Building Resilient Communities through Interdisciplinary Research and Design Collaboration

Tara Kulkarni, PhD, PE

Nicole Greenwood

Get to know our 2019 Resilient Vermont conference participants.


New to Norwich? Welcome! Our CAMPUS MAP can help you find your way around. For your convenience, we have also linked to the campus-map locations of specific buildings that appear in the schedule below. 



8:00–8:45 a.m.
Mack Hall (select for map)

Registration, Coffee, Breakfast

8:45–9:50 a.m.
Mack Hall Auditorium


Tara Kulkarni, Director, Center for Global Resilience and Security, Norwich University
Sue Minter, Executive Director, Capstone Community Action

Plenary: The State of Resilience in the State of Vermont


  • J. Riley Allen, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Public Service Department 
  • Erica Bornemann, Director of Vermont Emergency Management
  • Julie Moore, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
  • Moderator: Representative Amy Sheldon, Chair, Vermont House Natural Resources and Energy Committee

Irene is eight years in the past, but the hazards keep coming. Each year since, Vermont has averaged at least three federally declared disasters. How are Vermont’s state agencies thinking about resilience in an era of climate change and changing hazards? How does resilience differ between—and connect—natural resources, energy, infrastructure, and public safety? What is the State of Vermont doing to plan for this new era, and how do our statewide efforts relate to what’s needed on the ground? Join top leaders from three of Vermont’s agencies on the front lines of climate change and resilience to hear what they’re doing, what’s needed, and what’s coming down the pike.

9:50–10:00 a.m.


10:00–11:15 a.m.
Mack Hall 

Breakout Sessions: THE BIG PICTURE

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LAND: Mack Hall 305

Rx Resilience: Why Healthy Land is the Best Medicine for Vermont


  • Caitlin Cusack, Forester, Vermont Land Trust
  • Katherine Elmer, Herbalist, Co-founder of Railyard Apothecary & Spoonful Herbals, University of Vermont Lecturer
  • Graham Unangst-Rufenacht, Field Organizer, Rural Vermont
  • Moderator: Betsy Hands, Program Officer, High Meadows Fund

From flooding and landslides to economic shifts and infectious diseases, resilience starts with healthy land. This session will explore three unique perspectives on what resilient land looks like, from landscape-scale thinking down to the wealth of biodiversity right underfoot. The panelists will discuss emerging practices to develop and steward resilient land and the critical (sometimes surprising) ways that healthy land can lead to a resilient Vermont. Healthy stewardship of our forests and soils is the secret weapon in fighting everything from climate change to water quality, erosion to invasive species. And in an age of skyrocketing medical costs and drug-resistant pathogens, you’ll hear about the wealth of medicinal resources available for free, right underfoot.

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ENERGY: Mack Hall 306

The Roof Overhead: Irene and the Resilience of Housing


  • Bill Neukomm, Executive Director, COVER Home Repair, Inc.
  • Lauren Oates, State Hazard Mitigation Officer, Vermont Emergency Management
  • Theresa Wood, Vermont State Representative, Waterbury
  • Moderator: Sue Minter, Executive Director, Capstone Community Action

Irene ripped out foundations and washed away homes, but is it possible Vermont’s housing could come out stronger and more resilient? This session will explore how the State of Vermont, local governments, and businesses responded to Irene by increasing access to resilient and stable housing—particularly for low-income Vermonters—and where we still need more work. What programs launched in the aftermath of Irene are still working today? How are those programs helping Vermonters? How does weatherization improve the resilience of our housing stock? Above all, what do we need to be doing in housing and weatherization to increase our resilience in the face of climate change and future natural disasters?

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WATER: Mack Hall 205

Water Works: Toward Resilient Vermont Water


  • Tyler Barnard, Staff Engineer, Engineering Ventures
  • Neil Kamman, Senior Policy Advisor, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Branden Martin, Project Engineer, Stone Environmental, Inc.
  • George N. McCain Jr., Project Manager, McCain Consulting Inc.
  • Moderator: Tara Kulkarni, Director, Center for Global Resilience and Security, Norwich University

Resilience in Vermont is all about water, from floods and erosion to increasing drought, stormwater management to clean water efforts. What will it take to make Vermont’s aging water infrastructure truly resilient? This session will explore what’s in the works at the State House, the perspective from engineers, and how communities are rising to the challenge. Learn about water-related bills in the most recent legislative session, hear how Vermont’s dams and water infrastructure measured up in the American Society of Engineers’ recent scorecard, and find out how communities are working to ensure their water and sewer systems can stand up to a changing climate while meeting existing and future needs.

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PEOPLE: Mack Hall 005

Getting Ready for New Neighbors: Climate Migration and Vermont


  • Marc Mihaly, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Vermont Law School
  • Edward A. Thomas, Esq., President, Natural Hazard Mitigation Association
  • Moderator: Kate McCarthy, Sustainable Communities Program Director, Vermont Natural Resources Council

“Climigration.” Is it just another hip portmanteau, or is it a trend on the rise? This panel and group discussion will explore the concept of “climate migration” and ask whether and how Vermont should be preparing or a future influx of climate refugees. As sea levels rise, and fire, drought, or other climate impacts make parts of the country uninhabitable, is Vermont likely to see a population boom? Who would come to Vermont? How would that impact our culture, natural resources, and communities? And what are the tangible ways we can begin preparing for the possibility? This session will begin with a brief panel to help frame the issue, followed by a facilitated, participatory workshop. 

11:15–11:30 a.m.


11:30 a.m. –12:45 p.m. 

Breakout Sessions: TOOLS & STRATEGIES

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LAND: Mack Hall 305

Resource Sovereignty and Regenerative Living: Cooperative Models for a Climate Emergency


  • Mindy Blank, Executive Director, Community Resilience Organizations
  • Henry Harris, Founder/Director, Center for Grassroots Organizing
  • Lev Natan, Founding Director, Alliance for a Viable Future
  • Connor Stedman, Principal/Lead Designer, AppleSeed Permaculture
  • Moderator: Gillian Kapteyn Comstock, Founder/Co-Director, Metta Earth Institute

What will it take to navigate a climate emergency? New and expanded modes of cooperation, collaboration, and regeneration. This panel will introduce several models for engaging community and building a resilient landscape, focusing on the intersection of water, energy, food systems, and housing. Panelists will discuss the importance of regenerative agriculture, resource sovereignty, and crucial policies to support change in the social justice and climate movement. This session includes perspectives from five panelists, an experiential component related to food system sovereignty, and an opportunity for participants to collectively think through meaningful action steps that address the climate crisis through a larger, cohesive movement.

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ENERGY: Mack Hall 306

Effective Electric: Storage, Microgrids, and the Future of Power


  • Ann Margolis, Renewable Energy Development Manager, Vermont Department of Public Service
  • Graham Turk, Innovation Champion, Green Mountain Power
  • Moderator: Sarah Wolfe, Network Director, Energy Action Network

High-tech energy solutions are already here, and not a moment too soon. Vermont is starting to deploy home batteries for storage, microgrids, and more, as the state and local communities grapple with ways to meet Vermont’s ambitious energy goals. These new technologies are rapidly changing the face of energy use and transmission for communities, businesses, and homeowners. This panel will explore how smart investments into battery storage and microgrids can support a more resilient electric grid in general, which in turn supports community resilience in the face of disasters. We will explore where these investments are already happening, where they will be most effective, and what scale of investment can best serve Vermont’s broader energy and resilience goals and commitments.

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WATER: Mack Hall 205

A Greener Blue: Ecological Solutions for Water Problems


  • Gus Goodwin, Conservation Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy
  • Stephanie Hurley, Associate Professor, University of Vermont
  • Becky Tharp, Water Quality Program Manager, Watershed Consulting Associates
  • Moderator: Laurie Grigg, Assistant Professor, Norwich University

From policy to practice, green stormwater infrastructure is one of Vermont’s most pressing—and promising—resilience sectors. This roundtable session will explore Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) from a range of perspectives: businesses, site owners, researchers, and the nonprofit. Together, these panelists will share an overview of conservation and GSI work in Vermont, successes, and ongoing gaps. You’ll learn about a host of tools and solutions ranging from household to commercial, exploring ways to navigate and add green solutions to your water problems. Bring your questions and get answers in this engaging discussion and Q&A session.

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PEOPLE: Mack Hall 005

Climate Impacts & Inequality: Understanding Who’s at Highest Risk and How to Help

  • Dawn Anderson, Emergency Communications Training Coordinator, Vermont 911
  • Laura Perez, Executive Director, The Special Needs Support Center
  • Jason Rhoades, Teaching Faculty, Antioch University
  • Moderator: Jared Ulmer, Climate & Health Program Manager, Vermont Department of Health

Although we are all at some risk of experiencing impacts from climate change and natural disasters, the risks are much greater for certain individuals and locations. Some may require extra assistance during or following a disaster due to age, disability, health condition, isolation, special needs, lack of personal transportation, or other factors. In this session, we will explore the risks and considerations for certain high-risk populations and review systems in place and promising solutions for identifying and responding to Vermonters needing extra assistance. We’ll finish with a discussion of challenges and ideas for improving and expanding these systems.

12:45–2:00 p.m. 
Wise Campus Center (select for map)
Rook Dining


Introduction: Peg Elmer Hough

Resilience: Bouncing Forward to an Even Better Whole Community

Edward A. Thomas, Esq., President, Natural Hazard Mitigation Association

Resilience doesn’t just mean bouncing back to the way things used to be. We need instead to bounce forward to a stronger system that can withstand challenge and change. Doing so will take some big changes in the way we do business and make decisions and who we invite to the table. Edward Thomas will introduce critical challenges that lie ahead for Vermont, such as climigration and increasing disasters, and share critical tools, insights and messages that are working across the United States to find common ground across the political spectrum, increase investment in resilience, and build whole communities.

2:00–3:00 p.m. 
Wise Campus Center
Rook Dining

Hazard Hackathon: Rewarding Resilience in Vermont Communities

Introduction: Rebecca Sanborn Stone, Principal, Community Workshop LLC, and Stephanie Smith, Hazard Mitigation Planner, Vermont Emergency Management

Resilient Vermont is excited to pioneer the world’s first “hazard hackathon,” a fast-paced challenge where teams will work to create the best solution to a real Vermont resilience challenge. You’ll join a team and have 45 minutes to brainstorm and create your best solution.

Hackathon Challenge: Rewarding Resilience

Communities across Vermont are taking a range of different steps to build resilience. Some are planning; some are not. Some are planting buffers and building networks, while some are resistant to change. How can we incentivize resilience action and reward the towns that are making themselves and their neighbors safer? Vermont currently maintains the ERAF program (Emergency Relief and Assistance Fund), which tracks municipalities that complete hazard mitigation plans and several other actions and rewards them with increased disaster recovery funding. This year, our State Hazard Mitigation Plan called out ERAF as a top priority for updates. This challenge will put conference attendees to work on one of three tasks: designing a fair and effective structure for a hazard mitigation incentive system, identifying hazard mitigation actions that should be rewarded, and considering how Vermont might reward communities that are working on other aspects of resilience.

3:00–3:15 p.m.


3:15–4:15 p.m.
Mack Hall (select for map)

Breakout Sessions: ON THE GROUND

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LAND: Mack Hall 305

Farm to Climate: How Farmers are Adapting to a Changing Vermont


  • Joshua Faulkner, Research Assistant Professor and Farming and Climate Change Program Coordinator, University of Vermont Extension
  • Lilly Hancock, Ecological Designer, Bio-Logical Capital
  • Alissa White, PhD Candidate, University of Vermont
  • Moderator: Elena Mihaly, Staff Attorney, Conservation Law Foundation

Vermont’s farmers are on the front lines of climate change, already seeing impacts that range from changing precipitation and seasonal patterns to loss of farmland and increases in invasive species. This session will introduce the range of observed and anticipated impacts of climate change on agriculture, discuss adaptation strategies that farmers are considering or using today, and explore ways that farmers in Vermont and elsewhere are learning to adapt.

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ENERGY: Mack Hall 306

Point A to Point B: Increasing Transportation Resilience


  • Paige Heverly, Energy and Transportation Project Coordinator, Vital Communities
  • Todd R. Sears, Emergency Management Directory, Vermont Agency of Transportation

You might not be able to get heah from theah, but Vermonters across the state are working hard to ensure you can still get where you need to go—more sustainably and more reliably. That’s more challenging than ever, with increasing disruptions from storms and hazards. What does resilient transportation look like? This panel will dig into the details of how challenges with transportation are impacting Vermonters today, solutions and resources at work to address resilience challenges, and critical needs moving forward. You’ll hear how VTrans is prioritizing and developing innovative approaches to maintaining Vermont’s transportation networks at the State level, along with insights about what’s working for communities and consumers.

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WATER: Mack Hall 205

Watersheds as Commons: Building Resilient Communities


  • Emily Davis, Regional Planner, Windham Regional Commission
  • Corrie Miller, Executive Director, Friends of the Mad River
  • Mary Russ, Executive Director, White River Partnership
  • Ned Swanberg, Central Vermont Floodplain Manager, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Lyn Munno, Executive Director, Watersheds United
  • Moderator: Simon Pearish, Assistant Professor of Biology, Norwich University

We can upgrade culverts and plant buffers, but true community resilience will take a philosophical shift involving water and watersheds: we must begin to think of them as a Commons. This interactive session will explore how watersheds connect us, how we can better connect people to their watersheds, and how we can develop a new ethic around our watershed commons. We'll hear the stories from three watersheds about what their resilience teams (funded through the High Meadows Fund) have learned in the course of their multi-year projects aimed to build watershed connections and resilience. They will describe their learning about the needs of people and place, ways to invite new people into the watershed community, and creative ways of reaching out and rebuilding a connection to place.

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PEOPLE: Mack Hall 005

Managing Trauma: Resilience and Response

  • Alice Fothergill, Professor of Sociology, University of Vermont
  • Gary Gordon, Director of Emergency Services, Washington County Mental Health
  • Kathy Hentcy, Mental Health & Health Care Integration Director, Vermont Department of Mental Health
  • Moderator: Christine Carmichael, Postdoctoral Associate, Gund Institute for the Environment, University of Vermont

Climate change and natural disasters can cause immediate and long-term trauma as a result of threatened or actual impacts to life, property, community, environment, and livelihoods. Research and experience show that well-prepared communities with strong grassroots leadership and tight social fabric tend to suffer less trauma and may even experience “post-traumatic growth” by virtue of working communally to overcome adversity. Come to this session to learn about some of the mental and social impacts from recent disasters, how communities and professionals responded to these impacts, and discuss strategies for building resilient communities that can cope and even thrive in the wake of a disaster.

4:15–5:30 p.m.

Breakout Sessions: IN THE FIELD

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LAND (Meeting Point: Mack Hall 305)

On the Farm: Adapting to Climate


  • Joshua Faulkner, Research Assistant Professor and Farming and Climate Change Program Coordinator, University of Vermont Extension

Join a field trip to Hartshorn Organic Farm in Waitsfield, Vt., where we will hear a firsthand account from farmer Dave Hartshorn about strategies he’s employing on his vegetable, fruit, and flower farm to adapt to Vermont’s changing climate. We’ll also get a behind-the-scenes tour of this stunning property, and see some of these farming practices at play. Learn about the Hartshorn farm, and find Google Maps directions to the farm here.

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ENERGY (Meeting Point: Registration Desk)

Norwich University Heat & Housing Tour


  • Christopher Sanden, Power Plant Manager, Norwich University
  • Ed Schmeckpeper, Chair of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction Management for Norwich University
  • Tolya Stonorov, Architect, AIA, Associate Professor of Architecture, Norwich University

From LEED-certified buildings to net-zero commitments, universities and institutions are often leading the charge to go renewable and demonstrate sustainability. This tour will offer a close-up look at two of Norwich University’s resilience projects. First, you’ll tour Norwich’s wood-chip heating plant and learn about the operations and potential of these large-scale systems. Then, take a stroll through one of the tiny houses designed and built by Norwich students and see the potential for creating low-cost, resilient housing.

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WATER (Meeting Point: Mack Hall 205)

Watersheds as Commons: Building Resilient Communities

Field Trip: Return to the River, From Recovery to Resilience in Northfield (Water Street area)


  • Michele Braun, Executive Director, Friends of the Winooski River

Take a walk and explore a remarkable resilience and recovery project along Northfield’s Dog River. Following devastation from Irene, Northfield community members, watershed groups, state planners, and others came together to re-imagine and restore sites destroyed by flooding. Learn how Northfield converted a flood buyout site into a new park, secured state grant funding for economic development, and implemented critical hazard-mitigation measures to protect from future floods.



Community Day 

8:00–8:45 a.m.
Wise Campus Center (select for map)
Rook Dining

Registration, Coffee, Breakfast

8:45–10:00 a.m.
Wise Campus Center
Rook Dining



Karen Hinkle, Associate Provost for Research and Chief Research Officer, Norwich University

Extreme Event Game

Facilitator: Rebecca Sanborn Stone, Principal, Community Workshop LLC

Floods and fires and fevers, oh my! This fast-paced simulation game will put your planning and teamwork to the test. The Extreme Event game is an award-winning role-playing game that gives participants a taste of what it takes to build community resilience in the face of disaster. Players work together to make decisions and solve problems during an engaging, fast-paced disaster simulation. Learn how to play the game and discover how to use games to help your community think critically and plan for resilience.

10:15 a.m. –1:15 p.m.
Mack Hall (select for map)


LEADERSHIP (Joint Workshop): Mack Hall 205

Local Leadership in the Climate Change Era 


  • Rebecca Purdom, Executive Director of Graduate Programs and Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law/UVM/Stanford Medical School
  • Mindy Blank, Executive Director of Community Resilience Organizations (CROs), as well as CROs Board and Teams

Creating change is tough. Creating change in diverse communities around hot-button issues is even tougher. Leadership expert Rebecca Purdom will lead this powerful workshop to build critical skills in local leadership. She will guide participants through a role-play exercise that helps community members step into different types of leadership scenarios and tackle complex issues with confidence and a new set of communication tools.

Following that, three Community Resilience Organizations (CROs) teams will share step-by-step guidance on exciting community resilience projects that they've completed or are working on. Together, they will spark inspiration and share knowledge and tips to spread these innovations to other communities.

Resilience Projects: Step-By-Step Guidance from Teams

Three CROs teams will present step-by-step project implementation for exciting initiatives that they’ve completed or are currently working on to spark inspiration and help initiatives spread to other communities.

FUNDING: Mack Hall 306

Small Change & Big Bucks: Funding Community Resilience Projects


  • Rebecca Sanborn Stone, Principal, Community Workshop LLC

Need cash? (Who doesn’t?) From tree plantings to emergency shelters, energy-efficiency work, to community building, chances are your community-resilience project needs some funds. This workshop will help you learn where to look, how to approach grant-writing and fundraising, and how to make a compelling case.

Geared toward community groups and local committees, this workshop will introduce a range of funding types and sources, from grants to crowdfunding and competitions. Depending on participant interest, we’ll dive deeper into topics like best practices, whether in going for grants or managing funding. Bring a project idea that needs funding or even a proposal-in-progress and we’ll finish by workshopping projects together.

OUTREACH: Mack Hall 305

Engaging Your Community around Resiliency Issues


  • Paul Markowitz, Consultant

Are you facing challenges reaching the public around resiliency issues? Designed specifically for local community groups, this workshop will focus on word-of mouth marketing and forming partnerships with local organizations and institutions to reach residents. We will look at examining existing challenges to public engagement, reviewing behavioral tools to overcome these barriers, identifying potential community partners, and exploring a range of outreach strategies. Participants will leave the workshop with a mini-plan for public engagement in their communities.

1:15–2:00 p.m. 
Wise Campus Center
Rook Dining


Inspiration and Insights

Raquel Mattos, Essex High School Student

Performance: Burlington High School Dance Team

2:00–3:00 p.m. 
Wise Campus Center
Rook Dining

Resilience Fair

Some featured participants include:

  • Building healthy soils (Lauren Weston, Vermont Healthy Soils Coalition)
  • Green burial grounds (Michelle Acciavatti, Green Burial Vermont)
  • Activist art and screen printing (Henry Harris, The Make)
  • Self-healing and inner listening (Kirk Jones, Evolvlove Sound Therapy)
  • Permaculture techniques (Keith Morris, Prospect Rock Permaculture /Willow Crossing Farm)


Linking Resilient
Land, Water, Energy, and People


The 2019 Resilient Vermont Conference
Norwich University, Friday and Saturday, June 7–8, 2019


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