking forward to the south…bring on the sunshine!

Brattleboro, VT: School for International Training

When we were in Milwaukee, we met Katie Wied…who encouraged us to stop in Brattleboro, VT. She had attended the School for International Training and is now interning in Milwaukee at Alterra Coffee. As we got closer to Vermont, she put us in touch with the right people, and we landed on the SIT campus for the afternoon. They have just started a new environmental group on campus, and Megan (our contact there) is leading that group.

It was dreary and raining the entire day, but the students we met were like a little ray of sunshine! There are students from more than 35 countries at SIT…and we had fun talking with people from all over the world. We’re spreading the love internationally! :) Woo! The school is small (around 200-300 students)…but the programs are amazing (check out their masters program in sustainable development and another in socially responsible management). The campus sits on 200 acres of beautiful Vermont countryside. If you’re looking for a great grad school…definitely check them out.

Here is their mission statement:

The mission of the School for International Training is to prepare students to be interculturally effective leaders, professionals, and citizens. In so doing, SIT fosters a worldwide network of individuals and organizations committed to responsible global citizenship. SIT fulfills this mission with field-based academic study abroad programs for undergraduates and degree and certificate programs for graduates and professionals.

Thanks to all of you that stopped to see us at SIT…keep livin’ lightly!

Edited to add: Later on that evening, I went into town to find a wi-fi connection and ran into Megan at the Twilight Tea Lounge. We sat and sipped tea while I blogged and she wrote a paper. She has beautiful dreads…she’s had them for 6 years. It was fun that our paths crossed again!

Photo album here.