Newsletter Vol. 4 No. 1 – January 2024

NAVIGATION
BUILDING THE FOUNDATION

Happy New Year, everyone! Although my words are reaching you on January 2nd, it’s truly an honor to share this special message with you and to convey my heartfelt wishes a day after the start of the new year.

My name is Mimi Duong. In June 2023, I graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor’s in Public Communication and became VT PoC’s Outreach and Member Coordinator. As a proud second-generation Vietnamese-American immigrant, the significance of community is intricately woven into my cultural identity. Our Vietnamese-American roots are tethered to a legacy of shared values, collective resilience, and a deep-seated understanding of the strength found in our bonds. In all of this, community stands not just as a concept—but as a living, breathing testament to the ties that bind us.

For me, VT PoC emerges as a beacon that resonates profoundly with these values. It’s the reason why I’m in love with what I do; why I love engaging with our beautiful communities. In embracing VT PoC’s mission, we not only affirm our commitment to fostering a space of inclusivity and growth, but we also recognize the transformative power that arises when people from different backgrounds converge to shape a shared vision.

When I joined the team seven months ago, VT PoC was actively exploring fundamental questions like: what are the ties that bind us? How do we decide what does or doesn’t align with us as an organization? What values does VT PoC operate on?

Finally, we have the answers to the questions both you and I have been asking: What is a professional? Am I considered a professional? What values does VT PoC operate on?

Professionalism

Traditionally, the idea of “professionalism” has become coded language that privileges the values and standards set by white employers. This form of white professionalism has established a standard of conduct that doesn’t apply equally to everyone, perpetuating systematic disparities. It has fostered a system where appearance often takes precedence over skill and expertise, and where white-centric norms take priority over the diverse talents, skill sets, and cultural competences that individuals from all racial and ethnic backgrounds have to offer.

At VT PoC, we’ve redefined the term professionalism to transcend its associations with white favoritism. Our definition of professionalism celebrates diversity, inclusivity and equitable opportunities for all who desire to gain skills in any workplace or entrepreneurial setting. 

VT PoC defines a professional as an individual dedicated to developing expertise in a skill or craft that contributes to personal growth and/or societal improvement.

In this spirit, professionalism at VT PoC prioritizes:

  • Recognizing Skills With Compensation: People should be acknowledged and compensated fairly for their valuable skill sets. Period.
  • Emphasizing Expertise: Our perspective on expertise extends to cultural knowledge and practices shaped by various identities that may differ from conventional or traditional (read: white) approaches.
  • Empowering Growth: We endorse a culture of ongoing learning and personal development. Professionalism isn’t measured by a position or a profession; it embodies the pursuit of opportunities and personal career goals.

As we navigate this path, we uphold the belief that we are not free until we are all free, and that our approach to professionalism goes beyond superficial attributes such as appearances, place of birth, level of formal education, occupational sector, or skin color.

Whether you spend your days caring for young people or elders, building physical or visual creations, working third shift and spending time to build your own business on “off-hours,” or in an office between the hours of 9 AM to 5 PM, VT PoC welcomes you to the Fam. We’re building a professional community that thrives on the rich tapestry of skills, experiences, and aspirations that each one of us brings to the table.

Values

Community

Creating opportunities to provide structure, relationships, affinity, safety, and openness resulting in a network all to advance the prosperity of BIPOC in the state of Vermont.

Growth

Growing relationships with community members and organizations by engaging in mutual learning, challenges, risks, and personal development all to advance the prosperity of BIPOC in the state of Vermont.

Leadership

Using what we learn to advocate and lead by example, foster respect, and earn trust from the community all to advance the prosperity of BIPOC in the state of Vermont.

Equity

Disrupting traditional norms to build and dismantle oppressive systems because we are not free until we are all free.

Service

Meeting the needs of the community with care, joy, respect, and humility all to advance the prosperity of BIPOC in the state of Vermont.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT

Our member spotlight is on Airon Shaw, VT PoC’s Technical Assistance and Research Coordinator / Community Support Coordinator.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Restorative Justice from Vermont Law and Graduate School and is currently pursuing an MBA with concentration in marketing at Rivier University. In addition to her work with VT PoC, Airon serves as the Executive Director for the Cohase Chamber of Commerce in the Upper Valley.

In this spotlight, Airon reflects on her work with VT PoC.

news FROM THE NETWORK

We’re looking for an Event Coordinator!

February 3 Lunch with Lenders

BIPOC Relief Fund Open for Businesses

VT PoC has limited funding available for BIPOC small business owners recovering from the July floods. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Apply for Small Business Technical Assistance Exchange (SBTAE)

This is a state-funded program that helps VT business owners transform their small businesses through service projects for up to $4,000. This program seeks to celebrate and advance these priority groups of business owners: women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, mature Vermonters, young Vermonters, people with disabilities, veterans, justice-involved individuals, new Americans and people in rural places.

EVENTS

January 21 – VT PoC x Petra Cliffs: BIPOC Indoor Climbing Night

VT PoC is excited to partner with Petra Cliffs for our first BIPOC Indoor Climbing Night on Sunday, January 21, at 6:30 PM! This private event is for BIPOC community members and is inclusive of all climbers regardless of experience, age, or size.

We can’t wait to see you for a vibrant evening of community and connection in a space that will allow folx to reach new heights. RSVP on Eventbrite to attend!

January 2 (Every Tuesday) – Vermont Racial Justice Alliance – Chess Club (5:00 PM – 7:00 PM)
Chess Club is a dynamic and inclusive program designed to empower young individuals from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities through the timeless game of chess. Our program offers a safe and welcoming space where youth can explore the world of chess, cultivate essential life skills, and experience a range of valuable benefits.

January 3, 5 (Every Wednesday and Friday) – Vermont Racial Justice Alliance – Free Masks & Test Kits (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Vermont Racial Justice Alliance and The Richard Kemp Center has taken proactive measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 by distributing test kits and masks to the community. In addition to these essential supplies, we are also providing Narcan and fentanyl test strips, demonstrating our commitment to addressing the broader community health and wellness and substance abuse. By offering these crucial resources, the center is playing a vital role in safeguarding the well-being of individuals and communities, ultimately contributing to the collective effort to mitigate the impact of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic. Please visit the Richard Kemp Center located: 372 N. Winooski Ave Burlington, VT.

January 4 – Complementary Professional Headshots with South Burlington Recreation & Parks (5:30 PM – 7:30 PM)
Come get your complimentary professional headshot to use on your LinkedIn, resume, and social media/networking platforms! Moon & Co. Designs will be at the Senior Center from 5:30-7:30pm on Thursday, January 4th. No registration required!

January 4 – Youth Affinity (Black Space) at the Richard Kemp Center (6:00 PM – 7:30 PM)
In recognition of the unique experiences, challenges, and strengths of Black individuals, our organization is proud to introduce “Black Space”, an affinity space initiative. This initiative is designed to provide a safe, supportive, and empowering environment where Black individuals can come together to share common experiences, build relationships, foster community, and promote healing.

January 5 – Vermont Racial Justice Alliance – Youth Night at Spare Time Bowling Alley (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
First Friday: The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance is gearing up for its monthly First Friday event, a platform dedicated to empowering the black and brown community. This gathering aims to create cultural empowerment, provide support, and celebrate with our youth. This month we will be at Spare Time in Colchester, VT, to host an evening of bowling starting at 6 PM, providing an opportunity for relaxation and socializing in a welcoming environment. This event will be 100% FREE and covered by the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance. Food will be provided. We hope to see you and your families this Friday!

January 7 – VERMONT BIPOC YOUTH: Participate in a Youth Equity Advisory Group and earn a $100 stipend! (11:00 AM – 3:00 PM)
The Vermont Network believes a violence-free future is possible. We work to uproot oppression and violence, with joy and in community. We value youth experience and wisdom and are committed to partnering with youth and amplifying youth voice and power. Would you like to help shape the future work of the Vermont Network? The Vermont Network invites you for a day of connection and sharing experiences with other BIPOC Vermont youth. This event will be held in person in Central Vermont, with a hybrid option for folks who can’t make it in person to zoom in for part of the gathering. After folks RSVP, we’ll follow up with more information about the event, the venue, transportation options and more. BIPOC teens and BIPOC youth up to age 24 are welcome.

January 9 through February 13 (Every Tuesday) – Slow Yoga & Meditation: A Free 5 Week Virtual Series (5:00 PM – 6:00 PM)
Join Candace Taylor for a FREE 6 week VIRTUAL series focused on slow yoga & meditation for BIPOC. The series begins at 5pm and ends at 6pm on Tuesday, January 9th — Tuesday, February 13th, 2024. REGISTRATION OPENS on Wednesday, January 3rd.

January 10 – Am I Doing This Right? Business Basics Drop-In Sessions – CWE Vermont – Virtual (9:00 AM – 10:00 AM)
You aren’t alone! Join CWEVT trusted experts in a relaxed, welcoming drop-in session to get your questions answered and connect with other clients! This is a ‘business basics’ session where you can check your thinking and get some insight into next steps if you’re feeling stuck. This is a great option for you if: You are registering your business or trying to name your business, you are exploring building your team of advisors and vendors, you are experimenting in sales and with your desired customer market, and/or you are otherwise in the early stages of business.

January 12 – CWE CNPP Celebration – CWE – Vermont (4:00 PM – 7:00 PM)
The Community Navigator Pilot Program (CNPP) was a first-of-its-kind program, funded through the SBA. CNPP aimed to reach and lift up Vermont’s most marginalized and underestimated entrepreneurs and small business owners, while working to address the systemic barriers and challenges faced by these folks. Through this two-year pilot program, CWE served over 300 unique entrepreneurs/small business owners, across 13 of the 14 Vermont counties, and offering affinity-based programming for women, BIPOC, low-income female-headed households, veteran and military-affiliated folks, and members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community. CNPP touched many businesses in our beautiful state. We hope that you will join us in celebrating this foundational program and the diverse businesses it supported! Join us for this FREE, family-friendly, celebratory event!

January 14 – Poetry Workshop with Sarah Audsley at Firefolk Arts (3:00 PM – 4:30 PM)
Join Firefolk Arts for a Poetry Workshop with author Sarah Audsley! Cost: $20-$50 ~ Sliding Scale, Email to Register: firefolkarts@gmail.com

January 14 – Food For Talk Cookbook Book Club: Peru (3:00 PM – 5:00 PM)
Please register with Barbara Shatara at bshatara@burlingtonvt.gov. The definitive Peruvian cookbook, featuring 500 traditional home cooking recipes from the country’s most acclaimed and popular chef, Gastón Acurio. One of the world’s most innovative and flavorful cuisines, Peruvian food has been consistently heralded by chefs and media around the world as the “next big thing.” Peruvian restaurants are opening across the United States, with 20 in San Francisco alone, including Limon and La Mar. Acurio guides cooks through the full range of Peru’s vibrant cuisine from popular classics like quinoa and ceviche, and lomo saltado to lesser known dishes like amaranth and aji amarillo. For the first time, audiences will be able to bring the flavors of one of the world’s most popular culinary destinations into their own kitchen! Co-sponsored by City Market.

January 17 – Meet & Greet with Congressional Delegation & Vermont Releaf Collective (12:00 PM – 1:15 PM)
Staff from the offices of Senator Sanders, Senator Welch, and Representative Balint have agreed to a special virtual lunchtime Meet & Greet with VT Releaf Collective on January 17, 12:00-1:15 PM.  This Meet and Greet is an opportunity for you to meet Vermont’s Congressional Delegation to discuss how they can help YOU and represent YOUR interests. Bring questions and ideas to share.

January 25 – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration 2024 Keynote Lecture (4:00 PM – 5:30 PM)
The University of Vermont presents the 2024 MLK Keynote, Creating a Beloved Community with Rev. Nelson Johnson on January 25 at 4pm. Civil rights activist, community organizer, and survivor of the Greensboro Massacre, Rev. Nelson Johnson carries out King’s dream of building a Beloved Community in which all are respected, valued, and given an opportunity to live up to their greatest potential. This event is free and open to the public, RSVP is requested by January 18 to sandy.bermanzohn@uvm.edu.

January 26 – BIPOC Skate Night with DJ Tony Bonez (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Come ring in 2024 at our next BIPOC Skate Night on Friday, January 26th from 6-8PM at the ONE Community Center. DJ Tony Bonez will be spinning, our first live DJ ever!!! 🤗🎶🪩✨ This event is an affinity space for the BIPOC community and our friends, families, and loved ones. As always, all ages and skill levels are welcome. $10 suggested donation per person. DM or email joyridersvt@gmail.com to save your spot. 🙌🏾💜🛼 Need skates & safety gear? No problem! Just let us know your size when you RSVP.

January 31 – Fletcher Free Library Presents: Tibetan Dancing (6:00 PM – 8:00 PM)
Dive into the enchanting world of Tibetan culture at Fletcher Free Library’s captivating night of Tibetan dancing! Join us for an evening filled with vibrant performances, rhythmic beats, and the rich tapestry of traditional Tibetan dance, all set against the backdrop of community warmth. Experience the beauty of diversity right here in Burlington as we come together to celebrate the artistry and spirit of Tibet!

February 2 – Shapeshifters is Seeking BIPOC Models for a Chest Binder Photoshoot!
This shoot will showcase our newly expanded range of nude shades, so we are seeking BIPOC models, and especially folks with mid- to dark skintones. Come to our studio in Brattleboro, VT on February 2nd of 2024 for 4-5 hours, put on a few different chest binders in mesh, lace and skin-tone fabrics, and get your picture taken a lot by our awesome photographer. No modeling experience necessary. You’ll receive $100 cash + $250 in-store credit, OR $250 cash. Travel expenses negotiable. Click here to apply.

February 2, 3 – Tone Bell at Vermont Comedy Club (7:00 PM, 9:00 PM)
Tone Bell is an actor, writer, and comedian known most recently for starring as John Levy alongside Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Andra Day in Lee Daniels’ award-winning film THE U.S. VS. BILLIE HOLIDAY. Tone also starred as comedic legend Richard Pryor in BET’s AMERICAN SOUL and opposite Nina Dobrev in the CBS series FAM. He has also been seen co-starring with Kathy Bates in Netflix’s original comedy series DISJOINTED. Tone guest-starred on the current season of HBO Max’s A BLACK LADY SKETCH SHOW, which has been nominated for 8 Emmys.

FUNDING & GRANTS

Letters of Inquiry for Production & Post-Production: Due Friday, January 19
Attention New England-based directors and producers seeking production and post-production funds for feature-length (40+ min) nonfiction film and video projects! Learn more and submit your letters of inquiry through the link in our bio.

The BIPOC Artist Exchange and Activation Initiative: Applications Open January 31!
The BIPOC Artist Exchange and Activation Initiative is designed to showcase the contributions of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists to the New England art community. This program empowers BIPOC artists in New Hampshire and New England, inspiring local BIPOC artists by introducing them to artists from outside our community.

NEWS

FEMA trailers are no longer coming to Montpelier, but feds will still pay the city $500K
That is welcome news to city officials, who have pinned longer-term housing hopes on FEMA’s commitment to help fund infrastructure improvements at the site.

Nearly 100 new apartments coming to South Burlington, most at affordable rates
Funders and local leaders noted the rarity of a new housing development of this scale – and the relative speed with which it came online.

Due to climate change, winter flooding is likely to become more common in Vermont
This week’s storm was much milder than this summer’s deluge, with no reported injuries or deaths. Still, it caused widespread flooding, prompted 12 swiftwater rescues, closed 120 schools and flooded many basements.

As Vermont’s climate changes, more Vermonters rely on Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux, the state climatologist
Dupigny-Giroux’s work “establishes important baseline information for anybody” trying to understand climate change in Vermont, said Chris Campany, executive director of the Windham Regional Commission.

How chilly dipping in VT has deepened these Latinas’ connection to nature and each other
When Tanya Talamante and Elvira Tripp went out on a dip with the Red Hot Chilly Dippers in 2021, with several other first-timers, the two women fell in love with it. They’ve met new people and formed friendships along the way.

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