project leader
Downtown Brattleboro Alliance
Main Streets
(Downtown Brattleboro)
latest update rss

the project

Imagine walking down the street in Brattleboro, up ahead, a crowd gathers in front of a what appears to be a trailer of some sort, parked outside a store.

Only, it’s not really a trailer, not a normal one anyhow. The outside is covered in artwork and graphics, and people are taking pictures, waiting in line to get inside.

Some people are visitors who’ve come to town to enjoy the annual Literary Festival- a jam-packed weekend of events featuring well-known and local authors.

There are also many locals, like the young family whose kids are eagerly talking about Lucy Terry, the first known African American poet from the late they learned about how she and her husband were freed slaves who owned and fought to keep their land nearby, her connections to Brattleboro, and the podcast they helped record that will be shared with their parents once inside.

This is MILES -- Brattleboro's unique Mobile Interactive Literary Exhibition Space. 


What is a “Mobile Interacitve Literary Exhibition Space”?

Simply, it’s a mobile mini-museum that provides pop-up, street-level, immersive experiences highlighting the local literary legacies of the region.

The space is designed for ADA accessibility, providing visual and audio experiences from local artists, bringing legacies to life, and context about why they matter, not just historically, but today.

The first exhibit, featuring Lucy Terry Prince, will include her poetry, a map of significant locations nearby for the curious to explore further, and a chance for everyone to share how words, and one person’s voice, can change the course of history and shape the future.

This project is being led by a team of committed people and organizations, including:

Brattleboro Literary Festival Director, Sandy Rouse

Researcher and former Brooks Memorial Library Director, Jerry Carbone

Downtown Brattleboro Alliance Coordinator, Jen Austin

118 Elliot owner, Lissa Weinmann

MILES will be the first project to launch the brand new 3-year National Endowment for the Humanities backed program “Peoples, Places and History of the Word in Brattleboro”.


See video describing the MILES project and full design.

the steps

An amazing array of local talent is excited to participate in this project!

To date we have:

  • WON the National Main Street Center/ Edward Jones Placemaking Matching Grant!


Once we reach the $5000 goal, funding will not be matched, but will still be highly valued.


  • Design plans from Erin Maile O'Keefe, Designer, Creative Placemaker and co-founder of Tiny House Fest Vermont. 
  • Building materials donated by Foard Panel
  • Secured a General Contractor to oversee the building of MILES with Tiny House Fest enthusiast Peter David, Brattleboro Rotary Club carpenters and students from local schools

As soon as the funds are in-hand, MILES' timeline is:

SEPTEMBER 3: Tiny House Festival Vermont in Downtown Brattleboro!
As a project that intersects the Tiny House movement and Public Art, MILES incorporates important concepts in Placemaking, Museums, and pop-ups, and how they contribute to community. The project will be showcased at the Festival.


Sept 20 - Oct 1: Finish the building and exhibit and secure the necessary paperwork to make sure the trailer insured and legal


Oct 6 - Move MILES to central Downtown location for October's Gallery Walk


Oct 12-15: Ribbon-cutting for MILES with local officials, artists and community members as part of Brattleboro Literary Festival and continuous visitors to MILES all weekend long.


Oct. 16 to 30: MILES visits local schools for students to see and hear the story of how the community came together to celebrate its unique cultural history and how they can be part of that moving forward with MILES


MILES- Down the Road

MILES will continue to develop and evolve over the next several years. Exhibits will change, the full design will be implemented, and it will roll on.

why we're doing it

MILES is already working magic, bringing diverse groups of people in our community,

  • historians,

  • school kids,

  • local families, 

  • college students, 

  • business leaders, 

  • professors,

  • authors and writers, 

  • artists,

  • Rotarians,

  • historical societies,

  • builders:

so many different groups and interests coming together in Brattleboro around the concept and Lucy Terry, an inspirational, but largely unknown, figure who few locals have ever heard about.

Sharing her story with the public in this fun, interactive way, we celebrate the power of one voice.

It also fosters a sense of pride of place for local youth -- that our town is special and they are part of it; that the unique history of Brattleboro is not just for tourists, but it is part of who they are, and what makes this place special.

MILES helps bring more local people into the annual Brattleboro Literary Festival, which has become a regional tourist attraction.

By encouraging people to enter Lucy's world of storytelling and sharing their experience on how 'one voice matters' -- stories to be further shared with the larger community -- empowers residents and visitors to deeply understand how Lucy's story is relevant today.




Disbursed Budget

Raised = $5,050.00
less ioby Platform Fee $35.00
less ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $146.07
Total to disburse = $4,868.93
Janine Hamilton - performance (voice)- honorarium $150
Shanta Lee Gander - 7 Performances (acting)- honorarium 200
Parking Fees 30
Marlboro College: Performers (dance), support- honorarium 200
Website & Marketing 125
Design: Interior Exhibit, Logo (banners, bookshelf, bibliography for guests
to take, 1288.93
Printing 1000
Copyright Fees: Lucy Terry Prince photo 75
Trailer 1800
Grand Total 2017 MILES: $4,868.93

Original Budget

Trailer: $3000

Building Materials: $3000

Materials for Lucy Terry Prince installation: $1700

Transportation, Parking, and Storage Fees: $500

(sub-total: $8, 200)



Designer: $500 in-kind donation from Erin Maile O'Keefe

Labor for framing/ building of unit: $2000 - donated in-kind, as part of the Tiny House Festival + students, volunteers

Project Management: $2500 in-kind donation by Lissa Weinmann

Large-Scale Printing Services: $800 (donated by Marlboro College)

Additional Materials: $4000- donated


Total Project Costs (including in-kind and donations): $18,000


Project Subtotal =  $8,200
ioby Platform Fee  $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $246
Total to raise on ioby = $8,481



MILES is hitting the streets this weekend! 

Here are some recent updates from local press. 

Exploring literacy, education, and culture through the words of our past

A new project shines a light on Brattleboro's literary history, starting with the words of a former slave who transcended race and gender to have her say in the highest courts in the state


Words Project debuts unique mobile museum with 'Lucy Speaks'

Check out the story and great, new photos!,521695

SUCCESS! Phase I goals reached!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! 
We've reached our Phase I goal of $5000, maximizing the National Main Street/ Edward Jones matching funds grant!

This funding will fully support the first exhibit featuring Lucy Terry Prince. 

We're very close to making the project fully sustainable with a custom built unit. We have contractors ready, we just need a little more funding and we will be set to roll out future exhibits that will teach and inspire! 

3 Days Left!

We had a great time at the Tiny House Fest, despite the torrential downpours all day! 

We met some amazing people and learned even more about Brattleboro's literary history.

The connections being made are already strengthening our community! 

We also learned a lot about the use of a tiny space, how people interact within it, what will work well, and what might not. 

Our interior exhibition is being planned by an accomplished team of professionals and volunteer from historians and genealogists to museum and exhibition designers. 

We also have a skilled actress working on a piece that will engage the audience during set performance times. 

It's coming together, we just need your help to secure the full match from the National Main Street grant, and to fund this project! 

Tiny House Fest Vermont- MILES prototype preview!

The MILES team will be rolling up to the Tiny House Fest Vermont on Sunday, September 3rd. 
Come, check out all the Tiny Houses, workshops, and more happening in Downtown Brattleboro.

Plus, you'll get to see the prototype in person, check out pieces of the upcoming Lucy Terry Prince exhibit,

and contribute your own stories to the next phase! 
We are so excited about this debut, and meeting our supporters in person. 

Click here for more info on the 2nd annual Tiny House Fest Vermont.


A collaborative effort involving several regional organizations has just learned it has been approved for a multi-year program supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant. 

MILES will be the first project in the larger program, and will be utilized throughout that program. 

The NEH grant will support a 3 year project led by Marlboro College, Brattleboro Literary Festival, Brattleboro Historical Society and Write Action, with strong support from the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, 118 Elliot, Brooks Memorial Library and others. 

Below is the full press release with more details about the program and how MILES will help. 


HELP LAUNCH MILES and the People, Places and Words program TODAY!




Multi-Year Project Kicks-Off at the 2017 Brattleboro Literary Festival

2 August 2017 Brattleboro, Vermont:  The National Endowment for the Humanities chose Brattleboro as the site for a new $150,000 multi-year “Creating Humanities Communities’ matching grant to illuminate and share greater Brattleboro area’s rich history of words -- stories, literature, publishing, printing  -- to cultivate a greater sense of place for those who live, work, play and raise families here, as well as attract and inform visitors to the area.  


“Peoples, Places, and the History of Words in Brattleboro, Vermont” sets out a three-year plan to build community through collaborative activities including creating audio tours linked to key places in and around Brattleboro, exhibitions and a book on the rich and little-known printing and publishing history of the area.  


Four core institutions -- Marlboro College, the Brattleboro Literary Festival, the Brattleboro Historical Society and Write Action submitted the winning grant which will  support local people, including students of all ages, and any group that wants to be a research “pod” to explore specific places in Brattleboro and its surrounding rural communities. These institutions are currently joined in support of the Project by Brooks Memorial Library, the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union (WSESU), the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, the River Gallery School of Art, the Landmark Trust and The Commons newspaper, among several others, all of whom wrote letters of support for the Project.


“The Brattleboro area has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to its history of book publishing, printing, literature and the like, but few people who live here, much less outsiders, appreciate this history,” said Jerry Carbone, former director of Brooks Memorial Library and member of the Brattleboro Literary Festival Authors’ Committee. This Project will bring these facts to the fore in an entertaining and creative way that aims to involve the whole community over time.”


“​Working toward the 'Creating​ Humanities Communities’ ​grant ​inspired ​an​ ​ambitious​ ​vision among​ ​groups​ ​who​ ​hadn’t​ ​engaged​ ​in​ ​such​ ​mutually​ ​beneficial cooperation​ ​and​ ​planning​ ​together before,”​ ​​ ​​Project​ ​Director​ ​Lissa Weinmann​, co-owner of 118 Elliot, ​said.​ ​“​The​ ​NEH​ ​match​ ​is​ ​an​ ​important​ ​vote​ ​of confidence; it ​gives​ ​us​ ​a​ ​leg-up​ ​to​ ​raise​ ​the​ ​additional funds​ ​needed​ ​to ensure everyone​ ​can​ ​share​ ​the​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​pride and​ ​connection​ ​to​ ​Brattleboro​ ​this​ ​Project​ ​will​ ​certainly cultivate.”  


“The Project really builds on this concept of place-based learning by linking physical places to their history,” said William Edelglass, Professor of Philosophy at Marlboro College who spearheaded the submission of the grant with Weinmann.  He said the college’s SPARK teacher training program will help facilitate classroom work in conjunction with the WSESU school district.  “We will bring scholars to classrooms who will engage students in exploring the places from a variety of humanities lenses -- philosophy, history, art, sociology and offering research, cartography and other skills -- and raise questions about the meaning of the history of these places that will be addressed in handmade books, audio pods and other media.”  


The​ ​research​ ​will​ ​be​ ​shared​ ​via​ ​audio​ ​recordings​ ​and​ ​plaques for​ ​walking,​ ​biking,​ ​and​ ​driving​ ​tours,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​in​ ​handmade books,​ ​curricular​ ​materials​ ​for​ ​local​ ​schools,​ a special page on ​the​ ​Downtown Brattleboro​ ​Alliance’s​ ​website​ ​,​ ​an​ ​exhibition at​ ​the​ ​Brattleboro​ ​Museum​ ​and​ ​Art​ ​Center,​​​ ​lectures​ ​and​ ​other public​ ​events​ ​which​ ​will​ ​ ​​grow​​ ​around​ ​the​ Brattleboro​ ​Literary​ ​Festival​ ​and​ ​other​ ​annual​ ​events.  


These​ ​materials​ ​will​ ​bring​ ​to​ ​light​ ​the​ ​writings​ ​and​ ​history​ ​of less​ ​documented​ ​groups,​ ​including​ ​Abenakis,​ ​African Americans,​ ​and​ ​women,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​homesteaders,​ ​spiritualists, and​ ​abolitionists,​ ​in​ ​addition​ ​to​ ​more​ ​prominent​ ​local​ ​authors such​ ​as​ ​Rudyard​ ​Kipling​,​ ​Mary​ ​Wilkins​ ​Freeman​,​ ​and​ ​Saul Bellow.  


“Lit Fest attendees always have questions about the town and its history,” said Sandy Rouse, Executive Director, Brattleboro Literary Festival. “The Project helps create programming to address this visitor interest while building on the Lit Fest’s efforts to reach deeper into our community to celebrate the power of words, particularly working more with local schools to bring in the children and their families. We will show that books, writing and the rich history of all things literary in this town is something everyone shares and should be proud of.”


Last week, part of the ​Project​ ​​won​ ​a​ ​“National​ ​Main​ ​Street​ ​Center” competition​ ​to​ ​match​ ​up​ ​to​ ​$2,500​ ​on​ ​a​ ​crowdfunding​ ​platform to​ ​create​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​“Mobile​ ​Interactive​ ​Literary​ ​Exhibition Space,”​ ​dubbed​ ​“MILES,”​ ​a​ ​mobile,​ ​mini-museum,​ ​to​ ​be employed​ ​in​ ​various​ ​locations​ ​around​ ​town​ ​and​ ​at​ ​area​ ​schools over​ ​the​ ​years​ ​to​ ​feature​ ​Project-related​ ​themes in a fun and engaging manner.​ ​​ ​MILES​ ​will be​ ​built​ ​and​ ​featured​ at the Tiny​ ​House​ ​Festival Vermont in Downtown Brattleboro on September 3, 2017.


The​ ​Project’s​ ​first​ ​exhibit​ ​will​ use MILES to create an immersive experience ​featuring ​the nation’s​ ​first​ ​known​ ​African​ ​American​ ​poet,​ ​Lucy​ ​Terry​ ​Prince, a freed​ ​slave​ ​who​ ​lived​ ​in​ ​Guilford, VT.​ ​ Gretchen​ ​Holbrook​ ​Gerzina,​ ​the Paul Murray​ ​Kendall​ ​Chair​ ​in​ ​Biography,​ ​University​ ​of Massachusetts​ ​and​ ​author​ ​of​ ​“Mr.​ ​and​ ​Mrs.​ ​Prince:​ ​How​ ​an Extraordinary​ ​18th-Century​ ​Family​ ​Moved​ ​out​ ​of​ ​Slavery​ ​and into​ ​Legend"​ ​(2008) will speak about her life and help with the exhibit.  


“The Brattleboro Historical Society has been working with our students on over 100 podcasts about the history of our area,” said Joe Rivers, a Social Studies teacher at the Brattleboro Area Middle School and BHS board member whose students will help with the Lucy Terry exhibit. “The Project will help us build upon and share that work with a larger audience and instill an appreciation of how this valley’s past has shaped our understanding of community.”


“Write Action has been talking about creating a book about the printing and publishing history of Brattleboro for a long time,” said Arlene Distler. “This Project and collaboration is giving us the larger community context, support and momentum that will help us make this idea a reality.”


To participate in a place-based research pod, or join Project monthly meetings, contact:  Updates will also be made regularly to the Brattleboro Places and Words Facebook page at:  To donate to the crowdfunding platform for the Project’s initial exhibit on African American poet Lucy Terry and double your contribution, visit the In Our Backyard (IOBY) MILES Brattleboro site at:


This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • Prudence G Baird
  • Norton Garber
  • Mary Ide
  • Brattleboro Rotary
  • Philip George
  • Ana Saavedra
  • Starr LaTronica
  • John Loggia
  • Steven Budd
  • Prudence Baird
  • LRW
  • arlene D
  • William Edelglass
  • Jerry C.
  • Arthur B.
  • Erin Maile O'Keefe
  • James Verzino
  • Sandy Rouse