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Brattleboro, Vermont Wednesday, November 24, 2010 • Vol. V, No. 30 • Issue #77

W ind h am C ounty ’ s A W A R D - W I N N I N G , I ndependent S ource for N ews and V iews

Health care in your own hands


Town plans for 250th anniversary celebration page 4 bRATTLEbORO

Creating a Downtown JUNCTION for the

Project Feed the Thousands kicks off page 5


VY’s waste is here, so what do we do with it now? page 6


historic local photo collection goes digital page 9 OPEN hOUSE

studios offer thrills at the Cotton mill for holiday page 9

Life and Work Oh, WAITER...

Volunteers go all out at make-aWish dinner Page 11

Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Kate Anderson, who serves on the Arts Council of Windham County and the Brattleboro Town Arts Committee, stands in the former Town Rexall Pharmacy on Main Street. Plans are in the works to turn the space into a downtown “arts incubator” site.

By Olga Peters The Commons

BRATTLEBORO—Like many people, Cheryl Connor doesn’t care for her health insurance or what she sees as regulatory bias against alternative health care. So she and others have come up with a model for people of like minds that could appeal to a wide range of the community, from reiki practitioners to libertarians: to create their own

community-owned and operated health insurance. In the scramble to develop health-care delivery options in the wake of the federal health care reform bill and Vermont’s Act 128, the new initiative, called Holistic Health Opportunities (H2O), proposes using the cooperative model to deliver health care to its members. Organizers looking for equal treatment of alternative health care options under the new laws

Arts A few steps Brooks House may soon become ‘incubator’ space for creative economy

By Randolph T. Holhut The Commons


RATTLEBORO—A recent study commissioned by Burlington developer Melinda Moulton and conducted by public policy analyst Doug Hoffer found that the annual total economic impact of the arts industry in Vermont is $443.5 million and that it is directly responsible for nearly 4,400 jobs. Arts? Industry? If seeing those two words together in the same sentence seems jarring, Kate Anderson of the Arts Council of Windham County and the Brattleboro Town Arts Committee says it shouldn’t be. In her mind, any economic development planning in Brattleboro and southern Vermont has to take into account the arts and the creative economy. Anderson is a big advocate of seeing artists function more as businesspeople and seeing artists not being dependent on the whims of donors and foundations for their funding. Earlier this year, Anderson said the Town Arts Committee held a charrette, or group discussion, on the future of the arts in Brattleboro that focused on five areas of importance for a dynamic arts community — networking and community, arts and education, resources, public art, and sustenance and growth of the arts economy. “The one topic that kept coming up was the need to have a ‘junction’ for the arts and a place

Organizers explore localvore health insurance with the cooperative model

closer toward broadband Efforts move forward in the Deerfield Valley By Olga Peters The Commons

to network and share ideas,” she said. That place might soon be the Brooks House on Main Street.

An ‘arts incubator’

Anderson said the owner of the Brooks House, Jonathan Chase, approached her and the Arts Council to come up with ideas for adapting some of his vacant commercial space on Main Street for artists’ use. One space is the long-dormant 124 Main St., former home of the Town Rexall Pharmacy. Anderson said she envisions the 2,200-squarefoot space as an “arts incubator, a downtown version of the Cotton Mill,” where artists of all types can network, brainstorm, feed off one another’s creativity and get the resources to start their arts businesses. “The opportunity is phenomenal,” said Anderson. “The Brooks House is a underused resource that could become the center for the arts economy in Brattleboro.” The main idea for space is as a shared, n see ARTS JUNCTION, page 3

n see cooperativeS, page 3

DOVER—At a joint meeting of the Dover and Wilmington Selectboards, Bi-Town Economic Development Planner Bill Colvin and Dover Economic Specialist Patrick Moreland both said progress is being made on improving broadband and cell service in the Deerfield Valley. “There’s a lot of moving parts,” said Colvin during his quarterly presentation to the boards. The Dover and Wilmington Selectboards tasked Colvin and Moreland with improving cell phone and broadband or highspeed Internet access in the valley. It is goal number one for Colvin, hired as the Bi-Town Economic Development Planner early autumn. According Colvin and Moreland, some areas of the

valley are covered by carriers on towers at Mount Snow and Haystack ski areas and in downtown Wilmington. Duncan Cable and FairPoint Communications also cover portions of the valley. According to documents handed out at the meeting, the cellular coverage can be “spotty even in a community that a carrier identifies as covered.” Additionally, standards for highspeed Internet are increasingly adding to the ever-changing telecommunications landscape. VTel’s Wireless Open World (WOW), if successful, would connect every un-served home and business in rural Vermont to 4G/LTE wireless broadband. East Dover and portions of Wilmington fall into WOW’s un-served category. Vermont FiberConnect, a collaboration of the Vermont Telecommunications Authority n see telecom, page 4

Massage regulation touches a nerve

By Allison Teague The Commons

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As its membership presses state government to require standards, an industry group says licensing will be safer and better for all


RATTLEBORO— Vermont is one of only seven states that do not regulate massage therapists. Professional licensing is not required. No recourse for complaints or censure exists, and Vermont has no registry that citizens can access to check basic education and licensing, or to see whether

clients have complained about any particular massage therapist. “In Vermont, we have a lot of really wonderful massage therapy practitioners who deserve recognition for the work they do,” said Eve Baker, a massage therapist licensed in New York state who practices in Brattleboro. “But in this state, we are not considered professional by other professionals. We are not brought into the circle of health care. We don’t

Allison Teague/The Commons

Eve Baker (inset) holds one of the patient forms she uses to keep track of what treatments have performed during an office visit.

n see MASSAGE, page 2

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Deadline for the Dec. 1 issue Friday, Nov. 26 About The newspaper

The Commons is a nonprofit community newspaper published since 2006 by Vermont Independent Media, Inc., a nonprofit corporation under section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code. We now publish weekly. The newspaper is free, but it is supported by readers like you through tax-deductible donations, through advertising support, and through support of charitable foundations. SUBMITTING NEWS ITEMS/tips

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To create a forum for community partic­ ipation through publication of The Commons and; to pro­mote local, independent journalism in Windham County; and to promote civic engagement by building media skills among Windham County residents through the Media Mentoring Project. BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Barbara S. Evans, Barry Aleshnick, Alan O. Dann, Dan DeWalt, Peter Seares, Bob Rottenberg, Curtiss Reed Jr. ————— Without our volunteers, this newspaper would exist only in our imaginations. Special thanks to: Editorial support: Joyce Marcel, David Shaw, Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg Special projects development: Allison Teague, Olga Peters Operations support: Simi Berman, Chris Wesolowski, Diana Bingham, Jim Maxwell, Bill Pearson, Andi Waisman, Barbara Walsh, Menda Waters

• Wednesday, November 24, 2010

COUNT Y AND REGION n Massage have licensing or regulation.” This might soon change. In October, the state Office of Professional Regulations (OPR) took testimony regarding regulation of massage therapists in Vermont. The testimony was part of what the office calls the “sunrise process,” in which applicants must prove a need for regulation. Chris Widlund, a licensed massage therapist (LMT) who leads the Vermont Initiative for Massage Standards (VIMS) task force, and Janet Kahn, a medical sociologist, nationally certified massage therapist, and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Vermont, stated their intent to advocate for the safety of their clientele when they requested the hearing last June. That request came as part of their sunrise application. Long hours of research went into the application. Widlund, starting in 2007, traveled throughout the state and the nation to meet with professionals and massage therapists in order to “see what went wrong in other states’ regulation.” Finally, the task force had put together 1,000 pages stating all the reasons the public would be safer if OPR approved regulation of massage therapists. The application requests a clear standard of education and practice, registration of massage therapists and an avenue of recourse for complaints from clients in Vermont. OPR’s legal counsel Larry Novins and Director Christopher Winters accepted testimony at the hearing. “Right now,” Widlund explained, “anyone from out-ofstate or in-state can say they are a massage therapist and set up a practice. I have listened to complaints from clients who come to me about [supposed massage therapists] they got a massage from. Because I am bound by confidentiality, I can do nothing. Eventually, that person could move to another county where they could still be giving massages.” According to Widlund, some opponents of regulation say that since referrals are largely word of mouth, a bad massage therapist won’t get work anyway once word got around. But what about who haven’t heard yet?

Training matters, licensed therapists say

Baker joined VIMS last year, and explained how some massage therapists view things. “There is an aspect of fear associated with regulation in Vermont,” Baker said. “Vermonters in general don’t like regulation, and there is always fear associated with change. Some people aren’t good at taking tests. That’s why they’ve



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chosen kinetic work like massage therapy. They learn kinetically.” Baker noted that the task force’s aim is to keep a client safe. She explained that Vermont has plenty of excellent massage who are not certified or licensed anywhere. “It’s important for people to know that one of the inclusions in our request to the state for stricter regulations includes a ‘grandfathering in’ of massage therapists who can prove they have been practicing for a certain amount of time,” Baker said. “We have no wish to put anyone out of business who is legitimately practicing massage.” VIMS’ application to the OPR last month was focused on the public harm perspective, Baker said. “Education and training are important,” Baker said. “There have been instances where harm has been done to a client because the massage therapist did not have training in anatomy and physiology, let alone an understanding of pathology. If someone has a serious medical condition, you’re going to want to know that.” Widlund gave examples of conditions, such as deep-vein thrombosis, that could be dangerous to a client if the massage therapist does not know how massage therapy can cause harm. “If a patient has that diagnosis from a doctor, massage could release a blood clot into the bloodstream with serious consequences to the patient,” she said. “Or in geriatric patients, you don’t want to massage the carotid artery because you could release plaque into the brain.” If a massage therapist is not trained in anatomy, physiology and pathology, he or she is unlikely to know these things, Baker noted. Injuries to clients have occured, Widlund said. In 2000, Baker said, her love of massage and use of kinesthetic solutions in her teaching motivated her in her education. She had worked as a literature and writing educator for 20 years, teaching children at risk and adults with learning disabilities. “I chose the Finger Lakes School of Massage specifically because over 1,000 hours are required for licensing [in New York state],” she said. “I wanted the strictest licensing requirements available so I would come out with the most knowledge. Some massage therapists who have done a weekend or month intensive are missing whole pieces we need to know in order not to cause physical harm to someone. And ethics are never talked about.” “I took classes in anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, and pathology. I’m bound by a set of ethics in a professional setting,” Baker added. “I create professional boundaries as soon as I greet my client.” Training in ethical issues, such as confidentiality, is crucial to set the proper standards, she said. “I bind myself and my clients by having them sign a HIPAA [The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 Privacy and Security Rules] agreement when they start with me,” Baker said. “I have to

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Despite our similar name, The Com­ mons is not affiliated with Ver­mont Commons, a statewide journal that is strongly linked with a movement advocating Vermont’s secession from the United States.

T h e C ommons

Chris Widlund.

What would the regulations look like? The Vermont Initiative for Massage Standards has created a draft bill that suggests what regulation would look like. If it is defined by Vermont statute, this authority would include the following elements: § Office of professional regulation a. The director shall: 1. Provide general information to applicants for licensure as massage therapists. 2. Explain appeal procedures to licensed massage therapists and applicants, and complaint procedures to the public. 3. Administer fees as established by law. 4. Receive applications for licensure, administer examinations, provide licenses to applicants qualified under this chapter, renew, revoke and reinstate licenses as ordered by an administrative law officer. 5. Refer all disciplinary matters to an administrative law officer. b. The director may adopt rules necessary to perform his or her duties under this section. § Advisor appointees a. The Secretary of State shall appoint two massage therapists as advisors in matters relating to massage therapy. b. The director shall seek the advice of the massage therapist advisors in carrying out provisions of this chapter. Larry Novins, the legal counsel for the Office of Professional Regulation, said the OPR considered three tiers of possible regulation and would make its recommendations according to those. The VIMS task force recommended “licensure [as] the least restrictive level of regulation for massage therapy to afford the highest public protection for the citizens of Vermont.” add the caveat that in the state of Vermont, that [agreement] does not hold for massage therapists, as we are not licensed here, and a court of law could require me to break confidentiality.” Baker also said she takes extensive patient history on medical conditions and writes notes after each visit. “I keep records of every session on every patient I see,” she said. “I need to know if they have any medical conditions. If they have a cardiac condition, high blood pressure, a pinched nerve, whether they’ve ever been in a car accident — all the things a regular doctor needs to know to treat someone safely and ethically. But not every massage therapist does this.” Widlund said that with regulation, “clients know what to expect from a massage therapist. They would know what is normal and what is not.” She said it’s important to have a true jury of her peers to investigate complaints, for only someone who is an expert in the field of massage therapy can understand what occurred and why, she said. “They wouldn’t know what we were talking about. How could they make a fair judgment?” “We live in a world where there are only two kinds of touch: sexual touch and violent touch. Most people have no understanding of what therapeutic touch is or does for a person,” she added. “If someone comes out of a massage therapy session with


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a complaint of inappropriate behavior on the part of the clinician, before a complaint is lodged with the police or lawsuits are filed, an advisor could examine the complaint and determine if what the practitioner did was legitimate or not,” Widlund said. “A complaint could be taken to an advisor or board. The claim can be investigated. The findings would not be arbitrary. And,” she said, “it saves the state court costs.”

Beyond bodywork

Among the submissions for evidence at the hearing were reports from the Burlington Free Press of police actions, taken from 2004 through February of this year, involving sexual assault, prostitution, and sex slavery at several spa locations in Burlington. Widlund added she presented the evidence simply to illustrate the need for regulation and an avenue of protection and complaint for clients. Baker spoke of the need for clients to understand how massage therapy works. She noted that, for instance, to relieve sciatic nerve pain, a therapist would deeply palpate the gluteus maximus, or butt muscles. “This could easily be misinterpreted if a client did not know what to expect,” Baker said. “I try to educate my clients as I am doing the therapy,” she continued. “I want to learn from them, and I want them to understand what I am doing.” In the case of arbitration, a practitioner could be censured, with tiered responses based on the severity of the offense. “It could mean further education requirements, say in ethics and communication,” Baker said. In an case of an extreme transgression, a massage therapist could lose his or her license to practice in Vermont, “but we would first like to assume a mistake was made and lack of knowledge or experience was the reason,” she said. Right now, “there is no regulation and no recourse for an injured party.”

Baker said that in New York, “massage therapists are brought into the circle of care by physicians. Insurance companies pay for our services.” She added that a loophole that insurance companies use in Vermont lets them get out of paying for services. “I have several clients whose insurance would not reimburse them or pay me,” Baker said. “I asked the insurers why, and they said ‘because you aren’t licensed in Vermont.’” “When I said, ‘but I’m licensed in two other states [New York and New Jersey],’ they said, ‘but not in Vermont,’” she continued. “It’s pretty hard to get licensed in Vermont when they don’t require it.” On the other hand, Baker noted, she has never had any problem getting paid for massage services for employees of Brattleboro Memorial Hospital. “They have paid me every time.”

Moving forward

Widlund reiterated that the motivation behind VIMS is “not financial, but so clients can have recourse to in the case of harm, and to regulate massage therapy on a professional level.” While national lobbyists for the Associated Bodywork and Massage Practitioners (ABMP) attended and testified at the hearing, Widlund revealed that “this movement originated and was moved forward by Vermont massage therapists.” Novins said he was not aware of any insurance company representatives involved in the hearing or providing testimony, except those who submitted evidence of actions taken on the part of their clients following complaints. He said that he is compiling testimony and that he will submit his recommendations to Winters. He will then decide whether to submit the proposed regulations for the Legislature to consider when it reconvenes in January.

Rotary’s Christmas Tree Fundraiser begins Nov. 27 BRATTLEBORO – “Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall.” On Saturday, Nov. 27, the 46th annual Brattleboro Rotary Club Christmas Tree Fundraiser officially begins. Since 1965, the Brattleboro Rotary Club has sold Christmas trees as a fundraiser for local community service projects and student scholarships, and this year is no different. Proceeds from the Christmas Tree Sale support the club’s annual student scholarship awards of $3,000 each to eight students from local high schools. Vermont-grown trees of all shapes and sizes will be sold 1-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays in front of Brattleboro Bowl on Putney Road. Sales will continue until the trees are gone. The Brattleboro Rotary Club, founded in 1950, is an active community service club of 85 members who engage in community and human service projects both locally and internationally. For more information or to purchase Christmas tree gift certificates, visit

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• Wednesday, November 24, 2010


BR AT TLEBORO n Cooperatives are working to get H2O’s structure in place by the new year. Conner, the mastermind behind the initiative, said the coops allow like-minded members to design holistic health care delivery systems. “Everyone feels disempowered. But everyone has power within themselves and the insurance statutes,” said Conner. According to Connor, a teacher at the Marlboro College Graduate School with a background in law, finance and management, H2O would act as an alternative to buying the commercial health insurance based on Western medicine mandated by the recent federal health care reform bill. Co-ops won’t save money, organizers point out, but they’ll use available funds differently. Within the co-op structure, members pool their resources, receive equal shares in the organization and split the benefits and savings equally. With a health-care co-op, members collectively buy physicians’ services, equipment and supplies. The minimum amount of outof-pocket and insurance rates are rising, doubling in some cases, yet customers see their available benefits diminishing, said Hilary Cooke, a Brattleboro-based consulting health insurance broker involved with H2O. “We are motivated now [to make changes],” Cooke said. “It’s exciting.”

Driven by values

The idea behind H2O is health-care reform coupled with services that reflect the values of its members. In Windham County, people want alternative-health options, like acupuncture, not included in Blue Cross-Blue Shield benefits, Cooke said. H2O hosted a forum at the World Learning campus on Nov. 20, serving as a matchmaker among participants interested in developing, and ultimately joining, a health-care co-op. Conner gave her first presentation in April at the Peace Abby in Sherborn, Mass., and forums in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and elsewhere in Vermont followed. “Our research indicates that placing considerable emphasis on a home- and communitybased model can result in considerable cost savings, as compared with traditional approaches. Many aspects of personal wellbeing can be optimized to help offset the costs of traditional care. Beyond the home, additional health resources can be accessed through both traditional and holistic service providers. This model is akin to whole-person based hospice care, applied through the entire lifespan,” said

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Windham County meeting. Webber, inspired by Conner’s vision, said she could see a “real shift of the paradigm on many levels.” She believes a co-op system fosters the natural human capacity to collaborate, care for one another, and to know how to be healthy. “It brings [things] back to the basics of caring for each other,” said Webber.

How the H2O works

Cheryl Connor Conner.

Frustration spurs change

Conner, who lives in Massachusetts, said she committed herself to the health-care co-op initiative after the state’s health care bill “forced” her to buy unwanted health insurance. She feels the new federal health care bill is worse. According to Conner, 40 percent of Americans use complementary medicine like herbal remedies, but the federal Affordable Care Act, passed in March, does not reflect either the numbers or the preference. “We’ve got to energize people. There will never be a onesize-fits-all [insurance plan],” said Conner. Conner feels it is her job to catalyze the holistic community. She believes many people are forced to pay for health insurance that does not provide their exclusive care choice. A patch of common ground for everyone involved in the H2O initiative is “we all see the current system as bloated, fragmented and unsustainable, focusing on profit not health,” Conner said. Cooke joined the H2O initiative out of frustration as a consultant, witnessing people also frustrated with “how out of reach the peace of mind of health care is to working people.” “And if I work my way out of a job, so be it. I’ve reinvented myself before,” Cooke said, smiling. “We have to find a medical home for everybody,” he added. Wendy Webber, a psychotherapist, life skills coach and part of the core group working with H2O, said that at Saturday’s forum, everyone participated equally as co-creators without the presumption that any one person was the expert. “I’m excited to be part of an initiative that’s trying to change things at a foundational level,” said Webber, who joined the initiative after attending a previous

“It’s all about power to the people,” said Conner, who teaches a course on equity, ownership and control at the Marlboro College Graduate School. Conner believes people should have the right to choose their own health care. For her, it’s a matter of liberty and sovereignty. Conner believes communities can create economically viable co-ops if they break through the limits placed by the federal government and insurance companies. Under the H2O initiative, communities would customize their own structure, model and coverage. A health-care co-op could employ herbal remedies or traditionally western medicine or both. Regarding health-care co-ops, Conner defines “community” as whoever shows up to participate in the process and, eventually, the co-op. In general, she said, the people who have participated are the ones “inspired to think outside the box.” As a whole, the Brattleboro community is receptive to the idea of co-ops, said Conner, who presented the idea in Brattleboro in August and October. Conner said the H2O initiative is about shifting the health-care paradigm. The first shift, according to Conner, requires moving away from the “illness model” of modern medicine, a system focused on symptoms and crisis management, to a system focused on “holistic, integrative and alternative” health care. The next shift entails releasing profit-driven insurance companies and opting for a cooperative structure built around benefiting its members. Economically, said Conner, people have acclimated to Washington D.C. and the insurance companies deciding “who gets what care at what price.” Under H2O, communities will shift to a new paradigm of designing their own menu of pay scales and care coverage. With H2O, co-op members, not an outside insurance company, make these decisions. Right now, said Conner, people choose only from insurance companies offering the same services.

Show me the money… and the regulation BRATTLEBORO—H2O participants say state and federal law allows for the formation and funding of health care co-ops, but funding remains an “elusive piece” for the initiative, says insurance consultant Hilary Cooke. In addition to mandating the purchase of health insurance advocating mainstream medicine, he said, the law also provides “statutory exemptions from the mandate to purchase health insurance for those with minority religious and spiritual beliefs and provisions favorable for health ministries and new health co-ops.” There is also a provision for states to opt out and adopt their own system. Vermont is already considering seeking such a waiver. According to Cheryl Conner, the new federal health care bill offers $6 billion to create co-ops. Vermont allows employers to self-insure employees without sending any money to an insurance company. Therefore, employers or networks could, for example, self-insure employees (or members) with a structure that encourages the use of herbs over painkillers. Changes and funding would have to occur locally and at the state level, said Conner, because at the federal level meeting “minority preferences” of the holistic 40 percent would not create cost savings. The co-ops will need to start small, get traction serving as many members as possible with available resources, and think

big along the way, Cooke said. Ralph Meima views Conner’s approach as one that provides an alternative to government-funded insurance, yet still gives members universal access and preventative care. But people can’t just go to the government for funding, he said. At the end of the day, no matter the delivery, someone pays for health care, according to Meima. A family of four with employer-funded insurance pays on average $12,000 a year in premiums, not including their share of co-pays or medicines. Uninsured people often end up going the emergency room receiving either crisis or public funded care paid with by tax dollars, he said. “Somebody’s still paying for it,” said Meima. Sojourns Community Health Clinic in Westminster is a holistic medical establishment model in practice, said Meima. Members of a health care co-op would “get more proactive information to be and live healthy,” said Meima. Meima said he’s surprised co-ops have not been used to fund health-care delivery before, given their long history like rural electric companies or agricultural co-ops. Success will mean having a large and diverse pool of members with a balanced mix of health-care needs to spread costs across. Success also depends on how well the organization is governed. Governance will prove tricky at first because

these co-ops don’t yet exist, said Meima. The Brattleboro Food Co-op is an example of a well-run organization, said Meima — one that started well and continued to develop a professional and successful culture.

Passion will yield results

To Cooke, participants clearly stated their “dos” at Saturday’s forum. They do want universal access, income sensitivity, access to providers important to them especially “alternative” health care providers, and an emphasis on wellness. Participants also want more primary and preventative care. Participants don’t want to pay for services they philosophically object to, like pharmacy and redundant services, said Cooke. The next step, he said, entails engaging interested participants in continuing the development process. According to Conner, she thinks Vermont will build the health care co-ops first but that groups in North Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California are also exploring the option. “We want to change the health care landscape,” said Conner. The H2O team wants to have three pilot locations up and running within six months. “Let’s test it out,” said Conner.

Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Timberly Hund of Brand Pandemic in Brattleboro is one of the consultants working on a proposed downtown “arts incubator” space on Main Street.

n Arts junction cooperative office space. Besides sharing office equipment, artists could gain access to management advice, mentoring and business incubation. “Young people are used to working in a collaborative setting,” said Timberly Hund, a self-described “visual stimulator” for Brand Pandemic, a creative design agency in the Hooker-Dunham Building in Brattleboro. “It breaks down the isolation and helps you network better.” Hund said she approached Chase about locating her agency at the Brooks House, which led to deeper discussions about how to use the vacant space for artistic endeavors. “124 Main is a pass-through space, a way to get from the Harmony Lot to Main Street,” she said. “It would work well for a business and would make a great meeting space.” She also believes that creating a downtown arts incubator space will benefit all downtown property owners, not just Chase. “I can guarantee that property values would increase,” said Hund. “People are going “But really, they’re offering the same brand of cereal and if you want granola you’re not getting it,” Conner said. The final change requires prying power from the grip of “experts” and pharmaceutical companies. “Our bodies are our own and sovereign” and it’s “our individual liberty to control them,” said Conner.

‘All about freedom’

Connor said co-op members could take advantage of different co-op structures to meet their needs. Members could, in theory, convert an existing health clinic to a worker- or consumer-owned clinic. This traditional cooperative could be set up immediately and stand independently from other systems. At the other end of the spectrum, said Conner, members could set up a “network” or “multi-stakeholder” co-op among multiple hospitals, food co-ops, clinics, gyms and practitioners across Windham County. Multi-stakeholder co-ops rely on members culled from all parts of the health-care process. A multi-stakeholder food co-op could have consumers, producers, workers and other investors as members. Conner envisions a multistakeholder co-op for Windham County, but said the H2O members would choose a model that best suits the collective need. Financially, said Conner, coops can connect with current federal or state funds like Medicare or finance themselves separately where members’ premiums pay for the co-op. A group of holistic providers in Rhode Island recently founded a worker-owned co-op at their holistic health center, said Conner. “I’m all about freedom,” said Conner. Cooke said that in mainstream medicine, “preventative” means catching a disease early. But to the H2O participants, preventative means being motivated to prevent disease through actions like proper nutrition. “It isn’t for everybody. Not everyone is motivated to take this sort of ownership of their health,” Cooke warned. Cooke said the health care coops are one solution out of many rather than an attempt to “corner the market.” They’re about finding a home for like-minded people frustrated by today’s health-care costs. “Start small, because we have to start somewhere,” he said.

A long tradition

Ralph Meima, director of Marlboro’s MBA in Managing for Sustainability Program, feels

from page 1

to want to live in your building Florida, who wrote the bestselland want to have businesses ing book The Rise of the Creative downtown.” Class and who has been a leading proponent of the theory The next steps that cities and towns that at Anderson said her commit- tract and retain creative people, tee is seeking a planning grant such as artists, have higher levto determine the feasibility of els of economic growth. the project. “We have a good downtown, “People are interested in but we can’t rest on our lauthe idea, and [Chase] is look- rels,” Anderson said. ing at the long term,” she said. “Southeast Vermont is los“The key is coming up with a ing population faster than business plan for a resource any other region outside the that will serve the arts as an Northeast Kingdom,” she said. industry.” “We’re losing jobs, and young Anderson said that while people say there’s nothing for Brattleboro’s downtown is still them here. The knowledge fairly vibrant despite the cur- industries are where the jobs rent recession, it is approach- are, and you attract those jobs ing a crossroads. with a vibrant arts and cultural “I think we have to ask our- scene.” selves whether we are in a Brattleboro has most of the downturn or in a transition,” elements already in place, she she said, “and if we’re in a said. transition, how do we address “We’re close to Boston and what we need to bring our town New York, yet being here still to the next level? This place is feels like an artists’ retreat, with crawling with innovation. It’s so much natural beauty and so just a matter of matching the many creative people around,” resources with the needs.” she said. She admits the blueprint “We don’t have to be Aspen she envisions is not new. It to be successful,” Anderson draws heavily of the work of said. “We just have to be urban studies theorist Richard Brattleboro.”

A pressing need Cheryl Conner is passionate about the H2O initiative. “I need to be because the problem of adequate health care insurance is so big,” she said. According to the latest statistics compiled in 2009 by Vermont’s Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration (BISHCA), 47,460 — or 7.6 percent — of residents have no health insurance.

BISHCA asserts that 10,839 residents between the ages of 18 and 24 had the highest uninsured rate of 17.4 percent. Of Vermonters with health insurance, 355,358 (57.2 percent) had private insurance companies providing their primary health insurance, according to the most recent BISHCA data collected in late 2009.

health-care co-ops will work in new is applying it to the delivery Windham County because of the of health care, she said. high level of interest in univer“Vermont looks for local solusal health care, general interest tions,” she said. in holistic health and a realistic understanding of current funding situations. Vermont historically has a Maybelle Farm well-developed sense of community, a number of successful R egisteRed co-ops and a strong libertarian s hetland s heep streak, making it well-suited for 14 Melbourne Rd. such a model, Conner said. Wardsboro, Vt. Conner sees the federal Maybelle Farm health-care mandate as a violaHoliday Specials: tion of individuals’ civil liberties — and that it is not just a Tea Still time to sign up for Party issue. the “Angel/Snowmen” Needlefelting class with Cheryl Co-ops are nothing new, said Flett on Sunday Nov. 28th. Pat Csurny, a Marlboro MBA Class time 12 noon to 4 p.m. in Sustainability candidate from cost $35.00/person and East Dorset, facilitated the deincludes supplies. velopment and collaboration Sunday Dec. 12th “Needlefelt committees Saturday with team a Traditional or Victorian member Wendy Webber. Santa” at 12 noon to 4 p.m. Benjamin Franklin first sugwith Kathleen Meeks cost gested the co-op model. What’s $35.00/person and includes



Nov. 26 and 27 from 9 to 6 Nov. 28 from 12 to 5 71 Elliot Street, Brattleboro

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• Wednesday, November 24, 2010

T h e C ommons

deerfield valley n Telecom (VTA) and Sovernet, will connect over 340 “community anchor institutions” via a 773 “fiber-optic middle mile network.” This program would serve educational and library facilities in the valley. FairPoint Communications’ Backroads Broadband program, originally expected to provide increased service and coverage to East Dover, has gone back to the VTA for financial support after issues with language in the first version that allowed Backroads Broadband to erroneously skirt areas already covered by federal programs. AT&T and Earth Tone Technologies have also announced upgrades. Earth Tone, a Massachusetts cell tower site acquisition and development company, is evaluating new tower sites in both towns with possible “synergy” with VTel’s WOW. Earth Tone’s development plan would “significantly enhance coverage,” said Moreland pointing out that 2009 was the first year that data transmissions exceeded telephone transmissions. Colvin advised the boards that with this many projects and changes on the horizon, it was best to wait a little for the “moving parts to percolate a bit.” He said there was no rush to hook the towns’ wagon to a single project or provider. Colvin asked the boards authorize him to develop a longrange telecommunications strategy in partnership with Moreland. Wilmington Selectboard Clerk Margaret Streeter thanked Colvin for his work, adding she finally had a picture of all the projects in the works. The FCC’s basic high-speed standards of 1 megabytes per second upload and 4 megabytes per second download should

Wilmington to hold special election in January WILMINGTON— The town will hold a special election on Jan. 4 to fill the vacancy on the Selectboard created by the resignation of Bruce P. Mullen. Anyone interested in running for the remainder of the term, which expires at Town Meeting in 2012, can pick up a petition from the Town Clerk’s office, or at the town website, Petitions are due in the Town Clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 29. The deadline to register to vote in this special election is Wednesday, Dec. 29. For information, or to pick up an absentee ballot, contact the Town Clerk’s office at 802-464-5836.

from page 1

Bill Colvin

Patrick Moreland

be pursued as standard for every home and business in the two towns. But, recommended Colvin, the towns should also look ahead preparing for expansion considering, “the business park of the 21st century may not be located anywhere specific, but rather may occur wherever telecommunication capacity is plentiful.” With the boards’ blessings, Colvin said he recommended that he pursue private and public funding opportunities for expanding telecommunication services, engaging the legislative delegation’s support “where necessary to facilitate expanded broadband wand wireless access in Dover and Wilmington.” Also, said Colvin, he would develop a time-line and implementation strategy by September 2011. State Rep. Ann Manwaring,

D-Wilmington, told Colvin and Moreland to remember as they worked with the telecommunication companies awarded public monies, “that money is ours and not theirs.” Based on conversations with the Wilmington School Board, Colvin suggested the implementation of a “business incubator.” He said the idea is still in its “infancy,” but it could be structured as a nonprofit or operated in conjunction with an institution of higher education. Colvin told the Selectboards that despite the Tri-Town Economic Development Committee, which includes Whitingham, achieving its original charge that “now seems to be an opportune time to evaluate the direction of this group and consider how best to reconstitute it.” “Regardless of the

Halifax Community Club holds Christmas bazaar on Dec. 4

The proposed service area for VTel’s Wireless Open World initiative, designed to “bring 4G/LTE wireless broadband to every un-served home and business in rural Vermont,” according to the carrier’s website ( structure….I think it may be valuable to have some group in addition to the town Selectboards to serve as a sounding board and collector and disseminator of information in pursuit of our goals,” said Colvin.

Wilmington Selectboard member James Burke said, “You can hit the ground running but you guys hit the ground running, and didn’t stumble. Stay the course.” The boards voted in favor of Colvin’s recommendations.

HALIFAX — There will be a Christmas bazaar on Saturday, Dec. 4t, at the Community Hall in West Halifax at the intersection of Branch and Brook Roads from 9 a.m until 2:30 p.m. There will be lots of homemade baked goods, crafts, a silent auction and much more. Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with soups, sandwiches on homemade bread, chips, homemade pickles, a beverage and dessert. Proceeds benefit the Halifax Community Club, which has held this bazaar for many years. Contact Joan Courser at 802368-7733 for more information.

GUILFORD Town announces schedule for 250th anniversary celebration GUILFORD—A few of Vermont’s oldest towns have already commemorated their 250th anniversaries, with more preparing to do so. Typically, these celebrations have occupied a full weekend. But Guilford is having a yearlong birthday party in 2011. Although Guilford was chartered as early as its neighboring towns, in 1754, a quirk of modern history has resulted in what at first glance appears to be a 7-year delay in the 250th. Guilford celebrated its bicentennial in 1961, a weekendlong series of events. The year

pageant in which current residents dress up as departed ones. Guilford takes a slightly different approach, in a work entitled “Broad Brook Anthology,” in which the recollections of Guilford elders are woven into a play for voices by Guilford poet Exotic Thai Cuisine Verandah Porche and read by local actors. The Far East Just The Thanksgiving weekend Got a Little Closer! play includes projected images of the elders, taken by local pho7 High Street tographer Jeff Woodward, with Brattleboro, VT music by Guilford composer Don McLean. (802) 251-1010 Add a January sledding party, a February snowshoe race, a summer history program for kids JOHN PENFIELD’S at Guilford Free Library, and a 558 Putney Road Brattleboro The red brick schoolhouse, built in 1797, now houses harvest season meal entirely of 254-5411 foods grown in Guilford, then the Guilford Historical Society. Locally Owned For Over 35 Years! mix in Decoration Day cerewaltzes for Valentine’s. re-creation of the Guilford’s monies, a fishing derby, a road FREE FALL LUBE, OIL & FILTER $ 25 One of the dances restores most famous event in the 20th race and a presentation on the CHECKOVER $ 95 +env.2fee a Guilford tradition that was century: The Franklin Barbecue historic theater curtains at the Battery • Coolant lost a half-century ago: a square of 1957. That day ends with fire- Grange, and the full scope of this Most cars. Special Oil & Wipers • Tires • Lights Up to 5 qts. 5W-30 Filters Extra. dance at the Grange following works. On Sunday the Guilford town-wide celebration comes the traditional Guilford Fair on Community Church will join into focus. VERMONT STATE Labor Day. with historic Christ Church for The celebration is being INSPECTION Another bit of history will a Service of Thanksgiving, fol- guided by an official town comRegular be involved in the November lowed by a luncheon. mittee that for nearly five years $ 00 Price dance, which features dances Other notable events include has been meeting, planning and and music composed by late a program of Civil War songs fundraising. Principal sponBUy 3, GET 1 FREE Guilford resident Rich Blazej, and family letters; concerts of sors include the Guilford Old Other brands also available Assurance Tires performed by many of his mu- music by Guilford composers, Home Day Committee, Entergy sician friends, with proceeds presented by Friends of Music Nuclear Vermont Yankee, and Courtesy Cars or Rides Always Available at No Cost! to benefit a fund established in at Guilford; a series of Guilford theVT people of Guilford. 55 Depot St. Brattleboro, his name at Guilford Central Movie Nights; a chamber conMost Since of the events will be (802) 254-5755 VT State Inspection Blue #12 Due Now 1946 VTGuilford Ensemble, admission-free, School.55 Depot St. Brattleboro, cert by The with donations 55 Depot St. Brattleboro, VT Although there are events in formed just for the celebration, welcome. For more information, Si nc e (802) 254-5755 Cut your energy costs this year… 55 St. Brattleboro, 19 every month, the focal point of featuring music the era one may visit the Guilford 250th 46 from VT SinDepot ce (802) 254-5755 Sinceby more by installing the year is the “Big Weekend” when Guilford wassomething settled website at, (802) 254-5755 1 9 4 6 1946 Cut your energy costs this year… in August, when a Friday night composers suchCall as Bach andGas! which also contains contact info. efficient. Merrill 55precedes Depot St. VT costs dance a fullBrattleboro, Saturday Haydn; and “neighborhood The planners note that while Cut your energy this year… by installing something more Sinc (802) 254-5755 with a softball tournament, and days”19 ineeach of the town’s vil- this is a Guilford celebration, it 46 by Merrill installing something indham ounty the biggest parade theCall town has lagesGas! and hamlets. more will be all the more meaningefficient. Direct ever ACall tradition inVent such celebra- ful and enjoyable when shared Cut seen. your energy costs this year… efficient. Merrill Gas! The parade ends at the tions is some sortHeater of theatrical with friends, neighbors and visiumane oCiety Convection by installing something Fairgrounds, where ongoing more work representing aspects of tors from other towns and other Make a friend 916 West River Road, Brattleboro, VT Vent activities forDirect all ages include the town’s history, typically a states. efficient. Call Merrilla Gas! Direct Vent Buderus for life




was chosen because 1761 was the year of the first EuropeanAmerican settlement in Town. “Why they missed the more obvious bicentennial of the charter in 1954, no one now seems to know,” said Don McLean, who is co-chairing the 2011 celebration. A group of townspeople met in 2003 to grapple with this issue, “and we finally decided that it seemed odd to celebrate the semiquincentennial 43 years after the bicentennial, so the decision was made to wait until 2011.” McLean notes that one benefit of the delay was that it gave the town extra time to plan what is likely the biggest celebration a town of 2,500 has ever attempted. The celebration literally spans the entire year, beginning with ringing of church bells and schoolhouse bells throughout the town at noon on Saturday, Jan. 1, and ends on a Saturday 365 days later with a big dance for New Year’s Eve. In between are sporting events, concerts, tours, a Guilford Art Show, and many other events. One feature is a Dance-a-Month series at Broad Brook Grange in the town center. Each month’s dance will have a theme or different style, from contradance to a sock hop, a teen dance to an evening of

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1357567 House. Falls Opera The animated film, Despicable Me, will be shown in the Opera House, with admission sponsored by the Rotary Club. After the movie, Santa arrives at 3:45 p.m., courtesy of the Bellows Falls Fire Department. Refreshments after the movie in the Woman’s Club Room is sponsored by the Bellows Falls Woman’s Club and Emblem Club. A free photo with Santa, sponsored by the Potter family, will round out the festivities. While in Bellows Falls, view the festive decorations on the lamp poles from BFDDA and the decorated store windows. For more information on the event, contact Rita Hinds at 802-463-3779.

T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Project Feed the Thousands launches campaign BRATTLEBORO—Project Feed the Thousands has kicked off its 17th year of collecting nonperishable food items, personal care items and cash donations on behalf of more than 12,000 people who face hunger in southeastern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire. The Project invites local business, community, school and church leaders, as well as the public, to help with the drive — which runs through Dec. 31 — with food drop-off locations at many area grocery stores and businesses. This year, the Project hopes to raise $125,000 and fill 25 tractor trailers with food. “Last year, thanks to the generosity of our donors and hard work of volunteers, we surpassed our goals,” said project co-founder Larry Smith. “I have every confidence we’ll do it again this year.” Fellow co-founder George Haynes called for all local people to support their neighbors in need. “Times are difficult for more and more people in our communities,” he said. “They’re faced with an impossible dilemma, without enough resources to cover basic necessities such as housing and medicine while still putting food on the table for their families. Project Feed the Thousands provides crucial relief just when people need it most. But in order to help, we need the community’s help. Many hands make light work, and if we all do a little, we can get a lot done.” Founded in 1994, Project Feed the Thousands has grown to become the region’s largest food drive. The Project now collects food for distribution by 25 food shelves and community kitchens, including the Brattleboro Area Drop In Center, Chester-Andover Family Center, Deerfield Valley Food Pantry, Hinsdale Welfare Department, Our Place Drop In Center in Bellows Falls, Springfield Family Center and Townshend Community Food Shelf. Monetary contributions may be made online by visiting the Project’s website: w w w. Fe e d T h e T h o u s a n d s. o rg . Contributions by check may also be sent to: Project Feed the Thousands, c/o River Valley Credit Union, P.O. Box 8366, 820 Putney Rd., Brattleboro, VT 05304. Non-perishable food and personal care items may be donated at the Brattleboro Food Co-op, Hannaford and Price Chopper supermarkets in Brattleboro, RiverBend Farm Market in Townshend, Shaw’s in Wilmington, Schoolhouse Grocery in Vernon, Brattleboro Pharmacy, all River Valley Credit Union locations and many other local drop-off points.

Clift teaches memoir writing at Rockingham library BELLOWS FALLS — The Rockingham Free Public Library offers a free workshop led by local writer Elayne Clift, “Writing the Memoir — Without Falling Down The Rabbit Hole,” on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Memories provide insight into our lives and help us to understand who we are (and how we got that way). They can offer meaningful triggers for writers in all genres, not just memoirists. Often, however, writing from memory can lead us down a dark rabbit hole of introspection, issues and recycling. Take heart! As George Gershwin knew, “It ain’t necessarily so!” This workshop offers readings and writing prompts leading to a sense of self without having to abandon a sense of humor. We will explore memories that made us laugh, learn, gain insight, and experience joy while shaping our persona and giving our lives meaning. Bring paper, pen, and a humorous life story or two. Limited to 10 participants, call the library at 802-463-4270 or contact Clift at 802-869-2686 or






Will we ever stop hitting our readers up for money? Ever?


onestly? No. And that’s how it’s supposed to work. That’s because as a nonprofit newspaper, we here at The Commons and Vermont Independent Media count on reader donations to keep the lights on, the computers humming, the reporters reporting, and the editors saying “Great Caesar’s ghost” or whatever it is we do here. We also count on reader donations to support our Media Mentoring Project — a successful program that brings writing education to all ages in Windham County. You see these ads every issue, and we’re grateful that you’ve responded — we have welcomed hundreds of new members since we started memberships in June. That’s pretty incredible, but we still have a long way to go. The fact is, The Commons is produced on a tight, tight budget, one that provides us with a mix of funds from advertising, foundations, and citizens just like you. That keeps us duly independent and accountable to our readers. That’s as it should be. But it also means that we need a constant stream of memberships, and membership dues, just like public radio. And if we need a constant stream of memberships, you’re going to hear from us constantly. Look — we hate asking you for money. It’s awkward and squirmy. But the reality is, we can’t produce this newspaper for you without you as part of the team. The only way this newspaper will work is if we all come together and make it happen — those of us who create The Commons and those of you who value it. So as we enter this holiday season, we hope you’ll consider a gift membership for a friend or family member, or maybe an additional gift that will help us keep the presses rolling. Or give a holiday gift to yourself. You deserve it! Your membership in Vermont Independent Media brings you the satisfaction that you are helping make this improbable newspaper available for everyone, that you are helping kids learn how to create and read newspapers, and that you’re strengthening your community — our community — in the process. We look at this newspaper. We look at how far we have come. And we imagine how far we can go. And that’s something worth asking for.


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T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The time for giving is every day of the year


he start of the holiday season is traditionally a time that people become aware of the need to give to others. The food collection bins for Project Feed the Thousands showed up earlier this month at local grocery stores. The two biggest food shelves in Windham County, Our Place in Bellows Falls and the Brattleboro Drop-In Center, are distributing food nearly as fast as they receive donations. And its clear that the Deerfield Valley Food Pantry, the Townshend Community Food Shelf and churches as Community Bible Chapel in Brattleboro and the Second Congregational Church in Londonderry are gearing up for another challenging year. The Windham County Heat Fund also got off to an early start this year and the Reformer Christmas Stocking, which provides winter clothing to local children in need, will kick off its annual appeal later this week. Warm Hands Warm Hearts, the Masons’ annual project that collects used winter clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags, is also about to begin. And with the arrival of cold weather, the Brattleboro Overflow Shelter at the First Baptist Church has opened for the season, as has the Greater Falls Warming Shelter in Bellows Falls. It’s good that so many

organizations in our area are helping people through one of the bleakest economic times in decades, and we encourage our readers to support these efforts. But private charity can only go so far in dealing with a government that has failed too many of our fellow citizens. Listening to the incoming members of the 112th Congress, we can hear that providing help and hope for people in need is not a high priority. And, given the ongoing financial woes in Montpelier, we can’t expect state government to pick up the slack. But it is time we asked the following questions of our representatives in Montpelier and in Washington. With nearly 1 in 5 adult Americans either unemployed, underemployed, or having given up looking for work entirely, why is there so little willingness to deal with chronic joblessness? Is the fear of raising taxes or increasing deficits more worrisome than dealing with the human costs of this recession? If we truly are a compassionate people, why are the demands of the haves being put ahead of the needs of the have-nots? It is right to think of those in need during the holidays, but poverty and joblessness are with us 24/7. We can’t solve the long-term economic problems of our nation with holiday alms-giving. We can only solve our endemic problems with a commitment to creating just and fair economy for all.

Giving in action: Volunteers prepare for last year’s Brattleboro Community Thanksgiving Dinner with donated ingredients. This year’s dinner takes place Thursday — Thanksgiving Day, of course — at the River Garden.


The waste is here. Now what? If nuclear waste must remain in our backyard, can VY take measures to make it safer? Rowe, Mass. Deb Katz serves as executive director of Citizens Awareness Network and is a familiar face and lakes, on ocean among local opposition to the shores and in tidal Vermont Yankee nuclear power bays, in other vulplant. nerable places, nearly 63,000 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste — which will remain dangerous for longer than soon. This spring, America currently recorded history — reached an alarming milesits in temporary storage. In stone: Enough waste now exsome cases, it’s been there for ists to completely fill Yucca decades. And it’s almost cerMountain. We would be starttain to remain for decades lon- ing filling a second repository, ger, scattered around 33 states. if one existed. Some of that waste is squeezed into small pools So, what should this nation housed inside flimsy buildings; dog with its spent fuel that — some sits outside in storage like it or not — is going to stay containers never intended to be put for the foreseeable future? permanent. In both instances, Instead of ignoring the probthe spent fuel from the nation’s lem, or choosing expedient sonuclear power plants is exceed- lutions, we need to face facts ingly vulnerable to accidents realistically. For that reason, and terrorist attacks. more than 170 national and Like so many of society’s grassroots organizations, inwaste problems, out-of-sight, cluding the Citizens Awareness out-of-mind has become a de Network, are supporting the facto solution — except to the “Principles for Safeguarding thousands of Americans who Nuclear Waste at Reactors.” live near these high-level waste These principles derive from storage sites. I am one of them. the urgent need to protect the I reside near two spent fuel public from threats posed by pools, one in Massachusetts, vulnerable storage of spent at the now-shuttered Yankee fuel. Rowe reactor, and another at While others are using the the troubled Vermont Yankee shortage of disposal options as reactor, only 16 miles away. an opportunity to promote reTogether, these pools hold processing this fuel, doing so more than 90 million curies of is not a solution. Reprocessing radiation. (The bombings at is expensive, causes pollution, Hiroshima and Nagasaki reand poses nuclear-weapons leased 1 million curies.) proliferation risks. Recently, President Obama Rather, the best choice is to canceled the ill-conceived and improve existing on-site storcostly Yucca Mountain highage until we can achieve a safe, level radioactive waste disposal permanent solution. In no way project. After 35 years, the should anyone construe our deep geological repository in support of these principles as Nevada — chosen on the basis support of nuclear power or of politics, not science — was the creation of more radioacfinally declared unsuitable by tive waste. the Obama administration. A What these principles do special blue-ribbon commisrepresent, however, is a realission has been created to find an tic framework for dealing with alternative. a problem that threatens all Nobody is even hinting that Americans, wherever they may an answer might come anytime live.


longside rivers

Briefly, we recommend the following: • Require a low-density, openframe layout for fuel pools. Fuel pools originally were designed for temporary storage of a limited number of spent fuel assemblies. Today, waste in many pools is almost as densely packed as the fuel assemblies inside an operating reactor core. Loss of cooling water from an accident or attack could produce a fire and release large quantities of radiation. Returning to the low-density, open-frame design of these pools would reduce the risk of a disastrous radiation release. • Establish hardened on-site storage. We must safeguard waste in hardened, on-site storage facilities once it’s removed from fuel pools. The waste must be retrievable and carefully monitored. The overall objective is to make the waste so secure that it’s unattractive as a terrorist target. • Increase protection of fuel pools to make them capable of withstanding an attack equal to the force and coordination of the 9/11 attacks. • Place the canisters in areas that make detection difficult. • Perform periodic reviews of each storage facility, including fuel pools and hardened on-site facilities. • Fund local and state governments to independently monitor the sites. • Prohibit reprocessing. A landscape littered with deadly fuel cores is the legacy we must confront. What we propose will give this nation the opportunity to find a safe and responsible permanent solution. Even though the storage modifications we recommend are temporary, they will give us time — and security — while we find the right answers.  n

Laura Frohne/

Dry-cask storage at Vermont Yankee. VIEWPOINT

VY: More critical than ever Politics and emotion do not yield good policy Montpelier Guy Page is communications director for the Vermont for sound thinkEnergy Partnership, a self-deing about Vermont scribed “diverse group of business, Yankee and our labor, and community leaders state’s long-term energy plancommitted to finding clean, lowning is more critical than ever. cost and reliable electricity soluVermont’s energy future detions to ensure Vermont stays a pends on careful review of great place to live and work.” relevant facts. We must use realistic environmental and economic scenarios. have declared the plant is safe Allowing politics and emoand reliable to operate for antion to impact the ongoing en- other 20-year license period. ergy debate will only hamper Without low-carbon, inour efforts to do what is best state Vermont Yankee, the enfor Vermont. vironmental impact of future The recent tritium findings electricity sources is up in the do not change the fact that air, both figuratively and litsafety is the supreme priority. erally. We cannot replace the But state and federal experts 270 megawatts from Vermont have noted that the levels of Yankee with in-state renewable tritium do not pose any threat sources by 2012. to public health. Furthermore, Unless Vermont Yankee state and federal inspectors is relicensed, our most likely


oday, the need

power source will be high-carbon, high-sulfur power produced out of state at a price that will fluctuate with market prices. This will almost certainly be more costly to Vermont homeowners and businesses. And no matter how Vermont Yankee is replaced, its loss would cost Vermont an estimated 1,300 Vermont jobs, according to Richard Heaps’s 2009 report. Neither our environment nor our economy can afford the tunnel vision prompted by politics and emotion. When Vermont Yankee and our state utilities produce a proposed power purchase, policymakers must evaluate it reasonably, factually, and with an eye to our state’s overall environmental and economic welfare.  n

T h e C ommons


• Wednesday, November 24, 2010




Yes, it gets better, but some kids can’t wait Brattleboro Eileen Glover, R.N., he recent explo- works as the clinical manager of sion of news stothe Brattleboro Retreat’s LGBT ries about lesbian, Inpatient Program. gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth who have committed suicide after being insecurities about ourselves bullied or harassed has rightonto others. fully sparked outrage and calls One can draw parallels to for change in public and priracism, a problem Americans vate circles across the nation. have struggled with for centuWhile I certainly do not fault ries. Only in our recent history the media for giving attention have we begun to turn away to these events, I feel it’s imfrom that dark part of our hisportant to put the entire bully- tory, and we should be encouring issue in perspective before aged by the fact that overtly it gets chased out of the 24racist behaviors now carry a hour news cycle by the next fair degree of social stigma. trendy tragedy. But how far have we really Bullying is nothing new or come in the struggle for acdifferent. We have all known ceptance and equality when bullies, and I daresay that most it’s still okay to use derogatory of us have been victims of their terms about LGBT people in harassment at some point in casual conversation? our lives. Neither is homophobia a new phenomenon. I’m glad to hear that leadWhat worries me is the meers in the LGBT community dia’s tendency to focus on the are reaching out to our young sensationalism of LGBT teens people with the message that committing suicide at the ex“it gets better.” That’s somepense of fundamental issues, thing every adolescent needs to namely prejudice and intolhear during the rocky ascent to erance. How can we possibly adulthood. address bullying without adBut we need to remember dressing the widespread hoalways that LGBT youth have mophobia in our society? additional vulnerabilities that stem not just from self doubt, Young people who do not but from unchecked homophoidentify as heterosexual are at bia. And we need to make sure a distinct disadvantage in tothis core issue doesn’t get lost day’s high-speed, digital world. in the next news cycle. Bullies now have the means to Bullying has become a lehurt and humiliate their victims thal practice that requires us in front of more and more on- to do a better job of educating lookers with practically instan- our kids about diversity and taneous results. Taunting is no the ethical use of digital media. longer a matter of bruised egos It also requires us to ensure and low self-esteem. that bullying behaviors result The sheer force and speed of in more serious consequences online and other forms of digi- for bullies, both at home and tal bullying has left some young in school. people so thoroughly overKids who simply can’t wait whelmed with shame that life is for things to get better are dyno longer bearable. ing. For them, running out Bullying has always been the clock is not an option. about fear — fear of what it Ultimately, we’re all responsimeans to be different and fear ble for changing the basic rules of deflecting our own deep of the game.  n

Homeward bound Meditating on truth, life, and climate change on the open road



Thanks, and stay in touch


would like to thank all who voted to return me to the Statehouse as your representative for Brattleboro’s District 3. On the campaign trail, I heard about the issues and challenges that are on people’s minds: health care, energy, the economy, education, livable wage, child care, affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, small-business development — all of which are of great importance to the people of Brattleboro, and indeed to the state. To me, democracy is at least a two-way street. I am going to be in Montpelier working on your behalf and will do my best to represent you, making every effort to stay in touch and to communicate about what is transpiring.

But I would like you to stay in touch with me, too, because I believe that the real power and political will resides in the collective voices of its people, seeking common ground. I can be reached at 802-5582348, at the Statehouse at 800322-5616 (leave a message), at, or My address is 127 Main St., 4A, Brattleboro, VT 05301. I look forward to working for you and with you in the upcoming session. Sarah Edwards Brattleboro The writer, a Progressive/ Democrat, was re-elected to represent Brattleboro-District 3 for a fifth term.

A guilty national consciousness, rationalized and sublimated


am thinking that this national preoccupation (especially in our young) with war as a game and the rapt fascination with simulations of powerful killing technology and machines of destruction — as in video games, movies, television, computer-generated stuff — is the expression of a profound need to sublimate, to remove from the field of reality, and put safely into the harmless

sphere of fantasy the deep unconscious and archetypal awareness of the vast, almost unfathomable mass killing that goes on all over the world emanating from the center of our own nation, from our own national psyche. This fascination with war simulation is an escape from murder, the implicit guilt felt for the incomprehensible mass destruction we visit on others,

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Brattleboro omeless/Anything Helps/God Bless is printed in charcoal on a torn piece of

Toni Ortner, a poet and writer, teaches at the University of Connecticut in West Hartford, Conn. She serves on the board of directors of Write Action, a regional consortium of writers.

I drive back to Brattleboro. I woke up at 5 a.m., and I am tired and cannot wait to get home. Instead of driving under the speed limit, which cardboard. would reduce my carbon diI am getting off Interstate oxide emissions, I hit 70 miles 91 at Exit 1 this October afper hour. ternoon. Clouds scuttle across Cars whiz past. A huge the sky. The bare branches back the author’s words like white cumulous cloud hangs of the trees reach up like thin robots. above me; its edges trail the arms. The owner of the sign I have told them that facts sky like soft feathers. I rebends over to light a cigarette. never tell the whole story. member the flotilla of yellow He jots down something If facts told the whole story, leaves carried by the tide on with a pencil on a scrap of life might be simple. But we the Connecticut River when white paper. He does not look deal with facts and emotions. I walked across the bridge to at the cars that stop at the red New Hampshire. light. He is not angry or anxWe are studying how to Do humans think we are ious. He is waiting, a characwrite. The topic for the sedifferent? Or are we carried by ter in Beckett. mester is climate change: how a tide we cannot comprehend He is interested to see what it is caused by human activity, to an unknown destination? will happen next. Conditions how climate change causes When I was filling up the will change; he does not need extreme weather conditions gas tank this morning, I heard to study meditation to know and pollutes the air and the singing. The notes were that. Minute by minute, he oceans, the lakes and the sweet. A flock of starlings, balances. streams. hidden entirely by a mass of Life is a tightrope. We are reading The Atlas of crimson leaves, congregated I recall an icy December af- Climate Change, a large volin a maple tree. Indeed it was ternoon when my car slid into ume that gives us the new sta- a Singing Tree. a ditch. I had a broken leg and tistics about floods, glaciers There was the heavy had to walk two miles of slip- melting, hurricanes, droughts, smell of spilled gasoline and pery dirt road to get home. sea levels rising, tornadoes crushed cigarettes. The sign Several times, I stopped in the hitting unusual places like above me read middle of the road and called Tucson, Ariz., and cyclones The sign made no sense. out, Help. My neighbors striking Chicago. There is no such thing as stared out of their windows We have examined our con- clean gasoline; cars do not and then shut the blinds. nection with nature. We have crave. Words can deceive, put debated whether humans a spin on anything. You just Let’s step backwards. are part of nature or separate have to know your audience. It is earlier the same day. I from it. We have absorbed the Politicians use a different stand in front of my classfacts, and there are a multispeech at each stop when they room, where my students are tude of them that prove right campaign. divided into groups discussing now that the damage to the air I tell my students that they aspects of Into the Wilderness and oceans might be irrevers- must reveal the truth or writby Al Gore. ible because carbon dioxide ing has no meaning. I confess I asked them to define illu- can remain in the atmosphere how hard it is for me to transsion and to explain what the for 200 years. late my thoughts into words words an interior shift mean. We admit that humans are on a page. It can be terrifying, How can we shift our attitude one species among many, like telling the truth when you toward nature? even though we have analyti- have lied for years. What is A black student hands in cal abilities and occupy the the truth? a paper; he is the only black top of the food chain. We student in my class, so that is know we need pure air and I pick up the essay the black why I mention it. water to survive. student handed me earlier. For weeks, I have been We understand that we are Bravo. cajoling and exhorting and an endangered species and Finally, I hear his voice. He pleading with my students have discussed what we can knows all the statistics about to write the truth. I have do as individuals and as part climate change and how we asked them to respond to the of groups to save the planet. might, according to Jared printed word, to argue for it Something is missing, and I Diamond, learn lessons from or against it, to tear it apart, to can’t figure out what it is. past civilizations that failed, question it instead of vomiting like the Mayans. He knows

even as we sit safely in our armThis is the expression of a chairs in front of our screens. guilty national conscience raIn other words, our screens are tionalized and sublimated as a screen from reality, yet exgames and simulations. press it in another way, as in a Michael R. Marantz dream. Jamaica

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the Mayan population starved and finally revolted, destroying the palaces of the Kings. He can recite the facts, but that is not, as I said, the whole story for any of us. The world to him means dog eat dog. He says we compete to survive and to be the top dog with the most goods and the most cash. His paper is filled with sentence fragments, but it makes no difference. His ideas are clear. He describes a mother in West Hartford who lives in a bad neighborhood with gangs and drug dealers and he says sure she has heard of climate change and she might know one or two things she could do, but the truth is her teenage son is out too late tonight and she is worried he might be shot so why the hell should she give a damn about something as big as climate change? Some assume nature will remain a lovely backdrop on the stage of our lives and continue to offer us unlimited supplies of oil and gas to run our cars, businesses, homes, and factories. I must admit that many days I feel I am not the teacher in the class but a student. I remember the homeless man with the sign at Exit 1. He is not the first I have seen, and there seem to be more of them than I have ever seen. Had I never noticed? Have economic conditions changed that much? Is the dollar becoming worthless as it rolls off the press? Will I hold my job? I flip on Vermont Public Radio. The reporter is interviewing a filmmaker who went across the United States and interviewed families being evicted from their homes. The report included the background sounds. I hear a woman screaming over and over again: “What has happened to America?” n


T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brattleboro, where she was active with numerous church activities. Was well known in the community for her giving and generous spirit. Memorial information: A memorial service was held Nov. 19 at First United Methodist Church. Interment was private. Donations to Rescue Inc., P.O. Box 593, Brattleboro, VT 05301, or to First United Methodist Church 18 Town Crier Drive, Brattleboro, VT 05301. Messages of condolence may sent to Atamaniuk Funeral Home at

grandmother and great-grandmother whose life revolved around her family. Enjoyed gardening, crocheting, travel and time shared with her family and friends. Memorial information : A funeral Mass was held on Nov. 22 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church with burial in Tyler Cemetery in Vernon where she was laid to rest next to her husband. Donations to St. Michael’s School, 47 Walnut St., Brattleboro, VT 05301, in care of Elaine Beam, principal. Messages of condolence • Ethel May may sent to Atamaniuk Funeral Tanner, 90, of Home at Brattleboro. Died Nov. 18 at Pine Heights Births Nursing Home. Wife of the late • In Brattleboro (Memorial Richard Tanner Hospital), Nov. 8, 2010, a for 60 years. Mother of Nancy daughter, Br ia Jean Unr uh , Boyd and husband, Leon, of to Josh and Chelsea (Mowrey) Brattleboro and Patricia Root Unruh of Vernon; granddaughter of Newfane. Predeceased by a son, Robert Richard Tanner; a daughter, Barbara Ann Ronan; brothers Clarence, George and Vincent Fox; and sisters Elizabeth and Florence. Worked at the Plaid Stamp Store in Brattleboro while it was in operation, and had also been em205 Main Street ployed at Brattleboro Memorial Brattleboro, VT 05301 Hospital in the billing department. Was a faithful and dePhone. 802.275.4732 voted wife and loving mother, Fax. 802.275.4738


Births, deaths, and news of people from Windham County

to Kevin and Sandy Mowrey of Williamsville, and Steve and Pam Unruh Milford, Ind.; great-granddaughter to Howard and Clarice Short, and Elaine Touchette, all of Dummerston, and Frank and Violet Unruh Warsaw, Ind. • In Brattleboro (Memorial Hospital), Oct. 16, 2010, a son, Theodore Louis Howe, to Christina (Vakaros) and Aaron Howe of Brattleboro; grandson to Linda and Frankie Vakaros, Rodney Howe and Jacquie Roby. • In Brattleboro (Memorial Hospital), Sept. 24, 2010, a son, Thomas Clifton Nowers , to Jennifer A. Shepard and William L. Nowers of Westminster; grandson to Wayne Shepard, Lorraine Cotter and Wendy Toney, Heidi and Don Nowers Jr.; great-grandson to Maggie and Don Nowers Sr. and Simmone Cotter.

Nursing Home Activities Fund, Community Foundation of 61 Greenway Dr., Vernon, VT Western Mass., P.O. Box 15769, 05354. Condolences may be sent Springfield, MA 01115, a char Editor’s note: The Commons to ity of one’s choice, or simply do will publish brief biographical in• Harriette Camp Reeves- something helpful for someone formation for citizens of Windham Forsythe, 85, of Putney, Died in need. County and others, on request, as Nov. 15 at home. Wife of the • Myrtle L u e l l a community news, free of charge. late Davis Forsythe and John • Nancy Atkins Aldrich, 59, Reeves. Mother of Julie Forsythe McDermott, 82, of Westminster West. Died Nov. and her husband Tom Hoskins; of Brattleboro. 14 at Brattleboro Memorial Carol Forsythe and her husDied Nov, 17 Hospital. Daughter of Ralph band Bruce Coggeshall; Ellen at her home. and the late Mary “Kay” Hamil Forsythe and her husband Alan Wife of the late Atkins. Wife of Donald Aldrich Blood, and Molly Forsythe and Norman A. for 35 years. Mother of Stephen her husband Bill Cameron. Sister McDermott. Mother of Sharon Aldrich and his wife, Rosalie, of Charles Camp and the late Otto and husband, Howard, of of Terre Haute, Ind.; Jonathan Gilbert Camp. Born in Reading, Titusville, Fla.; Julie McDermott Aldrich and Chelsey St. Martin Mass., she attended Oberlin of Brattleboro; and Michael of Belmont, Mass.; and Zachary College and became a Quaker McDermott and wife Amy of Aldrich and Emily Aldrich of committed to peace, believing Portland Ore. Sister Jean Mayo Westminster West. Graduated that people needed to talk to re- and husband Harvey of St. from Wells College in 1973, solve issues. With her first hus- Albans. Predeceased by sibwhere she met her husband. band, she ran a daily farm in lings Philip Patch and Waneta Worked at Little Brown & southern New Jersey. She was Gates. Born in Bakersfield, Company, before moving to also a first-grade schoolteacher Vt., she had been a resident of Acupuncture Westminster West in 1987. A whose bestowed a careful loving Brattleboro since 1969. Formerly Chiropractic lifelong educator, she taught her focus on each student. Moved employed at the operations centhree oldest children at home to Putney in 1987 and was ac- ter of Vermont National Bank, General Family Medicine before working at Newsbank, tive in many organizations such where she retired from in 1992 Lifestyle medicine Inc. in Chester. Building on her as YWCA, 4-H, Fortnightly, following 20 years of service. Massage Therapy desire to help children with spe- Putney Family Services men- Previously, she had worked at cial needs, she began teaching toring program, reading in the Brattleboro Retreat and at Naturopathic Medicine in 2001 at Bellows Falls Middle Putney Central School, Putney the former Howard Johnson resNutritional School while pursuing a M.S. Cares, Putney Co-op Board, and taurant. Was a member of First Assessment/Individualized Programs degree in special education from the Reparative Justice Board. United Methodist Church in Simmons College in 2003. Was Memor ial infor m ation : A Physical Therapy a teacher at Winhall Elementary memorial service will be held Psychotherapy School, Townshend Elementary on Jan. 1, at 2 p.m., in Putney. School, and the Spark Teacher Donations to Amercan Friends “The SMALL Credit Union Education Institute at Marlboro Service Committee (AFSC), College. Founder of Educational 1501 Cherry St., Philadelphia, FOR LEASE with a BIG HEART” Praxis, Inc., a nonprofit orga- PA 19102 or nization originally established gifts. 3980 square feet of commercial/office to help the Bapagrama School • Albert Everett “Doc” Grass, 10 Browne CT PO Box 8245 space in our newly renovated Ann in Bangalore, India, that now DVM, 84, of West Brattleboro. Wilder Richards Building at 1063 facilitates the exchange of lo- Died Nov. 13. Husband of N. Brattleboro, VT 05304 Western Avenue one mile from exit two cal and global knowledge and Deirdre Kelleher. Father of off I-91 or Route 9 in the village of NCUA Tel. (802) 257-5131 Insured to West Brattleboro. ADA handicapped skills. M emor i a l i n for m a- Linda Poling and her husband, 250,000 access, heat and central air conditionFax (802) 257-5837 tion : A memorial service was Barclay, of Raleigh, N.C.; Dr. ing included, free abundant parking, held Nov. 20 at Westminster William Grass and his wife, separate entrance to leased space, private bathroom, reception area, West Congregational Church. Elizabeth, of Greenfield, Mass.; available immediately. Donations to Educational Praxis, and Dr. Jeffrey Grass and his Inc. at www.educationalpraxis. wife, Lorrie, of Shaker Heights, org. Ohio. Brother of Juna Grass Please contact Sandy Clark, Asset • Daniel Dix, 49, of Readsboro. Reid, of Bow, N.H., and Bertha Manager, Brattleboro Housing Authority 802-254-6071 or Died Nov. 19 at his home. Son Marcotte and her husband, for more information and showings. of the late David Jasper Dix, Frank, of Summit, N.J. Was Jr., and Joyce Birch. Brother of a graduate of the University David Jasper Dix, III, and his of New Hampshire. While at wife, Wanda, of Whitingham; UNH, he served in the Army Jody Berard-Kemp and her hus- Air Force for one year prior to band, Les, of Readsboro; and graduation. Went on to Cornell Penny Dix of Whitingham. Born University School of Veterinary in North Adams, Mass., grew Medicine, earning the degree of up in Readsboro and graduated Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. from Whitingham High School. Besides his veterinary practice Worked in the yard at Sawyer- of nearly 60 years, Dr. Grass Bentwood for many years and raised, trained and raced stanalso tended bar. Enjoyed play- dardbred horses, wintering ing pool at the Depot, creat- them in Pinehurst, N.C., for ing picture puzzles, following many years and racing at harness NASCAR, and playing pitch. tracks, including Hinsdale, N.H., He was an avid collector of Ford and Saratoga, N.Y. Was a past Holiday Gifts for Everyone on Your List vehicles, especially trucks. He president of the New England loved riding his Harley-Davidson Veterinary Medical Association motorcycle and spending time and the New England Sulky at the pond and the Depot. Championships, past national BLACK FRIDAY 8AM-8PM Memor ial infor m ation : A vice-president of Harness Horses Mon-Sat: 10-6 • Sun: 10-5 funeral service was held Nov. 23 International, and past president at Covey & Allen Funeral Home of the Western Northeastern in Wilmington. Donations to the Harness Association, and the Readsboro Baptist Church, c/o Vermont Veterinary Association. Covey & Allen Funeral Home, M e m o r i a l i n f o r m at i o n : P.O. Box 215, Wilmington, VT S e r v i c e s w i l l b e p r i v a t e . 05363. Donations to the Nicholas • Joyce E. Dunklee, 83, of Grass Scholarship Fund, c/o Vernon. Died Nov. 17 at the Vernon Green Nursing Home. Wife of the late Courtland Dunklee for 59 years. Mother of Patricia Putnam and her husband, Paul, of Dummerston, Steve Dunklee and his wife, Sue, Whether you are looking for of Vernon, William Dunklee traditional, contemporary, trendy, and his wife, Lynn, of Barnet, or a unique, one of a kind piece of jewelry, and Darlene Polhemus and her you will be sure to find it at husband, James, of Goshen, The Rock and Hammer Ind. Sister of Alton Cutler and Crafters of Fine Jewelry Richard Cutler of Vernon; Robert Cutler of Columbus Grove, Ohio; Barbara Cutler On The Square of Vernon; Sadie Shippa of Bellows Falls, Vermont Northfield, Mass.; and 802-463-2289 Shirley Cutler of Brattleboro. Predeceased by sisters Phyllis Holmes and Madelin Aldrich. 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Wednesday, November 24, 2010 • Page 9



history Brooks Memorial Library, UVM make Thayer photos accessible online By Olga Peters


The Commons

RATTLEBORO—An old man stands on top of a high haystack looking down at the camera. His chest-length silver beard curls around his mouth, and his lips curve up. Behind him a Vermont hillside, manicured by agriculture, stretches to the horizon. A young woman watches the camera through wire-rimmed glasses, her chin tilted slightly and her long hair piled on top of her head. Her light summer dress shines against the darkness of her telephone operator’s room. A 1911 directory hangs by her knee. Porter C. Thayer, like many town photographers of his time, captured images of a Windham County few remember now. But his photographs documented people, towns and landscapes from 1906 to 1930, helping ensure they are never completely forgotten. The public will soon have access to 1,200 Thayer images online through collaboration between Brooks Memorial Library and the University of Vermont’s Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI). Brooks currently houses the Porter Thayer Collection, offering the public access to the images only on microfilm. The Brooks staff intends to open the Thayer photographs to a wider audience by adding them to the CDI’s digital library.

The photographer

Thayer traveled throughout Windham Country as an itinerant photographer documenting Vermont life in the early 20th century, said Jess Weitz, technical services assistant at Brooks. According to Weitz, “town photographers” of that era documented local events. Thayer maintained a portrait studio, but also took great care to photograph daily life. Thayer used a 5x7 view camera with glass plate negatives. Glass plate negatives can be hard to find, said Weitz, because most photographers destroyed the

Olga Peters/The Commons

Jess Weitz, a Masters of Library Science candidate at Southern Connecticut State University, holds prints of some of the Porter Thayer photos in the Brooks Memorial Library collection. plates once they were finished. Weitz said Thayer’s use of glass plate negatives is the reason his photos contain sharp details and value range. Glass plates, as a rule, stored more information and detail than other forms of photographic negatives. With view cameras like the one

Thayer used, the negative is the same size as the print, said Weitz. Thayer also earned money through the production and sale of his postcards, said Weitz. According to documents accompanying an exhibit of his work, Thayer learned his trade of n see PORTER THAYER, page 12

Courtesy of the University of Vermont

The aftermath of a successful hunting season in Newfane.

A switchboard operator.

Courtesy of the University of Vermont

Background: Joan Sanchez practices at Luminz Studio.

A g l i m p s e at the i r w o r l d Randolph T. Holhut/The Commons

Marie Formichelli, left, and Randi Solin, use torches to finish off a piece at the Solinglass studio at the Cotton Mill in Brattleboro.

Muralist and painter Terry Sylvester stands in her studio.

Cotton Mill artisans open their doors for annual holiday event By Joyce Marcel


The Commons

RATTLEBORO—A heightened sense of camaraderie is filling the halls of Cotton Mill these days as craftspeople, musicians, dancers, circus performers and painters get ready for the fifth annual Open Studio and Holiday Sale. Last year, about 2,000 people came to the open house. This year, it will be held on Friday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Cotton Mill is a ramshackle, high-ceilinged, three-story, 145,000-square-foot maze of hallways, stairs, doors and studios that dates back to 1919, in the height of Brattleboro’s manufacturing days. Hovering above the Connecticut River, but within walking distance of downtown, the building started as a textile mill and ended as the Dunham Shoe factory. Now it has become an successful business incubator run by the Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. About 60 small businesses — including educational businesses, massage therapists and a diaper company — call it home, but it has also attracted n see cotton mill, page 10



n Cotton Mill a number of artists and arts organizations — many with national reputations — who have, for a variety of reasons, chosen to work there. Among these people, the Cotton Mill inspires devotion. “It’s all about the light,” says muralist and scenographer Terry Sylvester. “It’s all about community,” says ceramics artist Natalie Blake. “It’s all about having a dance family, a place to work and an audience,” says Luminz Dance Studio’s Aurora Corsano. “It’s all about being near enough to big cities, the availability of materials and having a low cost of studio space,” said Iron Arts’ James Takaki. “We didn’t move here lightly.” “It’s all about the ability to connect with everyone,” said filmmaker and designer John DiGeorge. “The Cotton Mill is like a big clubhouse.” The Cotton Mill may offer inexpensive studio space, convenient access to materials and shipping, freight elevators, loading docks and the other necessities of commerce, but dogs and children hang out in the hallways, people run back and forth borrowing one another’s tools, and sometimes artists find themselves asking each other for aesthetic advice. “You can refresh yourself by walking out and seeing what others are doing,” Elsie Smith of New England Center for Circus Arts said. “You get inspired.” “When I first came here, it felt like a factory,” said Cheryl Summa of Wild Blossom Designs. “I didn’t know if I would ever feel at home. It took a while to learn to navigate the building. Then, one day when I was alone in my studio, I heard children laughing in the hallway, and I felt at home.” Cotton Mill can be seen as “a magnifying glass of what Vermont is known for today,” Blake said. “Art and crafts and self-made entrepreneurial artists are the new heart of Vermont.” Corsano agreed. “It’s about fierce independence with strong community values.”

Building awareness

Visitors to the open house can Performing arts

• “The Fever” at the Hooker Dunham : The Fever, an award-

winning play by Wallace Shawn, will be performed at the HookerDunham Theater, 139 Main St., Brattleboro, on Dec. 4, 10, and 11 at 8 p.m., and on Sunday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. The latter performance is a benefit for Loaves and Fishes hot meal site, served twice weekly in Memorial Hall, Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main St. Shawn, actor and playwright, is known for his movie My Dinner with Andre, and for his appearances in films and on television. In The Fever, a man or woman of any age discovers, while traveling in a poor country, that their humanistic, artsloving life is related to the suffering of others. The play will be performed by Jerry Levy and directed by Thomas Griffin. Levy, of Brattleboro, has been performing Howard Zinn’s Marx in Soho for many years, doing benefits for worthy causes. Griffin founded Acting on Impulse, and recently directed Losing My Religion: Confessions of a New Age Refugee. He is a poet and playwright who has recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in poetry. The performance is presented by Acting on Impulse and Levy Arts, by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York. Since the Hooker Dunham holds only 99 seats, early reservations are encouraged, by phoning Levy at 802-254-8513 or Judy Myrick at 802-257-4616. Tickets are $12, $10 for students and seniors. They will then be available at the box office at each performance. In October, Loaves and Fishes provided 676 meals, as more people face unemployment and homelessness. • “No Lasting Home” at NEYT: On Saturday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., No Lasting Home: Stories of Displacement and Diaspora, will be presented at the New England Youth Theatre. Have you, or a family member, or friends, been forced to leave your homeland and travel far away, never to return? Was it war, famine, political upheaval, genocide, ethnic cleansing, religious persecution? Do you or someone you know have a compelling story to tell of this experience, and if so, would you be prepared to share it with an audience? NEYT opens its doors to the community for an evening of shared stories of displacement and diaspora that will also serve as a fundraiser for for three worthy local organizations that work with youth, families, and the homeless — Youth Services

a friend. Food will be abundant. Nick Marchese will be making and selling hand-crafted burritos. A mother-and-son team who sold apple pies all season at the Putney Farmers Market will be selling them at Cotton Mill. True North Granola and Sidehill Farm will offer samples. “The weekend is going to be a blast,” Blake said. “We’ll tell stories about the history of the building and give people a look behind some doors that are usually closed.”

The Cotton Mill Open Studio and Holiday Sale will take place The Tri-state region’s premier center for jazz. 3 from S a t u r d a y, M a r c h 1 3 t hFriday, a t Dec, 8 p M 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to Annual Big Band Gala and Dance S a t u r d a y, M a r c h 1 3 t h a t 8 p M 6 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 5, from Friday, December 3rd at 8 pm 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Signs will point to Whirrr! The Music of Jimmy Giuffre the mill from Interstate 91 or downSwing into the holiday season town. Schedules and directions are with The Harrison/Schuller Sextet with with The Harrison/Schuller Sextet the VJC’s own 17 piece band performing available at featuring Marty Ehrlich & Cameron Brown or by calling 802-257-7731. your favorite dance music!!! featuring Marty Ehrlich & Cameron Brown

Whirrr! The Music of Jimmy Giuffre

Masterful improvising and killer arrangements Includes delicious dessert buffet

in Brattleboro, ServiceNet-Family Inn in Greenfield, Mass., and the Community Kitchen in Keene, N.H. An evening of storytelling and refreshments is planned, followed by a panel discussion with presenters and community members. There will be ample opportunity for chatting in smaller groups, comparing stories and anecdotes. A “Museum of Memories” will be set up in one of their classrooms. There is no price for admission, though they will be accepting donations at the door to be divided between the three benefiting organizations. This event is being presented as part of NEYT’s fall/winter intensive concentration on themes of community, justice and redemption.


• Antje Duvekot, Steve Hartman at Hooker-Dunham: Twilight Music presents singer/songwriters Antje Duvekot and Steve Hartmann at Hooker-Dunham Theater & Gallery in Brattleboro on Friday, Nov. 26, at 7:30 p.m. Duvekot is a German-born, American-raised singer/songwriter who has risen to the top of the competitive Boston music scene. Her bicultural upbringing and relative newness to English have helped shape her unique way with a song, giving her a startlingly original poetic palette. Her debut studio CD, Big Dream Boulevard, was voted No. 1 Folk Release of 2006 by The Boston Globe and was named to the Top 10 Releases of the Year by National Public Radio’s Folk Alley. She has been touring extensively, and has won some of the top songwriting awards including the Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, the Kerrville Folk Festival Best New Folk Award and the Boston Music Award for Outstanding Folk Act. Burlington-based guitarist and pianist Steve Hartmann possesses a distinct, unparalleled vocal range with a strong and dynamic musical sensibility. His engaging stage presence, intimate storytelling and lyrical imagery that embrace the realness and simplicity of everyday life bring a delicate touch of acoustic groove and grace to the stage. Tickets for the show are $15 general admission/$13 students and seniors. For ticket reservations and information, call 802-254-9276. For more information, visit www., www.myspace. com/stevehartmann and

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Cherry Street Artisans’ 3rd Annual Open House and Cafe will take place Saturday, Dec. 4 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a show the collective describes as a “quality craft show in a friendly and welcoming setting.” Live music begins at 2 p.m. Saturday with Vermont Center Women’s Swing Ensemble, and at 6:30 p.m. with Rich Grumbine, Teta Hilsdon and other musical friends. The show takes place at 44 Cherry St., off Maple Street in the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital area. For more information, visit, or call 802-254-3530.

political in-fighting to keep his nation on the Montana Crow Reservation. When Red Bow gets news that his sister has been thrown in jail, he teams up with Philbert Bono (Farmer), a gentle Indian philosopher, to make a road trip to Santa Fe to bust her out. At 8 p.m., Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers will take the stage for a full-tilt concert of blues, funk, and jam band music-playing songs by Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Taj Mahal as well as originals. Band members include Gary Farmer (harmonica and vocals), Jaime Bird • Jatoba at the Mole’s Eye: Yellowhorse (guitar and vocals), Brattleboro’s “groovegrass” trio John Longbow (bass and vocals) and Jatoba will play the The Mole’s Eye Toby Williams (drums and vocals). Admission is free for both events. on High Street on Friday, Nov. 26, • Blanche Moyse Chorale perat 9 p.m., for an over-21 show. Incorporating a unique blend of forms seasonal favorites: The three extraordinary acoustic musi- Blanche Moyse Chorale, under the cians, Jason Scaggs, John Jamison direction of Mary Westbrook-Geha, and Jeff Richardson use collective will perform Christmas Through the songwriting, composition, extreme Ages on Friday, Dec. 10, at 8 p.m., rhythmic/melodic improvisations, at Hastings House in Walpole, and three-part vocal harmony to N.H., and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 4 p.m., at Centre Congregational create their sound. They have recently shared the Church in Brattleboro. Christmas stage with nationally touring acts Through the Ages includes the persuch as Gordon Stone, Keller formance of Benjamin Britten’s Williams, David Grisman Quintet, Ceremony of Carol, Op. 28 with harpRusted Root, KRS 1, Soulive and ist Ina Zdorovetchi accompanying RAQ. Explore their work at www. the women; Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s Missa: Hodie Christus • An evening with Gar y Natus Est, sung by the entire chorale; Farmer at Marlboro College: Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Carols for O n D e c . 1 a t 6 p . m . a t t h e men; and a traditional seasonal sing Whittemore Theater at Marlboro for all in attendance. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 College, Native-American actor Gary Farmer (Dead Man, Smoke for students, and are available by Signals, Ghost Dog, Disappearances, calling the Brattleboro Music Center The Score) will screen the 1989 at 802-257-4523, online at www. Sundance favorite, Powwow, at The Putney Inn, or at the door. For more inforHighway, followed by a Q&A. Powwow Highway tells the story mation about the Blanche Moyse of Buddy Red Bow (A. Martinez), Chorale, visit who struggles against developers and

Masterful improvising and killer arrangements

Call ahead for reserved seating and be sure to bring your dancing shoes!!

• Wednesday, November 24, 2010


from page 9

attend performances at Luminz, the Vermont Jazz Center and the New England Center for Circus Arts; watch Randi Solin of Solinglass blow art glass; see Blake carve ceramic tiles and occasionally throw a pot; sample handcrafted cosmetics from the new Venus of Vermont line as it is launched in conjunction with the open house; get a free massage; and taste the 25 different homemade jams (“boiled down the old-fashioned way”) and toppings from Sidehill Farm. The point of the open house is to build awareness of what is happening at Cotton Mill. “Crafts is something as simple as jam,” Takaki said. “People have in their minds a decreased idea of the value of arts and crafts. Something like the open house increases its importance.” Most of the craftspeople will be selling their wares; Blake and Solon, who sell their high-end work over the country, will be offering seconds at discounts. “Some of it will be 70 percent off,” Blake said. “Come and clean our studio out. Just get it out of here.” The performance spaces will be alive with action. “We don’t have any jazz musicians for sale,” joked Vermont Jazz Center’s Jane Findlay. “Maybe some seconds. But you can hear performances every 15 minutes throughout the days, and buy tickets and gift certificates.” One of the benefits of holding an open house is “giving access to people who may be intimidated by what we do,” said Smith. “Some people think of circus people as carny folks — dirty, unshaven pedophiles who steal your children and take them on carnival rides,” she joked. “Or they think that they’re not 16 any more and can’t put their foot behind their ear. But here they’ll have the opportunity to take short classes, watch our performances, walk on a wire, juggle, swing from a trapeze or fabric and take rides on our new toy, our German Wheel.” At busy Luminz, people will be invited to sample belly dancing, Zumba fitness, ballet and fencing classes and watch performances of Afro Jazz and improvisation. Even the artists are turning their studios into events. Sylvester is planning to outfit her large studio — an art installation in itself — as “Christmasland,” with “the biggest Charlie Brown Christmas tree you ever saw,” popcorn and Frank Sinatra singing Christmas music. (She fell in love with Sinatra while she was making Thanksgiving Parade floats in Hoboken, but no, she never met the singer.) While Sylvester paints a mural, she will offer visitors the option of making a portrait of

T h e C ommons

Greg Winchester - Manager

• Community Justice Center to show two documentaries: On Tuesday, Nov. 30

and Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in the Brooks Memorial Library Meeting Room, the Brattleboro Community Justice Center will show documentaries to educate viewers on the difficulties ex-offenders face trying to stay out of prison. These films are very relevant to Vermonters in a quickly changing political climate. Vermont Governor-elect Peter Shumlin plans to cut up to $40 million dollars from the DOC annual budget by releasing 800 nonviolent offenders. If these soon-to-be released individuals do not acquire the necessary support to successfully complete their terms of probation, they will likely return to prison, or worse: reoffend. By educating community members on why successful reintegration to society is so difficult, the BCJC hopes to initiate the first steps of recidivism prevention. Staff members from the BCJC will be present to engage viewers in a post-film discussion and provide information for

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those interested in getting involved with ex-offender reentry support. A Hard Straight (New Day Films, 74 minutes) will show on Nov. 30, and offers viewers the chance to follow three offenders returning “outside” after serving hard time in California prisons. Offenders are different ages, genders and races, but each shares the similar, almost impossible, experience of trying to reintegrate back into a community that forgot them long ago. A Revolving Door (New Day Films, 39 minutes), which will show on Dec. 7, chronicles 33-year-old Tommy Lennon’s long struggle with the dual challenge of drug addiction and mental illness, illustrating the inescapable revolving door between addiction, imprisonment and institutionalization. This documentary features interviews with Tommy’s family and friends and shows how even a strong support network can be overwhelmed by an inadequate social system far removed from those it’s meant to help. Community members are invited to attend the showing at no charge and stay for a discussion afterward. Popcorn will be served.


• Village Square Booksellers celebrates 10th anniversar y: Village Square

Booksellers in Bellows Falls will celebrate 10 years of the Fowler’s owning the bookstore the weekend on Nov. 27 and 28 with author events, a book sale, and prize raffles for Frequent Buyers Card holders. On the 27th, Paul Wainwright, author of A Space for Faith (1-3 p.m.) and Ginger Gellman, author of Remembering Vermont (1:30-3 p.m.) will visit the bookstore. On the 28th, children’s author and illustrator DB Johnson will be visiting the bookstore in the afternoon to talk about his new book, Palazzo Inverso. Refreshments will be served both days. Alan and Pat Fowler, the owners of the bookstore, thank the community for supporting the store for the past 10 years and welcomes the community to participate in this special weekend. Also, the name of the bookstore cat — a recent arrival from The Animal Rescue and Protection Society (TARPS) of Chester — will be revealed.

Christmas bazaar, Souper Wednesday WESTMINSTER— On Saturday, Nov. 27, the First Congregational Church’s Women’s Fellowship will hold its annual Christmas bazaar from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with many handcrafted items at the church. Santa will be there for the children and there will be a cafe with homemade yellow pea, Italian wedding or vegetarian minestrone soups as well as sandwiches, coffee, tea or hot chocolate and numerous baked goods. Also, Souper Wednesday returns on Dec. 1. It will be dedicated to the memory of Pat Jennison and will feature her three favorite soups: corn chowder, chicken noodle and tomato cheddar.

T h e C ommons

• Wednesday, November 24, 2010


LIFE & WORK Lots of laughter for a good cause Local ‘celebrity’ waiters got all out at Make-a-Wish fundraising dinnner By Fran Lynggaard Hansen The Commons


RATTLEBORO— Standing in front of a sea of tables set with pale blue tablecloths and baskets of donated flowers, Make-A-Wish Foundation of Vermont event coordinator Barbara Harris is attempting to give direction to her waitstaff. “Each table has a number and the diner’s dinner choice will be written on a name card they place on your table,” shouts Harris, to the jolly crew assembled before her at the Brattleboro Eagles hall on a recent Saturday evening. It is proving to be a near-impossible task for Harris. These are no ordinary waiters. They are “celebrity waiters,” locally known folks from the Brattleboro area who have volunteered their time to lend a hand at this dinner dance. “We have three goals this evening,” she says loudly. “We want to raise awareness of Make-AWish in southern Vermont, we want to raise money for the organization, your tips tonight will also go toward this goal, and we want to have fun,” she says, as she is drowned out by the applause of her exuberant team. Besides the fact that they are known and gregarious to a loud degree (as Harris is now discovering), this band of merry men and women are also attempting to outdo each other’s outfits.

While you would know their voices in an instant, their bodies are another matter. Tim Johnson and Ian Kelly, the morning team on WTSA, are each wearing long green hula skirts and loud Hawaiian shirts. Karen Henry and Gina Pattison are paired as diner waitresses from the 1950’s, complete with matching satin shirts, cigarette caps and roller-skates. Town Manager Barbara Sondag is stunning in her flowing black skirt, white blouse and purple cummerbund. Peter “Fish” Case of WKVT is hassling Sondag about wearing a skirt. And only in Brattleboro could one see a man in a full-dress tuxedo while also wearing blue and green water shoes on his lessthan-formal feet, but that is how former Speaker of the House Stephan Morse is attired. These 20 waiter “pairs” can barely resist the opportunities to tease one another. They continuously shout out good-hearted ribs as Harris perseveres in her instruction. Finally, she gives up. “Okay,” she says, using her loudest possible indoor voice. “Let’s go into the kitchen and hear what Tristan Toleno wants you to know.” Thank goodness Barbara Harris is also a woman with a great sense of humor. The gaggle of waiters meander into the kitchen, where Toleno, the chef, awaits them. The Riverview Café co-owner is a man with a plan. Whether

this motley crew considers themselves professional waiters or not, Toleno has decided to treat them as such, and begins his instruction as to how his meal will be served. In 15 minutes, 100 diners who have paid $50 per ticket — their contribution to the MakeA-Wish Foundation of Vermont — will be arriving for cocktails and appetizers. This will be a four-course meal, using as much locally grown food as possible, much of it donated for the event. While Toleno is addressing the crowd in the kitchen, Jeff Carlton Newton, a food service consultant by day and the evening’s official potato washer, works over in the corner. Why is he here? “I am Tristan Toleno’s neighbor, and I’m in the food service business. It’s the right thing to do. When Tristan asks me to help, I do what I can. It’s a great cause,” he says. As the guests arrive, they are obviously charmed by their waitstaff. Least recognizable is retired Brattleboro Fire Chief David Emery of Vernon, dressed in brown Carhartt pants, red suspenders, a brunette wig, “Billy Bob” buck teeth and a lip ring. Some of the guests struggle to figure out just who it is that is shaking their hand or offering them welcoming hugs until he speaks. Each diner reacts in peals of laughter at this former public servant, turned waiter for a good cause.

Ellis cracks Top 50 at N.E. cross-country meet


rattleboro’s Jacob Ellis capped off a splendid season as the Colonels’ top cross country athlete with a 47th place finish on Nov. 13 at the 76th annual New England Cross Country Championships, held this year at Thetford Academy. Ellis, a junior who qualified for this meet for the third straight year with a sixth-place finish in the Vermont State Championships, hoped to improve upon his time of 18 minutes, 4 seconds that he ran two weeks earlier on a muddy 3.1 mile course in Thetford. The Thetford course, which only has a 350-yard front stretch before it narrows into a 12-foot-wide footpath, puts a premium on starting clean and fast from the line and establishing one’s position early before heading into the woods. Ellis got as high as 25th place after the first mile, but tired over the remainder of the course. He finished in 17:48, just barely holding off North Country’s Joe Bourgeois at the finish line to be the third fastest Vermont runner in the boys race. Ellis was the only local competitor in the event, but Vermont runners had some other great performances, led by the Champlain Valley Union girls. CVU placed four runners in the top 32 to give the Division I champs their second New England title in an eight-year span. Richford’s Elle Purrier, a sophomore, was the top Vermont girl in the race with a fourth place finish in 19.44. Colchester’s Brendan Copley, a junior, finished 13th in 17:12. There were 255 finishers in the girls race, and 264 finishers in the boys race.

Shrine game returns to Windsor Football fans who have been waiting for the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl to return to Dartmouth’s Memorial Field will have to wait a bit longer. The Shrine Bowl’s board of governors recently announced that the 2011 game, brings together the finest high school

RANDOLPH T. HOLHUT Sports Roundup football players in Vermont and New Hampshire, will be played at Windsor High School’s MacLeay-Royce Field for the third year in a row. The 2011 game will be played on Saturday, Aug. 6. Renovations at Memorial Field forced the 2009 game to be moved to Windsor, and the slow pace of those renovations forced the 2010 game to be played in Windsor. Dartmouth’s continued financial woes have pushed the project to the back burner, and both the Shriners and the college have no idea when, or if, the game will return to Memorial Field. Dartmouth had been home to the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl from 1958 to 2008, with of 1967 when the game was played at the University of Vermont, 1968 at the University of New Hampshire and 2006 at Plymouth State University. All three moves were the result of other stadium renovations. Windsor has been a good host, however. Since the game is one of the primary fundraisers for the Shriners hospitals in Boston and Springfield, Mass., and in Montreal, a good gate is important. Shine officials say the 2010 game was a financial success, which may have been the main argument for keeping the game at MacLeay-Royce Field. While there are those who think the game deserves to be played at a college facility, the reality is there is no centrally located college stadium that would satisfy either state’s fan base. Castleton State’s Spartan Stadium, this year’s site for Vermont’s high school championship games, is too far away for New Hampshire fans. Playing the game at UNH or Plymouth State would draw squawks from Vermont fans.

That’s why the Shrine game has been at Dartmouth. It’s centrally located and gives the game a big-time feel that no other venue can offer. Shrine officials haven’t ruled out a return to Memorial Field in 2012, but here’s hoping they do.

Small schools see benefits of cooperation

Enrollments are falling at schools across Vermont. According to the Vermont Deparment of Education, school enrollment has declined by 14.2 percent since 1997, and fewer students means fewer athletic opportunities. The Vermont Principals’ Association has offered a couple of ways for schools to deal with this problem. One option offered by the VPA is called a member-to-member agreement, where a student who wants to play a sport that is not offered by his or her school can join another school’s program. The other option is cooperative teams, where two or more schools agree to share costs and responsibilities for running a sports program. The Burlington Free Press reported this week that more schools around Vermont are turning to these two options. According to the National Federation of State High Schools Associations, participation in high school athletics has dropped more than 30 percent since the 2002-03 school year, and that trend is not expected to change soon. Enosburg and Richford formed a co-op wrestling team last year. Mount Abraham and Vergennes formed a co-op football team this season. And U-32 and Harwood just got approval from the VPA to form co-op wrestling and football teams. Southern Vermont schools haven’t tried the co-op solution yet, but as enrollments and athletic participation drop, this option will surely be considered as a way to pool resources and still offer opportunities to students who want to play sports.

Fran Lynggaard Hansen/The Commons

Cindy Jerome, executive director of the Holton Home and president of the Brattleboro Rotary Club, decorates herself with tip money at the recent MakeA-Wish Foundation of Vermont Celebrity Waiter Dinner. The waiters snap to attention and get to work with a few minor glitches. It can be challenging to serve appetizers to a crowd while wearing roller skates, or when your grass skirt keeps riding up your hip. While charmed by the atmosphere, Jim Davis has a more serious mission. “I drove down from our offices in Burlington to support the work of our local volunteers here,” said Davis, the president and CEO of this Vermont organization, a position he has held for nine months. “Our group was founded 21 years ago, but people in this part of the state may not have heard of us yet. I drove here to help our volunteers with that visibility.” Davis says that since its inception, Make-A-Wish Vermont has granted more than 500 wishes to children in Vermont who have life-threatening medical conditions. The average cost of a single wish is around $12,000. “It’s not about death,” he says, “it’s about life, and providing

hope, strength and joy to families by granting a wish come true for a child with a life-threatening illness.” Make-A-Wish Vermont raises funds through external events; evenings like this one where a group of local volunteers increases the organization’s visibility by inviting families who have received wishes to speak about their experiences, to help raise the money that will fund another child’s wish. Make-A-Wish board member Mark Wallace of Dover is also in attendance. “I’ve been a board member for over five years now, and a fundraiser for the organization for over 17 years. I have a great passion for this organization. Wish granting is kept low profile, because it’s all about the kids. When we find a kid who needs us, we always find a way to raise the funds for their wish,” he says. Recently, wishes have been granted in the local area for a 14-year-old girl wishing to visit the largest mall in America, and

another girl who went to the Billboard Awards in Las Vegas. Mothers Jane Baker and Sharon Gentry’s son Sam was diagnosed with stage 3B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was 5 years old. Now 10, and happily chasing his brother Max around the table, Sam is considered N.E.D. — to have “no evidence of disease.” “Make-A-Wish people couldn’t have been more wonderful,” says Baker. Sam was given lots of choices and when he decided on a cruise to the Bahamas, all four of us were able to go. They also planned a trip for us to SeaWorld while we were in Florida, which included a backstage tour of the penguin nursery,” remembers Baker. “We’re very grateful.” Nearby, volunteer Fran Swanson of Newfane is passing out table assignments to the incoming crowd. “I’ve volunteered for MakeA-Wish for over 20 years, and I’ve helped grant 35 wishes,” she says. Swanson, who works at Dummerston Elementary School, says she loves kids. “I’m also happy to help children who need referrals,” she says. To protect the children’s privacy, referrals can be accepted only from medical professionals, parents and from the children themselves. Swanson and others help direct potential wish recipients in the process. As the evening progressed, the jovial atmosphere quieted as the crowd viewed a video about the Make-A-Wish Foundation and two families shared their stories. Later in the evening, waiters were challenged to sing karaoke by the guests seated at their tables — for a price, of course, at least by some accounts. Barb Harris says the waiters had decided they were willing to do whatever was asked of them to raise money for the cause, but she wouldn’t elaborate. “What happens at the Eagles stays at the Eagles,” Harris says. The volunteers’ willingness to embarrass themselves for a good cause must have charmed their audience, as Harris reported that more than $5,000 was raised that evening. “We were truly blown away by the enthusiasm of the waiters and the generosity shown by everyone,” Harris says. “We definitely raised awareness of MakeA-Wish in Windham County. This will be hard to beat at next year’s event.” Those who would like to volunteer for the organization can contact Barbara Harris at 802-257-7803. To send a donation in support of the dinner dance, mail a check to 197 Hillwinds North, Brattleboro, VT 05301.

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Digital libraries

“There’s a limited number of libraries in Vermont working with digital collections [but it’s] one direction libraries are heading,” said Brooks Memorial Library Director Jerry Carbone, who described the library’s role in housing collections like the Thayer photographs as serving as “custodians of access.” “We’re taking it now to the next level,” said Carbone. The microfilm catalog of images, created in the 1970s and 1980s, offers limited public access, but “free, open access to the collection” is the library’s goal, said Weitz. A Masters of Library Science candidate at Southern Connecticut State University, Weitz said the digitization project called to her because it combined her passion for photography with her passion for library science. Weitz trained in view camera photography at SCSU and came upon the idea of approaching the CDI during a graduate school assignment. Last autumn, Weitz started the CDI application process and gathering funding. She applied for a grant from the Humanities Council, but the council considered the project too small. The project will cost $8,800 and covers Weitz’s staff hours, equipment and eventual publicity. The Vermont Community Foundation has contributed $5,000 and the Windham Foundation will also help fund the project. Other donations will be accepted, said Weitz.

Digital collections

Carbone said the CDI catalogue of the Porter Thayer Collection will be free to the public and searchable by town, and — where known — family name. Details that facilitate searches are called the “metadata” of an object; such data is easily included in digital photography and graphics.

Moving forward

Weitz plans to digitize and make available the collection in batches of approximately 50 photos. So far, several dozen photos have been scanned and she expects them to be available on the CDI’s website by early next year. “[This project] is a tribute to the legacy of some of the people who started it,” said Carbone. According to Carbone, if not for earlier cataloging and transferring to microfilm by George Lindsey, a genealogist, historian and director of Brooks, and W. Rod Faulds, former director of the Brattleboro Museum & Arts Center, Weitz wouldn’t have a project. In addition to the Porter Thayer Collection, Brooks houses the Brattleboro Photos Collection and the Benjamin Crown Collection. “We feel this is the beginning for [Brooks] photo collections,” said Carbone. Carbone said Thayer’s work should be made more readily available because it is important not only for historical reasons, but also on an emotional level. The photos cover a range of a former rural life, and for many in Windham County they represent personal connections. “It’s important to begin to get that local recollection,” said Carbone.


River Garden

From Harlow’s Farm in Westminster we have parsnips, carrots, kale, collard greens, and cabbage. High Meadows Farm in Putney is keeping us stocked with organic winter squashes like butternut, buttercup, delicata, and acorn, while Newell Farm in Wardsboro brings us organic guilfeather turnips, a Vermont favorite. Last, but certainly not least, we have apples! A great selection of local apples including all your favorite varieties.

Make this holiday a local one! Shop the Brattleboro Food Co-op. Don’t miss the organic rainbow kale and purple scallions from Patty Flat Farm in Massachusetts. — John, Produce Manager

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One of Thayer’s trademarks, said Weitz, is inscribing information like town or subject’s names onto the negative ensuring the information travels with the photograph. Robin Katz, digital initiatives outreach librarian, said the CDI strives to find unique research collections that have value to a wide range of professional and lay researchers. Access is the name of the game for the CDI. Katz said, based on Google analytics, researchers from all over the world search t h e C DI ’ s c o l l e c t i o n s a t In November 2009, the CDI launched a proposal process for people or organizations to submit their collections. According to Katz, the CDI spent “a long time building the [digital library’s] infrastructure” and wants to work with organizations outside of UVM by matching their content with CDI’s technology. A collection committee of seven librarians considers submissions on the basis of their potential value to researchers. According to Katz, the CDI jumped at the Porter Thayer Collection. The collection had local history value, was well accompanying documentation, and there was the opportunity for a new collaboration between the CDI and Brooks. Katz called the relationship with Brooks “an ideal collaboration” because the CDI is “eager for more” collections from outside of Chittenden County. Most of the photographers in the CDI library hail from the Burlington area. The CDI also houses digital libraries like the Vermont Congressional Papers collection, Congressional Speeches, The Long Trail Photographs, Maple Research Collection, Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, and the Tennie Toussaint Photographs. Local history collections are extremely valuable to historians, scholars, and genealogists, said Katz. Housing the collection online is also important because a user may live in California but his or her grandmother might have hailed from Vermont. The CDI collections include a comment section for people to add information they may have about an item. Since the Porter Thayer photographs will be added in batches, Katz advices people to check back often. Katz stresses the CDI is an access technology, not a preservation technology. In general, digital materials are vulnerable to quickly changing technology required to access the data. Ironically, Katz called microfilm a great preservation technology because it’s a stable medium, it lasts, and a user doesn’t need another technology to read it because it can be held up to a light.

Staff Pick!

• Wednesday, November 24, 2010


“taking likenesses” from his wife Edith Webster, “who had a photographic studio in the Marshall Martin house in Townshend.” The couple worked from a studio in Williamsville “where they had two view cameras, a 5x7 and 6½ x 8½, a darkroom closet and a railroad lantern for a safelight,” wrote Peter Mauss, photographic technician for “Images From Our Past,” a project of the Arts Council of Windham County, Brooks Memorial Library and the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. Thayer brought sensitivity and technical expertise to his photography and demonstrated a “feeling of personal drive” beyond his assignments as an itinerant photographer, said Weitz. She described Thayer’s “photographic eye” as offering a “clarity” to the way he saw life in Windham County. A prolific photographer of people and landscapes, Thayer preferred photographing working Vermonters like loggers, blacksmiths or meat delivery drivers, to documenting the lives of their upper-class neighbors. Weitz said photographs for most of Thayer’s subjects were still “such a novelty.” She described the era as the beginning of documenting the world through photographs and the “beginning of looking at the world around you.” “The Porter Thayer photographs blend the subjects’ desire to be recorded, ‘frozen’ by the camera with Thayer’s private goal of preserving and depicting a rapidly changing way of life. This fusion of two functions renders them especially valuable as social documents,” wrote Mauss. Thayer photographed the major towns in Windham County like Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Brookline, Marlboro and Londonderry. “It was not spontaneous photography,” said Weitz. Photographic equipment in Thayer’s day weighed a ton and took up considerable space. He traveled in a horse-drawn cart over bumpy roads with boxes of glass plates, said Weitz. According to local lore, Thayer traveled so often that his mare, Lady, knew the roads home so, in the evening, he would point her homeward and nap the way back. Thayer kept careful journals, making notations about each photo and organizing them with a personal cataloguing system, said Weitz. These journals add to the wealth of information accompanying many of the photographs. Weitz will add Thayer’s notations to the CDI’s digital library. Much of the richness in Thayer’s photographs get lost when transferred to other mediums like microfilm, said Weitz. Weitz said the Brooks staff decided to digitize the entire collection because, as a whole, it provides a wealth of information about the time period.

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The Commons/Issue of Nov. 24, 2010  

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