Out & About: Recent Vermont transplants, speak up

  • Cheryl Morse (Courtesy photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/13/2021 9:36:43 PM
Modified: 7/13/2021 9:36:45 PM

Have you moved to Vermont since March 2020?

If so, University of Vermont geographer Cheryl Morse wants to hear your story. This month, Morse launched a research project aiming to find out why people moved to the Green Mountain State, what their experience has been like so far and what their hopes are for their future in the state.

“We’re just using this as a time capsule for recent migration,” Morse said, noting that their move does not have to be related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Maybe people had the idea already in the works, but then it was accelerated by COVID or maybe they came here for different reasons during the COVID era and that might have impacted how they experience Vermont.”

At 9 a.m. Saturday morning, Morse will host a forum over Zoom and those interested in participating should email her at cheryl.morse@uvm.edu for a link. If people are unable to attend, they can email Morse to find out about future forums, which she is planning for later this month, August and possibly September.

“One of the goals. too. of this group is if you’re meeting with several other people who are also new to Vermont, you’re extending your social network a little bit, so that could be another positive outcome,” she said.

Orange and Windsor counties are among the regions Morse is targeting for the project. She selected regions based on real estate sales and an increase in mobile phone usage.

“Windsor and Orange is a little bit of hotspot it seems like, as is ... the spine of the Green Mountains in southern Vermont,” Morse said.

The project stems from research Morse did in 2014 along with historian Jill Mudgett where they surveyed people who grew up in Vermont about why they stayed, why they left or why they returned as adults. More than 3,600 people completed a survey within a three-week period.

“That was sort of an internal look at migration for those of us who grew up here,” said Morse, a Woodstock Union High School graduate. “It’s just sort of a natural projection to ask people who are new to Vermont, what do they value?”

Morse sees the research compiled as having multiple audiences: Other academic researchers who study population migration changes, policymakers, business leaders and Vermonters who want to support their new neighbors.

“We can respond to newcomers’ needs, to build migration policies around findings that are formed in real experiences, so we can think about these responses in terms of planning efforts for the future, how small towns can anticipate needs in the future, what employers may be able to plan around,” Morse said. “We’re just really curious and excited to talk to people. It’s one way for us to learn about Vermont too, from newcomers’ eyes.”

The forums are open to people ages 18 and older.

“I would love to hear from adults of all different types of backgrounds and circumstances and life experiences,” Morse said. The forum will also be an opportunity for people new to the area to freely ask questions they have about living in Vermont. “We get a gift of their stories and we share back information about Vermont that might help them.”

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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