Rich Nadworny

Commentator

Rich Nadworny is principal at Empatico, an insight and innovation firm in Burlington.

When Governor Phil Scott made his last minute Hail Mary pass to the legislature with a proposal to move local teachers’ insurance to the state level, his staff claimed that a statewide insurance contract would save $26 million that the state would use to reduce property taxes.

For about an hour, I was one of 30 audience members sitting in a ring on the Main Stage of Burlington’s Flynn Center while four strong, agile and graceful women danced in and around us. It was a remarkable performance - one of four shows by Adele Myers and Dancers.

If you’re trying to come up with that Next Big Thing you should know that the U.S. Patents and Trademark Office will only award a patent if it includes an “illogical step.” I love that. But it also makes me think hard about how it’s possible to find or create illogical steps.

There’s an interesting debate happening here in Vermont and elsewhere on what the label “Organic” actually means. Hydroponic growers want to mark their produce organic if they don’t use pesticides or unwanted chemicals in their process. Traditional organic farmers have pushed back, claiming that only produce grown in soil deserves the highly valued organic label.

Welcome back to the never-ending debate on the cost of educating our children. Montpelier urges citizens not to spend any more money on education, school boards denounce the teachers’ union and parents worry about what effect the resulting debate may have on what they care most about: their kids.

For a while now I’ve been harping on the need for state agencies to improve delivery of services through technology and digital channels. Over the years we’ve sadly seen a number of terrible state technology products and only once in a while a good one.

I’ve attended a number of events recently dealing with Vermont business or entrepreneurship or growth. Governor Scott, like most governors before him, sees economic development as his critical issue. But time and again, we seem to have trouble moving the needle forward in a meaningful way. So I’ve been thinking about what our unique differentiator is when it comes to business, and life, here in Vermont.

Nadworny: Food Talk

Jan 6, 2017

I was looking for a hopeful story to start the New Year, when I stumbled across a program called Health Care Shares at a community meeting at the UVM Medical Center. The program itself has been around for a while, but recently, it’s taken its mission to help Vermonters eat and live healthier up a notch.

Believe it or not, about 25 years ago, I was the first person in the history of Swedish Television to use a hidden camera in a documentary.

In life, it’s frustrating when people resist good or new ideas. You’re left wondering why people will opt for a reality that often doesn’t seem to make sense. But recently I discovered a new book that helps us understand what’s really going on, by an author who’s long inspired my work in human-centered design.

Nadworny: Voter ID

Oct 28, 2016

When I lived in Sweden, I couldn’t vote in national elections. But as a permanent resident I could vote in city and state elections.

The very first time I voted for President of the United States, I proudly lodged a protest vote. And in my long career of voting, it’s the one and only vote I truly regret casting.

Teacher negotiations over a one-year contract in Burlington recently have been contentious – leaving open the possibility of a strike in October that would throw lives and school plans into complete chaos.

Nadworny: The Others

Sep 14, 2016

The mayor of Rutland wants to welcome Syrian refugees into the fabric of the community. He and his supporters claim the economically long-depressed area will gain a much-needed injection of people and energy. But there’s been a strong backlash. Rutland Firsters protest that they were kept out of the decision making process and that new immigrants will bring further economic hardship to the city. And flare-ups of ugly racism complicate matters further.

It’s often said that young people are leaving Vermont in droves and how serious this problem is. Politicians and business leaders like to remind us that we urgently need to do something to keep them here. But this so-called Flight of the Millennials may actually be just a flight of fancy.

In recent months, I’ve watched two excellent TV shows dealing with both race and misogyny. The first was on FX: “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” – and honestly, I hadn’t planned to watch it, since I knew the story and the outcome so well. But the reviews were overwhelmingly positive and after watching the first episode I was hooked.

I think everyone in Vermont felt extreme disappointment when they heard the news of the SEC investigation of the Q Burke and Jay Peak owners. I know I did.

Rich Nadworny

Republican Kurt Wright represents me as my Vermont House Representative from Burlington’s New North End and as my city councilor of Ward 4. He and I have disagreed with one another quite often over the years. But in this session, he’s co-sponsoring a bill banning the sale of ivory in Vermont and I have to say, I couldn’t possibly be more proud to have him represent me right now.

Last summer, President Obama made a triumphal visit to Kenya and declared that “Africa is on the Move”, praising the spirit of entrepreneurship. In fact, Africa accounts for 7 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, with Ethiopia on top.

Nadworny: Soundtracks

Oct 16, 2015

The shorter, mosquito-free days of early autumn were the perfect time to head to one of the few remaining Drive-In movie theaters in Vermont, like the Sunset Drive-in in Mallets Bay, where they showed the Minions movie. For my son, who sewed his own Minions Halloween costume a few years back, this is a “must-see.”

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