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June 2010

June 30, 2010

Burlington Crowns Social Media Royalty

Shay A crowd of about 50 people turned up to the Bluebird Tavern's new "speakeasy" room this evening to watch social media royalty get crowned, as determined by Burlington's social media community — and Seven Days political columnist Shay Totten was a winner.

Shay was named Burlington's Social Media King by voters who responded to a poll on the Burlington Social Media Day Facebook page. He didn't receive a crown, but he did snag a sweet laptop case from Small Dog Electronics, emblazoned with custom embroidery work from The Bobbin. That's Shay posing with his prize at right. Well, it's that, or a mugshot when he got booked for unlawful use of the Burlington Twitter hashtag. You decide.

The Social Media Queen crown went in absentia to Nicole Ravlin of PMG, known on Twitter as @PMGNicole. There's no word thus far whether the Social Media King and Queen get to veto Foursquare mayors at their discretion.

Awards were also given out for most social-media savvy business, to Small Dog Electronics, and social-media savvy nonprofit organization, to Vermont Public Radio.

According to event organizer Lara Dickson, a.k.a. @DeepDishCreates, over 400 people voted in the poll for their social media favorites.

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Andrea Rogers Exits Stage Right

Today is Andrea Rogers' last day as the Executive Director of Burlington's Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. Rogers' friends and fans organized a community celebration in her honor last Saturday. Nearly 1500 people attended "Exit Laughing: A Community Celebration in Honor of Andrea Rogers." Local actors, dancers, singers and musicians all paid tribute to the woman who's raised millions to restore the Flynn, and to make it into the area's premier performing arts venue.

I don't know Rogers well — we've met a couple times — but I'm familiar with her reputation as a force of nature. Seven Days publisher and co-editor Paula Routly worked for her in the 1980s. Paula wrote about her first-hand experience with Rogers in a story that appeared in September, after Rogers announced her plan to retire ("Bowing Out: Flynn founder and executive director Andrea Rogers plans her exit"). Paula often invokes Rogers' name when describing the single-minded dedication one needs to demonstrate in order to run any successful enterprise.

Rogers herself summed it up pretty well in Paula's story:

“You have to be constantly awake. You have to be constantly thinking. You have to know that all your relationships are somehow connected,” Rogers offers. “You’re always selling the organization, in a good way. I read the paper, and I cut something out. I think, Oh, we should be doing that, or Let’s make this connection or call so and so. It’s just constant, and it’s exciting.”

You know what else is exciting? Showing up at the Flynn for a sold-out nighttime show, seeing the marquee lit up, feeling like this is a livelier little town than it has any right to be. So thanks, Andrea.

If you missed Saturday's soiree, as I did, check out this slideshow of photos on YouTube, courtesy of Burlington's favorite prolific community shutterbug, Stephen Mease.

Rustico's Opens in Essex

014 Want to eat a pound of pasta? Bring your appetite to Rustico's, a new Italian restaurant having its grand opening on Friday in the Essex Shoppes and Cinema.

Rustico's focuses on familiar Mediterranean dishes prepared using local ingredients. Area farms provide ingredients for salads, flatbreads and sauces to the Vermont Fresh Network restaurant. Pastas can be ordered by the quarter, half or full pound, making it easy to share a family-style meal.

So what are the options? I'm looking forward to trying the pear, walnut, gorgonzola and garlic flatbread. I'll get the "Tour of Italy" my first time, so I don't have to decide between the housemade papardelle, tagliatelle  or linguine with pomodoro, basil pesto or Bolognese sauces: The dish includes samples of them all.

There are also meatball, chicken Parmesan and Italian sandwiches, all of which are served with homemade potato chips. Dessert presents "Big Chocolate Cake for Two" and crème brûlée cheesecake. According to General Manager, Terry Raphael Murphy, there's a wide variety of Italian wines and local beers available at the antique bar.

Can't wait until Friday for your taste of Italy? There's a soft opening today.

Burlington Celebrates Social Media Day

Btvsmd Mashable declared June 30 Social Media Day, and Burlington's Tweeters, Facebookers, and Foursquare checkers-in aren't letting it pass without a celebration. Check out the Burlington Social Media Day Facebook page for a list of events that are happening today. There are Tweetups happening all day long, and a treasure hunt at local businesses.

The event organizers are also asking social media users to pick their Social Media King, Queen, Businesses, and Organizations. Seven Days's own political columnist Shay Totten is nominated for Social Media King. Click here to vote — ballots will be accepted until 3:00 p.m. today. The crowns will be bestowed upon the royals tonight at 6:00 p.m. during a ceremony at Bluebird Tavern.

How are you enjoying the first annual Burlington Social Media Day? Trying to oust someone as mayor? Turning off your cellphone in protest? Join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #BTVSMD, or let us know in the comments.

City Proposes Compromise Solution for Protecting Historic Structures

When does a $20,000 window replacement project become a $70,000 job? As Yves Bradley discovered in May 2008 while renovating a building he owns on the corner of Church and Bank streets, when the city decides the construction materials being used aren't "historic" enough.

Landlord Bill Bissonette ran into a similar problem. Bissonette owns about 200 apartments throughout Burlington, 95 percent of which are in designated historic districts. In 2007, he applied for permission to replace the exterior wood siding on three King Street buildings with a cement-based material called Hardie Board, which is cheaper, more durable than wood and lasts longer.

When the city said no, Bissonette sued, and won. Environmental Judge Thomas Durkin determined that the city's goal of preserving the historic character of old neighborhood would be better served by using a replacement product that's nearly indistinguishable from wood, rather than allowing the old wooden siding to peel, splinter and rot.

Like many municipalities with a high percentage of old structures in its housing stock, the city has long struggled to balance the goals of preserving Burlington's historic character with keeping renovations, rehabs and improvements as energy efficient, sustainable and cost effective as possible. Property owners have long complained that the city's application and review process is unpredictable, arbitrary and unduly burdensome.

But Dave White, director of planning for the city of Burlington, has brought forward a compromise proposal to address such complaints. At last night's planning commission meeting, he laid out a proposal for protecting the integrity of Burlington's historic structures while also making the review process as "predictable as possible."

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Champlain College Backs Off Interest in Wharf Lane Low-Income Housing

6a00d83451b91969e2013483b6cad1970c-320wi A top Champlain College official said the school is officially taking its name out of the running as a potential purchaser of of an apartment building that houses 44 low-income residents.

In May, news of the sale of Wharf Lane Apartments on lower Maple Street raised concerns among housing advocates. They feared the building would go to the highest bidder, rather than to one of the non-profit, low-income housing developers in order to keep the 37 apartments, and its residents, in perpetually affordable housing.

Champlain College broke the news to Mayor Bob Kiss at this week's city council meeting.

"Champlain College never had an active interest," David Provost, senior vice president of finance and administration, told Seven Days. "As I explained before my assistant looked at the property back in March and we have not made any other inquiries to the property since then.  Currently, this property is not on our list of interesting potential properties."

While Provost claims the school had no serious interest in buying the property, this is the first time it has unequivocally said it wouldn't pursue a purchase.

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June 29, 2010

Bluebird Tavern Spreads Its Wings

Food-bluebird Last night, just a year after opening her flagship restaurant, Bluebird Tavern, Sue Bette went in front of the Burlington City Council to finalize a lease on a new spot: The old Klinger's kiosk on Church Street, most recently known as Cheese 'n Crust Souperstar.

After the soup and sandwich joint closed, the Marketplace received six proposals from prospective tenants, five of them food related. According to a memo from Church Street Marketplace director Ron Redmond to the city council, Fuad Ndibalema of Samosaman had pitched a plan to sell samosas, other prepared foods and beverages; staffers from WBKM radio hoped to peddle coffee and ice cream to help "support radio operations"; and someone aimed to make the spot a Dunkin' Donuts Express Restaurant.

Photo of Bluebird owner Sue Bette and chef Aaron Josinsky by Matthew Thorsen

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June 28, 2010

Alice Eats: Sumo Ramen

1007 boulevard St-Laurent, Montréal, Québec 514-940-3668

IMG_0992Think "ramen" means dehydrated bachelor food? Try experiencing the real deal at one of the new ramen restaurants north of the Canadian border.

Just a few months after Ramen-ya opened in Montréal's Chinatown, Sumo Ramen followed. The restaurant doesn't serve chanko, the protein-rich soup enjoyed in massive quantities by sumo wrestlers, but these are hearty meals nonetheless.

At Sumo Ramen, there are two soup bases available — shōyu and miso. The shōyu is about what one would expect of ramen broth: savory and salty, but not much else. The miso broth is slightly thicker and tastes as much like sesame as bean curd.

The standard bowl comes filled with two kinds of seaweed, bean sprouts, corn, half a hard-boiled egg and a blob of butter in the middle. From there, diners can choose versions with kimchi, leeks or even wontons. Of course, there are noodles too, delightfully elastic ones.

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Burlington Electric Weighs Contract with Hydro-Quebec

I_eastmain-1The Burlington Electric Department is considering signing a long-term power contract with Hydro-Quebec. A special meeting convenes at 4 p.m. on Tuesday seeking ratepayer input on the question.

"A deal should be resolved sometime very soon," said Daniel Shearer, chairman of the BED commission. "Anticipating that, we wanted to make sure that the public could give us feedback before we decide whether to vote yes or not on it."

BED is one of the few utilities in Vermont that did not sign a power contract with Hydro-Quebec back in the early 1990s after voters rejected the deal at the polls.

This year, Vermont lawmakers designated power from the provincial utility "renewable." Vermont is the first such state to give HQ that designation, and it could help the utility gain access to the lucrative power markets in southern New England. Prior to the designation, hydropower projects greater than 200 MW were not considered renewable, given the impact that flooding can have on the environment, and in the case of HQ, indigenous peoples' ancestral hunting and fishing grounds.

Opponents of the designation claim that granting "renewable" status to large-scale hydro projects remains misplaced, given their impacts on the environment and the lands and way of life of indigenous people.

Concern over the impact on the native Cree of northern Quebec fueled opposition to the original Hydro-Quebec contract, but the Cree have since negotiated deals that have largely benefited their tribes and allowed them to invest millions of dollars in public works projects.

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June 25, 2010

Furthur Show at Shelburne Museum Abruptly Canceled


The hippies are coming! The hippies are com … wait a sec. They're not?

According to their website, Grateful Dead redux Furthur have been forced to cancel their upcoming Concerts on the Green performance scheduled for 7/5 at stately — and now 99% hippie free — Shelburne Museum. Here's the announcement:

July 5th Shelburne Vermont Show CANCELLED
To All Of Our Fans Who’ve Purchased Tickets To Our July 5 Show in Shelburne, VT:

After days of meetings to address and alleviate last minute concerns being expressed by State and Local Authorities, Furthur is very disappointed to learn that today (6.24), the local authorities, citing an inability to deal with an expected influx of ticketless fans, traffic concerns, and other issues, have revoked the approved permits for the show and have decided to cancel Furthur's concert at Vermont's Shelburne Museum on July 5. As the decision was made by the local authorities so close to the event date, regrettably we are unable to find a suitable alternate venue in Vermont. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience!

Full & complete refunds will be available soon via point of purchase.
If you bought tickets online you'll automatically be refunded.

Anyone else sensing something fishy going on here?

[Ed. note: This item was cross-posted at Solid State.]

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