Better(not bigger)Vermont ORGANIZATION

• Officers and Board Members
• Board Member Agreement
• Bylaws

Officers and Board Members

Executive Director - Robert Fireovid

Bob has been concerned about Nature conservation, sustainability and overpopulation for some time and was a Board Member in the Family Planning Council of Western Massachusetts, Treasurer for Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, and President of the Interfaith Coalition for the Environment ( He also created a website ( to help groups and individuals engage local decision makers regarding growth and development decisions in their communities. In 2012 Bob created a write-in campaign for the first U.S. Presidential candidate whose major focus was sustainability (

Email Address:

President - Mark Powell

Mark Powell lives in Worcester with his wife and son, and has been researching and writing about population growth, and in particular the politics of U.S. population growth, for over a decade. In his spare time, Mark conducts field research on turtles under the auspices of a permit from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. Mark recently resigned as Chairman of the Worcester School Board so he could devote more time to writing, and is currently seeking a publisher for his book, The Last Days of Turtle Island: How Political Forces are Engineering a Massive Expansion in the U.S. Population.

Email address:

Vice President - Lance Polya

Email address:

Secretary - Wolfger Schneider

Wolfger Schneider Born at the beginning of World War II into a self-sufficient, nearly late medieval farming village in Germany, surprisingly formed Wolfger's current view of human settlements 70 years later. Helping create that view was living in the mid-Atlantic region of the US with its rapid, unplanned growth of car-centric human settlements.

Seven years of electrical engineering studies at Drexel University were an excellent foundation for his 40 years of work at the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University. The one aspect of his job that was most meaningful was the required systems thinking. This view of evaluating and creating solutions for problems started with his reading of Donella Meadow's Limits to Growth (1972) which explains The Club of Rome Report on the possible futures of human life on this finite planet.

After having practiced human-created engineering, Wolfger now believes that the best engineering on the planet has already been done and evidence of its products are all around us in nature for us to learn from, appreciate, and respect. We need to learn to live within that marvelous system design and implementation without ruining or destroying it, as we are currently doing with our unsustainable numbers, our hubris, and our capitalist economic system ever dependent on growth in a limited world.

Wolfger now lives in a small net-zero energy house in a cohousing community in Charlotte.

Treasurer - George Plumb

George Plumb - VSPGeorge retired from being in charge of recreation for the Vt. Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation in 1996. He began his environmental activism in the 1980’s when he joined the movement to stop the building of the massive Hydro-Quebec dams that were doing so much harm to Quebec’s environment and the indigenous people. As an exempt state employee he took the risk of losing his job because the dams were supported by the administration.  He now devotes more than half his time to environmental issues. He is a founder or co-founder of several environmental related organizations including the Vt. Trails and Greenways Council, the Vt. Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition, the Vt. Earth Institute, and Better(not bigger)Vermont.

After retirement he served as the first executive director of the Vt. Recreation and Parks Association, the Vt. Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and Vermonters for a Sustainable Population from 2009 to 2015. He is also the secretary/treasurer of the New England Coalition for a Sustainable Population. He first became aware of population growth as a major concern when he saw the area where he lived on Susie Wilson Rd. in Essex Jct. go from a pleasant, rural area to total suburban sprawl and realized that population growth was the driving force.  In recent years he is seeing the same thing happen in the once very rural area of Washington and Orange.  Concern for future of all living things is now the motivating force in his population work.  

He is personally very devoted to the environment. He is the only Vermont person in his seventies who organized two highly successful global climate actions. For decades he has realized the many problems related to oil and has always heated with wood, flown on a jet plane only once in his life for recreational purposes, never taken a cruise, always driven a fuel efficient car, and is one of the first in Vermont to install an AllSun TrackerTM solar system. He led his church in becoming one of the first “green sanctuaries” in the U.S. and led the effort in his conservative legislative district to replace an unfriendly to the environment representative with a Progressive Party person. He financially supports many environmental organizations and there are probably only a couple of people who have supported Vermont’s largest environmental organization, the VNRC, longer than he has.

In recent years George has become internationally known for his research, writings, and innovative work on population including initiating the world precedent setting report, What is an Optimal/Sustainable Population for Vermont?.

Email Address:

Advisory Board Members

Peter Ames
Peter has been a long time population activist. He worked for the Population Media Center in Shelburne, Vt. from 2000-2002, and helped them move from working out of a home to their present office. He is presently a consultant to nonprofits and in the past has worked for a wide variety of non-profit organizations including the Boston Museum of Science. He has also held a wide variety of civic posts and is an author and speaker. He serves on the board of the New England Coalition for Sustainable Population. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School.
Peter lives in Brookline, Mass. and also owns a home in Woodstock, Vt.

Valerie Esposito

 Photo of Valerie Esposito - VSP Advisory Board - VSPOP - Vermont Valerie Esposito completed her Ph.D. in Ecological Economics and Natural Resources from the Gund Institute in the Rubenstein School of Natural Resources at the University of Vermont in 2009. Valerie is very interested building sustainable communities, both locally and globally. She is currently adjunct faculty at the University of Vermont and does private consulting.

In the past few years she has had a leading role in planning events to
raise awareness about climate change at UVM and has also been active
in the Burlington Localvore community. In her doctorate work, she
worked with indigenous communities in Peru to examine the impacts of a
natural gas pipeline, as well as with small landowners involved in the
Payments for Ecosystems Services program in Costa Rica. She also
examined the effect of service learning classes on student
understanding of systems thinking and complex environmental problem-
solving. She previously worked as the director of a non-profit
organization that provides preschool services to low-income children,
and the supervisor of a social service program. Valerie received her
BA from American University and Masters degree in Environmental
Studies from Brown University.

William N. Ryerson

William N. Ryerson Population Media Center's founder and President, William Ryerson has a 44-year history of working in the field of population and reproductive health, including almost three decades of experience adapting the Sabido methodology for behavior change communications to various cultural settings worldwide. The Population Media Center, based in South Burlington, Vermont, is a highly successful international organization with offices in several foreign countries. It uses the media, particularly soap operas, to help educate people about family planning and thereby reduce fertility rates. He also serves as Chair and CEO of the Population Institute in Washington, DC, which works in partnership with Population Media Center. He received a B.A. in Biology (Magna Cum Laude) from Amherst College and an M.Phil. in Biology from Yale University (with specialization in Ecology and Evolution).

Before founding Population Media Center in 1998, Bill served as Director of the Population Institute's Youth and Student Division, Development Director of Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, Associate Director of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Executive Vice President of Population Communications International. As a graduate student, he was Founder and first Chairperson of the Yale Chapter of Zero Population Growth (ZPG). He also served on the Executive Committee of ZPG, as Eastern Vice President, and as Secretary of the national organization.

Bill is listed in several editions of Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the East. In 2006, he was awarded the Nafis Sadik Prize for Courage from the Rotarian Action Group on Population and Sustainable Development. Bill states, "I think population growth is one of the great root causes of poverty, unemployment, political instability, environmental destruction, energy shortages, species extinction, and other problems plaguing humankind." PMC sends out daily articles and commentaries that they receive from others about current population issues that are very informative. To receive these, just email Bill and ask to be included.

Email Address:

George Webb

George Webb is Professor Emeritus in Physiology at UVM and is currently doing medical research in Singapore about 6 months of each year. He became a member of the Sierra Club in 1969. He was active on the Exec. Comm. of the Vermont Sierra Club in the 70’s, 80’s, & 90’s. He formed the Vermont Sierra Club Population Committee in 1992 and served as its Chair through 1999. He realized that without population reduction and stabilization, all other environmental causes will be lost causes. During his lifetime of 73 years, George says, “I have witnessed the effects of a doubling of the U.S. population and a tripling of the world population. These effects have all been bad--both for wildlife and for human life. During my 40 years in Vermont I have noticed major environmental degradation resulting from too many people. I believe we need to tackle population growth on all fronts: global, US, and Vermont. What can’t go on forever must come to an end.”

Arther Westing

Arthur is a forest ecologist (Yale, MF, 1954; PhD, 1959).  He has been a Research Forester with the United States Forest Service, has taught forestry, ecology, and conservation at various colleges and universities, was Dean of Natural Science at Hampshire College, has twice been a Research Fellow (Bullard, Guggenheim) at Harvard, and has been a Senior Researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the Peace Research Institute Oslo.  For eight years he directed the United Nations Environment Programme project on 'Peace, Security, & the Environment'.  He has been awarded an honorary doctorate (DSc, Windham, 1973) and a medal from the New York Academy of Sciences (1983); and he is one of the 500 individuals worldwide to have been appointed to the United Nations 'Global 500 Roll of Honour' (1990).  He has been a Consultant in Environmental Security since 1990, variously to the World Bank, UNEP, UNIDIR, and UNESCO, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, to the International Organization for Migration, the Government of Eritrea, and to several other national and international agencies.

 Westing moved to Vermont in 1965, and has been on the faculties of Middlebury and Windham Colleges.  He has served on the Governor's Environmental Control Advisory Committee, has been a Contributing Editor of the Vermont Freeman, and on the statewide Boards of the Vermont Wild Land Foundation, Vermont Academy of Arts & Sciences, and Vermont Coverts.  Locally he has served on the Boards of the Windham Regional Commission, Windham World Affairs Council, Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, Woodland Owners' Association, and Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association.

According to Westing, "We share the biosphere with all the other living things on earth and it becomes an inescapable obligation to keep our numbers at a level that assures their continued survival and well-being."

Linn Harwell

Email address:


Board Member Agreement

Better(not bigger)Vermont

Board Member Agreement

I, ___________________________, understand that as a member of the Board of Directors of Better(not bigger)VT, I have a legal and ethical responsibility to ensure that the organization does the best work possible in pursuit of its goals. I believe in the purpose and mission of the organization, and I will act responsibly and prudently as its steward. As part of my responsibilities as a board member:

1. I will fully support the mission and policy statements of Better(not bigger)VT and interpret the organization's work and values to the community, represent the organization, and act as a spokesperson.

2. In turn, I will interpret our constituencies' needs and values to the organization, speak out for their interests, and on their behalf, hold the organization accountable.

3. I will attend at least 75 percent of board meetings, committee meetings, and special events. If I can not attend I will notify all of the board at least three days in advance. I will share discussion time with others and I will treat others with respect. I will be as positive as possible. If I must criticize then I will criticize the information, decision, etc., and not the person.

4. No later than Thanksgiving of each year, I will make a personal financial contribution at a level that is meaningful to me. (A reminder will be sent if a donation is not received.)

5. I will participate in as many fundraising activities as possible.

6. I will abstain from discussions and votes where I have a conflict of interest.

7. I will keep updated on organization activities. I will ask questions and request information. I will participate in and take responsibility for making decisions on issues, policies, and other matters. I will not stay silent if I have questions or concerns. I will also keep up to date on what is going on in the larger population movement.   (One of the best ways to do this is to sign up for Bill Ryerson's emails.)

8. I will work in good faith with staff and other board members as partners toward achievement of our goals. I will help recruit other board members and volunteers. I will keep emails related to Better(not bigger)VT business. I recognize that we are all in this together and no one person has any greater influence than any other board member.

9. If I don't fulfill these commitments to the organization, I will expect the board president to call me and discuss my responsibilities with me.

In turn, the organization will be responsible to me in the following ways:

1. I will be sent quarterly financial reports and an update of organizational activities that allow me to meet my responsibilities to see that the organization is properly managed.

2. Opportunities will be offered to me to discuss with the executive director and the board chair the organization's programs, goals, activities, and status; additionally, I can request such opportunities.

3. The organization will help me perform my duties by keeping me informed about issues in the movement in which we are working and by offering me opportunities for personal growth as a board member.

4. Board members and staff will respond in a straightforward fashion to questions that I feel are necessary to carry out my responsibilities to this organization. Board members and staff will work in good faith with me toward achievement of our goals.

5. If the organization does not fulfill its commitments to me, I can call on the board president and executive director to discuss the organization's responsibilities to me.

Signed  by _________________________, Board Member   Date ________   

and  by __________________________, President of the Board of Directors Date _______

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Better(not bigger)Vermont



The name of the organization is Better(not bigger)Vermont, Inc.

ARTICLE II. Mission and Vision
The mission of Better(not bigger)VT is to inform Vermonters about the impacts that continuing population growth will have on the environment, economy, and quality of life of future generations, and to motivate Vermonters to take actions that will result in a sustainable state, national and global population.
The vision of Better(not bigger)VT is a world in which the human population is living in balance with the natural resources and there is peace and no conflict or wars over resources.
The corporation is organized exclusively for charitable, education, religious, or scientific purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

ARTICLE  IV. Board of Directors.
Section 4.01. Authority of Directors. The Board of Directors is the policy-making body and may exercise all the powers and authority granted to the corporation by law.

Section 4.02. Number, Election, and Tenure of Directors. The board will consist of seven directors who must be United States citizens and legal residents of Vermont. After the initial board is selected, future directors will be elected by the  membership.. People being nominated for board membership must be  committed to the mission and vision of Better(not bigger)VT. The initial directors will be designated as serving one, two, or three year terms ending on the last day of March in the year in which their term ends. Thereafter, replacement directors will be elected by the  membership to serve two-year terms.  A board member who leaves between elections may be replaced by the board for only the balance of the old director’s term. A new director may be elected, or a current director reelected, not more than 90 days in advance of the day a vacancy will occur to take office on the day after the  vacancy occurs. Board members may serve a total of ten years and then they are required to take a year off before serving again.
In order to avoid a conflict of interest and independent thinking board members may not be a major funder to Better(not bigger)VT. A major funder is one who contributes more than $5,000. Board members also are not to be staff members or board members of other environmental organizations although they may serve on an advisory board or operating committee.

An election of board members will be held during April of each year. The board will make nominations. Members may also nominate themselves or another person.

Section 4.03. Resignation of Directors. A director who resigns should do so in writing and specify an effective date for the resignation. If the resigning member fails to designate an effective date, the remaining directors may select an effective date.

Section 4.04. Removal of Directors. A director who fails to attend any board meetings, or to participate in them virtually, over a period of 12 consecutive months may be removed from the board by a unanimous vote of the remaining directors.

Section 4.05 Advisory Board. An Advisory Board may be appointed by the Board of Directors. The purpose of this board is to advise the board on policies, programs, planning, etc. Advisory Board members must be committed to the mission and vision of Better(not bigger)VT. They may serve for an unlimited amount of time.

Section 4.05. Officers.
At its annual meeting, the board will elect a president, vice president, a secretary, and a treasurer, who must be directors. The same individual may hold all offices except the offices of president and secretary. When an officer resigns before the next annual meeting, the board will elect a replacement at its next meeting. The board may appoint advisory committees, an executive director, assistant secretary, assistant treasurer, or other officers who must be Better(not bigger)VT members but are not required to be directors. 

Section 4.06. Duties of Offices. The president will direct the ongoing operations of Better(not bigger)VT, set the time and place of board meetings, preside at board meetings, and coordinate the activities of elected and appointed officers and committees. The vice president will perform the duties of the president during periods when the president gives notification the he or she will not be available. The secretary will perform the duties of the president during periods when both the president and vice president give notice that they will not be available. The secretary will maintain the mailing list of members, prepare and send out all Better(not bigger)VT communications to members, record the minutes of board meetings, answer routine correspondence, and maintain the organization’s records. The treasurer will maintain a checking account, deposit all Better(not bigger)VT income to that account, promptly pay all bills, notify members when their annual dues are due, and coordinate with the secretary on dues and membership matters. The duties of other officers or standing committees will be defined in writing when the board of directors appoints them. For day to day operations the officers may reach agreement with the executive director for him or her to do their work but the officer will still be responsible to see that the work is done.

Section 4.07. Board Meetings. The board will meet at times and places within Vermont designated by the president. Board meetings will be held at least twice each year and preferably once each calendar quarter. The annual meeting will be held during the second  calendar quarter of the year. The president must call a meeting if any three directors request it. Notice of meeting times and places may be sent to the board members by any means but should preferably reach them not less than two weeks before the meeting date. Any or all directors may participate in a meeting by telephone, videoconference, or other virtual methods as long as all participants can hear each other. Any director participating by this method will count toward a quorum. If there is a need for a board vote on one matter that requires only a simple majority of directors to decide, e.g. authorizing an expenditure over the limit set in the bylaws, the president may poll the directors by email or one at time by telephone. A quorum will be required for such a vote and the secretary will record the results. 

Section 4.08. Quorum and Voting. Three directors will constitute a quorum for purposes of conducting the business of the board. A simple majority of the directors present will be sufficient to pass all motions and take all actions except the following: A unanimous vote of all directors will be required to elect a new director, to change the name of the organization, reword the mission, or add new missions. A unanimous vote of all other directors will be required to remove a director for failing to attend board meetings under Article III, Section 3.04.

ARTICLE V. Executive Director
The board may engage a person to be the Executive Director (ED).  This person may be either a volunteer or paid depending on the availability of resources.  If paid the method of engagement may be on either a “contractual” or “employee” basis or the amount and benefits shall be determined by the board.  The duties of the ED shall be those typical of executive directors including handling all office type operations, overseeing programs, helping to plan, and furthering the mission of Better(not bigger)VT.  The ED shall be responsible to the President. If a volunteer the ED shall be a voting member of the board and if paid shall be ex-officio. The individual may be removed from the position without cause on two week’s notice.

If paid, the executive director shall not be paid more than two times the current Vermont individual median income and shall serve no more than ten years.


ARTICLE VI. Membership.
Anyone who supports the mission of the organization and makes an annual donation of an amount determined by the board may be accepted as a member. The board may reject any prospective members and may remove any member from the membership rolls. Members will have the right to elect board members and to express their opinions to the president, board members, and executive director on the work of Better(not bigger)VT.

ARTICLE VII. Membership lists.
The lists of Better(not bigger)VT members’ names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers will be used only for Better(not bigger)VT purposes and not released, sold, traded, or rented to other organizations or individuals.

General Membership and Public Meetings. The board may schedule general membership and/or public meetings as it sees fit.

ARTICLE IX. Representing Better(not bigger)VT.
Only a director or a person specifically designated by the board for that purpose may officially represent Better(not bigger)VT by presenting the organization’s views or positions in any public forum or by responding to media queries about Better(not bigger)VT, its activities, or positions. 

Annual dues will be set by the board of directors and may be flexible.

ARTICLE XI. Expenditures.
The executive director is authorized  to make expenditures up to $200.. Expenditures above $200 must be approved in advance by the board of directors. 

ARTICLE XII. Fiscal Year.
The fiscal year for Better(not bigger)VT will be the calendar year.

ARTICLE XIII. Transparency
Better(not bigger)VT will endeavor to be as transparent as possible in all of its operations. To help achieve this transparency all basic information about the organization including the bylaws, budget, salaries, policies, and information on staff and board members, will be posted on its web site.

ARTICLE XIV.  Indemnification.
Every member of the board of directors, officer, or employee of Better(not bigger)Vermont, Inc. shall be indemnified by the corporation against all expenses and liabilities, including consul fees, reasonably incurred or imposed upon such members of the board, office or employee in connection with any threatened, pending, or completed action, suit or proceeding to which she/he may become involved by reason of her/his being or having been a member of the board, officer, or employee of the corporation, or any settlement thereof, unless adjudged therein to be liable for gross negligence or willful misconduct in the performance of her/his duties. Provided, however, that in the event of a proposed settlement the indemnification herein shall apply only when the board approves such settlement as being in the best interests of the corporation:  however, if the board disapproved any such proposed settlement the person being indemnified shall nonetheless be entitled to payment of reasonable attorneys fees and costs. The foregoing right of indemnification shall be in addition to and not exclusive of all other rights to which such member of the board, officer, or employee is entitled.

ARTICLE XV. Dissolution.
Upon the dissolution of the corporation, the Board of Directors shall, after paying or making provisions for the payment of all the liabilities of the corporation, dispose of all the assets of the corporation exclusively for the purposes of the corporation in such manner, or to such organization or organizations organized and operated exclusively for charitable, educational, religious, or scientific purposes as shall at the time qualify as an exempt organization or organizations under Section 501 (c) (3) f the Internal Revenue code of 1986 (or the corresponding provision of any future United States Internal Revenue Law), as the Bard of Directors shall determine.  An such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed by the Court of common Pleas of the County in which the principal office of the corporation is then located, exclusively for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as said court shall determine, which are organized and operated exclusively for such purposes.

Adopted April 4, 2005.
Amended April 21, 2008
Amended April 23, 2009
Amended January 12, 2011

Definition of Sustainable
Although not strictly a part of these bylaws it is important to define what is meant by the term “sustainable.”  The most widely quoted definition of sustainability and sustainable development is that adopted by the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  However, this is a pretty vague definition. A more complete definition was defined by Herman Daly in 1990:

“1. For renewable resources, the rate of harvest should not exceed the rate of regeneration (sustainable yield);
2. The rates of waste generation from projects should not exceed the assimilative capacity of the environment (sustainable waste disposal); and
3. For nonrenewable resources the depletion of the nonrenewable resources should require comparable development of renewable substitutes for that resource.”

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     "Overpopulation has been a concern for me since high school. The effects of overpopulation are increasing the problems of global warming and resource depletion. It is a world wide problem that we are witnessing in Vermont. Sustainability can never be reached without reducing the human population".