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Rutland Reader | Rutland Bites Column | April 25, 2013

Some pig (roast): Roots serves up a feast for a good cause

By STEVE PETERS

Can you smell it? It’s the sweet, smoky scent of slowly roasting pork that will once again permeate downtown Rutland for several mouth-watering days next week. In the third public pig roast since last spring, Chef Donald Billings, his staff at Roots the Restaurant and several volunteers will appease the hungry crowds that are expected to gather April 30 at a benefit for the Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum.

“I feel that our pig roasts bring in a lot of attention,” says Billings. “That’s why it makes it a good kickstart for them. It says hey guys, we’re real now and we’re not just talk.”

Roots, along with Earth Waste Systems, will once again sponsor the roast, an event that not only brings together the masses to share some quality soul food, but one that is also coming to embody downtown Rutland’s sense of community spirit.

The first pig roast, held last April, was for the Rutland Chamber of Commerce’s monthly mixer and attracted more than 275 people — making it one of their largest mixers to date. Then, in August came the second roast to acknowledge the first anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene and raise funds for Restoring Rutland and the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link. More than 600 people turned out, quickly and unexpectedly, causing the pork supply to run dry.

Now, as Wonderfeet seeks a permanent home, all money generated from the upcoming roast will go directly to the museum. And anywhere from 800 to 1,000 people are anticipated to come out to go hog wild while learning a little more about the museum and enjoying tunes from DanK and the Funksticks and John Gillette. More…

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Rutland Herald | April 24, 2013

Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum moving up the street

By GORDON DRITSCHILO

The museum, a project of the Rutland Creative Economy group, announced Monday it will relocate to the former Art and Antiques on Center location at 17 Center St.

“Gus Louras approached us and offered us a great deal on the space, so we’ll be moving this summer,” organizer Chris Ettori said, adding that the museum only has to pay for the utilities on the space. “I guess it’s a lease — it’s rather informal.”

Ettori said they had similar arrangement at the location they have used during the last two summers, half a block down in a former furniture store.

“The difference is, that was an understanding we would just be there during Friday Night Live,” he said. “Here, we intend to be there three to four days a week.”

The announcement comes as the group gears up for its first major fundraiser of the year, a pig roast from 4 to 10 p.m. April 30 that Roots the Restaurant will host.

“There’ll be food, drinks, music and, of course, kids’ entertainment,” Ettori said. More…(Paywall)

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Rutland Business Journal | April 2013

Rutland — for kids
Museum seeks home to educate, entertain children

By SARA WIDNESS

A museum without walls is looking for a permanent home in Rutland.

Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum has presented interactive programming for ages three through eight for 54 hours over the past two years during Friday Night Live events in downtown Rutland. These hours, at the site of the former King’s Furniture on Center Street, drew 2,900 visitors.

Because of this success, the museum is seeking a permanent home. “People are asking where the museum will be on a permanent basis and if can it host birthday parties,” said Myra Peffer, board president.

“We really had some good response with Friday Night Live. People are aware. They want it,” Peffer said, noting that a pig roast fundraiser planned for the evening of April 30 on Wales Street is expected to boost the organization’s fundraising goals. The roast sponsors are two area businesses: Earth Waste & Metal, and Roots the Restaurant.

The museum, fostered as part of the Rutland Creative Economy’s initiatives and the Rutland Downtown Partnership, is receiving assistance from graduate accounting students at Castleton State College who are preparing a business plan for the organization. When this road map is completed this spring, the museum will have a better sense of direction.

The museum is seeking a permanent space with interactive, hands-on exhibits, said Peffer. This search is being assisted by $20,000 from Green Mountain Power (NYSE: GMP) to apply for a feasibility grant. Monies would be applied to, among others, expenses for architectural designs. A simplified-temporary space will soon open three to four days a week during this grant and design process. More…(Paywall)

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Rutland Herald | March 25, 2013

Wonderfeet seeks new home

By GORDON DRITSCHILO

The Wonderfeet Children’s Museum is looking for locations, volunteers and money.

The museum, an initiative of the Rutland Creative Economy, has operated downtown during the summer for the past two years. Organizers are seeking a permanent location with exhibits of the caliber to make the museum a regional destination.

Organizer Chris Ettori said the group has been approached to look at the Mintzer property on Strongs Avenue and the Vermont Farmers Food Center on West Street, but that it was very early in the process.

“We are nowhere on that,” he said. “We are trying to find a space that can host us year-round, a couple days a week. … We are open to all possibilities at this point.”

Ettori said they were looking for both a long-term location they would not move into for a couple years as well as an intermediate site. More…(Paywall)

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Rutland Herald | November 30, 2012

GMP bolsters Wonderfeet with $20,000

Organizers of the Wonderfeet Children’s Museum want to establish a permanent presence, and Green Mountain Power wants to help. The utility announced Thursday it would contribute $20,000 toward the study of establishing a “destination” children’s museum in the city. Organizers say they intend to use the money as part of the local match when they apply for a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant. Rutland Creative Economy chairman Paul Gallo said that would leave $5,000 for the group to raise.

“We’ve got a couple of folks interested in supporting us,” he said. “The group has been through the infancy stage. … Over the next year we want to step up to another level.”

Conceived of within the Creative Economy group, Wonderfeet has operated out of a downtown storefront during Friday Night Live and the farmers market, offering a rotating selection of exhibits. Gallo says the group’s goal is to grow into something akin to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, which he said would have a significant economic impact.

“I really believe a destination children’s museum would be another major piece,” he said. “People coming off Route 7 and Route 4 would be coming off looking to spend real money.”
More…(Paywall)

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News Release | November 27, 2012

Rutland children’s museum receives $20,000 grant from GMP

RUTLAND, Vt. – Green Mountain Power has donated $20,000 to help underwrite design work and a feasibility study for Rutland’s proposed Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum.

“Green Mountain Power’s donation brings us to 80 percent of our fundraising goal for an important match that will help determine the future of the museum in Rutland,” said Myra Peffer, co-chair of the Creative Economy Children’s Museum Committee. “This is a critical step forward in our effort to develop plans for the museum and a sound understanding of what those plans would cost to implement.”

“The Children’s Museum will provide quality multi-generational, hands-on experiences for families, with an educational connection to GMP’s EIC,” said Paul Gallo, chairman of the Rutland Creative Economy. “We hope GMP’s contribution will be a catalyst for others to support the museum, which we feel will enhance the cultural ecosystem of the Rutland area and help rejuvenate downtown as a destination.”

The Children’s Museum is an initiative of Rutland Creative Economy. In partnership with the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, the group is seeking a $25,000 feasibility/planning grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which requires a one-to-one non-federal match.

The RRA’s research forecasts a cost of $15,000 for each of three architectural designs focused on specific potential sites in downtown Rutland, thus utilizing $45,000 of the grant/matching monies. The remaining $5,000 would cover expenses related to mailings, sponsoring a community forum and advertising for Requests for Proposals.

“We see the children’s museum as a wonderful cultural and economic addition to the continuing transformation of downtown Rutland,” GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said. “As we’ve developed plans for our new Energy Innovation Center, we’ve come to see the Children’s Museum and the EIC as complementary assets to each other and the community at large.”

Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation, said he envisioned at least one display in the company’s energy innovation center that would be connected to the children’s museum. “We are still in the early planning stages, but we support the museum concept and envision a direct link between the facilities’ educational programs,” Costello said.

The Children’s Museum has already been tested on a smaller scale, having been well received by the community over the past two summers, when a temporary museum was open for limited hours. During the museum’s 30 hours of operation in 2011, it attracted more than 1,700 visitors, and more than 1,200 visited during 24 open hours in 2012.

Contact: Paul Gallo, Rutland’s Creative Economy (802) 236-7173

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Rutland Herald | August 1,2012

Celebrating Rutland’s creativity, innovation

The city of Rutland has a proud history of economic innovation and cultural creativity — and has a tremendous leadership team of volunteers who are advancing that tradition today.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) announced this week that the Vermont Community Leadership Award for 2012 will be presented to the volunteers of the Rutland Creative Economy at the Merchants Row stage of Friday Night Live at 6 p.m. this Friday.

The award is given each year to an individual or group in recognition of “dedication, integrity, and honorable service to community and to Vermont.”

It was easy to choose the volunteers of the Rutland Creative Economy for the award this year.

Since the inception of the Rutland Creative Economy movement six years ago, more than 400 Rutlanders have contributed their ideas and energy to advance projects designed to make Rutland a more dynamic, exciting, and fun place to live and work.

The premise behind the idea of the creative economy is that the jobs of the future will locate — or be developed by entrepreneurs — in places where culture and ideas flourish, and where entrepreneurs and innovators want to live. Part of the global competition of our time is to build such centers. In Vermont, where we worry about the loss of youth, we need to build communities where creative young people want to be and where they can develop and engage all their talents.

It is exciting to see so many wonderful efforts advancing the cultural vitality, commerce and the economic development in Rutland City. The Vermont Council on Rural Development commends all the volunteers who are leading these efforts to advance Rutland’s Creative Economy.

Even the short list of their contributions is impressive:

Building Friday Night Live! It’s the biggest party in Rutland County.

Supporting the expansion of the Farmers’ Market.

Redesigning downtown places — especially contributing ideas for Evelyn Street

Revitalizing and redeveloping the Center Street Alley.

Planning and developing the bike and walking path through the heart of the city.

Developing a dog park.

Developing “Sustainable Rutland,” raising money for environmental projects, distributing reusable canvas bags, holding Trash 2 Art, setting up downtown recycling, leading localvore efforts, advancing energy efficiency and sustainability in Rutland.

Producing successful Art Hops.

Opening the Wonderfeet Children’s Museum — a museum without walls, so far. More…(Paywall)

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The Mountain Times | August 1, 2012

Rutland’s Creative Economy wins community leadership award

The Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD) announced July 27 that the Vermont Community Leadership Award for 2012 will be presented to the volunteers of the Rutland Creative Economy. The award presentation will take place at the Merchants Row stage at Friday Night Live! at 6 p.m., August 3.

This leadership award is given each year to an individual or group in recognition of “dedication, integrity, and honorable service to their community and to Vermont.”

Bob Ackland, the chair of the VCRD Board of Directors, describes the purpose of the award: “Each year we present the award to highlight the work of community heroes who epitomize the best spirit of local community service, who are volunteers-not paid employees or elected officials- and who have had a transformative effect on their community. Their work makes the community a better place.”

The Rutland Creative Economy movement originated from meetings of over 400 Rutlanders with VCRD’s Creative Communities Program team in 2006. At that time the community established four major priority areas to advance:

1. Rutland as a Recreation Destination; 2. Open Space; 3. Sustainable Living; and 4. Rutland as an Arts Destination. All these efforts remain active and successful today, and in 2010 the community added two more working groups: 5. To develop a Children’s Museum; and 6. Branding Rutland.

The Rutland Creative Economy volunteers have accomplished great things some of which include:

1. Hosted Friday Night Live! the biggest party in Rutland County with over 1,000 people for eight weeks in the summer-the place to be and a real boost to the prosperity of Rutland’s Downtown.

2. Worked with the Farmer’s Market to close Evelyn Street on Saturday mornings, allowing the market to double in size and inspiring the momentum behind the soon-to-come Vermont Farmers’ Food Center.

3. Contributed to the strategic downtown plan especially on the future of Evelyn Street.

4. Led in the revitalization of the Center Street Alley and secured a $1 million earmark through the office of Senator Patrick Leahy.

5. Planned and developed the bike and walking path through the heart of Rutland City: Section 1 of the 2.1 mile path along East Creek will be done around the end of December: the team has led in raising nearly $1.2 million so far toward the completion of the project.

6. Are in the final stages of developing a dog park.

7. Are building a database of all conventional and unconventional recreation opportunities in the County.

8. Developed “Sustainable Rutland” as a non-profit which has raised $30,000 for environmental projects, distributed 2,000 reusable canvas bags, held three “Trash 2 Art” exhibits (with its fourth scheduled for October); worked with Casella Waste to get 12 zero-sort recycling bins downtown, sponsored the “Thanksgiving Localvore Challenge” and worked in many other ways to advance energy efficiency and promote sustainability in Rutland.

9. Produced 3+ years of successful Art Hop evenings in partnership with the library, Chaffee Art Center, and local businesses.

10. Opened the Wonderfeet Children’s Museum for Friday Night Live! and during Farmers’ Markets and Sidewalk Sale events. Staffed by volunteers and working toward developing a permanent space, Wonderfeet is currently becoming a non-profit organization. It has built exhibits on “Energy in Motion,” “Farm to Table,” and “Trashformers” attended already by 1,757 people. More…

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Rutland Herald | July 29,2012

State honors Creative Economy

By Gordon Dritschilo

Paul Gallo likened Rutland to a puzzle, saying its Creative Economy simply fit a few of the pieces into place.

“It’s unfinished business,” he said.

Even so, the role thus far of the organization Gallo heads has earned it statewide recognition.

The Vermont Council on Rural Development, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the future of rural Vermont, announced Friday that the Creative Economy will receive its 2012 Vermont Community Leadership Award during a ceremony this week.

The award recognizes “dedication, integrity, and honorable service” to the community and state.

Previous honorees include Robert McBride and Richard Ewell for their work in downtown Bellows Falls, the Center for Agricultural Economy for its role in revitalizing Hardwick, and Marcia and Al Perry for their contributions to Richmond and the surrounding region.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized,” Gallo said. “This is an award that’s recognizing 70 to 100 people over the last seven or eight years who have done a lot of work. … It feels really good, but it’s just a bunch of volunteers who have gotten together to move things forward in the community. It’s great they recognize that.”

Creative Economy’s accomplishments, as listed by the council, include creating Friday Night Live, helping to double the size of the Rutland Farmers Market, helping secure the $1 million earmark for Center Street alley, raising money for the first two phases of the Creek Path, producing the Art Hop events, developing the Sustainable Rutland organization, and fostering the Wonderfeet Children’s Museum. More…(Paywall)

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News Release | June 2012

Summer Museum Exhibits for Kids in Rutland

RUTLAND – The Rutland Creative Economy initiative, Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum, will present summer museum exhibits for kids in Rutland. These exhibits will be open to the public during Friday Night Live June 22 thru August 10 and Saturday, August 5 during the Downtown Rutland Sidewalk Sales. Returning for a second year, to the space donated by Ryan, Smith and Carbine at 5 Center Street, the exhibits will give the community another sample of what is yet to come.

This year Wonderfeet’s exhibits consist of the most well-liked exhibits of 2011 and a few new exhibits. The exhibits are targeted to kids ages 3-8 with a hands-on approach in mind for the whole family. Wonderfeet exhibits teach kids about simple machines, provide hands-on experience of a farm stand and broaden the world around them. The new exhibit features are “Global Festival/Carnival” and “Outdoors Adventure”. Books will come to life with the expansion of the puppet/story stage.

The mission of the museum is to encourage children to appreciate their role in local and global communities by creating a dynamic environment which fosters curiosity, inspires exploration and engages the imagination through play.

Local people, businesses and services make this summer endeavor possible. This kind of support is sincerely appreciated and continuously needed to move the Wonderfeet initiative to create a fully operational museum. There are many opportunities for anyone interested in getting involved with Wonderfeet. Volunteers are needed to make the summer exhibits possible. Anyone interested in providing future ideas, volunteer time and/or services please contact Myra Peffer, President at 802.774.8493 or [email protected].  For more information go to www.wonderfeetkidsmuseum.org.

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Rutland Herald | June 11,2012

Wonderfeet museum plans second season

By GORDON DRITSCHILO

The Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum will return this summer with a mix of the familiar and the new.

The children’s museum begins its second year June 22 in the former King Furniture location on Center Street. The nonprofit museum, a project of Rutland’s Creative Economy, rents the space from Ryan, Smith & Carbine.

“We’re looking to establish ourselves as a permanent museum in Rutland,” organizer Chris Ettori said. “We need to do a lot of capital campaigning, a lot of stuff, before that happens.”

The museum was open during Friday Night Live and the farmers’ market during its inaugural summer, attracting more than 1,700 visitors. More…(Paywall)

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