12th Meeting of VINN (Vermont International Nonprofit Network)

Wednesday January 5th, 2005, Institute for Sustainable Communities, Montpelier, 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Members Attending

Animals Asia - Andi Mowrer
ECOLOGIA – Randy Kritkausky, Carolyn Schmidt
Global Health Council – Erin Gooch
Institute for Sustainable Communities –
Gretchen Elias, Michael Weatherell, Susan Stitely
Project Harmony – Barbara Miller
VINN – Justin Johnson

August Burns - Grounds for Health
Chris Donnelly – Toward Freedom
Gwendolyn Hallsmith –Global Community Initiatives
Judith Sutphen, Consultant

Absent with notification
Beth Comolli, Consultant
Green Across the Pacific – Peter Lynch
Peter Ames Non-Profit Consulting – Peter Ames
Population Media Center - Bill Ryerson
Rohatyn Center – Charlotte Tate
Salzburg Seminar – Meg Harris
Vermont Refugee Resettlement – Stacie Blake
Vermont Teacher Diversity Scholarship Program – Phyl Newbeck
Volunteers for Peace – Peter Coldwell

Thank you to the Institute for Sustainable Communities for hosting this meeting.

I. Networking / Introductions

Animals Asia – Andi Mowrer, US Director – Andi is anticipating a new US staff member (to work from California), to support her work. Recently, Animals Asia’s Executive Director (based in Hong Kong) was interviewed on NPR’s “Connections” program. She discussed issues of animal welfare in China, and questions such as “how do you work with the Chinese government”? Animals Asia’s “Friends or Food” program within China is going well; its focus on humane education for environmental and animal protection is being accepted. The organization is now debating ways to channel some of their funding directly to Asian areas affected by the tsunami.

ECOLOGIA –Randy Kritkausky, President – ECOLOGIA has received a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund for work in their “Southern China Pivotal Places” program. This work will incorporate sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, and ethical issues as defined by the Earth Charter. In other related work, ECOLOGIA is organizing and funding a sustainable development workshop for businesspeople in Visaginas Lithuania (a city built to be dependent on work and energy from a Soviet nuclear reactor). This will be held in February 2005.

Global Health Council – Erin Gooch. Global Heath Council has refocused its efforts on its core mission, to coordinate and support medical organizations in their efforts to improve public health worldwide. They are revamping their Washington DC policy program, and have a new Vice President for Development. (GHC’s work on stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS ran into funding difficulties with the Bush Administration.)

Institute for Sustainable Communities (host)

Project Harmony - Barbara Miller, Executive Director – Project Harmony has recently restructured, with the retirement of Charlie Horsford, one of its founders. Project Harmony is now doing exchange programs (through the US State Department) with several Middle Eastern countries, as well as continuing their traditional mission of providing exchange opportunities to link people from the Soviet world to the United States. A women’s leadership group from Azerbaijan is scheduled to visit Vermont later this year.

VINN – Justin Johnson – Justin’s ‘day job’ is now with the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources, where he is Publicity Coordinator for the Vermont Department of Conservation. He is listed in these minutes with a VINN organizational affiliation, as he remains the Chair of the VINN Outreach and Publicity Committee.


Chris Donnelly, Toward Freedom (Burlington) – Chris is the Coordinator for Toward Freedom, a non-profit organization which writes, publishes and distributes a magazine presenting a progressive perspective, focusing on trends in the developing nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Toward Freedom was founded in the Chicago area over 50 years ago, and shifted to its present Burlington location because of decisions by key people to live in Vermont. It is an incubator for journalists and writers, and strongly supports independent investigative journalism. Towards Freedom has ties with the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington, and also with the Vermont International Film Festival. Toward Freedom publishes a quarterly magazine and also maintains a website (www.towardfreedom.com)

August Burns, Executive Director, Grounds for Health (Burlington) –– Grounds for Health works in Mexico and Guatemala providing women’s health care (early detection and treatment of cervical cancer) in coffee growing regions. Grounds for Health is funded in part by the specialty coffee industry. Its Vermont-based supporters include Coffee Enterprises, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Ben and Jerry’s. Grounds for Health sends volunteer medical teams to its project sites where they work side by side with their Mexican colleagues to improve the delivery of these essential services.

Judith Sutphen, Consultant (Moretown) – Judith has become a Board Member of Grounds for Health. Last fall she did some consulting and development work for Planned Parenthood of the Western Hemisphere. Judith is seeking short-term consulting work (for international program development and evaluation) in the fields of human rights, humanitarian aid development of civil society, gender issues, sustainable development, and women's reproductive and general health.

Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Director of Global Community Initiatives (Montpelier) –GCI was founded in 2002; it has offices in Vermont and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Gwen focuses on sustainable development issues through several different programs, with different partners. One program works with municipal leaders in Peru, South Africa, Jordan and the Philippines to use different components for sustainable development planning (social, economic, environmental and government). Another program, in alliance with WRI (World Resources Institute), develops indicators for sustainable development, for use by local planners, available online. Related to this, Gwen has written a soon-to-be-published workbook, titled “Key to Sustainable Cities – Taking Action.” In South Africa, a bicycle repair and sales program encourages sustainable community-building activities. And in the Hudson River Valley in New York State, GCI is applying community revitalization strategies to urban areas in transition.

II. Publicity and Outreach Committee – Justin Johnson, Chair; Erin Gooch and Randy Kritkausky, members.

  1. Identifying the value of Vermont location for international work: Justin received a number of additional responses to the Outreach Committee’s questions, in the days immediately preceding this meeting. He will incorporate this additional information into the materials he is preparing for use in developing press contacts and stories. He will be getting those materials out to all of us before the end of January.
  2. Justin has identified four themes emerging in answer to the questions, “Why are groups like ours in Vermont? And “How does being in Vermont support our international work?” This initial exploration of VINN members’ connections to Vermont is wrapping up.

  3. The next step will be to move on more substantive issues. We would like to see VINN become a resource widely known as the place to go for information about international events and how they impact Vermonters.
    Suggestions include:

III. Event Planning Committee: Meg Harris (Chair). Members: Andi Mowrer, Peter Ames, Peter Lynch, and Carolyn Schmidt.

In Meg’s absence, Andi presented suggestions provided by members in the most recent poll. Re-affirming the importance of public outreach to VINN members, through lively and thoughtful discussion, we made the following decisions about our Event:

  1. It will be a panel discussion, held in late April or May
  2. Suggested donation (not mandatory) will be $5 at the door
  3. Its title will be “Beyond War and Disaster – Vermonters Engage in the World”
  4. There will be a Reception following the panel discussion. This is a time for snacking, conversing and also for VINN members – as well as VINN itself - to have table displays about their own organizations. (This was chosen in preference to a dinner, as it keeps the costs down and encourages mingling with a wide variety of people.)
  5. We will recruit panelists to represent a variety of viewpoints and backgrounds. It is important that we not ‘preach to the choir’; we need to actively reach out and engage other Vermonters – our friends and neighbors –and encourage them to become interested in and connected to constructive international involvement.
  6. Strongly recommended as a panelist is Martha Reynville, Adjutant General in the Vermont National Guard, who has been involved in citizen relief efforts in Afghanistan. If she is not available, another representative of the armed services involved in relief work in the Middle East should be located.
  7. There will be a VINN moderator.
  8. The Event Planning Committee is charged with selecting and contacting potential panelists, and communicating its decisions to the VINN members.
  9. Criteria for Location: central and accessible, low-cost or free. Vermont College in Montpelier, St. Joseph’s College in Rutland, and St.Michael’s or Champlain College in Burlington were mentioned as options.

IV. Next VINN Meeting: Friday March 4th 2005.
Animals Asia (Burlington) 4:00 – 6:00 pm.

Andi Mowrer
80 Austin Drive, # 41
Burlington VT 05401
(off Oakledge Park, off Home Avenue, which is the street right next to Price Chopper on Shelburne Avenue)
Tel. 802-651-1088; e-mail info@animalsasia.org

March 2005 Meeting Agenda

  1. Networking/Introductions
  2. Report / Decisions from Publicity/Outreach Committee
  3. Report / Decisions from Event Planning Committee
  4. Other topics as time permits
  5. Schedule next meeting place/time