Jon Kalish


Manhattan-based radio reporter Jon Kalish has reported for NPR since 1980. Links to radio documentaries, podcasts & stories on NPR are at

Jon Kalish / VPR

Social ecology is an academic discipline that favors a democratic and communal approach to social, political and environmental problems.

Vermont has played a seminal role in the development of this somewhat obscure social science, thanks to the Institute for Social Ecology founded in Plainfield in 1974.

The institute started at Goddard College and operated out of Goddard's 90-acre Cate Farm, which had a brick farmhouse and a huge dairy barn that served as the institute’s lecture hall and fabrication workshop.

Jon Kalish / VPR

Dennis Sparling spent more than a year making a 9-foot-tall sculpture of Leonardo Da Vinci. The 70-year-old sculptor dreams of taking it to an institution where he would teach sculpture and other disciplines with a curriculum focused on the life of Da Vinci, a man whose career spanned painting, sculpture, architecture, engineering and other disciplines.

Earlier this month Sparling put his sculpture in a trailer and drove down to Long Island, hoping to interest someone there in this Da Vinci project.

Jon Kalish

In the late 1960s and early 70s when denizens of the counter-culture settled in Vermont, a group of New York City filmmakers joined the migration. Roz Payne was one of them.

Payne is now in her early 70‘s and lives in Richmond. For the past 40 years she has maintained a unique film archive focused on one particular group that figured prominently in the turbulent 1960s, the Black Panther Party.

Considering her family background, it should come as no surprise that Roz Payne is not terribly fond of the FBI.

Jon Kalish

In the last six years, “hacker” spaces have opened around the country. These communal work spaces where hobbyists share tools and expertise have popped up in virtually every American city.

Laboratory B is an 800 square foot space whose interior design aesthetic might be described as bohemian gamer. There are about 20 members of this hacker space who pay $75 a month, though underemployed members pay just $35 a month. The one large room has work tables, an electronics bench and milk crates containing a variety of computer parts. There’s a futon couch and a small refrigerator.

VPR/Jon Kalish

This is the fiftieth anniversary of Bread and Puppet Theater, an arts institution with a political message based in the Northeast Kingdom. The group’s name stems from its belief that sharing bread with its audiences helps create community, and that art is as basic to life as bread.