"More than any American state, Vermont has worked to preserve those qualities that make it unique," such as scenic countryside, lively small towns, historic streetscapes, local businesses. A tourist magnet in summer, it nonetheless "never seems overrun by visitors." Scores well for "environmental- and social-sustainability practices."
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Vermont, more than any other American state, has worked to preserve those qualities and characteristics that make it unique. It is one of only four U.S. states that completely prohibit outdoor advertising (i.e. billboards). It has a very effective statewide land trust and the state-funded Affordable Housing and Land Conservation Trust that rehabilitates historic buildings, like old mills, for low-income housing, and purchases conservation easements on farmland and forests. It has limited the spread of big-box retailing and works to retain locally owned retail, such as village stores. If you want to see New England as you imagine it, go to Vermont."
"Many areas of Vermont continue to show leadership in environmental and social sustainability practices relative to much of the U.S. An important but sublime value has been added by the increasing application of Total Economic Valuation tools that measure social capital and natural capital, as well as market capital, at several scales in the state (driven by the University of Vermont's Gund Institute of Ecological Economics)."