VRN: Least religious, rural dialect, organic gender, liquor shortage, birds at risk, legalizing pot

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VRN: Least religious, rural dialect, organic gender, liquor shortage, birds at risk, legalizing pot

Thu, 07/15/2021 - 9:36am -- tim

Least Religious Counties in the U.S.

Windham and Bennington counties rank among the 10 least religiously affiliated counties in America, according to a 2020 census conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). Researchers found 45% of Windham and 44% of Bennington county residents identify as “religiously unaffiliated.”

The two highest non-religious counties in America are San Juan County, Washington (49%) and Multnomah County, Oregon (48%). Rural areas (17%) have less non-religious residents than urban areas (39%). 

Rural Dialect 

“Despite the social perception that Vermont’s rural dialect is dying,” a recent study on children and adolescents in rural Vermont has found that /t/ glottalization, a linguistic term referring to specific pronunciations of ‘t’ sounds in words, has “rapidly become a socially salient and robust feature of the Vermont dialect, especially in younger generations.” (Listen when they say "mountain" or "mitten" and try and hear the "T.")" 

The study finds that the prevalence, emphasis, and articulation of this glottalization varies across age groups, suggesting that their usage “must carry some socio-indexical meaning,” including emphasis on the individual’s place-identity.

Organics by Gender

“Clean labeling” is used to attract health-conscious consumers that prefer more natural food, yet these labels, such as the statement “all natural,” are often unregulated by the FDA and/or USDA. According to a recent Vermont-based study, women, those with a college degree or higher, and parents with children were more likely to purchase food with organic labels.

Additionally, lower income individuals had a higher tendency to prefer natural labels.

Researchers concluded that the use of unregulated marketing statements on packaged foods diverted the attention of consumers, typically those with less education or income, from the foods with regulated labels.

Dairy Worker Stress 

The success of Vermont dairy farms largely relies on the employment of Latino immigrant workers, yet more than one-third experience debilitating stress, a recent study finds. When comparing the results to similar studies, Latino dairy workers in Vermont were found to have higher stress levels than the average immigrant worker. The study found top stressors to be related to legal status and the fear of being deported, social isolation due to the language barrier, and safety concerns. Although local efforts have implemented state and local policy changes around policing and immigration status, procedures within the dairy farms, such as holding safety training in Spanish and addressing primary stressors, would significantly improve the working conditions Latino immigrant workers face, the authors write. 

Climate Change &  Vermont’s Insurance Industry

A new report issued by the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation examines the impact of climate change on the insurance industry. Twenty-year climate change induced weather changes relate to a rise in losses and claims, the report finds. Going forward, the Department will have to address climate change related financial risk in insurance markets. 

Hard Liquor Shortages 

In an announcement by the Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery,
Vermont has seen increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic. The state saw a 13% increase of liquor sales compared which has led to some empty shelves according to the Department. There are no plans to increase liquor prices to compensate for the shortage, the Department said, instead relying on providers to increase supply.

Improving Conversations about Serious Illness

A recent study examines the impact of new computer software which is designed to help people better understand the speech patterns of the seriously ill.  CODYM (Conversational Dynamic Model) uses behavioral models to capture the flow of information during conversation. Compared to previous methods of conversational analysis, which involved manual transcription, CODYM is entirely automatic and even develops visuals of how information flows throughout conversations. This new software would be used to assess and train effective healthcare communication across languages, cultures, and contexts.  Researchers hope that CODYM will eventually identify universal similarities in the ways that seriously ill people communicate.

At-Risk Bird Species

Many birds local to Vermont are facing falling population numbers, according to a new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which identifies birds across the U.S. that are not currently federally listed as endangered or threatened, but require preventative conservation efforts to avoid falling into those categories. Vermont conservationists say that the study reinforces what they’ve already known, and many efforts are already underway to protect species that are only now appearing in this national report. For more context, check out this VT Digger story.

Agritourism On the Rise 

“The future of agritourism is bright” in Vermont, according to a new surveyconducted by the Vermont Tourism Research Center. The survey received responses from 222 farms, vineyards, and ranches across the state and found that “Over half of farms surveyed planned to expand their services (59%)," the study found. Agritourism events discussed in the survey included on-farm direct sales, the most commonly offered experience on state and national farms (86% and 79%, respectively). See more at the Tourism Research Center. 

Cannabis Legalization Impacts

Colorado and Washington approved the legalization of cannabis in November 2012. Since then, nine states, including Vermont, have followed their lead. A recent study from the Cato Institute examines impacts on tax revenue, crime, the economy and public health finding that there is not enough data yet to make conclusive claims about the impact of legalization.  

Vermont Economy Talks Summer Series

What are the forces that shape Vermont’s future economy? Working with the Vermont Futures Project, students with the Center for Research on Vermont are conducting research and hosting talks through weekly livestreams with local economic leaders, data-driven videos, social media, and blog posts. The team is exploring topics like workforce, business, industry, innovation, diversity and more. Learn more about the Vermont Futures Project and the VT Economy Talks Summer Series here. Watch the weekly livestreams and past episodes here. Join the Vermont Economy Talks campaign here.
Vermont Arts Events 

Spruce Peak Summer Concert Series -- July 15
Myles Bullen and Ceschi -- July 15
Dirty Dancing @ Brandon Drive-In -- July 16
Summer Forest Bathing 2021 -- July 17
Southern Vermont Art & Crafts Festival -- July 16-18


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The Vermont Research News is a bi-monthly curated collection of Vermont research -- focused on research in the Vermont "laboratory" -- research that provides original knowledge to the world and research that adds to an understanding of the state's social, economic, cultural and physical environment. Thanks to support from the Office of Engagement at UVM
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