Editor's Note: Making Magic | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Editor's Note: Making Magic

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Published May 17, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


Don Wright directing 
rehearsals with the cast of Frozen - CAT CUTILLO
  • Cat Cutillo
  • Don Wright directing rehearsals with the cast of Frozen

In 2014, before we'd ever heard of COVID-19, Emily St. John Mandel published Station Eleven, a novel that imagines what it would be like to survive a flu that kills 99 percent of the population. Over the winter, HBO Max premiered a series based on the book. Despite the grim premise, both versions are ultimately hopeful; I loved them.

Station Eleven revolves around a group of actors and musicians called the Traveling Symphony. In the After Times, they trek from town to town, performing concerts and Shakespearean plays. Sharing music and live theater productions helps the pandemic survivors reestablish community and human connection. Sounds about right to me.

I got strong Station Eleven vibes while reading about Very Merry Theatre. The Burlington-based youth theater troupe travels around the state staging summer shows from its mobile wagon. Founder Don Wright strongly believes in giving everyone an opportunity to participate — the process is just as important as the final product.

The same is true of Eddie Merma and his Waitsfield Sculpture School, where kids as young as 8 use power tools and wood from a scrap pile to create all kinds of contraptions. "The goal here isn't to make someone be a carpenter," Merma told multimedia journalist Cat Cutillo. "It's more about the imagination, about unlocking something and keeping that creativity going. A way of seeing the world."

The process is also the point of the Good Citizen Challenge. Find instructions for the summer Challenge at the center of this issue. Connect five squares on the bingo-like scorecard to receive a Good Citizen sticker, a pocket Constitution and other prizes, along with an invitation to a VIP reception at the Vermont Statehouse in September. Play along and help your kids become Good Citizens by learning about Vermont history, paying attention to local news, and pitching in to help others here and around the world.

This Challenge was inspired by the Vermont History Museum's upcoming exhibit on the first American to make and sell globes: James Wilson of Bradford. Born into a farming family in the 1700s, Wilson set out to learn the skills he'd need to make a mini model of our world — without electricity or the internet! — and to help others understand it, too. The exhibit opens on July 2; Challenge participants get free admission to the Montpelier museum all summer long.

We hope the Challenge will help families reflect on how connected we all are on this amazing planet of ours and how we can all contribute to making it a better place.

Look for another installment of Kids VT at the end of August!

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.