Happy New Year, Montpelier: Locals Sound Off On Creating the Future

by Garrett Heaney

Happy New Year everybody. If 2015 taught me anything, it is that community, our community, here in Montpelier, has the ability to foster our growth as people, artists and professionals. We are incredibly blessed to share this place we call home and to see the beautiful faces we see when we venture outside. I’ve been here for almost five years, and I love this place a little more every day.

I once had a boss who said that when he died, he knew that God wouldn’t be asking him about the money he made or the accomplishments he championed. God would simply ask “…but what about the people? What did you do with all those people?”

It was a remarkable statement to make in front of 30 or so people… it was genuine and sweet, and reminded us to appreciate one another. I carry that sentiment with me to this day. Whether by chance or fate, we have been thrown together into this perpetually expanding network of creative energy we call community. Going into 2016, I wanted to reach out to some of the people who make this place special, to see what they are looking forward to in the new year, and from their responses, it sounds like we’re going to have a good one. Thanks all, you inspire me daily.

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer, Farm-to-Table Consulting

Sometimes, a life is stripped to bare bones. In November, I closed the restaurant I’d owned for five years. A sweet, complicated and lengthy relationship ended, which meant finding a new home, a new support network. And so, in 2016, I have the opportunity to reinvent nearly every aspect of my daily existence.

I live in a yurt, now, and look forward to strengthening skills that will allow me to be capable and self-sufficient — fire-building, wood stove cookery, crafting furniture and housewares — while also practicing interdependence by asking for assistance from others, and offering mine to them.

Under my new business name, Farm-To-Table Consulting, I aim to do work that has a felt impact on the Vermont food community, helping farmers sell more fresh food, and helping those who use it find deep enjoyment in its preparation and consumption. To sow the seeds of essential conversations, I’ll spend time blogging, podcasting, giving talks and writing for a variety of publications. Workshops and consultations with individuals and farmers will delve into practicalities, and allow me to pass along what I’ve learned as a home cook, chef and farmer.

Finally, no longer being tied to a restaurant or farm schedule, I’m delighted to take classes, again: Salsa and Kizomba dancing, drawing, design…

Silvia Fermin

Silvia Fermin

Silvia Fermin, Dancer/Artist

I am from The Bay Area of California and came to Vermont to explore maple syrup harvesting, organic gardening, forest foraging, off-grid living and to gather as many nature-intelligent and artistic friends as possible.

This year I want to create as much art as I can. My first art project this year is to clean up and enliven a neglected art studio all the way up in the hills of Johnson. I’m bringing it back to life with fire, music and uninhibited creativity. This will be one of the many places I want to see artists of all diversities collaborate — no matter how different their art is from each other. I envision all creative people making tighter and wider connections to produce the wildest creative situations for the benefit of positive living for all.

Tyler Weedon

Tyler Weedon

Tyler Weedon, Cartoonist and Animator

I was born, raised and educated in Vermont at Montpelier High School and Bennington College. I’m a professional cartoonist and animator, specializing in print and film, and at the moment I’m creating a visual label and school for young visual artists.

I am sincerely looking forward to the arts community growing this coming year. Center for Art and Learning, Artisans’ Hand, The Front, Local 64, VCFA, Cardboard Tek and Montpelier Alive’s actions have impressively developed an intimate setting for local artists to partake in the community in Montpelier. This is an exciting time to be present in this wonderful community.

Maggie Lenz

Maggie Lenz

Maggie Lenz, Comedian

I was inspired to get into comedy by watching Vermont comedians like Joel Chaves, Kathleen Kanz, Bitsy Biron and Carmen Lagala (among others) over the years. Thanks guys!!

This year, I’m excited to watch my baby, the weekly comedy open-mic at Charlie-O’s, grow and become a staple of Montpelier life. The mic offers a space for pros to practice and for first timers to get up and have at it in a very supportive environment. The lineup of guest hosts for the 2016 open-mics is already really impressive!

I’m also really looking forward to bringing comedy back to Sweet Melissa’s with “Joint Custody,” a monthly showcase that I produce/co-host with local comic Jonah Cipolla. It kicks off Thursday, January 7 and the first lineup features some of the absolute bests in Vermont, including Kendall Farrell, Vermont’s Funniest Comedian winner of 2015! Standup comedy is a truly honest and cathartic expression, and I for one will be relying on it heavily to get me through the coldest, darkest months.

So… yeah, open-mic at Os is every Monday from 8:30-10:30 p.m. with guest hosts and it’s free! Joint Custody is the first Thursday of every month at Sweet Melissa’s at 8 p.m. and is also free.

Xav Jimenez

Xav Jimenez

Xav Jimenez, Co-Owner Buch Spieler Records

We are very excited to continue expanding as a premier destination and provider for the Central Vermont music community. What’s currently in the mix over at BSR is our ever growing network fostering a super fun inventory with titles steadily rolling in, more up-and-coming/established artists opportunities, along with inspired cultural programming.

Some of our forthcoming collaborations include working with WGDR FM programmers and educators, Mix-Tapeology and a cassette revival, supporting local architects on a pedestrian friendly Langdon Street beautification project, a VIP Buyers Club where BSR staff hand-select vinyl packs for monthly pick-up/delivery, working closer with Montpelier Alive on nurturing cultural awareness in the community, The Brick and Mortar Gold Club, where local businesses with a turntable receive a different suite of records every week (our first Gold Club member is Philamena’s on Elm St.), an eclectically curated periodical/journal section offering titles not found anywhere in the state, a special request page on our website — answer a few questions, hit send and we’ll begin hunting down your title, fresh podcasts posted monthly for download, in-house special events with our friends at Carrier Coffee Roasters, monthly performances (record release parties on our stage and guest DJs set up in our booth), extending our line of turntable offerings accommodating beginners to audiophiles, new and continued collaborations with regional contemporary artists on limited edition shirts/totes/posters, exhibitions and journal contributions, and of course, more and more relationships with fantastic record labels — i.e. labels based in Iceland, Tele Aviv, Brazil and London to name a few.

April 1, 2016 will mark one full year of new ownership and two weeks later is our always banging Spring Record Store Day Party, which is not to be missed. Buch Spieler is an institution that we keep sacred. Happy New Year!

Robyn Joy Peirce

Robyn Joy Peirce

Robyn Joy Peirce, Community Relations at Hunger Mountain Coop

In 2016 I am looking forward to: writing and publishing a new perzine, getting better at things, loving, wedding planning, meaningful friendships, more loving, magic, indulging childlike curiosity, busting out more vegetarian delights, doing art projects instead of talking about them, spontaneous dance parties, unpacking (we have a year after moving, right?), something that involves public and fierce performances, lazy Sundays, adventurous Sundays, forgetting who the cool kids are, having more “oh WOW” moments, playing in the snow, playing in the sun, even MORE magical loving and hopefully a LOT of sparkle.

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