Touching Community

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15th anniversary

VIM/The Commons celebrates its 15th anniversary!

Vermont Independent Media, based in Brattleboro, Vermont, and serving those with connection to the towns of Windham County, was one of the first nonprofit journalism organizations in the country. We incorporated in 2004 and were recognized as a tax-exempt, tax-deductible charity (a.k.a. a 501[c]3) by the IRS the next year.

As we all know, COVID has hit everyone hard. Local newspapers all over the country are failing. We were fortunate this past year with support from the government and you, our donors, who have made all the difference in keeping the presses running all these 15 years!

Now, as we move into the second part of 2021, we’re in need of a “second shot in the arm” to bring you community news you appreciate and learn from like no other newspaper in the region. Our advertising revenues are just beginning to recover from their nadir of a year ago. Donating now is critical to our capacity to serve the community. Independent news, free of government or corporate restraints, is vital to a thriving democracy.

There’s new life at VIM/The Commons and we’re looking forward to larger papers, wider coverage, a new website, enhancing our educational mission and so much more.

Specifically we are asking for your help to bring back our Town and Village section that we had to lose during COVID. We sure do miss it, and we’re sure you do, too.

We trust you will be inspired by our review of this past year and our goals moving forward.

Help bring back the Town and Village section

Board of Directors, Vermont Independent Media

The Commons Staff

Breaking News: FCC Nixes Peg Access Fees

In 2021, we are focused on launching our new website and expanding our digital presence

More importantly, we are enhancing the resources at the paper to create a stable and reliable source of income for The Commons to count on as it continues to expand its coverage. And we’re partnering with other organizations to renew our commitment to opportunities for discussion of important issues within Windham County through our Voices Live program.

We’re so excited to share with you a “sneak peak” of our new website and a look back at recent community-building digital promotions.

laptop sample

We’re so excited to share with you a “sneak peak” of our new website and a look back at recent community-building digital promotions.

Expand The Commons’ Reach, Breadth, and Depth

Establish a Comprehensive Media Education Program

Integrate VIM and The Commons More Deeply into the Local Community

Achieve Financial Sustainability and Growth

Build Editorial and Operational Capacity and Expertise

Your Support Makes All the Difference

You helped us win 10 top awards from the New England Newspaper and Press Association.

The awards included one first prize for Spot News Story for Randolph T. Holhut and Olga Peters, “Cash-strapped Retreat pursues shutdown after rebuke by state agency.”

The category awards exceptional work on stories that are unplanned, like this report, where Holhut and Peters broke down a temporary — but public and escalating — conflict between the Vermont Department of Public Health and the Brattleboro Retreat, a psychiatric hospital providing essential services to the state of Vermont. Four second prizes were awarded along with five third prizes.

Congratulations to Randolph T. Holhut, Olga Peters, MacLean Gander, Shanta Lee Gander, Abe Loomis, and Jeff Potter for excellent reporting in categories including Commentary; Editorial/Commentary page; History Reporting; Racial or Ethnic Issue Coverage; Investigative reporting; Spot News; Best Coverage of the Coronavirus; Business/Economic Reporting.

Commons Editor Jeff Potter notes that, “none of these award-winning stories or sections would be possible without the support of our staff, families, board, advertisers, donors, grantors, and especially our readers.”

Many of you have joined our Advisory Council

The eleven member advisory council draws on the unique skills that VIM needs to prosper, both within the community and thanks to friends from afar who admire our efforts.

Current members of the Advisory Council include:

You’re helping us find interns

VIM continues its educational mission with its commitment to providing learning opportunities and internships for young adults and others who want to engage in the essential democratic functions of a free press. 

We’ve started bolstering this critical part of our work by strengthening our partnership with Landmark College, whose students have assisted us on major ongoing stories and special projects, and we are looking to expand our connections with other regional high schools and colleges to help bring younger voices into our pages.

Lucas Sillars
Ronan Kalsa
Guinevere Downey

VIM continues its educational mission with its commitment to providing learning opportunities and internships for young adults and others who want to engage in the essential democratic functions of a free press.

PHOTO: Geoff Burgess, Dean of Professional Studies & Science/Associate Professor, and Lynn Barrett, Chair, VIM/The Commons, sign a Memorandum of Understanding establishing our official partnership around internships and educational programs.

You’re donating more than ever

We are fortunate to have ongoing important financial support from several key donors, some of whom are just now coming into the fold. Whether you are new to supporting VIM or you have been with us for years, all of you have recognized the critical need for what we do in our communities.

We are calling upon your continued generosity for our spring drive to continue to keep the presses running. (See special gift and donor details below.)

You helped us assemble critical COVID-19 information

Soon after the pandemic turned our lives upside down, we gathered critical information about the coronavirus and resources to address it, compiled by our friends at the United Way, Groundworks Collaborative and the Windham Regional Commission, along with your reader suggestions. We mailed the April 8, 2020 issue of the newspaper to every household in Windham County, thanks to sponsorship from Brattleboro Savings & Loan.

You helped us learn more about you in 2020

Many of you responded to three surveys that are helping us serve you better. And we heard you! The News and Voices sections are the most popular, and we will be looking to expand our offerings, both in print and online. Our new website will offer more opportunities to bring you the news that matters — and give you new ways to carry on important, thoughtful, and civil conversations.

You inspired us to produce for you — week after week


individual newspapers printed







Your advertising support continues to let us publish The Commons

In 2020, 308 customers bought $216,039.23 of ads, making The Commons an essential part of the business community.

Your volunteer hours have helped support us

In 2020, volunteers have collectively given us approximately 1,000 hours of their time. From the efforts of editorial volunteers who often are working side by side with us in the dead of night, to the contributions of some writers whose work is by design their contribution to VIM, to helpers who extend the reach of our distribution operation, we are blessed with people who give of their time and talents to make The Commons the very best it can be.

Our board of directors is active, engaged, and truly working as collective publishers of the newspaper. Its five members have collectively given VIM a minimum of 2,160 hours this past year.

You have shared your kind words and trust

We thank you!

You truly have had our backs and have opened your hearts and your wallets to let us survive in a world that needs good journalism, now more than ever.

A lot has changed over a decade and a half and more than 600 issues of the newspaper — yet one thing has not: the stubborn determination of the people who work tirelessly to bring an independent, nonprofit regional news voice into the world. And thanks to you, as we mark our 15th anniversary of The Commons’ publication, we’ll have a lot to celebrate.

Yes, I want to support fearless, independent journalism and help The Commons bring back the Town and Village section.

Special Gifts

Those donating $75 or more may choose to receive the paper in the mail for one year.

Those donating $250 or more will included in a drawing to have our editor Jeff Potter make you a pie of your choice.

To the first 20 folks who donate $500 or more, we are pleased to gift you PRINT TOWN: Brattleboro’s Legacy of Words, a product of the Brattleboro Words Project, published by the Vermont Historical Society, with an introduction by Tom Bodett. The book includes the story about the founding of The Commons, and features over 30 authors with connections to Brattleboro, all lending a unique perspective and style to telling the story of Brattleboro’s long history, and ongoing legacy of printing, publishing and words.

For more information, or to give by phone, call:

To mail in your donation: send to:
VIM/The Commons, P.O. Box 1212
Brattleboro, VT 05302
Attn: Amanda Harwood

Your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Vermont Independent Media is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, EIN 20-2140604

Thank you for your support.

Photo: Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of The Commons

Our Mission

Vermont Independent Media is founded on the belief that independent journalism is critical for the functioning of democracy and is the lifeblood of our community.

Through its publication of The Commons, Windham County’s independent non-profit newsweekly, VIM:

  • Sets a standard for balanced and fact-based journalism
  • Provides a forum for diverse voices within its community