12.06.2011

Eat More Kale is the 99%

Excerpted from the Chick Fil-A Facebook Page: "Thank you for your responses and questions surrounding the recent media reports about the Eat More Kale slogan. In 2006, we became aware of the Vermont company using the slogan and chose not to contest the continued sale of t-shirts through the company’s website. However, in August 2011, the company submitted its application to trademark the slogan, so it can protect it and use it nationally, ironically like we’re trying to protect ours. Because of this new development, we are required to protect “Eat Mor Chikin®”, our own brand and trademark for 16 years. Unfortunately, when protecting our trademark, the law does not allow us to differentiate between large and small companies. We appreciate your understanding."

As of this morning, there were 1,224 comments to this Chick Fil-A Facebook post, including the following sample:

"EAT MORE KALE (and to the PR and legal folks @CF, you need to read up on how well this exact strategy turned out for Monster Energy Drinks)."

"Unreal. You're food is not only bad for you physically, IT'S MAKING YOU CRAZY!!!"

"You guys are going down-eat some Kale and fire your lawyers, they are clearly scrounging for work."

"For shame. We're a feisty state and don't mind being vocal; this will not make you look good at all."

"Same canned response I got from your customer service team in response to my email informing CFA of my family's boycott. Required? How?"

"Vermont. We are the Green Mountain State not for the hills but for our hardy KALE. We love it-it's yummy and healthy. I will send you some."

"I will officially never eat at Chick-fil-A for the first time!!!!"

"i dont understand as your slogan is not his slogan."

"You can delete my post here all you want. I am calling for my 700 friends to call for a Boycott of your company by calling on there friends. You cannot stop a grass roots movemnt to support free enterprise. Lets look at my company name cvrfitness I cant stop someone from using crvfitness just because it sounds like mine its different just as yours is totally different from his."

"Furthermore, since CfA is apparently targeting the illiterate demographic, there's technically only one word in common between their slogan and Muller-Moore's."

"I'm wondering how long it will take CFA to realize how damaging this whole mess actually is to its brand. Someone ought to tell the legal department to actually get to work on some real legal work."

"Hire More Lawyers® "

"classic Chick FAIL A - Love it."

"You should have the brand development guys explain to the lawyers that it is ALWAYS bad business to treat your customers like idiots. I've Enjoyed Chick-fil A and I enjoy kale. I don't confuse the two, and it never occurred to me that the to brand statements were anything alike. Your petty lawyers just lost you another customer."

"‎'eat more kale' has nothing to do with chicken. give it up. i do like chicken, but certainly will NOT buy your chicken until you back off!"

"I used to think those cow ads were cute. No need for the trademark over-reach though."

"I'd like to tell you what you could eat, but you'd sue me."

"Vote with your dollar. Quit supporting organizations with backward views."

"WTF, this anti-gay and clearly right wing company needs people to boycott their business. Cook your own chicken--local and organic. Get with it brothers & sisters!"

"You don't even spell the word "more" correctly . .. And kale is so very different from crap chicken .. Wtf, chickfila"

"Kale tastes different than chicken? Man, if I had a dollar for every time I accidentally picked up some kale nuggets by accident... thankfully, the kids never noticed."

"got mor chikin=got more kale??? i don't get it. you can't tell them apart because you can't spell?"

"Eat Mor Chikin vs. Eat MORE KALE. First of all "Chik fil a" what's up with the terrible spelling. Can you please leave a perfectly fine tiny company EAT MORE KALE alone (at least they know how to spell). I don't apprecate your mis-understanding of something healthy and green and your greasy chicken? How do you care for your chickens? Do your farmers keep them in cramped barns. Are they pumped with MOR hormones so you can get more white meat for your kids meals. Fill the kids full of fat, obesity, etc. Kale is a wonderful alternative to greasy fast fat food like yours. Especially hand screened tshirts and stickers. Gimme a break guys - I doubt anyone will be confused by KALE and CHIKIN?... Bugger off with your confused cows and your abused chickens. AND EAT MORE KALE!"

"You are a worthless abomination. May you perish in poverty."

"Thanks for clearing that up--the news media seemed to be making CFA out to be the bad guy in all this! I thought it seemed out of character for Chick-Fil-A."

"You guys are bullies. I will not eat at another Chick fil A until you stand down and call your lawyers off. What idiot at your company came up with this idea? Surely he/she didn't vet it out with PR. You guys look like the school yard bully. And there's a zero tolerance on bullies now."

"I just signed the petition to help EAT MORE KALE."

" In the words of Gov. Shumlin," Kale is a vegetable, Chicken is a bird". Know the difference."

"I can understand their point but the whole thing is a bit silly why cant they both have their own slogans?"

" your have yours, let him have his - no matter what you say, they are not the same, and there is no confusion. Bullies."

"I also know the difference between chicken and kale. I can spell chicken too. Leave the kale-man alone."

"The "substantial likelihood of confusion" test isn't even remotely met here. This is just a big corporation trying to stomp on the little guy. I love Chick-fil-A, but as of now I will no longer eat there."

"The "Eat More Kale" guy is not hurting you anywhere near as much as you are hurting yourselves and your reputation by beating up on this guy. Stop being stupid."

"Eat More Kale®"

"Shame on you. Between this and the donations to anti-gay rights groups, I'm done with you, 100%."

"No more Chick-Fil-A for me!! And I'm in UT and they are fricken everywhere."

"This is just lawyers trying to justify their jobs. Irresponsible, and just plain mean spirited stuff. I don't eat this crap chikn, and certainly never will. There is no reason to pursue this other than, 'because we can'. Pathetic! TEAM KALE!!!"

LINK: Plenty more comments at Chick-Fil-A's Facebook Page

LINK: Protect Eat More Kale, Facebook

LINK: Vermont Governor forms "Team Kale" to Raise Legal Funds for Chick-Fil-A fight

11.28.2011

Hurricane Irene: It's not over until she says it's over

The big kicker for me was hearing that the Alchemist would not re-open (LINK).

Unarguably the most successful, always-crowded, always-happening brew pub in arms reach of the Irene flood zone, the Alchemist was hit hard. An iconic establishment on an extremely high-visibility corner, the Alchemist was also a beacon of inspiration in the aftermath of the flood, posting huge “We WILL be back” and "God Bless Waterbury" signs in their window behind an even bigger Dumpster full of soggy drywall and limp insulation. (... A wonderful photo gallery of the damage and recovery efforts at the Alchemist can be found HERE).

A few weeks ago, the owners learned that their basement – home to their offices, their food storage and their on-site brewing facility -- would not be covered by their insurance. So, they made the tough to call to shut things down and move on.

Of course, you can’t blame them. But you can wonder about what’s going on in the less thriving establishments who were also thrashed and impacted by Irene. It's not advanced math. You start with a business that wasn't exactly crushing it anyway, add one part natural disaster, and stir.

There are a few unofficial stats floating around, though. According to one friend involved in regional repair efforts, we have built back only about 25% of the homes and businesses that were destroyed or damaged. Some, like the Alchemist, will clearly be replaced by another business. But many on the bubble will likely never get rebuilt at all.

It’s a tough thing to wrap your head around sometimes, as a few hundred feet can separate a complete trashed and destroyed property from a healthy and vibrant one. Under a blanket of fresh snow, you could easily drive from Burlington to Sugarbush and not notice any damage at all.

For the local businesses, heading into the critical winter tourism season that drives the engine around these parts, it’s a tough message that people are trying to get out there. How do you express the severity of the situation, and the fragility of the business community, while also giving people the confidence that those same businesses are open and ready for business?

Small Vermont towns don't do the national franchise thing. The state capitol is the only one in the nation without a McDonald's. There aren't any Starbucks around here, nor is there a J Crew or an Eddie Bauer that can pay rent through years of economic distress. The restaurants and merchants are almost exclusively one-of-a-kind, purely original enterprises. And they stay afloat almost solely through the support that walks in the front door.

LINK: Mad River Valley Community Fund for hurricane relief

11.07.2011

... and now the part where I post a ski flick preview of "Downhill Racer"


Not currently playing in any theater that I'm aware of, but it still fits the theme of the month.

If you dig this at all, you should pick up the current issue of POWDER, which has a phenomenal retrospective on "Spider" Sabich, the inspiration for Robert Redford's character in the film.

11.04.2011

Ski Flick Preview Friday: Attack of La Nina



Ufa, RU / Date: 11.11.11
Venue: Rodina Cinema Theatre
Time: 19.00 - Doors 18:00

Brunswick, ME / Date: 11.11.11
Venue: Jack Magee's Pub & Grill
Time: 8pm & Midnight

Middlebury, VT / Date: 11.18.11
Venue: Bicentennial Hall
Time: TBD

Stowe, VT / Date: 12.03.11
Venue: Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum
Time: tbd

West Dover, VT / Date: 12.03.11
Venue: Snow Barn @ Mount Snow
Time: 5:30pm

LINK: Attack of La Nina Tour Schedule

11.02.2011

And now, the 2011 Powderwhore preview ...'Breaking Trail'



Shows to catch:

Munich, Germany-
Fri Nov 11th 8pm Das Josef

Portland, ME-
Wed Nov 16th 8pm Rivalries 21+ $5 donation

Burlington, VT-
Thur Dec 1st 7:30pm Outdoor Gear Exchange $8/$5 students

Jackson, WY-
Fri Dec 2nd 8pm Inversion Yoga Studio $10

Victor, ID-
Sat Dec 3rd 7pm Wildwood Room (411 Lupine Dr.) $10

10.31.2011

Once a Meathead ...


Meathead Films will celebrate their 10 year anniversary this fall with the 'Prime Cut' tour .... rolling through a couple local spots, as well as the Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall. LINK

November 4 / Pittsfield MA / Ski Bousquet Base Lodge
Nov 11 / New York NY / Snow Film Festival NYC / Tribeca Cinemas
Nov 12 / Amherst MA / Hampshire College Main Lecture Hall - Franklin Patterson Rm
Nov 17 / Schenectady NY / Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall
Nov 19 / Waitsfield VT / Big Picture Theater
Nov 25 / Littleton NH / Littleton Opera House
Nov 27 / Whistler BC / Longhorn Saloon
Dec 01 / Meriden CT / AOH Hall
Dec 02 / Glastonbury CT / Glastonbury High School
Dec 03 / Stowe VT / 9th Annual Stowe Mountain Film Festival / Spruce Camp Base Lodge
Jan 14 / Fayston VT / Mad River Glen Base Lodge

10.24.2011

It's just a coincidence that tonight's Energy Forum ends right before kickoff

Tonight's starting lineup:

· Marianne Tyrrell, Esq., Fellow at VT Law School, will provide an overview of financing options for residential energy efficiency improvements. Mrs. Tyrrell co-authored the recently released Financing Residential Energy Efficiency in VT, an investigation of financing tools and procedures that can enable lenders to accelerate the pace of home energy improvements.

·Peter Adamczyk, Energy Finance & Development Manager with VT Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), will explore one financing option for green improvements: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE). PACE provides energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements for residents funded by taxable municipal bonds and repaid via ones property tax bill. Waitsfield is one of the "quick start" towns in this new and exciting program.

· Elizabeth Miller, Commissioner of VT Department of Public Service, will talk about energy programs at the state level as well as the draft Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan (CEP). The CEP addresses Vermont’s energy future for electricity, thermal energy, transportation, and land use. This is a great opportunity in advance of the CEP's 11/4 public comment deadline.

And, in case you're wondering, the last two events in the series are Biomass & Hot Water (November 15th) and Energy Conservation, Efficiency, & Weatherization (December 13th).

10.22.2011

Every time somebody says "atmospheric carbon" ... drink

On DinarDaddy.com you can go down the rabbit hole into the world of Iraqi currency speculation.

The shtick is pretty simple … Iraqi currency is worth far less than pennies on the dollar at the moment, but revaluation is imminent, as the US Government clearly sees the nation as too important to fail. And if you just bought some Dinar now, you could turn a few thousand into a few million before you can say “shock and awe.”

Now, you can’t buy the Dinar through traditional channels like “banks.” But you can buy it through online Dinar brokers who will fedex you an envelope full of colorful bills. Of course, there is the slight concern of getting expired, worthless Iraqi currencies which closely resemble the current Dinar, as well as outright counterfeit bills, as well as a litany of other potential scams that surround and infect the concept.

“I don’t care,” admitted a slightly inebriated sales rep at a meeting I attended a few weeks back. “I am in. WAY in.”

As I told the Dinar story to a 20-something friend last night, he smiled in the same patient way that my oncologist used to when I asked him about medical marijuana.

“Maybe it’s a generational thing,” he said. “But it just seems to me that investing shouldn’t be about sending money to some faceless place in hopes of some killer return. It should be about putting money into slow growth ideas in your local community, and knowing that even if you don’t make a ton of money, at least you know you’ve done the right thing …. I just wish there was a way to put my 401k into things like this.”

The Ward farm is a new farm, approximately 90 acres, and just down the road from my house. It’s been an open, uncultivated field for the last few decades, but it’s now the site of about a dozen crops … a diverse mix of berries and herbs and nuts that were carefully selected for high market value. Stuff like echninacea and goldenseal. There are also some sheep kicking around the property, as well as some loaner cows that just showed up a few days ago, there to help take the carbon from the air and insert it back into the soil.

And that small idea -- turning atmospheric carbon into soil organic matter, and moving from the 'age of oil to the age of soil' -- was the topic of the night.

The Soil-Carbon Coalition, a traveling road show based out of a renovated yellow school bus, complete with a working piano, was there at the Ward Farm to do some baseline soil testing for a 10-year challenge known as the Soil-Carbon Challenge. The idea is pretty simple: instead of proposing hypothetical solutions to climate change, why not just start doing things right, start measuring them, and start telling people about it.

As I understand it (and forgive me if I hack this up), the soil in the Challenge will be measured for numerous things, but the big kicker is the carbon. Because if we can show that sustainable use of soils can take the carbon out of the air and create usable healthy soil at the same time, we can not only start backing down from the climate change cliff ... but we can address numerous other challenges at the same time.

According to the SCC guys, the current mindset on addressing elevated carbon in the atmosphere is severely limited. Measuring, forecasting, and prescribing climate treatments based solely on fossil fuel usage is much like a doctor treating a specific symptom without ever considering the cause.

They also got a conversation going about how we’d be facing the same problems with carbon and climate change, even if we’d never used a drop of fossil fuels -- thanks to static land use strategies that allow some soils to harden from disuse and others to suffocate from overuse.

If it’s any consolation, I thought it was going to just be a Friday night kegger, too.

10.16.2011

Birders see Big Opportunity in "Big Year"

They call it ‘the movie.’

And when they say it, they breathe it out with a glowing reverence – almost a whisper, actually -- more suited to a scornful demigod (or former girlfriend) who might appear if you accidentally say the name a bit too loud.

When “A River Runs Through It” came out in 1992, it put fishing for trout with a fly on the radar screen of every guy who wished he had a little bit of Brad Pitt in him, as well as every woman who wished for the same.

In addition to doing wonders for Norman MacLean book sales, the "movie" put fly fishing businesses into a soaring trajectory as well.

Briefly, that is. While fly fishing participation soared in the early 90s, the next 15 years featured a slow and steady decline. A river running downhill, so to speak.

They still talk about the “movie” in the fly fishing world. Some wistful, some snarky. And every time another film that features the sport in it comes along, they push a few chips out onto the green felt, hoping that big wheel stops on them once again. (Last year’s “The River Why” was frothed up as the second coming, but apparently even Amber Heard's lovely form wasn’t enough to save it. Link: Review)

This month, another outdoorsy community is clasping hands in anticipation of a bump. Enter the birdwatchers.

“The Big Year” – starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson – is being heralded by the birding community as the big opportunity they’ve been waiting for. The tale of three hyper competitive bird watchers trying to set a record for the most birds in a single year has seen more advertising support in the last 30 days the entire fly fishing industry spends in a year, combined.

That might help. But plenty of other movies spend buckets of cash to no avail. And the hope here is about more than just supporting gross box office sales, it's about increasing the number of people heading outside for a glimpse of a wild bird ("conversion") and it's about hooking those people on the activity in such a way that they keep coming back year after year ("retention").

At this point, conversion is primary focus. And, blissfully, the birding community isn't just sitting around waiting for the bump to lift them up. They're actually doing something.

This week, Audubon launched “Birding the Net” a month-long Facebook campaign that aspires to draft off "The Big Year" and its massive marketing support ... and hopefully convert a few people to the birding cause.

An inspired and well thought-out program, “Birding the Net” has recruited hundreds of brands -- from USA Today to the New York Times to our friends at Woolrich -- to incorporate a variety of birds into their websites. Live birds, actually, that will fly across the screen as you're reading the news or shopping for a new merino wool sweater.

Every time you see one of those birds flying around your computer monitor, if you click on the bird in time, you’ll “collect it” and a badge will be added to your birding portfolio on Facebook.

Lots of other twists to the campaign exist as well ... like html "birdhouses" that can be added to any site ... as well as a boost of competitiveness in which your roster of birds will be measured against other friends on Facebook. The 'net birders with the most in their portfolio by the end of the month will be entered to win numerous prizes, including a Lindblad trip to the Galapagos. Pretty damn sweet.

The beauty of "Birding the Net" is that it doesn't hinge on "The Big Year" being good, bad or sideways. Instead, it takes the initiative.

And for right now, that's exactly what it's gonna take.

LINK: Audubon's 'Birding the Net' on Facebook

10.04.2011

The Oregon fairy dust rush

Four hundred and fifty people are headed to Portland, Oregon today for the Outdoor Industry Rendezvous. That's right.... 4 5 0.

To be sure, the Rendezvous has more than it's share of top flight, high-draw speakers -- including Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, para-climber Chris Waddell, numerous cool kid CEOs and a record-setting list of future-predicting marketing & design consultants. It's also got the traditional trail service day at the end of the two-day agenda, when the group slaps on their Mtn. Khakis and rebuilds a few bridges and trails in the local area.

With such a broad diversity of speakers and sessions and activities, the "official" reason that most people attend the Rendezvous can be tough to pin down.

But when you look at the sobering economic conditions happening outside of the outdoor bubble, and compare it to the remarkable recession-defying growth that's continuing to fuel outdoor industry expansion .... the reason for attending this year's outdoor mega-player gathering is simpler than ever.

It has to do with a year-round business cycle that's tied to leisure time, personal health and environmental stewardship. It has to do with a competitive marketplace anchored by brands of integrity. And it has to do with designs that are both aspirational and inspirational, continually bringing the best out of both designers and end users.

In other words, people just want a little of that outdoor industry fairy dust.

9.30.2011

Gravel dredging in Vermont rivers .... today's WTF FAQ

It is, unquestionably, the biggest hot button topic in the state today.

If you want to fire up the coffee shop, stir up things at work, or get an earful from a bar full of locals, just start digging in to the topic of gravel dredging in Vermont's rivers.

In case you've been in the Red Sox dugout for the last 30 days, here’s how it went down. Vermont got hit by a hurricane. Vermont roads/homes/businesses got hammered. And so, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin “lifted the ban” on gravel dredging in the state’s rivers as way to speed and ease the cost of recovery.

I was there at one of the Governor's stumping stops, a week after the storm, covered with mud and sweat and fiberglass insulation like everybody else. Shumlin hopped up into the back of a flatbed in miked-up and neatly pressed shirt, and encouraged the crowd to “dig deep” in the river.

At the time, a few eyebrows went up. But people were busy doing the work that needed to be done, and the thought of a little digging in the river didn't freak anybody out, so things moved on.

Today, however, it’s a different story. Excavators and large-haul dump trucks are parked in riverbeds around the state. Gravel is being scooped out by the ton, banks are getting reinforced, and in many cases it’s happening in places which were totally unaffected by flooding during Hurricane Irene.

"It'd be one thing if this was going to prevent future flooding, but it's only going to make things worse," said one observer. "They're building gravel walls between the rivers and their natural floodplains, and that's only going to force the river to find new places to jump the bank."

The Burlington Free Press was the first to shine a spotlight on the issue (LINK), detailing a public meeting in Middlebury when a group of anglers stormed the session, demanding an immediate halt to things. Nothing did happen, of course, other than a stream of flaming comments that followed the BFP story … blasting the “treehuggers” for “putting the needs of fish ahead of people.”

It’s a funny day in Vermont when the hippies and the hook-and-bullet crowd are united around a common theme. But it’s happening.

From a common sense perspective, digging gravel out of Vermont rivers makes a lot of sense to a lot of people. There’s no doubt that a metric shit-ton of gravel made it’s way into local riverbeds following the big storm. So much so, in fact, that our local waterway -- the Mad River -- seemed practically motionless after the storm: it looked more like a big string lake than a meandering river.

And so, to prevent Vermont rivers from choosing new paths in the wrong places, a little digging seemed like a good idea. Plus, roads and foundations needed fill, and getting gravel in the state is already a bit of a pain in the ass, according to some. And that same pro-digging contingent often maintains that the fishing might even get better if Vermont digs deep in their rivers. It used to fish better, they say, back in the day when gravel dredging was allowed. So why not open things up again?

But there’s a distinct difference between spot dredging and a widespread free-for-all. And that line has clearly been crossed.

There is no statewide strategy for the digging, no oversight, and no end in sight. One letter circulating calls for the State to "get things under control" by providing strategy and statewide expertise from the Agency of Natural Resources River Management team.

Others, however, are less kind. One agency I spoke with said that the opportunity for a legal challenge is severely complicated by the fact that the whole thing appears to be illegal already .... and it's tough to get a law changed when the legalese you're looking for is already in place.

The path to a solution runs through the Governor's office. The opportunity for the digging was created when the Governor opened the door …. and only he can close it.

To email Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin .... send a note to GovernorVT@state.vt.us

9.14.2011

Vermont: Still open, still awesome

There's a line in the river mud. On one side is the importance of spreading the word about "ravaged Vermont," hopefully inspiring people to help out.

On the other side, though, it's critical to remind people that Vermont is still here, still awesome, and still worth the trip.

9.06.2011

Irene, day 8 ... Hancock


From the road in Hancock, in many places it looks like Hurricane Irene just happened.

Trees and shattered branches still line Rt. 100, and the massive chunks of road that have been eaten away are, at best, sparingly marked by cones.

In Granville and Hancock, there was one Dumpster available for flood debris. And it was overflowing. There was word at the Town Hall that another container was coming, but no one there at the time knew when it might get there or where it would be coming from.

A few people I spoke with were under the impression that putting debris in bags was the way to go. Their understanding was that large garbage bags would cost $4 each to remove, which had them nervous about throwing too much out.




9.04.2011

Irene, day 7 ... the Street Party

On Saturday night, there was a party. A big one.

Hosted on Bridge Street, the symbolic epicenter of relief efforts in the Mad River Valley, the party ran from 3 pm till who knows when. There was free barbecue, unlimited cookies and ice cream, adult beverages and all the music you could ever want. Dancing, smiling, laughing. What a great thing to see.

It was a free event, made with the volunteers in mind. Thanking them for their hard work. But there was also a flavor of New Orleans in there. It's just mud, after all. And after a week of shoveling and hauling crap and making piles, why not take advantage of a closed road to host a big throwdown?

At one point, driving around, looking at the devastation, I wondered about the future of the Mad River Valley. Would people still want to come here after all that had happened? Would they still keep it on the short list of their favorite places in the world?

But then, when I saw the weekenders mixing with the dusty and dirty locals at the Bridge Street community party ... the shirtless rescue workers, muddy chainsaw volunteers, and broadly smiling local families who'd spent the last week reeling ... I realized that this is exactly the place that people want to be.