I want to give a shout-out to a number of Seven Days writers whose quality of writing and reporting I appreciate. Just recently, Dan Bolles was delightful in his use of a Mister Rogers-like voice for the initial part of an engaging profile of François Clemmons ["Good Neighbors," January 8]. I've appreciated the depth of reporting by Paul Heintz regarding the disturbing status quo at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility ["Guarded Secrets," December 4] and the waste of taxpayer dollars on overlong investigations ["Cost of Misconduct," January 8]. I've found Kate O'Neill's series, "Hooked," a valuable education. And last but by no means least, I find Margot Harrison's book and film reviews to often be wonderful pieces of writings in their own right, due to Harrison's astute observations and the angles she takes. Thank you.
'Not a Cult'
I also belonged to the group that Gerette Buglion talks about, during the same period of time ["Under the Influence," January 15].
My experience was very different. I was 25 when I met "Doug" at my first therapy appointment with him. I was not able to function, suicidal and suffering from major depression that I had had since childhood. I was in therapy since the age of 6 and took almost every medication available. I am now 50, free of symptoms, off meds, and loving my work and social life.
I attribute much of both my survival and my thriving to the therapy I did and continue to do with "Doug," as well as what I learned being a member of the "Center for Transformational Learning."
The attempt at creating an organization around community was challenging, filled as it was with imperfect human beings and all the projections and reactions that come with trying to forge ahead, both individually and together.
To the degree that anyone felt trapped by this or hurt by it or any one particular person, again, I feel really sad. I would not wish that on anyone.
It was reiterated to me time and again that I was free to leave at any time without repercussion — and, in fact, that I shouldn't be part of the group if I felt it wasn't working for me. Over the course of its life, numerous people joined and left, without, as far as I know, ostracization, condemnation or consequence.
It was complicated but not a cult.
Timely Climate Content
Excellent article about the climate crisis by Chelsea Edgar in last week's Seven Days ["Degrees of Panic," January 22]! It was insightful, comprehensive and well written. Many thanks to Seven Days for printing it and for its plans to run subsequent articles on this increasingly important subject.
Lawrie is a cofounder and member of Elders for Climate Justice.
The Problem Is Us
[Re "Degrees of Panic," January 22]: In regards to climate change, we should remember that 1. the United States has, by far, the greatest per capita output of greenhouse gases globally, and 2. in New England, Vermont has the greatest output. Of course, we need strong laws to support rapid decrease of greenhouse gas emissions. We support industry stepping up. But there is also plenty of room for individual meaningful actions.
For example, much of our emissions in Vermont are from transportation, based on decisions we make every day. I hear from many people, "In Vermont you can't manage without your own car." Yet there are Uber and Lyft, rental cars, and CarShare Vermont. In Burlington we pay for and have a very good, comfortable, low-fare bus system which reaches to commuters outside Chittenden County in very reasonable ways — but the buses are often empty, rarely ever half full. We have sidewalks that are promptly swept clean and safe at the slightest snow — yet basically the only pedestrians are a few dogs walking their humans. We have bike lanes and few bikers.
We can feel angst, complain about how others aren't doing enough and put on dramas at the Statehouse, but on a world scale, we are greedy beyond reason. There is a lot we can do as individuals that we are not doing. We each need to step up to the challenge in real ways.
Tell Us More
The "climate panic" cover story by Chelsea Edgar ["Degrees of Panic," January 22] failed completely to fulfill its subtitle "How Vermonters are responding to the climate crisis." It focused for eight pages on the personal angst and activity of half a dozen people — five women and one man — and conveyed almost no information about what individuals and organizations in Vermont are doing in practical and concrete ways to address and arrest the imminent and accelerating climate crisis.
There are plenty of stories of actions being advocated and taken at the community, institutional and state level, including those in the legislature, to effect change and make progress on the climate issue. Surely Seven Days can identify these efforts and describe in depth the costs, consequences and implementation challenges that citizens and policy makers face as they make choices and seek meaningful results. Journalism can inform and inspire. Don't waste the opportunity again to do so.
Editor's note: Alongside Edgar's story, we announced the launch of "Fired Up: Vermonters respond to the climate crisis." This new, semi-regular series explores local efforts to mitigate the heating trend and strengthen resiliency. Look for two stories in this issue.
[Re "Breakfast Bounty," January 22]: I'm not one to comment on such relatively mundane things, but in last week's breakfast story, the lead photo of chicken and waffles shows it covered with what can only be described as — to borrow a word from your review of Henry's Diner later in the story — "puke."
As a former professional photographer, I understand how difficult it is to shoot food so it looks as appetizing as it really is. So in this case you may need to apologize to Monarch & the Milkweed. For my part, I'm making a special trip there as soon as possible to order the dish, which I'm certain is much more delicious than it appears!
Middlebury Was Wrong
The 70 Middlebury College students were wrongfully punished [Off Message: "Charles Murray Scheduled to Speak — Again — at Middlebury College," January 22]. College administrators are the ones who ought to be held accountable.
The students were charged under a college handbook rule that states: "Individuals or groups who disrupt an event ... are in violation of the College's policy of respect for persons."
However, the students were upholding another Middlebury College handbook provision that bans bigotry and intolerance from the campus: "Middlebury College is committed to maintaining a diverse and inclusive campus environment where bigotry and intolerance are unacceptable."
As the handbook thus made the appearance on campus by avowed racial bigot Charles Murray "unacceptable," it was those foisting his appearance on the college who were the true rule violators. It is not too late to sanction the college administrators who left it to students to enforce the handbook ban on bigotry.
The student protest thus became the true legitimate "event." The student speeches and chants turned what would otherwise have been "unacceptable" into a legitimate event in opposition to racial bigotry. The protest did not disrupt any event that could properly be held under Middlebury College handbook rules.
The administration had no valid grounds to interfere with the protest or punish the students. Instead, those who foisted Murray bigotry on campus should be punished. And those 70 Middlebury students ought to have their names enshrined with honor to inspire future generations to uphold the college's commitment to racial justice.
James Marc Leas
The corporate media and the White House are pushing lies to rationalize President Donald Trump's criminal act of assassination [Off Message: "Welch Questions Trump's Rationale for Suleimani Strike, Seeks Hearings," January 7]. The justifications used by the Trump administration for the murder were false.
Qassim Suleimani was not planning any attacks on the U.S. or its interests in Iraq. He was assassinated because of his recent political activism in convincing Russia to intervene in Syria and his support for the Houthi tribes in gaining control of northern Yemen. Suleimani was standing up against American imperialism, which was heavily invested in the forces he was in opposition to. Finally, he was on a diplomatic mission to deliver a letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi when U.S. drone missiles killed him.
The bluster and idiocy of one mentally unstable clown by the name of Trump has guaranteed that America will suffer more 9/11-type events in years to come. He has condemned the nation to live under an eternal cloud of fear, for in seeking retribution for the assassination of Suleimani, Iran will most likely play the long game.
To prevent this, U.S. foreign policy must undergo a cultural and spiritual change so that we become a nation that promotes all races and ethnic groups of the planet sharing all of the Earth's resources and wealth. We must forge a world in which all live in harmony, or else we shall surely continue to slip into the eternal darkness that has been and continues to be created by the American presidential administrations of the 21st century.