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From the Editor’s Desk: How Two Local Orgs Helped The Bridge with Flood Recovery

Jenna, Chloe, and Kel pose with one of the newspaper boxes they constructed as part of the VWW Trailblazers program. Photo by Missy Mackin.
Readers, in this new section of The Bridge, you’ll find stories about what’s going on with us behind the scenes, along with news from the frontlines of local journalism across the country. We are living through interesting times, and part of that is the changing landscape of how news gets reported and delivered. We’ll be using this space to pull back the veil on how we get the news to you, and how we fit into the larger picture of independent nonprofit journalism. For our first column, we give you a glimpse into our partnership with Vermont Works for Women in replacing (and adding to) newspaper boxes lost in last year’s flood. 

—C.H.

During the July 2023 flood, we lost six of The Bridge’s newspaper boxes — those innocuous blue shelves holding piles of The Bridge that you might have seen in area businesses (one more disappeared a few weeks after the flood). While The Bridge did not suffer the physical damage that so many of our area business friends did last July, we did lose our means for distributing print issues when the boxes floated off, and we temporarily lost a big sector of our advertisers. (Thankfully, ads have picked back up). 

During that time, we received a generous $1,000 grant from the Montpelier Downtown Community Association to replace the boxes, which we have used to purchase three sturdy plastic newspaper boxes designed to withstand all weather conditions. We give a huge thank you to the association for the grant. 

We also partnered with Vermont Works for Women, which built 10 additional wooden boxes for us, for free, which will be placed throughout the community in coming weeks.

Vermont Works for Women — a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote economic justice by advancing gender equity — devoted its spring Trailblazers program to constructing The Bridge’s boxes. Trailblazers is a free seven-week-long trades training program designed to prepare women for careers in the construction sector, allowing participants to build skills in fields that tend to be male-dominated. This most recent session ran from March 18 to May 2 and included 15 students ranging in age from 21 to 50.

“I feel a lot more confident entering into the trades, something that I was really hesitant about before,” says one Vermont Works Trailblazer. 

And the community benefits directly.

“Building the newspaper boxes for The Bridge is a great example of the way Trailblazers students work with the community while gaining hands-on construction skills,” says Missy Mackin, program manager for Trailblazers.

And The Bridge appreciates it. 

If you’d like to see a Bridge distribution box in your neighborhood, email ops@montpelierbridge.com.

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